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Clerics, intellectuals, MPs, urge state to finalise renewal of religious discourse  - Daily News Egypt

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Clerics, intellectuals, MPs, urge state to finalise renewal of religious discourse 

Over the years,  calls for renewing religious discourse have been pressing for the Egyptian society as a result of Religious misconceptions that lead to the emergence of terrorism

Several religious clerics stressed the necessity of finding solutions to get rid of all extremist ideas and misconceptions surrounding religion, demanding a specific map for the major issues to be discussed, and representing all different sectors of society.


This came directly after president Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi called to hold a one-week conference on correcting misconceptions of religious, fighting extremist ideas, and misusing Religion during a celebration of the Prophet’s Mohamed birthday (Mawlid al-Nabi) held last Thursday.

Osama Al-Abd, head of the Religious and Endowments Affairs Committee in the Egyptian Parliament said the renewal of religious discourse is not an encroachment on religious principles, but is a correction to the misconceptions that are attributed to Islam and not actually from Islam, pointing out that Islam is known for justice, tolerance, moderation, and human brotherhood based on the principles of Islamic law.


Al-Abd revealed that he spoke with the Minister of Religious Endowment Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, following the president’s call, and agreed to meet with the religious committee in the parliament in the presence of three religious institutions, namely Al-Azhar Islamic Institution, Ministry of Awqaf (Religious Endowment), and Dar Al-Ifta in order to make reach a consensus on how to properly meet the criteria of the president’s call for religious understanding.



He added that the role of the religious committee is to link religious institutions and bring them together to correct the mistakes that have been distorting the Islamic religion


Al-Abd noted that the committee would hold a second meeting with stakeholders to hear their vision.


“Our role is to clarify the correct Islam and liquidate the Islamic Sharia from any impurity issued whether intended or not by people of Islam or others,” he said, adding that those who should speak about Islam are only those who have jurisdiction and accuracy adorned from the people of Islamic law and high Islamic authorities, which are fully aware of the conditions of l

“We are building a modern state on the true religion and to share the world in its progress and prosperity, and Islamic civilization testifies that we have served the entire world,” he added.


Al-Abd pointed out that this conference will be a continuation of the conference that took place under the supervision of parliament on the renewal of religious discourse.

According to Al-Abd, these seminars and conferences aim to fight extremism in thought, words, and deeds, and fights blind terrorism.

The Parliament’s committee of Endowment and Religious Affairs organised a conference on the renewal of religious discourse at the beginning of 2019. Members of other parliamentary committees, such as media, culture, education, and archaeology attended the conference, as well as members from the ministry of religious endowments, Dar Al-Ifta, and churches, in addition to political, cultural, and media institutions.

The Undersecretary of the Religious Affairs and Endowments Committee in the Parliament Shoukry El-Gendy, praised the president’s call, saying that all representations of society should be represented during the conference to voice their views and concerns.


He also suggested that the ministries of culture, education, and higher education must attend the conference and be aware of how they can change religious discourse in educational and cultural institutions.


“We must work together to get rid of all extremist ideas and misconceptions, and show the development of Egypt and fighting terrorism,” he asserted.


Abdel Moneim Fouad, Professor of religion and philosophy at Al-Azhar University said that such a conference will help open people’s eyes on real problems of the society and accordingly come up with solutions.

He said that however scholars, intellectuals, and all men of culture are the best to carry out this confrontation, all parts of society should participate in changing religious discourse.


“This is not the first instance that Al-Azhar works on his case, but has been for a long time now,” he noted, adding the challenges facing the state are intellectual challenges, which he believes “are harder and deadly than the military war.”


He called the state to develop a specific map of major issues, including “respect for national and religious symbols, so youth may come to them for advice”.



Discussions about the renewal of religious discourse were immensely tackled in the media during previous years, while also addressing different seminars and conferences which were also held on the issue, to combat terrorism and protect young people from joining extremist groups.


Despite the president’s prolonged calls over the necessity of reforming the religious discourse, top religious institutions are still unable to agree on a unified vision for the reform.

Gomaa, and Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb, previously showed division on several occasions over different Islamic topics that included the unifying of Friday sermon according to a state decision in 2016.



“Terrorist and extremist groups are also using some concepts of religious thought to recruit young people and distort their ideas, to become intellectual extremists, and are therefore used in terrorist acts anywhere,” he said.


Hassan Bassiouni, a member of the House of Representatives said, “We currently suffer that some public figures discuss {Religion} in meetings, seminars, or media, without awareness and study, which leads to distorting the image for the citizen, thus there is a need to expedite the completion of the steps to renew religious discourse and bring public affairs to this discourse.”


Dean of the Faculty of  Mass Communication of Cairo University Laila Abdel Majid , said that religious discourse has a social, cultural, and social dimension.

“We need to come up with a strategic vision of religious discourse that is consistent with the needs of society and our cultural and social realities,” she said. 

She pointed out that the media is a means through which religious discourse is circulated. “I hope that the church could have representatives in this conference, as they are part of the religious discourse. There must be a presence for educators to draw religious education in schools,” she added.


In a related context, Mohamed Morsy, professor of mass communication at Cairo University, said there is a particular mess in the field of media when it comes to the discussion of edicts, especially in  talk shows where hosts are unqualified to issue edicts and usually make mistakes that offend Islam and Muslims.

“We need to renew the religious discourse because we have become interested in appearing Religious as opposed to understanding Religion,” he said.


He pointed out that we need to link religion as a fundamental value of Arab people to the issues of daily life.


The professor added that Al-Azhar has taken steps to combat the issue through including a list of those who have the right to issue edicts on channels, and setting up a centre for preparing and training preachers.

For his part, Hassan Mekkawi, former dean of the Faculty of mass communication at Misr University for Science and Technology,  pointed out that terrorism is an intellectual rather than a security problem.

He explained that the renewal of religious discourse will eliminate terrorism, pointing out that both Islam and Christianity might be radically interpreted and hence they must focus on the importance of citizenship and non-discrimination.

He concluded that the merging of religion with politics is a mistake in society and that the media should work on becoming enlightened by exploring its negatives.

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