U.K. media is reporting that Al-Azhar has rejected the candidate of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood to replace Egypt’s Grand Mufti. According to a Times of London report:
Egypt’s top clerics defied the ruling Muslim Brotherhood and used their first free vote in 60 years yesterday to choose a scholar as the Grand Mufti — the leading arbiter of faith across the Sunni world. Shokri Ibrahim Abdel Karim, a professor of Islamic jurisprudence from the Nile Delta, will become Egypt’s 19th Grand Mufti if, as expected, his nomination is approved by President Morsi. In this role, he will be Egypt’s most prominent interpreter of Islamic law, with responsibility for issuing fatwas. Professor Abdel Karim received the most votes in a secret ballot held among the Senior Scholars Authority, a group of officials formed after the 2011 revolution. Before the uprising, Egypt’s presidents directly appointed the Grand Mufti, but power has now been placed in the hands of scholars at al-Azhar, a university considered by many to be the most important seat of Sunni Islamic learning in the world. Professor Abdel Karim has written books on the political rights of Muslim women, including their rights in divorce proceedings, and on the relationship between medicine and Sharia when applied to sex changes and identifying the sex of a child before birth. His nomination came two years to the day after Hosni Mubarak was forced to step down as President. The Brotherhood had pushed its own candidate, Abdel Rahman al-Bar, for the mufti’s position, sparking criticism that the conservative Islamist movement was trying to seize the country’s highest religious authority after capturing political power. However, Mr al-Bar did not even make it to the final round of voting, Azhar sources said. Candidates for the mufti’s position are not meant to hold political affiliations, and some observers saw Mr al-Bar’s alleged nomination as a threat to al-Azhar’s independence.
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A post from last week reported on Abdel Rahman al-Bar as the favored candidate of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The GMBDW believes that the rejection of Al-Bar in favor of Karim is likely the result of the influence of Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi on the decision. Egyptian media is reporting that Qaradawi was part of the group that made the selection. Posts from July 2011 discussed other possible signs of conflict between Qaradawi and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood.
Al-Azhar is both an important mosque and one of the oldest educational institutions in the Islamic world. Numerous earlier posts have covered the changing nature of Al-Azhar:
- A post from last November reported on a speech given by Global Muslim Brotherhood leader Youssef Qaradawi before Friday prayers at the Al-Azhar Mosque in Cairo, his first speech ever at Al-Azhar and where he called for Arabs and Muslims to unite In confrontation With Israel.
- A post from October reported that Salah Soltan, a notorious anti-Semite and formerly part of the U.S. Muslim Brotherhood,, had been appointed as Secretary General of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs (SCIF) attached to the Egyptian Ministry of Waqf. The appointment was made by the Minister Dr. Talaat Mohamed Afify Salem who has been described as a member of the Salafist movement in Egypt and as an “ally” of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Ministry of Waqf (Islamic Endowment) is reported to have influence over Al-Azhar.
- A post from May reported on what was describef as a “first-of-its-kind” meeting between Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood and Al-Azhar leaders.
- A post from November 2011reported that a Muslim Brotherhood rally in Cairo held at the Al Azhar Mosque was a “venomous anti-Israel protest” that featured calls to “kill all the Jews.
- In March 2010, a post reported on the appointment of Sheikh Ahmed Mohammed Ahmed al-Tayeb as head of Al-Azhar, replacing Mohammed Sayed Tantawi who had died recently on a trip to Saudi Arabia.
- In October 2008, posts reported on the election of Qaradawi to the Islamic Research Council of Al-Azhar.
Other posts have reported on the numerous articles examining both the struggle for control of Al-Azhar as well as its role of in the Islamization of Egypt.
A post from yesterday reported that a delegation from Al-Azhar met last Wednesday with a delegation from a part of the Federation of Islamic Organizations in Europe (FIOE), representing the Muslim Brotherhood in Europe.