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

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

Thursday, 21 April, 2022 - 09:15
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.

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