Top Al-Azhar scholars on Monday (February 11th) elected Shawqi Ibrahim Abdel Karim Allam as Egypt's 19th Grand Mufti, in a move they say will help propagate moderate Islam.
Allam, who will succeed Ali Gomaa as Grand Mufti, received the majority of votes cast by the 40 members of the Al-Azhar Senior Scholars Authority.
He is the first elected mufti in Egyptian history. Ever since the founding of Dar al-Iftaa, headed by the Grand Mufti, in 1895, the state customarily appointed the senior scholar.
However, after the January 25th Revolution, Al-Azhar bylaws were amended to allow for the mufti's selection via secret ballot by members of the Authority. Following the election, Authority members present the results to the president for his endorsement.
Mufti candidates must be graduates of Al-Azhar University, have served in the institution as professors, have authored jurisprudential and scholarly works, and be under 60 years of age. (...)
With the new mufti's election, Al-Azhar took an important step towards achieving full independence from the executive authority, according to Mahmoud Ashour, former undersecretary at Al-Azhar.
"Allam's selection is appropriate, as he is known as a moderate thinker who renounces fanaticism, and this will affect how the followers of the various jurisprudential schools come together," he told Al-Shorfa, adding that the new mufti is qualified to do so as he conducted extensive research on fatwas and sharia law.
Allam is taking office under difficult circumstances and amid on-going struggle between moderate and extremist currents, Ashour said. (Al-Shorfa)