CAIRO – Since few days, several many Arab and international media sites refer to the meeting which prestigious Mosque Al Azhar in Cairo hosted on Tuesday 26 May 2015 to discuss among intellectuals and Moslems scholars eventual publication of a document on the Moslem “renewal of the religious discourse”.


It is in this Sunni Holy Place of Islam that doctors of Islamic Law gathered with other intellectuals, thinkers and even artists and Moslem writers, men and women, to discuss on Tuesdays of the weeks which precede the month of Ramadan the background of a document which they intend to publish concerning “mechanisms and criteria to renew religious thinking, and  means to protect the society from fanatic thinking and tendencies to dissolution, which nowadays menace the stability and security of the society”. According to participants, Islam approves renewal, remembering that al Hadith (1) of Mohammed involves a verse: “God will send every hundred years to this (Moslem) community whoever will renew its religion”.


Many terrorist groups, spread nowadays almost everywhere give since some years a dark image of Islam all over the world. An appeal to such a “renewal” is commendable, it is an attempt to raise the voices of those who believe in a Moderate Islam. It is normal to wait for the outcome of this document, in its final shape, in order to discuss it or evaluate its content, ignored so far, and then to know how this document could be applied in a vast and diversified Moslem world, where there is no genuine central authority, without forgetting the schism, almost unbridgeable, between Sunnis and Shiites, which Sunni Al Azhar however does not represent.


According to the official site of Arabic-speaking TV channel Aljazeera, the Chief Imam of Al Azhar, Ahmad al Tayyeb, said: “Despite the noise that goes on with that, the subject of renewal of thinking and of religious discourse did not raise much mobilization at the level of discourse – whether mediatic, cultural, educational and religious. Our meeting of educated men at al-Azhyar  falls within the framework of our desire to listen to and to ask for advice, as to what we could offer to Egypt and to the Moslem world”.


Qatar-owned TV channel – known for its support to ideas and fanatic Islamist movements – brought back to memory the speech which Egypt’s President Sissi said last January, on the occasion of the birth of Mohammed. In that speech, the President called for a “religious revolution to get rid of sacred ideas and texts known in the course of centuries, which are a cause of concern to the whole world”.


It is not the first time that an Imam of Al Azhar (nominated by the President of the Egyptian Republic) calls for the renewal of the religious discourse. Already back in 2003, the Imam at that time Mohamad Sayyed Tantawi referred to the “renewal of discourse without destroying the solid realities”, in the course of a debate organized at that time by the High Council of Islamic Affairs in Cairo.


It is worth adding that once named, the Imam of Al Azhar can act the way he wants, and take fatwas (religious opinion) of his choice.


Firas Abedrabbo


  1. It is an oral communication from Prophet of Islam Mohammad and consequently a collection which includes the traditions relating to acts and words of Mohammad and his companions, considered as principles of personal and collective behavior for Moslems, referred to as “tradition of the Prophet”. The Hadith were reported by some 50 000 companions.