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Senior Egyptian cleric Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayyeb

Fatwa of Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam on Shia

Let your children convert and to embrace Shia School, if someone leaves Maliki or Hanafi Sect, do we criticize him? These children are just leaving fourth school and join the fifth.

The following is the transcript of an interview which was conducted with al-Azhar’s most senior authority, Dr. Ahmad al-Tayyib with Al Neel Egyptian TV channel.

In the interview Dr al-Tayyib rejects the notion of takfir in reference to Shia Islam, asserting the school of thought legitimate place within Islam’s schools of thoughts. Dr al-Tayyib’s courageous stand stands in opposition to Wahhabism, which dogma has ambitionned to outlaw Shia Islam for it recognises the authority of the Ahl al-Bayt over that of their clerics.

  1. In your opinion, isn’t there any problem in Shia Beliefs?
  2. Never, 50 years ago Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltoot, the then Chancellor of Al Azhar, had issued a fatwa that Shia School is the fifth Islamic School and as like as the other schools.
  3. Our children are embracing Shia Islam, what should we do?
  4. Let them convert and to embrace Shia School. If someone leaves Maliki or Hanafi Sect, do we criticize him? These children are just leaving fourth school and join the fifth.
  5. The Shias are becoming relatives with us and they are getting married with our children?
  6. What is wrong with this, marriage between religions is allowed.
  7. It is said that the Shias have a different Quran?
  8. These are the myths and superstitions of the elderly women. Shia Quran has no any difference with ours, and even the script of their Quran is like our alphabet.
  9. 23 clerics of a country (Saudi Arabia) issued a fatwa that the Shias are infidels, heretics (Kafirs)?
  10. Al-Azhar is the only authority to issue fatwa for Muslims; therefore the above said fatwa is invalid and unreliable.
  11. So what does the difference – being raised between the Shia and the Sunni – mean?
  12. These differences are the part of the policies of foreign powers who seek conflict between The Shia and the Sunni.
  13. I have a very serious question that “the Shia do not accept Abu Bakr and Umar, how you can say they are Muslims?
  14. Yes, they do not accept them. But is the belief in Abu Bakr and Umar a part of the principles of Islam? The story of Abu Bakr and Umar is historic and history has nothing to do with fundamentals of the beliefs.
  15. (The reporter surprised by the response, asks) Shia has a fundamental problem and that is “they say that their Imam the time (امام العصر) is still alive after 1,000 years”
  16. He may be alive, why is it not possible? But there is no reason that we – as Sunni – should believe just like them.
  17. (Referring to Imam Mohammad Taqi al-Jawad AS, (the 9th Imam of Shias) the reporter asked) The Shias believe that one of their Imams was just eight-year old when he became Imam; is it possible that an eight-year-old child be the Imam?

A. If an infant in a cradle can be a prophet (Issa AS), then why an eight-year-old child can not be the Imam? It is not strange. Although we may not accept this belief as we are Sunni. However, this belief does not harm their Islam, and they are Muslims.

Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad al-Tayyeb is a leading Islamic scholar and was the grand Mufti of Egypt. He was born in 6th January 1946 in Qena, Egypt. The Sheikh has expressed a lot of interest for different Islamic Sect Inter-relations and has worldwide influence. He was appointed as Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar in March 2010, after the passing of his predecessor, Dr Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi. Tayyeb was formerly the president of al-Azhar for seven years and prior to that, served for two years as the most powerful cleric in Egypt as its Grand Mufti. Al-Tayyeb’s scholarly influence as a leading intellectual of Sunni Islam spans the globe. He has served as the dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Aswan, and the theology faculty of the International Islamic University in Pakistan. He has also taught in universities in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh al-Tayyeb holds a PhD in Islamic philosophy from Sorbonne University.

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