Al-Azhar launch counter extremism campaign for Libya

North Africa

Al-Azhar have launched a workshop for Imams in Libya to train them on countering extremism.

The World Organization for al-Azhar Graduates held a workshop on the role of Al-Azhar in countering extremism and terrorism at the headquarters of the Organization in Cairo. 50 Libyan imams participated alongside preachers representing different regions of Libya. This is the fifth batch of Libyan Imams to be sent to receive advice and specialised training courses by senior Al-Azhar scholars at the Egyptian headquarters of the Organisation.

One senior scholar told attending Imams that “true Islam is to call the whole world to social peace and call on all Muslims to be brothers and united without violence or extremism”, and expressed regret at the fact that some Imams do not adhere to this rule, instead choosing to plunge the religion into “violence, terrorism and cruelty” through the propagation of extremist ideas. Another scholar then concluded the presentation with a direct appeal to those who attended to “return to [their] people as missionaries and messengers of guidance, love and peace” and to be “resistant to hate…and hostility”.

Al-Azhar University was Egypt’s first degree-granting university and is widely regarded as Sunni Islam’s most prestigious university. Its mission is to promote Islam and Islamic culture. In so doing, its Islamic scholars (ulamas) render edicts (fatwas) on disputes submitted to them from across the Sunni Islamic world with regards good conduct for Muslim individuals and societies.

In February this year, Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar met in Abu Dhabi to discuss inter-faith dialogue and countering extremism. Following the conference, which marked Pope Francis’ first papal visit to the Arab world, the two figures signed a historic document jointly committing them to combating extremism. Among the key statutes of the agreement is the declaration that “religions must never incite war, hateful attitudes, hostility and extremism, nor must they incite violence or the shedding of blood”.