Prominent religious scholar speaks at majlis of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince
ABU DHABI // A more moderate perspective on the relationship between religion and the state in the Arab world is needed to salvage Islam, a prominent religious scholar said yesterday.
Extreme views calling for the complete separation or integration of Islam and government risk further fracturing unity in the region, alienating Muslim youth and increasing the vulnerability of the Arab countries, said Dr Abdelilah Belkeziz, professor of philosophy and Islamic studies at the University of King Hassan II in Morocco.
He was speaking on tradition, extremism and religious discourse in the Arab world at the majlis of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
“The danger for Islam comes from Muslims themselves,” Dr Belkeziz said. “We are damaging the image of Islam and risking a new generation that has a cold relationship with their religion.”
Dr Belkeziz said calls for absolute partition verged on criticising religion and discredited tradition, while a sanctified approach stops societies’ progress.
“Our culture is based on religious text but there are those who interpret it without putting it into the context of history,” he said.
Ancient Islamic scholars viewed their writings as opinion rather than fact but many have deciphered it as holy text.
“The problems started when their disciples stopped looking at their writings as views of humans, with certain imams taking it as the word of God.”
Dr Belkeziz made the case for a centrist approach allowing for religion and politics in one system. Rather than being owned and governed by the state, religion should be about community with no one controlling it, he said.
“Islam is a unifying factor to keep Muslims together but when it is used for lower purposes, it becomes a source of conflict.”
The lecture was attended by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, and other dignitaries.
Updated: June 14, 2017 04:00 AM