Muslim leader rejects idea of an “Abrahamic religion” as Christians and Muslims do not worship the same God

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Cairo – The campaigns fueled in the West and in Arab countries to make people believe that the Document on Human Fraternity would aim to merge the different faiths into one “Unified world religion” are in reality to be rejected as as skilfully constructed “false narratives”, manipulating the data of reality. This was clearly stated by Mohamed Mahmoud Abdel Salam, Judge of the Egyptian Council of State, in a highly argued speech also published in Arabic on the abouna.org website.

Judge Mahmud Salam writes with full knowledge of the facts: as Advisor to Sheikh Ahmed al Tayyeb, Grand Imam of al Azhar, he was personally involved – along with Egyptian priest Yoannis Lahzi Gaid, at the time the Pontiff’s personal Secretary – in the process of drafting The Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Living Together signed by the Grand Imam and Pope Francis in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2019.

In August 2019, Mahmud Salam became Secretary of the Higher Committee for Human Fraternity, a body created to promote initiatives inspired by the contents of the Abu Dhabi Document.In his speech, the Egyptian Judge – who also contributed to the development of laws aimed at combating violence and abuse committed in the name of religion – summarizes the context in which the Abu Dhabi Document has matured, and the reasons that led to its publication.

For decades, notes Mahmud Salam, Western media have portrayed the East in general, and the Arab world in particular, as areas plagued with religious intolerance and persecution. For a long time in these regions, the conflicting political agendas of the conflicting powers have aimed to exploit religion to pursue their own designs. Religious arguments have been exploited by various projects of hegemony and domination to justify murders, deportations, illegal expropriations of land. And despite all this, even in the regions of the Middle East, in many phases of history “tolerance and coexistence have prevailed”.

The Abu Dhabi document was conceived as a call for peace and coexistence “addressed to all human beings, believers and non-believers”. But lately, “a false narrative” has grown around this initiative, denigrating it and presenting it as an attempt to create “a new religion, called the ‘Abrahamic religion'”.

This pseudo-narrative, fueled by circles operating in both the West and the Middle East, mainly targets and uses as a pretext for its campaigns the “Abrahamic Family House”, an inter-religious complex under construction in Abu Dhabi on the inspiration of the Committee for Human Fraternity, which will see the construction of a church, a mosque, a synagogue and a cultural center on the same site.

“Some websites and social media”, Mahmud Salam explains in his statement, “have targeted this project by falsely claiming that the initiative is an attempt to unify all Abrahamic religions and promote a ‘one world religion’.” The Egyptian judge also referred to the expression “Chrislam”, used in media manipulation campaigns to rave about alleged plans to “merge” Christianity and Islam into a single belief. To refute the false stories put online, underlines Mahmud Salam, it would be enough to look with a minimum of attention at the very project of the “House of the Abrahamic family” under construction: one would indeed discover that the three places of worship – mosque, church and synagogue – will be constructed in three separate buildings, and that each of them will clearly express its connection with the respective community of faith.

The three buildings will host rites and liturgies according to their respective traditions, as has been the case for centuries in many Middle Eastern cities, where churches, synagogues and mosques are often located next to each other on the same ground. The various religious traditions – continues the Egyptian judge – often share the same aspirations for peace and justice, and the House of the Abrahamic family – whose name refers to the link which unites Jews, Christians and Muslims to the Patriarch Abraham, father of all believers – will certainly be a sign of this sharing. This takes nothing away from the specificity and richness of the traditions of each community of believers.

On November 8, on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the founding of the Egyptian House of the Family, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb himself even warned against those who propagate a false image of brotherhood between religions, according to which Judaism, Christianity and Islam are only currents of a single “Abrahamic” religion, which highlights the violent claim behind any theoretical attempt to unite all men in a single religious affiliation.

Recently, as Agenzia Fides also testified, Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros II also distanced himself from the formulas and theories that tend to prefigure the existence of a hypothetical “Abrahamic religion”, in which Judaism, Christianity and Islam would blend indistinctly. This idea – Pope Tawadros pointed out – is “categorically unacceptable”. It represents a denial of the three monotheistic religions and is theorized and used only in a political key, to erase the characteristics of Judaism, Christianity and Islam.