Cairo, 2 Rabiul Akhir 1434/12 February 2013 (MINA) -Shawqi Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam is to become Egypt’s new Grand Mufti following a vote by members of the Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority on Monday.
        It is first time the Grand Mufti has been chosen in a vote as opposed to being appointed by the president.
        President Mohamed Morsi is expected to approve the decision, after which Allam will officially take up the role, according to reports.
        He is set to replace the outgoing mufti, Ali Gomaa, who will retire in March at the age of 61. Gomaa filled the post since 2003. His tenure was extended by one year in 2012 by the former ruling military council.
        Earlier this month, the president turned down a request by Al-Azhar to extend Gomaa’s tenure further.
         Three finalists were chosen on Monday in a closed session held by senior members of the Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority. There was then a vote by members of the authority.
        Top candidates for the position include Saad Eldin El-Hilali, the head of the Comparative Jurisprudence at the Faculty of Sharia and Law at the Al-Azhar University.
         El-Hilali, 59,  graduated from the school of Sharia and Law at Al-Azhar University in 1978 and completed his PhD in 1985.
        He worked as a professor in Saudi Arabia from 1988 to 1993 and later spent two years in Kuwait starting from 2001 to 2003.
        Abdel Rahman El-Bar, the current dean of the Faculty of Theology at Al-Azhar University in Mansoura, is also considered a top candidate.
        El-Bar, 50, is a member of the guidance bureau of the Muslim Brotherhood and has been known as the “Muslim Brotherhood’s Mufti”.
       El-Bar received his PhD in Islamic text and knowledge in 1993 from Al-Azhar University.
       El-Bar’s candidacy has sparked controversy as critics of the Brotherhood fear the ruling group aims to monopolise final words on religious matters by shooting to control the position of the mufti.
       Others candidates include, Abdel Fattah Idris, professor of Comparative Jurisprudence at the faculty of Sharia and Law at Al-Azhar University; Abbas Abdullah Shoman, head of the Islamic Sharia department at Al-Azhar University; and Mohamed Abu Hashem, professor at the faculty theology at Al-Azhar University.
       The authority was headed by Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb, in addition to Gomaa and Qatar-based Islamic scholar Youssef El-Qaradawi.
      Following the decision, Allam stated: “It is an honour to have been chosen by the Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority. I hope to fulfil people’s trust in me and I hope to God that I am fit for the position.”
      He said he would remain in his current position as head of Islamic Jurisprudence and Sharia Law at Al-Azhar University, Tanta Branch, until President Morsi officially approves his appointment.
      Allam, 55, was born in the Nile Delta governorate of Beheira. He received his PhD in 1996 from the Al-Azhar University Faculty of Sharia and Law. His most famous book concerns the predetermination of the sex of a fetus and its legality and legitimacy according to Islamic law.
      He has also written a book on the political rights of Muslim women.
The bylaws of Al-Azhar say the new Grand Mufti must be under the age of 60.
       The candidate should also have worked continuously inside the religious establishment following the completion of his studies, and be a scholar of Jurisprudence and Sharia law. He must also be fluent in a second language other than Arabic.
        Al-Azhar is the main source of religious edicts for Sunni Muslims worldwide and the post of Grand Mufti has been in existence since 1895. Allam is the 19th holder of the post. Allam does not appear to have any political affiliations. (T/P02/E1)

Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)

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