ABU DHABI, 21st May 2018 (WAM) – Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, but misguided groups have sought to distort its message by sowing fear and confusion with the ultimate aim of hijacking the religion, Sheikh Omar Habtoor Al Darei, Director of the Fatwa Department at the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, told a lecture hosted at the Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed.
The lecture, titled Reclaiming religion in the age of extremism, was held at Al Bateen Palace in Abu Dhabi and was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.
Also attending were Dr. Amal Abdullah Al Qubaisi, Speaker of Federal National Council (FNC); H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation; H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior; H.H. Sheikh Hamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chief of the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court; H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation; Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, diplomats and dignitaries.
Al Darei, who holds a Master’s degree in Islamic discourse and its importance in dialogue, examined the repercussions of attempting to hijack Islam, its historical origins, its ideological roots and the strategy for reclaiming Islam in an age of extremism.
During the course of his talk, he discussed the humanitarian, tolerant and moderate values of Islam and provided an overview of the current situation. The scholar, who has also preached at a number of mosques in Abu Dhabi, examined the tools of extremist groups and their means for distorting the truth and also spoke about the path to restore moderation.
Al Darei said that Islam is the religion of humanity, with high standards and noble values, and stressed that it teaches solidarity, tolerance, cooperation and restraint.
Islam is under threat at various levels, the speaker said, and the threat was more serious than it had ever been in the past, with social media and television helping those with a divisive agenda spread hatred and ultimately undermine the state, religion and other pillars of society. Those seeking to hijack and distort Islam either belong to terrorist groups, espouse a divisive ideology or attempt to spread the message of extremist and political Islam, he said. All of them have one common goal – that of hijacking religion, causing bloodshed and undermining society – and are a threat to its very fabric.
Al Darei, who is a member of the organizing committee for the inaugural Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, then examined the attempts by extremists to undermine education and religious discourse and exploit them for their evil ends. He urged everyone to be on their guard and be vigilant whenever these extremists attempted to spread their perverted message, noting that terror groups are mushrooming across the world and terrorist attacks are on the rise.
The speaker, who is a member of the Islamic education curriculum development committee, said these ideological challenges needed to be monitored and dealt with proactively in order to reclaim religion and restore moderation, especially in the UAE, which he said is a shining example of inclusion and tolerance. He pointed out that moderation could only be restored if the extremists’ distorted concepts were replaced with teachings that spring from genuine, tolerant Islam.
Al Darei, who has authored a number of important publications clarifying various Islamic rulings, said that the success of the UAE model and its adherence to moderate Islam derived from the insight and vision of its founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed. The stability, tolerance and coexistence that the UAE is renowned for is the result of that sound vision and the efforts of the wise leadership and various national institutions, said the scholar – who has participated in a number of forums, seminars, conferences and radio shows internationally and locally. It is their combined efforts that had made the UAE a model of moderation whose strong foundation helps defeat any attempt to hijack Islam and undermine the country, he said.
The scholar concluded his lecture by speaking about the role of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments in reclaiming Islam and spread its real message of peace and equality for all, accurately and powerfully.