Sunday, March 27, 2005
Al-Azhar, the highest Sunni authority in the Muslim world, categorically denied that it will take part in the reported conference. “Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohammad Sayed Tantawi has not received any invitation of that kind,” an official source said. He underlined that Al-Azhar's stance remains unchanged as it rejects talks with Jews over Al-Quds “because it is a very thorny issue that has not been yet resolved” on the political arena. Sheikh El-Zefzaf said his committee has not got the faintest idea of such a meeting. Some media reports suggested that preparations were underway to organize a conference grouping Muslim, Christian and Jewish leaders on the religious rights of each faith in the holy city.
Al-Haram Al-Sharif was the first Qibla (direction Muslims take during prayers) and is the third holiest shrine after Al Ka'ba in Makkah and Prophet Mhuhammad's Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Its significance has been reinforced by the incident of Al Isra'a and Al Mi'raj (the night journey from Makkah to Al-Quds and the ascent to the Heavens by Prophet Muhammad).