Cairo, 9 Rabiul Akhir 1434/ 19 February 2013 (MINA) – Egypt’s new Grand Mufti, Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim has been officially approved by President Mohamed Morsi, the presidential office confirms in a press statement released on Monday and quoted by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA).
The Senior Scholars Authority of Al-Azhar, the Sunni Muslim world’s religious authority, met to choose the new Grand Mufti to succeed Ali Gomaa, who has recently retired.
This marks the first time a vote has been held to appoint the new Mufti, whereas in the past it was appointed by the president.
Following the vote, Morsi was expected to officially approve the decision for Abdel-Karim to officially carry out his post starting from 4 March.
Abdel-Karim, 55, most recently served as the head of the Islamic Jurisprudence and Sharia Law at Al-Azhar University, Tanta branch.
Previously, the Grand Mufti was appointed by the president. But after the ouster of longtime president Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s interim military rulers amended Al-Azhar’s bylaws.
The Grand Mufti has a variety of tasks in Egypt. He reviews and ratifies death sentences issued by courts. He also is responsible for announcing the dates of the months based on a lunar calendar, which in turn determines when the important Muslim fasting month begins.
In response to citizens’ requests, he issues religious edicts, known as fatwas, and he gives opinions over government policies.
Abdel-Karim will be the country’s 19th Grand Mufti since 1895. He succeeds the moderate Ali Gomaa, who served for eight years. (T/P011/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)