Lebanon Could Have 2 Grand Muftis over Dar al-Fatwa Differences

Lebanon is faced with the possibility of having two grand muftis after the rival Higher Islamic Councils called on Thursday for a new head to the country's Sunni sect, al-Akhbar newspaper reported.

“There would either be two muftis or ulemas would make a last-minute interference to find a settlement,” al-Akhbar quoted informed sources as saying.

But Dar al-Fatwa officials said no solution was looming in the horizon.

The dispute between the council led by Grand Mufti Sheikh Mohammed Rashid Qabbani and that of his deputy Omar Misqawi is the result of political interferences.

The Higher Islamic Council -- which elects the Mufti and organizes Dar al-Fatwa's affairs – became the center of controversy in 2012 after 21 of its members, who are close to al-Mustaqbal movement, extended its term until 2015 despite Qabbani's objection.

The Mufti later held elections for the Council, which were deemed illegal by ex-PMs Saniora and Najib Miqati, and the group led by Misqawi, who argued that the polls violated Shura Council decisions and did not enjoy a legal quorum.

On Thursday, the two councils called for the election of a Mufti before the expiry of his term on Sept. 15.

Mount Lebanon Mufti Sheikh Mohammed al-Jouzo told the Saudi Okaz daily that the invitation for the election of a grand mufti by Qabbani's council came in conformity with decree 18 of the by-laws which had been announced by Qabbani.

“We shouldn't focus on the details as long as his term is nearing to end because any dispute on the issue would reflect negatively on the Sunni sect in Lebanon,” he said.

Former Prime Minister Salim al-Hoss has also defended the decision of Qabbani's council to call for elections.



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