By Robin Gomes
A leading Muslim authority in Egypt feels it urgent to get political and religious leaders to cooperate to help people re-discover and cherish the values of human fraternity and live accordingly.
Human fraternity: Love and care
“We cannot take out knowledge from the equation of human fraternity, because human fraternity in its essence means reaching out to people, getting to know them, understanding what is going on around us and basically showing them love and care,” said Muhammad Al-Ḍuwaini, deputy of Gran Imam Ahmad Al-Tayeb of Egypt’s prestigious Al-Azhar Mosque and University.
Speaking to Francesca Merlo on the sidelines of Expo 2020 Dubai which is being staged in the United Arab Emirates from 1 October 2021 to 31 March 2022, Al-Duwaini made comments on the 2nd International Day of Human Fraternity.
The annual 4 February observance was established by the United Nations General Assembly on 21 December 2020. It commemorates the signing of the historic “Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together”, or simply the Document on Human Fraternity, by Pope Francis and Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayeb.
Involving political and religious leaders
Al-Duwaini said the values of human fraternity were highlighted by the joint effort of Pope Francis and the Grand Imam who joined efforts in a historic way, signing the Document on Human Fraternity on 4 February 2019 in Abu Dhabi.
On rediscovering fraternity
The purpose of the Document was not to help people discover humanity but to “rediscover” it and its values. It wanted to “alert people to what it contains and what humanity means and what human fraternity requires.”
Al-Dwaini, who is professor of Comparative Islamic Jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, stressed that all religions believe in the sanctity of human beings in the religious sense. Hence, basically, it is impossible to achieve human fraternity without getting to know, love and understand each other.
According to the Holy Koran, he said, God created men, women and many tribes in order to help them know, love and care for each other.
The deputy to the Grand Imam reiterated that the Document on Human Fraternity is to re-discover humanity and understand how humanity needs to act and what needs to be done in order for us to achieve our goals. With this in mind, people come and work together irrespective of their origin, religion or belief.
Egypt ‘a model’
Al-Duwaini particularly underscored the need to sow the seeds of fraternity in the minds of children at an early age. In this regard, he said that Al-Azhar University takes a moderate stand, which he said is basically the true nature of Islam and Islamic teaching.
Over 90 percent of Egypt’s some 102 million people profess Islam, the state religion. Most of the Christians who make up 9.6 percent of the population, identify themselves as Coptic Orthodox Christians.
A-Duwaini pointed out that people at “Al-Azhar believe in living together in coexistence and love each other as one big family”.
Egypt has become an icon of Muslims and Copts living and co-existing side by side, he concluded, speaking about a place called the “family house” which bring together Muslims and Copts, as well Protestants and Catholics.