Pope Francis and the Grand Imam Dr. Ahmed At-Tayyeb, Grand Imam of Al Azhar, the highest seat of learning in Sunni Islam, signed a historic joint declaration with their hopes for world peace and human co-existence in the presence of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid and HH Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed on Monday night. Entitled the Human Fraternity Document, the statement spreads a vital message of peace. The document, which describes itself as being in the name of “all victims of wars, persecution, and injustice; and those tortured in any part of the world without distinction” calls for a more unified world, free from terrorism, with equal rights for women, and interfaith co-existence.
During the event, HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid also announced the launch of “The Human Fraternity Award – Dar Zayed,” which was jointly bestowed upon Pope Francis and the Grand Imam.
Pope Francis arrived in the United Arab Emirates this week, marking the first-ever time a pontiff steps foot in the Gulf. The Pope landed in Abu Dhabi on Sunday for the three-day visit, during which he met with leading Muslim clerics.
Shortly after attending a private meeting with the Muslim Council of Elders at the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the pointiff arrived at the Founder’s Memorial – a tribute to HH the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan — to deliver a speech, in Italian, to an interfaith gathering of imams, muftis, ministers, rabbis, swamis, Zoroastrians, and Sikhs, promoting fraternity and peace. During the speech, the Pope called for leaders to confront extremism and hatred in the name of religion. “Every form of violence must be condemned without hesitation, because we gravely profane God’s name when we use it to justify hatred and violence against a brother or sister. No violence can be justified in the name of religion,” he stated.
“Human fraternity requires of us, as representatives of the world’s religions, the duty to reject every nuance of approval from the word ‘war.’ Let us return it to its miserable crudeness,” continued the Pope.
He also interjected that all religious leaders have a duty to reject war and commit to dialogue. The Pope concluded the formal address with “God is with those who seek peace. From heaven he blesses every step which, on this path, is accomplished on earth.”
On Tuesday morning, Pope Francis will hold an open-air mass for some 135,000 Catholics at the Emirate’s Zayed Sports City Stadium.