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Week In Review

Saudis may be behind curbs on Al-Azhar’s independence

Egypt’s autocratic ruler Abdel Fattah el-Sisi is pushing a law to further weaken al-Azhar University.

As reported by the Middle East Eye, “the Egyptian parliament and al-Azhar, the highest seat of learning in the Sunni Islamic world, are locking horns over the approval of a new bill that strips the latter of control over Dar al-Ifta, by far the most important religious authority in Egypt… Most importantly, the bill gives President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi the right to appoint the mufti, Egypt's top Islamic jurist, for the first time. According to the new bill, the president has to pick one candidate from three nominated by the Council of Senior Scholars, al-Azhar’s decision-making body.”

As highlighted by TRT world the 1,200-year-old institution of Al Azhar was established as an independent Islamic scholarly body but “as its independence has waned, scholars who are close to the military dictatorships that have ruled Egypt since 1952, have found themselves in higher positions than those who have opposed autocratic politicians.”

It may very well be that the attempt to further weaken Al-Azhar is a plan concocted with the Saudi regime whose soft-power has declined drastically since Mohammed bin Salman’s ascension to power.

Saudi institutions of Islamic learning in Madinah have not been able to exercise much influence over Muslims over the past ten to fifteen years. For decades the Saudis have peddled their narrow-minded nonsense as ideology by disbursing petrodollars. Given its disastrous consequences for the Ummah, this no longer works even with its own agents. To make sure the void is not filled by the traditional seat of Sunni Islam, Riyadh might have nudged el-Sisi to further reduce Al-Azhar’s independence.

Courtesy: Middle East Eye, TRT World.

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