UAE religious figures praise landmark Vatican visit

Mohammad’s meeting with pope comes at a time when such efforts are needed most, Muslim and Christian scholars say

by Faisal Masudi, Staff Reporter, and Tawfiq Nasrallah, Translator
22:40 September 16, 2016
NAT_160916 Mohammad Abdul Rahim Sultan Al Olama
NAT-160916 Ahmad Hadad

Dubai: Thursday’s historic visit of His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, to the Vatican has been praised by UAE-based Muslim and Christian religious figures.

They said Shaikh Mohammad’s meeting with Pope Francis promotes dialogue and interfaith harmony at a time when it is needed the most. The visit has been well-received.

Ahmad Al Haddad, Grand Mufti of Dubai, said Shaikh Mohammad’s visit to Vatican “enhances the cultural communication between Islam and Christianity and revives a very important Islamic approach that calls for tolerance, cooperation and cultural communication in a very critical time during which Muslims and non-Muslims are suffering grievously due to terrorism that has hit a lot of countries around the world”.

Al Haddad added that the visit also “sets a unique example of Islamic tolerance that is being applied by the UAE on which many people from different races, religions and cultures are living in peace and stability”.

Professor Dr Mohammad Abdul Rahim Sultan Al Olama, Member of the Grand Islamic Scholars Body in Dubai, said the visit comes at a “critical time” to fight “ignorance and hatred”.

Clear message

He said the meeting is “a clear indication of the tolerance and coexistence approach being adopted by the UAE and sends a clear message to the world that Islam is the religion of peace, mercy and morality. It also deals a strong blow to those fools and ignorant who try to associate Islam with the criminal acts and reckless actions carried out by some misled people”.

Dr Al Olama added: “Shaikh Mohammad’s visit comes in a very critical moment that requires pooling everyone’s efforts to uproot everything that might lead to sedition, corruption or sectarian, religion or ethnic strife as the entire world is threatened to be targeted due to ignorance and hatred.”

Reverend Tim Heaney, parish priest for the Anglican Christ Church in Jebel Ali, said such a high-level meeting was “another very positive step” taken by the UAE leadership in building understanding about peaceful coexistence. He added that such interfaith developments serve to consolidate efforts towards tolerance.

Rev Heaney said that should Pope Francis one day visit the UAE, it would serve to provide encouragement to all Christians, regardless of their denomination, as they strive and work very closely together as “good guests of this Muslim land”.

He cited a number of examples of interfaith events and developments in the UAE, or led by the UAE abroad, that continue to contribute towards peaceful coexistence.