The Shura Council, the upper house of Egypt’s parliament, has referred the draft law for sukuk—bonds and shares that allegedly comply with Islamic sharia—to al-Azhar for advice.
The referral of the bill to the authority of Islamic scholars of the venerable Sunni Islamic institution is an unprecedented move, and comes in response to reservations by a large number of MPs who fear that the sukuk bill might be pronounced un-Islamic by al-Azhar which had already discounted a previous bill on sukuk some two month ago.
The bill stipulates prohibitive conditions for the inclusion of Copts or non-Muslims in the legal authority charged with issuing sukuk, whereas it allows non-Egyptians in. It says that the central legal authority charged with issuing sukuk should be formed of seven members the majority of whom should be Egyptians. In order to qualify for membership, the applicant should be a holder of a PhD in Islamic jurisprudence, should have published research papers on Islamic economic and finance, and should have spent at least three years as a member in other [Islamic] legal authorities. When Watani asked the Islamist MPs—the Shura is overwhelmingly Islamist majority—why Copts were excluded, the answer was that the law was in fact designed for the benefit of Muslims.
5 March 2013