Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed launched its Ramadan lecture series on Wednesday, 29th April 2020, in a newly reimagined virtual version, broadcast on Al Emarat TV Channel. The first lecture was led by Dr Omar Habtoor Al Darei, Executive Director of Islamic Affairs at the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, and featured a short lecture, followed by a live discussion with His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and other esteemed participants. The episode was aired on TV and was posted on Youtube.
Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed is a forum that hosts prominent leaders, scientists, thinkers, scholars and community members to engage in dialogue and debate to further contribute to a deeper understanding of the various issues that impact societies and human life. This year, and in light of the unprecedented circumstances that the world is witnessing, the Majlis continues in a new format; a special series that airs weekly during Ramadan, inviting the entire community to participate, and engage with the topics shared, virtually.
The first episode of this series titled ”Our Values, Our Path Forward” began with a lecture on the rejuvenating, enduring power of Ramadan during these times. Dr Omar Al Darei shared that those observing Ramadan from their homes this year would experience a renewal of faith, as they observe this holy month with the family under the same roof.
The lecture referenced lessons from the pandemics of the past, citing The Annals of the History of the Emirates, a book documenting the epidemics people of the region suffered. He spoke about the legacies of our forefathers who conquered difficult times with the values of optimism and future-building entrenched in their attitudes then.
Dr Al Darei also delved deeper into the stories in the Quran, and Islamic history, that shed light on the power the values of optimism and future-building hold. In one example, he recalls the words of a Syrian monk during the plague of ‘Muslim bin Qutaiba’ in the second Hijri century; he shared the underlying lesson: “Whatever your religion may be, whatever your faith may be, your humanity is the foundation. Your life is the beacon of light.”
Dr Al Darei also touched on the Islamic scholarship on epidemics, including the works of Mohammed Al-Tamimi, the doctor and scholar of the fourth Hijri century. The latter stressed the importance of perseverance and the need to cultivate it during times of epidemics. Al Tamimi had produced a valuable resource and book, titled: “The Book of Perseverance by Air Purification and Avoidance of Epidemic Harms”.
The lecture prompted a deep reflection and a lively discussion between His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, joined by H.H. Sheikh Tahnoun bin Mohammed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi’s Ruler Representative in Al Ain Region, Sheikh Nahyan Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance, Dr Mohammed Matar Al Kaabi, Chairman of the General Authority of Islamic Affairs and Endowments, Hamad Suhail Owaida Al Khaili, and Dr Hamdan Musallam Al Mazrouei, Adviser to the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince’s Court.
The discussion included several questions and reflections by the esteemed guests, on topics that mainly highlighted the importance of national collective values in overcoming the current challenges. The conversation also touched upon the initiatives and projects led by the UAE in recent years, that had helped build a stronger foundation for the country in dealing with the current unprecedented global crisis.
The session concluded with input by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed who stressed the importance of observing patience during the Holy Month, and these challenging times: “This crisis will pass, but it needs patience.” His Highness also remarked that everyone in the UAE, both citizens and residents, are working for the wellbeing and security of this country. “We are all proud of them and do not differentiate between them in their love for this country.” His Highness then concluded by saying: “The UAE, with all its people, is strong.”
The event wrapped up with a tribute to the unsung heroes from all around the UAE, showcasing how the underlying values of the nation’s people and the Bedouin spirit of solidarity have prompted so many UAE citizens and residents to go to extraordinary lengths to serve the country. The tribute included testimonials from delivery drivers, health workers, pilots, executives and supermarket workers, who spoke of their great pride and honour at being able to provide help and support at such a time, even if meant not seeing their families at the end of a long, hard day.