Islamic Research Complex supports Sisi’s stance on verbal divorce

The Islamic Research Complex has declared its agreement with the decision of the Council of Senior Scholars over the validity of verbal divorce if it meets the set conditions.

The academy convened on Wednesday to discuss how to enforce the decision in order to reduce the divorce rates. It agreed in consensus on drafting a law to order a penalty on whoever does not document the divorce as it happens.

Mohie Eddin Afify, secretary general of the academy, said that being tasked with drafting the law comes from the leading role of Al-Azhar and its authorities in dealing with the challenges currently facing society in ways that conform to principles of sharia.

Speaking to Al-Masry Al-Youm, Afify said verbal divorce is legal, without requiring witnesses. He added that some men delay the documentation of marriage with the intention of not giving the wife her rights.

The Council of Senior Scholars, the top body of Al-Azhar Institution, had earlier on Sunday made a decision about verbal divorce, confirming its validity if it meets the set conditions.

In a statement, the council said this is what Muslims settled upon since the time of Prophet Mohamed.

The decision comes against President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's call last month for restrictions against verbal divorce and for a new law tightening divorce procedures for Muslims.

Sissi directed this request to Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayyeb, head of Al-Azhar Institution, during the president's speech at a ceremony marking National Police Day.

In clarifying its position, the council called upon any man who divorces his wife to document this divorce once it happens, in order to preserve the rights of the woman and the children.

The council also said, however, that the government has the right to take the necessary steps to enact legislation to ensure the imposition of deterrent punishment against those who abstain from documenting the divorce or are remiss in it.

Egyptian law currently grants a Muslim husband the right to divorce his wife in her absence and without her knowledge. He may initiate and conclude all the legal procedures himself, only informing her of the divorce at the final stage.

The divorce percentage in Egypt is high: 40 percent of the 900,000 marriages unions registered every year end in divorce within five years, Sisi said in the National Police Day speech.

The divorce rate reached 2.2 cases per 1,000 people in 2015, which represents an 83 percent rise compared to the beginning of the period 1996-2015, according to CAPMAS. The agency said that the figure for 2015 represents the highest divorce rate recorded in over two decades.

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