Egyptian scholar Ahmad Omar Hashem, former president of Al-Azhar University, said that terrorism was not part of the Al-Azhar curricula, but was due to groups that "embraced an erroneous understanding of Islam." Speaking on the Egyptian Alghad TV channel on April 15, Hashem denied that conducting Jihad against the dhimmis or belittling them, through the Jizya poll tax among other means, was included in the Al-Azhar curricula. "I have lived my entire life without seeing anything [that harms Muslim-Christian relations]," he said.
Ahmad Omar Hashem: The Al-Azhar curricula, which have existed for so long - we graduated reading them, and so did our sheikhs, and the sheikhs who preceded them and succeeded them, to this very day. How come there was no terrorism, extremism, or violence [before]?
Some movements, which have recently appeared, have embraced an erroneous understanding of Islam.
Interviewer: Should Al-Azhar reform matters of its religion?
Ahmad Omar Hashem: Yes, it must, because reforming matters of Islam does not mean changing the Quran, the Hadith, the jurisprudent rulings, or the message that came down from the skies.
Interviewer: the Hadith, the jurisprudent rulings, or the message that came down from the skies.
Ahmad Omar Hashem: Absolutely not. They were created by the enemies of the nation and of Islam.
They use some Islamic texts and teachings to lead the youth, and indeed, many among our nation, astray. These groups did not emerge from Al-Azhar or from the moderate Islamic movements.
Interviewer: I sense that you lean towards a conspiracy theory...
Ahmad Omar Hashem: Yes.
Interviewer: Someone is conspiring against Al-Azhar?
Ahmad Omar Hashem: Exactly. Against Egypt, too.
If Al-Azhar falls, or if it is said that Al-Azhar has weakened, and cannot confront this kind of movements... If people turn their backs [on Al-Azhar], that will be the end of Islam, because Al-Azhar is the defender of the language and the religion.
I swear by Allah that I have not found [in Al-Bukhari] a single unreliable hadith. All the lies that have been attributed to Imam Al-Bukhari, and to his compilation, the second most truthful book after the Quran, are baseless.
Interviewer: Why has Al-Azhar not labeled ISIS as heretic to this day?
Ahmad Omar Hashem: Well... I mean... ISIS is not the only heretic group. When the Quran says: "Whoever kills a believer intentionally - his punishment is to live in Hell forever"... "Forever" means that they are heretics, because they are the only ones destined to Hell forever. When a person who commits a sin believes it to have been a sin and repents, Allah absolves him, but if he commits a sin and believes it to be permissible, when he kills a human being and believes it to be permissible, he is no longer a Muslim.
Interviewer: Do the Al-Azhar curricula call to belittle the dhimmis? I am choosing my words carefully, because one does not say everything one knows... The notion of Jihad against dhimmis, the notion of killing oneself while attacking dhimmis, and even the notion of refraining from congratulating them on their holidays... I apologize, but I have to go into some detail. Aren't these things part of the Al-Azhar curricula?
Ahmad Omar Hashem: No. This is a misunderstanding of the Al-Azhar curricula.
Interviewer: Why can't we just remove these things, and that would be it?
Ahmad Omar Hashem: Because they are not there.
Interviewer: Let me clarify my question: Isn't there in the Al-Azhar curricula - and I hope you will say there isn't - the notion of how to deal with the dhimmis and non-Muslims in general, to the point that when the dhimmi is made to pay the jizya, the collector should say in a loud voice: "You still do not believe, you infidel?!" and the dhimmi must keep his head down?
Ahmad Omar Hashem: There is no such thing.
Interviewer: Is there absolutely nothing in the Al-Azhar curricula that harms relations between Muslims and Christians?
Ahmad Omar Hashem: I have lived my entire life without seeing anything like that. In Al-Azhar, and throughout Egypt, there was never anything like what is happening now. These things are perpetrated by vile countries that try...
Interviewer: So these are nothing but rumors?
Ahmad Omar Hashem: Yes. Rumors, not facts.