Grand Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb met with legal expert Tarek al-Bishry on Tuesday to put the final touches on a draft law guaranteeing Al-Azhar’s financial and administrative independence from the state, Al-Azhar sources have said. Al-Azhar is Egypt’s most preeminent center of Islamic learning.
The draft, which would be announced in a few days, stipulates that the grand sheikh would not be appointed by the president but elected by the Senior Scholars Authority, which would be reinstated to include scholars from Egypt and the Islamic world.
“I had suggested this 25 years ago,” said Gamal Qutb, former head of the Fatwa Committee.
Preachers have been pushing for the return of the authority, an elected pan-Islamic clerical body once in charge of nominating three clerics from whom the king would choose the grand sheikh of Al-Azhar. When former President Gamal Abdel Nasser rose to power, he abrogated this autonomous authority in order to put it firmly under government control.
Prominent Islamic preacher Amna Nosseir welcomed the draft. “We’ve been in dire need of it,” she said.