Al-Azhar's Grand Imam Under Fire for Saying Polygamy 'Can be Unjust'

Published March 4th, 2019 - 12:18 GMT
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb. (AFP)
Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb. (AFP)

The latest comments on polygamy by the Grand Imam of Egypt’s top Islamic institution, Al Azhar, has been creating waves of debate, and even condemnation among some.

On Friday, Ahmed al-Tayeb, Sunni Islam's highest authority went on his weekly TV program to call for an overhaul of the way women issues’ are being dealt with in addition to addressing one of the most controversial issues among Muslims, such as polygamy.

Sheikh al-Tayeb confirmed that the way polygamy is practiced among some Muslims comes from a lack of understanding of the Quran teachings and misinterpretation of the statement that confirms if a Muslim man wants to have multiple wives, he "must obey conditions of fairness." The sheikh also confirms that if there is no fairness, it is forbidden to have multiple wives.

The grand Imam had also added that polygamy can be “unjust” for women and children as well which questions the remarks of those who claim that “marriage must be polygamous."

It did not take a few hours until Muslims from inside and outside Egypt took to the internet to argue over the Grand Imam’s remarks.

Translation: “The Grand Imam of Azhar: Polygamy can be unjust for women, the original [rule] is monogamy.. This is what every Muslim should be convinced of. Blessing in contentment.”

Many users, most of which are unsurprisingly men, have expressed disapproval of the sheikh remarks. Some also have rejected the idea that Al Azhar is a representative of Muslims anymore.

Translation: “Al Azhar will no longer represent Islam.”

In response, the Al Azhar official account on Twitter went to social media to post a video of the grand Imam during a press conference in which he clarifies that he did not call for a ban on polygamy, however, he calls Muslims to get a better understanding of the Quranic teachings due to the harm it causes to society.

Translation: “The Grand Imam: I am not calling for legislation to ban polygamy but I reject any legislation that destroys the Quran or Sunnah teachings.”

His remarks were hailed by supporters. Egypt’s National Council for Women has also responded to his comments.

Translation: “The National Council for Women headed by Dr.Maya Morsi expresses gratitude to Al Azhar Sheikh, the Grand Imam, Ahmed al-Tayeb for his latest remarks during his weekly TV program in which he addresses a traditional issue that needs to be renewed, which is women issues, because women are half of the society.”

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