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Sheikh Al-Azhar Speech in opening of conference

Allow me to start my speech by supplicating Allah to bestow His divine mercy upon the late Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Abdullah Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. We ask the Merciful Allah to accept him among the Prophets, martyrs and the righteous predecessors. Here and now, we renew our congratulations to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. We ask Allah the Almighty to grant him help and support for the good of the country and people. We hope that the interest of Arabs and Muslims will be achieved through his endeavors. We wish that he and his brothers the Arab and Muslim leaders will realize the Umma’s unity, uphold Islam, the pride of Muslims and their glory.

Esteemed Congress!

          As we are all eager to take part in this conference, we must remind each other of its peril, and its extreme magnitude. This meeting is being held at the right moment and timely occasion. It is being held along many similar big conferences in the East and West. We are holding this event to confront this terrible bane that has plagued our Arab region. The violence and terrorism actions of these groups are strange to Islam. They have nothing to do with our creed, Sharia, ethics, history and civilization. Such nuisance is unrelated to this pure religion. Indeed, these groups have rejected the Holy Quran’s laws and the Sunnah. They have espoused brutality and barbarism as an approach, a doctrine and belief. Their hearts are denuded of any mercy; they are like rocks, nay, even harder. Allah, His prophet, and the righteous believers have repudiated them. It is, however, painful that these hardhearted and callous creatures are out of control. We have almost become accustom to their savage methods, and their inhuman practices in committing their ugly crimes. They thirst to kill, behead, and immolate innocent people alive. They are spreading panic, fear and dread among people. Some people-who have the courage to watch their atrocities on social media, have told me that these criminals have reached the pinnacle of bestiality, that they gleefully have played football with the heads of those whom they have beheaded,


I wouldn’t be exaggerating if I say that throughout their history, Muslims have never witnessed an animosity similar to the current one. This Ummah whom Allah describes in Sura Al-i-Imran, verse 110 as: “(Ye are the best of peoples, evolved for mankind)” has ended up today at this miserable state and a terrible condition. The Arab and Muslim Umma have relapsed into the quagmire of chaos, disorder, division and lawlessness. Islam’s image has been distorted to eyes of the world. I even dare say that its image has been blemished in the eyes of Muslim youths.

          So much talk has been said about the explanation of terrorism’s    lethal and destructive phenomenon that is gripping this helpless Umma. Varied interpretations to a mixture of reasons have been put forward: Some analysts have attributed the reason behind the emergence of these criminals to their abject poverty. Others have said they are the victims of the marginalization and rejection of their society. These environments could either Muslim or European communities. Although we won’t underestimate poverty and destitution in justifying many of the social changes, even of those who resort to violence and aggression, however, the objective view drives us to look for other reasons beside utter poverty. Hence poverty   isn’t novel to our world; it is as old as man himself. Since their existence on earth, people have been and will be poor, rich, notables and lazy. And we know quite well that scholars, thinkers, philosophers and poets have built their   fame from being wretched, ordinary and ascetic people. Nevertheless, these have become guiding lights in the darkness of ignorance and delusion.

          Again, analysts have also said about this phenomenon: its roots took hold in the darkness of jails and prisons. Furthermore, young men belonging to Muslim groups received maltreatment and harsh abuses at the hands of their jailers in addition to detainees and prisoners' rights violations. With relevance to this opinion, we must say that not only Islamic groups have met this type of physical and psychological violence and harm. Indeed, many individuals belonging to various political atheistic doctrines disseminating communism, atheism and missionary work that are foreign to Muslim countries, and reject them outright, have been subjected to the same mistreatment. However, they haven’t - at least not all of them- become armed contingents, opposing their views at the end of gun barrels; and they haven’t disturbed peace in their homelands by killing, blowing, terrifying and frightening people.


Prisons, esteemed scholars, aren’t the sole reason for incitement tendencies, and its brutality and viciousness. And, despite it is one of the strongest motives, there are deeper reasons that must be taken into consideration. Our current meeting will try as best as possible to minimize the intensity of this evil. To my opinion, the most prominent of these reasons is the historical accumulations of extremism and militancy in our heritage. These, have sprung up out of flawed interpretations of some Qur’anic texts, the prophet’s Sunna, and the Imams’ views. In this build up lies a slippery road leading to apostasy for the minutest confusion or reason. There are tendencies that have espoused some of the jurisprudence and doctrinal views only. In them, they perceive the truth where there is none other. Therefore, they judge and accuse anyone who doesn’t tow their line with apostasy and outside the realm of the faith. As you all know, this was history has told us about the Khawarij. They have dared to kill the companions after indicting them of apostasy.  They have even murdered Ali Ibn Abi Talib (RAA), and ripped open pregnant women’ bellies. Today, history is repeating itself on the hands of these “Takfirists.”  They started declaring “Jihad” on peaceful Muslims. They have beheaded, killed, and burned people alive. They murdered menial servants working for the enemy’s army; whom the prophet has strongly and frankly, forbidden, let alone murdering workers in Muslim countries. These wouldn’t have dared reject religious limits, if they hadn’t believed incorrectly, that they are leaders of Muslim armies fighting infidel peoples, in unbelieving lands. They wouldn’t have committed these crimes if they hadn’t found justification to their devious belief among the “Khawarij” and others ‘legacies. These outlaws have become a source of dissention and division threatening the Umma’s unity in the past and the present as well.

Allow me esteemed and respected scholars to say that as long as we don’t tighten our control on education in our schools and universities to stop youth accusing Muslims of apostasy and immorality, it would be impossible for this nation to regain its strength, unity, brotherhood, and potential to be civilized and keep pace with developed nations. Perhaps some won’t realize the destructive effect of apostatizing trend in ripping the Umma’s unity apart. This bane will generate thorns of hatred and grudges among Muslims. This, in turn will lead us to fragmentation and separation. Everyone thinks he is the true Muslim, and the others are wrong. Hence, he is considered out of the sphere of religion; his blood must be shed, or dissolute who should be avoided.

I wish to invite this Congress to adopt peace among ourselves first.  We, the people of knowledge of different “Madhahib," must take advantage of the principles we share. We must agree and approve these values that will unite us to attain the social stability, we all along for. No one should have the right to promote this or the other “madhhab” in countries where money is lavishly spent on the poor and destitute to win them as supporters, and mobilize, and recruit them in their ranks. Such practices will crack the ranks of the Umma and disunite it. I wish people will be left alone to follow the Madhahib’s broad spectrum allowed by Islam that has ensured their happiness in this life and in the hereafter.

I also hope that a new curriculum will provide special care and attention to correct erroneous and ambiguous concepts that have saturated the minds and brains. These must specifically deal with issues of Jihad, apostasy, the risks of division, rifts and conflicts. This road will lead to total failure. Allah Almighty has linked the cause and effect of such endeavor in Sura Al-Anfal, verse 46: “(And obey Allah and His Messenger; and fall into no disputes, lest ye lose heart and your power depart; and be patient and persevering: For Allah is with those who patiently persevere)”

Respected scholars: You know that we are facing major universal schemes targeting Arabs and Muslims. They want to fashion them into a different mold. They work on dividing them in their own countries to suit the dreams of global colonization in a cohort with international Zionism. We must not forget that the only method used by the new colonialism has been the same used in the last century: “divide and conquer.” Today, they are playing on sectarian and doctrinal disputes. It’s unfortunate, that their schemes have succeeded in toying with Umma as best they could. The consequences are obvious and clear to everyone. The Nation has lost Iraq; Syria is burning; Yemen is ripped to shred, and Libya is destroyed. They are still hiding many tricks up their sleeves, of which only Allah knows the extent. Let’s put aside our differences; these have earned us but weakness, humiliation and servility. Let us cause a change in our present conference; let it be a successful beginning. Let us be similar to an impregnable, compact and tight edifice to confront this looming grave danger.

Thank you for your attentive listening                                                      

Sheikh Al-Azhar


03/05/1436 H <> February 22, 2015


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