Grand Imam: Education is one of the foundations for instilling interfaith dialogue in societies
Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference: The words of the Grand Imam at ‘The Audacity of Peace’ meeting serve as a source of inspiration to do more to consolidate fraternity and peace
Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference: We seek to replicate the experience of the Document on Human Fraternity and benefit from Al-Azhar’s expertise in establishing the foundations of Islamic-Christian dialogue in Germany
His Eminence Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, has held a meeting with Bishop Georg Bätzing, Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference, at His Eminence’s residence in Berlin. Also in attendance was Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders.
During the meeting, the Grand Imam emphasized the paramount importance of the meetings between himself and other religious leaders and scholars of various religions. This is based on his firm belief in that peace cannot reach the masses without preceding steps of dialogue and peace between religions. It is for this reason that Al-Azhar and the Vatican collaborated, as a result of a genuine friendship between the Grand Imam and Pope Francis which enabled the opening of channels for dialogue and the launch of various joint global projects. The most notable of these was the co-signing of the Document on Human Fraternity, which took a whole year of diligent work until it was released to the world on February 4, 2019. The document received international recognition with the anniversary of its signing being declared an ‘International Day of Human Fraternity’.
The Grand Imam added that Al-Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders continue their positive approach to dialogue with a number of other religious institutions and bodies, such as the World Council of Churches, the Middle East Council of Churches, and the Church of England. This dialogue in turn has resulted in a convergence of viewpoints, allowing us to use dialogue to promote the common good. He further emphasized that Al-Azhar has a pioneering experience with the Egyptian churches, represented in the Egyptian Family House, co-chaired by the Grand Imam and the Pope of the Orthodox Church on an alternating basis every six months. This institution has had a profound role and in turn helped prevent various sectarian conflicts by eliminating their root causes.
His Eminence further highlighted that education stands at the forefront of the necessary foundations for instilling interfaith dialogue in societies, particularly in its early stages. Therefore, the Muslim Council of Elders took the initiative to disseminate the Document on Human Fraternity and include it within various educational curricula to reinforce the principles of human fraternity around the world.
For his part, the Chairman of the German Bishops’ Conference expressed his happiness at meeting the Grand Imam while also expressing his appreciation for His Eminence’s efforts in establishing the values of fraternity, peace, and dialogue between different religions. He also affirmed that the words of the Grand Imam at the ‘The Audacity of Peace’ meeting which was organized by the Community of Sant’Egidio carried important messages and served as a source of inspiration to do more to consolidate fraternity and peace. He added that the German Bishop’s Conference seeks to replicate the pioneering experience of the Document on Human Fraternity and benefit from Al-Azhar’s expertise in laying the foundations for an Islamic-Christian dialogue within German society.