Egypt’s Al-Azhar issued a statement Dec. 11, 2014, refusing to declare the Islamic State (IS) apostates. “No believer can be declared an apostate, regardless of his sins,” it read. Al-Azhar's statement came as a Nigerian mufti seemingly declared IS apostates at a Dec. 4, 2014, Al-Azhar conference. Al-Azhar stated that various media outlets had misrepresented the mufti's speech.
The sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, repeated his rejection of declaring IS apostates on Jan. 1, during a meeting with editors-in-chief of Egyptian newspapers. This sparked criticism from a number of religious, political and media parties, especially since Al-Azhar could have renounced the Nigerian mufti’s statement on IS without addressing the issue of whether or not Al-Azhar considers the group apostates.