‘There is no Objection to Building Churches with Muslim Money’

Statement by Grand Mufti Shawki Allam

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Islamic law does not contain any legal objection to the possibility of building churches using money belonging to Muslims. This relevant observation, full of possible applications with respect to situations of potential sectarian conflict in many countries with a Muslim majority, also deserves attention for the authoritativeness of the source: this is what Sheikh Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam, current Gran Mufti of Egypt, said during his speech on a television program conducted by the journalist Hamdi Rizk, reported Fides News Agency.

The Egyptian Grand Mufti, in his speech, indicated Egypt as the country with a Muslim majority where more public resources are used in the construction of Christian places of worship, indicating this figure as a manifestation of strong national social cohesion. Shawki Allam (in the photo together with Coptic Orthodox Patriarch Tawadros) referred to the teachings of Mohammad who, even when he justifies military self-defense campaigns, commands not to destroy places of worship and not to kill monks. The Egyptian Grand Mufti also intervened on the reconversion of the ancient Hagia Sofia Basilica in Istanbul ordered by Turkish authorities. In this regard, Sheikh Shawki Allam said it was illegal to convert a church into a mosque, declaring that in the history of Egypt no Christian place of worship has been transformed into a Muslim place of worship.

The office of the Grand Mufti of Egypt is subordinate to the Ministry of Justice. The holder of this position chairs the “House of Fatwa” (Dar al Ifta al Misryah), a legal advisory committee on Islamic legal issues. In June, as reported by Fides (see Fides, 10/6/2020), the Egyptian “House of Fatwa” had gone so far as to define the same Ottoman conquest of Constantinople as an “occupation”, marking as an unfortunate event the transformation of the Basilica of Haghia Sophia into a mosque. This pronouncement also confirmed the strong geopolitical dimension assumed by the event of the reopening of the monumental complex of Ayasofya to Islamic worship, strongly pursued by the current Turkish political leadership, also as a symbolic act to reaffirm its identity and its sovereignty, opposed by the Egyptian political and religious organisms, in the current historical situation marked by the strong clash taking place between Egypt and Turkey also on the Libyan scenario.

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