CAIRO: Religious scholars at Al-Azhar have issued a fatwa forbidding conversion from Christianity to Islam for the sole purpose of getting a divorce.
Some Coptic Christians in Egypt, who are not permitted to divorce under the rules of their own religion, convert to Islam to nullify their marriage and then convert back to Christianity.
While converting back to Christianity is already forbidden under Islam, which prohibits Muslims to convert to another religion, this fatwa will punish Christians for converting to Islam if it is known that they are doing so just to get a divorce.
Al-Azhar scholar Sheikh Abdel Moati Bayyoumi told Daily News Egypt that the fatwa’s intention is to punish those who disrespect religion in general, but not to curb freedom of belief by discouraging conversion to Islam.
“The punishment is against foul play, he said. “[These converts] were originally Christian, and they went around the Christian religion, which is offensive to Christianity and all religions.
While it is unknown how many Christians convert to Islam for the purpose of ending their marriage, Bayyoumi believes it is common, though not yet a “phenomenon.
When asked whether the timing of the fatwa was related to the upcoming trial in February of a group of Christians converts to Islam who want to convert back to Christianity, Bayyoumi said: “I am speaking in general. I even call for the prosecution of Muslims who have converted to Christianity and now want to convert back to Islam. Those people sell their religion for money or an apartment. They don t actually convert, it s only by name.
He added that the nature of the punishment for such a transgression would be decided by the judiciary.