Wide Angle

Pope Francis' visit : Muslim scholars’ unions slam Morocco for a religious performance

Muslim scholars’ associations have criticized the Mohammed VI Institute for the training of Imams for hosting a performance that included a call to prayer and church songs. The performance was staged, Saturday, before King Mohammed VI and Pope Francis.

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On Saturday, March the 30th, King Mohammed VI and Pope Francis, who arrived in Morocco for a two-day trip, visited the Mohammed VI Institute for the Training of Imams, Morchidines and Morchidates, a training center for imams and men and women preachers and spiritual guides.

This visit was marked by a musical performance, staged by the Moroccan Philharmonic Orchestra and Caroline Casadesus, Smahi El Harati and Francoise Atlan. The show started with a call to prayer (Adhan), which was accompanied by violin.

When the Adhan ended, the two soprano singers joined the Muslim performer. The three singers performed religious songs of Muslim, Christian and Hebrew tradition before the head of the Catholic Church and the Moroccan sovereign.

Slammed by Muslim scholars' unions

The performance, which was broadcast on TV and shared on social media, was heavily criticized. The show was slammed by the International Union of Muslim Scholars, an organization of Muslim Islamic theologians headed by Moroccan Muslim jurist Ahmad al-Raysuni.

In a communiqué, made public Monday, the International Union of Muslim Scholars denounced the fact that the performance «mixed between Adhan, one of the greatest rites of Islam, and church music».

The Union disapproved of the performance, it described as «surprising and offensive», stressing that «maintaining the principles of tolerance, co-existence and dialogue doesn't require giving up on Islam’s values».

The Union was particularly annoyed by the fact that the Adhan was accompanying the two other singers, who sung religious songs from Christianity and Judaism, citing verses from the Quran.

On the other hand, the Muslim Scholars Association (UMS), based in Kuwait, also denounced the musical performance attended by King Mohammed VI and Pope Francis. «What happened at the reception hosted in honor of the Pope is an unprecedented and unacceptable act that shouldn’t be approved», the association said in a communiqué published Monday.

«This is prohibited in the religious texts of the Quran and the Sunnah», argued the Muslim Scholars Association. «This dangerous event is a severe blow to the Ummah's values, contrary to what some people see as tolerance and religious rapprochement».

To the association, «Muslims and their leaders must invite Christians and others to understand the religion of Islam through constructive arguments». «But engaging in these acts makes us lose a golden opportunity to defend the teachings of Islam», the association concluded.