CAIRO: A Cairo conference on renewing religious discourse will be held Monday by the Ministry of Endowment in reaction to rising sectarian disputes and radical Islamist militancy in the Middle East.
“In hopes of drafting an integrated and consensual declaration, the conference will gather Islamic scholars from Al-Azhar and other regional Islamic institutions, researchers, senior preachers, statesmen and public figures,” Religious Endowment Minister Mokhtar Gomaa was quoted by Youm7.
Ahmed Ali Suleiman, advisor to the International Authority to Ensure the Quality of Religious Discourse suggested using hi-tech methods during sermons of Friday congregation prayer to address common disputes among illiterates and young people.
About 25.9% of Egypt’s population above 10 years of age is illiterate, according to a report conducted by the Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics for the year 2013.
“It is illogical that modern technology means such as video footage are being used by extremists, while they are ignored by qualified and authorized preachers of Al-Azhar and other institutions,” Suleiman was quoted by Al-Ahram. He added that the notion aims to address DVDs and internet broadcasts produced by extremist preachers.
Displaying pictures and videos during the Friday prayer will provide people with correct religious teachings, emphasize moderate Islam and simplify the preacher’s vision, said Suleiman.
According to the Egyptian State Information Service, there are approximately 157,000 mosques in Egypt. Around 105,000 mosques are supervised by the state while the rest are owned and managed by either individuals or associations such as the Salafist Call and al-Gameya al-Shariya.
On the other hand, the number of preachers authorized by Al-Azhar and the religious endowment ministry remain unknown.
The ministry has issued a book titled “The renewal of religious speech”, Gomaa said in a press conference Saturday adding that the book has been translated into 13 languages.
The book highlights the fact that doctrinal positions are ultimately opinions that may be right or wrong as long as they are the work of humans.
In an attempt to keep mosques away from political and partisan conflicts, the ministry has decided to unify the topic of Friday sermons across the country, Gomaa said in a press conference in February.
He added that the decision is not meant to “impose further restrictions on religious freedom.”