Scholars select 'moderate' as mufti

Tue, Feb 12, 2013, 00:00

Egypt’s leading religious scholars have spurned the ruling Muslim Brotherhood’s choice to be the country’s leading cleric and have picked an apolitical Islamic law professor.

The post of grand mufti of Egypt carries wide influence over legislation and social affairs.

A statement from al-Azhar seat of learning yesterday said: “Dr Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, professor of Islamic law in Tanta University, got the highest number of votes and the matter has been sent to the president to issue his decision.”

President Mohamed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood member, is expected to formalise his appointment soon.

The contender groomed by the Brotherhood, Abdul Rahman al-Bar (50), a 30- year veteran of the conservative Islamist group, was not even in the top three nominees, officials said.

The grand mufti delivers televised sermons on major Muslim holidays and is empowered to issue opinions (fatwas) on any matter, influencing legislation on social and cultural issues, public behaviour and court rulings.

A panel of Islamic scholars took the decision after “detailed study of the applicants based on scientific legal standards, the adoption of al-Azhar’s moderate agenda and an estimation of their psychological and moral suitability”, the official statement said.

Insiders said the Brotherhood had pushed for Bar despite warnings that his candidacy would be seen as part of a power grab to dominate all state institutions.

“It seems some council members were sensitive to the strong public resistance to Bar’s nomination, which led them to change their mind,” an official in the mufti’s office said. – (Reuters)