Ten Years with the Muslim Nation's Wise Scholars: The Muslim Council of Elders and Its Leading Initiatives in Addressing the Challenges Facing the Muslim Nation and the World

The Peace Convoys project aiming to combat Islamophobia and alleviate the religious tension surrounding many Muslim communities

The 20 Principles Charter, a professional and ethical charter that underscores the media's role in promoting values of coexistence, tolerance, and human fraternity

The Council of Muslim Elders has held more than 11 international conferences to address pivotal issues

Focusing on Palestine, Myanmar, Sudan, the desecration of the Quran, and COVID-19, the Muslim Council of Elders supports the causes of the Muslim nation and advances the role of religions in confronting global challenges

Abu Dhabi, March ..., 2024: The Council of Muslim Elders, under the chairmanship of His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, has been a beacon of progressive thought and action since its inception a decade ago. This Council has been instrumental in leveraging the influence of religious leaders to navigate and mitigate contemporary issues and crises. It focuses on devising solutions and implementing effective, tangible measures to overcome challenges that affect both the Muslim nation and the world at large.

Launched in 2015, a year following the Council’s formation, the “Peace Convoys” initiative has stood as a testament to the Council’s commitment to global harmony. In partnership with Al-Azhar, this initiative deploys groups of scholars, along with young men and women proficient in Islamic Sharia and its sciences, to various countries. Their mission is to conduct in-depth scientific and intellectual activities, in collaboration with local religious, academic institutions, and youth organizations. The objectives are manifold: to dispel misconceptions, foster positive integration of Muslims into their communities, counter Islamophobia, and mitigate the religious tensions that pervade many Muslim societies.

The Peace Convoys, initiated by the Muslim Council of Elders, have traversed numerous countries across every continent. In 2015, their journey took them to the United States, France, Germany, Italy, Indonesia, Pakistan, South Africa, Spain, Central Africa, and Chad. The following year, 2016, saw them in Nigeria and France, while in 2017, they extended their reach to Colombia, concluding their tours in 2018 with a visit to Kenya.

Another noteworthy initiative by the Council is “The 20 Principles Charter: Media Code of Ethics for Human Fraternity,” a professional and ethical charter, launched by the Arab Media Forum for Human Fraternity on February 4, 2020. This launch coincided with the anniversary of the Document on Human Fraternity's signing, drawing attendance from a select cadre of media leaders and professionals from the Arab world. The charter's 20 clauses underscore the media's pivotal role in fostering coexistence, tolerance, human fraternity, and the rejection of bigotry, hatred, extremism, and terrorism.

Furthermore, the Council has organized numerous seminars and international conferences aimed at promoting peace and human coexistence. Notable among these are the International Seminar on the Role of Religions in Promoting Peace and Countering Violence and Hatred (2016), the International Seminar on Islam and the West: Towards an Understanding, Integrated World (2016), the Muslim Council of Elders Conference for Achieving Peace in Myanmar (2017), the World Peace Conference (2017), the Conference on Freedom and Citizenship: Diversity and Integration (2017), the Conference on Islam and the West: Diversity and Integration (2018), the World Conference on Human Fraternity (2019), the Arab Media Gathering for Human Fraternity (2020), the Bahrain Dialogue Forum (2022), and the Global Faith Leaders Summit on Climate Action (2023).

The Muslim Council of Elders has also maintained a steadfast and clear stance on the Palestinian issue, advocating for the Palestinian people's rights to establish a state with East Jerusalem as its capital and championing the peace process. It has unequivocally rejected all attempts to Judaize Jerusalem and any temporal and spatial division of the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex. Additionally, the Council has encouraged educational institutions in the Arab and Muslim world to teach the history of the Al-Aqsa Mosque and the significance of Jerusalem in Islam.

In the face of the aggression in the Gaza Strip and Palestinian territories, which has led to thousands of martyrs and injuries among innocent civilians, predominantly women and children, and displaced hundreds of thousands who have lost their homes and shelters, including attempts at forced displacement of the unarmed Palestinian people, the Council has, through its various statements, condemned this aggression that violates international and humanitarian laws and norms. It has renewed calls to the international community and the world for the urgent need for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, to alleviate the suffering of innocent Palestinian civilians by delivering necessary aid, and to ensure the recognition of the legitimate right of the Palestinian people to establish their independent state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Regarding the Sudanese crisis that the State of Sudan has been enduring since last year, the Muslim Council of Elders has called for the immediate cessation of conflict, the achievement of unity and peace, the cessation of internal fighting, and the importance of maintaining security and stability, ending divisions, and fostering a spirit of reconciliation and solidarity among the Sudanese people. The Council prays to Almighty God to guide the wise to lead them to the shores of peace and to stop the shedding of blood, which God Almighty has sanctified.

To address the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, which resulted in the death of thousands of Muslims and forced the remainder to flee en masse across the border into Bangladesh, at the crisis's peak in 2017, the Muslim Council of Elders took decisive steps to support the Rohingya Muslims. It held a conference where representatives from Myanmar, both Muslim and Christian, and from the Burmese government discussed potential resolutions to this crisis. Moreover, a delegation from the Muslim Council of Elders and Al-Azhar visited the Rohingya Muslim refugee camps in Bangladesh, coinciding with the preparations to launch the first relief and shelter caravans to aid and support the refugees, whose numbers have exceeded hundreds of thousands, suffering from severe humanitarian and living conditions.

In response to the systematic campaigns of desecrating the Holy Quran and insulting the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, the Muslim Council of Elders condemned such provocative actions that go against all international norms and conventions that call for respect and acceptance of others and forbid insulting religious sanctities and symbols. The Council affirmed that this criminal behavior showcases vile racism that all human civilizations reject, calling for an end to the spread of hate speech, incitement, and the importance of respecting the beliefs of others.

In 2020, the Muslim Council of Elders resolved to assemble a committee of international legal experts to initiate legal proceedings against the French magazine "Charlie Hebdo" for publishing caricatures that were offensive to the Prophet of Mercy, as well as against anyone who insults Islam and its sacred symbols. The Council articulated its vehement opposition to the exploitation of freedom of expression as a guise to insult the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (PBUH), and the Islamic religious sanctities.

Throughout 2021, the Muslim Council of Elders released a detailed report on the legal position against hate speech directed at Islam and the litigation processes in Europe, specifically in France, Germany, England, and Wales, as well as in the United States. In 2023, the Council endorsed the special resolution by the Danish Parliament, which legislated a ban on the “improper treatment” of religious texts that hold significant religious importance to acknowledged religious communities, thereby practically prohibiting the desecration of the Quran. The Council noted that this legislation marks a crucial step forward in promoting tolerance, coexistence, and mutual respect for religious sanctities and symbols. It urged countries facing similar assaults on freedoms and religious sanctities to adopt similar laws to combat bigotry, hate speech, and Islamophobia.

During the coronavirus pandemic, a formidable global challenge that has impacted the entire world, including the Muslim community, disrupting economic, social, and religious life, the Muslim Council of Elders exerted significant efforts to educate all sectors of society about the pandemic. It participated in the “Prayer for Humanity” initiative, a moment when humanity's hearts across the globe united under the banner of human fraternity to beseech God collectively. Everyone, in their location and according to their religion, belief, and denomination, was united by an unwavering belief in God's omnipotence, benevolence, and mercy to safeguard humanity and alleviate the scourge of the coronavirus “COVID-19”.



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