Faith, politics clash as Egypt's Al-Azhar pressed to reform

But his visit comes as Al-Azhar, which runs one of the world's oldest universities, is under fire from critics within Egypt who say the Muslim institution has itself become part of the problem. 

Faith, politics clash as Egypt's Al-Azhar pressed to reform

World Bulletin / News Desk

When Pope Francis visits Egypt's Al-Azhar this week, he will find support for his message of peace in the venerable Islamic authority praised as a bulwark against extremism.

Al-Azhar had been at the centre of a messy collision between politics and theology since President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi began campaigning for religious reforms, with profound implications for doctrine.

A former army chief who overthrew his predecessor in 2013, Sisi believes that extremists have not been properly challenged on theological grounds.

"He thinks that extremist ideas have thoroughly infiltrated Muslim societies and they are latent" but could set off "a tidal wave of devastation,"  said a member of a foreign delegation that met Sisi.

Al-Azhar and its Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb have warily endorsed Sisi's call for reforms. 

Dating back almost 1,000 years, the prestigious institution runs a university and schools across the country, and thousands of international students from as far as China come to study religion and return home as clerics. 


Güncelleme Tarihi: 27 Nisan 2017, 11:54