Source: Carnegie Endowment
Author(s): Karim El Taki
Original Link: http://carnegieendowment.org/sada/75093
On November 15, Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation (SCMR) presented a list of 50 ulema exclusively appointed to issue fatwas on television. Though the SCMR has since said it could expand the list in the future, this move by the independent albeit pro-regime body is unprecedented in Egypt, where ulema had previously not needed any such authorization. The list, jointly compiled by al-Azhar and Dar al-Ifta, excluded members of the Ministry of Religious Endowments (Awqaf). The ministry responded the next day by issuing its own two recommended lists for the SCMR: one comprised of 21 ulema who should be allowed to pronounce fatwas and one of 115 ulema who should be able to present “general” religious programming short of fatwas.
The restriction of the right to issue fatwas on television—which means more media exposure and domination over religious discourse—to a few ulema has exacerbated preexisting antagonism between al-Azhar and the Ministry of Religious Endowments, which compete for religious authority. Whereas the ministry controls mosques and religious endowments and is part of the regime’s executive branch, al-Azhar, Egypt’s leading institution for Islamic teaching and preaching, is eager to maintain some autonomy from the state….
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