1.4.3 Shaykh Ali Gomaa: Islam in Modernity

Shaykh Ali Gomaa, Grand Mufti of Egypt. Umar Nasir.

To provide people with practical and relevant guidance while at the same time staying true to its foundational principles, Islam allows the wisdom and moral strength of religion to be applied in modern times. It is through adopting this attitude towards the Sharia that an authentic, contemporary, moderate, and tolerant Islam can provide solutions to the problems confronting the Muslim world today, and in which Islam can partner with other religious and secular people and institutions to offer solutions to the many problems currently confronting the entire world and all humanity (Contending Modernities, 2010).

What is the process through which Islamic law has been interpreted and implemented? In this essay Shaykh Ali Gomaa, the Grand Mufti of Egypt from 2003 to 2013, explains the dynamics of how fatwas are issued, why preparation and authoritative knowledge of Islamic cannon are necessary to properly implement Islamic law, and how that process grants flexibility to adapt Islamic law in modernity.

Read: Islam and Modernity // Contending Modernities


Guiding Questions:

  1. Why are fatwas important for Muslims who are living in the modern world? How do they link the past with the present?
  2. How does modern Egypt show that Islam allows for flexibility in political structures?
  3. What values do liberal democracies hold in common with the Islamic worldview?
  4. Why is it important to establish institutional authority for issuing fatwas according to the Shaykh?


Thumbnail: “Infinity Mirrored Room – The Souls of Millions of Light Years Away by Yayoi Kusama 2″, Hirshhorn Museum. Photo Credit: Amaury Laporte, 2017. CC BY-NC 2.0.

Photo: “Sheikh Ali Goma’a – Grand Mufti of Egypt.” Photo Credit: Umar Nasir, 2010. CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.