Tantawi: Jihad is Purely Defensive
Freedom of Religious Belief Intrinsic to Islam
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar Seminary in Cairo, perhaps the foremost Sunni Arab authority, has issued a statement that jihad or “holy war” was legislated in Islam for the defense of the persons and honor of Muslims, and is not to be used as a threat or a form of aggression against the innocent.
Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi called for the correction of false Western ideas concerning Islam, especially the notion of “jihad.”
The remarks came in a closing session of a joint Muslim-Christian Dialogue Committee between al-Azhar and the Anglican Church in the UK.
Grand Sheikh Tantawi denied that there is any clash of civilizations or religions, affirmed that members of the religions cooperate with one another, and mere difference in religion does not prevent that.
He quoted the Quran verse, “There is no compulsion in religion,” saying that it demonstrates that freedom of belief is delegated (to human beings), and any practices that contradict that principle are considered departures from true Islam.
I couldn’t find an English account of all this easily on the Web. If any Anglican readers know of a Website for it, I would appreciate the link.