Shall We Ask Al-Azhar? Maybe Not

Lessons from the Ṣukūk Bill Incident

in Middle East Law and Governance
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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.

Shall We Ask Al-Azhar? Maybe Not

Lessons from the Ṣukūk Bill Incident

in Middle East Law and Governance




 See Norman Anderson“Law Reform in Egypt: 1850–1950,” Political and Social Change in Modern Egypted. Peter Holt (London: Oxford University Press 1968) 209–30 and Wael Hallaq Shariʿa: Theory Practice Transformations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press 2009) 396–499.


 See Lama Abu Odehsupra at note 2 at 165 citing Norman Anderson Law Reform in the Muslim World (London: Athlone Press 1976) 34–9.


 See Nathalie Bernard-MaugironLa politique à l’épreuve du judiciaire: la justice constitutionnelle en Égypte (Bruxelles: Bruylant2003) 339–95.


Fahmī Huwaydī“ẖawf ʿalá al-šarīʿah min anṣārihā qabla ẖuṣūmihā”al-Šurūq (13 November 2012).

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