Al-Azhar Shia Fatwa
The Al-Azhar Shia Fatwa, known in Arabic as The Shaltoot Fatwa (Arabic: فتوى شلتوت), is an Islamic fatwa issued in 1959 on the topic of Shi'a–Sunni relations by the renowned Sunni scholar Shaikh Mahmood Shaltoot. Under Shaltoot, Sunni-Shia ecumenical activities would reach their zenith.
The fatwa is the fruit of a decade-long collaborative effort between a group of Sunni and Shi'a scholars at the Dar al-Taqreeb al-Madhahib al-Islamiyyah ("center for bringing together the various Islamic schools of thought") theological center at Al-Azhar University in Cairo. The aim of the effort is to bridge the gap between the various Islamic schools of thought, and to foster mutual respect, understanding and appreciation of each school's contributions to the development of Islamic jurisprudence. However, despite the ecumenical fatwa, while Shaltoot was Grand Imam of Al-Azhar he refused to establish an independent Shia chair at the University, which was one of the greatest aspirations, especially, of the Shia members of the Dar al-Taqreeb.
This rare fatwa, which admits Shia Muslims, Alawites, and Druze into mainstream Islam who had been considered heretics and idolaters for hundreds of years, has been viewed as being inspired by the then Egyptian president Gamal Abdel Nasser. Nasser saw it as a tool to spread his appeal and influence across the entire Arab world.
In 2012, due to drift towards Salafism in Al-Azhar, the dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies at Al-Azhar issued a fatwa strongly opposed to the 1959 fatwa. It forbade worship according to the Shia tradition and condemned as heretics anyone who insulted the wives or companions of Muhammad. Al-Azhar also published a book condemning the Shia.
- Rainer Brünner (2004). Islamic Ecumenism In The 20th Century: The Azhar And Shiism Between Rapprochement And Restraint (revised ed.). Brill. p. 360. ISBN 9789004125483.
- "al-Azhar Verdict on the Shia". www.al-islam.org. Archived from the original on 13 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-05.
- Rainer Brünner (2004). Islamic Ecumenism In The 20th Century: The Azhar And Shiism Between Rapprochement And Restraint (revised ed.). Brill. p. 301. ISBN 9789004125483.
- Aburish, Saïd K. (2004). Nasser: the last Arab (illustrated ed.). Duckworth. pp. 200–201. ISBN 9780715633007.
But perhaps the most far reaching change [initiated by Nasser’s guidance] was the fatwa commanding the readmission to mainstream Islam of the Shia, Alawis, and Druze. They had been considered heretics and idolaters for hundreds of years, but Nasser put an end to this for once and for all. While endearing himself to the majority Shia of Iraq and undermining Kassem [the communist ruler of Iraq at the time] might have played a part in that decision, there is no doubting the liberalism of the man in this regard.
- Keddie, Nikki R; Rudolph P Matthee (2002). Iran and the Surrounding World: Interactions in Culture and Cultural Politics (illustrated ed.). University of Washington Press. p. 306. ISBN 9780295982069.
- Al-Araby, Mohamed (25 April 2013). "Identity politics, Egypt and the Shia". Al-Ahram Weekly. Retrieved 20 April 2014.
- Copy of exchanges between the Sunni scholarship and the Shia scholarship
- The Origins of the Sunni/Shia Split in Islam
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