[About this blog] Inspired by local soccer player Mike Lim during my rookie reporter days at Singapore Polytechnic, I set up this blog in August 2002. I feel that blogging is a novel platform to document interesting facets of my life and my thoughts on certain issues. [Email blogger] ephraim@singnet.com.sg

Saturday, April 05, 2008

[Al Azhar]
1. I called on Grand Sheikh Tantawi of Al Azhar on Thursday during my bilateral visit to Cairo. I first met him in 1993 when he was the Grand Mufti. In 2006, he visited Singapore to deliver the MUIS Lecture and was very well received. He recalled his visit fondly and praised Singapore's religious harmony. He spoke of the need for tolerance and dialogue. When I told him of our opposition to Geert Wilders' inflammatory video 'Fitna', he expressed appreciation.

2. Al Azhar is a remarkable institution. It teaches not only Islam but a whole range of subjects include science and medicine. According to the deputy of the Grand Mufti, Al Azhar has over 2 million students! They come from all over the Sunni world. When it was first established by the Fatimids over a thousand years ago, it was Shiite. The great Muslim Kurdish leader Saladin changed it into a Sunni university when he conquered Egypt. During the centuries of Ottoman domination, the Turks made no attempt to transfer the seat of Sunni instruction to Istanbul.

3. I thanked Sheikh Tantawi for looking after our religious students studying there who number over 200 and asked for Al Azhar's continued support of our madrasahs in Singapore. He is a mild man of deep spirituality.

Do also read my posts on Beyond SG


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