Today, Monday, at Al-Azhar Headquarters, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ash-Sharif, Prof. Ahmad At-Tayyeb, received Major General Muhammad Babajana Monguno, the Nigerian National Security Adviser (NSA), together with Mrs Faiza Abou-Naga, Advisor to the Egyptian President for National Security, and Mr Nura Abba Rimi, Nigerian Ambassador to Cairo.
His Eminence the Grand Imam noted that Al-Azhar enjoys a long and rich history of relationship with Nigeria, observing that the Nigerian students rank third in number on the list of international students at Al-Azhar at all educational levels. He also added that he closely follows up on the activities of the Nigerian students, paying special personal care to them and other fellow international students.
His Eminence the Grand Imam indicated that Al-Azhar had established an international academy to train imams and preachers, and designed a training program for imams and preachers to combat extremist rhetoric and to refute misconceptions propagated by extremist groups, in a manner commensurate with the nature of each society. He also asserted that Al-Azhar is ready to receive and train Nigerian imams on how to combat extremism, and promote partnerships between Egypt and Nigeria towards intensifying counter-terrorist efforts.
For his part, the Nigerian NSA expressed his pleasure in meeting the Grand Imam, stressing that he is proudly following up with Al-Azhar activities at the African and international levels, and that the Nigerian people trust Al-Azhar moderate approach. Therefore, they send their children to study at Al-Azhar and learn from its teachers and scholars, and then return home to promote their acquired knowledge among the Nigerian people.
The meeting involved discussions of local, regional and international efforts to combat terrorism and extremism, the ways to enhance joint cooperation between Nigeria and Al-Azhar in this field, and the efforts undertaken by Al-Azhar Observatory for Combating Extremism towards monitoring and refuting fallacies about Islam in 13 languages, and towards illustrating the moderation of Islam and its tolerant peace-promoting message.
It is worth noting that currently, 2,500 Nigerian students are enrolled at the different educational levels at Al-Azhar, from primary education to postgraduate studies. Besides, Al-Azhar offers 430 scholarships annually to the Nigerian students to study at its prestigious institutes and universities. In this vein, 65 Ahzharite scholars are dispatched to Nigeria to teach Arabic and religious sciences, knowing that Nigeria has four Azharite institutes that teach the moderate Azharite approach to the Nigerian students.