A new statement was released by a prominent professor at Al-Azhar University that will probably have negative impacts on the Egypt’s relations with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries.
In an interview with Iranian Fars News Agency, Dr. Ahmed Kerema, a professor of Islamic Sharia (Islamic Law) at Al-Azhar University, said, ,“The fighters from UAE, Saudi Arabia and the Arab Coalition, who are killed at Yemen, are aggressors and they will go to hell.” On the other hand, he said,” The dead Yemeni people, who are the helpless aggrieved party, are the martyrs,” Kerema said stressing that this is a “fatwa” (certified religious opinion) from Al-Azhar, and from him.
Dr. Kerema defended Grozny Conference which was held at Chechnya. The Conference and its participants were accused by treason for excluding the Salafists from Ahl- al-Sunnah’s (Components of Sunnah -those who adopt the real traditions of Prophet Mohamed and adhere to his teachings, uniting upon them- a controversial issue over the Islamic ages).
In addition, AL-Azhar participation in the conference has caused unprecedented outrage among the Saudi circles in protest against excluding the Salafists from Ahl- al-Sunnah’s definition when the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb enlisted those who are included in this term during the conference.
In this context, Kerema defended Grozny conference saying,” Ahl- al-Sunnah conference was held to adjust the term that was lured by the Salafist Wahhabis, who claimed that they are alone the only Sunni Community.”
He also defended excluding the Salafist Wahhabism from the term of Ahl-al-Sunnah saying that Wahhabism is the core of violence and unrest in our world and “If the world seeks to eradicate the sources of terrorism, it has to stand decisively against Wahhabism.”
When Dr. Kerema was asked why Saudi Arabia religious institutions were not invited to Grozny Conference, he said that, “Frankly speaking, the countries of Central Asia have endured from the Wahhabist ideas for destroying their youths’ mentality.” He continued, “They made their youth the main fuel of terrorism and terrorist operations.” Kerema also opened fire on the Saudis “fatwas”, accusing them of destructing Yemen, Iraq, and now Syria.
At an earlier time, many Saudi circles criticized AL-Azhar for participating in Grozny Conference that even a well-known Saudi writer called to leave Al-Sisi “to face his fate,” for taking the decision to participate in this conference.”
In response, the media center at Al-Azhar Institution has released a statement explaining Sheikh Ahmed AL-Tayeb’s stance with regard to defining what is meant by “Ahl-al-Sunnah”.
It also stressed that al-Tayeb said in his speech at the conference that “the concept of Ahl al-Sunna wal Jama’ah is used to describe the Ash’aria and Maturidiyyah, and Ahl al-Hadith.” Al-Azhar statement said that Ahmed al-Tayeb quoted this definition from Al-Saffarini” (one of the famous reliable Sunni scholars).”
However, Al-Azhar’s clarification did not stop the storm of anger among the Saudi journalists and activists. One of the prominent comments on the issue was that of Mohammed Al Ash-Sheikh, a famous writer, who said on Twitter, “The participation of the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in Grozny Conference, which excluded the Saudi Kingdom from the definition of Ahl al-Sunnah requires to change our treatment with Egypt.”
He added, “Our nation is more important and let Egypt of al-Sisi go to ruins.” He continued, “We were supporting al-Sisi because our joint enemies were the Muslim brotherhood (MB) and the pro-MB Salafis.” Al Ash-Sheikh said that after Sisi showed ingratitude in Grozny, “he should face his fate alone”.
Al Ash-sheikh said that the conference “clearly targets the Kingdom”, accusing the Russian and Iranian Intelligence of standing behind the conference to “exit the Kingdom out of Ahl Al Sunna. He ended his comment saying, “I have disagreed with the extremist and I had enough from them but if the case is related to the nation’s underestimation and marginalization, I will turn to the greatest hardliner because the nation is a case of life or death, according to my criteria.”
On the other hand, the well-known academic Mohamed Abdullah Azzam said on Twitter, “The former Grand Mufti Aly Gomaa was tutored by Sheikh Hamud Al-Tweirgy and he has been generously treated by the Saudis Scholars … however, I am astonished at the silence of al-Sisi supporters in Saudi Arabia toward the Chechnya Conference treason. He added that after the Kingdom’s enormous projects in al-Azhar, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar is awarding Saudi Arabia through engaging in a coalition with Putin to expel the Kingdom out of the Islamic world.
Gulf countries have poured billions of dollars to support al-Sisi regime after he led a military coup in 2013 against Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohamed Morsi. Egypt has received more than $20bn in aid from Gulf countries since then.