Sheikh Dr. Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the head of one of the most important centers of learning in the Islamic world, wrote a remarkably tolerant article in the Egyptian government daily newspaper Al-Ahram back in June. Translated excerpts of the article recently appeared at MEMRI:
The Koran, which Many Muslims know by heart, affirms that had God wished all men to have one religion, one creed, one color, and one language, he would have [created them] so. But he did not want this. Instead, he wanted to create them with differing religions, creeds, colors and languages, and [willed] this variety to continue [forever,] until the universe ends…A Muslim cannot imagine all of mankind sharing a single creed or turning to a single religion – even if this religion is Islam. As long as this remains the case, the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims [must be] one of mutual recognition.
It is great to see religious tolerance espoused by such an influential leader in the Muslim world, and also good to see that MEMRI, a site sometimes accused of selectively translating material that reflects poorly on the Muslim world, took the time and trouble to share the sheikh’s views with its readers. Via Meadia thanks Sheikh Al-Tayeb for his thoughtful exposition of an important religious concept, and continues to believe that people of all faiths must reflect the freedom of conscience that is one of God’s most precious gifts.