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Egypt's Al-Azhar Grand Imam stresses need for coordination on Friday sermons

Ahram Online , Wednesday 3 Aug 2016
Al Tayeb
File photo of Egypt's Grand Imam Ahmed Al-Tayeb.(Photo: Al-Ahram)
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Views: 2828

Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed El-Tayeb stressed the necessity of coordination on the selection of sermons topics to address the society's needs in a meeting with the minister of religious endowments Mohamed Mokhar Gomaa and Egypt's grand mufti Shawki Allam, state news agency MENA reported.

The three parties agreed on drafting training courses for capacity building of Muslim clerics to increase their efficiency and enhance their skills in preparing and giving sermons as well as discharging of non-qualified preachers and those who exploit religious discourse.

This meeting comes amidst a dispute on the standardised, pre-written Friday sermons announced by the endowments ministry but rejected by top Egyptian Islamic body Al-Azhar.

El-Tayeb underlined the full coordination between Islamic Research Academy, religious endowments ministry and the official religious authority responsible for issuing edicts for Muslims in the country. He highlighted the importance of unifying edicts and the curtailing of any edicts from unqualified clerics.

The grand imam met earlier Wednesday with president Abde- Fatah El-Sisi to discuss the renewal of religious discourse and "spreading good values in society".

Last Month, the endowments ministry announced that Muslim clerics will be required to read from a single script prepared by the ministry during the weekly sermon at Friday prayers, a move aimed at promoting moderate Islamic ideology and combating extremism.

However, Al-Azhar rejected last Wednesday such a decision. The Council of Senior Scholars, headed by El-Tayeb, said the move amounts to "freezing religious discourse".

The Al-Azhar Mosque did not follow the ministry's standardised sermon last Friday, entitled "Cleanliness is a Civilised Behaviour," and instead gave a sermon on national unity and the rights of Christians in Islam.

Meanwhile, Egypt's religious endowments minister reiterated that having pre-prepared Friday sermons is of "legitimate national interest," though he stressed that the "era of silencing people is over".

The ministry's decision sparked outcry among many clerics last month, who said that scripted sermons would waste an imam's talents and fail to cater to different communities.

The ministry has been setting topics for weekly sermons at Friday prayers across the country since 2014.

Under the Egyptian constitution, the 1,000-year-old seat of Islamic learning Al-Azhar is in charge of regulating Islamic preaching and proselytising, while the endowments ministry is responsible for administering mosques and Islamic centres.

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