Imams and preachers in Saudi Arabia will be forbidden from hostile expressions and from criticizing any country or person in their sermons.

The kingdom is set to overhaul regulations on mosque imams and preachers that have been in place for some five decades, according to Gulf News. In addition to critical and hostile speech, preachers will be forbidden from weighing in on tribal or political issues as well.

Violators could see their financial perks reduced or be removed, depending on the severity.

Source: WikiMedia

A consultant for the Saudi Ministry of Islamic Affair explained that the changes also aim to ensure that preachers have "better religious competencies and knowledge."

He suggested that educational qualifications would be required moving forward, saying that "in the past, there were not enough university graduates in the field."  This compelled the ministry  "to recruit imams and preachers without university-level degrees." Now the situation has changed, the consultant said.

Source: WikiMedia

Imams will also no longer be able to deputize preachers to deliver sermons without receiving approval from the ministry. No person without official accreditation will be allowed to address worshippers at the mosque.

Fundraising will also be forbidden in mosques, regardless of the cause, and pamphlets can no longer be hung on the walls of mosques.

Those who ignore the new regulations will initially face a warning. This will be followed by an "official blame," if the actions persist. If the case is severe, an imam's financial perks could be targeted or they could be dismissed altogether.

Saudi Arabia's Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Al Shaikh said that imams and preachers should "comply fully with the instructions of the ministry." Imam's main duty should be to address social issues, correct misconceptions and promote positive values, he explained.

Many in the kingdom will welcome the changes, as some Saudi preachers have become notorious for bizarre and problematic statements. Social media is rife with examples of clerics publicly targeting individuals, praising extremist groups and issuing ridiculous fatwas.

Earlier this year, a video of a Saudi preacher explaining the proper way for men to beat their wives went viral online, drawing significant criticism within and outside the kingdom.