Egypt’s plan to take away the Quran from college textbooks faces backlash

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Feb 27, 2021

Egypt’s parliamentary Defense and National Security Committee, chaired by Maj. Gen. Kamal Amer, mentioned throughout a Feb. 14 assembly a plan by the ministries of tradition, spiritual endowments and training to take away Quranic verses and hadiths (the prophet’s sayings) from textbooks, and restrict their inclusion to books for faith programs.

The assembly was held upon the request of the committee’s member Farid el-Bayadi, who put ahead the plan aimed to counter extremism, and within the presence of Deputy Minister of Education Reda Hegazy. 

During the assembly, Hegazy permitted a proposal to show the topic of faith in a guide that covers interfaith shared values, the rules of tolerance, citizenship and coexistence. He famous that this topic could be added to the curriculum throughout the subsequent tutorial yr given its utmost significance.

Commenting on the presence of spiritual texts in nonreligious tutorial books, Hegazy mentioned there are new authorities directions to restrict spiritual texts to the topic of faith.

Bayadi prompt throughout the assembly instructing college students faith programs so as to educate them concerning the values that every one religions share, and the rules of tolerance, citizenship and coexistence. 

He mentioned that together with spiritual texts within the Arabic language, historical past and geography topics permits unqualified lecturers to supply an extremist and damaging interpretation of those texts, explaining that a lot of research by the parliamentary Defense and National Security Committee concluded that such a follow contributes to the dissemination of extremist concepts.

Since assuming energy in 2014, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has repeatedly known as for the renewal of spiritual discourse and related some spiritual texts with terrorism and extremism, as a part of a broad plan to place an finish to the unfold of what he describes as “radical groups.” Sisi known as on all spiritual state establishments to work to achieve that.

In his speech throughout celebrations for Laylat al-Qadr, the holiest night time of the Muslim month of Ramadan, in Cairo in July 2014, Sisi mentioned, “There are those killing us, and unfortunately they are among those who recite the Holy Quran. Islam is a religion of thruthfulness, perfection and tolerance. The religious discourse evolves as humans evolve, while acknowledging religious constants.” Sisi known as on Al-Azhar to supply a tolerant and average spiritual discourse that actually displays Islam and Muslims.

Speaking on the Davos Economic Forum in January 2015, Sisi expressed his readiness to clear the spiritual discourse from the misconceptions which have led to extremism and terrorism. 

The most up-to-date name for renewing spiritual discourse and countering terrorism was made in January 2020. Prime Minister Mustafa Madbouly spoke again then on behalf of Sisi at Al-Azhar International Conference on Renovation of Islamic Thought. He mentioned spiritual establishments, notably Al-Azhar, should acknowledge the significance of updating the spiritual discourse, as a result of falling behind would enable those that declare having information to hijack the minds of the youth, deny them the tolerant Sharia provisions and cross on to them misinterpretations of the Quran and Sunna.

Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Ahmed el-Tayeb mentioned on the similar convention, “The topic of renewing Islamic thought and religious discourse has recently become a vague and ambiguous concept, because it has been frequently covered in newspapers by those lacking knowledge and those who talk about any subject without adequate study or previous scientific formation.”

The Al-Azhar International Conference on Renovation of Islamic Thought was held again then within the presence of fatwa foundations and Islamic councils from 46 Islamic nations. The convention targeted on the mechanisms to resume spiritual discourse, the function of worldwide, spiritual and tutorial establishments on this regard and eliminating misconceptions.

Commenting on limiting the inclusion of verses of the Quran and hadiths to the faith topic and eradicating them from the remainder of the curriculum, Sheikh Salama Abdel Qawi, former undersecretary of the Ministry of Religious Endowments, warned in opposition to what he known as “Sisi’s agenda.” He informed Al-Monitor, “There is a plan to alter Egypt’s Islamic identity. Since he took office, [Sisi] has been calling for updating the religious discourse and has used all his media outlets to attack Al-Azhar, its grand sheikh and Islam.”

He mentioned, “Taking Quranic verses from the Arabic language, history and geography books does not prevent sedition, but would rather stir strife. This is because Sisi upended the balance that [Anwar] Sadat and [Hosny] Mubarak pursued. He believes this would be a precedent to be added to his achievements and would resonate well with the Church, the West and his supporters under the pretext of fighting extremism.”

Speaking to Al-Monitor by telephone, Sameh Askar, a researcher in Islamic affairs, praised the choice to restrict spiritual texts to the topic of faith, and pressured that it’s a good choice that might reform the array of thought. He mentioned, “The manifestations of mixing religion and state have invaded the education system in Egypt [over the past years]. History was taught through the Quran and hadiths, and the same applies to geography and science. Thus, the state has recently decided that the science of religion should be limited to religion courses, which is the right thing to do.”