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2013 UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture
an article by UNESCO Press

Algerian academic and essayist Mustafa Cherif and the Arab British Centre (UK) are the winners of the 2013 UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture. They were designated by an international jury of experts for their commitment to disseminate Arab culture globally. The Prize will be awarded by the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, in a ceremony at the Organization’s Headquarters on 25 April.

Mustafa Cherif

click on photo to enlarge

Mustafa Cherif (Algeria) contributed for more than three decades to the promotion of Arab Muslim culture and inter-cultural dialogue. A former diplomat and politician, he also dedicated part of his career to teaching. As a researcher, he set up courses about the Arab Muslim civilization and cultures at the University of Algiers, the École supérieure de Sciences politiques et Relations internationales (Algiers), as well as the Open University of Catalonia (e-learning). He is one of the founders of the Groupe d'amitié islamo- chrétien and the World Islamic-Catholic Forum. He has authored numerous works about Islam and inter- faith dialogue.

The Arab British Centre (UK) is an independent charitable organization which works to improve understanding of the Arab world. The Centre organizes cultural events—such as the screening of Safar: A Journey through Popular Arab Cinema in 2012—and Arabic language and calligraphy classes. Despite limited budgetary resources, it is able to undertake other activities with various bodies and works with an extensive network and various partners to promote the culture and arts of the Arab world in the United Kingdom. The Centre endeavours to dispel negative stereotyping concerning Arab culture and society through roundtable debates and cultural programmes.

The UNESCO-Sharjah Prize for Arab Culture was established on the initiative of the United Arab Emirates to reward the efforts of a national of an Arab Country and a national of any other country who has contributed, through artistic, intellectual or promotional work, to the development and dissemination of Arab culture in the world. US$ 60,000 Prize is divided equally between the two laureates of the Prize.

[Editor's note: Among the many essays by prize- winner Mustafa Cherif, there is one which considers the celebration of Ramadan as culture of peace.. For example, he says, "Ramadan calls, first of all, for a culture of peace. This concept is directly related to living together in peace. In this sense, peace requires recognition of the other, keeping in mind that there is no peace without justice.]

(Click here for a French version of this article)


Question(s) related to this article:

How would we define a progressive Muslim?,

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Here is a rough translation of

Ramadan: the culture of peace

by Mustapha Cherif

Fasting is to be at peace. If someone tries to bother us, we can answer quietly: "I am fasting. "The concept of peace in Islam is central, in addition to being one of the beautiful names of God, Salam, the importance of which is at least equal to Rahman, the Merciful.

Ramadan calls, first of all, for a culture of peace.  This concept is directly related to living together in peace. In this sense, peace requires recognition of the other, keeping in mind that there is no peace without justice. The action reflecting this orientation is that of sharing, which must be conducted in a reasonable manner.  To accept differences, personally, in human relations, needs to be with an open heart and mind. Hospitality is a virtue.

The responsibility of the Muslim imperative of justice

The concept of peace in Islam is greater than any other: it is religious, human and cultural and beyond.

The qualities of the believer, generous, hospitable, good, all converge in the sense of achieving peace vis-à-vis oneself, others and the world. . ...more.

This report was posted on March 15, 2013.