Al-Tayeb’s call for reform here is not genuine. He has shown himself over the years to be a doctrinaire literalist: he has justified anti-Semitism on Qur’anic grounds; called for the Islamic State murderers of the Jordanian pilot to be crucified or have their hands and feet amputated on opposite sides (as per the penalty in Qur’an 5:33 for those who make war against Allah and his messenger or spread “mischief” in the land); and broken off “dialogue” with the Vatican after Pope Benedict XVI dared to criticize the jihad massacre of 21 Christians in Alexandria on New Year’s Eve 2011. Al-Azhar was only recently revealed to be offering free copies of a book that called for the slaughter of Christians and other Infidels.
So what is he doing in this call for reform? Combating the Islamic State. Al-Azhar and al-Tayeb want to present a good front for the al-Sisi regime. So this is not all it appears to be, but is more the result of political calculation than of a genuine impulse for reform.
“Al-Azhar top cleric calls for religious teaching reform,” BBC, February 22, 2015 (thanks to Harry):
The Grand Imam of Egypt’s top Islamic institution has called for a radical reform of religious teaching to tackle the spread of Islamic extremism.
Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb of Cairo’s al-Azhar University said that a historical misreading of the Koran had led to intolerant interpretations of Islam.
Speaking at an anti-terror conference, he called for unity among Muslims.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has said that a pan-Arab military force is needed to combat terrorism.
He told Egyptian state TV that the need for such a unified force was “growing and becoming more pressing every day” because of the huge challenges faced by the region.
“We will be able to overcome such challenges when we unite together,” he said.
Mr Sisi added that several countries, including Jordan, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, had offered military assistance against Islamic State (IS) after the militants released a video that appeared to show the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians.
The beheadings prompted Egypt to bomb alleged IS targets in Libya.
President Sisi said that the Egyptian military had no interest in attacking or invading other nations but that it would defend Egypt and the region.
Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb condemned terrorism at the opening of a three-day counter-terrorism forum in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia.
In his speech, he linked extremism to “bad interpretations” of the Koran and the life of the Prophet Muhammad.
“The only hope for the Muslim nation to recover unity is to tackle in our schools and universities this tendency to accuse Muslims of being unbelievers,” he said….