As regards the rest, this is a fatwa issued for the Egyptian people in all its classes and components, for the benefit of those who are pleased to have God as their Lord, Islam as their faith, the Koran as imam and guide and Muhammad as Prophet and Messenger, and those who make of Islamic law – in its completeness and complementariness, in its balance and in its moderation – their reference point, when confusion increases and the difficulties grow, when people go leftwards and rightwards. Now one cannot find a better guide nor a purer indication that the book of God and the Sunna of His Prophet, because ‘to whomsoever God assigns no light, no light has he’ (24:40).
To summarise, my fatwa, on which many ulema of al-Azhar in Egypt, the ulema of the Arab and Islamic world and the ulema of the World Union of Muslim Ulema of which I have the honour to be the President, agree, states as follows.
The Egyptians lived for thirty years – not to say sixty years – without being able freely to elect a President to whom to entrust the task of governing them, until God granted them for the first time a President of their own choice, according to their will, who is President Muhammad Morsi. They engaged in pacts and oaths of allegiance to him, in good times and bad, whether it pleased them or whether difficult. All the civil and military classes, the governing and the governed, amongst whom General ‘Abd al-Fattâh al-Sîsî who was Minister of Defence and War Production during the premiership of Hishâm Qandîl, submitted to him. He took the oath and made a declaration of faithfulness (bayʿa) in front of our eyes, committing himself to obey President Morsi. And he continued in that obedience until suddenly we saw him change and from being a simple Minister he claimed a higher authority by which he sought to justify the deposing of his legal President. Having broken the faithfulness that he owed him, he joined a part of the citizens against the other part, arguing that he was with the more numerous part. In this way General al-Sîsî and those who have backed him erred from the constitutional point of view and from the point of view of Sharia.
From a constitutional point of view, the President elected by a democratic election, about which there is no dispute or doubt, must remain in office for the whole of his established mandate, that is to say four years, if he is able to act and if he is not impeded from doing so in a permanent way. And even though he committed errors, as he has personally recognised, the people and various political forces must correct his errors, advise him and be patient, but he remains the President of everyone.
That a group ceases to obey him and arrogates to itself an authority over the people, deposes the President and annuls the Constitution and imposes another President and another Constitution, is a totally invalid action: they have attributed to themselves an authority without popular foundation, and indeed have violated the Pact of God and the Pact of the people, rendering in vain the great revolution carried out by the whole of the people, by which was instituted this democratic regime, which had been dreamed for centuries and for which were borne years and years of sacrifices before it could be fulfilled. For this reason, anyone who announces unconstitutional measures denies the Constitution and the democratic regime.
From the point of view of Sharia, the Islamic Law that the Egyptians want as their reference point in a civic State and not in a theocratic religious State, this imposes on anyone who believes in it and refers to it obedience towards the legally elected President, committing that person to follow his orders and adhere to his instructions, in every reality of life, on two conditions.
The first is that [the governor] does not order the people to rebel openly against God, with certain proof in the eyes of Muslims. This is what is declared by the prophetic hadîth handed down by al-Bukhârî, Muslim and others. ‘Listen and obey, even though an Abyssinian slave governed you with a shrivelled head like a grape’ (from Anas Ibn Mâlik). ‘He who sees in his emir a detestable thing, should be patient because whoever abandons the community by a hand’s breadth alone, dies a pagan death’ (from Ibn ‘Abbâs). ‘Listening and obeying is a right [that the sovereign] has in relation to every Muslim man, whether he likes it or not, until he orders an act of rebellion against God. If he acts in this way, obedience is no longer due’ (from Ibn ʿUmar). ‘One obeys only in good’ (from ʿAlî). All of this confirms the recommendation of the Koran when it states of the taking of oaths of women: ‘nor disobey thee in aught honourable’ (60:12). Now in no event could one perceive that President Muhammad Morsi enjoined one citizen to an open act of rebellion against the Almighty. On the contrary, the demonstrations and the reactions that we see in Piazza Tahrir offer testimony to the goodness of Muhammad Morsi.
The second condition is that [the governor] should not order the people to do something that makes it leave the faith and enter brazen infidelity, a phrase by which one means explicit infidelity, without doubt and without discussion. This is what is taught by the hadîth of ‘Ubâda so that God should be satisfied with him. ‘We have declared faithfulness to the Messenger of God, committing ourselves to obey him, in good and bad times, and to recognise his pre-eminence, without contesting the order of people in authority, unless – he said – you see brazen infidelity amongst you, of which God gives you certain proof’ (hadîth accepted both by Bukhârî and by Muslim).
Hence we can state clearly that the legal President, Morsi, did not order rebellion against God and did not commit an act of brazen infidelity, but, indeed, is a man who frequently fasts and prays, zealous in obeying the Almighty. Thus he should continue to be President and it is not licit for anyone to seek with the people to have the right to depose him. The claim of General al-Sîsî that he deposed President Morsi for the good of the people and to impede the people from dividing into two factions does not justify him in supporting one of the two parts against the other.
Those who have offered their support to General al-Sîsî do not represent the Egyptian people but only a small part of that people. The Grand Imam Dr. Ahmad at-Tayyeb, President of the body of great ulema of which I am a part, did not consult us nor did we entrust him with speaking on our behalf. It is he who is mistaken in supporting the rebellion against the legitimate President of the country, he has lost the consent of the umma, and in his stance he does not base himself on the Koran or on the Sunna because the whole of the Koran and the Sunna are with President Morsi. He has distanced himself from the ulema of the Islamic nation who are not prepared to sell themselves for any creature. At-Tayyeb has known to answer only with ‘one must choose the lesser evil’. Who said that deposing the legitimate President, rejecting the Constitution approved by almost two-thirds of the people and precipitating the country into a chaos that God alone knows, who said that this would be the lesser evil? No, this is the greater evil against which the Book and the prophetic hadîth and the sayings of the ulema warn! If only Dr. at-Tayyeb behaved towards Dr. Morsi with the same attention that in the past he demonstrated towards Hosni Mubarak! Why two weights and two measurements? His approach destroys the role of Azhar, which has always been with the people and not with a tyrannical governor.
As regards Pope Tawadros, the Copts did not entrust him with the task of speaking on their behalf and indeed amongst them there are some who joined the Freedom and Justice Party and the Islamist parties. Al-Baradei was not appointed by the group of the Salvation Front and behind him he has only a handful of followers: not even the forces of the opposition want him to represent them. And those who speak on behalf of the Party of Light [the Salafis] represent only a small group of well-known individuals because all the Salafis and the gamâ‘a islâmiyya and the free national parties and respectable individuals are against the direction that has been taken and which is about to lead the country and the rights of the Servants of God to a sad end.
I invite General al-Sîsî and those who are with him with full love and sincerity, I invite all parties and Egyptian political forces, I invite my brother ulema in the world and those who want freedom, dignity and justice, to make a common front, to save the law and restore President Morsi to his legal position, in order to continue to offer him advice and to establish the pathways and practical programmes that will conserve for us the freedom and the democracy that we won for ourselves at the price of blood and which we must never abuse. For thirty years Hosni Mubarak was in the saddle, spreading corruption in the country, humiliating the Servants of God, stealing their money, making them flee abroad, paying hooligans to protect his men, and on to the ultimate forms of tyranny and corruption which people well know about. Lastly, he handed over the country to those who came after him in a state of total devastation and despite this the army did not think of deposing him but allowed him to entrust the army with taking the situation in hand. We were patient for thirty years under Hosni Mubarak and can we not be patient for just one year under Muhammad Morsi? The defect is not in the democratic regime but in those that apply it and the remedy is to adhere to it and not to destroy it from the foundations.
God does not want Egypt to act unjustly in relation to its Constitution and its elected President and the Law of our Lord because this will lead only to the ire of God and His punishment: ‘Deem not that God is heedless of what the evildoers work’ (Koran (14:42).
I exhort from the depths of my heart all of the Egyptian people, whom I love and for whom I would give my life, and from whom I expect no reward or thanks because in my action I seek only the Face of God, I exhort it, in High Egypt as in the Delta, in the cities and in the villages, in the deserts and in the countryside. I exhort it, men and women, the young and the old, rich and poor, employees and workers, Muslims and Christians, liberals and Islamists, to stay united to conserve the achievements of the revolution: freedom and democracy, liberation from all dictatorship, without giving way to a tyrannical governor, whether military or civilian. This is what has happened to some nations which, after losing their freedom, regained it only after many years. And there is no power or force but in God.
O God, protect Egypt and conserve our people and do not make us perish because of the actions of the foolish amongst us.