Three days before the first round of voting began for Egypt's constitutional referendum on December 15, 2012, Hesham Darwish, from Cairo's Hadayeq al-Qobba district, summarized the views of those who planned to vote "yes," and affirm the charter:
People are thirsty for Sharia. [emphasis added] We do not support the president for who he is, but rather for the Islamic project he promises.
Saturday, during the second round of voting, Hesham Darwish's mindset held sway overwhelmingly in two Upper Egypt governorates on both sides of the Nile. Eighty-three percent (83.2%; 763,729/918,034) voted "yes" in Minya approximately 150 miles south of Cairo on the western bank of the Nile River, which flows north through the city), while in Qena, situated on the east bank of the Nile, some 300 miles south of Cairo, 84.7% (307,839/363,518 ) affirmed the charter, according to unofficial final tallies published by Al-Ahram.
When pooled with the first round of voting, a total of 64.0% (10,543,893/16,472,241), including 67.5% (162,231/240,224) of Egyptian expatriates, approved Egypt's recently drafted, more Sharia-compliant constitution.
The referendum's final results validate remarkably consistent polling data of Egyptian attitudes towards the Sharia chronicled since at least early 2007, through an Egyptian Vote Compass self-administered survey whose results were revealed just a week prior to voting began on 12/15/12.
Within a few days of their publication in April, 2007, I highlighted data from Egypt indicating that 74% of Egyptians favored "strict" application of the Sharia in general. As recently as December 2010, Pew polling data revealed that 84% of Egyptian Muslims rejected freedom of conscience in the most ugly terms claiming apostates should be killed (i.e., that percentage would likely be well over 90% if less draconian punishments, such as imprisonment and beating till recantation were queried), 82% favor stoning adulterers to death, and 77% approved of mutilating punishments for theft. Summarizing these findings, and other overall survey trends, pollster Douglas Schoen in an essay published February 10, 2011, cited additional composite data indicating that at least 60% of Egyptians held "fundamentalist" Islamic views, while only 20% could be classified as "secular" in their orientation. Finally, Dutch Political Scientist André Krouwel, working with an academic team of Egyptian political scientists at Vote Compass Egypt, who applied an interactive electoral literacy application, predicted in an interview published 12/8/12,
About 70 per cent of the population will vote in favor of the constitution
It is also apparent that Egyptians have voted en masse for a charter, which, relative to the 1971 constitution, more openly advances Sharia supremacism in its revised language, and by assigning an oversight role to the bastion of mainstream obscurantist Sunni Islamic religious education, Al-Azhar University.
Comparing the suspended 1971 Constitution, with the current draft charter, several features, consistent with the more pronounced influence of Sharia, are immediately apparent:
- Egypt is now identified "as part of the Arabic and Islamic nations (Umma)"
- Article 2 from 1971, remains intact, stating, "Islam is the religion of the state and Arabic is its official language. The principles of Sharia are the main source of legislation."; however, the complementary Article 219, adds the specific statement, "The principles of Sharia include general evidence and foundations, rules and jurisprudence as well as sources accepted by doctrines of Sunni Islam and the majority of Muslim scholars." Moreover, whereas no mention of al-Azhar University or its Muslim legists was included in the 1971 constitution, the current draft states plainly, "Al-Azhar is an independent and a comprehensive entity. It takes the task of preaching Islam in Egypt and in the whole world. Scholars of al-Azhar should be consulted in all matters related to Sharia." [emphasis added]
- Article 44-consistent with Sharia blasphemy law-warns: "Insulting prophets and messengers is forbidden."
Accordingly, the constitution was praised by Muslim Brotherhood "Spiritual Adviser", and renowned Sharia supremacist, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who noted it contained, "principles and values needed by Egyptians." Qaradawi added, "Even if it contains shortcomings, they could be addressed later,"-perhaps alluding to his avowed stratagem of applying the more draconian aspects of Sharia, such as hadd punishments, gradually, during a "transitional" accommodation period.
Qaradawi's stratagem for applying Sharia in all its liberty-crushing, totalitarian manifestations-a sine qua non of the Muslim Brotherhood first articulated by its founder, Hassan al-Banna, and reiterated (on May 15, 2012) by recently elected Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi-could be facilitated by the "Scholars of al-Azhar," whom the constitution declares, "should be consulted in all matters related to Sharia."
Since its founding in 973 A.D., Al Azhar University (and its mosque) have represented a pinnacle of Islamic religious education, which evolved into the de facto Vatican of Sunni Islam. Unfortunately, during that same millennium, through the present era, Al Azhar and its leading clerics have represented and espoused the unreformed, unrepentant jihad bellicosity and infidel hatred at the core of mainstream Islam. The irrefragable truth of Al Azhar's persistent Medieval obscurantism (i.e., from any rational non-Muslim, if not Islamic perspective), can be readily gleaned from a sampling of fatwas (Islamic religious rulings) and statements issued during 1739, till now. Moreover, the late (d. March, 2010) Al-Azhar Grand Imam Sheikh Tantawi's own virulently Jew-hating writings, statements, and career trajectory-being rewarded for this public, "scholarly," legacy of hatred-represents the apotheosis of these ugly realities.
Sheikh Tantawi's alarming case aside, here are three salient, illustrative examples of Al-Azhar's Islamic Weltanschauung from 1739, till now, in bulleted summary, which I elaborated at length elsewhere:
- The 1739 essay on the Churches of Cairo, written by Sheikh Damanhuri (1689-1764), a highly esteemed leader of Al Azhar, who entitled his ruling-in accord with the conclusion of his learned, Islamically-correct argument, "The presentation of the clear proof for the obligatory destruction of the churches of Old and New Cairo," noting "The Prophet, peace and blessing upon him, said: 'No emasculation and no church in Islam.' The relation between 'emasculation' and 'church' is that the erection of a church in Muslim territory denotes the elimination of manliness in the people of the territory, just as emasculation, in reality, is the elimination of virility in an animal...which is not permissible, even as the elimination of man's virility by castration is not..."
- Al-Azhar sponsored The Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research in Cairo, September, 1968, (its 935 pp. Proceedings were published in 1970), which rejected the pseudo-secular Arab nationalist campaign to destroy Israel, and formally embraced jihad and traditional Islamic Jew-hatred as unifying, hostile ideologies for this purpose. The seminal 1968 Cairo Conference, which represented the entire global Muslim umma-both Islamic nations and the major Muslim minority communities of non-Muslim states-included a presentation by Sheikh Abd Allah Al Meshad, entitled, "Jews' Attitude Towards Islam and Muslims in the First Islamic Era." The good sheikh includes twenty-five "vicious qualities" of the Jews as elucidated by the Koran-with Koranic citations-which "define lucidly their personality." Muhammad Abu Zahra (d. 1974), was a prominent member of Al-Azhar's Academy of Islamic Research, Professor of Islamic Law at Cairo University, and prolific author. Extracts from Abu Zahra's "Punishment in Islam," which was also featured in the September, 1968 Proceedings of the Fourth Conference of the Academy of Islamic Research, provide the mainstream institutional Islamic context for the contemporary views of Sharia-based hadd punishments-death for apostasy, (lethal) stoning for adultery, mutilating punishments for theft, lashing for alcohol consumption-which abrogate the basic rights and dignity of human beings according to modern standards of human rights: "The hadd punishments being prescribed for the protection of society, their execution is tantamount to an act of worship and equivalent to a holy war [jihad] in the cause of Allah. To purge the community of pernicious elements is a sort of holy war to safeguard religion and morals..."
- In July 2004, an Egyptian sociologist lamented the continued irredentism being inculcated by Al Azhar's curriculum, which he arbitrarily termed, "extremist," despite acknowledging its basis in classical, mainstream Islamic jurisprudence: "If we examine some of the extremist curricula, we will find that the principle of fighting any non-Muslim and killing him is not an offensive innovation by [founder of Wahhabism] Sheikh Muhammad ibn Abd Al-Wahhab and by [Ayman] Al-Zawahiri, [Osama bin Laden's deputy and the head of the Egyptian Islamic Jihad organization]. This [is] because a book of the Hanafi [school of thought], 'Al-Ikhtiyar fi Ta'lil Al-Mukhtar ' [by Abdallah Ibn Mahmoud Al-Mawsily ] teaches the next generation that 'the war against the infidels is an obligation of all intelligent, healthy, free, and able men... And when the Muslims besiege their enemies in a town or a fortress, they must call upon them to convert to Islam. If they convert, [the Muslims] must cease fighting them, and if they do not convert, they must call upon them to pay the jizya [poll tax]. If they refuse to pay the jizya, the Muslims must call upon Allah's help in the war against them, to erect catapults, to destroy their fields and their trees, to burn them, and to pelt them [with catapult stones], even if [the enemies] use Muslims as a human shield...' And what about after the conquest, the emigration and the taking up of residence in the conquered land alongside its non-Muslim residents, who pay the jizya ? [On this matter] there are guidelines [in ' Al-Rawdh Al-Murabba Sharh Zad Al-Mustaqna ' by Mansur Ibn Yunes Al-Buhuti ] [through which] one can see what the position of an Al-Azhar graduate [will be] towards his [non-Muslim] brother in the [Arab] homeland: '... The [hair] on their foreheads must be cut... They are permitted to ride [mounts] other than horses, such as donkeys, without a saddle... [One] must not rise in their honor or precede them in greetings... [One] must not offer them condolences, visit them in sickness or participate in their celebrations. They are forbidden to establish new churches or to rebuild those that were destroyed... They are forbidden to build a structure higher than those belonging to Muslims... They must be forbidden to raise their voice in mourning the dead.' If a dhimmi invites a Muslim to a wedding celebration, he must not go, 'because one must degrade dhimmis ...'"
The nearly two-thirds majority, landslide approval of Egypt's Sharia-affirming constitution must be seen, clear-eyed, within this overall context of popular and mainstream Islamic institutional support for Sharia supremacism within Egyptian society.