Fatwas, the opinions on just about everything issued by Muslim clerics that Muslims believe define what is permissible and what is forbidden under Islam, have always been political to some extent. However, one prominent Arab columnist thinks things have gotten a little out of hand.
The Sheikh of Al-Azhar has issued a fatwa urging Egyptians to cast their votes in the presidential elections. He warned that to stay away from the polls is “forbidden by Sharia Law.” Before this, there were sheikhs who said it was forbidden to vote in the elections.
Concerning the visit to Jerusalem a month ago [by Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa], Sheikh Sabri ‘Akrama, the preacher [ khatib ] of Al-Aqsa, said the visit was forbidden by Islam [ haram ], while the Mufti of Egypt responded by saying it was permitted under Islam [ halal ]. Both sheikhs have connections to different political camps…
These fatwas for the most part are political in nature and have nothing to do with religion.
Today it isn’t easy to tell the difference between some clerics and some businessmen who wear fine clothing, ride around in expensive cars, and live in palaces. Of course, this is their choice; but by behaving this way these clerics have brought disgrace upon themselves in the eyes of society. Their love of appearances has corrupted them as has competition between them to please the politicians. Their rivalry keeps pushing them to keep issuing fatwas and counter fatwas.”
Abd al-Rahman al-Rashed, “Halal Haram, Halal Haram (!حلال حرام حلال حرام – “Permitted, Forbidden, Permitted, Forbidden!”), Al-Sharq al-Awsat, May 27, 2012