CHARLOTTE, NC: On February 4th of this year, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar signed a milestone document concerning relations between Christianity and Islam. The “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together” was hailed as a historic breakthrough not only because of who signed it but where the meeting took place.
When Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al Azhar, who was once called the “most influential Muslim in the world,” came face-to-face with Pope Francis, the world took notice.
The fact that two of the most influential religious leaders in the world, one from Rome and the other from Cairo, came together in Abu Dhabi in the Arabian Peninsula was significant in its own right. However, the added benefit of signing their milestone agreement gave the summit international importance.
According to Vatican News, the document:
“forcefully rejects any justification of violence undertaken in the name of God,” and affirms “respect for believers of different faiths, the condemnation of all discrimination, the need to protect all places of worship, and the right to religious liberty, as well as the recognition of the rights of women.”
The two religious leaders asked all people of religion and culture, as well as the media, to rediscover and spread “the values of peace, justice, goodness, beauty, human fraternity, and coexistence”.
In addition, they affirmed the belief:
“That among the most important causes of the crises of the modern world are a desensitized human conscience, a distancing from religious values and a prevailing individualism accompanied by materialistic philosophies.”
All well and good with bold promises of hope that in mere seconds supposedly erased 14 centuries of animosity and hatred with the signatures of two of the world’s most influential men.
Given the global desire for a meaningful, lasting “peace” between Christians, other religions and Muslims, such a declaration should make everyone giddy at the prospect of finally reaching a solution that will bring an end to international hostilities.
Unfortunately, Pope Francis is rapidly becoming the Neville Chamberlain of the 21st century. So desperate is the pope to bring Islam into the brotherhood of man, he is naively overlooking the basic tenets of the faith that have a voluminous track record of violence since the 8th century.
If we could accept this agreement without cynicism would truly be a transformative miracle of the negotiations, but it is difficult to take seriously or to be seen as little more than a bit of diplomatic humbug given al-Tayeb’s previous positions.
Like so many Arabic leaders of Tayeb’s ilk, such as Yassar Arafat and others, they say one thing in English for Western consumption and later contradict themselves when speaking in their native Arabic to an Islamic audience. It’s an old trick which the pope has apparently fallen for once again.
As proof consider the following quote from the document:
“Freedom is a right of every person: each individual enjoys the freedom of belief, thought, expression and action… (T)he fact that people are forced to adhere to a certain religion or culture must be rejected, as too the imposition of a cultural way of life that others do not accept.
al-Tayeb’s past position regarding someone born to a Muslim father who wants to leave Islam.
During a televised speech in July 2016, Tayeb stated that
“Those learned in Islamic law and the imams of the four schools of jurisprudence consider apostasy a crime and agree that the apostate must either renounce his apostasy or else be killed.”
Al-Tayeb, then went on to cite a hadith of the Prophet Muhammad, saying, “Whoever changes his Islamic religion, kill him” (Sahih Al-Bukhari vol. 9 no.57). There’s an old adage about “taking something with a grain of salt” meaning it has little if any, validity.
Can we believe in the Declaration of Peace?
Pope Francis and the Western world are being asked to believe that Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb has suddenly renounced 14 centuries of Islamic beliefs in the span of two years in favor of negotiating a “Declaration of Peace” with the other religions of the world.
Can Pope Francis honestly be so gullible or does he think he is buying time for his Catholic followers by being “friendly” with a rattlesnake? Either way, though his Christian ideals are to be commended, they are not realistic.
During an appearance on an Egyptian talk show, host Ibrahim Eissa asked al-Tayeb if he would denounce ISIS as un-Islamic.
Al-Tayeb refused, to which Eissa commented:
“Al Azhar insists ISIS are Muslims and refuses to denounce them. Yet Al Azhar never ceases to shoot out statements accusing novelists, writers, thinkers—anyone who says anything that contradicts their views—of lapsing into a state of infidelity. But not when it comes to ISIS!”
These are just a couple of examples of the contradictory nature of the magical peace declaration. There many more.
Only when Islam decides to negotiate in good faith, removing all deception will the so-called “Declarations of Peace” have any meaningful impact.
If that day ever comes, the cynicism will disappear with it.
About the Author:
Bob Taylor is a veteran writer who has traveled throughout the world. Taylor was an award-winning television producer/reporter/anchor before focusing on writing about international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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