Sunday 28 November 2021 - 10:29:24 am

The Pope and Grand Imam: A Thorny PathFirst-ever book to recount the journey of human fraternity until it was announced from Abu Dhabi

ABU DHABI, 28th March, 2021 (WAM) -- "The Pope and the Grand Imam: A Thorny Path - A Testimony to the Birth of Human Fraternity" is a newly published book in Arabic and English by Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam, Secretary-General of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity (HCHF).

The book gives a detailed account about the stages in the creation of the Human Fraternity Document (HFD) before it was eventually signed on February 4, 2019 by Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Abu Dhabi.

In his book, the author recounts the bold, accelerated steps taken by His Eminence Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Professor Ahmed Al-Tayeb and His Holiness Pope Francis, Pontiff of the Catholic Church, towards promoting mutual understanding and interfaith dialogue. This unique relationship, the author says, was kicked off by the Grand Imam’s first visit to the Vatican, to which Pope Francis responded with a visit to Al-Azhar headquarters in Cairo, Egypt. Subsequently, the fraternal bond between the two figures deepened through their several joint meetings, of which the author witnessed. In one of these meetings, the idea of signing a document on human fraternity was conceived.

Throughout the book, the author gives an in-depth account of the milestone moments in the preparations for the HFD and the two figures’ joint historic visit to the United Arab Emirates.

He explains the reasons for choosing the UAE to present the HFD on 4 February 2019 from Abu Dhabi in a manner that caught the attention of the entire world. The author also highlights the historic role of the patron of the HFD, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, to support the efforts to translate the HFD and its values into action.

The book also commends the pivotal role of the Muslim Council of Elders (MCE) in supporting Al-Azhar’s efforts to foster dialogue and bridge the gap between the East and the West. The author concludes his book by highlighting the serious work being done to actualize the principles enshrined in the HFD, especially the formation of the HCHF to meet this end.

The book features two forewords: one by His Eminence Professor Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, and one by His Holiness Pope Francis of the Catholic Church. The book includes a special section featuring comments on the book by a group of high-profile politicians, academics, and intellectuals from around the world.

The Grand Imam described the book as a significant account of all the stages in creating the historic Document on Human Fraternity. He further noted that the book is truly a work of art, written in a very beautiful and accurate style, and not full of a high-flown intellectualism, flights of fantasy or partiality, or even rigidity. In his foreword, His Holiness Pope Francis wrote that the book registers the significant moments in the journey leading up to signing the HFD.

The author, who currently serves as Secretary-General of the HCHF, was an eyewitness to most stages in the creation of the Document as he previously served as a special advisor to the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif and Chairman of the MCE, Professor Ahmed Al-Tayeb, for more than eight years.

During this period, Judge Abdelsalam participated effectively in promoting interfaith dialogue and achieving rapprochement among religious institutions, the most significant of which is the relationship between Al-Azhar and the Vatican. These efforts culminated in the signing of the HFD in Abu Dhabi in February 2019.

Judge Mohamed Abdelsalam said that he was keen to document the significant moments throughout the human fraternity journey. He felt it was important for the reader to know the motives, circumstances, and challenges that accompanied the creating of such a historic document.

He further pointed out that the phrase "A Thorny Path" in the book’s title indicates the courage of the two great religious figures, Professor Ahmed Al-Tayeb and his brother Pope Francis, that enabled them to overcome the challenges of announcing the HFD, which might never have seen the light of day without the sincere patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces as well as the persistence and true belief of these two great religious figures.

The author has dedicated the book, which is now available at bookstores on global publishing websites, to his homeland, Egypt, in recognition of the favors the country has bestowed upon him, as well its place as a role model of coexistence and peace.


WAM/Hazem Hussein/Hassan Bashir