April 20, 2013
April 20, 2013
Cairo’s top Sunni cleric, Ahmed al-Tayeb, met with Saudi Crown Prince Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud in Riyadh on Saturday amid heightened tension between Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the top religious authority, Al-Azhar.
According to the Saudi Foreign Ministry, the crown prince described Al-Azhar, considered to be the center of Islamic learning, as important in the Arab and Muslim worlds.
The spat between the Brotherhood and the center of Islamic learning began when the principle of Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, Osama al-Abed, was dismissed early April amid protests against food poisoning that struck more than 500 students.
Some in the opposition accused the Brotherhood of having concocted the mass-poisoning scandal in an attempt to control the institution.
Following Abed’s dismissal, there were calls by the Brotherhood to sack Al-Azhar’s Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb.
In an April interview with Al Arabiya, Al-Azhar cleric Sheikh Ahmed Karima accused the Brotherhood of exploiting the food-poisoning incident.
“The escalation of the situation has nothing to do with the poisoning of students’ stomachs, but the poisoning of students’ brains,” Karima said.
Also, Al-Azhar had concerns over the decision of the Brotherhood, to which Egyptian President Mohomed Mursi belongs, to issue Islamic bonds – known as sukuk – for the first time in the cash-strapped country.
Al-Azhar said its Senior Scholars Authority should be consulted on issues pertaining to Islamic law as set out in Egypt’s new, Islamist-tinged constitution.