The Egyptian parliament has proposed a draft law that bans “non-specialists” from discussing religion in mass media after a prominent presenter provocatively criticised the Quranic account of the Prophet Muhammad’s (peace be upon him) night journey.
According to local news reports, the law was proposed by MP Tarek Radwan, head of the human rights committee in parliament, and has been ratified by the religious affairs committee led by former Mufti Ali Gomaa.
Last Friday, journalist Ibrahim Issa made comments during a show he presents on Al-Kahera Wal Nas satellite TV channel in which he called the “Israa wa Miraj” a “completely delusional story” advocated “by Salafist preachers.”
He added that the tales about Miraj are propaganda fabricated by sheikhs, who ignore the narrations that deny the reality of Miraj. Issa explained that the sheikhs who share these stories are typically Salafi in thought and thus biased in their beliefs.
Issa is an ardent critic of “Islamists” such as the banned Muslim Brotherhood group and is also known for being anti-Salafism and anti-Wahabism.
His comments caused a social media uproar and 60 MPs (about 10% of the parliament) approved the draft law in an attempt to prevent what they described as “chaos in the society.”
A number of lawyers as well as the Salafist Nour party have filed complaints against Issa and the prosecution general has ordered an investigation into alleged accusations of “blasphemy.”
Several religious institutions and public figures have further decried Issa’s statements as transgressions against sanctities.
The Al-Azhar Global Center for Electronic Fatwas said in a statement: “The miracle of the Night Journey and the Miraj is one of the uninterrupted miracles of Prophet Muhammad, the Messenger of God, may God’s blessings and peace be upon him, which are confirmed by the text of the Holy Quran in the two surahs Al-Isra and An-Najm, and by the hadiths of the pure Prophetic Sunnah in all eras, leaving no room for staunch scepticism.”
The centre stressed: “All that is mentioned in the Holy Quran and the established Sunnah of the Prophet, may God’s blessings and peace be upon him, are postulates that are absolutely not acceptable to detail its rulings and explain its jurisprudence from non-specialists; especially if they are promoters of extremist ideas and trends that provoke crises, stir up sedition, and lack the most basic standards of science, professionalism and credibility, and invest events and occasions in undermining religious sanctities and systematically challenging Islamic principles.”