Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Opinion: Egypt’s Fatwa War - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
Select Page

They say that it is the Yawm Al-Furqan, or critical moment, in Egypt; however, it is not just critical in the eyes of the Muslim Brotherhood, but also in the eyes of others.

Islamic heritage and sentimental memory for the peoples and values of yesterday is not something that exclusively belongs to any faction, party or group. In fact, the term Al-Furqan and its religious and historic significance does not solely belong to the Muslim Brotherhood, or indeed anybody else.

A fatwa war has erupted between two parties in Egypt: between the Mursi, Badie and Brotherhood camp, and the camp of Field Marshall Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi and the military, not to mention all the other forces that oppose the Brotherhood, including Al-Azhar.

The fugitive general guide of the Muslim Brotherhood shocked everybody when in his latest weekly message he wrote that the Egyptian army chief’s ouster of Mohamed Mursi was akin to destroying the Ka’aba. Badie said: “I swear by God almighty that what Sisi has done in Egypt is more criminal then if he had . . . demolished the holy Ka’aba stone by stone.” Perhaps one should excuse Badie, for he is clearly suffering a nervous breakdown following the collapse of Muslim Brotherhood rule.

As for the most famous Brotherhood jurist, Sheikh Youssef Al-Qaradawi, he also did not hold back from what he excels in: issuing fatwas and inciting the public. On his official website, Qaradawi claimed that the Egyptian army chief’s call for demonstrations to support the military were nothing more than incitement to murder, saying that it would be religiously impermissible to respond to this.

On the other hand, Al-Azhar weighed in in favor of the demonstration “against terrorism” called for by Sisi. Al-Azhar grand sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb called on Egyptians to respond to the army chief’s call for a mass demonstration on Friday “in a peaceful and civilized manner.” In a speech on Egyptian television, Tayeb called on the Egyptian people to “go out and save Egypt from what it is facing.” The Al-Azhar grand sheikh concluded his speech by saying, “Your Al-Azhar calls on you to take every care possible to express your opinion in a peaceful manner.”

What is the lesson from these politically contradictory statements, particularly when their religious natures seem to conform?

The lesson is that the conflict that is playing out in Egypt is secular, not religious.

All of these clashes between rival political and social factions have nothing to do with religion or faith. Religion stands above these petty feuds and grudges, or at least that is how it should be.

I say this despite the fact that historically Al-Azhar has always been the first to speak on behalf of Islam. This stands in contrast to Badie, a political “guide” of a political movement whose background is in veterinary medicine. This also applies to Sheikh Al-Qaradawi who, despite the fact that he has Islamic jurisprudence credentials, is involved up to his eyeballs with this political organization. In addition to this, he is one individual and cannot be compared to Al-Azhar, with its hundreds of clerics and centuries of history.

Therefore, we are facing a strictly earthly struggle.

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi

Mshari Al-Zaydi is a Saudi journalist and expert on Islamic movements and Islamic fundamentalism, as well as on Saudi affairs. He is Asharq Al-Awsat’s opinion page editor. Mr. Zaydi has worked for the local Saudi press, and has been a guest on numerous news and current affairs programs as an expert on Islamic extremism.

More Posts