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Shall We Ask Al-Azhar? Maybe Not

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Lessons from the Ṣukūk Bill Incident

image of Middle East Law and Governance

This article analyzes the constitutional crisis precipitated by the approval of legislation on sharia-compliant state bonds under the brief enforcement of the 2012 Constitution in Egypt. The crisis confirms the centrality of constitutional design choices for the operation of sharia provisions. In particular, projecting a religious institution with conspicuous political capital in the deliberative process upended the previous arrangement of (almost) complete state control over sharia matters. This stands in sharp contrast to how drafters trivialized these design considerations and focused on the wording of the sharia provisions themselves. Moreover, the poor drafting of these sharia provisions—art. 219 in particular—did not provide for the proper constraints on the institutions involved, as shown in the recommendations on the Ṣukūk Bill put forward by the Body of Senior Scholars of al-Azhar.

Affiliations: 1: The American University in Cairo,


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