The award epitomizes Islam’s peace heritage, but many Muslims disregard this truth
His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, hosted a ceremony to honor the ‘Egyptian Family House’, winner of the Imam Al Hassan bin Ali Award 2017, represented by Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq, Secretary General, and His Eminence Anba Ermia, Assistant Secretary-General. Also present were H.E Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and H.E Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies.
In his address at the ceremony, which was attended by a large crowd of scholars, intellectuals and representatives of various faiths, taking part in the fourth annual Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies in Abu Dhabi, H.E Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah commended the award, the first-of-its-kind in the Islamic world. He also thanked His Highness Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, for his kind patronage of the award, which receives full support from His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, H.H Sheikh Mohammad bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Deputy Commander General of the UAE Armed Forces.
He said: “The award reflects the culture of tolerance, peace, and harmony established by the founding leader, late Sheikh Zayed. It epitomizes an important stage in our long and noble history… the timeless story of Imam Hassan bin Ali, who endeavored to bring peace between two warring factions of Muslims and managed to avert a bloody confrontation. The award was named in memory of this great man, who embodies peace and coexistence, but many Muslims disregard this fact.”
He noted that the forum has decided to present the 2017 ‘Imam Al Hassan Bin Ali Award for Promoting Peace’ to an entity established by the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, and the now deceased Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda, the “Egyptian Family House,” in recognition of its valuable role in achieving unity between Egyptians, uprooting sectarian hatred and promoting the values of tolerance and coexistence.
After receiving the award, Dr. Mahmoud Hamdi Zaqzouq, Secretary General of the ‘Egyptian Family House’ extended his thanks to the UAE and its leaders, who are following in the footsteps of Zayed Al Khair; and thanked Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah for his significant role within the Forum. He expressed his delight to receive this privilege, which recognizes the noble meanings and ethics advocated by all religions. He pointed out that the Egyptian Family House represents the brotherhood and unity that brings together Muslims and Christians who live together in love and harmony in the different parts of Egypt.
He also cited Quranic verse: “Whether they are the ones who believe, or whether they are Jews, Christians or Sabians – all who believe in Allah and the Last Day, and do righteous deeds – their reward is surely secure with their Lord; they need have no fear, nor shall they grieve,” to say that faith and good deeds are the common things that bind us all and that God Almighty is the only judge of people’s faith or disbelief.
Dr. Zaqzouq also referred to the verse “O mankind, indeed we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another”, which calls for interaction and cooperation, and guides unity between Muslims and Christians. In conclusion, he reiterated his thanks to the sponsors of the award, who are following in the footsteps of H.H late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father; and wished the forum further success for the benefit of all.
“We are gathered here today in the land of generosity, the home of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and under the patronage of the sons of Zayed Al Khair, in a spirit of love and harmony, guided by the verses on peace glorified in both the Quran and the Bible,” said Anba Ermia, Assistant Secretary General of the Egyptian Family House.
He expressed his pride in the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and its valuable role in promoting peace and tolerance under the patronage of H.H Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai; H.H Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. He also thanked H.H Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, patron of the forum; H.E Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance; and H.E Shaykh Abdullah bin Bayyah.
“Ladies and Gentlemen, we are gathered here in the Land of Tolerance, as part of the Forum for Promoting Peace, to curb and prevent terrorism,” he added. He referred to the variety of verses in the Quran and the Bible, which celebrate human beings, and evoked the Pact of Umar, who refused to pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher; a gesture which embodies his consideration of other faiths.
“These are significant examples of coexistence that we need to emulate, to contribute positively to building humans and ensuring prosperity and construction. Examples of coexistence between the different religious beliefs, while preserving the characteristics of each faith,” he concluded.
About the Winner
The ‘Egyptian Family House’ is an initiative that represents a model of religious coexistence. Established in 2011 by the post-revolutionary cabinet of Essam Sharaf, the Egyptian Family House was first conceived by the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, and the now-deceased Coptic Orthodox Pope Shenouda of Alexandria. Headquartered in Cairo, the Egyptian Family House consists of Muslim scholars, clerics from the Coptic Church, representatives of various Christian faiths in Egypt, and a number of Egyptian intellectuals.
The ‘Egyptian Family House’ aims to preserve the fabric of Muslim-Christian unity within the Egyptian society, by following a number of means to achieve this end; notably, reaffirming the noble values and common characteristics between the various religions and cultures; establishing a new discourse that caters to the needs of the youth, as a pillar of moral and education, to encourage peace, and the rejection of hatred and violence; promoting cooperation and coexistence among citizens; monitoring and proposing preventive means to maintain social peace; and training imams and priests in various parts of the country to acquaint followers with other faiths to maintain social peace.