Under the auspices of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Prof. Ahmed Aṭ-Ṭayyeb, the Azhari Ruwāq (Class Court) held a symposium entitled "Islam and its Relationship with Others". Talks were given by Prof. ‛Abdel Mon‛im Fou’ād, General Supervisor of the Azhari Ruwāq, Prof. ‛Abdel Fattāḥ El-‛Awwāri, Dean of the Faculty of Theology at Al-Azhar University, Dr. Muḥammed Ḥassan Sabtān, Professor of Qur’ān exegesis, and Prof. ‛Aṭa As-Sonbāṭi, Dean of the Faculty of Post- Graduate Studies at Al-Azhar University.
At the beginning of the symposium, Prof. Fou’ād said that the day of ‛Āshurā’ is one of Allah’s great days. On that day, Allah saved Prophet Moses (p.b.u.h.) from the oppression of Pharaoh and his people. The Prophet Muḩammad (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) started fasting on that day when he knew that the Jews honored it by fasting. He (p.b.u.h.) said to them, “I have more right to Moses than you do.” So, the Prophet (p.b.u.h.) fasted on that day and ordered [the Muslims] to fast on it. Since then, fasting on that day has become sunnah (a prophetic tradition).
Supervisor of the Azhari Ruwāq explained that this day is a live witness that there are meeting points linking the followers of different religions. There is no rivalry or bickering among them, but respect and coexistence. This is one of the values recommended by our religion that should be instilled in our young people. That is especially mandatory at a time when some people wrongly think that the variety of religions arouses alienation and divisionism.
In the same context, Prof. El-‛Awwāri said that Islam respects the rituals of other religions. He added that the Heavenly messages have come to make people live in peace and security because they all belong to the same origin. All heavenly messages have emitted from the same niche so that each prophet could make a contribution for building up monotheism.
On his part, Prof. Sabtān stressed that Muslims are well-mannered in dealing with the people of other religions because Allah has ordered them to speak well to all people. The Prophet (p.b.u.h) also recommended that we treat the non-Muslims well. He (p.b.u.h.) said, “Whoever kills a mu‛āhid (a non-Muslim protected by a treaty with the Muslim society), will not smell the fragrance of Paradise”.
In response to a question from one of the attendees about the ruling on being offering luxury to one’s family on the day of `Āshurā’, Prof. ‛Aṭa As-Sonbāṭi replied that it is desirable to do that. He explained that the celebration on the day of ‛Āshurā’ is an expression of thanks to Allah and a means for drawing closer to Him through prayers, fasting, connecting to kinship and other forms of worship.
This symposium is a part of a series of entitled, “Misconceptions Refuted”, held by the Ruwāq at Al-Azhar Mosque, with the aim of enhancing communication between Al-Azhar scholars and the audience of the Ruwāq. It also aims to motivate the values of discipline, instill the principles of proper morals, and contribute to community awareness. This comes in the light of the directives of Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam, Prof. Ahmed Aṭ-Ṭayyeb, to all the students of Al-Azhar, with their different specialties, to touch upon people's realities and live among the masses in order to be aware of their concerns, and to search for successful and realistic solutions to their social problems.