US-China Law Review, Vol. 9, No. 6, 2012
18 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2012
Date Written: December 17, 2012
Egypt’s post-revolutionary atmosphere - and principally its constitutional process - has touched off arguments and debates within the country and misunderstanding outside of it concerning the role of the Islamic Sharie‘a in the developing and emerging legal and political order. Thousands of Egyptians (ultraconservative Muslims) performed various demonstrations and gathered in Cairo’s Tahrir (Liberation) Square, demanding that Egypt’s new constitution be based on Sharie‘a law and jurisprudence, even without a better understanding of what the Sharie‘a law is? The protest reflects the debate over the fundamental role of Islam and Islamic law in the nation’s future. Protesters recited, 'Sharie‘a is our constitution' and 'The people demand the application of God’s law.' Many marchers collected signatures for a petition, in which they ask for the Sharie‘a to become 'the basis of all laws', meaning that Egypt’s laws and legal system would be subject to religious interpretation and authorization.
The drafting of Egypt’s new constitution has been apprehensive with controversy since the exiled President Mohammad Hosni Mubarak was ousted and replaced by President Mohammad Mursi. Conservative Islamists are stepping up pressure on the ruling Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice (hezb al-horea wa al‘adelah) Party to dominate liberal and secular oppositions to Islamic law applicability. The party has repeatedly been accused of not promoting powerfully enough for Islamic rule. It should bear in mind that a 1971 Abrogated Constitution which replaced by the Constitutional Temporal Declaration of 2011 issued by the Supreme Counsel of the Armed Forces (SCAF), revoked after Mubarak’s ouster, stipulated that 'principles of Sharie‘a are the main source of legislation', apparently to accommodate the country’s Christian minority, protect the identity of the State, and to avoid sectarian strife.
The stipulation is likely to be kept in the final draft of the new constitution, along with an addition indicating origins of Islamic code, rules and views of the key Sunni Muslim scholars and doctrines of various schools of thoughts (fiqh). Salafists (extreme and un-educated Islamists) have recurrently demanded that the word 'principles” be dropped from the new constitution, so that it would explicitly state that Sharie‘a or its rulings are the main source of law in Egypt. In this regard, Egypt’s Coptic Christians are adamantly opposed to the demands and worried about the possible implementation of Islamic law, in what areas, and to what extent the application will be for the first time in Egypt’s modern history, as Copts represent 8 percent to 10 percent of the whole population. Liberal and secular opponents - along with the author - say that the bulk of the Islamic code is already in effect in Egypt, as there is no contradiction or inconsistency between the current prevailed Egyptian positive laws (European and Napoleonic civil law system) in any area within the principles and provisions of Islamic law’s main sources which are the Qur’an (The Holly Book of Muslims) and the Sunnah (the Prophet Mohammad’s teachings) and that consideration and attention should be focused on improving and developing today-to-day life for the people, including reducing poverty, corruption, and instituting an economic growth framework based on real progress, equality in the distribution of wealth, and social justice, not just talking and faking promises.
Keywords: civil, Sharie'a, law, Egypt, Islamism, Islamic law, Muslim brotherhood, national security, corruption
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation
Arafa, Mohamed A., President Mursi's Egypt Arab Spring: Does Egypt Will Continue to Be a Civil State or Under the Umbrella of Islamic (Sharie‘a) Law and Islamism? (December 17, 2012). US-China Law Review, Vol. 9, No. 6, 2012. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2190217
By John Hursh