This Country Profile provides a basic overview of the legal history and institutional structures of the Arab Republic of Egypt (Jumhuriyat Misr al Arabiyah), based on research produced by GlobaLex at NYU Law School and the Library of Congress. Under Egypt's Constitution, Islamic law (sharīʿa or fiqh) is the principal source of legislation.
Egypt is a country located in Northern Africa, bordering the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. It is bounded by the Palestinian Territories, Israel, Sudan, and Libya. The capital of Egypt is Cairo. The official language is Arabic. The country's population in 2017 was approximately 97.1 million. The official religion of Egypt is Islam. Egypt is a predominantly Muslim country, with about 90% of the population Muslim and 10% Christian. Egypt is a member state of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Arab League.
Constitution & Legal Structure
After widespread protests in 2011 and 2013, Egypt adopted its current Constitution in 2014, passed by over 98% of voters in a public referendum. Egypt is referred to as a presidential republic, in which sovereignty belongs to the people and the Constitution is the supreme law of the land. The system of government is based on principles of separation and checks and balances and has three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The legal system of Egypt is a mixed legal system based on Napoleonic civil and penal law, Islamic law, and vestiges of colonial-era laws. Judicial review of the constitutionality of laws is carried out by the Supreme Constitutional Court.
Constitutional Status of Islamic Law
Islamic law has constitutional status in Egypt. Article 2 of the current Constitution specifies "Islam as the religion of the state...and the principles of Islamic Shari'a as the principle source of legislation."
Jurisdiction(s) of Islamic Law
Islamic law has official jurisdiction of operation in Egypt. Sharīʿa courts are run and licensed by the Ministry of Justice. Furthermore, personal status laws regulate matters such as marriage, divorce, and child custody. In family court, a woman’s testimony is worth half of that of a man’s.
Dominant School of Islamic Law
Egypt has no official school of Islamic law, but Islam is the religion of the state. The majority of the Muslim population in the country is Sunnī (adhering to the Ḥanafī school). Al-Azhar University, located in Cairo, is renowned as Sunnī Islam's most prestigious university.
Sources of Law for Legal Research
For an extended list of legal resources for this country, see the Library of Congress’s Research Guide, and for a narrative review, see the GlobaLex Foreign Law Research Guide (most updated version, where available). The Constitution is available in the LOC Guide in its original language and at Constitute in English translation. For full versions of past constitutions, amendments, and related legislation, see HeinOnline World Constitutions Illustrated or Oxford Constitutions of the World [subscription required for each].