ABUJA, Nigeria, 19th May, 2016 (WAM) — The President of the Muslim Council of Elders, Sheikh Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed el-Tayeb, has concluded his 3-day visit to Nigeria.

Dr. el-Tayeb, who is the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, was welcomed by a number of senior state officials and Sheikh Ibrahim Saleh Al-Husseini, the Mufti of Nigeria, Egypt’s Ambassador to Nigeria, Ashraf Abdel Qader Salama, and a number of leaders of religious communities. His accompanying delegation included Dr. Ali Rashed Al Nuaimi, the Secretary-General of the Muslim Council of Elders, and high ranking officials from Al-Azhar.

Dr. el-Tayeb said that the Al-Azhar Institution was looking forward to collaborating with the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic Affairs in the area of the propagation of Islam and correcting the misconceptions people have of the religion.

He made these remarks at a press conference marking his 3 day visit to Nigeria at the invitation of Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari.

Dr. el-Tayeb said, “This visit is an answer to a call by President Buhari and the aim is to enlighten people on the true message of Islam and correct the misconception people have of Islam. So far, our cooperation with the Nigerian Supreme Council of Islamic affairs is mainly in the academic field but after this visit, we look forward to expanding it to cover other aspects”

The President of the Muslim Council of Elders also spoke out against terrorism in the name of Islam. According to him, “The Holy Qur’an has laid down a very clear policy of calling to Islam. Islam has prohibited using force or weapons against any person. Anybody that uses a weapon against any people should repent because that is contrary to the teachings of Islam. Islam has ordered that people should live together in peace.”

The Muslim Council of Elders is an independent international body that was established in July 2014 in order to promote peace in Muslim communities. The Council consists of Muslim scholars, experts and dignitaries known for their wisdom, sense of justice, independence and moderateness. They work together to promote peace, to discourage infighting and to address the sources of conflict, divisiveness and fragmentation in Muslim communities.

Based in Abu Dhabi, the council was formed as a result of the recommendations of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies. Its Secretary-General, Dr. Ali Rashed Al Nuaimi, is also chairman of the steering board of Hedayah, the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism.

The Grand Imam made a speech on Tuesday, addressed to the people of Africa and the Islamic community in all parts of the world, at the International Conference Centre in Abuja entitled, “Islam is a religion of peace: challenges to confront the extremist ideology and terrorism”. It was attended by senior scientists and a large number of officials and public figures.

Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb said that his visit to Nigeria, which is his first since taking up his post as Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, comes within the framework of its efforts, in cooperation with the Muslim Council of Elders, to promote the Islamic values of peace and spread the Islamic culture of tolerance, coexistence and dialogue.

He added that Al-Azhar and all Muslims must work to establish the sound concepts of religion, the emphasis on the right meaning of the Islamic religion and the renunciation of violence and terrorism.

WAM/Esraa/Moran