Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Sheikh Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of the Arab Re public of
Gomaa’s scholarly influence is derived from his position at the center of many of the most significant institutions of Islamic law in the world. Before becoming Grand Mufti, Gomaa was a professor of jurisprudence at Al Azhar University - the second oldest university in the world, founded in 975 CE - Gomaa also served as a member of the Fatwa Council. He is currently a member of the International Islamic Fiqh Academy, the highest institute of Islamic law in the Organization of the Islamic Conference - an inter-governmental organization for Muslim-majority countries.
Gomaa has become incredibly popular as a mufti since he began to appear on popular broad cast and satellite television. Part of his appeal is due to the revival of the old Islamic practice of informal ‘knowledge circles’ at the Al Azhar Mosque, and very well attended Q&A sessions after his Friday sermons at the Sultan Hasan Mosque, where Gomaa makes a point of taking on anyone who tries to simplify or distort Islamic teachings without knowledge of its traditions. This has made him extremely popular with those who are uncomfortable with extremism.
Popularized and Simplified Fatwas
Gomaa has immense legal influence through his advocacy of Islamic legal rulings (fatwas). Since he was appointed Grand Mufti of Egypt in 2003, Gomaa has modernized the process of issuing fatwas in the country. He has done this by overhauling the Dar al Ifta organization into a dynamic institution with worldwide reach, based on a fatwa council and a system of checks and balances. Gomaa has been outspoken on environmental sustainability - speaking in November 2009 about plans to make
Gomaa has authored over 50 books, as well as hundreds of articles. He now uses the Dar al Ifta to disseminate his scholarly opinion. His office issues some 5,000 fatwas a week, with official ones on important issues written by him and the routine ones dealt with via phone and the Internet by a team of subordinate muftis. Gomaa believes that respect for traditionalism is growing in the Muslim world, partly because of the immense demand for fatwas issued by his office.