Al-Azhar's role in Africa and Asia is considered the first Islamic haven. It also plays a role in forming and preparing students, scholars and future imams. This article discusses the role of al-Azhar in the West; directed towards both Muslims and Non-Muslims. Islam in the West is controlled by a general cultural and political context as well as everything related to Islamic Communities.
Moreover, al-Azhar also plays a part in communicating with the West in general and with the Vatican, religious and academic agencies, research centers and other entities calling for dialogue in Europe in particular; such as: France.
Al-Azhar University always tries to highlight the moderate image of Islam and the stance of al-Azhar characterized by rejection of extremism and violence as well as being academic, rational and objective. These endeavors are carried out through delegations sent by al-Azhar University, in cooperation with the Ministry of Endowments (Awqaf) and the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, to Europe in order to engage in academic and dialogue conferences.
On the other hand, there is an urgent question: When matters become confusing and trends become diverse where is the voice of al-Azhar. We would like to hear the voice of al-Azhar speaking on behalf of Islam and Muslims, as it represents the historically and academically agreed reference inside and outside the Islamic world.
Moreover, we are discussing the establishment of a research center specialized in academic and intellectual dialogue with the West and its entities; in other words a center for dialogue and communication. This center will enable al-Azhar to develop from a responsive to an initiative-taking entity; al-Azhar will invite Western entities to come at al-Azhar University to engage in an academic and intellectual dialogue. Al-Azhar and its University must announce the existence of this center in the media. Members of this center must also meet together periodically and encourage research on dialogue as well as publishing these pieces of research in newspapers and periodicals in different languages to be distributed worldwide. This center will be capable of adopting stances and giving responses towards questions related to Islam, its thought and sciences.
The establishment of this center is critical and inevitable as it will facilitate communication between al-Azhar and its University from one side and the West, Europe, their universities and affiliate institutions from another. This center will comprise of Muslim researchers working at Western Universities. It will also encourage any individual and group efforts seeking dialogue and communication.