Turkey: Fatwa allows Muslims to pray just three times a day - by Hasni Essa

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Peace & Pluralism

Ankara, 10 Oct. (AKI) - Turkish Muslims will be allowed to pray only three times a day from Wednesday instead of the usual five - without fear of committing a sin.

A member of the scientific council of Istanbul University, Muhammad Nour Dughan, has issued a controversial fatwa or religious edict cutting Islamic prayer requirements from five to three times a day.

The move has provoked widespread debate as well as opposition from orthodox imams or Muslim clerics.

Sharia law allows for the possibility of praying three times a day in case of sickness or travel.

The fatwa extends this option allowing Muslims to pray three times a day, especially when they are heavily committed with work or personal issues.

The Turkish debate echoes a similar one that has already taken place in Egypt where the fatwa has also drawn support.

Jamal al-Banna, brother of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hasan al-Banna, endorsed the Turkish move.

"Merging prayers has become a modern necessity," he told the al-Arabiya website. "In most cases, people do not always perform the five prayers on time due to the pressures of modern life."

Al-Banna is often criticised for his modern interpretation of Islamic rules. He said the Prophet Mohammad himself had given followers this option that could be applied when prayers cannot be carried out in a given time.

A member of Egypt's Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, Sheikh Youssef al-Badri, rejected the argument saying it was unacceptable to merge prayers unless it was due to travel, illness, rain or pilgrimage. 

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