The Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Prof. Aḥmed Aṭ-Ṭayyeb, received Mr. Wang Yang, Chairman of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), a member of the Standing Committee of the Political Bureau of the Communist Party in China, and his accompanied party during their visit to Cairo.
The Grand Imam said that countries are responsible for maintaining peace and social security for their peoples. At the same time, they have the duty to allow them to practice their respective religious rites freely. He added that the source of extremist thoughts, in some countries, is wrong education and misinterpretation of some religious texts. Al-Azhar is working on countering and addressing this problem.
His Eminence stressed that the Muslim World alone cannot be blamed for the spread of extremist thoughts. There are international agendas and policies that use extremist thoughts to fuel conflicts in the region in order to impose their hegemony and achieve their goals of dominating the region. He also pointed out that Muslims are the most victims of terrorism, of which some people accuse Islam.
The Grand Imam explained that Al-Azhar is making efforts at both the local and international levels to confront extremism and to promote moderate thought and the values of coexistence and peace. Examples of this include the establishment of the Egyptian Family House aiming to achieve coexistence in Egypt, and to build bridges of dialogue with major religious institutions around the world. This is especially the case with the Vatican, with which Al-Azhar has signed the Human Fraternity Document in Abu Dhabi, the UAE capital. This document affirms that all human beings are brothers, no matter how different their thoughts, beliefs and religions may be.
The Grand Imam stressed that the only way to confront extremism is via promoting Al-Azhar’s moderate approach. This can be achieved by means of receiving students to learn at Al-Azhar in its various stages, and through training imams in the program devoted by Al-Azhar for scholarship students. This program is designed to train them on the issues of pluralism and coexistence and to consolidate the concept of citizenship. Al-Azhar considers such concept the link that should maintain cohesion among the citizens of every single country.
On his part, Mr. Yang said that the Grand Imam is a great symbol for all Muslims in the world. To him, Al-Azhar is the beacon of the Muslim world. It enjoys great credibility as recognized by all countries and peoples, because of its moderate approach and its efforts to counter extremism.
Mr. Yang also praised the Grand Imam’s ideology and discourse, which link religion, citizenship and humanity. He indicated that upon his return to China, he will work on depicting the true image of Islam he has recognized through the Grand Imam. He will also be keen to send Chinese imams to receive training at Al-Azhar in order to confront extremism and terrorism and to consolidate the values of citizenship.
The CPPCC Chairman has called on the Grand Imam to visit China in order to visit the Islamic centers and meet Chinese religious leaders.
At the end of the meeting, the Grand Imam presented to Mr. Yang a copy of the Human Fraternity Document and the manual on “Al-Azhar World Conference on Citizenship”.