Thursday, August 03, 2006

Egypt: A Revealing Interview With Tantawi

An interview with Shiekh al-Azhar, Dr. Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi, was published in "al-Watany el-Youm" (The Homeland Today) on 1 August 2006 and entitled "I'll not resign, and I'll not shut down [al-Azhar's Islamic] Research Ecclesiastical College." The interviewer Samah el-Morsy asked Dr. Tantawi several penetrating and timely questions.

Here are some of the questions:

Q. What is your comment on the demand to remove the Second Article of the Egyptian Constitution stating: "Islam is the Religion of the State...and the principal source of legislation is Islamic Jurisprudence (Sharia)"?

A. "I see no reason for this request. Because all of the Constitution has been based on Islamic Sharia for a long time now. In particular, the Egyptian Constitution provides equality of rights and responsibilities for all citizens. There is no oppression of non-Muslims that would require the elimination of such Article...."

Q. al-Azhar's Islamic Research Ecclesiastical College called for elimination of Baha'is from Egypt, what is your response?

A. "They did not mean elimination by killing them, but they meant that we should not have any communication or collaboration with them [to shun them]...since they do not belong to one of the three religions...and a Fatwa considered them as heretics...."

It is quite revealing when one compares the answer to the first question with the answer to the second question!


  1. In Japan, shunning was a typical extreme punishment, because once you were cut off from the community, you were almost dead meat, easy pickings for any one.
    There is a beautiful fictional story of a young man who was given the ultimate version of traditional "shunning", meaning "exile".. to another primitive place far away from the capital (Kyoto, not Tokyo, in those days) because it was believed he killed his brother. The story is the account of his life this man tells the policeman who is rowing the boat down river towards the exile's final destination...It is an interesting twist to the view of each man's existence. The young man, the convicted brother, believes he is actually set free, and the policeman, reflecting on the young man's reactions to his exile, and his own precarious existence that depends on so many factors, believes he himself, the policeman, is actually living inside a form of social prison. IS this convicted criminal a soul who is truly free at last? these are the final thoughts of the story.

  2. المدهش هو شیخ الأزهر لا یدرک المنافقة في کلامه علی الإطلاق ولکن هذه نتیجة متوقعة حینما لا یعترف بالبهائیین کالانسان فنری نفس القصة في ایران حیث یعترف الدستور الایراني بحقوق البشر لکل مواطن ایراني وإنما یفشل في أن یعترف بالدین البهائي کدین رسمي.

  3. It reminds me "Animal Farm": All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others..."


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