The third oldest university and the leading Islamic institution in the world, Al Azhar University, made waves recently in the Muslim community with the formation of a university choir.
Out of 600 applicants, 16 were chosen to be part of the choir – eight women and eight men between the ages of 19-22. Al Azhar also hired a renowned maestro, Hassan Fikri, who has led groups performing in the Egyptian Opera, Al Arabiya said.
Initially the university was criticized for the choir, with people saying that singing is offensive to Al Azhar. But Al Azhar's Deputy, Abbas Shoman, said in a speech at the choir's first singing competition that the university does not oppose art and creativity. In fact, on April 28, the choir sang at an Arts and Creativity Festival that was organized by Al Azhar University, where they performed in front of the country's leading Islamic figures.
Then in March they performed at the Ibda'a Creativity contest that is organized by the Egyptian Ministry of Youth and Sports, where they came in second place, silencing their critics.
Ironically, this educational institute does not have an arts college. Because of this, the choir practices in a public university with their maestro and music trainer that Al Azhar hired for them.