Freedom of expression project

Hisba: Is Egypt a civil or religious state?

Report prepared by Ahmad Seif al-Islam Hamad

Published in Cairo by CHRLA, the Center for Human Rights Legal Aid, January 1996

1. Hisba, 2. The Muhtasib, 3. Capacity in hisba

4. Dar al-Hisba, 5. Hisba cases, 6. God's rights in modern legal terminology

7. The relation between hisba and the principal of 'interest' in administrative law

8. The legislative basis of hisba cases, 9. Repeal of the legislative basis of hisba cases, 10. Article 280 of the Sharia Court Regulations

11. Article 2 of the Constitution, 12. Hisba cases contradict Article 40 of the Egyptian Constitution, 13. The concept of public order cannot justify hisba cases



The following report was prepared before the current legislative bill on hisba cases was announced. The bill, as published in al-Gumhuriya, 1/26/1996, demonstrates the concept of public morality and that of God's rights or the rights which are interpreted to be God's rights. The bill states that, "Every Muslim has the right to challenge the judge on any subject which relates to God's rights, or those rights which are the rights of the majority, and, based on the testimony of this violation, to take the necessary action to rectify such."

CHRLA finds nothing new to make it revise the contents of this report. The bill confirms all of CHRLA's criticisms stated in this report which are that hisba cases are discriminatory against non-Muslim citizens and women.

The concept of hisba contradicts the fact that Egyptian society is based on citizenship, not religion. Hisba, as a conceptual system and the cases themselves are not compatible with the concept of the civil state, but with the religious state and, in particular, with the state that does not recognize religious diversity.

Introduction | Parts 1-3 | Parts 4-6 | Part 7 | Parts 8-10 | Parts 11-13 | Recommendations

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