In an unprecedented first, British Imams as well as male and female Muslim scholars of the United Kingdom have come together and written a statement of commendation in a letter of support for the historical and grand institution of Al-Azhar in Cairo, Egypt, and its Grand Imam, Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb Shaykh al-Azhar.
The letter, issued on Friday 12 January 2018, pays tribute to the long-standing history and service of Al-Azhar to the religion of Islam, the Muslims and the wider world – a service that spans over a thousand years. The letter acknowledges the leadership and role played by the honourable Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in light of the events of 2017 and the present challenges facing the people of the world.
The efforts of Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb Shaykh al-Azhar in promoting the moderation of Islam and countering extremist and terrorist thought; building bridges with other faith communities around the world as well as institutions such as the Vatican in Rome, the Anglican Church and the Coptic Church; initiating conferences, peace-building initiatives and various councils bringing people together from diverse backgrounds; standing up for the right of under-privileged and persecuted people around the world and leading humanitarian missions such as for the Rohingya; and standing up for the right of Palestinians and the historical and religious issue of Jerusalem, have all been highlighted in the letter.
The letter comes at a time when Al-Azhar is to host a landmark international conference on Jerusalem bringing people of different faiths and backgrounds together as well as experts in different fields, which is to be held in Cairo, Egypt, in the middle of January.
Full text of the letter headed ‘Statement of Commendation’:
As the new year of 2018 commences and the welcomed ‘Al-Azhar International Conference on Jerusalem’ being held in Cairo approaches, we – the under-signed British Imams and scholars of the United Kingdom – take this opportunity to extend gratitude and commendation for the scholarly leadership demonstrated by al-Azhar al-Sharif and its Grand Imam, His Excellency, Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb Shaykh al-Azhar, in light of the circumstances and challenges of the present age.
There is no doubt that al-Azhar al-Sharif has been a bastion of Islamic scholarship for over a thousand years and has played a vital role in assessing and dealing with changing times and issues. It has maintained the central moderation and peace of Islam and protected the religion from extremist contamination. Over the centuries, it has gained prominence and a firm place in the hearts of Muslims around the world. Today, beneficiaries of al-Azhar al-Sharif are found in all regions of the world, and Islamic scholarship is indebted to the treasures of knowledge and wisdom that the luminary scholars of al-Azhar al-Sharif have presented over the past generations.
In recent times, the world has appeared at a crossroad, facing challenges in many ways; from extremist narratives plaguing the religion to bloodshed and violence perpetrated in the name of religion; from demands of globalisation to humanitarian crises in many lands; from economic expediency of the powerful to political chaos of the less powerful. In short, the present age has brought many challenges that the Muslim community around the world is facing.
In this regard, we commend and applaud the wise and scholarly leadership provided by the Grand Imam, Dr Ahmad al-Tayyeb Shaykh al-Azhar, at an institutional level inside al-Azhar al-Sharif, as well as for the wider world, including the Arabs and Muslims. In particular, we commend the honourable Grand Imam for the following initiatives:
1. Organising landmark al-Azhar international conferences, such as Freedom and Citizenship; Diversity and Integration, and the al-Azhar International Peace Conference, in Cairo, Egypt, with Pope Francis of the Vatican, and building bridges with the Catholic Church.
2. Building bridges between people by pursuing foreign tours to meet with state and faith leaders in many countries including Italy, Germany, Netherlands, France, Australia, etc.
3. Building bridges with Archbishop Justin Welby and the Anglican Church in England.
4.Setting up the award-winning Egyptian Family House project, bringing the Muslims of Egypt and the Coptic Church closer together.
5. Leading the global Muslim Council of Elders.
6. Developing the al-Azhar Centre for eFatwa Online.
7. Setting up the al-Azhar Observer for Countering Extremism and Terrorism.
8. Despatching humanitarian aid missions from al-Azhar to the countries of Africa and for the Rohingya community in Bangladesh.
9. Consistently highlighting the religious and historical reality of Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque, standing up for the right of the Palestinians, and organising the upcoming al-Azhar International Conference on Jerusalem.
10. Developing and strengthening the World Organization for al-Azhar Graduates and its branches around the world, in order to spread the moderation of Islam to confront extremism, and to correct the false image of Islam.
We congratulate the honourable Grand Imam on being duly recognised as the most influential Muslim in the world for 2017 by The Muslim 500. We remain prayerful for the success of positive endeavours and for the institution of al-Azhar al-Sharif.
Concise List of Signatories:
1.Shaykh Muhammad Imdad Hussain Pirzada, Retford
2.Allama Dr Mohammad Shahid Raza Na’eemi OBE, Leicester
3.Shaykh Ahmad Nisar Beg Qadri, Manchester
4.Shaykh Umar Hayat Qadri, Huddersfield
5.Allama Masood Alam Khan al-Azhari, Nottingham
6.Prof Masood Akhtar Hazarvi, Luton
7.Imam Qari Muhammad Asim MBE, Leeds
8.Shaykh Mohammad Yazdani Raza Misbahi, London
9.Allama Pir Syed Ishtiaq Hussain Shah Gillani, London
10.Maulana Shabir Hussain Rabbani, Glasgow, Scotland
11.Allama Syed Tariq Masood, London
12.Shaykh Hesham Mohamed, Stoke-on-Trent
13.Qari Hafiz Muhammad Ali, Sheffield
14.Bakhtyar Pirzada al-Azhari, Retford
15.Shaykh Mohammad Imran Abdali, Birmingham
16.Qari Sher Muhammad Qadri, London
17.Maulana Hafiz Gul Muhammad al-Azhari, Retford
18.Maulana Hafiz Mahboob Hussain al-Azhari, Retford
19.Allama Zein Hud al-Azhari, Birmingham
20.Imam Mohammed Asad Ali, London
21.Imam Muhammad Habibur Rahman Khan, Dunfermline, Scotland
22.Imam Abu Baqar Ali al-Azhari, Bradford
23.Sahibzada Hamad Zahir Siddiqui, Birmingham
24.Hafiz Tahir Rafiq al-Azhari, London
25.Ustadh Jamil Akram, Retford
26.Maulana Mushtaq Hussain al-Azhari, Retford
27.Ustadh Hasan Jamaal Khan, Peterborough
28.Imam Mansoor Mahmood, London
29.Ustadh Hasan Jeelani, Nottingham
30.Imam Mohammed Umar Nawaz, Cardiff, Wales
31.Maulana Aftab Muhaudden al-Azhari, Batley
32.Imam Kamran Liaquat Ali, Bradford
33.Ustadh Mohammed Mahfooz Wasif, Burton-upon-Trent
34.Imam Usman Kayani Chishti, Blackburn
35.Imam Shahed Tameez, Birmingham
36.Ustadh Abu Adam Akhlaq al-Azhari, Birmingham
37.Imam Ahmad Ayaz Ur-Rahman Irfani, Bedford
38.Imam Muhammad Irfan Chishti MBE, Manchester
39.Shaykh Rizwan Hussain al-Azhari, Southampton
40.Hafiz Musaddaq Shaheen al-Azhari, Peterborough
41.Imam Iftikhar Daad al-Azhari, London
42.Imam Hassan Rabbani al-Azhari, Glasgow, Scotland
43.Imam Mohammad Amir, Stoke-on-Trent
44.Ustadha Areeba Hassan, London
45.Ustadh Mohammed Hasan Patel, Bolton
46.Ustadh Haroon Mohammed, Stockton-on-Tees
47.Maulana Mohammed Adam Raza, Retford
48.Hafiz Issarar Hussain, Nottingham
49.Ustadh Mohammed Mahin Saiyed, Birmingham
50.Mr Imran Hussain, Birmingham
51.Imam Muzzamal Hussain Ahmed al-Azhari, Manchester
52.Imam Mansoor Mahmood al-Azhari, Kirkcaldy, Scotland
53.Imam Faisal Ali Khatab, Birmingham
54.Imam Muhammad Asim Chishti, Bristol
55.Ustadha Farkhanda Khatoon, Nottingham
56.Hafiz Muhammad Ahmad Siddique, London
57.Qari Muhammad Abd al-Rahman Khan al-Azhari, Nelson
58.Ustadh Mohammad Imran Sulaman al-Azhari, Oadby, Leicestershire
59.Ustadh Mohammad Haroon al-Azhari, Bradford
60.Ustadh Amanullah Munir, London
61.Maulana Mubashir Iqbal, Manchester
62.Ustadh Haseeb Ul Rehman Akhtar al-Azhari, Banbury
63.Abu Awais Imam Muhammad Zahoor Chishti al-Azhari, Oldham
64.Ustadh Ibrar Hussain, Blackburn
65.Ustadh Osman Ali, Birmingham
66.Ustadh Kaleem Haider al-Azhari, Liverpool
67.Ustadha Zulaikhah Jamil, Retford
68.Ustadh Arif Adam, Bolton
69.Maulana Muhammad Ishaq, Retford
70.Imam Ghulam Moyhuddin al-Azhari, Ashton-under-Lyne
71.Imam Mohamad Nizaal Khodabux, London
72.Imam Hafiz Sajjad Hussain al-Azhari, Blackburn
73.Ustadh Muhammad Ayaz al-Azhari, Coventry
74.Imam Nazam Nawaz, Bedford
75.Ustadh Dawood Masood, Luton
76.Hafiz Muhammad Bilal Mudassir, Accrington
77.Ustadh Faraz Abid, Peterborough
78.Ustadh Naveed Hussain al-Azhari, Leeds
79.Ustadh Zagham Ali Mohammed al-Azhari, Retford
80.Ustadh Faizul Hassan al-Azhari, Burton-on-Trent
81.Ustadha Rukhsanda Khatoon, Cardiff, Wales
82.Ustadh Muhammad Ali Tanveer, Woking
83.Ustadha Bushra Miskeen, Redditch
84.Ustadha Sidrah Ahmed, Southampton
85.Ustadh Amar Hafiz, Sheffield
86.Qari Muhammad Zia, Oldham
87.Mr Ansar Hussain, Milton Keynes
88.Hafiz Siraj Iqbal, Stockton-on-Tees
89.Ustadh Summon Zaib Hussain, High Wycombe
90.Hafiz Shakeel Qadri, Bristol
91.Maulana Khalid Patel, London
92.Imam Assad Hussain, Stoke-on-Trent
93.Ustadh Hamzah Hassan, Oxford
94.Maulana Yusuf Murray, Birmingham
95.Ustadh Ammar Siddiqui, London
96.Imam Khurram Rafiq, London
97.Qari Tanweer Ahmad, Glasgow, Scotland
98.Allama Fiaz Ahmed, Glasgow, Scotland
99.Hafiz Faiz Javed, Glasgow, Scotland
100.Miss Aneesa Hussain, Dewsbury