Sheik Muawith: Muslims have left Islam and they don't know what God has ordered them to do, or what the Prophet taught. That's why there are problems--and things have happened that their faith would prevent.
Sheik Muawith first came to the Al Azhar mosque when he was 14.
Sheik Muawith: The Sheik would sit here surrounded by people. He would then teach traditional interpretations of the Qur'an and the sayings of the Prophet and all matters of religion. In 1950 I entered Al Azhar and ended up with an expertise in matters of religion and the world. So when someone asks me something, I have the knowledge and I have studied and specialized. I draw upon my experience.
The Sheik receives a call from a young man who has married unofficially, in an attempt to legitimize pre-marital sex.
Sheik Muawith: No, no it doesn't count as real marriage. Whatever happened after that is considered a sin. A correct marriage my son is a contractual relationship. You must have the approval of her father, two witnesses, a dowry and you must announce it to the community. This is a secret marriage. It's wrong. And it's forbidden, forbidden, forbidden.
The biggest problems these days are divorce, marriage and family life.
Sheik Muawith heads the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar. (A fatwa is a legal ruling in Shariah (Islamic Law), made by a learned and qualified scholar, usually in response to an unprecedented situation or to address a novel issue.) These scholars issue fatwas to people who visit in person. But they're also available to Muslims abroad.
Sheik Muawith: Al Azhar has organized the Fatwa Committee to answer and explain to all Muslims in Egypt and outside Egypt. We get faxes from abroad, from Australia, from America from Europe about business dealings, responsibilities and all sorts of things like that and we try to answer them.
While not all Muslims share the same interpretation of Islamic Law, the Sheiks are troubled when people like Osama Bin Laden issue rulings of their own.
Sheik Muawith: These kind of fatwas have no basis in religion. Anyone just issuing a fatwa like that should not be trusted. It should neither be considered the religion of Islam or the teachings of Islam.