Friday, December 23, 2005

Terribly ashamed of myself -- Sheikh Ali Gum`a's opinions

A couple of months ago, I wrote a blog entry based on a newspaper report regarding one of the fatawa of Sheikh Ali Gum`a (current Mufti of Egypt). Regardless of the context of this claimed fatwa by the journalist (I have deleted my earlier post from the blog), I should have followed the order:

يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنْ جَاءَكُمْ فَاسِقٌ بِنَبَإٍ
فَتَبَيَّنُوا أَنْ تُصِيبُوا قَوْمًا بِجَهَالَةٍ
فَتُصْبِحُوا عَلَى مَا فَعَلْتُمْ نادمين
O people of faith: if a wicked person brings you any news, ascertain the truth, lest you harm people unwittingly, and afterwards regret what you have done

After arriving in Cairo this week, I was surprised to find a coordinated series of attacks on Sh. Gum`a's fatawa on TV channels. Some of my relatives were furiously calling around after those programs, etc. I thought that this is very strange. So, I watched a program by Sh. Gum`a explaining the process of fatwa, and the actual texts of his fatawa, and was overwhelmed by the realization that this is a case of ignorant people attacking a genuine scholar.

Last night, I bought Sh. Gum`a's book of fatawa published in 2005. I couldn't sleep until I finished reading it. It is now very clear what happened: Sh. Gum`a has openly attacked "those who associate themselves [falsely] with the Salaf (early Muslims)". He makes extremely powerful arguments against their methodology and understanding of the Sunna of the Prophet (p) and his companions. He questions many of their strongest opinions regarding what they consider to be forbidden and condemened "innovations" (bida`), distinguishing between good and bad innovations. Many of his opinions openly contradict their views based on very compelling arguments.

I should have a chance to list and discuss some of his opinions on this blog (as I plan to take the book back with me to Houston). Given the nature of this blog, I should focus on opinions related to economics and finance. However, I should have a chance to translate some of his statements on general methodology, which impressed me to no end. It is obvious to me now that he is an accomplished scholar -- perhaps the best living faqih whose work I have had the chance to read -- and his attackers are either ignorant or misled people who are attempting to mobilize public opinion against him. I feel terribly ashamed to have fallen in the trap of slandering such a scholar based on ignorant and malicious attacks.

When I translate some of his writings on this blog, you will see what I mean!


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