LONDON – The Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, the senior head of the worldwide Anglican Communion, hosted the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Shaykh Dr. Ahmad al-Tayyeb, the world’s principal authority of Sunni jurisprudence, last week to discuss how religious leaders can help their communities avoid conflict.
“The Archbishop and the Grand Imam were shown the Birmingham Qur’an, one of the oldest surviving Islamic manuscripts,” an expert from the University of Birmingham informed Christian Times on July 25.
This visit came at the conclusion of the ‘Emerging Peacemakers Forum’ which was held between July 8-18 in London, UK. The Forum brought together 50 young Christians and Muslims from around the world to learn about peacebuilding, reconciliation, and leadership.
“The impact of these young peacemakers coming together has been even greater than we hoped. It’s been full of creative ideas. They have demonstrated their deep commitment to peace-making in teams – of going together and building their capacity to be ambassadors for peace,” Welby said.
The two leaders also hosted a dialogue meeting between Anglican and Al-Azhar delegations. Moreover, they met with the Christian Muslim Forum to hear about their work and relations between Christians and Muslims in the UK.
The peace forum emerged in 2016 from a meeting between the Archbishop and the Grand Imam in Abu Dhabi.
It is run in partnership with the Rose Castle Foundation, Al-Azhar University in Egypt, the University of Cambridge Inter-faith Programme and the Council of Muslim Elders.
The formal relationship between the office of the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Grand Imam of al-Azhar was officially established in 2002 after the events of 9/11 in 2001.
Former Archbishop, George Carey, and His Eminence former Sheikh, Dr. Mohamed Sayed Tantawy, believed it was important to encourage learning and dialogue between the Christian and Muslim faiths.
It was agreed that there would be an annual meeting for the principals, alternating between London and Cairo, followed by a meeting of a delegation from the Anglican Communion and from Al-Azhar to discuss a topic of common interest and concern.