Egypt's prosecution investigates TV host for controversial remarks on Prophet Muhammad's 'Al-Miraj' journey

El-Sayed Gamal El-Din , Sunday 20 Feb 2022

Egypt's top prosecutor ordered on Saturday an investigation into complaints filed against popular TV host Ibrahim Eissa over a monologue in which he questioned the journey of Al-Miraj of the Prophet Muhammad.

A still photo of popular TV host Ibrahim Eissa
A still photo of popular TV host Ibrahim Eissa

Eissa said on Friday during his show 'Cairo Talk' broadcast on the privately owned Al-Qahera Wal Nas TV channel that "there is no Journey of Al-Miraj … it is a totally fictitious story."

In Islamic belief, Al-Miraj journey, also Known as the Night Journey, witnessed the ascent of the Prophet Muhammad into heaven, where he met earlier prophets and was told of the duty of Muslims to recite prayer five times a day.

In his speech, which stirred public uproar, the TV host purported that books of prophetic biographies, history and even the prophet teachings support his claim, but preachers only put a spotlight on other accounts presented in what he described as one-sided books.

"Ninety-nine percent of stories narrated by clerics are false because they present half-stories," said Eissa, who focused his speech on attacking ultra-orthodox Salafist sheikhs, adding "Muslims in 2020 do not need preachers in their lives."

Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s top religious institution, said the miracle of "the Prophet Muhammad's journey is confirmed by the holy Quran and by the Prophet's sayings".

All that is mentioned in the holy Quran and in the Prophet's sayings are undoubted postulates, read a statement issued on Saturday by Al-Azhar's Global Centre for Electronic Fatwas in reply to Eissa remarks.

The country's top prosecutor received on Saturday first complaint Eissa accusing him of prompting fake news and disdaining the Islamic religion, with the aim of achieving financial profits through increasing viewership rates of Al-Qahera Wal Nas TV channel and its social media platforms.

The complaint also accused Eissa of attacking Muslim imams and Prophet Muhammad's companions.

An official statement by the Public Prosecution said on Saturday that the investigation results will be announced later.

Eissa's remarks also have been also under examination by the country's Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR). The SCMR said on Saturday that its monitoring committees are currently preparing a report on the Al-Miraj journey remarks.

The media regulator said a legal action would be taken if the remarks include a violation of the media codes, urging against addressing such issues, and calling for respecting religions.

Eissa has made a series of remarks recently that were broadly seen as controversial in the Muslim-majority country. The latest of these remarks was when he called for removing the religion field on the state-issued national ID cards.

Eissa has held a number of editorial positions, including the editor-in-chief of Al-Dostour newspaper, during the last years of Hosni Mubarak's rule, and El-Tahrir newspaper after the 2011 revolution.

Eissa, known for his opposition of the regime of Mubarak, was sentenced in 2008 to two months in prison for publishing an article a year earlier in Al-Dostour, which raised questions about the health condition of Mubarak.

The court found that Eissa's article negatively affected the country's economy. Eissa was spared jail time by a presidential pardon from Mubarak himself.

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