The former deputy Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mahmoud Ashour responded to a recent wave of statements by various religious figures in Egypt regarding a wide range of issues, mainly to do with tourism and a ban on alcohol.
Ashour’s statement comes days after Nader Bakar, spokesperson of the Salafist Nour Party stated his party would ban alcohol for Egyptian nationals and foreigners in all hotels, unless they purchase it themselves and drink it privately.
In an interview on Saudi-owned Al-Arabiya news channel Monday evening, Ahsour stated that religious extremists lack true understanding of Islamic law and should in fact look to famous Islamic leaders as role models.
Ashour asserted that extremist rhetoric is "ignorant and lacking [in] responsibility."
“Amr Ibn Al-Ass [one of the prophet Mohammed's companions who conquered Egypt in the 7th century]... never spoke of the possibility of destroying ancient Pharaonic monuments [that some see as encouraging idolatry],” he stressed.
On the topic of democracy, he pointed to a precedent for such a form of governance found in the Islamic principle of Shura, or consultation, which the Prophet Muhammad applied during his rule.
A religious Fatwa endorsing political pluralism was announced on Monday by Dar Al-Ifta - the Islamic authority responsible for issuing religious edicts - as it was practiced under the rule of the prophet Mohammed and his disciples.