Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa on his Jerusalem trip, Wednesday, 18 April 2012 (Photo: AFP)
Mahmoud El-Sherif, head of the Association of Al-Ashraf (descendents of the Prophet Mohamed) called on Egypt's leading Islamic authority, Al-Azhar, to issue a religious Fatwa (ruling) on Friday concerning Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa's recent visit to Jerusalem, in a statement Friday.
The announcement came after the Freedom and Justice Party (FJP) and other political forces denounced Gomaa's visit to the disputed city for the opening of the Imam Ghazali Chair of Islamic Studies, as it was seen as 'normalising' relations with Israel.
El-Sherif subsequently demanded Al-Azhar Grand Imam Ahmed El-Tayeb and the Al-Azhar Islamic Research Institute issue a religious ruling clarifying Al-Azhar's position regarding visits to the third holiest site in Sunni Islam.
El-Sherif said, "Al-Tayeb's Fatwa about praying in Al-Aqsa Mosque is of extreme importance. Since it is a key religious matter, the religious Sunna (sayings and teachings of the Prophet Mohammed) ought to be reawakened about this issue through the Fatwa and the subject discussed with our Palestinian brothers, who have the sole right over Al-Aqsa mosque and Al-Quds (Jerusalem)".
El-Sherif emphasised that it was also a significant political issue for the country.
The Al-Ashraf Association keeps track of Al-Ashraf, the honourable title given to those who are related to the Prophet, as well as issuing certificates confirming blood relations.
Earlier on Wednesday, Gomaa was accompanied by Prince Ghazi Bin Mohamed, advisor on religious matters to King Abdullah II of Jordan and the president of Al-Bayt, an institute of Islamic thought.
His visit came despite decades of opposition by various political and religious bodies in Egypt to normalising relations with Israel or travelling to areas under Israeli control.
Osama Yassin, assistant secretary-general of the Muslim Brotherhood's political party, announced in a statement Wednesday that the FJP "wholly refuses Grand Mufti's visit to Jerusalem whatever the reasons were." The MP, who is also head of the parliamentary Youth Committee, added that it is "a total disaster and a blow to the national fight against normalisation with Israel, that has been going on for years."
Yassin said that the Mufti's decision to visit Jerusalem cannot be considered a personal act since he is one of Egypt's most prominent Islamic figures.
The Brotherhood MP also said that Gomaa needs to be questioned about his actions, which he said did not serve the Palestinian cause, in order to prevent any chance of this visit being repeated by any other public figure
For his part, Gomaa said his visit was arranged by Jordanian authorities and did not involve any Israeli visas or entrance stamps, since Jordan is the supervisor of Jerusalem's holy shrines.
He repeated his refusal of the normalisation between Muslims and the Israeli occupation, at the same time as highlighting the importance of supporting Jerusalem and re-awakening the Palestinian cause. Those who visit Jerusalem, he concluded, are naturally reminded of the Palestinian issue.