The distorting the image of Islam is due to the rise of extremist attacks, President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi said in a meeting a delegation of preachers and religious personnel on Tuesday.
The president said that it is the “crucial responsibility of preachers in the current period to counter flawed fatwas”.
Al-Sisi stressed the role of religious institutions “to achieve stability and counter the problems facing the fatwa issuing scene, most importantly the intervention of unprofessional preachers”, according to a statement by the spokesperson of the presidency.
Muslims should do their role as “ambassadors to their religion, to reflect its teachings”, Al-Sisi said, adding that pre-emptive strikes are important to counter terrorist ideologies in Islamic societies.
Meanwhile, Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta organised on Tuesday a national conference entitled “Fatwa issues in the contemporary period”, that was attended by the country’s main religious figures as well as Prime Minster Ibrahim Mehleb in the closing ceremony.
The conference shows “Egypt’s dominant rule in the religious and intellectual sectors,” said Mehleb, describing Dar Al-Ifta as the “vanguard of Islamic religious institutions, which were able to provide modern fatwas based on the constant understanding of Islam”.
He praised the support given by the Egyptian state to the conference, saying it is a step to spread the “rightful face of Islam, and helping Muslims to counter danger seeking fundamentalist ideas”.
“The whole world faces an unprecedented state of chaos due to the presence of fundamentalist groups, as many civilians had their dignity violated,” said Mehleb, stressing that all religions don’t preach violence, “hence we can’t say that murder and terrorism is a result of the misunderstanding of a certain religion”.
“Egypt is determined to fight extremism, and made many efforts to counter it, with the help of its religious institutions,” Mehleb added.
Along with Dar Al-Ifta, the Ministry of Religious Endowments and Al-Azhar have been following the Egyptian government’s rhetoric in fighting “Islamic State”. The three major Sunni Muslim institutions in Egypt preach against Islamic militancy, by stressing the need to support the state and the current government or by addressing radical opponents of the government, such as so-called “takfiri” elements.
On his part, Ahmed Al-Zind, Minister of Justice, said that Al-Azhar is a bloc against fundamentalism, adding that “Islam needs a renewal of its discourse”. He also said that terrorist groups use “fabricated sayings of the Prophet and flawed ideas”.
Nasser Wasel, the country’s former Grand Mufti, said that “the fatwa is the best way to eliminate terrorism and extremism which is present due to the groups which argue to be Islamic. God ordered preachers to spread the truth”.
He explained the reason for the current crisis is “the rise of unprofessional imams on satellite TV, while the people are repulsed from the professionals as they are accused of being state affiliated”. He suggested avoiding asking for fatwas from “TV and cassette preachers”, adding that a new law should be issued that criminalises the process of issuing fatwas by inexperienced preachers.
Abdel Hay Azab, head of Al-Azhar University, said that “currently the Muslim community is suffering from the rise of religious fundamentalism”. While Ibrahim Negm, spokesperson of the conference, asserted that the Egyptian cabinet was keen to attend “to assert its collaboration with religious institution to counter the chaos of fatwas, considering it a matter of national security”.