An Egyptian cleric has issued a fatwa (religious edict) that permits the husbands of imprisoned female Muslim Brotherhood members to divorce their wives.
Muzhir Shaheen urged the men to prioritize their country’s national interests by divorcing their “sleeping cell” wives who belong to the now-blacklisted Muslim Brotherhood movement.
Shaheen, who describes himself on Twitter as the "preacher of the revolution," said he empathized with those who find themselves in marriages with women belonging to the Brotherhood, labeled a “terrorist group” by the Egyptian government.
"Many suffer because they find [out] that their wives are Muslim Brotherhood members, and that there is a ‘sleeping cell’ lying beside them in bed,” he said.
Asking those to forego the "personal benefits" of staying with their wives, he said that divorcing a wife who is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood "serves the interests of the country and religion."
On July 3, a popularly-backed coup ousted the Islamist President Mohammad Mursi, forcing members of the Muslim Brotherhood to take to the streets to demand his re-installment as the country’s first elected civilian leader.
The new military-backed interim government quelled the Brotherhood protesters and designated the movement as a “terrorist group.”
The head of an Egyptian high-level religious institution, Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah, Majdi Ashour, said in a statement Sunday that “fatwas on divorces have specific characteristic since it affects the union between partners, which is sacred. Families are the unit of society and it is an important pillar which Islam urges to protect.”
Ashour said Islamic jurisprudence or Sharia was not put in place to create strife between married people.
He described Shaheen’s alleged fatwa as “merely his opinion,” and warned that these kind of statements work only to divide society.
Ali Abu al-Hassan, former head of fatwa committee for top religious authority, Al-Azhar, labeled these kind of fatwas as “haram” or forbidden, the local el-Badil website reported him as saying on Saturday.
“This kind of fatwa should only be issued by specialist scholars and official sources,” he said, urging clerics not to mix politics and religion.