Al-Azhar Grand Imam receives Astana International Prize in Kazakhstan

Ahram Online , Wednesday 14 Sep 2022

President of the Republic of Kazakhstan Kassym-Jomart Tokayev awarded on Wednesday the Astana International Prize to Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb for his contribution in the field of interreligious dialogue and promoting the culture of fraternity and tolerance among different cultures and ethnicities.

Grand Imam
Kazakhstan’s President Kassym-Jomart Tokayev hands over the Astana International Prize to Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed El-Tayyeb in Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan on Wednesday (Photo courtesy of Al-Azhar official Facebook page)


This came during the opening session of the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions being held in the Kazakh capital Nur-Sultan on 14-15 September, according to a statement by Al-Azhar, Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning.

El-Tayyeb is "the most inspiring and influential Islamic figure in humanitarian causes, and his presence in Kazakhstan is important and appreciated,” Al-Azhar institution quoted the Kazakhstani president as saying.

Tokayev said the Kazakh people appreciate El-Tayyeb's great efforts in the field of peace and interfaith dialogue.

"We," the Kazakhstani president said, "are all concerned with achieving peace and reconciliation in the post-pandemic period, and there is no way to do that except through dialogue and acceptance of the other."

El-Tayyeb’s visit started on Monday evening to participate in the Seventh Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions, held under the title 'The Role of Religious Leaders in the Spiritual and Social Development of Humanity in the Post-Covid-19 Pandemic Period."

The religious congress – which is held once every three years in the capital of Kazakhstan – was first held in 2003 with the aim of achieving mutual respect and tolerance between religions, nations, and ethnic groups, as well as establishing peace, harmony, and tolerance as the unshakable principles of human existence. 

The grand imam, who is leading a high-level Egyptian delegation of Al-Azhar scholars, had received an official invitation from President Tokayev and both held a meeting on Tuesday, when the president expressed appreciation to the efforts of the grand imam in spreading the sound image of Islam, confronting extremism, and promoting the principles of human fraternity regionally and globally.

Tokayev also indicated that the whole world, not only Muslim countries, is aware of the value of Al-Azhar, noting that Egypt, through Al-Azhar, has provided great support for Kazakhstan in adopting moderate Islam, a separate statement by Al-Azhar said on Tuesday.

This support has been provided to Kazakh students enrolled at Al-Azhar and who returned home to promote the values they had learned in their community, he said.

“This moderate Islam is based on respect for the other, promoting the values of coexistence among all, and renouncing violence, hatred, and intolerance,” Tokayev added.

El-Tayyeb meets with secretary-general of Religions for Peace

El-Tayyeb met on Tuesday with Azza Karam, the secretary-general of Religions for Peace — the largest multi-religious leadership platform with 92 national and six regional interreligious councils, Al-Azhar reported.

Karam noted that partnership with Al-Azhar and the Muslim Council of Elders (MCE), which is headed by El-Tayyeb, is significant for the support of the platform's efforts.

The MCE, the grand imam said, promotes peace and fraternity and enforces the role of youth in building interfaith bridges of communication and respect, according to Al-Azhar.

This partnership, Karam said, helps the platform move forward in launching initiatives and adopting humanitarian projects, adding that the platform is about to announce the launch of a number of projects in cooperation with the MCE that aim at influencing young religious leaders of different faiths.

She added the world is now in dire need for the grand imam’s vision on promoting world peace as a substitute for intolerance and hatred. She noted that his co-signing of the Human Fraternity Document with His Holiness Pope Francis represented a key historical moment at a critical juncture.

Pope Francis and El-Tayyeb signed the Document of Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together in Abu Dhabi in February 2019.

The document invites “all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together so that it may serve as a guide for future generations to advance a culture of mutual respect in the awareness of the great divine grace that makes all human beings brothers and sisters.”

More than 100 delegations from 50 countries are attending the two-day event in Nur-Sultan, including Pope Francis.

Grand Imam receives High Representative for UN Alliance of Civilisations

On Tuesday, El-Tayyeb also met with Miguel Ángel Moratinos, the High Representative for the United Nations Alliance of Civilisations. Moratinos hailed the Human Fraternity Document that became a joint global declaration promoting a culture of dialogue and coexistence. He also praised the role of the Muslim Council of Elders in promoting peace.

The Document of Human Fraternity, with its religious symbolism -- represented by the Grand Imam and Pope Francis -- came during a critical time, especially in light of the wars, fighting, and conflicts the world is seeing, and the spread of the diseases of intolerance and hatred, and the primacy of individual interest and materialism, said Moratinos.

The global interest in the document proves the urgent need for the world to unite at the present time, the UN representative said.

El-Tayyeb stressed the importance of strengthening the identity of each society. Attempts by some countries to impose a specific culture or lifestyle on the whole world, targeting religious and moral values, will ruin family and society, he said.

“Those who make these schemes -- despite their small numbers -- have the influence and the ability to promote their plans, which put on us [religious scholars] the responsibility to unite to face these social risks,” the grand imam said.

Short link: