CAIRO: Al –Azhar has announced a number of projects that aim to instruct Islamic teachings to new Muslims, non-Arabic speaking Muslims, and non-Muslims interested in learning about Islam.
“The goal is to educate,” as well as to counter radicalization and show that “there is no contradiction between being a good Muslim and a loyal citizen of a country,” said Sheikh Hossam Ed-Deen Allam, an Islamic studies teacher at Azhar, who added that registration is open for all classes, which are free of charge.
Al-Azhar has also begun an integrated project to “reconnect” with the West in coordination with the British Council, the Goethe Institute, and the Institut Français d’Egypte.
The program trains Al-Azhar demonstrators and teaching assistants, as well as English teachers, to qualify them linguistically, Yousri Faramawi, the administrative director of Al-Azhar Language Center, told The Cairo Post Wednesday.
Dar al-Ifta, Egypt’s government-sponsored religious institution responsible for issuing fatwas and religious guidance, has created an encyclopedia on the “true” Islamic identity in English that will be distributed among Muslim communities in the West and will soon be made available on Android and Apple stores for free, the institution announced last Thursday.
The encyclopedia was a scholarly project recently drafted in five volumes that aims to guide modern Muslims in all walks of life, fight “extremist ideology” and refute “misconceptions” about Islam.
“The real danger is embodied in spreading the methodologies adopted by deviant organizations among Muslim youth living in the West,” Ibrahim Negm, senior advisor to the Grand Mufti said.
“We wish to provide the Muslim world with scholars who are able to communicate with Muslims and non-Muslims in their language,” Faramawi said.
English instructors are also trained on new curricula taught at Al-Azhar institutes, as part of Al-Azhar’s development of its teachers, students and curricula, Youm7 reported.
Further, Al-Azhar delivers Arabic courses and Islamic studies in English at Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo for no charge.
Al-Azhar works to regain its role
Al-Azhar, the biggest Sunni Islam institution in the world, has expressed its wish to “regain its international role” after extremist thought took over the scene.
It has been severely critical of the Islamic State (IS) and called for naming it Qaeda Separatists in Iraq and Syria (QSIS,) saying “they never explain what an ‘Islamic state’ has got to do with their terrorist actions like brutally slitting throats, burning schools and oppressing women and killing religious minorities, terrorizing and violating the human rights of people in the most blatant manner possible.”
“The recent news of European Muslims being recruited by the terrorist group QSIS is not only alarming but also appalling,” Dar al-Iftaa said Aug. 29.
It is believed that the same man beheaded late journalists James Foley and Steve Sotloff, and that he came from the U.K.
“One of the main reasons is their lack of authentic Islamic education through which they would have learned the true meanings of Islam and what construct the Muslim identity,” Dar al-Iftaa added.
Dar al-Iftaa condemned the beheading of U.S. hostage Steven Sotloff, saying the “terrorist crime contradicts the sanctity of life established in the holy Quran” and distorts the “image of Islam and Muslims.”