Al-Azhar imam, Coptic Pope Tawadros II inaugurate international conference

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Al-Azhar imam, Coptic Pope Tawadros II inaugurate international conference

theorthodoxchurch.info and asianews.it

An international conference on terrorism was held at Al-Azhar University, in the Egyptian capital, on Wednesday and Thursday, December 3-4. It was inaugurated by the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayeb and Coptic Pope Tawadros II.

During the two-day event, participants reasserted the primacy of a "middle way" for Islam against extremist terrorists as well as the notion of brotherhood between Christians and Muslims and members of other religions. The gathering focused as well on the need to spread the correct teaching of "jihad" and counter the brainwashing of young people who are fighting for the Islamic State.

Under the auspices of Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest authority, 600 Muslim and Christian clerics from 120 countries, including some patriarchs or their representatives, gathered for the conference chaired by Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II and al Azhar's Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el Tayeb.

The seminar first condemned terrorism and fundamentalism in the name of Islam, which do not show the true face of the religion. Although perpetrators of such violence are not kafir or unbelievers, they are khawarij, violent extremists who have betrayed Islam.

"Terrorising the peaceful, killing the innocent, assaulting property and sanctities are crimes against humanity that Islam totally condemns," the final statement said. Instead, the latter emphasised that, together with Muslims, Christians and members of other religions in the Middle East are brothers and citizens, responsible for the same land.

The conference stressed that Muslims and Christians have lived in harmony in the Middle East for many centuries. It urged Christians not to emigrate or leave their land, but to hang on until the terrorist storm passes.

"Assaulting Christians and believers of other religions through false piety is a disobedience of the correct teachings of Islam," the statement said.

Al-Azhar calls for better education and communication in mosques and cultural centre to correct the wrong interpretations by which young people have been "brainwashed" into supporting jihad and serving the caliphate.

Only governments can call a jihad, it noted, and the caliphate - as it was in the time of Muhammad - was to bring justice, peace and security to all citizens, without discrimination on grounds of religion, race, colour, etc.

It is equally important that academics, imams, and the authorities to teach young people the "real Islam", i.e. "moderate" Islam, the middle or wasaty way, without false interpretations of the Qur'an and the hadith.

Al-Azhar also wants the Western world and its media not to mix terrorists' actions with Islam.

The final statement also slams attacks against holy sites under Israeli control - first of all the Al Aqsa mosque - and against Christians and Muslims, calling on the international community to condemn loudly these attacks, and bring the attackers to international courts.

Al-Azhar also said that it would soon issue a statement against terrorism and fundamentalism to give the world a clear message on what Islam really is.

The conference comes as part of government-led efforts to counter the emergence of the Islamic State in Iraq and Al-Sham (ISIS). Egypt has joined the international coalition to fight the ISIS existence in Iraq and Syria.

During his speech, Al-Tayeb said: “Division, strife, and polarisation are the main tactics extremists are using to divide the Islamic nation.”

He added that despite the existence of several entities working on unifying Muslims worldwide, the Arab-Islamic nation still needs to work on mutual goals in facing security challenges.

Al-Tayeb tackled the nature of the existence for those troops, the threats they pose and potential ways to overcome them. He said those “terrorist” groups claim the caliphate is one of the Sunni assets, and is expiating several Muslim victims by killing them . Al-Tayeb added that Al-Azhar is taking new measures to develop “a rational religious speech”.

Regionally, he said no peace will come around until the Palestinian dispute is settled justly, adding: “We are going to hold a conference in support of Al-Aqsa’s victory, soon.”

Pope Tawadros II, who co-launched the opening ceremony for the conference, said principles of divine religions are common to all creeds. “Our religion urges us to love and accept those who are different from us,” he said.

Pope Tawadros reviewed the long history of Egyptian unity through several decades of critical political turning points, from the 1919 revolution to the present.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with his US Counterpart John Kerry in Cairo in September , to discuss ways “to help define the specific role that Egypt will play in the coalition” to destroy ISIS.

“It is really important that the religious establishments at Al-Azhar and Dar Al-Ifta are both fully supportive and understanding of the need to draw these distinctions with respect to religion,” Kerry said.

Both institutions have spoken out against ISIS in recent weeks, describing the group as “barbaric” and rejecting the group’s self-styled name ‘Islamic State’.

Mon, 12/08/2014 - 13:59
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