Emerging Peacemakers Forum

Opening channels of communication with others is one of the most important steps to achieving familiarity and building trust. Muslims should definitely look to employ such methods to improve peace, harmony, love and respect – all of which are factors promoted by Islam.

The late Imam Al-Zahri said, “People would be in conflict upon meeting before Islam, upon truce they trusted one another and met and negotiated without dispute.”
Today, we must continue to open these channels of communication at various levels and with many different people. Be it politicians, priests, intellectuals, normal citizens or even youth in their academic institutions. Islam calls for us to be transparent and approach others to hear their opinions.
Let this strategy be the common denominator of values among people, to protect them from unspeakable terrorism while also spreading the culture of peace which many including Muslims strive for.
This was the aim of the Muslim Council of Elders and the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies upon their founding in 2014. They brought together people from all religious backgrounds to help clarify Islam’s true compassionate and non-threatening side. The subsequent meetings resulted in great openness and a good understanding among Christian leaders in particular. This culminated in a shared vision for understanding and coexistence among all that live in Muslim countries and abroad.
Such a great and noble approach had to somehow be incorporated within youth circles, who often pay the biggest price when it comes to peace or war. They can either be the leaders of tomorrow or be engulfed in the fires of extremist though which can only lead to destruction and killing.
It was for this reason that the Muslim Council of Elders and the Church of England set up the ‘Emerging Peacemakers Forum’, which brought together 50 young people from different background between July 8 to 18 to help build peaceful coexistence and establish a nucleus for continuous communication with a broader understanding of methods that best deal with disagreements. 
It is agreed that there is no room to exclude others or to expand hatred and fighting among one another. Unfortunately, it has been planted in the minds of some that Islam is a source of terrorism which led them to conspire against us and set us backwards in all facets. Therefore, we must receive these misconceptions through our good treatment and openness to show the true face of our religion and its rich and tolerant culture. Dr.Ahmed Al Haddad

What moving the embassy to Jerusalem means?

What does it mean to move the United States’ embassy in the Zionist entity from Tel Aviv to Islam’s third holiest site, the occupied Jerusalem? It means a provocation of the feelings of the Muslim world, which accounts to about one third of the world’s population. It also disregards international laws enacted by the United Nations and the UN Security Council to seek justice and prevent injustice from taking place. It also means an open support to what many states have collaborated to combat, which is terrorism which undermines security and prevents stability by destroying the hopes of the people affected negatively. Such provocations will also no doubt be used as justification by those who will seek revenge and will also be like, “opening the gates of hell, which is being fuelled by people and rock”, as it was described by His Eminence Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders.
It also means that terrorism is not self-constructed nor is it engrained in the minds of Muslims, but is rather engineered and fuelled by some of those states who seek to destabilize the region by moving their embassies to a revered Islamic capital city. Likewise, it means that terrorism is not only limited to the actions of people who kill others, but also extends to superpowers that undermine and terrorize weaker countries where a third of the world’s population live. With that in mind, which terrorists should be confronted and fought off?
It also means that the 57 nations belonging to the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, who are in turn United Nations’ members are not taken seriously by military and industrial powers in the world today, despite their financial strength and overall manpower. With no unified will to oppose such aggressions, no money or man power is strong enough to prevent such hostilities from taking place.
Mr. President of this great nation, who chose to take this unusual policy decision, do you think by simply moving your embassy you will be able to wipe out Jerusalem’s Islamic history and mosques?
Not at all, as international law criminalizes such illegal acts. The transfer of embassies does not imply the changing of international law, but rather implies aggression, occupation and hatred towards a disenfranchised people which is unfortunately the policy of superpowers who are supposed to be the promoters of justice and proctors of the weak in the world we live in.
International condemnation of this cruel and unjust move is proof that forceful policies are unacceptable and that justice will be served sooner rather than later. Patience, O’ wounded Aqsa and people of Jerusalem, your day of victory is near as promised by the most righteous of all, Peace and Blessings be Upon him. 

Islam and the West: Diversity and Integration

The last three days saw four organizations; Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the Muslim Council of Elders, Nizami Ganjavi International Center and the Al-Azhar Library organize an international symposium which focused on a host of contemporary issues related to Islam and the West.  It has been proven to many reasonable people that Islam is not an unusual religion or belief system that is infiltrated by extremists, jihadists or terrorists seeking to wreak havoc between Muslims and the West. Populist political figures in the West have used the rise of terrorism to push their narrative which targets immigration and pluralism and which calls for a wholesale defense against a foreign invasion of European values and structures. I do not wish to revisit all emotional tirades used by the media to unfairly connect Islam to terrorism because I believe that it is far more important to address the divide between Muslims and the West instead. It is also important to further develop relations between the two parties to fully understand the contemporary issues related to the recent rise in tensions. His Eminence Dr Ahmed El-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders was clear in addressing the world at the opening of this symposium by saying, “I have long thought about what I will be saying at this opening and instead I have found myself in a situation of repeating issues discussed previously. It is these issues which have called for an increase of dialogue among various cultures, to help rescue them from the clutches of violence and conflict and to reach an attainable peace. Despite countless noteworthy efforts from many wise people from East and West, the road is still an uneasy one which requires a great effort to navigate through. I have tried to reflect on the differences between reality and hope, and it seems that many obstacles remain in place which are unfortunately blocking dialogue between cultures. Islam is currently being forcibly abducted by horrendous terrorists in full view of its believers, which has led many to label Muslims as violent and brutal, when in reality they are the real victims of this “black terrorism”. It is our duty to find the true causes of these problems and stem the use of religious values by various international entities to further their neo-colonial agendas.”   
The Grand Imam has long championed the strengthening of ties between East and West. I have true hope that the hearts and minds of people searching for peace will be further drawn to integration and cooperation with others. Positive integration of Muslims in their communities and ensuring coexistence and cooperation as active citizens who are seeking to defeat stereotypes of them it the best form of identity and religious preservation. 

Abdallah Fadaaq