KARACHI: Prof Dr Mohammad Mahmoud Abu Hashim, vice president of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, has said that Sufism can and is playing an effective role to counter extremist tendencies in the Muslim world because it teaches its adherents tolerance towards followers of all faiths and ideologies.
He rejected the western media’s portrayal of Islam as condoning if not encouraging extremism and emphasised that it should be borne in mind that “Islam is a religion of peace which has nothing to do with extremism and all acts of terrorism being committed in its pristine name.”
The scholar, who is visiting Pakistan on the invitation of organisers of the 27th ‘Annual spiritual workshop’ being organised in the city by Sufi order Silsila-i-Azeemia on Friday, was speaking at a dialogue on “Modern day challenges to the Muslim world” at the Karachi Press Club on Thursday.
He said that Al-Azhar University, 1,000-year-old seat of higher learning in the Islamic world, had on its part written several books and articles to educate Muslims in what constituted true Islam in order to save them from the prevalent extremist ideologies, which had inflicted more harm on religion than its external foes.
Asked why the university was no more playing its role to guide Muslims through today’s complex social and political problems, the scholar said the university had always tried to rise to the occasion and guide Muslims to the best course of action in the light of religion with regard to modern day problems.
On the question of Egyptian government’s policies towards Israel and the issue of Palestine, he said the issue of Palestine was the collective responsibility of the Muslim world.
Al-Azhar did not address individuals and groups and their actions, but it addressed collective issues and always strived hard to show the world true picture of pristine Islam and present a counter narrative against ‘Western propaganda’ through seminars and workshops, he said.
He disagreed with a question on how much influence Egypt’s military government wielded over the university and said that Al-Azhar was an independent institution, which formulated its own policies and never accepted intervention in its internal affairs by any regime.
Dr Abu Hashim rejected the notion that Muslim intelligentsia had failed to develop its own intellectual discourse on political Islam and said that it was wrong to say that Islamic scholars relied largely on western interpretations.
The scholar who was speaking through an interpreter posed a question to journalists before taking questions from them, saying “what role Pakistani media has played for Al Quds Al Sharif in the wake of the US president’s widely condemned move to relocate the country’s embassy to the occupied Jerusalem?”
The press club president, Ahmad Khan Malik, replied the country’s media gave ample airtime to reaction to the incendiary move because Pakistanis were very sensitive to the Palestine issue and they had always condemned every cruel act of Israeli occupation forces.
Dr Abu Hashim will attend the spiritual workshop of Silsila-i-Azeemia on Friday being organised as part of Urs celebrations of spiritual head of the Sufi order, Mohammad Azeem Burkhia.
Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2018