Saturday, March 6, 2021

The True Awaited Historical Meeting

Earlier Saturday, Pope Francis held a meeting in Najaf Al-Ashraf with Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani on the second day of his visit to Iraq.

It is the first meeting of its kind between the head of the Catholic Church and a Muslim Shia grand Ayatollah or Marja in the size of al-Sistani.

Ayatollah al-Sistani and Pope France at his place in Al-Najaf , Iraq

The meeting and the visit to Iraq itself represented another way of how the Catholic Church is open to interfaith dialogue internationally under the leadership of Pope Frances.

For the first time in history, the Pope visits Iraq aka the cradle of the civilizations as well as the place believed by Jews, Christians and Muslims to be the birthplace of Prophet Abraham “PBUH".

Now to my two Egyptian piasters, the meeting between Ayatollah al-Sistani and Pope Frances is not the truly historical fruitful meeting that would push things forwards in the interfaith dialogue I am looking forward

The true historical meeting I am waiting to see in my lifetime and hopefully will “definitely” play a role in easing the sectarian tensions in the Middle East is the meeting between Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb, The Grand Emam of Al-Azhar and Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani in Najaf Al-Sharaf.

You are damned right !! I want Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb of Egypt’s Al-Azhar to visit Al-Najaf Al-Sharaf, the Shia holy city and to sit with al-Sistani.

Hell, I want El-Tayeb to open a direct channel with the Grand Ayatollahs of Iran.

In case you do not know, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb is the head of Egypt’s Al-Azhar which is the biggest and oldest Sunni Islamic institution in the Muslim world.

El-Tayeb does not have this spiritual leadership role among Sunni Muslims like Pope Frances among Catholics or like the Ayatollahs in the level of al-Sistani but he is highly respected and sometimes even revered because he leads Al-Azhar in many Muslim majority countries in Africa as well as in Asia in a way Cairo’s Egyptians do not understand. 

Sheikh Al-Azhar Ahmed Al-Tayeb is bbf of Pope Frances and is open up to interfaith dialogue with other religions but it seems that the interfaith Islamic Sunni-Shiia dialogue is not on the agenda and it is not only politics here.

Maybe I am wrong but I believe the true interfaith dialogue between Al-Azhar and a man like al-Sistani can help a lot in easing the sectarian conflicts in the region especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

It is not that if Iran an Saudi Arabia stop their proxy wars, things will calm down.

It is more complicated and you need Sheikhs and Mullahs to fix what other Sheikhs and Mullahs destroyed for decades if you want true coexistence.

What is the use of coexistence and interfaith dialogue with other religions when you can’t hold or even respect other sects in your religion?

I know it may sound madness especially that Egyptian Shia Muslims are not that free in the first place but this madness has to stop.

Secularism and upholding civil society and liberties are not enough in Egypt or the Arab world because whether you like it or not, religion plays an important role in society.

FYI Al-Azhar held an interfaith dialogue with Shia in the 1960s in a time we had not very good relations with Iran “Nor with Saudi Arabia too”.

I know it is a big issue but I have just had to say because since seeing the photo of Frances and al-Sistani and even though I know it is only symbolic PR work, I felt I have to say it.

A little trivia: Do you know that archaeological excavation in Iraq started for religious Christian reasons !? Excavators went to Ur and Babel in order to find proof that the Bible was right and to support creationism against Darwinism.

The rest is history theft.

Another little trivia: Do you know that Al-Azhar Mosque was built with the Shia Fatimids in Cairo to become a beacon of Shia Islam in the world but when Saladin put an end to their rule in Egypt, he changed its discourse from Shia Islam to Sunni Islam !?

The rest is history indeed.

One last trivia: I hope one day inshallah I visit Iraq's Ur and publish a Kodak Agfa special from there. 

1 comment:

  1. It's ironic, given that the original institution of which the Azhar Grand Imam currently heads started off as a Shia school in the 10th century.


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