Professor Dr. Sheikh Ahmed Muhammad Ahmed Al-Tayyeb the current Grand Imam of al- Azhar, number 1 in 2017 the world’s 500 most influential muslims list, recently said that most Europeans belong to Ahl Al fatrah أهل الفترة or “People of the Interval” – so that God will not punish them for not being muslims.
“People of the Interval” traditionally refers to people who have not been received Messages from God properly, usually because they lived between prophets or because of some circumstances they could not receive Islamic Da’wah during their lives.
In the case of Europeans, most of them have perceived the message of Prophet Muhammad in a distorted and negative manner. Sheikh Al-Tayyeb said “The people of Europe now do not know about Islam except what they see on TV screens that is killing and other things. For this reason its has been applied to them what was applied to the ‘People of the Interval‘”.
This may come as a surprise to some but actually this is the standard view among mainstream Islamic ulaama in particular those who lean to al-ʾAshʿarīyya or the Ash’arites, the earliest theological school of Sunni Islam orthodoxy. God punishment only applies to those people who until Islamic da’wah reaches them properly and correctly in their full conscience and then they continue reject (kufr) its message.
Here is Sheikh Al-Tayyeb interview (in Arabic) with in Egyptian TV program aired during the last holy month of Ramadhan.