CAIRO: Gamal El-Banna, the controversial 86-year-old Islamic writer and thinker, said that young men and women won’t be sinning if they kissed and hugged when they greeted one another in public, propelling other scholars to accuse him of encouraging adultery.
El-Banna told Daily News Egypt that such a practice isn’t considered a sin, because “we are human beings and we are weak creatures, so if we hugged or kissed in public, we are not really sinning.
The scholar said he based his opinion on Islamic teachings that affirm that “human beings are not angels, but they are human and can make mistakes . In fact they have to make mistakes. He referred to a hadith (a saying by Prophet Mohamed) which says all humans make mistakes and best of them are “those who ask God for forgiveness.
“We should not contradict ourselves and the reality we are living in, El-Banna said. “Now there are a lot of youngsters who cannot afford to get married. Also, there is the fact that sexual desire is the strongest human instinct, and Islam cannot ignore such facts.
El-Banna, however, stressed that marriage remains the only religiously permissible context for such instincts. Thus, he encourages all youngsters to try to get married as soon as they can, especially if they are in love.
For those who cannot get married but are involved in a physical relationship (involving hugs and kisses), El-Banna suggests they increase their “good deeds . in order to get more hasanat [good deeds that counts on the day of reckoning] in case kissing and hugging turns out to be a sin.
The scholar first declared his opinion on his program on Al Sa’a satellite channel last week. It then received coverage on Al-Arabia.net and was mentioned in the Muslim Brotherhood’s daily newsletter, stirring controversy among Muslim scholars.
Sheikh Gamal Kotb, former head of Al-Azhar’s fatwa committee, told Al-Arabia.net that El-Banna is not qualified to state his opinion on religious matters. If El-Banna’s opinions were adopted by the public, Kotb continued, adultery would become rife.
Stressing that what he said is not a fatwa (a religious edict) El-Banna countered, “I hate both fatwas and the people who set themselves up as the only ones authorized to issue fatwas.
“I tell any person who comes to me asking for a fatwa, ‘let your brain do its job, think and follow your heart regardless of other peoples fatwas,’ he added, citing another hadith that encourages Muslims to follow their hearts when it comes to choosing between religious edicts.
“This is just my opinion based on some findings I was able to gather from my research in this area in Islam, El-Banna said.
This is not El-Banna’s first controversial fatwa. The brother of Hassan El-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, came under fire two years ago after stating that it is permissible for fasting Muslims to smoke.