On May 27, 2015, a group of 159 pro-Muslim Brotherhood (MB) clerics and 10 pro-MB religious bodies from across the Arab and Muslim world posted a document clarifying "the position of the shari'a on the [current] Egyptian regime." The document was posted on the Nida Al-Kinana ("Egypt Call") website, which was launched specifically for this purpose. It states that the current Egyptian regime is a "criminal and murderous" regime that has "betrayed the homeland and the faith," and therefore Egyptians have a religious obligation to come out against it and strive for its complete elimination "using the appropriate means, such as civil disobedience." The document also calls for the release of Muhammad Mursi, whom it calls the legitimate elected president.
The document stresses that anyone proved to be involved in killing innocent people is guilty of murder and must be subjected to the relevant shari'a punishment (i.e., put to death), and this includes judges, media figures and politicians. Directing specific accusations against the Sheikh of Al-Azhar and the Mufti of Egypt, it states that they backed the regime's actions against the Muslim Brotherhood, which makes them complicit in the regime's crimes, with all that this entails in terms of the shari'a.
Finally, the document calls on all the Arab and Muslim countries, as well as on academics and liberals, to act immediately to protect Egypt from "the crimes of this tyrannical regime," and condemns the countries that support it.
The document is signed by 10 MB-affiliated religious bodies from across the Muslim world, including the Sunni Scholars Association, the Council of Palestinian Scholars Abroad, the Lebanon Muslim Scholars Committee, the Mauritania Seminary for Clerics, the Mauritania Forum of Clerics and Imams, the Council of Clerics in the Arab Maghreb, the Al-Azhar International Clerics Union, the Egyptian Preachers Union, the Forum of Clerics against the Coup, and the Sudanese Clerics Council.
The signatories to the document are prominent figures affiliated with or supportive of the MB, including religious university heads and lecturers, heads of Islamic councils and bodies, preachers and former ministers. They come from a variety of Muslim countries across the world, including India, Turkey, Morocco, Yemen, Libya, Mauritania, Pakistan, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Kuwait, Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain. Among them are Dr. Ahmed Al-Raissouni, deputy head of the International Union of Muslim Scholars; 'Abd Al-Majid Al-Zindani, head of the Yemeni Clerics Council; Sheikh Salman Al-Husseini Al-Nadawi, president of Imam Ahmad University in India; Sheikh Muhammad Zahal, head of the Council of Clerics in the Arab Maghreb; former Yemeni justice minister 'Abd Al-Wahhab Al- Dilmi; Jamal 'Abd Al-Sattar, a da'wa lecturer at Al-Azhar and the head of the Sunni Scholars Association; and Muhammad Al-Hassan Al-Dado, head of the Mauritania Seminary for Clerics.
Over half a million people have indicated their support of the document on the Egypt Call website.
Responding to the document on its official website, the MB welcomed it and thanked the clerics for "coming out against the crimes" of the "coup regime." Conversely, spokesmen for the Egyptian regime, as well as some other figures and movements in Egypt, harshly condemned the document and the calls therein, and warned the Egyptians not to heed them.
The following are translated excerpts from the document, and from some of the responses to it.
Some of the clerics signed to the document (source: facebook.com/IkhwanWorld/photos)
The Clerics' Document: "It Is The Duty Of The UmmahÔÇª To Oppose This Regime"
"Announcement by the religious scholars of the [Muslim] ummah regarding the crimes of the Egyptian coup and the measures to be taken regarding it:
"In light of what has been happening in Egypt for about two years, which includes [acts of] shedding forbidden [i.e., Muslim] blood, violating the honor of chaste women, killing innocents, usurping property, vandalizing private assets, destroying the land, driving peaceful people [from their homes], and showing flagrant hostility towards Islam and the Muslims, manifested in a war against the path [of Islam] and against the religious scholars, in harming the values, principles and sanctities [of Islam], and in allying with its enemies while being hostile towards its loyalists - [in light of all this], and out of a desire to publically announce the truth and renounce falsehood, and clarify [the matter] to the people, as Allah commanded, we, [the undersigned,] hereby proclaim to the ummah the position of the shari'a on this [Egyptian] regime and the measures that must be taken regarding it:
"1. The current Egyptian regime is a criminal and murderous regime that staged a coup against the will and the choice of the ummah and abducted its legitimate elected president. The commander of the coup usurped the presidency in fictitious and fake elections, and concentrated all the powers in his own hands, including the power to legislate and pass arbitrary laws that silence people and completely eliminate their source of livelihood. This regime has unlawfully killed thousands of people; arrested tens of thousands without cause; sentenced thousands of people from among the best men and women of Egypt to imprisonment and death in fake trials; deported thousands of peopleÔÇª and displaced thousands of families; aided the enemies of the ummah against it; arbitrarily dismissed hundreds of judges, university lecturers, teachers, imams, preachers and others..., and violated every [religious] prohibition.
"2. According to the shari'a, it is the duty of the ummah - its leaders and its people - to oppose this regime and strive for its complete elimination by all legitimate means, in order to protect the principles of the ummah and the supreme goals of Islam.
"3. Striking an alliance with the Zionist aggressors [and] protecting and defending them, while showing hostility to the Palestinian resistance, conspiring against it and besieging it by destroying Sinai and deporting its people - all these constitute treason against the faith and the homeland and contempt for the way of the Prophet...
"4. Any leaders, judges, officers, soldiers, media figures or politicians, and anyone [else] who is definitely proved to be involved (even if only through incitement) in violating the honor of women, shedding the blood of innocents and unlawful killing - [all these] are murderers according to the shari'a, and must be punished according to the shari'a.
"5. The undersigned clerics stress that Dr. Muhammad Mursi is the legitimate president of the country, that the measures taken against him and the sentence imposed on him and on opponents of the coup lack all validity according to the shari'a and according to [civil] law. [Moreover,] according to the sharia, it is the obligation of the ummah to act to free its elected president.
"6. The ummah must also do its utmost to free all those who were arrested by this criminal regime for opposing the coup and for demanding to respect the will and the liberty of the ummah, especially the women [prisoners], using means that are legitimate according to Islam.
"7. Helping this criminal regime to survive, in any way, is forbidden according to the shari'a, and constitutes a crime according to the [civil] law, and is tantamount to blatant complicity in the crimes [of this regime]...
"8. By being present at this coup and remaining silent in the face of [its] transgressions, the Sheikh of Al-Azhar perpetrated a crime against the shari'a that divests him of his legitimacy and his status and makes him complicit in the acts of the criminals. This is a stain on the glorious history of Al-Azhar, and [also] corrupts its present and destroys its future.
"9. We hold the Mufti of Egypt religiously and legally responsible for the lives of the innocent people whose execution he has approved, and warn him of the consequences should he continue to approve such arbitrary and malicious death sentences... If he approves the killing of innocent people, no excuse will avail him in this world or the next.
"10. Protecting one's life, honor and property by every legitimate means is a legitimate right and even a religious obligation which nobody is entitled to either grant or deny, for one who is attacked has a duty to come out against his attacker, and [moreover,] he must do so himself, and not through the mediation of another..."
"11. We charge the leaders, monarchs and presidents of the Arab and Muslim countries, as well as the academics and the liberals throughout the world, to take immediate steps to rescue Egypt from the crimes of this tyrannical regime and prevent it from killing, murdering, robbing and corrupting, and to support the will and the choice of the [Egyptian] people.
"12. The undersigned clerics condemn the position of the countries that support the coup, as well as the international position that purports to respect human rights and the choice of the peoples but in practice supports coup regimes and maintains ties with them. [We] hold [these countries and the international community] responsible for the oppressive and aggressive shedding of [innocent] blood...
"13. We charge the power brokers and the free people who oppose the coup, inside and outside Egypt, to stand as one against this criminal regime, while using suitable means, such as civil disobedience, etc., in order to purge the land of the crimes and tyranny of the perpetrators of the coup and protect the blood of the martyrs..."
The MB Welcomes The Call To Topple The Egyptian Regime "By All Means"
In a response on its official website, the MB thanked the clerics for "coming out against the crimes of the army of the coup regime, the last of which was the death sentences imposed on Dr. Muhammad Mursi and hundreds of innocent Egyptians who rose up against the tyranny." The MB expressed its gratitude to the clerics for clarifying "the religious duty to oppose the coup by all means until it is toppled and the legitimate [Mursi] regime is restored", and stressed that it is committed to the directives of the shari'a and will follow them, "no matter how much sacrifice" this requires.
MB spokesman Muhammad Muntasir likewise welcomed the cleric's document, tweeting on his official page: "This is our religion and these are our clerics." In an article he posted on the MB website on June 8, 2015, which was the first anniversary of 'Abd Al-Fattah Al-Sisi's inauguration, Muntasir congratulated "Egypt's free revolutionaries" who took to the street that day to declare "that the entire Egyptian people opposes the murderous and discriminatory military coup, and refuses to recognize the arch-murderer [Al-Sisi]." He wrote that, one year after Al-Sisi's ascension to the presidency, Egypt is suffering economical, security and political ruin, and accused Al-Sisi of "shrinking Egypt's status and making it a perpetual beggar." Finally, he called on "Egypt's revolutionaries" not to stop rebelling against the oppression and the oppressors, to fill the squares and "liberate Egypt from the murderous military [leaders]."
Responses In Egypt: The Clerics' Document Comes To Sow Chaos, Destroy Egypt
Conversely, the Egyptian establishment and several figures and movements condemned the clerics' document. In a May 28, 2015 statement, Dar Al-Ifta, Egypt's supreme fatwa-issuing body, called the document "incitement against Egypt and its institutions" published by a group of pro-MB clerics "in a desperate attempt to undermine [Egypt's] stability and security." Dar Al-Ifta condemned the clerics for calling to eliminate the Egyptian regime and its security apparatuses, judges and media figures, and for presenting this as a "supreme religious commandment." It added that making such calls is an act of "corrupting the land," and that "Allah warned against [this act] and set out heavy punishments, in this world and the next, for those who engage in it." The same goes for the call to free accused terrorists form jail, which is aimed at "sparking chaos, spreading crime and destroying the country," said Dar Al-Ifta. It warned people not to heed the clerics' calls to kill innocent Egyptians, noting that the Prophet forbade incitement to murder.
Egyptian Endowments Minister Dr. Muhammad Mukhtar Jum'a called the clerics "perpetrators of crimes against their religion, homeland and ummah," and urged to place them all on the list of persona non-grata in Egypt and persons wanted for interrogation, and to "purge the state institutions of any remaining [MB supporters]." He also called to designate the International Union of Muslim Scholars, headed by Sheikh Al-Qaradhawi, a terrorist organization and treat its members accordingly.
The deputy sheikh of Al-Azhar, Dr. 'Abbas Shouman, warned the Egyptians not to heed the clerics' calls to kill and to destroy the state institutions, but rather to "protect their state and their institutions," and declared that the signatories to the document "are not clerics but supporters of terrorist organizations."
Egyptian journalist Wael Al-Abrashi made similar statements in a program on the private Egyptian channel Dream TV. He denounced the clerics' call to kill all supporters of the current regime, including politicians, media figures and members of the security apparatuses, and added that those who make such calls are ignorant of the course of history, since no regime has ever been toppled by armed terrorism. On the contrary, he said, regimes only grow stronger when terrorism increases, as demonstrated by the case of the Egyptian regime, which enjoys the people's support. He warned the Egyptians not to be deceived by these calls and to reject them.
The April 6 movement, which opposes the Egyptian regime but also the MB, condemned the document as yet another example of "incitement to be violent and to destroy what remains of the peace within Egyptian society." It opposed "any hint of [advocating] violence" against members of Egypt's state apparatuses, and urged all Egyptians, regardless of their affiliation, "to adhere to the path of non-violence and not to be swayed by these calls."