|SHAYKH ALI GOMAA In the aftermath of Mubarak’s resignation, Egypt stands at the dawn of a new era. It is an era borne of the ingenuity, sacrifices and dedication of an entire nation. We remember and recognize all those brave men and women who lost their lives but have ignited and galvanized the movement of change. The past month has been a testament to the spirit and integrity of the Egyptian people. It is with great pride that we witnessed the exemplary behavior of Egyptians during some of the most intense and anxious moments in the nation’s history.
The past few weeks were indeed difficult. At times, it was unclear what the next day held—whether food shortages would prove debilitating, whether the safety of the people could be assured, or whether the situation would spiral out of control. However, history bears witness that it is in times of difficulty that the Egyptian spirit of community asserts itself the strongest. The display of national unity over the past few weeks has been remarkable—people from all walks of life have joined together to imagine a better future. Religious, social and economic differences were put aside.
Egypt on display for the world
It was Egypt as a whole that was on display for the world over the past few weeks, and it is Egypt that has emerged into a new era.
It is important to acknowledge at this juncture the crucial role played by the armed forces in maintaining peace throughout the nation, asserting their respect for and unity with the Egyptian people, and ensuring that the welfare of the nation transcends all. As they embark on this transitional phase, we have every confidence that they will continue to place these values at the top of their agenda and live up to their stated commitments.
The new era in which we stand is one of hope. It was built on an agenda of reform. While that agenda has largely focused on political and constitutional reforms, this is the moment to remind ourselves that this is simply the beginning, and that Egypt needs much more than this. To foster a truly healthy and vibrant society, we need to seize the moment and take measures to ensure economic and social reform as well. This requires the continued goodwill and dedication of all Egyptians. As recent events have shown, this is not beyond our reach. Now is the time to take advantage of the revolutionary moment and achieve truly comprehensive and far-reaching reforms that will help all members of society. We must continue to be united in solidarity, working towards a better future, and putting Egypt above all else.
It is important to point out that this moment is one of hope, and not one to satisfy old grudges. Islamic teachings emphasize that we not dwell on the past, and instead move into the future, active and alive, focused on creating a better future. Egypt has a unique ability to continue to remember the positive contributions of the various personalities in our nation’s history, despite their faults. Let us continue this tradition, and let old grievances neither divide us nor eat away at the spirit that has characterized this noble uprising.
Islam & Christianity, together in society’s service
I have been at pains during my tenure as the Grand Mufti to stress inter-cultural and inter-religious dialogue. In particular, I was asked to participate in the pioneering initiative to promote cooperation between Christendom and the Muslim world. It is with great pleasure that I became a signatory to the declaration entitled “A Common Word Between Us and You,” in which Christian leaders joined with Muslim ones to emphasize their similarities and their dedication to the welfare of their societies as a result of their devotion to God.
This is an important time to affirm that the Dar al-Iftaa, Egypt’s supreme body for Islamic Legal Interpretation, remains at the service of the Egyptian people, prepared to offer religious guidance on all matters of national and international importance. We have always remained independent of political affiliations and orientations and have been providing pragmatic guidance to all those who are looking for authoritative guidance and we will continue to do so. We support the aspirations of the Egyptian people in the coming era, and we call on all Egyptians to ensure the safeguarding of the five overriding objectives of Islamic law—the preservation of life, property, honor, family, reason, and religion—values that are of course shared by all humanity.
For the past few years, the Dar al-Iftaa has made great strides in restructuring the organization to enhance accessibility and responsiveness, incorporating new technologies along the way. The circumstances of the past few weeks have inspired us to embark on a set of initiatives to move further along this path, improving lines of communication with the people. These include a presence on social media (Facebook, Twitter), meetings with youth and media regularly, as well as an expansion of our translation department that already translates religious guidance into nine languages.
The past month has deeply affected all segments of Egyptian society. The new era is one on which we embark together as a nation, full of hope, trusting in God, and determined to make Egypt prosper. I offer my sincere prayers and wishes for an orderly and peaceful transition of power and for crafting a constitution that suits and fulfills the aspiration and needs of the people and brings their efforts to fruition.
Shaykh Ali Gomaa is Grand Mufti of Egypt. One of the most respected jurists in the Sunni Muslim world, he heads the Dar al-Iftaa, which issues thousands of Islamic legal judgments per week.