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Round table: "Being an imam in a multi-religious and multicultural society"

Sunday, 18 February 2018

"To be Imam in a multi-religious and multicultural society" is the theme of the round table organized Sunday, February 18, 2018 by the Council of the Moroccan Community living Abroad (CCME) at the Casablanca Book Fair.

J11 TR 2 3Mr. Abdellah Boussouf, Secretary General of the CCME, Mr. Mohammed El Mahdi Krabch, Researcher in Cultural and Religious Affairs, Mr. Saliou Salih Faye, Imam, Preacher and Educator in Strasbourg, Mr. Khalid Chaouki, President of the Association of Young Muslims from Italy moderated this round table moderated by Mr. Jaouad Achakouri, for the CCME.

Mohammed El Mahdi Krabch: pluralism and diversity are inherent values ​​of Islam

J11 TR 2 1Mr. Krabch, said pluralism is a universal matter that reclaim all parts of the society to recognize the existence of the other. A principle inherent to the Muslim religion which encourages, in the Holy Quran, diversity and respect for others.

Mr. Krabch also said that the living-together "is a historical reality in Morocco, a country of diversity as stipulated in the preamble of its Constitution". Values ​​and a model of religiosity for many European countries or Muslim communities "have not managed to accompany the development and modernity of Western societies".

For Mr Krabch, this is due to idealism and nostalgia for the past, and creates obstacles to religious anticipation. "We are also seeing a gap between theory and practice and the difficulty of translating texts and verses that respect pluralism and diversity," he said.

The Franco-Moroccan researcher advocates some principles to "liberate oneself from this ideological prison". The imam must bring rationality, understand that citizenship is the essence of his conduct and his exercise and know the historical and cultural context of the society in which he lives.

"The exemplary imam is not unaware that the treatise of Voltaire, The Dreyfus case by Emile Zola are as much as other Muslim sources of elements of language with the French population, because these stories are part of the collective memory," he argued.

Finally, Mr. Krabch deplored "the use of religion for political and ideological purposes that makes Islam lose its meaning and substance of attening spiritual peace."

Mr. Saliou Salih Faye: practical experience of an imam in France

J11 TR 2 4Mr. Faye, for his part, considers that the imam in plural societies is like a doctor who can not give a prescription before the diagnosis. "The imam can not achieve his mission without understanding the society in which he lives," he said.

Imam Saliou Salih Faye, considers that verses or religious texts are not rigid but enclose messages that determine that "Islam is a religion of construction and not destruction." A principle also embodied by the Prophet who was a model of interreligious dialogue as it is read in the charter of Medina.

To bring people closer to the values ​​of Islam, Mr. Faye said that the Strasbourg Mosque organizes open-house days for connecting people from different communities, including a day dedicated to citizenship. The purpose of the subject of citizenship  is to explain to other members of society that the Muslim religion has become a citizen religion.

Regarding the mission of the Imamate, Mr. Faye explained that "the imam should not only talk about sermons but a project leader for the good of the community. He said that the Imam should  avoid the confinement that hampers development and peace ", as it is sung in" The Hymn to Citizenship that begins with the expression freedom, equality, fraternity to demonstrate that this equation is only French ".

Mr. Khalid Chaouki: Islam is not conflicting with modernity

J11 TR 2 5Khalid Chaouki, working with the Muslim community in Rome (Italy), the West gives the opportunity to the exchange between Muslims and non-Muslims, that is lacking in Italian society.

A value that must also be at the center of the concerns of the mosque, which must welcome all communities to promote the values ​​of Islam. « When we speak of a mosque we inevitably talk about the imam," Mr. Chaouki said that the latter should not only communicate with the Muslim minority but also understand its context and communicate with other  parts of the society .

« The imam became after the events of September 11 a spokesman for Islam and Muslims without realizing it". To achieve this mission, "the imam must have a knowledge of theology in which he lives, skillfull in the language of welcome and be aware of Islamist movements to be able to produce a counter-speech for young people. The imam must be able to explain, especially to young people of the 3rd and 4th generations, that Islam is not irreconciliable with the values ​​of democracy or modernity.

Mr. Abdellah Boussouf: The imam's role at the heart of the CCME

J11 TR 2 2Mr. Boussouf, secretary general of the Council of the Moroccan Community living Abroad (CCME)  said that the imamat in European societies were one of the the main matter of the CCME which organized 8 years ago a meeting in Strasbourg on religious leadership. He said  that "the imam who has received a classical training is not qualified to operate in plural societies." "The imam must also be trained in the humanities and social sciences. This does not mean that he has to become a sociologist or philosopher but to have basic knowledge ». According to Mr. Boussouf, to fit to the reality of European societies the imam must have a rational mind and be armed with a scientific knowledge, need to fluency in the majority language  which is an essential communication tool and be in interaction with the societies where he lives . The "Imam must also understand other religions and philosophies, because" we can not operate in a society without a knowledge of the history of the host societies, because the values ​​of secularism, equality or human rights are all concepts that have a history that resonates with the current reality.

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