Haj ended peacefully this year, amidst fears that terrorism would disrupt the gathering. If there were Muslim pilgrims prone to joining the terrorist organizations, Saudi clerics greatly discouraged them from becoming jihadists.
Indeed, more than two million Muslim pilgrims representing 163 countries worldwide gathered in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, for last month’s Haj. The Haj is the largest gathering of Muslims in the world. Saudi Arabia also prepared for the potential arrival of the terror group Islamic State. Newsmax reported that experts are even calling for the Arab world’s leading nation, Saudi Arabia, to destroy it. According to The Times of India, Mecca was ready for action of some sort. Mecca was surrounded by a league of 70,000 Saudi security forces during Haj.
Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Abdulaziz al-Sheikh in his annual Arafat sermon presented at Haj addressed Islam’s moderation and tolerance. He stressed the religion’s unequivocal position against extremism and terrorism. More pointedly, the Mufti proclaimed that the militant groups, Islamic State and al Qaida, were “enemy number one of Islam” and not in any way part of the faith.
The Islamic State recently threatened Saudi Arabia with a campaign to take over the country, called qadimun, or “we are coming.” Their earlier threat was to attack Mecca. In response, Saudi Arabia listed the Islamic State as a terrorist sponsor, further quelling rumors that they finance the new extremist group. Saudi Arabia even threatened severe punishment for those who fund the blood-thirsty Islamic State.
In early September, Saudi Arabia arrested 88 men associated with a terrorist network. Indeed, Saudi Arabia’s counterterrorism program is noted as one of the most effective (and most appropriate) to deal with the Islamic State. Newsmax reported last month that experts pointed to Saudi Arabia as the best prepared and the most regionally respected power to demolish it.
“Having effectively eradicated al-Qaida in the kingdom, the Saudi government, with its experience fighting terrorism, is uniquely positioned to deal with ISIS, which is, after all, an al Qaida-aligned organization,” the experts wrote.
PRAY that the Saudi government will use wisdom in addressing terrorist organizations (The Bible, James 1:5).
PRAY that the Haj pilgrims truly seeking the face of God will find Him in Jesus (The Bible, 1 Chronicles 16:11).
PRAY that Saudi Christian Believers boldly influence their neighbors toward an encounter with Jesus (The Bible, Acts 28:23).
The Islamic State believes that Saudi Arabia misinterpreted Salafi (Wahhabist) Islam, further sparking their interest in a corrective attack. The Islamic State believes the Qur’an mandates forcing infidels to convert or face death. Saudi Arabia believes in a much less violent interpretation.