Renowned TV anchor Ibrahim Eissa released a statement concerning Ramadan in a program on the US-based Television channel Alhurra, stirring outrage on Egypt’s social media.
In the program, Eissa repeatedly questioned the necessity of fasting in Ramadan, saying that “Fasting is considered a sovereign decision, Allah (God) commanded us, yet we are not informed on the wisdom behind fasting.”
To support his opinion Eissa stated that he conducted in-depth research behind the reasons commonly given for fasting, such as the main benefit given by Islamic preachers in encouraging sympathy towards the poor. However, Eissa claims that scientific evidence reveals that fasting is unhealthy and only encourages further social separation.
He added that fasting is simply an interpretation of abstract orders from Allah (God) by Muslims, rather than a divine law that must be followed.
Responding to Eissa’s comments, the former head of the Fatwas Committee in the Al-Azhar Mosque, Abdel Hamid al-Atrash, told Egypt Independent on Tuesday that Eissa is not authorized to give an opinion on Islamic matters.
“Eissa is not specialized enough in Islam to give his views on an issue considered to be specialization for Islamic scholars graduated from Al-Azhar. Just as it is not logical that a police officer discusses medicine, the government should prevent those who do not understand Islam from discussing Islamic issues such as fasting,” Al-Atrash explained.
He then asserted that Allah (God) has instructed many nations before Muslims to fast in order to understand the suffering of poor people. He also highlighted that there are many health benefits to fasting in Ramadan, as it allows for toxins in the body to be replaced.
Atrash called on Egypt’s institutions to prevent anyone on TV to give their views on religious matters unless they are properly educated in Islam.
“Random opinions from TV anchors on Islam’s issues cause serious damage to the interests of the Islamic nation and should be suspended,” he concluded.