His Eminence Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders has stressed that that the crises menacing the modern human – prevalent here in the East and insidiously tightening their grip in the West – would have been entirely avoided if our contemporary civilization and culture had not excessively repudiated religion, and casually tossed aside religious teachings while commenting that there is no better option in addressing our contemporary crises than embracing human fraternity, which can be likened to the lost paradise.
His Eminence added during his historic speech at the United Nations Security Council Meeting, “- As believers in God, we are compelled in the face of these crises to continue advocating the message of peace and love among people to the best of their abilities. They should remain resolute in opposing the discourse of hate that breeds among people, the manipulation of religions and doctrines to ignite wars among nations, and the instilling of fear and terror in the hearts of people.”
The Grand Imam clarified, “Al-Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders in partnership with the Catholic Church, as well as other Western and Eastern churches, among other religious institutions, seek to revive the culture of dialogue and encounter among the followers of religions, and to consolidate the principles of peace and harmonious coexistence. – Together with Pope Francis, we presented the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together to the world from Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2019.”
His Eminence continued, “We have repeatedly emphasized the necessity of the principles of human fraternity as the foundation for international peace and security in various global events, such as the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Kazakhstan, and the Bahrain Forum for Dialogue: East and West for Human Coexistence, among other conferences in Africa, Asia, and Europe. Al-Azhar is working in cooperation with the Muslim Council of Elders, the Catholic Church, the Church of England, and other diverse religious institutions, to organize a gathering of religious leaders to consult on these crises and identify shared responsibilities in facing them, particularly in relation to climate change and the escalating pace of wars and conflicts.”
The Grand Imam emphasized that such efforts require the support of political leaders and decision-makers in the international community, to yield the desired fruits of achieving our collective and noblest goal, which is the establishment of international peace and security on the ground and in the lives of people, rather than being mere decisions and recommendations that go unheeded or disregarded.
His Eminence clarified, “It is neither of justice nor knowledge to claim that Islam is a religion of the sword or a religion of wars. Look at history, and you will find that war in Islam is an exceptional circumstance, a necessity for self-defence, for the protection of land, honor, and dignity. The phenomenon of “terrorism” – from which Islam is not to blame – is driven primarily by global hegemonic policies, material philosophies, and economic doctrines that disregard moral principles.”
The Grand Imam called for the necessity of stopping the futile wars that have erupted in recent decades, including the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Yemen, and others, as well as the wars on the eastern borders of Europe. He also mentioned the oppression and cruelty inflicted upon the Palestinian people by the arrogance of power and the tyranny of dictators. He added, “I am deeply saddened by the silence of the international community regarding the rights of the Palestinian people and the repeated attacks on Islamic and Christian holy sites.”
His Eminence expressed his appreciation of the United Nations’ commemoration of the 75th anniversary of Palestine’s Nakba on the 5th of May, reminding the world and the human conscience of the tragic mass displacement of Palestinians while calling upon the United Nations Security Council and the international community to recognize an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, and to protect the sanctity of Al-Aqsa Mosque compound from the ongoing violations it faces day after day.
He also spoke of the crisis of refugees fleeing the horrors of war and their rights to be rescued and hosted, rights guaranteed to them by divine laws and religions, regardless of their religious beliefs or even if they are non-religious at all, while shedding light on the destruction of the family, and the confiscation of a child’s right to relish in the embraces of their mothers who birthed them, as well as speaking of the devastation of the environment, the surging tides of oceans, and the rampant fires that ravage forests.
The Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders added, “I am a humble Muslim man from the East, not affiliated with any political currents, irrespective of their origins or ideologies, whether they lean towards the right or the left. I am a fervent advocate for peace, actively pursuing it, and wholeheartedly desiring it for all of humanity. I feel a deep sense of human fraternity that connects me to all people, regardless of their ethnicities, religions, beliefs, and languages. I have learned this from the Islamic religion that I follow and from the divine books that God sent to His prophets and messengers, including the last of them, the Noble Quran, which was revealed to the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (peace be upon him).”
He also expressed that God has honored humankind and favored them over many of His other creatures. That God has created differences among humanity, in their languages, races, religions, and beliefs, and God’s will decreed that humankind would live with these differences among them until the end times. And the divine scriptures teach us that all attempts aimed at aligning peoples behind one religion, culture, or civilization are bound to fail because they act in contrary to the will of the Creator of all beings, Who is knowledgeable about what is best and beneficial for them.
The Grand Imam expanded, “The law of difference among human beings represents a cornerstone in the concept of divine creation for humanity and involves a set of rights and obligations that are defined in the Quran with great clarity. At the forefront of these is the right to freedom of belief and opinion and the individual, familial, and communal responsibilities and obligations. It is logical that relationships among individuals who vary in religion, language, culture, and civilization should be built upon the bedrock of peace and security. The Quran expresses this relationship as one of “encountering” one another. Under this Quranic theory on international relations, there is no place for theories of conflict and confrontation, no place for racial discrimination, and no place for the theory of white supremacy or dominance over the rest of God’s creation. Rather, the only relationship that is deemed acceptable between people is one of “peace,” which is the core principle of Islam, and the other divine religions that precede it.”
His Eminence concluded by stressing, “Egypt is the oasis of peace, the meeting point of religions, and the land of civilization and history, and the home to peace and security. I speak to you in response to the gracious invitation extended to me by the United Arab Emirates, which serves as an elected member and current president of the Security Council. This Arab Islamic nation spares no effort in promoting peace among people and strengthening the principles of human fraternity, mutual respect, and coexistence.”
He also commend the voice of wisdom in the speech of Mr. António Guterres, Secretary-General of the United Nations, and his clear belief in the importance of the role of religions and the values of human fraternity in achieving global peace.