House of Representatives puts Dar el-Ifta bill off to next parliament

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On Monday, the Egyptian parliament announced the postponement of the discussion of the draft law organising Dar el-Ifta to the next parliament, which will be produced by the parliamentary elections, which are tentatively scheduled for October. Analysts considered the withdrawal of the decision to be a tactical retreat by the Egyptian regime in front of al-Azhar, as it came after Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb asked to attend the parliament session on Monday if the latter insisted on discussing the draft law in that session.

In parliament, a source revealed that there was a proposal to postpone discussion of the law for one day, provided that parliament would hold a session devoted to it on Tuesday. Still, the opinion was settled on delaying consideration of the bill to the next parliament. Earlier, the Sheikh of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, sent an angry letter to the Speaker of Parliament Ali Abdel-Aal, demanding that he attend the plenary session to discuss the draft law organising the Dar al-Ifta. The bill approval would “create an entity parallel to the al-Azhar bodies, break up its message, and undermine the competences of its bodies,” according to his letter.

Al-Tayeb affirmed, in his message, that “the constitution made al-Azhar alone the main reference in religious sciences and Islamic affairs, and responsible for advocacy and the spread of the sciences of religion and the Arabic language in Egypt and the world.” Al-Tayeb attached, in his letter, the opinion of the Senior Scholars Council on the draft law, as well as the copy of the periodic report of the Legislative Department of the State Council regarding the draft law, which concluded that this bill violates the constitution.

If this law, which is the latest update in the conflict between al-Azhar and the current Egyptian regime, is implemented, al-Azhar (the most prominent Islamic institution in Egypt and the oldest in the world) will lose the authority to supervise fatwas.