I often get asked in many of the emails that I receive about the worship of religions other than Islam. Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of the Muslim religion and they take their religion very seriously indeed. Their holiest of places are all within Saudi Arabia and every year millions of pilgrims will flock to Makkah and Madinah from all around the world. Their laws are all based on the Koran and everything they do is dictated by their religion.
Before I start I would like to say that I am not a Muslim, not a Christian, nor am I religious in any way. That being said I respect everyone’s right to worship as they wish to.
Do they Burn witches in Saudi Arabia?
The various Pagan religions are often described as witchcraft by some, in past centuries in Europe and other continents there have been crack downs by the church on those practicing the black arts and many so called witches were either burnt or hanged by religious fanatics. Often with little or no evidence.
Just to get the point home about practicing other religions and the possession of various books, symbols and idols; a man was recently beheaded for practicing witchcraft and Adultery within Najran province in Saudi Arabia, this follows on from a man and a woman who were also beheaded for witchcraft last year. So be very careful what you do within Saudi Arabia with regards to religion!
Are there Churches in Saudi Arabia?
Muslims within Saudi Arabia do not tolerate any other religion to be worshiped within their country, while you will see a mosque or several within every city block you will not find a single christian church or other shrine within the entire country. While five times a day you will hear the call to prayer wherever you may be within the kingdom you will never see another religion being openly practiced.
It is illegal to worship anything other than the Muslim religion and anyone found doing so will be liable to punishment especially if they are encouraging others to do so. While you will be stopped and encouraged to become a Muslim by well meaning individuals it would be a crime for you to try to convert a Muslim to Christianity and it could lead to your imprisonment and eventual deportation. A Muslim converting to Christianity would face the death sentence for his crime!
Can you mention Jesus in Saudi Arabia
Jesus is considered as one of the prophets by the Muslim religion although they do not recognize him as the “son of God” or any other description that Christians place upon him. They greatly respect Jesus and his mother Mary.It is fine to mention Jesus; however do not get into religious debates with people you do not know very well, and even if you do know them be very careful.
You have to realize that the god worshiped by Jews, Christians and Muslims is the same God, all of these religions are based on the old testament, the differences being how they have interpreted the coming of various Prophets namely Jesus and Muhammad. Muslims follow implicitly the teachings of their prophet Muhammad just as the Christians follow the word of Jesus. But within both religions things are open to interpretation and different people and branches of each religion give different meanings to various aspects of their religion.
The Garden of Eden
Many believe that Jeddah is the location of the Garden of Eden written about in the old testament and there is a grave in down town Jeddah that is supposedly the grave of Eve, the grandmother of all of us. I was taken to the graveyard by a Muslim friend of mine to view the grave out of curiosity but we were denied entry.
Can I bring a Bible to Saudi Arabia?
This is a question that I am frequently asked by people coming to work in Saudi Arabia, the official answer is that you can bring one for personal use, in much the same way that you could bring a cross. But displaying it to others would be a crime and bringing more than one would open you up to being accused of coming to Saudi Arabia to try and convert Muslims to Christianity. If however you were found to have a bible in your luggage it would probably be confiscated despite any rules to the contrary. If you were found to have several religious books you would almost certainly find yourself in trouble and probably on the next plane home. The same goes for any other religion’s books and idols, Hindu, Buddhist, Pagan, no other religious items are allowed within the kingdom.
The school which my nephew and niece attend in Jeddah was raided last year, it was decided that many of the children’s books promoted Christianity. This led to the teachers being deported and the books removed, effectively closing the school.
Can You Worship Christianity in Saudi Arabia?
I know of several groups that worship within Saudi Arabia, they do it behind closed doors and they are very careful about who they invite, it is all too easy for someone to get jealous and use this information to get the whole group in trouble with the Mutawa (religious police.)
If you do need to worship your god the best thing to do is to do it privately without anyone else s knowledge. Trying to convince others to join your religion or join with you in worship is a definite no.