By Souad Sbai
Pope Francis’ visit to Abu Dhabi led to the signing of the document on Human Fraternity, which involves all the religions of the world. A document that was also signed by Ahmed al Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar, the most important institution of Sunni Islam. It is not a gimmick, but a solemn commitment. It is necessary to take advantage of the moment to isolate the intolerant people, starting with the Muslim Brotherhood.
The main element of Pope Francis’ visit to Abu Dhabi was interreligious issue, which extended far beyond the relations between Christians and Muslims. The document on the Human Brotherhood was signed also by the Imam of Al Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed Al Tayeb, but it concerns all religions and its field of application is the whole world. A more specific reference was made to the three Abrahamic religions when the document invokes the “protection of places of worship”, which must be guaranteed for “synagogues, churches and mosques”; a noteworthy note given the delicate situation in the Middle East and the scope of the still unresolved Israel-Palestine issue.
The desire for reconciliation and the Human Fraternity was shared by many representatives of Hebraism, who arrived in Abu Dhabi from Europe and from the United States to take part in the conference at the end of which the document was signed. “Judaism and Islam must face the challenge of dialogue. I feel responsible to share with the Vatican the tremendous strides that have been made furthering Muslim-Jewish relations as the Church embarks on a similar objective with the Muslim world”, said Marc Schneier, rabbi of New York.
Michael Schudrich, the chief rabbi of Poland, said that the emergence of a small Jewish community in the country was tremendous to see. “I saw a small and vibrant Jewish community that wants to live here, wants to be Jewish, who feel comfortable being Jewish. This is something that was not obvious three to five years ago,” Rabbi Schudrich said.
Of course, the distance between the current situation of the world and the model of Human Fraternity proposed by the document is still too high. It is not just about conflicts, war, peace and terrorism, but also about rights and, above all, women’s rights. It is not by chance that, together with the fundamental principles of peaceful interreligious coexistence that opposes extremism, the document defines “essential” to recognize of women’s rights, political rights and the right to education and work and calls for the adoption of laws that benefit women.
Thus, the Imam of Al Azhar signed the document in the name and on behalf of most of the Islamic world, not only Arab, who wants to close the door to an obscurantist past – characterized by the Muslim Brotherhood and its disastrous political, social and cultural influence – and that wishes to open the door to a new future represented by the goal of the Human Fraternity established in Abu Dhabi.
The analyzes that throw shadows on Pope Francis’ visit and on the Imam’s alleged duplicity, do not understand that the Imam did not take a false commitment with the naive Occident, but a real commitment in front, in the name and on behalf of the whole Muslim world: a commitment that must carry out concrete initiatives, such as denying positions taken previously that are not in harmony with the spirit and dictate of the document.
By breaking or not supporting the interreligious unity created in Abu Dhabi does not benefit the Human Fraternity that could benefit the people of all religions, both Abrahamic or non-Abrahamic. It is necessary to take advantage of this favorable moment to further shorten the distances with the model created by Pope Francis and the Imam of Al Azhar. 2019, the Year of Tolerance in the United Arab Emirates, with its program of initiatives created to improve the religious, educational, cultural and women’s rights, will bring the goal even closer.
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