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Egypt's Al-Azhar, Awqaf Ministry renew wrangling over fatwas

The dispute between Egypt’s religious authority and the Ministry of Endowments has escalated over the ministry’s right to issue and challenge fatwas as stipulated in a new draft legislation.
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CAIRO — Despite vehement objections from Al-Azhar, Islam's top Sunni religious authority, an Egyptian parliamentary committee approved a draft law granting the Ministry of Religious Endowments' General Fatwa Department the right to issue fatwas, or religious decrees. Parliament's Religious Endowments Affairs Committee approved the bill July 3, and it will now go before the full parliament for a vote during the next session, which is expected to begin in October.

On June 27, Al-Azhar’s Council of Senior Scholars issued a report rejecting the proposal, saying members of the General Fatwa Department are not qualified to issue or challenge fatwas because they lack training in the intricacies of Islamic law. It concluded, "The ministry’s role is limited to the administration of endowments and mosques."

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