Saudi Arabia has banned the use of the words “God willing” and “God willed” in the official national anthem, after a court ruled that the Arabic phrase could be offensive.
The ruling by the Islamic University of Saudi Arabia, the country’s largest, was made public on Wednesday.
It was issued after the university’s chief prosecutor argued that the phrase “God intends” could be seen as blasphemous and offensive to Islam.
“This is a very significant ruling, and I hope the international community will come to understand that,” said Saudi Interior Minister Mohammed al-Makki.
“If you want to go to the mosque, you have to be able to say, ‘God willing I will come.'”
The ruling was taken as an insult to the monarchy.
The university has issued a statement condemning the decision.
“The words ‘God wills’ and ‘God will’ are not a part of the Quran, and they have no place in Saudi Arabia,” the statement said.
“The Quran teaches us to believe in God, not to make the ‘God’ of God into a god of anything,” it said.
The statement added that the university “does not accept the use in the name of the national anthem of the word ‘God’.”
The ruling comes amid a growing debate in Saudi culture and politics about the role of religion in the country.
In recent years, the kingdom has faced a number of cases in which people have been fined and imprisoned for their religious beliefs.
A similar ruling was recently overturned in the United States when a man who believed he was the reincarnation of Jesus Christ was fined and sentenced to jail for wearing a shirt bearing the slogan “Jesus is Lord”.
The US Supreme Court in April struck down a law that required universities to post a statement in Arabic on their campuses declaring that their campuses are “a place of learning, debate, and discussion”.
The Supreme Court ruling said the law “has no basis in fact”.
“There is no place for religious instruction in schools or universities,” Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote for the court.
“If you are teaching religion to children, it must be taught in a secular context.
Otherwise, it will be used as a tool of propaganda to indoctrinate children into the cult of religious beliefs.”
The university’s decision has raised fears that the ruling will be applied elsewhere in the kingdom.
The Saudi government has previously banned the word “Allah” and the phrase that translates as “I love God” from the official anthem, the national flag and state publications.