CAIRO: Al-Azhar refused to label members of the Islamic State group as unbelievers in a Thursday statement, as Islam forbids Muslims to label fellow Muslims as apostates, regardless of their actions.
On Dec. 3, more than 700 Islamic and Christian scholars from 120 states participated in Al-Azhar’s Cairo International Conference on Countering Extremism. During his speech Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmed al-Tayeb said that extremists’ “twisted understanding” of the religion is complex, because they also give themselves the right to declare other Muslims apostates and kill them.
Other scholars spoke during the conference, including Nigeria Grand Imam Ibrahim Saleh Al-Hussein.
The statement said that neither Tayeb nor Hussein meant in their speeches that IS members were “unbelievers;” “They did extreme and corrupting actions including even murder and labeling others as disbelievers whenever they want judging people according to their thoughts,” Hussein said during the conference.
The statement said that the conference was not organized solely to judge IS, rather but only to confront Extremism as a whole.
Samar Farag, the daughter of writer Farag Foda, who was murdered by the group, said the statement was a “disaster.”
She said that this decision could tell IS members, even in an indirect way, that they are not doing something wrong or against the religion.
Al-Azhar has released a number of statements by its scholars against the Islamic State group; Tayeb has previously described them as “criminals” who distort the image of Islam.