The Mufti of Egypt

The Egyptian publication Al-Ahram profiled Ali Gomaa in its 2001 issue. Though now four years old the article is informative. The article leaves a bit to be desired but nonetheless offers an interesting portrait of one of the most influential modern Islamic scholars and now the Mufti of Egypt.
There is — naturally — a certain aura about Al- Azhar, and a certain majesty. It was a Thursday morning when we went and were guided quite quickly to “Doctor Ali’s lesson.” It could have been a scene out of the middle ages. Al-Maqrizi could have written this. Across the spotless white marble we entered the doctor’s riwaq (gallery). The lesson was already underway, Sheikh Ali Gomaa sitting with his legs up, knees bent, on a large traditional chair, his back to a wall and his students around him in a semi-circle, a halaqa, the men closer to him, the women discreetly at the back. They came in different colours, the students, in different costumes, from various corners of the globe, extremely young and middle-aged, traditionally-dressed, Westernised, you name it. We took our places amongst the women, at the back — of course. All around the riwaq are bookcases laden with hard-backed volumes of the canons of jurisprudence. This was a lesson in economics, out of Al-Suyuti.

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Filed under Egypt, Islamic Scholarship

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