Ali Gomaa

Sheikh
Ali Gomaa
على جمعة
Religion Islam
School Shafi'i
Personal
Nationality Egyptian
Born March 3, 1951 (1951-03-03) (age 60)
Bani Suwayf, Egypt
Senior posting
Title Grand Mufti of Egypt
Period in office 2003 - present
Predecessor Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb
Religious career
Post Grand Mufti of Egypt
Website www.aligomaa.net

Sheikh Ali Goma'a[1] (Arabic: على جمعة‎, Egyptian Arabic: [ˈʕæli ˈɡomʕæ]) is the Grand Mufti of Egypt through Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah succeeding Ahmad El-Tayeb. He has been called "one of the most widely respected jurists in the Sunni Muslim world,"[2] and described as "a highly promoted champion of moderate Islam," gender equality, and an "object of hatred among Islamists."[3] He specializes in the foundations of Islamic Law, viz. Usul al-fiqh. He follows the Shafi`i school of Islamic jurisprudence.

Contents

Background

Ali Jumaa was born in the Upper Egyptian province of Bani Suwayf (also spelled Beni Suef) on March 3, 1952 CE (7 Jumadah al-Akhirah 1371 AH). He is married and has three adult children.[4] In appearance he has been described as "tall and regal, with a round face and a trim beard." [3]

Education

Jumaa graduated from high school in 1969, at which point he enrolled at Ain Shams University in Egypt’s capital, Cairo. Having already begun to memorize the Quran, he delved deeper into his studies of Islam, studying Hadith and Maliki jurisprudence in his free time while at university. After completing a B.A. in Commerce at Ain Shams in 1973, Jumaa enrolled in Cairo’s al-Azhar University, the oldest active Islamic institution of higher learning in the world. He received a second B.A. from al-Azhar, then an M.A., and finally a Ph.D with highest honors in Juristic Methodology (usul al-fiqh) in 1988.[citation needed] Since he had not gone through the al-Azhar High School curriculum, he took it upon himself in his first year at the college to study and memorize all of the basic texts that many of the other students had already covered.

Teaching

Jumaa taught in the faculty of Islamic and Arabic Studies at al-Azhar University from the time he received his M.A. until he was appointed Grand Mufti, first as an assistant professor, and finally as a full professor.[5]

Classes Outside of the University

In addition to the courses he taught at the University, Jumaa also revived the tradition of open classes held in the al- mosque where he taught a circle of students six days a week from after sunrise until noon. Jumaa established these lessons in 1998 [6] with the aim of protecting the Islamic intellectual tradition from being lost or misinterpreted, “I want people to continue in the tradition of knowledge reading the classical texts the way they were written, not the way people want to understand them.” [7] In addition to the lessons in al-Azhar, Jumaa also began giving the Friday sermon (khutbah) in Cairo’s Sultan Hassan Mosque in 1998 after which he would give a short lesson in Islamic jurisprudence for the general public followed by a question and answer session. In addition Jumaa speaks fluent English, and was a former chairman of Azhar university's Islamic Jurisprudence Department.

Work with Jihadi prisoners

Jumaa has told American journalist Lawrence Wright that he worked with Islamic Group prisoners who later embraced the "Nonviolence Initiative" and denounced violence. “I began going into the prisons in the 1990s. ... We had debates and dialogues with the prisoners, which continued for more than three years. Such debates became the nucleus for the revisionist thinking.”[3]

Grand Mufti

Ali Gomaa was appointed Grand Mufti in late September 2003.[8] by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, replacing former Mufti Sheikh Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb. El-Tayeb was appointed Al-Azhar University president, taking over from Ahmed Omar Hashem.[9]

His office, the Dar al Ifta (literally, the house of fatwas), a government agency charged with issuing religious legal opinions on any question to Muslims who ask for them, issues some 5,000 fatwas a week, including both the official ones that he himself crafts on important issues and the more routine ones handled via phone and Internet by a dozen or so subordinate muftis.[10]

Egyptian Revolution

The Grand Mufti and the Historic Egyptian Revolution

When the 25 January Egyptian Revolution first broke out, the society witnessed great division among its community of intellects, with some taking on the role of activists, some maintaining an unexplained silence, adding to the back then prevailing confusion, and those who lobbied with the now toppled regime, each based on his personal reading of events.

Dr. Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt, embraced his role as an Islamic Scholar, who upholds the responsibility of protecting and advocating for only what’s best for the nation, based on the Islamic law as stipulated in the Qur'an and Sunnah.

As a scholar, Dr. Ali, never speaks out of personal opinion,[citation needed] but rather enacts his formidable intellect[citation needed] of Ijtihad, based on the Islamic Shariah, with wise consideration to the prevalent state of affairs and bearing in mind the well-being of the Ummah and what establishes the Islamic Law as ordained in the main sources of Shariah.

It was time of sheer chaos and bleak future with expectations of increasing casualties, something Imam Ali would never heed or allow for. Sanctity of human lives is a basic principal in Islam. Muhammad was narrated to have said that: "The blood of a Muslim is more dearer to Allah (SWT) than the ka’ba".

Based on this and fearing that the situation would spiral out of control, Dr. Ali drew the conclusion that demonstrators, having peacefully raised their lawful demands, had to put an end to the chaotic condition of the country and leave the legislative authority attend to such demands, for the sake of preventing more bloodshed. Especially that violence at the time was already starting to pick up and more innocent souls were falling victims to brutality exerted by the secret police forces.[citation needed]

“Violence is always regrettable, but to watch my own country deteriorate into virtual chaos is a cause of unimaginable grief and sadness, and the recent attacks against demonstrators are worthy of the strongest condemnation.”

But when aggression persisted and the situation got bleaker, the Grand Mufti took a firm stand, warning to step down if any harm was inflicted upon the peaceful protesters. And essentially he prepared his resignation and said he’d leave office unless the safety of the protesters is respected.[citation needed]

Dr. Ali, himself a promoter of dialogue, invited some of the youth elements who organized the noble uprising to his office to discuss a number of matters pertaining to their demands and the continuation of protests.

A day before the late Egyptian President announced his stepping down, 30 youths, ladies and gentlemen, who took part in the initial arrangements of the historic revolution, came to Dar al Ifta, where they engaged with the Grand Mufti in heart to heart meeting that tackled a variety of issues ranging from the constitution, democracy and its essence, their demands, justice, plans for the future, among others.

During the gathering, that was a mixture of serious debates, father and son talk, and sometimes humor, Sheikh Ali hailed what he labeled as Youth Intifada that represented the entire nation, and the foremost achievement of which, back then, was the transition of President Mubarak’s responsibilities to his deputy. Dr. Ali discussed ways to get out of the current situation of chaos; stressing the need to press ahead with practical and clears plans for reform. He endorsed the legitimate demands the youth spoke of, however, expressing his deep concern over the state of chaos the country was living which required the full engagement of the army. He spoke of his worries that the Israelis can seize the chance at such time of turmoil in Egypt.

Reiterating his utter rejection of brutality displayed by the police against the peaceful protesters and the society, such as use of force and blocking Internet connection and other communication medias, Dr. Ali, highlighted the country’s need for changing the constitution, one of the initial demands proposed by the revolution.

The Grand Mufti moreover, stated that the country was in dire need for convenient plans that would grant it a better future, such as executing many valuable researches that had been presented but were subject to bureaucracy that hampered their fulfillment. He mentioned the great project proposed of Dr. Farouk al Baz, the prominent research professor and director of the Center for Remote Sensing at Boston University.

When the fog lifted and the Revolution scored its primary goal of ousting President Mubarak, a clear phase shift of 180 degree paved the way for a new era of a brand new Egypt. The Mufti then, and still speaking out of wisdom derived from the Shariah Law, cheered the resolute protesters who liberated the country and stood firm in defense of their rights. Herein dealing with a different status quo, yet still based on the all-inclusive Shariah law, Dr. Ali’s speech became more directed towards the future and setting the needed milestone for it that would best serve the goals of the revolution. Dr. Ali hailed the achievements of the Revolution, juggling priorities according to a new living situation, in a way that grants protection to the welfare of the citizens, for he was then relieved of the concern over the lives of the innocent.

Imam Ali had to adapt his religious discourse to the given situation to preach people how to deal with a new, still chaotic Egypt, reminding the nation that ”ending a past regime is simply the beginning of a new phase of hard work and strong will to foster a truly healthy and vibrant society, where economic and social reform is equally needed.” He underlined the need to fasten the pace of reform and take meaningful steps to rebuild the country through charity and civil work, to help it get out of the quagmire that struck through all fields of life for three consecutive weeks.

He took the initiative of aiding those who were harmed during the demonstrations, announcing, through Misr el Kheir foundation which he heads, covering all medical expenses needed by the injured.

Dr. Ali, professing only concern over what’s best for the people, didn’t give much attention to those who misunderstood his stance.[citation needed] Focusing on a perfect delivery[citation needed] of his message of hope and prosperity, Dr. Ali called on “all Egyptians to safeguard the five overriding objectives of Islamic law – the preservation of life, property, honor, family, reason, and religion – values that are definitely shared by all humanity” , asserting his prime care for the safety and security of the country, something that can only be fulfilled through a legitimate rule of law, as time shall prove.

Views on future Of Islam in Egyptian Democracy

In an Op-Ed in the New York Times the Mufti supported the passage of the Egyptian constitutional referendum, 2011 calling it a "milestone" for Egyptian Democracy.[11]

He also stated that since Egypt is a very religious society,"it is inevitable that Islam will have a place in our democratic political order". However he reassured that Muslims believe that," Islamic law guarantees freedom of conscience and expression (within the bounds of common decency) and equal rights for women."[12]

He also stated that there was no contradiction between Articles 2 and 7 of the constitution, the former saying that Islam was the official religion of the state and that legislation was based on principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, and the latter guaranteeing full citizenship before the law to members of Egyptian society regardless of religion,race or creed.[13]

He also stated that Islamists would stay within mainstream, and that radicalism would,"not only run contrary to the law, but will also guarantee their political marginalization"[14]

Media Appearances

Since being appointed as Grand Mufti, Gomaa has had numerous media appearances. His regular television appearances include: al-Bayt Baytak on Tuesday nights on both Egyptian terrestrial and satellite channel two when he discusses current events and answers the questions of viewers who call in. Yas’alunaka, on Fridays on the Risalah satellite channel on which he gives a simplified explanation of Islamic jurisprudence, and a commentary on the Koran that appears daily on local Egyptian channel one.

In addition to his television appearances, Gomaa has a weekly column in the Egyptian daily newspaper al-Ahram. His articles have covered a wide range of topics from explanations of the basis of Islamic law and calling for calm in the face of the Danish cartoon crisis, to refuting extremism and denouncing The Protocols of the Elders of Zion as a forgery. He is one of the signatories of A Common Word Between Us and You, an open letter by Islamic scholars to Christian leaders, calling for peace and understanding.

Views on selling pork and alcohol in the West and 'Non muslim countries'

In a fatwa issued by Dar-al-ifta,[15] approved and signed by Dr. Ali Gom’a, the Egyptian Mufti stated that selling pork and alcohol is permitted in the West because of the following points:

Quote “it is allowed taking the opinion of the scholars from the Hanafi madhhab who allow to deal with wrong contracts in non-muslim countries ”

Another justification was that the Prophet let his uncle Al-‘Abbas Ibn ‘Abdil-Muttalib take usury in Mecca - when it was non-muslim city- and he did not prohibit him except in the year of the Farewell Pilgrimage.

In all during the fatwa – which was a reply to a question from a Muslim in Europe asking about whether it would be allowed for him to work in stores that sell alcohol and pork along with other products because he cannot find another job – the Sheikh mentioned the terms “dar-al-harb” (House of war) and “ahl al-harb” (people of war) several terms, and gave a response that not only dealt with what the questioner had asked but further points such as the taking of Interest and gambling.

His views on this issue have been the object of criticism from western Islamic scholars. Salah Soltan, a member of the Fiqh Council of North America replies,

"The fiqh councils in Europe, North America and India are of the opinion that these countries represent a house of treaty and invitation to Islam for the Muslim minority. They are not a house of war nor are they a house of Islam. It is more appropriate to arrive at this wise position that matches the character of gratitude for those who did well to us. Sh.Yusuf Al-Qaradawi said in the introduction of the proceedings of the European Council for Iftaa and Research: “Is it allowed to issue fatawa that would drive Muslims to steal the money from these countries that accepted them, provided them with food when they were hungry and protected them from danger? Doing this would make them flee from paying the price of what they consume, refuse to give the salaries for those who work for them, lie to get financial aid that they do not deserve and betray those who deal with them. To allow such behavior is a shame for Islam."

Nevertheless, Soltan still respects Gomaa's knowledge and scholarship.

"Indeed Sh. ‘Ali Gom‘a is among those scholars who are known for their deep knowledge, accuracy, and tolerance. He also has a zeal for the religion of Allah that we thank him for. We also have full appreciation and love for him. I wish that this discussion would confirm these ties of love between us because knowledge relates its people as though they were kin. The people of knowledge complement one another." [16]

Other Fatwas of Significance

Since taking office Gomaa has issued a number of fatwas and statements that have made an impact in the media. He has issued a fatwa asserting that men and women enjoy equal political rights in Islam, including the right to become president of a modern state.[17]

He recently stated on national television that it is permissible in Islam for a woman to have hymen restoration surgery for any reason since Islam promotes protecting one’s privacy and reputation and does not require a woman to provide proof of her virginity.[18]

In November 2006, prof Gomaa ruled that female circumcision (also referred to as female genital mutilation or FGM) should not be applied; this ruling is in accordance with Egyptian law, that also forbids female circumcision. This ruling came about after a conference instigated by research and a documentary on FGM in Somalia by the German action group Target. This fatwa is now also used in Western Europe to combat FGM.[19] On June 24, 2007, after an 11-year-old died under the knife undergoing circumcision, he decreed that female circumcision was not just “un-Islamic” but forbidden.[20]

He has also stated that Islam does not call for and has never known a theocratic state and that there is no contradiction between Islam and liberal democracy saying, “I consider myself a liberal and a Muslim, but this does not mean I am a secularist. The Egyptian [historical] experience has combined liberalism and Islam in the best of ways.” [21]

He is a signatory of the Amman Message, which gives a broad foundation for defining Muslim orthodoxy, unequivocally states that nobody has the right to excommunicate a Muslim, and restricts the issuing of fatwas to those with the scholarly qualifications to do so.[22]

In 2007 he "unequivocally told the Washington Post that the death penalty for apostasy simply no longer applies."[23] Ramadan Al Sherbini of Gulf News later reported Gomaa clarifying that Muslims are not free to change their faith; "What I actually said is that Islam prohibits a Muslim from changing his religion and that apostasy is a crime, which must be punished." [24]

The Mufti still rejects the death penalty though. In 2009, posted on his website that he does not believe that apostasy is punishable by death.

In fact, it was only two years ago that Sheikh Ali Gomaa made clear statements to the effect that apostasy is not punishable by death in Islam, a position that he holds to this day.

[25]

He is the Editor of the Encyclopaedia of Hadith, a sub-project of the greater Sunnah Project of the Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation, which aims at documenting and publishing all works related to Prophetic narrations or Hadith.

Gomaa has publicly asserted that the anti-Semitic The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is a forgery and made an official court complaint concerning a publisher who falsely put his name on an introduction to its Arabic translation.[26]

Views on extremism

Gomaa has taken a very clear stance against extremist interpretations of Islam. “He has become the most explicitly anti-extremist cleric in mainstream Sunni Islam.” [27] He says that the use of violence to spread Islam is prohibited and extremists have not been educated in genuine centers of Islamic learning, “Terrorists are criminals, not Muslim activists.” [28]

Gomaa believes the best antidote to Islamic extremism is "traditional conception of sharia law — along with knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence"[29]

Controversy

According to American journalist Jay Tolson, Ali Gomaa has been a victim of "smear tactics" by hardline blogger critics of Islam and the Muslim world, the effect of which has been "cumulative and insidious." He quotes Robert Spencer as referring to `wife-beatin,'[30][31] statue-hatin'[32] Mufti Ali Gomaa.`[2]

Sculpture

On April 18, 2006, an article entitled "Egypt's grand mufti issues fatwa: no sculpture" appeared in the csmonitor.com

Artists and intellectuals here say the edict, whose ban on producing and displaying sculptures overturns a century-old fatwa, runs counter to Islam. They also worry that extremists may use the ruling as a pretense for destroying Egypt's ancient relics, which form a pillar of the country's multibillion-dollar tourist industry.[32]

Jay Tolson defended Ali Gomaa, saying

while Gomaa did say that it was un-Islamic for Muslims to own statues or to display them in their homes, he made it very clear that the destruction of antiquities and other statues in the public sphere was unacceptable and indeed criminal. He is also on record deploring the Taliban's destruction of the great Buddhist statuary in Afghanistan.[2]

Original Writings

His published works include in alphabetical order:

  1. ‘Alaqah Usul al-Fiqh bil al-Falsafah
  2. Aliyat al-Ijtihad
  3. Athr Dhihab al-Mahal fi al-Hukm
  4. al-Bayan
  5. al-Hukm al-Shar’i
  6. al-Ijma’ ‘ind al-Usuliyyin
  7. al-Imam al-Shafi’i wa Madrasatuhu al-Fiqhiyyah
  8. al-Imam al-Bukhari
  9. al-Kalim al-Tayyib vol. 1
  10. al-Kalim al-Tayyib vol. 2
  11. Mabahith al-Amr ‘ind al-Usuliyyin
  12. al-Madkhal ila Darasah al-Madhahib al-Fiqhiyyah
  13. al-Mar’ah fi al-Hadarah al-Islamiyyah
  14. al-Mustalah al-Usuli wa al-Tatbiq ‘ala Tarif al-Qiyas
  15. al-Nadhariyyat al-Usuliyyah wa Madkhal li Darasah ‘Ilm al-Usul
  16. al-Naskh ‘ind al-Usuliyyin
  17. Qadiyah Tajdid Usul al-Fiqh
  18. al-Qiyas ‘ind al-Usuliyyin
  19. al-Ru’yah wa Hujiyyatiha al-Usuliyyah
  20. Simat al-Asr
  21. Taqyid al-Mubah
  22. al-Tariq ila al-Turath al-Islami

Teachers

His sheikhs and teachers include in alphebetical order:

  1. ‘Abd al-Hafidh al-Tijani
  2. ‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Abd al-Latif
  3. ‘Abd al-Hamid Mayhub
  4. Ahmad Jabir al-Yamani
  5. ‘Abd al-Jalil al-Qaranshawi
  6. Ahmad Hammadah al-Shafi’i
  7. Ahmad Mursi
  8. ‘Ali Ahmad Mar’i
  9. Hasan Ahmad Mar’i
  10. al-Husayni Yusuf al-Shaykh
  11. Ibrahim Abu al-Khashab
  12. ‘Iwad Allah al-Hijazi
  13. ‘Iwad al-Zabidi
  14. Ismail Sadiq al-’Adwi
  15. Ismail al-Zayn al-Yamani
  16. Jad al-Haqq ‘Ali Jad al-Haqq
  17. Jad al-Rabb Ramadan
  18. Muhammad Abu Nur Zuhayr
  19. Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki
  20. Muhammad Ismail al-Hamadani
  21. Muhammad Mahmud Farghali
  22. Muhammad Shams al-Din al-Mantiqi
  23. Muhammad Zaki Ibrahin
  24. Sha’ban Muhammad Ismail
  25. Said ‘Abd Allah al-Lajhi
  26. al-Sayiid Salih ‘Iwad
  27. Salih al-Ja’fari
  28. Yasin al-Fidani

Notes

  1. ^ Ethar El-Katatney The People's Mufti Egypt Today October 2007.
  2. ^ a b c "Finding the Voices of Moderate Islam", Jay Tolson, USNEWS, April 02, 2008
  3. ^ a b c The Rebellion Within, An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism. by Lawrence Wright. newyorker.com, June 2, 2008
  4. ^ al-Kalim al-Tayyib vol. 2, p. 417
  5. ^ Islamica Magazine, Issue # 12, Spring 2005
  6. ^ al-Ahram Oct. 1, 2005
  7. ^ Islamica Magazine, Issue #12, Spring 2005
  8. ^ EGYPT HEADLINES
  9. ^ Al-Ahram, New Mufti
  10. ^ Egypt's Grand Mufti Counters the Tide of Islamic Extremism, By Jay Tolson, March 6, 2008
  11. ^ Gomaa, Ali (April 1, 2011). "In Egypt’s Democracy, Room for Islam". New York Times. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04/02/opinion/02gomaa.html?_r=1. Retrieved 23 April 2011. 
  12. ^ Ibid.
  13. ^ Ibid.
  14. ^ Ibid.
  15. ^ (fatwa number 4189)
  16. ^ http://www.salahsoltan.com/main/index.php?id=19,219,0,0,1,0,
  17. ^ Mufti not against women presidents after all? at The Arabist
  18. ^ Broadsheet: Women's Articles, Women's Stories, Women's Blog - Salon.com
  19. ^ November 24, 2006 Female Circumcision in Islam
  20. ^ The Economist: Laying Down Religious Law
  21. ^ Nahdah Masr, Feb. 3, 2007
  22. ^ The Official Website of The Amman Message - The Amman Message
  23. ^ When Muslims become Christians
  24. ^ "Top cleric denies 'freedom to choose religion' comment," GulfNews, July 25, 2007
  25. ^ False Accusations Regarding the Grand Mufti and Sayyid al-Qimni
  26. ^ al-Ahram, Jan. 1, 2007
  27. ^ The Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2005
  28. ^ Down For Maintenance
  29. ^ Egypt's Grand Mufti Counters the Tide of Islamic Extremism, By Jay Tolson, March 6, 2008
  30. ^ "Mufti of Egypt Sheik Ali Gum'a: Wife-Beating Is Permitted by Islam in Muslim Countries, but Is Forbidden in the West," Middle East Media Research Institute, Clip No. 1154, May 26, 2006
  31. ^ http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-3009025678515984303#
  32. ^ a b Egypt's grand mufti issues fatwa: no sculpture

External links


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