Liberal Islamic scholar Gamal El-Banna dies

El-Banna was often criticized by other Islamic scholars for his views, including that states should not be based on religions.

An Islamic Scholar criticized for his liberal religious views died at the age of 93 Tuesday.

Gamal El-Banna drew the ire of some Islamic scholars through his claims that wearing a veil is not a Muslim obligation and that Muslim women can marry Christian or Jewish men, Ahram Online reported.

The news website said El-Banna, the author of more than 50 books on Islam, politics, economics and trade unions, suffered from pneumonia for several weeks before his death. He was the younger brother of Muslim Brotherhood founder Hassan El-Banna.

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El-Banna was a tireless advocate for his view of Islam.

In 2011, he criticized fundamentalist Salafists, who take a strict, literal approach to Islam. In the 2011 article in Ahram Online, El-Banna said the Salafists' way of thinking was outdated and a distortion of Islam.

That same year, El-Banna said in an Egypt Independent interview that states could not be founded on Islam because of differences in civilian and religious outlooks. He took on the Muslim Brotherhood in stating that a civil state should not be based on a religion.

In 2004, El-Banna was quoted by Fox News on the reform of Islamic laws regarding divorce. At that time, he said equal right to divorce should be a standard provision in marriage contracts and advocated for the criminalization of all forms of domestic violence.

In the 2004 article, El-Banna said, "Justice and fairness are the main sources of Sharia (Islamic law)."

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