Source: Arab Center Washington DC
Author(s): Khalil al-Anani
The relationship between religion and the state is controversial and problematic in the Arab world, particularly with the absence of clear demarcations that could define it. Historically, attempts by the state and various political forces to employ religion in the political arena have caused many problems. While the main role of religious institutions should revolve around fulfilling peoples’ religious and spiritual needs, it may sometimes expand to affect the political and social aspects of their lives as well.
In Egypt, for example, institutions such as Al-Azhar and Dar Al-Ifta are not merely religious or spiritual entities but also have an impact on political life. Thus, the relationship between these institutions and the state has always been a subject of conflicts, tensions, and troubles. In addition, the state constantly attempts to maintain control over these institutions in order to legitimize its policies and to deprive its political adversaries, particularly Islamists, from using religion in the political arena.
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