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Egypt Grand Mufti Joins Al-Azhar Grand Imam in Sparking Polygamy Rethink

Egypt Grand Mufti Joins Al-Azhar Grand Imam in Sparking Polygamy Rethink

Sunday, 10 March, 2019 - 13:00
Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawqi Allam | Getty Images
Cairo- Asharq Al-Awsat
Despite over a week having passed since Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed Al-Tayeb made his remarks on women experiencing injustice in some polygamous marriages, the debate of employing equality in such unions, permitted in Islam, remains in discussion.

Egyptian Grand Mufti Shawki Allam has entered the debate, making clear statements in support of Tayeb’s pro-women remarks, saying the Quranic excerpts are being largely misinterpreted when it comes to gender-based issues.

Tayeb, Sunni Islam’s highest authority, said that the issue of polygamy is an injustice to women and it is not the origin of Islam, but it is conditional, adding that polygamy is often practiced due to “a lack of understanding of the Quran.” His statement came during a weekly televised interview and on his Twitter account. It was considered the first comment by a top religious cleric on polygamy, stirring huge debate among people.

Allam, in an official statement, said that familial stability is a shared responsibility among married couples. He added that Quranic verses that leverage men over women are present only within the context of unions and families, and not beyond.

Tayeb warned that polygamy can often be “an injustice for women and children” and said husbands “must obey conditions of fairness and if there is not fairness, it is forbidden to have multiple wives.” He also went on to explain that “polygamy had pre-dated Islam in the Arab societies, and that Islam had worked to put an end to chaos it had created when left unchecked and introduce regulation."

While Tayeb indicated a willingness to change al-Azhar’s policy on polygamy, many religious scholars have expressed opposition to the move.

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