‘My Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas to Friends’

The Imam of Al-Azhar Greets Pope Francis

My Best Wishes for a Merry Christmas to Friends
Pope Francis and Imam Al-Azhar © Vatican Media

“My best wishes for a Merry Christmas to friends: Pope Francis, Pope Tawadros, Archbishop Justin Welby, Patriarch Bartholomew I, the Heads of the Church, Christian brothers in the East and West, imploring that God Almighty may surround all that exists with peace, love and a spirit of fraternity and spare us the sufferings of war and hatred,” wrote via the social media Ahmad Al-Tayyeb, Imam of Al-Azhar, the highest office in the Sunni Islamic world and the most important official religious office of Sunni Egypt.

The Document on “Human Fraternity”

 In February 2019, during the Holy Father’s trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Pope Francis and the Imam of Al-Azhar signed a Document on “Human Fraternity” for world peace and common coexistence. In the Preface, after affirming that “faith leads the believer to see in the other a brother to support and to love, reference is made to this text as a Document reasoned with sincerity and seriousness,” which invites “all people, who bear in their heart faith in God and faith in human fraternity, to unite and work together.” The Document asks “us and the Leaders of the world, the architects of international politics and of the global economy, to commit ourselves seriously to spread the culture of tolerance, of coexistence, and of peace; to intervene as soon as possible, to stop the shedding of innocent blood, and to put an end to wars, to conflicts, to environmental degradation and to the cultural and moral decline that the world is living at present.”

The International Day of Human Fraternity

Last February 4, two years after the signing of the Document, the first International Day of Human Fraternity was commemorated, instituted the previous December at the UN in memory of the historic signing. During the virtual ceremony, the Imam of Al-Azhar hoped that February 4 is “every year an alarm bell for the world and for its leaders, which will drive them to consolidate the principles of human fraternity.” Necessary for the implementation of the Document is the solid conviction “of the fact what we are all brothers with the right to live in peace,” he pointed out.

Translation by Virginia M. Forrester