Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb is the grand imam of Cairo’s Al-Azhar and the most prominent cleric in Sunni Islam. He met up with Pope Francis in Bahrain to give us one of their best buddy-movie episodes. They always make sure to serve fresh steaming piles full of cynical deception and Islamic proselytizing whenever they get together. Friday’s episode was no exception. It was actually one of the best examples yet of Islamic leaders using interreligious dialog to further their own ends. They played their naive Christian counterparts into fools repeatedly.
According to Church Militant’s report, al-Tayyeb stated that “what is said and propagated from time to time regarding the institution of war against the infidels in Islam is not true.” It is a lie about Islam and its prophet’s life, even though it is supported by some of the same religious followers. The “lie” al-Tayyeb was referring to the easily demonstrated proposition that Islam is the only major world religion with a developed doctrine that involves warfare against the subjugation and killing of nonbelievers. Al-Tayyeb maintained that this was a misinterpretation despite statements from many Muslim clerics and the overwhelming evidence of more than 42,000 violent acts of jihad worldwide since 9/11.
This song has been heard before and al-Tayyeb was well aware. He told the pope, “I hope that you aren’t bored with the constant claims Islam is a religion that peace and equality.” Pope Francis was, however, the exact opposite. This is what he can’t get enough of. In 2013, he declared with an inexplicable imperviousness of facts and incredible evidence that “authentic Islam” and the correct reading of the Koran were opposed to all forms of violence.
This is why it’s so difficult for Westerners to understand. It’s not because it isn’t true. But, al-Tayyeb said that it was because Muslim scholars are less than “diligent” in letting Westerners understand Islam. He suggested that they “continue to highlight Islam’s lofty ideals and human brotherhood, as well as other commonalities that both the West and East agree upon and welcome.” He might be able to explain why the Qur’an requires “human brotherhood” and “cooperation” with non-Muslims (98:6).
Al-Tayyeb did not even get to the bottom of that Qur’an verse or others like it. He was too busy entertaining his audience. Knowing that Pope Francis, a doctrinaire Leftist, would love to hear how the Big Bad West can learn from the benign, peaceful East, he said, “Western culture shouldn’t be considered the only civilized society or the standard for judging all cultures. Interfering with other cultures is abuse or power. The West requires the wisdom of the East, its religious, moral, and spiritual values on which its people were raised,” in order to “not be blinded by placing the ephemeral ahead of the eternal.”
Church Militant points out that Pope Francis didn’t explicitly refer to the Triune God nor the Holy Bible. However, the Sunni-Muslim world’s highest-ranking cleric introduced and concluded his speech with an Islamic blessing. He also unapologetically quoted from the Quran many times. Knowledge is the only way to make this relationship successful. This knowledge is what Allah established between people’s interactions. It is clear that the Qur’an states: “O humanity!” We created you as a male and female and divided you into tribes and peoples to allow you to get to know each other. The noblest among you is surely the most righteous. Allah is truly All-Knowing and All-ware. (Qur’an 49,13).
Although it sounds wonderful, unfortunately, this is not the Qur’an’s final or sole word on these matters. Church Militant was told by Al-Tayyeb that interreligious dialogue, for many Islamic leaders, is not a vehicle for genuine give-and-take. While Francis omits any reference to the Bible in his copious Qur’an quotations, Al-Tayeb’s statements again demonstrate how one-sided this “dialogue” is. Self-abnegation, deference, and self-awareness are all on the Christian side. But the Muslim side maintains a strong self-awareness and doesn’t move towards the other side one inch.
Al-Tayyeb’s interpretation of Islam was misleading and inaccurate. He did not quote “Fight them till there is no more persecution, religion is all for Allah” (8.39), which is an open-ended declaration that war is being waged against unbelievers. “Muhammad, the apostle of Allah,” (48:29). His followers are “ruthless to nonbelievers, merciful to one another” (48.29), which contradicts his claims about Islam teaches that peace and knowledge should be the basis of relationships between people. Francis would not have thought of questioning al-Tayyeb publicly, even if he had known how deceitful he was, which he almost certainly didn’t. He happily and willingly played the role of the helpful idiot and dhimmi.
This is the state of interfaith dialog in enlightened 2022.