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A Liberal Islamic Scholar Speaks Up in Egypt

The fight between the humane Egyptian opposition and the Islamists (both Muslim Brothers and Salafists) is not quite underway yet. The struggle between the religious fundamentalists and the military is still at the center of the city square. But there are shades of opinion even among the ultra-pious. Here is the voice of Sheikh Yousuf al-Qaradhawi, one of the learned men of Egyptian Islam: 

“I think [the shari’a] should be implemented gradually. This is a law of the shari’a and a law of nature. […]
“We should do things gradually. We should prepare the people, teach them. People have to learn. We have to make an effort to teach people the truth about Islam. […]
“People do not understand the shari’a properly. We have to teach people the laws of the shari’a and explain them, before anything else.
“I think that in the first five years, there should be no chopping off of hands. This period should be dedicated to teaching things.
“A transitional phase… This should be a period in which we teach people the true laws of the shari’a.
“When we find food for all the hungry, schools for all the pupils, hospitals for all the sick, homes for all those who want them, wives for all the bachelors—then we can discuss the punishment for theft. […]
“All the [presidential] candidates are good, but I support the candidacy of our brother Abd Al-Mun'im Abu Al-Futuh.” 

Oh, yes, and also among the most liberal. Do not give up hope.

Martin Peretz is editor-in-chief emeritus of The New Republic.