Egypt’s Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa issued a fatwa on Monday that states that growing
or shaving a beard is unrelated to Shari’a Islamic law.
The Al Arabiya
website on Wednesday reported on the grand mufti’s fatwa, which refers to a
previous ruling by Egyptian Islamic scholar Sheikh Mahmoud Shaltout stating that
everything relating to clothing or physical appearance should follow “according
to one’s living environment.”
Gomaa’s decision comes after preacher
Hisham el-Ashry stated on prime-time Egyptian television that women should cover
themselves for their own protection and called for the formation of a new
religious police force similar to the one in Saudi Arabia.
In the program
on Nahar TV last week, Ashry said, “I was once asked: If I came to power, would
I let Christian women remain unveiled? And I said: If they want to get raped on
the streets, then they can.”
He also said that “in order for Egypt to
become fully Islamic, alcohol must be banned and all women must be
The grand mufti condemned Ashry’s comments, saying, “This sort
of idiotic thinking is one that seeks to further destabilize what is already a
“Egypt’s religious scholars have long guided the people
to act in ways that conform to their religious commitments, but have never
thought this required any type of invasive policing,” Gomaa added.
Muslim Brotherhood spokesman also put distance between his organization and
Ashry stating, “The case of promotion of virtue and prevention of vice is within
the jurisdiction of the authorities and not individuals or groups.”
Egyptians were upset that Morsi’s government did not strongly condemn Ashry’s
“As long as such actions are not seriously condemned by the
officials in public speeches, it leaves room for radicals to freely act and
impose things on people,” said human rights activist Gamal Eid.
of bearded police officers came to the fore in October 2012 when many policemen
protested in front of the Interior Ministry because of their suspension for
growing beards. During the reign of former president Hosni Mubarak, the
government prohibited police officers from growing beards as he saw Islamists as
Morsi stated in his presidential campaign that he did not
oppose policemen wearing beards and since legislative elections, the Islamists
have been fighting to reverse their suspension.
The Egypt Independent
website reported at the end of last month that the Alexandria Administrative
Court upheld an earlier court decision ordering the government to reinstate
police officers who were suspended for growing beards.