A file photo of Al-Azhar headquarters in Cairo (Photo: Al-Ahram)
“The calls for forming a new doctrinal entity that brings together the three religions under the name of “One Abrahamic Religion” - which are associated with the construction of a mosque, a church and a synagogue next to one another – as a way of promoting inter-human cooperation and eliminating the causes of conflicts represent a danger to both religion and society,” read a statement issued by the General Secretariat of Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Academy.
The statement added that “the ‘unity of religions’ idea - or what is called the ‘Abrahamic Religion’ - has been raised before, stressing that Al-Azhar “has previously decided on this matter and explained its danger.”
It stressed that this idea “contradicts with the nature of humans and their instinct which are based on difference in color, race, and freedom in belief."
The statement continued that this idea "contradicts with the origins of the divine religions and its branches and also contradicts what is stated in the Holy Qur’an and the noble Sunnah of the Prophet, and what was agreed upon by the scholars of every religion."
“The Academy would like to clarify to the world that the difference in beliefs and religions is an instinctive universalism and natural instinct bestowed by God upon people.”
“The freedom to choose belief does not prevent human communication with the followers of other religions or cooperation with them on righteousness and piety and not on sin and aggression because they are people of divine faith or dealing with them on the basis of justice and mutual respect as called for by Islam,” the statement added.
The academy cautioned, however, against “confusing between respecting the beliefs of others and believing in them,” saying “this would tarnish religions and violate the most important value guaranteed by God to man – the freedom of belief and human integration among people.”
It further proclaimed that those who call for such ideas are pushing personal agendas, warning them not to violate the sanctity of Abrahamic religions.
"God did not reveal his religion to humankind for it to be a vehicle for the achievement of political goals nor to become a tool for behavioural and moral deviations," the statement stressed.
Today's statement is not the first time that Al-Azhar has categorically rejected the idea of calling for "One Abrahamic Religion".
In November 2021, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb rejected such calls, warning that they aim to serve certain political agendas.
In January 2022, the Head of the Egyptian Coptic Orthodox Church Pope Tawadros II also rejected these ideas, saying "the calls for an Abrahamic Religion was a categorically unacceptable political idea which contradict all three monotheistic religions."
Not withstanding, Al-Azhar has been active in promoting cooperation with the followers of other montheistic religions.
In February 2019, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb signed the Human Fraternity Document with the Vatican Pope Francis.
The document stressed that it "aims for all persons who have faith in God and faith in human fraternity to unite and work together."
It also aims "to 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."