· Unified sermons in Egyptian mosques to avoid extremist propaganda ·
Despite the headwinds that for some time have been impetuously blowing on the Gift of the Nile, the Egyptian Government wants to look ahead and one of the decisions that have taken is that of introducing the standardization of sermons used for Friday prayer in the more than 100,000 mosques of the country. The main objective of this move is not political – a point stressed by Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa, the Minister for Religious Affairs (Awqaf) – but rather it is to advance a moderate Islamic vision and to ensure that radical ideas do not spread. In addition, he underlined, this decision will prevent sermons from digressing to political topics.
Despite the announcement that has provoked foreseeable outcry from many Muslim leaders, who see in these unified sermons the impoverishment of individual communities, Minister Gomaa did not recede, and last Monday he reiterated that “the decision has been made”. The unified sermons will serve as a “guide” for preachers, and a plan is in motion to establish a committee of scholars and experts to prepare the written texts. “We are working to guide the sermons”, the Minister said, “the imam can edit the script, add facts or read it as it is if he is convinced of it, but the underlying spirit cannot be changed”.
The texts for prayer will
therefore be prepared “by experts of the Ministry for Religious Affairs
together with scholars of Al-Azhar University, the most prestigious location
for the teaching of Sunni Islam, with contributions from certain members of
Parliament, psychologists and sociologists”, stated Gaber Tayea, the head of
the ministry’s religious division, in recent days.
The sermons used for Friday prayer, the Khutbah, will therefore be unified and will be distributed to all preachers in the form of a written text in order to combat radical and extremist ideas.
by Rossella Fabiani
St. Peter’s Square
Jan. 17, 2019