Muslim President’s divorce reforms crushed by backward Islamic law

It turns out that it is not just President Trump who is being ankle tapped by legal authorities who think that they have the right to overrule his policies. Egypt’s President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi attempted to promote a” moderate” version of Islamic divorce law and was immediately slapped down by
The Council of Senior Clerics in Al-Azhar who are the highest authority in Sunni Islam and the representatives of Islamic Sharia law.

CAIRO: Egypt’s top Islamic authority on Sunday rejected President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi’s suggestion that legislation be adopted to invalidate the practice of Muslim men verbally divorcing their wives.

It marked a rare instance of a public institution contradicting the president…

The Council of Senior Clerics in Al-Azhar… unanimously ruled that verbal divorce, when meeting all requirements, has been an undisputed practice since the days of the 7th century Prophet Muhammad.

The requirements, it explained, included that the man has a sound mind, full consciousness and uses appropriate phrasing. Muslim women in Egypt cannot verbally divorce their husbands but can apply for divorce in a court of law.

In a carefully-worded statement, the council made no mention of el-Sissi…

However, its rejection of the president’s proposal was uncompromising, and it made a thinly-veiled reference to the constitution, which refers to Al-Azhar as the main authority on religious and Islamic affairs.

In other words, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi might be the President but he has no right to modify Islamic law in any way shape or form.

El-Sissi had proposed the change during a televised address he gave last month with the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, in attendance. He turned to him and said with a smile: “What do you think, your eminence, the imam?” indirectly acknowledging that he needed al-Azhar’s backing for his proposed legislation.

Al-Tayeb, appointed by presidential decree, heads the Council of Senior Clerics.

Ayman al-Sayad, an analyst who closely monitors religious affairs, said that Al-Azhar’s rejection of the proposal showed that it has “drawn a clear line between religion and politics.”

It seems to me that a line has been drawn between politics and law. Islam is a complete system of governance which includes Sharia law. It is not a religion in any way that we in the West understand a religion to be. The council of Senior Clerics call themselves a religious body but they are also a legal body.

El-Sissi… has repeatedly called for moderating Islam’s discourse to counter extremism. Recently, he instructed authorities to standardize Friday sermons in mosques across Egypt, a move billed as combatting extremism but which was seen by critics as further curtailing free speech.

The statement was a cautious pushback against el-Sissi, asserting a measure of independence for Al-Azhar in the face of a president who seeks to rally everyone and every institution behind him…

But it also reflects the influence wielded by senior conservative clerics in an institution that prides itself on being the chief propagator of moderate Islam while remaining a bastion of religious conservatism…