Egypt Religion (I)
According to pharmacylib, 90% of all Egyptians are Muslim, almost all of them Sunni. They follow the Hanafi legal tradition, which is considered to be the most liberal of the four Islamic schools of law in use today. About 9% belong to the Orthodox Egyptian Coptic Churchand about 1% belong to other Christian denominations. The Egyptians are considered particularly religious compared to many other Arabs. However, the traditional understanding of religion is very flexible and adapted to worldly needs. Many Egyptians assume that Allah – the Arabic word for God – understands people’s everyday problems and turns a blind eye if one does not take the religious commandments too literally. However, the understanding of religion has changed in different ways in recent years, depending on the social group. With the rise of political Islam, a narrower and more outward-oriented interpretation and practice of the Islamic religion became popular in some strata. The stronger connection of the Copts to the Coptic Church against the background of increasing denominational tensions in recent years led to a stronger influence of religion on the self-image and everyday practice of many Copts. On the other hand, there are also many Egyptians who, as a rule, do believe in God, but who, as in other modern societies, do not lead their lives on the basis of religious commands and prohibitions.
Official religious institutions
Al Azhar University with the affiliated Al Azhar mosque in the Fatimite part of Cairo is the most influential theological and legal institution in the Islamic world. It was founded around 970 as one of the first formalized educational institutions in the world and has since been a center for Islamic research and theological disputation as well as Arabic language and literature. Since 1961, modern secular sciences such as engineering and medicine have also been taught at the university. Many students from all over the Islamic world are trained as ulamas at the university, as are government-appointed imams or preachers in state-administered mosques. In addition, the Ulamas also prepare religious reports, called fatwas, with which an expert opinion from a Sunni Islamic point of view can be given on controversial public or private issues. Even though fat was not legally binding according to Islamic teachings, but they have great influence. The Azhar Library, with its seven million pages of old manuscripts, is an important source of research for historians and Islamic scholars. Since 2005, Azhar has been working in cooperation with an institution in Dubai on digitizing the manuscripts in order to make them available online to a wider public.
Al Azhar was nationalized in 1961 under the regime of Gamal Abdel Nasser. The President of Al Azhar – known as Sheikh Al Azhar – has since been appointed by the President and the ulama and administration of the institution is paid for by the state. She lost a large part of her independence and prestige and was repeatedly accused of being fatwaTo have drawn up reports according to the will of the respective rulers in order to legitimize controversial state measures Islamically. Al Azhar, however, is not a homogeneous institution, but brings together representatives of the most diverse liberal and conservative Sunni Islamic currents. A number of Azhar scholars took part in demonstrations during the 2011 revolution from the very beginning and also organized protests in which they reformed and restored Al Azhar’s independence by electing instead of appointing Sheikh Al Azhar and managing its own financial resources independently – Called for a ban on the State Security Department of the Interior Ministry’s interference in staffing and activities. Al Azhar also authored a document (anthology in Arabic), which was discussed as a compromise proposal to the dispute about the secular versus religious orientation of the post-revolutionary state.
Dar Al Iftaa
Dar Al Iftaa ‘ or “House of Fatwa Creation” was established in 1895 by the Khedive Abbas Helmy. It has been under the auspices of the Ministry of Justice since then and to this day. Dar Al Iftaa ‘has an advisory role in the judicial system and creates hundreds of fatwas every monthto answer questions from around the world regarding the application of Islamic rules and principles in the world today. Dar Al Iftaa ‘also trains students in Islamic law. Although it has always been controversial who is actually authorized on what basis to prepare religious reports and the Islamic religion does not bind the believers to any authority for the interpretation of religious scriptures, the reports of Al Azhar and Dar Al Iftaa ‘have a special weight. The head of Dar Al Iftaa ‘is the Grand Mufti, who is appointed by the President. Members of Dar Al Iftaa ‘also took part in many demonstrations. The popular Azhar scholar from Dar Al Iftaa ‘ Emad Effat, known for his liberal orientation was shot in the heart by the security forces on December 16, 2011 during a demonstration against the violent dissolution of a sit-in in front of the cabinet building.