From left: Dr Ahmad Al Haddad, Grand Mufti of Dubai, Shaikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah and Dr Mohammad Mattar Al Kaabi adddressing a press conference in Abu Dhabi. Image Credit: Abdul Rahman/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: The UAE has established its stature as a leading nation in spreading the values of giving and peaceful coexistence between communities and a driver of cooperation, tolerance, and dialogue between religions around the world, leading Muslim scholars said yesterday.

“In this era of increasing violence and conflicts, the UAE stands out as a model of tolerance, peaceful coexistence and dialogue between religions,” Shaikh Abdullah Bin Bayyah, Chairman of the UAE Fatwa Council, the official reference for fatwas — Islamic rulings, told a press conference in Abu Dhabi.

He was speaking against the backdrop of declaring 2019 as the Year of Tolerance and the upcoming visit of Pope Francis of the Vatican to the UAE.

Shaikh Bin Bayyah, also President of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, stressed the country is an exemplary and unique model of a leading cosmopolitan country, with a myriad of cultures and nationalities living in a peaceful coexistence and harmony on its soil.

The UAE will mark 2019 as the ‘Year of Tolerance’, President His Highness Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan has declared.

The move will highlight the UAE as a global capital for tolerance, via its various legislative and policy-oriented goals to enhance the role of the country in instilling the values of coexistence and peace in local, regional and international communities.

Shaikh Khalifa said the Year of Tolerance is an extension of the Year of Zayed (2018), as it upholds the values of tolerance and coexistence that the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan established among the people of the UAE.

“Instilling values of tolerance carries on Shaikh Zayed’s legacy and teachings,” Shaikh Khalifa said.

Dr Mohammad Mattar Al Ka’abi, Chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, said the Founding Father of the UAE Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan sought to establish tolerance and noble values as a guiding principle for the UAE.

“Shaikh Zayed’s benevolent hands extended to all religions and cultures, and to needy and vulnerable people across the globe. He helped the West and the East, Arabs and non-Arabs, without pursuing any political gain from this help. Instead, his motives were purely humanitarian, making him an international bearer of the banner of mercy,” Dr Al Ka’abi said.

Dr Al Ka’abi added the morality of the late Shaikh Zayed was reflected in the UAE. By his virtue, the country has donned the cloak of tolerance and adopted, along with its people, noble humanitarian values.”

Shaikh Bin Bayyah said the sixth edition of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies next year will address tolerance and role of religions in spreading the values of peaceful coexistence between communities, tolerance, and constructive interaction between people of different religious traditions.

Shaikh Bin Bayyah said the visit Pope Francis will pay to the UAE in February is yet another sign that the UAE is welcoming and tolerant of all religions and a leader in interfaith dialogue.

“In 2019, we will endeavour to establish this value and lead the intellectual, media and research production movements to reaffirm this value in the UAE and beyond.”

This year, the UAE announced it will be a global driver for cooperation within a new Global Tolerance Alliance to promote acceptance around the world.

Tolerance-themed events, workshops, documentaries and publications will continue throughout 2019.