Azhar’s Sheikh: Congratulating Christians on Holidays Comes from Understanding Islam

Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb exchange a joint statement on "human fraternity" after a meeting at the Founder's Memorial in UAE (AP Photo)
Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb exchange a joint statement on "human fraternity" after a meeting at the Founder's Memorial in UAE (AP Photo)
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Azhar’s Sheikh: Congratulating Christians on Holidays Comes from Understanding Islam

Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb exchange a joint statement on "human fraternity" after a meeting at the Founder's Memorial in UAE (AP Photo)
Pope Francis and Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayyeb exchange a joint statement on "human fraternity" after a meeting at the Founder's Memorial in UAE (AP Photo)

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb announced that congratulating Christians on holidays is not out of courtesy or formalities but rather "comes from our understanding of the teachings of our true religion."

The Grand Imam explained that the relationship between Muslims and Christians is a true embodiment of unity and brotherhood and that this brotherhood will always remain the solid bond that strengthens the country against difficulties and challenges.

He stated that Islam is the religion of mercy, and Christianity is the religion of love, and they cooperate and embrace a world of tolerance and peace.

In remarks to the "Voice of al-Azhar" magazine, Tayyeb indicated that the legitimacy of war in Islam is not limited to the defense of mosques only, somewhat equally legitimate to defend churches and synagogues.

Tayyeb added: "Restricting non-Muslims in their food and drink during the day in Ramadan on the pretext of fasting is an absurdity that does not suit and does not relate to Islam."

The Imam stressed that the extremist ideology has nothing to do with Islam, highlighting that those who forbid congratulating Christians on their holidays are not familiar with the philosophy of Islam in dealing with others in general and with Christians in particular.

Controversy arose in Egypt after a Christian family accused a restaurant of refusing to serve them during a Ramadan day.

Tayyeb said that al-Azhar sees absolutely nothing wrong with building churches as there is nothing in the Quran or the Prophetic Sunnah that forbids this matter, and therefore al-Azhar cannot interfere to prevent the building of a church.

On Easter Sunday, the Grand Imam extended greetings to Pope Tawadros II of Alexandria and Patriarch of St. Mark Diocese, and the Christian people.

During a phone call with the pope, Tayyeb praised the relations between Muslims and Christians in Egypt, saying they genuinely embody unity and brotherly ties.

He added that the brotherly ties between the two components of the national fabric would remain as a firm bond bringing them together to face challenges and difficulties.

He also affirmed that his greeting for Christian people is based on a proper understanding of the Islamic religion.

Pope Tawadros expressed happiness with Azhar Sheikh's phone call and the permanent renewal of the friendship and love bonds between the solid national fabric that gathers Muslims and Christians in Egypt.

The Coptic pope also praised the cooperation and relations between al-Azhar and the Church in all fields.



Egypt Needs to Import $1.18 Billion in Fuel to End Power Cuts, PM Says

The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
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Egypt Needs to Import $1.18 Billion in Fuel to End Power Cuts, PM Says

The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)
The moon is seen after the day of Strawberry Moon over old houses in Cairo, Egypt, June 22, 2024. (Reuters)

Egypt needs to import around $1.18 billion worth of mazut fuel oil and natural gas to end persistent power cuts exacerbated by consecutive heat waves, its Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly said in a televised address on Tuesday.

It hopes the shipments will arrive in full around the third week of July, by which point the government aims to stop cutting power during the remaining summer months, he added.

It has already started contracting for 300,000 tons of mazut worth $180 million to boost its strategic reserves which are expected to arrive early next week.

Egypt's government on Monday extended daily power cuts to three hours from two hours previously in response to a surge in domestic electricity consumption during the latest heat wave.

These three-hour cuts will continue until the end of June, before returning to two hours in the first half of July with the aim of stopping completely for the rest of the summer, Madbouly said on Tuesday.

Egyptian social media has lit up with complaints about the impact of the blackouts, with some saying they have been forced to purchase private power generators.

The problem has particularly affected teenagers preparing for the crucial high school certificate, with some posting about students studying by candlelight and others in coffee shops.

A wedding hall owner in the coastal city of Port Said said he would turn one of his ballrooms into a study hall.

Since July last year, load shedding linked to falling gas production, rising demand and a shortage of foreign currency has led to scheduled two-hour daily power cuts in most areas.

"We had said that we planned to end load shedding by the end of 2024... we do not have a power generation problem or a network problem, we are unable to provide fuel," Madbouly said on Tuesday.

"With the increase in consumption related to the major development and population increase, there has been a lot of pressure on our dollar resources," he added.

He said production in a neighboring country's gas field had come to a full halt for 12 hours leading to an interruption in the supply, without naming the country or the gas field.

Egypt's Abu Qir Fertilizers said on Tuesday three of its plants had halted production because their supply of natural gas was cut.