Muslim Council: let’s find peace

A Muslim Council of Elders had been formed in a bid to find a solution to the violent problems plaguing Muslim countries around the world.
Egypt’s grand imam, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, sheikh of Al Azhar, talks to journalists at a news conference announcing the formation of the Muslim Council of Elders at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National
Egypt’s grand imam, Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, sheikh of Al Azhar, talks to journalists at a news conference announcing the formation of the Muslim Council of Elders at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Abu Dhabi. Christopher Pike / The National

ABU DHABI // A Muslim Council of Elders had been formed in a bid to find a solution to the violent problems plaguing Muslim countries around the world.

Egyptian Grand Imam, Sheikh Dr Ahmed Al Tayeb, Sheikh of Al Azhar, said that “it was necessary that we stood up and say we have to take responsibility as Muslim scholars to face this wave of extremism and fundamentalism”.

“We are witnessing these extremists groups, this fundamentalism where some people pretend to be Muslim and are spreading chaos and terrorism using weapons and killing other and contributing to the bloodshed of innocents,” Dr Al Tayeb said.

Made up of one Emirati woman and 13 men – including another Emirati – the members of the newly former council come from the Mena region and the United States.

The establishment of the group followed recommendations that came out of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, which was held in Dubai in March.

“This Ummah, the Islamic Ummah, we wanted to have peace between its people, between its societies, but unfortunately this is not the case nowadays,” said Dr Al Tayeb.

“We have to ask the questions: how this is turning upside down? Why we are witnessing nowadays these bad situations after almost 1,500 years?”

Dr Al Tayeb said: “In the United Arab Emirates, we thank its leaders for taking the initiatives to launch the Muslim Council of Elders because we are all threatened by the dangers and threats of these groups.”

Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, a Muslim scholar from Mauritius, and chairman of the peace forum, said that “unfortunately, there is a kind of craziness and madness that is exercised in some Muslim countries”.

“There is chaos, people are terrorising each other in the name of Islam,” he said. “No wisdom, not rational thinking, and the result is bloodshed. Victims – and the murderer who doesn’t even know why he committed this murder.

“Given this reality, we called each other, scholars and elders – starting in the UAE – and the leaders of the UAE convened a meeting where we decided to prepare an initiative which generated later this Muslim Council of Elders.”

Dr Kaltham Al Majid, the Emirati woman member of the group, said because the council was in its infancy, it had not been determined how often they would meet or to whom they would advise.

She said they would spread the messages and campaigns on an “as-needed” basis.

The council would work with youth and community groups to spread the correct interpretation of the Quran, said Mr bin Bayyah. Misinterpretation and incorrect application of certain verses of the Quran by misinformed or misguided followers of Islam was fuelling much of the strife, he said.

“The first problem in the Islamic people is that they confuse and mix between the legitimate and illegitimate, he said.

“Here lies the problem, the people who do not differentiate between the two speeches of Islam, they are the most probable ones who can commit mistakes and get confused and mislead others.”

The council’s role would be to “set the right path” using scholarly interpretations of the Quran and spreading a moderate message, he said.

“We should work together, we are not talking here merely rhetoric,” said Sheikh Abdullah “We will work with the youth and we will address these people who are misled, who are mobilised in the wrong way. We will communicate with them. We will discuss what we believe in with them ... we want to stop the bloodshed in the Muslim countries and to establish new trends of reconciliation.”

rpennington@thenational.ae

Published: July 20, 2014 04:00 AM

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