The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the authors’ alone. Ali Gomaa will soon step down from the position of Grand Mufti of Egypt that he has held since 2003.
By Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa
It has been said by many that Egypt is going through difficult and trying times. Today, however, I would like to share with you my true feelings of optimism and hope for our country and our people.
We are a mere two years from the 25 January revolution. These past two years have indeed witnessed great challenges and difficulties. And though it seems that we are still struggling, I believe it is imperative to join hands together to bring about a strong, independent and stable Egypt. And while there will continue to be disagreements among the different political parties and segments of society, this is a natural outcome of a truly functioning democracy. I am calling upon all political leaders to put aside their individual interests and work together, putting the interests of the nation and its people at the forefront. This political stability will pave the way for growth in the economy and development of the various sectors of Egypt’s economic life.
The Islamic religious establishment in Egypt, too, has not gone untouched by the momentous changes and developments brought about by the revolution. One of the great demands of the revolution was the restoration of transparency and accountability to all of Egypt’s great institutions. This has enabled the establishment, symbolized by its central institution, Al-Azhar, to gain some distance from the state itself, and become more independent – a move I anticipated some years ago by working to gain the independence of Dar al-Ifta or the Egyptian House of Fatwas from the Ministry of Justice. As a result of this greater independence, Al-Azhar has been bolstered in its historic role in the religious landscape of Egypt. This burgeoning independence has allowed us at al-Azhar to make concrete plans for enhancing its profile and reach throughout the world. This includes plans to launch a satellite television channel to spread the true message of a moderate Islam from the authority of Egyptian Islam. When it is on the air, this channel will render a great service in countering the misguided opinions which populate the various satellite channels today, and distract from the true meaning of Islam.