The Head of the Department of Transport and Bridges Equipment in Cairo was
arrested together with his wife for forming a group promoting ideas against Islam. He issued a fatwa to his
followers that they were not obliged to pray in the direction of the Kiblah while performing prayers. He also
denied the Sunna of the Prophet and dismissed the rites of pilgrimage.
Alexandria: Three groups do not perform the Friday prayer and their members kiss each other mouth-to-mouth.
*In Zamalek: A doorman wins over 30 persons exchanging wives and practicing homosexuality
*Religious scholars: Religious ignorance and absence of the responsible establishments’ role are
the main reasons for the existence of these groups.
Religious extremism is still changing its colors
from time to time like a chameleon. As soon as the fundamentalist groups started to limit their activities, stop
violence, murder and bloody terrorism, a new much more extreme faction appeared which created new modes of conduct,
followed new principles, dropped the main pillars of Islam and introduced new rites that are not ordained by
What these pretenders try to propagate and call for is nothing but a disease or a means of
achieving fame or corruption that may reach the extent that their members practice homosexuality and wives
swooping. Thus, they become a clear example of religious ignorance, which leads them towards adopting the meanest
Deviation from the true religion needs all the establishments in society to pause, which
makes it incumbent upon them to unify their efforts for uprooting this epidemic, which finds its way easily into
the minds of those of weak faith.
A few weeks ago members of the Matariya organization were
arrested. They are now being investigated by the Supreme State Security Prosecution. This brought to the attention
the issue of heretic extremist organizations which appeared to introduce new thoughts that bear no relation to
According to the investigation papers, the organization was formed in 1997. It has eight
members and started to spread its thoughts, which are completely divorced from Islam, in Al-Matariya area. One such
organization is led by Dr. Ameen Youssef and his wife Amal Mahmoud Al-Sayyed who were propagating its ideas
The investigations proved that the suspected leader of Al-Materiya organization had
issued a fatwa for his followers that they were not obliged to pray in the direction of the kiblah [direction of
Mekkah]. He also denied the Sunna of Prophet Mohammed, his journey from the holy mosque of Mecca to Al-Aqsa Mosque
in Palestine and his ascension to God. In his fatwa, the leader of this organization dismissed as untrue the rites
of Haj and called for fasting in the month of Shaaban instead of the Holy Month of Ramadan.
leader of this organization works as head of the Department of Transport and Bridges Equipment in Cairo. He started
to call for his weird ideas in his home in the Ezbet Al-Nakhl area and he recorded his words, orations and fatwas
on cassette tapes and distributed them among his followers. He wrote a book which he called "Purging and Elevating
the Principles of Religion and Values."
A large number of people residing in the area started to
believe him. Those at the forefront of this were the accused Abdel-Mawla Al-Sisi, Zakaria Ameen, Mohammed Youssef,
Essam Mandouh, Ashraf Al-Sisi and Gad Ahmed Gad. These men started to circulate the same ideas as their leader who
ordered them not to eat meat as it was Haram or impermissible in his view
During the investigations,
the wife of the first accused Amal Mahmoud Al-Sayed surprised everyone when she told the prosecution that she does
not fast in Ramadan but in Shaaban instead as per her husband’s orders as she believes that what he says is
perfectly right. She went on to say that she is against going to the Holy Kaaba to perform haj as it is an idol and
it is impermissible for Muslims to visit it.
This extremist organization is considered to be one of
the extremist organizations that have denied the duties and traditions of Islam.
Mahfouz, who led another organizations, was caught in Alexandria in 1999. He was sentenced to five-years
imprisonment with hard labor in case number 193 for the year 1999, State Security Misdemeanors.
This organization is considered to be one of the most dangerous extremist. Mahfouz formed a group
of ninety people who propagated similar ideas. In the investigations launched by the prosecution, the accused said,
"Allah is found inside every one of us and the evidence of this is that the Almighty Allah knows what man thinks."
He claimed that Allah had chosen him to speak on His behalf and that he and Allah had become one
entity. He issued a fatwa saying that prostration in prayer towards the Kaaba was haram or
He added in the investigations that Haj can be performed at his home and that the
rites can also be performed inside his flat. Despite the fact that he had performed the obligation of Haj more than
once, he told his followers that they were not obliged to perform Haj. He also permitted his followers to pray
without ablution and to confine prayer to only two times.
This group’s ideas are based on a book
called Al-Tawheed And Al-Ta’did (Oneness and Plurality - this is the belief in One God as opposed to the belief in
more than one God) written by someone called Silver Burns.
The State Security Investigation
Department apprehended another group in Alexandria that called itself Al-Salahia, after its co-founder Salah
Sheishaa. The group counts over fifty followers who are divided by their leader into two groups, Al-Melouk [kings]
and Al-Saaleek [inferiors].
Al-Melouk group consists of those who fully believe in Salah Sheishaa
and Al-Saaleek group consists of those with less belief in him. According to the investigations Al-Salahia group
follows certain traditions, such as men kissing other men mouth-to-mouth three times and kissing women twenty
times. They call this the pure Muslim kiss. The leader of this group issued a fatwa dropping all the obligations of
Islam, including prayer, giving alms, fasting and pilgrimage.
Strangely enough, most of the members
of this organization are physicians, engineers, university professors, lawyers and teachers.
people in Alexandria talked a lot about the Dr. Bereqa group after its members were arrested. This group is led by
Dr. Salah Bereqa, an obstetrician who made a fatwa saying that Haj was not an obligation and that the Friday
prayers should be abolished. He has more than one hundred followers including his sons. However, his wife does not
The leader of Al-Amri group was born in Edfu. He worked in the first days of his career
as a detective for the morality security police [mabahes] in Cairo. After he resigned he went to work as a
security man in one of the Public Sector companies. He also had a grocery.
He alleged that souls
could move from the body of someone after their death into the body of someone still living and he formed a group
that believed in his ideas. He said that prayer was not a duty or obligation and he dropped some of the other
obligations and traditions of Islam.
Another group appeared in Kom Ombo, Aswan, who were led by
someone called Mohammed Al-Ga’fari. He circulated his ideas in Zamalek, Cairo, through a doorman, one of his
followers, who alone managed to enlist more than thirty people living in this posh quarter. This group performed
some insolent practices inside a flat, which they called Karkasa. [insolent is the translation of the Arabic word
’maagina’ and implies folk activities such as dancing - like in a zikr-, the use of incense, speaking words which
make no sense, etc. with the aim to lift someone’s spirits. the word karkasa refers to these activities]. They
were practicing abnormal sexuality and wife swapping and they had a book, which they called Lughat Al-Iman
[Language of Faith].
Bahaa Eddin Hussein, a graduate from the Faculty of Engineering, Mechanics
Department, formed a group of sixteen. At first he worked at a private company and then he moved to work in a big
contracting company. In 1982, he traveled to Saudi Arabia where he stayed for four years.
back home and stayed in the Al-Tawabek neighborhood in the Faisal district in the Giza governorate. He joined the
Al Tabligh and Al-Dawa [Inform and Call] group and traveled with them to a number of the Egyptian governorates for
the sake of Allah as they allege.
Then, he traveled with them to Pakistan. When he returned, he
formed a new group in the Faisal district in a mosque called Al-Muhagereen. He moved with this new group to Sixth
of October City where he made his fatwas, allegations and heresies the most famous of which was the Survival Ship
fatwa. He said that there would be a ship that would come down and carry him and his followers to Saudi Arabia
after Egypt had drowned.
Surprisingly enough, after this group had been arrested and put into
custody, they continued believing that the Ship would come down to them in Torah prison to transport them as their
leader had promised.
The Mahdi group was established in Maadi by Adel Al-Mahdi, a graduate from the
Faculty of Arts, Sohag University. He made a fatwa exempting his followers from performing the two obligations of
prayer and fasting.
The most dangerous of these groups has recently sprung up in Cairo in Al-Sayeda
Zeinab quarter, which is dubbed as the Group of Al-Sheikha Manal. Al-Sheikha Manal was detained along with 49 of
her followers. She issued a fatwa freeing some of her followers from performing prayer and others from performing
the Haj obligation. She claimed that she endowed them with Haj such as that which the sheikh al Tarika gave her
while she was asleep. She pretended that the departed sheikh al Tarika was the second manifestation of the Prophet
Mohammed, Peace Be Upon Him.
Sheikha Manal Waheed (42) is attractive and a smart kind of person. She
learnt in French schools and got a Bachelor of Law degree. She is married to a lawyer who was arrested as one of
the group members. She has five daughters the oldest of whom works as a belly dancer and a model.
The story of Manal started in 1990 when she claimed repentance while she was psychologically ill
and was seeking recovery via magic. She met with the sheikh of a Sufi Tarika in Al-Manial area in Cairo. His proper
name was Omar Ameen Hassanein and he died in 1993 after he had been sheikh of Bayoumia Tarika for 35
In the investigations, Manal admitted in detail everything that was recorded in the cassette
tapes, especially the fatwa in which she dropped the performance of some obligations in Islam.
Furthermore, security agents caught Mohammed Abdel-Moneim(48) in Al-Sayeda Zeinab neighborhood. He
broke into Al-Sayeda Nafeesa Mosque during the noon prayer. He prevented the Imam from leading the prayer and tried
to lead it himself. He claimed that he was the Messiah and he had come to the Islamic nation to lead it to victory.
He was arrested after he caused injuries to the neck of the imam of the mosque. During the
investigations, he confessed that he wanted to set up the Al-khelafa [Caliphate] group after issuing a fatwa
dropping the Haj obligation and reducing the five daily prayers only to only the prayer at noon [duhr].
We now move from Cairo to Kafr Al-Sheikh where Mahdi Bin ’Awf formed his group which he expanded
to reach Tanta and Mahalla al-Kubra. His real name is Mahdi Al-Nagar and he lives in Al-Jazeera Al-Khadra area in
the Kafr Al-Sheikh governorate. He believed while he was being investigated that an oracle had come down to him and
ordered him to form a group to fight non-Muslims.
What are the views of religious scholars,
sociologists and psychiatrists regarding the issue of those extremists?
Sheikh Mansour Al-Refa’i
Ebeid says that "a lack of religious awareness is the cause of the emergence of these groups. Religious
establishments do not perform their duties properly. Thus the youth do not find anything that edifies them
religiously. Mosques nowadays fail to educate the youth religiously. Thus, the voice of what is false has started
to become louder, which has made the youth turn to these ignorant groups, which try to exploit them to achieve
This also urges society to give heed to the Islamic establishments and call for them
to be set up in every mosque.
Mansour said that universities did not qualify imams for mosques well
for their field of work. "Imams of mosques graduate from the faculty and start work. He ascends to the pulpit to
address people without being trained enough and qualified for this. Is it reasonable?" he asks.
message of the mosque is the most dangerous message in society. Imams of mosques are trained at the hands of their
university professors after they graduated. However, the training for Imams needs religious scholars of vast
experience. He believes that extermination of these groups requires the existence of scholars among the people.
Television channels should give space to religious programs through which the youths’ minds could be enlightened.
Also, the Ministry of Youth should find room for scholars’ in clubs and enlist them onto the boards of these
clubs. The same applies to the Ministry of Agriculture, which should include a scholar for every village in the
directorate of every agricultural society. Moreover, the Ministry of Manpower should find room for the scholars’
in trade unions."
Sheikh Fikry Hassan, former Deputy Minister of Waqfs (religious endowments) is of
the view that the members of these groups should not be given any heed or attention and that they should not be
responded to. He went on to say that it was the Azhar that should face the cassette tapes full of false ideas,
which are distributed in the market and which have harmful effects on people of weak faith.
Samia Al-Khashab, Professor of Sociology in the Faculty of Arts, Ain Shams University, said that "the sociological
interpretation of those who interpret religions and creeds in the way they like could be placed under what are
called the radical alternatives of religions or alternative forms of religions, as some groups believed that the
end of the world was at the end of the millennium."
"Most of the members of these groups are from
the lower middle class who try to elevate their material and scientific level but they cannot. They follow these
ideas because they suffer from family troubles, as there is a close relationship between family unity and adherence
to religion, she points out. These cases can be treated through raising religious awareness inside the family, the
mosque, the establishments, the schools and the universities," she adds.
Dr. Fikry Abdel-Aziz,
Consultant of Psychiatric Medicine and Neuroses who is also a member of the International Federation of Psychiatry
says the leaders of such groups are persons who hate society and who have great ability to persuade people. They
are characters who find joy in injuring others through specific behavior or actions. As for the members who join
these groups they are not psychologically stable and can be easily dominated by others. This is a small category
found in every society worldwide and it can be treated through mental enlightenment, returning to the self, and
providing social as well as the psychological safety via enlightened Islamic thinkers and scholars, he
Dr. Sayed Sobhi, Professor of Psychiatry and Former Dean of the Faculty of Education agrees
with Dr. Fikry Abdel-Aziz and says members of these groups are characters that object to anything others say or do
even if it is undoubtedly true and correct. This psychopathic character cannot easily be treated as it is a
procrastinating character that needs care and awareness, he says. He goes on to say that the law should mete out
punishment for these cases along with giving them some advice and instructions, which may take them away from the
mess they have been mired in.