Egypt s President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi praised on Wednesday the Prophet Muhammad “who established with wisdom and sound instructions great and immortal pillars and foundations for the whole of humanity."
In a speech at the event, the president stressed that Islam champions freedoms.
"The message of Islam that we have received from our noble prophet came as a victory for freedom; the freedom of faith, choice and belief and the freedom of opinion".
"But these freedoms have not been absolute so that they are not turned by whim of the human soul to chaos that permits sabotage and destruction. Also, these freedoms should stop at the limits of other people s freedoms".
The president s comments came during the celebration of the birth of the Prophet Muhammad at Al-Manara International Conference Center in Cairo.
The event was attended by the Minister of Religious Endowments, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, the Prime Minister, and a number of religious and state officials.
The president rejected attempts to use Islam to justify extremism.
"Justifying extremism under the cover of religion is beyond Islam ... it is forbidden and prohibited ... it is no more than a tool to achieve limited interests."
"The purpose of religions is achieving the interests of nations and the benefit of the people, through tolerance and ease, not through extremism and hardship."
The president argued that Islamic jurisprudence is based on the concepts of mercy and tolerance.
“Our celebration today of the birthday of the master of people and the prophet of mercy - peace be upon him- invokes all the meanings of mercy in our true religion, and reminds us that the tolerant Sharia of Islam is based on building, not demolishing, and this is anindication of what God Almighty said: ‘We have not sent you, [O Muhammad], except as a mercy to the world."
The president reiterated his call for renewing religious discourse to protect society from the ploys of what he described as "the people of evil."
This “requires the continuation of the heavy task and responsibility that religious scholars undertake to correct misconceptions, in order to protect society and the state from the plans of sabotage, and in order for the whole world to realize the tolerance of the great Islamic religion that is based on mercy, tolerance and peaceful coexistence among people … among all people.”
“Hence, the issue of wise awareness and a correct understanding of religion will remain one of the priorities in the current stage in confronting the people of evil,” the President said.
He added that these [evil] people “distort the meanings of the [religious] texts, quote them out of context and interpret them according to their purposes or rely on wrong interpretations of them."
Minister of Religious Endowments Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa gifted the president two newly published religious books at the event.
In a short speech, Gomaa commended the president on his stances against terrorism.
"We did not forget and will not forget the day when you took a great patriotic stance at a very difficult time and said ‘you will take bullets directed at the chests of Egyptians, " Gomaa said.
He also warned against what he described as "fourth generation warfare."
"Armed gangs are one of the most important means of fourth-generation warfare to destroy countries," Gomaa stated.
The president honoured a number of Islamic clerics during the event.
The Prophet’s birthday is a holiday widely celebrated across Egypt and the Islamic world.
The observance of the birthday of the Prophet is commemorated on the 12th of Rabi al-awwal, the third month in the Islamic calendar, which falls this year on Thursday, 29 October. The anniversary will be a paid holiday for public and private sector workers.
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