Speaking before Al-Azhar and the Awqaf Ministry on New Year’s Day, 2015, in connection to Prophet Muhammad’s upcoming birthday, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a vocal supporter for a renewed vision of Islam, made what must be his most forceful and impassioned plea to date on the subject.
Here is the translation of the pertinent part of what President al Sisi had to say:
I am referring here to the religious clerics. We have to think hard about what we are facing—and I have, in fact, addressed this topic a couple of times before. It’s inconceivable that the thinking that we hold most sacred should cause the entire umma [Islamic world] to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world. Impossible!
That thinking—I am not saying “religion” but “thinking”—that corpus of texts and ideas that we have sacralized over the years, to the point that departing from them has become almost impossible, is antagonizing the entire world. It’s antagonizing the entire world!
Is it possible that 1.6 billion people [Muslims] should want to kill the rest of the world’s inhabitants—that is 7 billion—so that they themselves may live? Impossible!
I am saying these words here at Al Azhar, before this assembly of scholars and ulema—Allah Almighty be witness to your truth on Judgment Day concerning that which I’m talking about now.
All this that I am telling you, you cannot feel it if you remain trapped within this mindset. You need to step outside of yourselves to be able to observe it and reflect on it from a more enlightened perspective.
I say and repeat again that we are in need of a religious revolution. You, imams, are responsible before Allah. The entire world, I say it again, the entire world is waiting for your next move… because this umma is being torn, it is being destroyed, it is being lost—and it is being lost by our own hands.
At last, someone with standing in the Muslim world has said what needs to said. It’s a shame that this story has received next to no media attention. Clearly, President Al Sisi understands that the atrocities committed in the name of Islam are, if however slowly, turning the world against Islam and it will not end well for the out numbered Muslims.
Will the imams heed Sisi’s words? We can not know at this time. What is needed is for other heads of states from the Muslim world; like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Iraq, Turkey, and etc., to echo Sisi’s call for a revolution within Islam. Then maybe we could see some positive change toward tamping down the radical elements of Islam.
I won’t be holding my breath; but it is a nice thought for the New Year.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking. What are your thoughts?