Amidst heated debates over the future of post-Mubarak Egypt, al- Azhar, the world’s Sunni Islam’s most prominent centre for religious education, removed the veil over a historic document supporting the establishment of “modern, democratic” state, outlining the renowned institution’s view of the country’s upcoming political, social and economic future, and asserting its position of ultimate respect of universal human rights.

The document constitutes of 11 articles laying the foundation for a new civil state in Egypt, ending speculations, debates and widespread misconceptions about a purported support among religious institutions and individuals for theocratic kind of state, which the document referred to as un-Islamic and autocratic by nature.

Al Azhar document received nation-wide support and was hailed by nearly all social, political and religious sects in the country, whether conservative, liberals, Salafis or even Christians.

According to the document, Al Azhar called for the institution of a civil democratic state that reveres and protects all places of worship, let them be Muslim mosques or Christian churches.

The document, which surfaces amidst repetitive calls from Dr. Ahmed el Tayyeb demanding that the Institution of al- Azhar be independent of the state, stipulated that the Grand Imam of al- Azhar, the most supreme religious position in Sunni Islam, is to be elected by out the Supreme Clerical Committee of al- Azhar and not the government as has been the practice during the rule of Mubarak and years before it.

The document is the product of lengthy meetings which, besides al Azhar the renowned scholars, witnessed fair representation and engagement of several Egyptian intellectuals and dignitaries.

The paper clearly defines the relationship between religion and the state, putting an end to many speculations that followed the ousting of Mubarak and the seemingly rising popularity of Islamic currents in the country.

The document, while supports “the establishment of a modern, democratic, constitutional state”, communicates an outright rejection of the so-called religious state probability, asserting, in the Grand Imam of al- Azhar’s own words that “Islam has never, throughout its history, experienced such a thing as a religious or a theocratic state”.

The document called for separation of powers, equal rights to all citizens, and strict commitment to international conventions and universal human rights. However this shouldn’t be confused with marginalised role of Islam as a legislation.

According to Dr. Ahmed el Tayyeb, Islamic Shariah would remain “the essential source of legislation” and Christians and Jews would have their own tribunals.

Also stressed was the need for boosting the country’s education and scientific research as a means for an all-encompassing development of the newly born free state after years of  corruption that hampered any potential or hope for prosperity.

The historic movement by of al-Azhar at such difficult time Egypt the entire Muslim Ummah is going through, brings into memory the covenant of Medina, as tailored and refined by the foremost politician and teacher of humanity, Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), laying the foundation of the first Muslim state and ensuring harmonious co-existence between Muslims and Non-Muslims who were granted equal protection and civil rights.

Hailed by all religious and intellectual currents In Egypt and other Muslim nations, the document is great in every sense of the word, solving much unneeded dispute over the role of religion and containing the impact of much misinformation that have been circulated throughout media and raised groundless fears over prospects of imposed rule of “fundamental religious state”

Wassalaam

By: The Muslim Tribune Staff

Posted on: June 26, 2011