Ahmad Abduh Maher and Iman Al-Waraqi on the 'Moderate' Al-Azhar
In a Memri report of January 4, 2015 (Clip No. 4736), "Scholars Criticize Al-Azhar Curricula for Lack of Moderation," Ahmad Abduh Maher, an expert on Islamic studies, complained that in its books of jurisprudence, Al-Azhar was immoderate, and the journalist Iman Al-Waraqi maintained that lecturers were teaching extremism, encouraging students to fight a Jihad and identify themselves with the Islamic State. This aired on the Egyptian Al-Tahrir TV (January 4, 2015).
Ahmad Abduh Maher points out contradictions to Al-Azhar's claim of moderation, and he offers proof by reading old hadith that appear in Al-Azhar's current textbooks:
We all say that Al-Azhar belongs to . . . moderate . . . Islam. That's all well and good, but . . . I would like . . . to see this moderation in its books. I don't want this [accusation of immoderation] to remain an Egyptian-style rumor, with no corroboration in the texts and curricula[, so I will offer evidence] . . . . For example, if I open Jurisprudence According to the Four Schools of Thought, I find things that are laughable. Absolutely laughable. 'If a man marries a woman . . . .' - I just opened it at random . . . . I want all the people to hear what this book has to say. This is a book in which we take pride, and which has been passed down through the generations for hundreds of years . . . . It says: 'If a man marries a woman, and then disappears for two years, and [she] then receives news that he died' . . . . - I'm not making anything up - 'she undergoes the necessary waiting period and then remarries . . . . and bears children to her second husband. Then her first husband reappears' . . . . - the one who was said to be dead - 'In such a case, the children will be taken from the second husband and given to the first, and the wife will divorce the second husband and return to the first.' Only lunatics would say such things . . . . What does it say here? 'In war, in order to ward off the enemy' . . . . - this is taught to kids 15 years old - 'you may gouge out the eyes (of the enemy), or chop off his arms and legs.' This is the Education Ministry Book . . . . Why did you wait for a military college graduate (Al-Sisi) to come and tell you that these things are wrong? . . . You waited for a thousand years for a military college graduate to come and tell you that this is wrong.Iman Al-Waraqi points to lecturers at Al-Azhar who have taught ideas taken from Wahhabi Islam and the Muslim Brotherhood:
When it comes to the teaching staff, . . . there is no supervision of lecturers at Al-Azhar University. Lecturers have introduced Wahhabi and Muslim Brotherhood ideas to the students, through the books they teach. Would you believe that Al-Azhar, which symbolizes moderation and claims to represent moderate Islam, teaches the writings of Muhammad Ibn Abd Al-Wahhab? . . . . Look at what the students are saying about the curricula and the administration. They are saying: 'We are ISIS. You have turned us into ISIS.' They say that the Al-Azhar curricula leads them to accuse people of heresy, and to wage jihad, and all kinds of things related to ISIS . . . . Just imagine - they are leading students in this direction. From junior high, he is taught (the hadith): 'I was commanded to fight people.' When he is in high school, he is taught that he should say to the dhimmi: 'If you don't pay me the jizha poll tax, I will beat you and kill you,' and so on. Throughout his years of education, he is given information that shapes his personality.Let's hope that the complaints of these two critics find wide audience. We're often told by experts on Islam - such as Barack Obama or Ben Affleck - that criticizing Islam is racist, but we here see two Muslim critics of Islam making the same sort of objections as Bill Maher and Sam Harris, so perhaps our experts need to broaden the scope of their reading.