The Muslim Council of Elders was formed in the UAE’s capital city Abu Dhabi with the declared aim of spreading peace and opposing violence in the Islamic world and beyond.
The council is headed by Al Azhar’s Grand Imam, Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, who has expressed the necessity of standing up to religious extremism noting that this is one of the council’s responsibilities. The Muslim Council of Elders consists of 13 men from all over various countries and one Emirati woman, Kaltham Al-Maheiry. The council also aims to spread what they believe to be the correct interpretation of the Quran in hopes that it would deter people from following extremist interpretations. Council members argue that violence and aggression is used by those who misinterpret the Quran or misinformed about religious rulings.
The founding of the council is considered by many an attempt to also counter the influence of Qatar-based theologian Yusuf Al-Qaradawi, who heads the International Union for Muslim Scholars, and is considered to be the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mufti. Al-Tayyeb stressed the importance of relying on theological texts that emphasize the consolidation of peace and institutionalizing its values.
Furthermore, the council is entirely reliant on the theological frameworks, fatwas, institutions, disciplines and understandings of Al-Azhar and excludes Salafist approaches forwarded by the Wahhabi movement. The initiative excludes Salafist Saudi scholars. The council members include:
Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayyeb, Egypt
Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah, head of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, Mauritania
Dr. Mohamed Quraish Shehab, former Minister of Religious Affairs, Indonesia
Sheikh Ibrahim Al-Husseini, head of the Ifta’ Committee at the High Council for Islamic Affairs, Nigeria
Dr. Abu Lubaba Al-Taher Hussein, former head of Ez-Zitouna University, Tunisia
Dr. Ahmed Haddad, Grand Mufti of Dubai
Dr. Hussan Al-Shafei, member of the Committee of Grand Scholars in Al-Azhar, Egypt
Dr. Abdul Hakim Sherman Jackson, lecturer at the University of South California, USA
Dr. Abdul Razzaq Qusoom, head of the Association of Muslim Scholars, Algeria
Dr. Abdullah Naseef, head of the World Muslim Congress
Prince Ghazi bin Talal, Chief Advisor to King Abdullah II for Religious and Cultural Affairs, Jordan
Dr. Kaltham Al-Maheiry, lecturer at the Institute for Studies of the Islamic World at Zayed University, UAE
Judge Mohamed Taqi Al-Deen Al-Othmany vice-president of Dar Al-Ulum, Pakistan
Dr. Mahmoud Hamdy Zaqzouq, the former Minister of Awqf, Egypt