With reference to the foundations of the Islamic middle-path (wasatī) thought which al-Azhar has adopted as a method and a goal, respectful of the civilizational achievements that modern Arab culture has actively advocated, and being aware of the need to encourage critical and scientific thinking and to promote the development of a system that is predicated on noble spiritual values, a group made up of leading ulama and highly eminent intellectuals came together at al-Azhar at the kind invitation of the Grand Imam, Shaykh al-Azhar. The group set itself the task of examining the contemporary problems whose destabilising effects the Arab Islamic umma needs to confront. A number of challenges stand out as particularly noteworthy:
- The legitimising of killing in the name of religion and the perpetration of terrorism by casting anathema and inciting popular panic on the basis of deliberately misconstrued ideas, whose real but hidden purpose is to perpetuate a campaign of destruction that seeks to drive a wedge between the peoples and dissipate their energies through devastating sectarian civil wars.
- A backsliding from the civilizational progress achieved by the Islamic world and humanity and an attempt to return to times when slavery was practised, human beings were considered as spoils of war, human trafficking was practiced and innocents were lashed and slaughtered in order to terrorise people whose only desire is for peace.