A miracle in Bossey

After the Holocaust in Europe, Christians started to do the tough work of unpacking the relationship between the New Testament, Christian theology and the history of antisemitism in Western civilization. It is time for scholars at Al Azhar University to start doing the heavy lifting and confront the relationship between Islamic sources and the catastrophe unfolding in the Middle East today

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Al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar University
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Dexter Van Zile
On 10 October 2016 11:22

A miracle happened just recently when Ahmed Al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar University in Egypt, appeared at an ecumenical conference in Switzerland. Tayyeb opened his mouth and nothing overtly defamatory about Israel, Jews or Zionists popped out. That truly is a miracle.

Tayyeb, who leads one of the most influential institutions of higher learning in Sunni Islam, has a long history of making defamatory statements about the Jewish people and their homeland.

He has falsely accused Israel of perpetrating a genocide in the Gaza Strip and has said that ISIS serves “Zionism in its plot to destroy the Arab world.”

Sorry, Imam, but if there’s a plot to destroy the Arab world, it was fomented by the Islamist theologians, including Hassan Al Banna and Sayyed Qutb, both Egyptians, who paved the way for today’s jihadists.

Tayyeb spoke at the Ecumenical Institute on Oct. 1, 2016 at Bossey at the invitation of the World Council of Churches, an umbrella organization of about 350 Protestant and Orthodox churches.

The WCC has a well-documented reputation of assailing Israel while speaking in soft tones about the murder of Christians by Muslim extremists.

The fact that Tayyeb did not spew antisemtic invective at Bossey is surely a cause of great relief for the WCC’s General Secretary, Rev. Dr. Olav Fyske Tveit. If Tayyeb had gone off the rails about Jews and Zionism, Tveit might have had to offer a statement of his own in response. It would have been embarrassing for Tveit to rebuke an invited guest.

But Tayyeb behaved himself and gave the WCC a feather in its cap. It was able to prevail upon Tayyeb to keep his Jew-hatred under wraps, which these days, counts as a victory.

This isn’t to say that Tayyeb’s speech was enlightening, ground breaking or honest.

Tayyeb made it perfectly clear, that the last place people should look for the current calamities afflicting humanity is in Islam. All the bad things being done by jihadists “are rejected by Islam and we have to find the real roots of terrorism outside the context of the holy Koran and the precepts of Islam; otherwise the approach will be an aberration of sound logical reasoning,” Tayyeb said.

The fact is, ISIS and Al Qaeda have been able to justify their actions with direct and plain text appeals to Islamic sources of authority – the Koran, the Hadiths (or the sayings of Mohammad) and the life of Muhammad himself.

Jihad didn’t come out of nowhere, neither does the mistreatment of non-Muslims and women in areas where sharia is enforced.

That the Koran calls on Muslims to harass and oppress non-Musllims is simply undeniable. It also promotes the mistreatment of women, reports, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel. “The Quran mandates these punishments,” she writes. “It gives a legitimate basis for abuse, so that the perpetrators feel no shame and are not hounded by their conscience or their community.”

Tayyeb’s refusal to address this reality does not bode well for the cause of human rights and peace.

In the years after the Holocaust in Europe, Christians started to do the tough work of unpacking the relationship between the New Testament, Christian theology and the history of antisemitism in Western civilization. Given what’s happening, it is time for scholars at Al Azhar University to start doing the heavy lifting and confront the relationship between Islamic sources, practice and tradition and the catastrophe unfolding in the Middle East today.

During his talk, Tayyeb invoked the Universal Declaration of Human Rights that was passed in the aftermath of World War II.

He stated that this declaration along with the UN Charter would help bring peace, stability, justice and equality to the international system.

What Tayyeb did not report is that the Universal Declaration of Human Rights has been rejected as heretical by many Muslim scholars and government leaders because it accords people the right to leave their faith, a right denied to Muslims under sharia law.

That’s why the Organization of the Islamic Conference issued The Cairo Declaration on Human Rights in Islam at its 1990 meeting in Egypt. This declaration places the rights enunciated in the Universal Declaration under the jurisdiction of sharia law, which restricts the right to convert and enshrines the oppression of non-Muslims in Muslim countries.

So what Tayyeb did (without saying so) is invoke a human rights document that promotes ideas explicitly rejected by Muslim governments who signed onto the Cairo document.

It is a neat trick that his listeners at Bossey either missed or intentionally ignored, indicating that the dialogue the WCC hopes to promote is not really a dialogue, but a Kabuki dance of denial,

dishonesty and submission.

Dexter Van Zile (@dextervanzile) is Christian Media Analyst for the Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (@cameraorg)

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