Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Shiekh Ahmed El-Tayeb
Egypt's President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi called on religious institutions, especially Al-Azhar, to pay special attention to renewing religious discourse, stressing that failing to do so would leave the door open for the youth to get influenced by wrong interpretation of the Quran and Sunnah.
On behalf of President El-Sisi, Egypt's PM Mostafa Madbouly gave a speech on Monday before Al-Azhar's International Conference on the Renewal of Islamic Thought, which is being held in Cairo on Monday and Tuesday.
President El-Sisi has said that he wishes to see Al-Azhar's international conference be the start of annual chain conferences aimed at developing Islamic thought.
The Monday and Tuesday conference focuses on how to renew religious discourse, refuting misconceptions about Islam, discussing women and family issues, as well as the roles of the religious, academic, and international institutions in this regard.
The conference will include representatives from the Ministry of Religious Endowments (Awqaf), Dar Al-Efta, the highest institution in Egypt tasked with deciding religious questions, as well as Muslim councils from 46 Muslim-majority countries.
The grand imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayyeb, said in earlier press statements that the conference will help achieve the institution’s message in demonstrating the tolerance of Islam and renouncing extremism.
The Egyptian president has repeatedly stressed in recent years the importance of having balanced religious discourse to confront extremism and radical ideology, blaming outdated religious discourse for holding Egypt back, and often calling on Islamic clerics to reform their religious speech to confront extremist ideology.
The Al-Azhar conference is attended by representatives and heads of religious institutions from 41 countries.
"The renewal that we are seeking doesn't tackle the principles of religion, beliefs or rulings agreed upon by scholars, but targets the renewal in the jurisprudence of human interaction and sciences field," the Egyptian PM said.
"Our beliefs are fixed and that is part of our God's mercy, but we seek change according to the development of fatwas, which changes from country to country, and era to an era, and differs from one person to another," the PM said.
El-Tayyeb announced the establishment of a permanent centre for Al-Azhar's Heritage and Renewal, which is formed of Islamic scholars, professors and experts entitled with promoting renewal from inside and outside Egypt.