Last Updated: Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:13 pm (KSA) 09:13 am (GMT)

Dina Al-Shibeeb: Arab revolutions on the right path as Al Azhar calls for a ‘modern’ and ‘nonreligious’ Egypt

One of the latest murals cropping up throughout Egypt showing support for a secular Egypt, Christians and Muslims: One Hope, One Pain. (File Photo)
One of the latest murals cropping up throughout Egypt showing support for a secular Egypt, Christians and Muslims: One Hope, One Pain. (File Photo)

Finally, an important and a conspicuous feature of the Arab Revolutions has been validated when one of Islam’s top learning centers, al-Azhar, issued a call for a modern, democratic Egypt.

Egypt—despite its poverty, corruption and the former regime inhibiting greater growth intellectually and scientifically—has shown that it was still capable of positioning itself as a leader in the Arab world.

Egypt is still capable of attracting Arab students from the Gulf and elsewhere, due to the country’s rich intellectual force and educational facilities. It was Egypt, after all, where US President Barack Obama chose to deliver his message to the Muslim world shortly after the inauguration of his presidency in 2009.

Politically, Egypt has inspired the Arab world. It was Egypt’s Anwar Sadat who made peace with with the nemesis of Arabs, the Jewish state of Israel.

Egypts’ soft power has stood unrivaled with millions and millions of Arabs tuning in to Egypt movies, soap operas, comedy theater plays.

Therefore, Al-Azahr’s top scholar calling for “the establishment of a modern, democratic, constitutional state” based upon the separation of powers and guaranteeing equal rights to all citizens, heralds a precedence for a burgeoning all inclusive democracy in the Arab World. One hopes that his statement will galvanize the moderate Muslims.

While Al-Azhar is known for being the chief center of Arabic literature and most importantly Sunni Islamic learning in the world, its new announcement can also encourage enhanced Sunni-Shiite relations, especially after the sectarian fault line that was created during the Bahrain uprising , maligning Saudi, UAE, Bahrain’s monarchy versus Iran, Iraq and some Shiite Lebanese.

(Dina Al-Shibeeb, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: dina.ibrahim@mbc.net)

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