News / Middle East

    Egypt's Islamic Authority Asserts Role, Clashes with Brotherhood

    FILE - Muslims arrive to attend the Friday prayer at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 28, 2012.
    FILE - Muslims arrive to attend the Friday prayer at Al-Azhar mosque in Cairo, Egypt, Dec. 28, 2012.
    Reuters
    Egypt's leading Islamic authority Al-Azhar said on Thursday its clerics must be consulted on a law allowing the state to issue Islamic bonds, setting it at odds with the Muslim Brotherhood which drove the legislation through parliament last week.

    It marks the first time Al-Azhar, a 1,000-year-old seat of Islamic learning, has said its Senior Scholars Authority should be consulted on issues pertaining to Islamic law as set out in Egypt's new, Islamist-tinged constitution.

    Al-Azhar's intervention could set a precedent for clerical oversight of other affairs of state. The Salafi Nour Party has said Al-Azhar must also approve an agreement Egypt is seeking with the International Monetary Fund because it includes a loan upon which Egypt will pay interest.

    The Islamic bond, or sukuk law, will allow Egypt to issue debt compliant with Islamic principles, allowing the state to tap a new area of finance as President Mohamed Morsi's administration grapples with an unaffordable budget deficit.

    The sukuk law has been a source of friction between the Brotherhood, whose Freedom and Justice Party leads the upper house of parliament, and more hardline Islamists who say it should first have been approved by Al-Azhar.

    At a meeting on Thursday, Al-Azhar's Islamic Research Institute chaired by Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb said it shared the view that the law should have been referred to the Senior Scholars Authority, in line with the new constitution.

    "The Institute is of the opinion that the draft should have been referred to the Senior Scholars Authority for discussion and so it could give its legal opinion, in line with its duty," it said in a statement.

    It criticized the law approved by parliament last week, saying it empowered the prime minister to form the body entrusted with issuing the Islamic bonds. It said this "disregarded the Senior Scholars Authority of the noble Azhar".

    The Nour Party, a hardline Salafi group, had demanded the upper house of parliament refer the law to Al-Azhar before MPs  voted on it. But the FJP used its majority to pass the law despite a fierce row with Nour Party members during the session.

    The law must now be ratified by Morsi.

    Abdullah Badran, head of the Nour Party's parliamentary bloc, said in a phone interview the group was now urging Morsi not to ratify the law without first presenting it to the Senior Scholars Authority for review.

    The Nour Party believes Al-Azhar must sign off on a deal Egypt is seeking with the IMF because it includes a $4.8 billion loan on which Egypt will pay interest. The payment of interest is deemed as impermissible in Islam.

    Al-Azhar's role in affairs of state is embedded in article four of the new constitution. It says the Senior Scholars Authority must be consulted on all matters pertaining to sharia.

    It does not, however, say whether Al-Azhar's view is binding on the government, nor does it make clear the scope of Al-Azhar's role - ambiguity which critics say will cause future political and legal conflict.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora