BEIRUT: Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammad Rashid Qabbani warned Monday that national unity was in jeopardy unless rival leaders worked to protect it by adopting a unified vision that can safeguard Lebanon’s freedom, sovereignty and independence. The mufti spoke in Saudi Arabia after meeting with the kingdom’s minister of Islamic affairs and Waqfs, Saleh bin Abdel-Aziz al-Sheikh, the state-run National News Agency reported. Talks with the Saudi minister focused on means of boosting cooperation and communications between ulema (religious scholars) in order to unify opinions on the issues of the Arab and Islamic nation, NNA said. Qabbani thanked Saudi Arabia for “always standing on Lebanon’s side and for sponsoring all the Lebanese.” He implored God “to protect Lebanon and its people from any bad development and spare it strife and for its people to enjoy security and peace.” Qabbani, accompanied by a delegation including the muftis of Mount Lebanon and Zahle and the Bekaa, performed umra (minor pilgrimage) in the holy city of Mecca before visiting Madinah where he prayed at the Prophet’s Mosque. Last week, Qabbani blasted the bloodshed in neighboring Syria and slammed the Lebanese government for failing to provide necessary aid and relief to Syrian refugees.