Doubts persist about the moderation of the grand imam of Al-Azhar
Ahmed Al-Tayeb says he is open to a secular state, which he believes is not in contradiction with Islamic law. Sources tell AsiaNews that al-Azhar and the Muslim Brotherhood are talking about pluralism to get support ahead of the upcoming elections.
Cairo (AsiaNews) – Ahmed Al-Tayeb, the grand imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, has spoken about the future of Egypt. In his view, Islam is not in contradiction with a secular state. In a recently released paper, deemed historical by government media, the religious leader said that Islam does not require a state led by religious leaders. For the grand imam, Islam will help Egypt become a pluralist nation, open to religious minorities.

Statements in favour of pluralism and secularism by Al-Azhar and the Muslim Brotherhood have not convinced everyone. Many view them as a ruse to gain votes and support among those who do not want an Islamic state.

Sources spoke to AsiaNews about it. They noted that Al-Tayeb is still in favour of Article 2 of the constitution, which says the Sharia is the main source of the law.

His overtures run up against the teachings and historical role played by Al-Azhar University in defending Islamic laws and religious principles.

“After the Jasmine Revolution, every party started praising the secular state, the division between religion and politics and calling for the defence of minorities,” the source said. “Even the Muslim Brotherhood founded a party based on those principles.”

However, the source noted that during the period leading up to the constitutional referendum in March, a vicious campaign was launched against “the enemies of Islam”.

“A majority of Egyptians remains opposed to an Islamic state,” the source said. “Many also doubt the good faith and moderation of al-Azhar and the Muslim Brotherhood, who could radically change their tune after the elections in September”. (S.C.)