Egypt's constituent assembly retained on Thursday the principles of Islamic law as the main source of law, as it rushed through the approval process over objections from an opposition that argues more time is needed.
It also agreed a clause stating that the principles of Christian and Jewish legal traditions would guide the personal and religious affairs of people belonging to those faiths.
The panel is voting on the constitution article by article, and unanimously approved keeping the formulation from the past constitution, which was suspended after a popular uprising overthrew Hosni Mubarak in early 2011.
Article 2 states that "Islam is the state religion, and the Arabic language is its official language. The principles of Islamic sharia are the main source of legislation."
A still unagreed Article 219 seeks to explain the clause on Islamic law in terms of Sunni Muslim jurisprudence.
Hardline Islamists known as Salafists had initially wanted stronger language in Article 2, but in the end supported the final wording.
The vote comes amid accusations that the Islamist-dominated panel is railroading the charter through and protests over President Mohamed Morsi's assumption of sweeping powers, which has plunged the country into its worse crisis since Morsi took office in June.
Liberals, leftists, and representatives of Egypt's churches had already withdrawn from the panel, complaining that the assembly was undemocratic and rushing through its work.
Sixty-seven percent of votes are needed for the charter to be approved, failing which a second round will be held in which only 57 percent of the votes will be sufficient.
After 24 hours, the panel will meet to find alternatives to rejected articles, or strike them from the charter.
The draft constitution will then be sent to Morsi, who must call a referendum to be held within 30 days. It is thought he might do so within two weeks.
A court had disbanded a previous constituent assembly and was due to rule on the validity of the current assembly on Sunday.
Last week, however, Morsi stripped courts of the power to disband the panel in a decree that also gave him broad powers that cannot be challenged by courts, sparking a judicial strike and mass rallies.
In his decree, Morsi allowed the assembly a further two months after its mid-December deadline to finish the charter. Consequently, an announcement on Wednesday that that the panel would imminently approve the charter came as even more of a shock to the opposition.
Morsi and his supporters argue that delaying the constitution, which would be followed by parliamentary elections to replace the Islamist-dominated house dissolved by a court earlier this year, would delay democratic transition.
The sweeping powers Morsi granted himself last week will expire once a constitution is ratified in a referendum.