From London to Astana: The Muslim Council of Elders Champions Peace, Tolerance, and Coexistence in 2023 Through Active Participation in Global Conferences and Gatherings.

In 2023, the Muslim Council of Elders, under the chairmanship of His Eminence Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, has been at the forefront of fostering a culture of peace, justice, and coexistence through its active participation in numerous international forums, conferences, and gatherings. Amidst the prevalent global conflicts and divisions, these efforts have been crucial in promoting the values of human fraternity and combating violence, bigotry, hatred, and discrimination.


One of the Council's most notable contributions this year has been its participation in a high-level United Nations Security Council session. The session, titled "The Values of Human Fraternity in Promoting and Sustaining Peace," was distinguished by the historic, first-of-its-kind participation of His Eminence the Grand Imam. During this gathering, Dr. El-Tayeb underscored the pressing need for collaborative endeavors to uphold the principles of human fraternity in addressing contemporary global challenges. He emphasized the utmost importance of embracing diversity, encompassing all associated rights and responsibilities, as an intrinsic divine aspect of humanity's creation.


When addressing the Palestinian issue, His Eminence the Grand Imam conveyed, "When I speak of Palestine, I speak of my sacred sites and yours. I speak of the hardships faced by the Palestinian people in the face of power arrogance and tyrannical cruelty—these noble people who have long borne the weight of the international community's silence regarding their usurped rights." Sheikh El-Tayeb urged the Security Council and the global community to swiftly acknowledge an independent Palestinian state with its capital in Jerusalem, underscoring the imperative of protecting Al-Aqsa Mosque from the daily violations it faces.


Furthermore, His Eminence Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and the Chairman of the Muslim Council of Elders, participated in an international peace conference held this year in the German capital, Berlin, from September 10 to 12, alongside leaders from various religions and communities, and political figures. The conference aimed to explore avenues for promoting the values of peace and human fraternity. It also addressed the escalating challenge of Islamophobia in Europe and discussed strategies to combat the desecration of religious sanctities. His Eminence emphasized, "Global peace is intricately tied to the peace of nations. The notion that everyone is secure only when every part is secure equally asserts that there can be no peace in Europe without peace in the Middle East, particularly in Palestine. Similarly, there can be no peace in Asia without peace in Africa, and no peace in North America without peace in South America."


In the same vein, the year 2023 also marked the Muslim Council of Elders' engagement in the Astana International Forum themed "Tackling Challenges through Dialogue: Towards Cooperation, Development, and Progress." Attended by over 1,000 participants from approximately 70 countries, including leaders, heads of state, government officials, directors of international organizations, and individuals of diverse backgrounds, the forum hosted more than 40 dialogue sessions and events. These covered topics ranging from peace promotion, multilateralism, the global system, and confronting climate challenges. The Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders, His Excellency Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, further participated in the 21st meeting of the Secretariat of the Congress of Leaders of World and Traditional Religions in Astana. He underscored that interfaith dialogue consistently serves as a crucial solution and a key factor in confronting the shared human challenges we encounter today.


While participating in the dialogue meeting between Europe, the Middle East, and North Africa on inclusive citizenship and freedom of religion and belief in London, the Muslim Council of Elders underscored the pressing need for the wisdom of religious leaders in advancing the values of inclusive citizenship and the freedoms of religion and belief. The Council called for concerted efforts to harness the potential of religions and the influence of their leaders to establish a comprehensive framework of freedoms and public rights.


In Abu Dhabi, during the 2023 World Policy Conference, the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders underscored the importance of initiatives that seek to uphold the universality of religious values while preserving diversity. He highlighted the necessity of tapping into the spiritual strength of religions to address contemporary human issues and the shared challenges of the world. The "Document on Human Fraternity," signed by His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and MCE Chairman, and His Holiness Pope Francis on February 4, 2019, outlines a set of guidelines, principles, and foundations governing the coexistence of all humans amidst their differences and diversity.


In its ongoing commitment to fostering values of tolerance and human coexistence, the Muslim Council of Elders collaborated with the Ministry of Tolerance and Coexistence in the United Arab Emirates to host ‘The Global Tolerance and Human Fraternity Summit’. This year's summit, themed “United by Our Shared Humanity," drew extensive participation from global leaders – including representatives from the United Nations, Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, and the Vatican – as well as global religious figures and thinkers. The Conference centered on bolstering international efforts for humanity on both regional and global scales, focusing on four key pillars: faith, peace, the planet, and diversity. It effectively communicated the UAE's dedication to advancing values of tolerance, coexistence, and human fraternity, both domestically and internationally, in collaboration with global partners.


Additionally, the Council prioritized the formalization of various cooperation agreements and memoranda of understanding with relevant entities sharing common objectives, the most notable being a memorandum for cooperation with the Vatican's Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue. This Memorandum sought to establish a permanent joint committee for Islamic-Christian dialogue between the Muslim Council of Elders and the Vatican's Dicastery for Interreligious Dialogue. Annual meetings were envisioned to coordinate joint efforts and initiatives aimed at enhancing dialogue and coexistence among followers of diverse religions and cultures worldwide. Furthermore, a memorandum of understanding was forged with the Presidency of COP28, emphasizing the establishment of a robust and ongoing partnership focusing on the intersection of religion and environmental sustainability. The memorandum aimed to amplify the role of religions in addressing the repercussions of climate change.


In its ongoing efforts to tackle pressing global challenges, particularly the urgent climate crisis threatening life on our planet, the Muslim Council of Elders has orchestrated a series of impactful activities and conferences. These endeavors have attracted a significant turnout and garnered widespread attention and international acclaim, exemplified by events such as the Conference on Religions and Climate Change – South East Asia (CORECS 2023) held in Jakarta, Indonesia. Attended by approximately 150 representatives spanning diverse religious backgrounds in the Southeast Asia region, along with scholars, thinkers, and environmentally conscious youth, this Conference sent a hopeful message to the Global Faith Summit on Climate Action and the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC (COP28). The shared message called for collaborative efforts to yield positive outcomes and implement effective solutions, thereby forging a more promising future for humanity.


This Conference also marked the inception of the Global Faith Summit on Climate Action, bringing together representatives from 18 religions and 30 denominations and doctrines worldwide. The Summit, featuring a substantial presence of scholars, academics, environmental experts, and representatives from diverse communities, including youth, women, and indigenous peoples, aimed to facilitate the exchange of perspectives, experiences, and insights. The goal was to collectively address the climate crisis and formulate a shared vision among religious leaders and figures, contributing to tangible and effective solutions for the challenges posed by climate change. 


This Summit also marked the signing of the “Confluence of Conscience: Uniting for Planetary Resurgence," also known as "The Abu Dhabi Interfaith Statement for COP28,” a document endorsed by His Eminence the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Dr. Ahmed El-Tayeb, and His Holiness Pope Francis, alongside 28 religious leaders and figures. The Statement called for an expeditious and equitable shift toward embracing clean and renewable energy sources. It urged governments to overcome the linear growth paradigm and move to a circular model, ensuring justice and inclusivity in climate action, particularly addressing the losses and damages stemming from climate change, especially in vulnerable regions.


These endeavors reached a pinnacle with the Muslim Council of Elders establishing the Faith Pavilion at COP28, a pioneering first-of-its-kind initiative in the history of the Conference of the Parties. The Pavilion garnered substantial participation and attendance from COP28 visitors. Hosting over 65 dialogue sessions and featuring 350 speakers across various domains, the event underscored the ethical responsibility of the world to preserve the environment. It emphasized the sacred duty and collective responsibility of humanity to care for and safeguard the Earth. Additionally, it stressed the imperative to champion sustainable lifestyles aligned with the principles of moderation and constraint advocated by diverse religions.



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