Al-Azhar backs a civil state and ElBaradei’s on top

News article, posted 07.05.2011, from Cairo, Egypt, in:
Tuesday’s papers: Al-Azhar backs a civil state and ElBaradei’s on top Mohamed Elmeshad
Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh supports a civil and democratic state for Egypt (Photo: Mohamed Al Garnousy)

The grand sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayyeb, released a document yesterday that tried to shed light on Egypt's largest Islamic institution’s understanding of what it would mean to have Islam as a main source of legislation in the Constitution.

One of the main issues on the political scene is whether Egypt should have a religious constitution or a civil one and whether they’re mutually exclusive. According to Tayyeb, they are not.

As is the case with many questions regarding the role of religion in civil life, this issue was often open to controversy. The Egyptian government’s flagship paper, Al-Ahram, therefore describes the document as “historic.”

The document states that Islamic jurisprudence does not denote the need for a “priestly state” that enforces religious practice, and that the concept of “Shura,” a religious term, indicates pluralism. According to Al-Ahram, the document also states that the nation would resort to Islam for supporting a democratic and constitutional nation based on free elections and equal representation.


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