I posted on January 8, 2015, a piece entitled “Did El-Sisi Say Revise the Qur’an?” It was about Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, who reportedly is a devout Muslim, having just delivered a speech at Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, in which he called for not only a “religious revolution” among Muslims but also seemingly a revision of the Qur’an’s verses that advocate violence against non-Muslims. Why? He said these Muslim radicals and their groups such as ISIS were using these verses to justify their brutality and murder. He said it was making Islam “an enemy of the world.”
President el-Sisi had also said in this speech, “It is inconceivable that the thinking that we [Muslims] hold most sacred should cause the entire world to be a source of anxiety, danger, killing and destruction for the rest of the world.”
Actually, el-Sisi’s speech had just followed the imprisoning of popular Egyptian TV host Islam Behery on December 28, 2014, for calling for the expunging of these violence verses from the Qur’an. He had said, “We must confront those books, and break the taboo” against such scrutinization of the Qur’an.
Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, where President Sisi made his speech, calls itself “Sunni Islam’s most prestigious university.” The Wikipedia article about this school says it is the head of network of over 4,000 teaching institutions and oversees two million students. Its mission is to promote Islam and its culture. Students’ studies center on the Qur’an and Sharia law. The wiki article also says of this school, “It is today the chief centre of Arabic literature and Islamic learning in the world.”
So, it was quite an appropriate place to make such a speech, but only if you are the president of the nation. Not so with Islam Behery. Al-Azhar scholars accused him of “violating the foundations of Islam.” They caused several lawsuits to be brought against him. One stuck and thus he is serving a one-year term in prison.
Internally, Egypt is taking measures against the preaching of this radical Islam. The government recently closed several mosques at the University of Cairo, leaving open only one. And the government is monitoring publications and edicts issued by such radical groups. But it has caused many Egyptians to decry increasing government suppression of dissent and thus inhibiting the spread of democracy.
Islam and the Qur’an have a problem! So do these Muslim nations the Middle East and North Africa where democracy could eventually result due largely to the Arab Spring started in 2011. I think if what Behery and Sisi have said about this is not heeded, the increasing numbers of Muslims in recent times will turn the other way and decline, perhaps drastically. (For a list of the violent verses in the Qur’an, see my post on April 4, 2014, entitled “Are We Doing Enough About Islamic Suicide Bombers?”)