Qabbani Hands Over Dar al-Fatwa Administration to Scholars, Will Stay Lebanon's Muftiإقرأ هذا الخبر بالعربية
Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani announced on Friday that he will hand over the administrative matters of Dar al-Fatwa to Muslim scholars, noting that he will stay in his position as a Mufti.
The Mufti's decision comes amid sharp differences between him and Lebanon's former and current premiers over the extension of the Higher Islamic Council's term.
"Dar al-Fatwa's administrative matters will be handed over on Saturday morning,” Qabbani said in a meeting with a delegation of Muslim scholars, adding that he “will be present to serve and support the clerics during the rest of his term as a Mufti”.
He pointed out to the “crisis Sunnis in Lebanon are going through”, describing the scholars as the “leaders of the Islamic faith and the heirs of the Prophets”.
Qabbani criticized “political leaders for not committing to the decisions of the Mufti, pointing out that it is the higher Islamic figure in Lebanon”.
Earlier on Friday, the Mufti stressed that the HIC cannot be called to convene as its term has expired, adding that necessary measures should be taken to hold the HIC elections on April 14.
Addressing Prime Minister Najib Miqati in a released letter, Qabbani explained that his insistence on “not participating in any talks at the council stems from his commitment to abide by the laws”: "Calling for a HIC meeting does not conform with the applied laws that govern Islamic matters”.
"It has become urgent to adopt necessary measures to go through with the elections”.
The statement elaborated that the Mufti strives to safeguard Sunnis' interests and the sect's institutions through insisting on holding the HIC's elections.
"Personal interests are behind attempts to obstruct the elections and extend the current council's term,” it expressed. “This threatens the sect's unity and institutions”.
It remarked: “There is no vacuum in the HIC that is currently acting as a caretaker, but if some members place obstacles before the elections, then the council will become paralyzed”.
Qabbani revealed: “I have repeatedly called for a meeting to be held between the former premiers, Miqati and HIC members to reach consensus over holding the elections”.
"But the premiers insisted on having the talks during a HIC session, despite the end of its term”.
“They must be committed to applying the law and interrupt all attempts to extend the HIC's term”.
The letter warned against “tarnishing the image of the Grand Mufti's role”, calling on premier Miqati to collaborate with Qabbani “for the sake of the sect, its institutions and Lebanon”.
Qabbani had filed the suit over the “fraudulent” extension of the Council that elects the Mufti and organizes the affairs of Dar al-Fatwa, Lebanon’s top Sunni religious authority.
Twenty-one Council members, who are close to al-Mustaqbal movement, extended in December the HIC term until the end of 2013 despite the objection of Qabbani, who argues that the extension is illegal.
Qabbani's lawsuit came against the backdrop of a meeting by the former premiers under Miqati at the Grand Serail during which they gave him until Saturday to call on the HIC, a 32-member body, to convene to set a date for electing Council members.
But the Mufti, who is refusing to hold any meetings at Dar al-Fatwa for considering that the HIC's term has expired, has called for the elections of new Council members to take place on April 14 in a unilateral decision.
Miqati reiterated on Thursday that he hoped Qabbani would convene the Council on Saturday.
The Mufti's ties with al-Mustaqbal deteriorated in 2011 when he met with a delegation from Hizbullah the same day the Special Tribunal for Lebanon indicted four party members in ex-Premier Rafik Hariri's February 2005 assassination.
Relations between the two sides were also shaken when the mufti met with Syrian Ambassador Ali Abdul Karim Ali, whom al-Mustaqbal and the March 14 opposition alliance have on several occasions said should be expelled.