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Monday, 24 July 2017

Al-Azhar's Grand Imam declares support for a constitutional, democratic state

In a document that read more as a short constitutional declaration, Al-Azhar defends universal human rights and rejects 'the theocratic state' as un-Islamic and autocratic by nature

Mostafa Ali, Monday 20 Jun 2011
Azhar
Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb
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Views: 6582

In a statement titled “Al-Azhar Document” and read on national television, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, the country’s highest religious authority, outlined his institution’s vision on key political, social and economic issues that have been subject to raging debates across the country for months.

The product of a consensual agreement reached between Al-Azhar officials and numerous prominent intellectuals and religious figures following extensive discussions over the last few weeks, the Document contains 11 main articles and is meant to serve as a foundation for a new social arrangement in post-Mubarak Egypt.

The statement opens with a definitive and unequivocal position on the contentious debate taking place in society between liberal forces and religious currents on the nature of the relationship between religion and the state in a new Egypt.

In a clear rejection of the argument put forward by many Islamic Salafists, the Grand Imam laid out his support for a ‘democratic and constitutional’ state.

“Islam has never, throughout its history, experienced such a thing as a religious or a theocratic state,” El-Tayeb said. He added that theocratic states have always been autocratic and humanity suffered a great deal because of them.

The document stressed its support for universal democratic rights such as free and democratic elections where the citizens as a whole constitute the sole and legitimate source of legislation.

The Grand Imam said that striving towards social justice needs to be a basic component in any future economic arrangement in Egypt. He stressed that affordable and decent education and health care services must become a right for all citizens.

The document was explicit in its support for freedom of expression in the arts and literary fields within the accepted boundaries of Islamic philosophy and moral guidelines. It highlighted the need for expanded scientific and popular campaigns to combat illiteracy and advance economic progress.

“We need a serious commitment to universal human rights, the rights of women and children,” El-Tayeb said.

In a clear reference to the status of religious minorities especially Copts, the Grand Imam stated that citizenship must be the sole criterion by which both rights and responsibilities are administered in society.

The document emphasised the right of all citizens to practice any of the three main religions in complete freedom. Along those lines, the Grand Imam admonished all those “who use religion to incite sectarian strife or those who accuse others of religious apostasy simply based on political disagreements.”

The document asked all Muslims to refer to Al-Azhar’s religious opinions as the highest and final word in all disputed theological matters.

In foreign affairs, the document stressed that Egypt must regain its once prominent status in the Arab, Muslim and African spheres, maintain its sovereign and independent decision making process and continue its support for the Palestinian people.

Finally, the Grand Imam demanded that the Institution of Al-Azhar be independent of the state. Along those lines, the document pointed out that the Supreme Clerical Committee of Al-Azhar not the government – as has been the practice for decades – chooses the position of Grand Imam.

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Mihai Martoiu Ticu
02-07-2011 02:22pm
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Well done
It's a truly enlightened view. I'm only worried about the following sentence: "The document was explicit in its support for freedom of expression in the arts and literary fields within the accepted boundaries of Islamic philosophy and moral guidelines." This is still an excuse to stifle the freedom of expression.
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A Finn
25-06-2011 03:30pm
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Encouraging
From the viewpoint of a citizen of a Scandinavian welfare state this document is very interesting and quite encouraging. Could Al Ahram provide an English translation of the document for us Westerners less versed in Arabic and keep it posted for a while ?
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plusaf
23-06-2011 05:03am
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interesting....
The document emphasised the right of all citizens to practice any of the three main religions in complete freedom. Along those lines, the Grand Imam admonished all those “who use religion to incite sectarian strife or those who accuse others of religious apostasy simply based on political disagreements.” The document asked all Muslims to refer to Al-Azhar’s religious opinions as the highest and final word in all disputed theological matters. ............................... does ANYONE see the self-contradictions in those statements???? wow... well, I'll try to believe it when I start to see it... show me...
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asabry
23-06-2011 03:16am
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Crock is talking
The BIG Crock Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, is now talking about democracy, this is a real Joke. Let me remind you Mr. Grand Imam you are the face of the old regime and you are corrupted blustered and what came out of your mouth is just garbo. Islam does not accept democracy and you are trying to save your diry job including the Supreme Clerical Committee. I wander what are the main three religions you are referring too? Let me guess, Islam, Quran and Saria. Remember, your Islam incites hate and not respect others religious unless submitted. Your definition of freedom of expression is very narrow, especially when you got one of Al-Azhar a former student serving prison term as a blogger. You are liar
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Anisah
22-06-2011 04:53pm
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Al Azhar lost its rights when it bowed to Mubarak
When Al Azhar cowed to Mubarak it lost its claims of being a leader in Islamic dealings of Muslims. When it required a Muslim boy under the age of puberty to "take shahadah" in its mosque before they would allow him to attend their elementary school, because his mother was a convert to Islam... they lost their legitimacy to tell anyone what is "right" or "wrong" Islamically. When they deny married women the right of entering university at Al Azhar solely because they won't accept them living in the women's dorms... and force those women to take "night courses" because they ASSUME they have family duties and married men don't... they lost all rights to say what is ISLAM! They were puppets of Mubarak so that they could keep power...now that Mubarak is out, they want to still keep "authority" over the people of Egypt. Egypt needs to tell them NO. Islam doesn't claim there is ONLY three religions...and neither should Muslims in Egypt. it needs to recognize the rights of ALL
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Cartoon Muslim
22-06-2011 02:59am
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confused
“Islam has never, throughout its history, experienced such a thing as a religious or a theocratic state,” El-Tayeb said. He added that theocratic states have always been autocratic and humanity suffered a great deal because of them." I'm confused. If the Muslim nations of the past were not religious states, then what was it? Anyone know?
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hh
21-06-2011 06:48pm
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Islam
Egypt shouldn’t and never becomes an Islamic state. We are Egyptians and we like the fun all the time. We are now in the 21st century able to express our thoughts more clearly using evidential facts not thoughts based on religious myths. Science proves many things in this world and now we can understand these many things more then we have ever understood before. We have to realise that politics & religion never work together which means religion should be kept in the mosque, church or temple; and personally between people and God.
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Paddy
21-06-2011 09:56am
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Which 3?
Which three religions? Are there 2 types of Christians or is it Christian, Muslim & Hindu or something? And why does the guiding principle need to be based on Islam which will define boundaries of acceptability? While he's supporting the Palestinians, why not the Pakistani brethren where India used to be for 30,000 years. Then there's the Sudan....a lot of diaspora to catch up with.
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Hidden
21-06-2011 01:12am
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Al Azharr B.S
Al-Azhar is an apostate and does not represent Islam but represent Egypt... What they are saying is not Islamic and words of the Kufar... they should be ashamed of themselves.
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Mustafa
21-06-2011 12:03am
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Great Imam for Great people
May Allah support you for the benefit of the whole Islamic world as well as Humanity. we looking foreword to the Next step
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