Egypt is a country that links the African Continent with the Middle East. The history of the country dates back to the time of Pharaohs. In the country, more than 90% of the population is made up of Muslims. Most of the Muslims in the country are Sunni who strictly observes the Maliki school jurisprudence with all legal schools being represented. The Shia make a tiny percentage of the population. There are lots of traditions followed by Egyptian Muslims such as the strong observance of Sufism, Salafism and varying views on politics.
Six days ago, one of the grand Imams publicly terms polygamy as an Injustice practiced against women. The Imam going by the name of Sheik Ahmed al-Tayeb maintains that practicing polygamy is misinterpretation and a full misunderstanding of the Islam holy book; Quran. Also, he says that people who marry several women lack a proper understanding of the tradition taught by the prophet (Staff and agencies, 2019).
Claims by Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb, who is a grand imam of Al- Azhar which is the top Islam institution has stirred lots of controversies. Ahmed al-Tayeb who is the Sunni Islam's highest authority maintains that people who feel that marriage should be polygamous are wrong and misleading. Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb made his claims while speaking on his television program which comes once in a week and later posted it on Twitter. In explaining his claims, the Imam said that polygamy is not allowed in Islam because Islam is a religion that calls for fairness in marriage. He continued to explain that if polygamy is not fair to women, then it can be seen that it is wrong to have two living wives.
After the comments by Mr. Tayen got on the air a few days ago through the state TV, a debate was sparked in the social media here most people seemed to side with him. Most of the people siding with Mr. Tayeb posted comments that the practice should be banned. The Al-Azhar sought an opportunity to defend Mr. Tayeb's comments clarifying that he was not calling for a ban on polygamy.
Mr. Tayeb said that those who claim that Islam doctrine has a place for polygamy should read the entire verse in the Quran. He explained that the truth is that monogamy was the rule and polygamy was restricted. The Imam in his address in the broadcast said that there should be an improvement in how women issues are handles in the country. He insisted that women are important and that their role in society should is not to be underestimated. He added that women make up more than half of the total population of the country. Failure to care for women is detrimental to the wellbeing of the country. He likened it to walking on one foot. Egypt's National Council for Women embraced al-Taya’s comments. The head of the council, Maya Morsi supported Mr. Tayeb by saying that Islam respects women. She added that on top of showing respect to women, the religion treats them fairly and assigns them lots of rights that never existed in the past (Cone, 2019).
Contrary to the National Council of Women, some comments were opposed to the idea that Islam is wrong. Sameh Hamouda, acting as a cleric in Alexandria posted on Facebook that Polygamy is fine and good for women. He explained that the practice helps in controlling women celibacy. In an attempt to clarify the comments by Mr. Tayeb, Al- Azhar explained that Islam allows men to take up to four wives but on a condition. The condition is that the four should be treated equally. The practice is legal in the country among other Arabic and Islamic states but still uncommon.
There are countries where polygamy is banned such as in Turkey, Tunisia, and Israel (among the Arab Muslims) followers. Egyptian laws require a husband to disclose his marriage or marriages if he is polygamous. The law in the country equips women with a right to seek divorce within one year of learning that the husband is in another marriage. Back in 2008, Abla el- Hawari brought up a drafted bill that seemed to jail men who got into second marriages without asking their current wife. The bill aimed to regulate polygamy in the Arab Nations.
The news update reporting the Grand Imam's objection seems to be multifaceted. It aims at promoting the dignity of women and bringing sanity to society. Islam requires that all people should be treated fairly even in a family set up (Magdy, 2019). Therefore, a man can marry up to four wives as long as he is willing and able to treat them fairly. Practicing injustice or harming a woman is not allowed and in such a case, polygamy is prohibited.
The new update has some significant facts where for instance, Islam men are reminded that they can marry more than one woman under one condition; treating them fairly. Reporting the news by Mr. Tayeb in the State Television and on social media sparks a heated debate which reminds the society of a proposed bill requiring men to inform the current wife or wives in a polygamous case that you are adding another woman.