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How the Al-Azhar law
changed the institution
PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Before the 1961 law:
PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Al-Azhar operated as an educational and religious
institution, playin...
Before the 1961 law:
PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Al-Azhar benefited from endowed lands, which ensured
its financial in...
Issuing the law:
PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Former President Gamal Abdel Nasser worked to
completely control the inst...
Issuing the law:
PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
The law abolished the Council of Senior Scholars,
while the Al-Azhar Gran...
2012 Amendments:
PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
Two days before the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled
Parliament convened in ...
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How the 1961 Al-Azhar Law changed the institution

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How did the 1961 Al-Azhar law change the Muslim world's biggest Islamic institution?

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How the 1961 Al-Azhar Law changed the institution

  1. 1. How the Al-Azhar law changed the institution PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS
  2. 2. Before the 1961 law: PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Al-Azhar operated as an educational and religious institution, playing a political role only to oppose the monarchy and British occupation. The institution had no direct relationship with the state, and the Egyptian state exercised neither financial nor regulatory control over it.
  3. 3. Before the 1961 law: PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Al-Azhar benefited from endowed lands, which ensured its financial independence. But the state’s attempts to control Al-Azhar increased during the rule of Mohamed Ali Pasha, who introduced secular courts in parallel with Sharia courts run by clerical judges. Ali also controlled a portion of Al-Azhar’s endowments. Several legal amendments were made to earlier decrees issued in 1896, 1911 and 1930 to organize the institution and to control the choice of Al- Azhar’s grand sheikh.
  4. 4. Issuing the law: PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Former President Gamal Abdel Nasser worked to completely control the institution. Agricultural reform laws allowed the government to seize all of Al-Azhar’s endowments, ending the institutions financial independence. Nasser introduced the Al-Azhar Affairs Ministry – since integrated into the prime minister’s portfolio – that imposed executive control over Al-Azhar and abolished Sharia courts.
  5. 5. Issuing the law: PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS The law abolished the Council of Senior Scholars, while the Al-Azhar Grand Sheikh was directly appointed by the president. This further expanded the presidency’s control over the institution. It also stipulated the formation of the “Supreme Council of Al-Azhar,” which included a number of non-clerical members. The change aimed to inject secular elements into Al-Azhar leadership’s decision making process.
  6. 6. 2012 Amendments: PHOTO CREDIT: WIKIMEDIA COMMONS Two days before the Muslim Brotherhood-controlled Parliament convened in 2012, the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces amended the 1961 law. The changes included the reinstatement of the Council of Senior Scholars, who choose Al-Azhar’s grand sheikh, partially ending executive control over the institution.

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