Meet the New Mufti, same as the Old Mufti?

The Australian National Imams Council met today to discuss the issue of whether there should remain a position of mufti and, if so, whether the incumbent, Sheikh Taj, should continue to hold it.

The Age is reporting that the position will remain, Sheikh Taj al-Hilali will continue to fill it, but at some point the imams will meet to “decide on how to take this thing forward.”

Controversial cleric Sheik Taj Aldin Alhilali will remain spiritual leader of Australia’s Muslims for now following a meeting of the nation’s Islamic clerics in Sydney.

About 60 imams decided after meetings that went on in the south-western Sydney suburb of Lakemba for most of the day to reinstate Sheik Alhilali as Australia’s mufti for the next three months.

The United States doesn’t have a mufti and the United Kingdom doesn’t have a mufti. Why do we?

UPDATE: A person with intimate knowledge of what took place at the conference has provided an update. Needless to say, it differs significantly from what the media is reporting.

In summary: a national fiqh council will be formed at some point in the future and will consist of a relatively small number of imams who are appropriately qualified in the field. At the meeting on Sunday, the national board of imams also elected an executive panel to oversee it. Despite two attempts, Sh Taj didn’t receive one vote to join this panel (even from the other sheikhs from NSW). He has been completely sidelined by the imams.

The new body will have Sh Abdul Mo’ez (Sydney) as the President, Muhammad Abdullah (Queensland) as the Secretary and Sheikh Abdul Azeem (Victoria) as Treasurer. The national fiqh council, once elected, will eventually replace the position of mufti. Until then, Sheikh Taj remains as mufti for a few months until he is transitioned out. We will update as more news comes to hand.

UPDATE 2: The Prime Minister is not impressed.

UPDATE 3: Not to be outdone by the PM, the Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd offers his own ill-informed comment.