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18 September 2011

Al-Azhar promotes Arab Reform, Democracy

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The new Document will include Al-Azhar's views on Arab reforms and achieving democracy

Cairo: Redeeming its prestigious position, Al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world, is preparing a document to support the new freedoms restored by popular revolutions sweeping the Arab world.

The new Document will include Al-Azhar's views on Arab reforms and achieving democracy, a reliable source told Egypt's state official Middle East News Agency (MENA).

It will also deal with social, political, cultural and economic issues.

The source added that the document, to be released soon, would suggest ways to achieve social reform and justice.

It would also focus on how to boost human rights, distribute Arab wealth fairly and improve the economic and social status of Arab nations according to the principals of Islamic Shari`ah.

Al-Azhar is the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Muslim world.

From within its tall, crenellated walls, Al-Azhar's sheikhs spent more than 1,000 years studying Islam's holy texts and interpreting their meaning for the faithful, building an authority unrivalled in the Muslim world.

Established in 359 AH (971 CE), Al-Azhar mosque drew scholars from across the Muslim world and grew into a university, predating similar developments at Oxford University in London by more than a century.

Al-Azhar, which means the "most flourishing and resplendent," was named after Fatima Al-Zahraa, daughter of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).

The first courses at Al-Azhar were given in 975 CE and the first college was built 13 years later. Al-Azhar first admitted women students in 1961, albeit in separate classes.

Also in 1961, subjects in engineering and medicine were added to course on Shari`ah, the Noble Qur’an and the intricacies of Arabic language.

Azhar Prestige

The new move follows popular revolutions that swept several Arab countries as Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Yemen.

The official source pointed out that Al-Azhar has suggested this document to restore the institution’s historic, cultural and national contributions to moderate Islamic thought.

The new document also reflects Al-Azhar's desire to honestly express the nation's sufferings, while seeking to preserve Egypt’s identity, civilization and Arab and Islamic culture.

This is not the first move by Al-Azhar to restore its prestige as a respected religious authority.

Last June, Al-Azhar issued a document calling for building a modern, democratic state in Egypt with Islamic Shari`ah be the essential source of legislation.

Last month, Al-Azhar mediated between liberal politicians and Islamists who opposed their attempt to lay down the principles of a new constitution -- a move the Islamists saw as a ploy to block the creation of an Islamic state.

Al-Azhar is now pushing to be released from government control, saying its head should once again be elected by staff, not chosen by the head of state.

(Courtesy: OnIslam.net)

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