Al-Azhar Receives an Ahmadiyya Delegation

An Ahmadi delegation suc-ceeded in entering the Muslim ‘S u n n a’ stronghold of Al Azhar and met Al Imam Al Akbar Sheikh Al Azhar (the Grand Imam), Dr. Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, in Cairo, Egypt. I had been invited to attend a Seminar about Science and Technology in December 2004 in Alexandria Library in Egypt. The Seminar organised an excursion to d i fferent historical places such as the Pyramids, the Egyptian Museum or to the Opera. I opted to visit Al Azhar and to meet Al Imam Al Akbar (the Grand Imam). I met Sheikh Al-Azhar Dr. Muhammad Sayed Tantawi in his chancellery in Cairo on 13 December 2004. He received me very politely, and after a small talk, I posed him the question, ‘What about Ahmadiyyat, Your Highness?’ He kept silent for a while before saying, ‘ Well, pro-bably they made some mistakes. Anyhow Mashikhat Al Azhar deals only with the four main sects in Islam and less with the small Islamic groups, because there are m a n y. ’ I said, ‘Your Eminence, most Sheikhs who deliver the Friday sermon in the mosques, consider Ahmadiyyat as false and Ahmadis as non-Muslim and disbelievers. Yo u r declaration about Ahmadiyyat would force all the Mullahs and Sheikhs to change their view and consider Ahmadiyyat as a Muslim sect.’ The Grand Imam said: ‘We consider anybody who declares “there is none worthy of worship except Allah, Muhammad is His Messenger” as a Muslim.’ He invited me to send him some books about Ahmadiyyat and that after assessment they would announce their position. The answer of the Grand Imam did not satisfy me and I pushed him further that as the scholars would take a long time to deliberate, if he would be ready to receive an Ahmadi off i c i a l delegation in his office? Again after a brief silence, he welcomed the idea. It was as if all my dreams had been fulfilled. I thanked him for his 61The Review of Religions – July 2005 Al-Azhar receives an Ahmadiyya Delegation By Dr. Ibrahim Assad Odeh generosity and his readiness to receive an Ahmadi delegation and left for home. The idea to ask for a meeting with Al Imam Al Akbar of Al Azhar needs bravery, courage, the right opportunity and an honest mediator. Although I had visited Egypt twice before, only on this occasion did I get the idea to ask the organiser of the seminar about my desire to meet the Grand Imam. It was equally courageous for the Grand Imam to receive an Ahmadi in his chancellery despite the hostility and hatred against Ahmadis. Upon my return from Cairo and following permission from the C o m m u n i t y, a delegation com- prising Muhammad Sharif Odeh, Abdullah Assad Odeh, Munir Edelbi and myself was formed. On 8 February 2005, the Ahmadi Muslim delegation met the Imam Al-Azhar. He recognised me from the first meeting with him. We presented the principles of Ahmadiyyat and the d i fferences between Ahmadiyyat and other Muslims who still consider Ahmadiyyat as a non- Muslim group. He asked, ‘What are you doing against that? Anybody who declares the Kalima Ta y y a b a (the affirmation that there is none worthy of worship except Allah and Muhammad is His Messenger) is a Muslim.’ At the end of the meeting, he guided us to his assistant Sheikh Fawzi al-Zafzaf, a representative to the International Interfaith O rganisation and President of the Committee for Religious Dialogue, for further discussion. The meeting with Sheikh Fawzi al- Zafzaf was very friendly and fruitful. He displayed good know- ledge about Ahmadiyyat. But his information sources seemed to be one-sided. The discussion with Sheikh Zafzaf continued on two sessions on different days. After he heard from us the truth about Ahmadiyyat, especially from the f o u n d e r, Hadhrat Mirza Ghulam A h m a d( a s ) of Qadian, in his book Anwar ul-Islam, he was surprised and happy to know about the sources from the Ahmadi side. He asked us to prepare a short document includ- ing the accusations and their refutations. He promised that he would take it to the Permanent Committee for Religious Dialogue in Al-Azhar for discussion. The conclusion of the discussions would be brought to the Imam for his announcement. Mr Abdul Momin from London 62 AL-AZHAR – RECEIVES AN AHMADIYYA DELEGATION The Review of Religions – July 2005 spent three weeks and with the help of some Ahmadi members prepared the required document and sent it to A l – A z h a r. When the scholars of the Permanent Committee of Al-Azhar discuss the document seriously and reach a pos- itive conclusion about Ahmadiyyat, it would defeat those who oppose Ahmadiyyat. Even if the Committee in Al-Azhar does not reach a conclusion about Ahmadiyyat this time, in my opin-ion, the event opens a very important door for dialogue with Al-Azhar. Moreover, the Al- Azhar Library will contain not only literature from those who oppose Ahmadiyyat but also books and literature written by the Ahmadis t h e m s e l v e s . 63 AL-AZHAR – RECEIVES AN AHMADIYYA DELEGATION The Review of Religions – July 2005 Author left with the Al-Imam Al Azhar Ahmadi delegation with Sheikh Al-Azhar Dr. Tantawi. From Left: Mr. Munir Adelbi, Muhammad Odeh, imam Al- Akhbar, Dr. Ibrahim Odeh, Abdullah Odeh and two aids to the Sheikh We hope you have enjoyed reading this edition of the magazine. The Review of Religions will continue to provide discussion on a wide range of subjects and welcomes any comments or suggestions from its readers. To ensure that you regularly receive this monthly publication, please fill in your details below and we will put you on our mailing list. 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