|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 1951 |
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 (Sufi)|
Ali Gomaa (Arabic: على جمعة, Egyptian Arabic: [ˈʕæli ˈɡomʕæ]) is the eighteenth Grand Mufti of Egypt through Dar al-Ifta al-Misriyyah succeeding Ahmad El-Tayeb. He is one of the internationally most respected Islamic jurists according to U.S. News & World 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 specializes in the foundations of Islamic Law, viz. Usul al-fiqh. He follows the Shafi`i school of Islamic jurisprudence.
- 1 Background
- 2 Grand Mufti
- 2.1 Egyptian Revolution
- 2.2 Media Appearances
- 2.3 Views on selling pork and alcohol in the West and 'Non muslim countries'
- 2.4 Other Fatwas of Significance
- 2.5 Views on extremism
- 3 Succession
- 4 Controversy
- 5 Original writings
- 6 Teachers
- 7 Further reading
- 8 References
- 9 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 is a Sufi.
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 Maliki 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.
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.”
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.
||This section is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (October 2012)|
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.
As a scholar, he never speaks out of personal opinion, but rather enacts his intellect 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 Ali would never heed or allow for. Sanctity of human lives is a basic principle 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, 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.
“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.”[attribution needed]
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 would leave office unless the safety of the protesters was respected.
Ali, himself a promoter of dialogue, invited some of the youth elements who organized the 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 a 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, 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. 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, 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 project proposed of Farouk al Baz, the 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 degrees 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 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, 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. 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.
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.
Ali, professing only concern over what’s best for the people, didn’t give much attention to those who misunderstood his stance. Focusing on a perfect delivery of his message of hope and prosperity, 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
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".
After the 2013 Egyptian coup d'état,the New York times quoted the Mufti as saying, "When somebody comes who tries to divide you, then kill them, whoever they are". This is interpreted to be referring to protestants against the Coup especially the Muslim Brotherhood.
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."
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.
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,' statue-hatin' 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
- Ethar El-Katatney The People's Mufti Egypt Today October 2007.
- "Finding the Voices of Moderate Islam", Jay Tolson, USNEWS, 2 April 2008
- al-Hashemi, Bushra Alkaff; Rym Ghaza (2012-02). "Grand Mufti calls for dialogue about the internet". The National. Archived from the original on 21 February 2012. Retrieved 21 February 2012.
- The Rebellion Within, An Al Qaeda mastermind questions terrorism. by Lawrence Wright. newyorker.com, 2 June 2008
- al-Kalim al-Tayyib vol. 2, p. 417
- Egypt Independent: "Opposing currents: Internal rifts may risk the credibility of Egypt’s religious institutions" by Mai Shams El-Din February 25, 2013
- Carnegie Endowment: "Salafis and Sufis in Egypt" by Jonathan Brown December 2011 | p 12 | "...the current Grand Mufti of Egypt and senior al-Azhar scholar Ali Gomaa is also a highly respected Sufi master.
- Ali Gomaa website: Fatwa on Sufism retrieved June 29, 2013
- Islamica Magazine, Issue # 12, Spring 2005
- al-Ahram 1 Oct 2005
- Islamica Magazine, Issue #12, Spring 2005
- EGYPT HEADLINES
- Al-Ahram, New Mufti
- Egypt's Grand Mufti Counters the Tide of Islamic Extremism, By Jay Tolson, 6 March 2008
- Gomaa, Ali (1 April 2011). "In Egypt’s Democracy, Room for Islam". New York Times. Retrieved 23 April 2011.
- Kirkpatrick, David (25 August 2013). The New York Times http://www.nytimes.com/2013/08/26/world/middleeast/egypt.html?_r=0
|url=missing title (help). Retrieved 19 November 2013.
- (fatwa number 4189)
- Mufti not against women presidents after all? at The Arabist
- Broadsheet: Women's Articles, Women's Stories, Women's Blog - Salon.com
- 24 November 2006 Female Circumcision in Islam
- The Economist: Laying Down Religious Law
- Nahdah Masr, 3 Feb. 2007
- The Official Website of The Amman Message - The Amman Message
- When Muslims become Christians
- "Top cleric denies 'freedom to choose religion' comment," GulfNews, 25 July 2007
- False Accusations Regarding the Grand Mufti and Sayyid al-Qimni
- al-Ahram, 1 Jan. 2007
- The Atlantic Monthly, July/August 2005
- Down For Maintenance
- "Terrorism has no religion" (html). Retrieved 25.08.2013.
- Egypt's Grand Mufti Counters the Tide of Islamic Extremism, By Jay Tolson, 6 March 2008
- Abdel-Baky, Mohamed (13 February 2013). "Moderate mufti". Al Ahram. Retrieved 18 February 2013.
- "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, 26 May 2006
- "Wife-Beating Is Permitted by Islam in Muslim Countries, but Is Forbidden in". Video.google.com. 2006-05-26. Retrieved 2012-07-05.
- Egypt's grand mufti issues fatwa: no sculpture
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