Islamic authority rejects Egypt's move to reform divorce

Egypt's top Islamic authority has rejected the president's suggestion for legislation that would invalidate the practice of men verbally divorcing their wives.

Al-Azhar's Council of Grand Clerics said Sunday that verbal divorce, when appropriately declared by husbands with sound minds, has been an undisputed practice since the days of the 7th century Prophet Muhammad.

As a compromise, it proposed harsher penalties for those who don't swiftly document such divorces.

Alarmed by high divorce rates, Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi last month suggested that legislation be adopted so a divorce would be legal only in the presence of a state-authorized cleric.

El-Sissi has spoken in the past of reforming Islamic teachings in order to combat extremism.