Cairo – The decision of Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority with regard to the legitimacy of “verbal divorce” widened the contradictory opinion gap between Al-Azhar and the Presidency after that Authority rejected the proposal of President Abdel-Fattah Al-Sisi for cancelling the aural divorce and the enactment of a law saying that divorce is not being counted on unless this divorce is documented.
In an emergency meeting for responding to the demands of repealing verbal divorce, Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority headed by the Grand Imam, Dr. ‘Ahmed Al-Tayeb’, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar (the Supreme Islamic Authority in Egypt) determined the issue which has raised a question over the last two weeks in a statement it issued after the meeting held last Sunday.
‘Saeed Sadek’, the Professor of political sociology in the American University, said that the issue of “verbal divorce” (when the man says to his wife, “you are divorced” three times” publicly showed the difference of the point of views between President Al-Sisi and Al-Azhar Imam, ‘Ahmed Al-tayeb.
He added ,“the issue of verbal divorce has been raised since 2015 and Al-Azhar did not respond to it except in 2017 after ‘Al-sisi” had talked about, which show the slowness of Al-Azhar in any idea that open the updating door.”
The idea of “repealing the verbal divorce’ is not new because it has been proposed by Dr. ‘Khaled Al-Gendi’ the member of the Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs and Sheikh ‘Saad Al-Helaly since 2015. Yet, Al-Azhar Scholars such as Sheikh ‘Ahmed Korayema’ opposed it but when President Al-sisi proposed it – in public – Parliament members hastened in preparing a legislation, and Al-Azhar set out to look into the issue which it decided on the Sunday meeting.
Dr. ‘Amr Hamroush’, the member of the religious committee in the Council of Representatives, said in declarations to ‘Al-Masrawy’, that the committee waited for the decision of Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority since it is engaged in preparing a draft law to reduce the divorce cases confirming that it will prepare the law according to what Al-Azhar Authority sees and it will adhere to its decisions.
In his speech about legalizing divorce on the Police Day celebration on January 25th, ‘Al-Sisi’ talked to Sheikh Al-Azhar who was attending the celebration saying in slang language “Walla Eih Ya Fadeelat Al-Imam?” (What is your opinion, Grand Imam?) and then he continued, “Taabteni Ya Fadeelat Al-Imam” (you made me tired, Grand Imam?) , that is to say, “you exhausted me”.
“That Al-Sisi raised this issue in the Police celebration was not successful because discussing those issues cannot be passed by and it should not be improvised”, according to what Professor ‘Hassan Nafeaa’ see.
‘Hamroush’ praised the announcement of the Authority that “The State President is religiously entitled to take whatsoever procedures to enact legislation to ensure inflicting a deterrent penalty on whosoever abstained from documenting (verbal divorce) or remiss in it because this is detrimental to women and their religious rights”. He also said: “the President has been given the right to enact the necessary legislation and to toughen the penalties and this is what the committee is engaged in preparing.”
The professor of political sociology in the American University in Cairo, considered that Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority “held the stick from the middle” since it refused the demands for repealing the verbal divorce while it gave President Al-sisi the right to strengthen the deterrent penalties for those abstaining from documenting it or those slowing it down.
Yet, this rejection reminded some people of the different attitudes between Al-Sisi and Al-Tayeb since the overthrow of the ex-President ‘Mohamed Morsy’ (who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood group) in 2013 after Al-Tayeb had condemned the broke up of the sit-in of Rabaa Al-Adaweya Mosque; he also did not consider the supporters of “ISIS” (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) organization “DAESH” as infidels. He also attended "Grozny" conference in Chechnya in addition to his attitudes toward Ministry of Religious Endowments’ movements in the way to renew the religious discourse and the unified Islamic sermon, as ‘Sadek’ indicated.
After the falling of casualties in the break-up of Rabaa Al-Adaweya sit-in, Al-Azhar Imam said in a speech forwarded to the Egyptians that “Al-Azhar did not know of the procedures of the sit-in break-up and the dialogue is the solution”. He also refused considering “ISIS” (The Islamic State in Iraq and Syria) organization as infidels saying “No Muslim should be said to be an infidel whatever the sins he committed”. He participated in the Conference of “Sunna People” at Grozny in Chechnya and excluded Salafism (a fundamentalist Islamic group) from the definition of “Sunna People” (those following up the instructions of Prophet Muhammad, Peace and Prayers be Upon him) and consequently, an angry reaction was raised in Saudi Arabia.
‘Nafeaa’ confirmed that “there is no accurate information of differences between Al-Azhar and the Presidency but by monitoring the attitudes, we find the main issue is mixing between religion and politics.”
“Renewing the religious discourse is another file for those different attitudes as President Al-Sisi invited Al-Azhar in more than one occasion to renew the thought and to develop the discourse to be in line with the current epoch and its deliverables without the serious movement of Al-Azhar, in addition to another issue which is the unified sermon which is prepared by the Ministry of Religious Endowments and criticized by Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority without searching for a substitute”, Sadek Said.