Abdel Khaleq al-Sherif, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s advocacy and guidance department, has asked Al-Azhar, the Ministry of Endowments and scholars to issue a collective fatwa on the permissibility of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) loan in order to aid President Mohamed Morsy.
On the Brotherhood website, Sherif criticized individual fatwas. “Many of them were harmful, such as the fatwa on female genital mutilation,” he wrote, stressing the need for collective fatwas by competent institutions.
Prime Minister Hesham Qandil’s negotiations to secure a US$4.8 billion loan from the Fund by the end of the year have spurred a flurry of criticism from conservative quarters. Last week the Salafi Nour Party issued a statement claiming that “borrowing from abroad is usury."
There has been dissent on the issue within the Salafi parties, however, On Sunday Yasser Borhamy, the vice president of the Salafi Dawah group, issued a fatwa contending that the IMF loan would not be a case of usury because interest on the loan was only 1.1 percent. Borhamy subsequently came under attack for his views.
In May, a US$3.2 billion loan from the IMF was rejected by Salafi lawmakers in the now-defunct Parliament, who claimed that the loan is against Sharia because it has interest rates that qualify as usury, or riba. The IMF halted loan negotiations due to the conflict.
Islamic teaching highly prohibits usury, but moderate Islamic scholars say that interest rates established by banks are not considered usury.
The Freedom and Justice Party, the political arm of the Muslim Brotherhood, has also expressed reservations on the loan but has hesitated to declare its position.