The Grand Imam's Speech on the Inauguration of the Cathedral, Nativity of Christ, in the New Administrative Capital
· If you refer back to history records, it tells you that most of the churches in Egypt were built during the reign of the Muslims.
· According to the Islamic Sharia, the formal State of Islam ensures the existence of Christian churches as a law, not merely out of compliment.
· The Muslims are at the frontline in defending the churches and protecting their fellow Christians.
· The Mosque and the Cathedral loftily stand in resistance to all the attempts meant to undermine stability in our homeland.
· We are witnessing an exceptional event unprecedented in the history of Christian-Muslim relationship.
· The New Administrative Capital's Mosque and Church are the largest places of worship in Egypt.
· Egypt should take pride in this wonderful achievement and in its being an exemplary model in maintaining an interfaith bond of fellow feeling.
Sunday Evening, Jan 6, 2019:
His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Professor Ahmad At-Tayyeb, delivered a speech on the inauguration of the Church, Nativity of the Christ, in the New Administrative Capital in which he expressed his pleasure "to participate in the opening of the two large, in fact the largest, places of worship all over Egypt, that is Al-Fattāḩ Al-‛Aleem Mosque and the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Christ, along with His Excellency President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, His Excellency President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the fellow Palestinian State, and the dear friend His Holiness Pope Tawadros II, Pope of Alexandria and the Patriarch of the See of St. Mark.
His Excellency the Grand Imam also noted that "this is an exceptional event that, as far as I know, has no precedence over the history of the Christian-Muslim relationship. I know that no mosque and church have ever been concurrently built in an embodiment of mutual fellow feelings and affection between the Muslims and the Christians. I know that witnessing the inauguration of these two magnificent edifices, of top-notch architectural design, is unprecedented. Egypt should then take pride in this achievement among all other countries, just as the new capital of Egypt should take pride in encompassing it."
His Eminence the Grand Imam also expressed sincere thanks to His Excellency President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for such a superb achievement. Besides, he extended "heartfelt congratulations to Pope Tawadros and all our fellow Christians inside and outside Egypt on (the opening of) this new Cathedral that would undoubtedly stand next to the new Mosque in unswerving resistance to all attempts to compromise homeland stability or disseminate sectarian dissension".
In his speech, His Eminence the Grand Imam addressed the stance of Islam in defense of churches, affirming that such a stance is conclusively acknowledged and that according to the Islamic of Sharia, the formal State of Islam ensures the existence of Christian churches as a law, not merely out of compliment. Then he added that if Islam obliges the Muslims to protect mosques, it likewise obliges them to protect the churches of their fellow Christians, and that such a legal ruling of Sharia is not a complimentary expression but is rather grounded on a Qur'anic verse that we all memorize, though its essence may unfortunately be missed even by some specialists. This verse is the one that mandates, or allows, the Muslims to engage in fighting in defense of worship places for the Jews, the Muslims and the Christians altogether. It reads, "Were it not that Allah repelled [the aggression of] some people by means of others, monasteries, churches, synagogues and mosques in which the name of Allah is much mentioned would have been demolished". (Qur᾿ān, 22:40)
His Eminence the Grand Imam yet warned against recalling legal rulings (Fatwas) issued at specific historical times and under specific different conditions that claim it impermissible to construct churches in Muslim lands. He asserted that such an approach has nothing to do with genuine knowledge or truth, but rather represents a grave mistake. He also invited people to refer back to historical records which unambiguously state that most of the churches in Egypt were built under the reign of the Muslims.
Concluding his speech, His Eminence the Grand Imam again thanked President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for "this superb achievement of which Egypt is entitled to take pride, given that Egypt is an exemplary model of interfaith brotherhood and fellow feeling, especially with regard to Christian-Egyptian relationship". He also extended "his thanks to all the noble Egyptians who shared in the building of these two edifices in record time as witnessed by all".