DOHA • A prominent Islamic scholar and president of the prestigious Al Azhar University in Cairo Dr Ahmed Mohamed El Tayeb has lamented the loss of spiritual values in the West, saying that it has resulted in attempts to destroy and dominate other peoples and cultures.
He was addressing the fifth Doha Conference of Interfaith Dialogue which opened at the Marrriot Hotel yesterday. The three-day conference is hosted by the Shariah Faculty at the Qatar University.
HE Mohamed bin Mubarak Al Khulaifi, Speaker of the Advisory Council opened the conference. Speakers at the opening session also included Bishop George Saliba, Archbishop of Syrian Orthodox from Lebanon, who heads the Christian side in the conference and Rabbi Rene S Sirat, Unesco Chair of the Knowledge Exchange between Religions, who represents Judaism.
" I don't want to be understood as a pessimist by this blessed audience which includes a number of people who have contributed a lot to culture and knowledge. But what is happening around us make me wonder why a powerful country has decided to spend billions of dollars for destruction of a weak country, while a portion of it was enough to liberate its people from poverty, ignorance and diseases," said Ahmed Mohamed, in a veiled criticism against the US attack against Iraq.
" We have achieved great strides in science and technology but we have also incurred big losses in spirituality because we have kept away from the revelations of God. This is true about the East as well as the West," he added.
He said terms like globalisation and "clash of civilisations" and attempts to impose the values of the strong on the weak reminds one of the colonial era. To impose one single culture and civilisation over the others is against human nature, which is diverse in belief, customs and traditions.
Citing a verse from the Holy Quran, he said, if God had wished He would have created all the human beings with the same nature, colour and in the same creed. But this was not the intention behind creation.
He noted that the fundamental values of religions are common to all human beings and archeological evidences have proved that religious beliefs, revealed from God, are older that any materialistic ideology.
George Saliba said the human nature comprised of two elements- the vanishing and the eternal, the flesh and the sole. Peace and success of man kind lie in giving emphasis on the eternal sole and the spiritual values. He said high ideals and principles will remain as mere slogans if they are not practiced by peoples and nations.
Rabbi Rene S Sirat said spiritual values are facing a set back in many parts if the world, including Europe, which claims of a multi-religious society. All the speakers quoted profusely from religious scriptures to highlight the importance of peace, spirituality and the faith in God.
Mohamed bin Mubarak Al Khulafi, in his speech urged the gathering to carry the message of dialogue and tolerance upheld by the conference to followers of all the three religions participating in the coneference- Islam, Christianity and Judaism.
He said the current developments in the region and all the over all the world have called for more dialogue and interaction among these prominent religious. He noted that the last conference in Doha was very fruitful and had called for mutual respect among religions and condemned insulting of religious symbols and personalities.
Dr Aysha Al Mannai, Dean of the Faculty of Shariah at Qatar University chaired the session and introduced the speakers.