Grand Imam of Al Azhar Dr Ahmed el Tayyeb has said that Daesh and other armed Islamist groups are phenomena that emerged for several reasons.
Students at Al Azhar University are taught that logic is the only means to spread Islam and not wars, Tayyeb said in an interview with Deutsche Welle Wednesday.
Armed groups and weapons will not help spread the word of Islam, the grand imam stressed.
The Prophet Muhammad of Islam had only led wars in defense, Tayyeb said, stressing he had never been an attacker and had never usurped others' countries. Whoever wants to convert to Islam can freely do it and whoever wants to keep his religion is also free to decide, he noted.
Islam spreads by argument, logic and conviction, Tayyeb said, adding that what the armed Islamist movements are doing is wrong and is not accepted by Al Azhar.
Militant actions are not endorsed by the Quran or the Prophet, he stressed.
Daesh is distorting the philosophy of Islam about war and defense, the grand imam said.
Its ideology is based on expiating Muslim communities and leaders and declaring jihad against disbelievers, he added.
Islam and Al Azhar are innocent of any such talk, Tayyeb stressed.
Al Azhar does not expiate people, he said, noting that Islam does not spread by swords.
He talked about measures to establish an international observatory to follow up news circulated by Daesh and other armed Islamist groups.
Remarks are sent to Al Azhar scholars to outline a response and post it on Al Azhar website, he noted.
Tayyeb said they are greatly counting on such websites to correct the false ideologies about Islam.
Curricula are also being revised to be in line with the corrected ideologies, the grand imam said. He made it clear that curricula now shed more light on the concepts of jihad and expiation.
He urged the West to live up to its responsibilities in saving the Arab World and the East of this beast, which is terrorism.
The West should work with the Arab world to fight terrorism, Tayyeb said, believing this should be done through economic cooperation and political understanding. The West should not rest assured that it is safe against terrorism, Tayyeb said, stressing the need for cooperation to fight this phenomenon.
The grand imam also talked about the beheading of victims at the hands of Daesh, stressing this has nothing to do with Islam.
Islam categorically prohibits such crimes, Tayyeb said, betting any of those groups to come out with an example in which the Prophet Muhammad had beheaded a person.
Islam should not be judged by actions of Daesh or any other armed movements, Tayyeb said. If Islam is judged by Daesh, then Christianity can very well be judged by the Crusades which led to bloodshed for 200 years, the grand imam reasoned.
Islam, however, has never judged Christianity by the Crusades, Tayyeb said. There is not one Islamic book that defames Christianity as a religion or speaks against Jesus Christ, he added.
Asked about Islam and politics, Tayyeb said that Al Azhar is not a political institution. It does not play politics and does not interfere in politics, he stressed.
Al Azhar is an educational institution that promotes the correct teachings of Islam, the grand imam said.
Those who employ religion for any reason have nothing to do with Islam, Tayyeb concluded.