In June 2009 at al-Azhar, Barack Obama said: “For over a thousand years, Al-Azhar has stood as a beacon of Islamic learning.”
In October 2001, right after 9/11, the New York Times called Al-Azhar “the revered mosque, the distinguished university, the leading voice of the Sunni Muslim establishment.” It quoted a Muslim cleric: “Al Azhar is the only institution in the world that has learned the moderate Islam and taught it in a moderate way without fanaticism, and without abiding by the teachings of a school that promotes rigidity or violence.”
So why doesn’t al-Azhar declare the Islamic State jihadis who murdered over 300 people in the al-Rawda mosque to be “infidels”? Non-Muslim authorities all over the West assume that the vast majority of Muslims reject and abhor the understanding of Islam taught by the Islamic State. Why doesn’t the foremost institution in Sunni Islam validate that assumption? Because they know that what the Islamic State is doing has ample justification in Islamic texts and teachings. The beheadings (Qur’an 47:4); the subjugation of Christians as dhimmis (Qur’an 9:29) or the massacre of Christians who refused to submit (Qur’an 9:5); the sexual enslavement of infidel women (Qur’an 4:3, 4:24, 23:1-6, 33:50, 70:30) — it’s all there.
“We cannot declare Rawda mosque attacks infidels: Azhar spokesman,” by Farah Tawfeek, Egypt Independent, November 26, 2017:
Al-Azhar spokesman Abbas Shuman said that the al-Rawda mosque attackers had “exposed themselves” of having no religion by carrying out the attack and that no one, including Al-Azhar, should therefore not need to accuse them of being non-Muslim infidels.
In a phone call to the television show “Hadrat Al Mowaten” (Your Excellency the Citizen), Shuman accused the terrorists of being “hired to destroy Egypt”.
Responding to a question as to why al-Azhar has not declared the attackers as infidels, Shuman said, “it is not within the power of Al-Azhar to declare the attackers of Al-Rawda as infidels. Al-Azhar does not judge people, because this opens doors we cannot close.”
The statement prompted a forceful response from prominent television presenter Amr Adib, who issued a vicious attack against Al-Azhar, saying, “why aren’t you declaring them as infidels? Don’t you realize these people have millions of followers who they convince of their ideas using the Quran and Sunna [sayings of the prophet]?”
Others have also criticized Al-Azhar for its stance. On Saturday, a series of Al-Azhar scholars together with a host of political and social movements, urged the religious institution to issue a declaration against the attackers to brand them as infidels.
“The crimes of these terrorist groups have crossed a red line. Destroying houses of God is a major crime. Al-Azhar has to issue a strong response to these people by declaring them as infidels,” a statement by a variety of societal currents read.
Meanwhile, religious groups, including Sufi orders, have announced the launch of a religious campaign, demanding the Islamic State to be declared as infidels.
Sheikh Alaa Abu Al-Azaem, head of World Union for Sufi Orders, stressed that the members of the Islamic State are not Muslims because of their anti-Islamic views , which he described as “destructive”.
In response to the critics, Al- Azhar called for an urgent meeting with the country’s prominent Islamic leaders to discuss whether or not to issue a “fatwa” declaring Daesh as infidels….