|Former Grand Mufti of Egypt|
28 September 2003 – 11 February 2013
Mohamed Hussein Tantawi (Acting)
|Preceded by||Ahmed el-Tayeb|
|Succeeded by||Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam|
3 March 1952 |
Beni Suef, Egypt
|Alma mater||Al-Azhar University (B.A.) (M.A.) (P.H.D.)
Ain Shams University (B.Com.)
University of Liverpool (H.D.)
|Religion||Sunni Islam (Ash'ari); sufi; Shafi'i|
Ali Gomaa (Arabic: على جمعة, Egyptian Arabic: [ˈʕæli ˈɡomʕæ]) is an Egyptian Islamic scholar, jurist, and public figure. He specializes in Islamic Legal Theory. He follows the Shafi`i school of Islamic jurisprudence and the Ash'ari school of tenets of faith. Gomaa is a sufi.
He served as the eighteenth Grand Mufti of Egypt (2003-2013) through Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah succeeding Ahmed el-Tayeb. He is one of the internationally most respected Islamic jurists according to a 2008 U.S. News & World Report report and The National and "a highly promoted champion of moderate Islam," gender equality, and an "object of hatred among Islamists" according to The New Yorker.
He gained attention for his active and enthusiastic public support for the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état, and his repeated justification of the killing of civilian protestors by the Egyptian security forces, including following the mass killings during the August 2013 Rabaa massacre.
He was succeeded as Grand Mufti by Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam in February 2013.
- 1 Background
- 2 Tenure as Grand Mufti
- 3 The Egyptian Revolution of 2011
- 4 Support for the Egyptian Coup of 2013
- 5 Views on ISIL
- 6 Controversy
- 7 Original writings
- 8 Teachers
- 9 Further reading
- 10 References
- 11 External links
Ali Gomaa was born in the Upper Egyptian province of Beni Suef on 3 March 1952 CE (7 Jumadah al-Akhirah 1371 AH). He is married and has three adult children. In appearance he has been described as "tall and regal, with a round face and a trim beard."
Gomaa 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 Shafi'i jurisprudence in his free time while at university. After completing a B.A. in Commerce at Ain Shams in 1973, Gomaa 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. 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.
Gomaa 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. In addition to being a teacher of Aqida, Tafsir, Hadith, legal theory and Islamic history, Gomaa is also a highly respected Sufi master.
Classes Outside of the University
In addition to the courses he taught at the University, Gomaa also revived the tradition of open classes held in a mosque where he taught a circle of students six days a week from after sunrise until noon. Gomaa established these lessons in 1998  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."  In addition to the lessons in al-Azhar, Gomaa 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 Gomaa speaks fluent English, and was a former chairman of Al-Azhar University's Islamic Jurisprudence Department.
Work with Jihadi prisoners
Gomaa 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."
Tenure as Grand Mufti
Ali Gomaa was appointed Grand Mufti in late September 2003. by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, replacing former Mufti Mohamed Ahmed El-Tayeb. El-Tayeb was appointed Al-Azhar University president, taking over from Ahmed Omar Hashem.
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.
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, approved and signed by 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 a 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 – Ali mentioned the terms "dar-al-harb" (House of war) and "ahl al-harb" (people of war) several times, and gave a response that not only dealt with what the questioner had asked, but also considered further points such as the taking of interest and gambling.
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.
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.
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. On 24 June 2007, after an 11-year-old died under the knife undergoing circumcision, he decreed that female circumcision was not just "un-Islamic" but forbidden.
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." 
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.
In 2007 he "unequivocally told the Washington Post that the death penalty for apostasy simply no longer applies." 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." 
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.
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.
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."  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."  and indicates about religion in general including Islam: "Terrorism cannot be born of religion. Terrorism is the product of corrupt minds, hardened hearts, and arrogant egos, and corruption, destruction, and arrogance are unknown to the heart attached to the divine."
Conclusion of term as Grand Mufti in 2013
Despite having a one year extension of his term because of the political situation in post-revolutionary Egypt, Gomaa's term was allowed to expire.
The Egyptian Revolution of 2011
Dr. Ali Gomaa made several public statements in relation to the massive uprising that began on 25 January 2011 and led to the stepping down of former Egyptian president Muhammad Hosni Mubarak on 11 February 2011. His general position was one of caution addressing the potential for mass bloodshed and chaos. He was clear that public protest to address grievances is a fundamental human right, but cautioned that mass demonstrations that lead to a disruption of day-to-day life could be considered impermissible (haram) from an Islamic legal point of view. On Thursday 3 February 2011, Dr. Gomaa went on national TV to answer "hundreds of calls he received that day" with concerns about attending Friday prayer services. He issued a fatwa allowing people who feared physical harm due to calls of further mass protests to pray at home and not attend Friday prayer services.
In March 2011, Dr. Gomaa’s 60th birthday and the official retirement age of Egyptian government employees, the SCAF issued him a one year extension to help with the continuity of government. In June of the same year Muhammad Mursi was elected Egypt’s new president. On 20 July 2012 Dr. Gomaa held a national press conference to announce the start of the holy month of Ramadan and announced the month in the name of Egypt’s new president. In March 2013, Dr. Gomaa retired from his position of Grand Mufti of Egypt and Dr. Shawqi Allam became Egypt’s new Grand Mufti.
Views on future Of Islam in Egyptian democracy
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."
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.
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".
'Ali Gomaa's is not necessarily committed to democracy. Following the Egyptian Coup, he expressed hostility towards Western democracy in a television interview stating that it was contrary to Islamic law. Specifically, he argued that the Muslim Brothers should be following Islamic law and not Western democracy.
Support for the Egyptian Coup of 2013
'Ali Gomaa came out strongly in support of the coup in Egypt 2013, arguing that it was entirely legitimate for the military to oust a democratic leader. According to unverified military sources, millions of Egyptians took to the streets on 30 June 2013 to protest policies and constitutional decrees of President Mursi. As a result, Mursi was placed under arrest by Egypt’s Defense Minister Abdul Fattah al-Sisi who also dissolved the constitution and placed the head of Egypt’s Supreme Court Justice Adly Mansur as the interim president. Gomaa argued that the arrest of Mursi was legitimate from an Islamic legal perspective since the "people of the state" and those who bind and loosen (ahl al-hall wa’l ‘aqd), manifested in the Defense Minister, the Republican Guard, Sheikh al-Azhar, Ahmad al-Tayyib, and the Coptic Pope Tawadros II, were the ones who moved against Mursi to prevent further national chaos. Gomaa also drew comparisons from recent history in which an incapacitated ruler was removed from power due to national security concerns.
Justifying the use of lethal force against peaceful protestors
Mursi supporters, largely led by the Muslim Brotherhood, staged sit-ins in various squares around Cairo, most notably the Raba‘a Square in Nasr City. At the same time, there were major security lapses in the Sinai region that required military and police intervention. Legal action was taken to allow the Ministry of the Interior to break up the Raba‘a protests, and this eventually took place on 14 August 2013. There was significant loss of life throughout the Raba‘a breakup from both police forces and protestors. On 19 August 2013, Gomaa addressed Defense Minister Sisi and other members of the armed forces in a live televised event in which he supported not only the breakup of the protests and military intervention in Sinai, but also argued for the legitimate use of lethal force. He based his position on the fact that the protestors in Raba‘a were heavily armed and that, according to eyewitnesses, it was the protestors that fired on the police first, not the other way around. Gomaa argued that the use of force from the side of the protestors and the significant loss of life from police forces at the beginning of the conflict necessitated the use of force to quell armed insurrection, and that these facts alone meant that Raba‘a was no longer a legitimate peaceful protest and the argument for the right to freedom of assembly ceased to have legitimacy.
Justifying the crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood
Gomaa’s severe criticism the Muslim Brotherhood extended beyond the Raba‘a episode. In August 2013, Gomaa has likened the Brotherhood to the early khawarij who sought to rise in rebellion against the Caliph Ali bin Abi Talib in the 7th century. In at least one instance he described the Muslim Brothers as "dogs of the hellfire" (kilab al-nar), and that those who killed them were blessed by God. On 31 October 2013, Gomaa held a national press conference to announce the launch of a fund to help rebuild Christian churches in Egypt that were destroyed by Muslim extremists.
Charges of crimes against humanity against Gomaa
As a result of this specific incident and generally due to his public attacks on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Freedom and Justice Party engaged the London based law firm ITN to bring charges of crimes against humanity against Gomaa and other members of the Egyptian state establishment. Gomaa’s solicitors put ITN on notice that such actions were a PR stunt of the Muslim Brotherhood and a direct response to his efforts to help the Egyptian Christian community.
Views on ISIL
Gomaa is highly critical of the rebel group ISIL In September 2014 Gomaa, alongside 226 other prominent Sunni scholars, was a signatory to an open letter denouncing ISIL and its religious tenets. In February 2015, he was noted for statements regarding the burning to death of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasasbeh by ISIL, in which he claimed to have proof that the burning was photoshopped, and that the pilot was not in fact burned to death. He stated as proof of his claim that in the video published by ISIS, Al-Kasabeh stands still while being burned, something that would seem impossible.
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-beating' statue-hating Mufti Ali Gomaa.`
On 18 April 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.
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.
His published works include in alphabetical order:
- ‘Alaqah Usul al-Fiqh bil al-Falsafah
- Aliyat al-Ijtihad
- Athr Dhihab al-Mahal fi al-Hukm
- al-Hukm al-Shar’i
- al-Ijma’ ‘ind al-Usuliyyin
- al-Imam al-Shafi’i wa Madrasatuhu al-Fiqhiyyah
- al-Imam al-Bukhari
- al-Kalim al-Tayyib vol. 1
- al-Kalim al-Tayyib vol. 2
- Mabahith al-Amr ‘ind al-Usuliyyin
- al-Madkhal ila Darasah al-Madhahib al-Fiqhiyyah
- al-Mar’ah fi al-Hadarah al-Islamiyyah
- al-Mustalah al-Usuli wa al-Tatbiq ‘ala Tarif al-Qiyas
- al-Nadhariyyat al-Usuliyyah wa Madkhal li Darasah ‘Ilm al-Usul
- al-Naskh ‘ind al-Usuliyyin
- Qadiyah Tajdid Usul al-Fiqh
- al-Qiyas ‘ind al-Usuliyyin
- al-Ru’yah wa Hujiyyatiha al-Usuliyyah
- Simat al-Asr
- Taqyid al-Mubah
- al-Tariq ila al-Turath al-Islami
His sheikhs and teachers include in alphabetical order:
- ‘Abd al-Hafidh al-Tijani
- ‘Abd al-Hakim ‘Abd al-Latif
- ‘Abd al-Hamid Mayhub
- Ahmad Jabir al-Yamani
- ‘Abd al-Jalil al-Qaranshawi
- Ahmad Hammadah al-Shafi’i
- Ahmad Mursi
- ‘Ali Ahmad Mar’i
- Hasan Ahmad Mar’i
- al-Husayni Yusuf al-Shaykh
- Ibrahim Abu al-Khashab
- ‘Iwad Allah al-Hijazi
- ‘Iwad al-Zabidi
- Ismail Sadiq al-’Adwi
- Ismail al-Zayn al-Yamani
- Jad al-Haqq ‘Ali Jad al-Haqq
- Jad al-Rabb Ramadan
- Muhammad Abu Nur Zuhayr
- Muhammad Alawi al-Maliki
- Muhammad Ismail al-Hamadani
- Muhammad Mahmud Farghali
- Muhammad Shams al-Din al-Mantiqi
- Muhammad Zaki Ibrahin
- Sha’ban Muhammad Ismail
- Said ‘Abd Allah al-Lajhi
- al-Sayiid Salih ‘Iwad
- Salih al-Ja’fari
- Yasin al-Fidani
- Do We Need A Common Word?
- Newsweek: ‘A Small Miracle’
- The Wise Mufti
- Articles of faith
- Thesaurus Islamicus Foundation
- Encyclopaedia of Hadith and IHSAN Network
- The Show-Me Sheikh: "The grand mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, is peddling a new kind of radical Islam— traditionalism without the extremism" by G. Willow Wilson, The Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2005
- The Grand Mufti's mission
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- (fatwa number 4189)
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- False Accusations Regarding the Grand Mufti and Sayyid al-Qimni
- al-Ahram, 1 Jan. 2007
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- Down For Maintenance
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- AlMasry AlYoum (2012-07-19). ""الإفتاء": الجمعة أول أيام رمضان". YouTube. Retrieved 2014-08-18.
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- "كلمة الكتور على جمعة فى مؤتمر بيت العائلة بخصوص ترميم وأصلاح وإعادة بناء دور العبادة - YouTube". YouTube.
- "International Legal Team to present initial findings of Crimes against Humanity perpetrated by Egyptian regime following the coup in July". Middle East Monitor - The Latest from the Middle East.
- Heneghan, Tom (25 September 2014). "Muslim scholars present religious rebuttal to Islamic State". Reuters. Retrieved 27 February 2015.
- "Former Egyptian Mufti Ali Gomaa: ISIS Did Not Immolate the Jordanian Pilot - It Was Photoshopped". Memri.tv. 5 February 2015.
- Middle East Media Research Institute: "Mufti of Egypt Sheik Ali Gum'a: Wife-Beating Is Permitted by Islam in Muslim Countries, but Is Forbidden in the West" Clip No. 1154, 26 May 2006 | "But when Allah permitted wife-beating, He permitted it to the other side of culture, which considers it as one of the means to preserve the family, and as one of the means to preserve stability"
- "Wife-Beating Is Permitted by Islam in Muslim Countries, but Is Forbidden in the West". Video.google.com. 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
- The Christian Science Monitor. "Egypt's grand mufti issues fatwa: no sculpture". The Christian Science Monitor.
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|Sunni Islam titles|
|Grand Mufti of Egypt
Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam