Tag Archives: Al-Azhar

Scandalous Fatwas in Egypt

by

brothReprinted from Gatestone Institute.

As the full ramification of the Muslim Brotherhood’s year in power continues to be exposed, a new study by Al Azhar’s Fatwa [religious opinion] Committee dedicated to exploring the fatwas, or Islamic decrees, issued by the Brotherhood and Salafis—the Islamists—was recently published.

Al Azhar, in Cairo, is considered by many to be one of the oldest and most prestigious Islamic universities in the world.  The study, written by Al Azhar’s Dr. Sayed Zayed, and entitled (in translation), “The Misguided Fatwas of the Muslim Brotherhood  and Salafis,” reveals a great deal about how Islamists view women.

The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm summarized some of the Al Azhar study’s main findings and assertions on November 15 in a report entitled (in translation), “Muslim Brotherhood fatwas: A woman swimming is an ‘adulteress’ and touching bananas is ‘forbidden.’”

According to the report, “fatwas issued by both groups [Brotherhood and Salafis] regard women as strange creatures created solely for sex. They considered the voices of women, their looks and presence outside the walls of their homes an ‘offence.’ Some went as far as to consider women as a whole ‘offensive.’”

The study addressed 51 fatwas issued during the rule of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Among them, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis “permitted wives to lie to their husbands concerning politics,” if the husband forbids her from being supportive of the Islamists or their agenda; she may then, through taqiyya [dissimulation] a Muslim doctrine that permits deceit to empower Islam, still be supportive of the Islamists while pretending to be against them.

The study similarly revealed that some of these fatwas decreed that women who swim in the sea are committing “adultery”—even if they wear a hijab: “The reason behind this particular fatwa, from their point of view, is that the sea is masculine [as with other languages, Arabic nouns are gender specific, and “sea” is masculine], and when the water touches the woman’s private parts she becomes an ‘adulteress’ and should be punished.”

Moreover, “Some of these fatwas also forbade women from eating certain vegetables or even touching cucumbers or bananas,” due to their  phallic imagery, which may tempt women to deviate.

Other fatwas decreed that “it is unacceptable for women to turn the air conditioning on at home during the absence of their husbands as this could be used as a sign to indicate to neighbors that the woman is at home alone and any of them could commit adultery with her.”

One fatwa suggested that marriage to ten-year-old girls should be allowed to prevent girls “from deviating from the right path,” while another prohibited girls from going to schools located 25 kilometers away from their homes.

Another stated that a marriage is annulled if the husband and wife copulate with no clothes on.

These fatwas also sanctioned the use of women and children as human shields in violent demonstrations and protests, as these are considered jihads to empower Islam.

Even slavery was permitted, according to the study: “the people who issued these fatwas [Brotherhood and/or Salafi members] demanded the enactment of a law allowing divorced women to own slaves,” presumably to help her, as she no longer has a man to support her.

An earlier report (summarized in English here) listed some other fatwas issued by the Brotherhood and Salafis during Morsi’s tenure: advocating for the destruction of the pyramids and sphinx; scrapping the Camp David Accords; killing anyone protesting against ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (which happened and is one of the main charges against the imprisoned Brotherhood leadership); forbidding Muslims from greeting Christians; forbidding Muslim cab drivers from transporting Christian priests (whose clothing makes them identifiable); forbidding TV shows that mock or make light of Islamists; and forbidding women from marrying any men involved with the former Mubarak government.

Predictably, the Al Azhar study criticizing the Brotherhood/Salafi fatwas concludes by saying that only al Azhar, which styles itself as a moderate institution, is qualified to issue fatwas.  Of course, one of the most sensational of all fatwas—“adult breastfeeding,” which called on women to “breastfeed” strange men, thereby making them relatives and justifying their mixed company—was issued by Al Azhar, but later retracted.   And it is apparently this retracting that makes Al Azhar more moderate than the Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, the Salafis—who, in light of the Brotherhood’s ousting have become Islam’s standard bearers—continue successfully to push for strict Sharia interpretations, the very sort that justify the above fatwas,  in Egypt’s new constitution.

Advertisements

Egypt’s Latest Fatwas

by Raymond Ibrahim

When a women goes swimming, as the word for sea is masculine, when “the water touches the woman’s private parts, she becomes an ‘adulteress’ and should be punished.” — Summary of Al Ahzar Fatwa Committee, reported in Al Masry Al Youm

Meanwhile the Salafis — who, in the light of the Bortherhood’s ouster have become Islam’s standard bearers there — continue successfully to push for strict interpretations of Sharia law in Egypt’s new constitution.

As the full ramification of the Muslim Brotherhood’s year in power continues to be exposed, a new study by Al Azhar’s Fatwa Committee dedicated to exploring the fatwas, or Islamic decrees, issued by the Brotherhood and Salafis — the Islamists — was recently published.

Al Azhar, in Cairo, is considered by many to be one of the oldest and most prestigious Islamic universities in the world. The study, written by Al Azhar’s Dr. Sayed Zayed, and entitled (in translation), “The Misguided Fatwas of the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis,” reveals a great deal about how Islamists view women.

The Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, pictured above, is part of Al-Azhar University. (Image source: David Stanley)

The Egyptian newspaper Al Masry Al Youm summarized some of the Al Azhar study’s main findings and assertions on November 15 in a article entitled (in translation), “Muslim Brotherhood fatwas: A woman swimming is an ‘adulteress’ and touching bananas is ‘forbidden.'”

According to the report, “fatwas issued by both groups [Brotherhood and Salafis] regard women as strange creatures created solely for sex. They considered the voices of women, their looks and presence outside the walls of their homes an ‘offence.’ Some went as far as to consider women as a whole ‘offensive.'”

The study addressed 51 fatwas issued during the rule of ousted president Mohamed Morsi. Among them, the Muslim Brotherhood and Salafis “permitted wives to lie to their husbands concerning politics,” if the husband forbids her from being supportive of the Islamists or their agenda; she may then, through taqiyya [dissimulation] — a Muslim doctrine that permits deceit to empower Islam — still be supportive of the Islamists while pretending to be against them.

The study similarly revealed that some of these fatwas decreed that women who swim in the sea are committing “adultery” — even if they wear a hijab: “The reason behind this particular fatwa, from their point of view, is that the sea is masculine [as with many other languages, Arabic nouns are gender specific, and “sea” is masculine], and when the water touches the woman’s private parts she becomes an ‘adulteress’ and should be punished.”

Moreover, “Some of these fatwas also forbade women from eating certain vegetables or even touching cucumbers or bananas,” due to their phallic imagery, which may tempt women to deviate.

Other fatwas decreed that “it is unacceptable for women to turn the air conditioning on at home during the absence of their husbands as this could be used as a sign to indicate to neighbors that the woman is at home alone and any of them could commit adultery with her.”

One fatwa suggested that marriage to ten-year-old girls should be allowed to prevent girls “from deviating from the right path,” while another prohibited girls from going to schools located 25 kilometers away from their homes.

Another stated that a marriage is annulled if the husband and wife copulate with no clothes on.

These fatwas also sanctioned the use of women and children as human shields in violent demonstrations and protests, as these are considered jihads to empower Islam.

Even slavery was permitted, according to the study: “the people who issued these fatwas demanded the enactment of a law allowing divorced women to own slaves,” presumably to help her, as she no longer has a man to support her.

An earlier report (summarized in English here) listed some other fatwas issued by the Brotherhood and Salafis during Morsi’s tenure: advocating for the destruction of the pyramids and sphinx; scrapping the Camp David Accords; killing anyone protesting against ousted Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi (which happened and is one of the main charges against the imprisoned Brotherhood leadership); forbidding Muslims from greeting Christians; forbidding Muslim cab drivers from transporting Christian priests (whose clothing makes them identifiable); forbidding TV shows that mock or make light of Islamists; and forbidding women from marrying any men involved with the former Mubarak government.

Predictably, the Al Azhar study criticizing the Brotherhood and Salafi fatwas concludes by saying that only al Azhar, which styles itself as a moderate institution, is qualified to issue fatwas. Of course, one of the most sensational of all fatwas — “adult breastfeeding,” which called on women to “breastfeed” male acquaintances, thereby making them relatives and justifying their mixed company — was issued by Al Azhar, but later retracted. It is apparently this retraction that makes Al Azhar seemingly more moderate than the Brotherhood.

Meanwhile, the Salafis — who, in light of the Brotherhood’s ouster have become Islam’s standard bearers there — continue successfully to push for strict interpretations of Sharia law in Egypt’s new constitution.

Raymond Ibrahim is author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (by Regnery in cooperation with Gatestone Institute).

Egyptians reject self-appointed vice squads

By Mohamed Mahmoud in Cairo

Egyptians shop at a street market in Cairo. Though religiously conservative, Egyptian society has rejected self-appointed groups seeking to impose Islamic law. [Gianluigi Guercia/AFP]

Egyptians shop at a street market in Cairo. Though religiously conservative, Egyptian society has rejected self-appointed groups seeking to impose Islamic law. [Gianluigi Guercia/AFP]

Nada Abdel Azim was taken aback recently when a woman wearing a niqab (face veil) sitting next to her on the bus she takes to work advised her to abandon her hijab (headscarf) for a niqab.

Abdel Azim rebuffed this advice, saying, “This is my business, and my personal freedom is a red line.”

“The promotion of virtue and prevention of vice is a duty for us all; you will soon get used to it”, the woman replied, according to Abdel Azim.

Nada is only one of many Egyptians who have had negative dealings with groups that seek to illegally enforce their interpretation of sharia, which clerics and officials say is unacceptable.

“The Islamic religion ordained the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice as a means of promoting righteousness in society,” Salem Abdul Jalil, former undersecretary for advocacy affairs at Egypt’s Ministry of Endowments, told Al-Shorfa. “But it is to be enforced by specialised clerics, and by persuasion, not by force.”

He warned that the misapplication of sharia by self-declared groups could escalate to violence on the Egyptian street, as happened in the city of Suez last year.

On June 25th, 2012, 20-year-old Ahmed Hussein Eid was killed by three men who were subsequently handed 15-year prison sentences by the criminal court in Suez for premeditated murder and for forming an illegal group for “the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice”.

Eid, a university student, was walking with his fiancée in a public park when three men assaulted him. He later died of stab wounds at al-Ismailia university hospital.

Later that year, in October 2012, Egypt’s Al-Dostor newspaper reported that men belonging to the same group attempted to cut a man’s hand and his brother’s tongue at the brothers’ fruit shop in al-Arbaeen market in Suez.

Passers-by prevented the attack, but the men continued to stalk the shop owner and threaten to enforce their punishment on him, forcing him to file a police report.

Then in March, Al-Wafd newspaper reported on its website that a brawl had broken out in Suez between citizens and a number of bearded men after they tried to rebuke a woman for wearing clothing that “violated sharia”.

The woman hit one of the men with her shoe, the newspaper said, when he “threatened to arrest and flog her”.

Reasoning through dialogue

“Members of those groups may get over-zealous or reckless and turn to violence in the course of their religious preaching and guidance, because they are not specialised in [religious guidance],” Abdul Jalil said.

Most Islamist groups that resorted to violence in past decades initially intended to enforce the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice, but their misapplication and misunderstanding of Islamic principles led to them to resort to violence later on, he said.

Al-Azhar scholars and imams appointed by the Ministry of Endowments alone are qualified to rule on these principles, Abdul Jalil said, because they study and specialise in disseminating the teachings of Islam, preaching and counselling using persuasion, reasoning and evidence through dialogue, not through intimidation or violence.

“Egyptians are a religious people by nature, and imams appointed by the ministry who studied at Al-Azhar are popular with the people and wield moral influence,” he said.

Self-appointed groups spring up

In late March, a group calling itself a committee for “the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice in Suez” issued a statement saying it has eliminated places of “obscenity, debauchery and corruption” and that it seeks to launch a second phase to eliminate what it calls “the dens of Satan”.

The group threatened to target liquor shops and hotels that serve alcohol. It also warned Christians that live in Egypt to either follow the Islamic teachings of the country they live in or leave, and said it aims to raid and flog some residents who live in “new cities in Suez”.

The group extolled its perceived “victories” in the first phase of its plan, in which it said it targeted public parks.

In mid-March, the group had announced on its Facebook page it divided its followers into five groups, each responsible for one of Suez’s five districts.

In response to such announcements, al-Amarin Bedouin tribe in Suez announced on April 1st that they will forcefully repulse any extremist group that threatens installations and hotels in the area.

“We want to emphasise to the Egyptian people and officials and the residents of Suez that we will not allow extremists to approach resorts or hotels”, the tribe said.

Meanwhile, in January 2012, a group that launched the “Committee for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice in Egypt” on Facebook drew sharp criticism from Al-Azhar scholars and Egyptians as a whole.

“The committee is flatly rejected by Islamic religious authorities in Egypt, and their approval is essential for the establishment of any religious body, especially one of such importance,” said Dr. Mahmoud al-Jabali, a professor of sharia law at Al-Azhar University.

“Al-Azhar is the only legitimate religious authority in Egypt,” al-Jabali added.

Nageh Ibrahim, an Islamic Group leader, told Al-Shorfa it is important non-specialised individuals do not take the law into their own hands, “so chaos does not rein, people do not fight each other and discord does not prevail”.

Calling for the promotion of virtue and prevention of vice “is the domain of preachers, scholars, thinkers and speakers and writers”, Ibrahim said, adding that according to Islamic scholars, a vice cannot be remedied through committing a bigger sin.

In a March 29th article in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Shorouk, Gamal Qutb, former head of the fatwa committee at Al-Azhar University, said the promotion of virtue “does not mean bullying people, nor forcing them to do good”.

“It is not a purview that is open to whoever wants to practice it in any context, at any time or place,” he said.

Placing that responsibility in the hands of non-specialists “is an absurdity that is unimaginable to Islam”, Qutb said.