Questions such as why human beings were created, and why certain events occur as opposed to others, and why someone had to die and not another, can not be answered by the human mind in and of itself. A simple reason is the fact that human beings are not even able to uncover the mysteries of their own brain! The human mind is only able to identify existing rules, which Allah has put in nature, and use them to come up with new connections. That is why Allah,

  the One and Only Perfect Creator of the universe, has sent messengers, Prophets (peace be upon them all) since the beginning of time, from among the best of human beings, to guide human beings…

Islam, Modernity and Reform


By Sheikh Ali Gomaa

Former Grand Mufti of Egypt

Published October 7, 2009


Islam is being wronged by its followers. Islam is a religion of moderation, modernity and reform. The problem of distorting the image of Islam in the west lies in "extremism".


I greet you all with the greeting of Islam: peace be with you all.


America and the West have been victims of violent extremists in the name of Islam. Sometimes it seems that western officials are consumed by the question "where are the moderates?"


Are there progressive and peaceful partners in the Muslim world?

Yes! Reconciling Islam with modernity has been an imperative for Muslims centuries before it became a preoccupation for the West. Islam's reform movement began at Cairo based Al Azhar in the 19th century.

I preside over Egypt's supreme body for Islamic legal edicts (fatwas). We have affirmed the right of women to dignity, education, employment, to hold political office, and condemned violence against them. We have upheld the right of freedom of conscience; promoted the common ground that exists between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.

The murder of civilians is a crime against humanity and God; punishable in this life and the next. This is the message we proclaim in public debates to challenge extremists and in our theological training of students from across the world.

While we recommit to reinforcing moderation in our faith; we also look to the United States to confront the fear that pervades the public discourse about Islam.

While some of the divide between Islam and the West resides in the realm of ideas, it lies mostly in the realm of politics for Muslim countries have also suffered from aggression. Israel's occupation of Palestine must end. In Iraq and Afghanistan, sovereignty must be restored with the withdrawal of foreign forces.

President Obama's historic address to the Muslim World from Cairo was a landmark event that opens the door to a new relationship. We in the Muslim world received it with enthusiasm. Let us look forward to years in which our children can celebrate our differences.


    * Sheikh Ali Gomaa is the Grand Mufti of Egypt. For more information on “A Common Word”, visit This adapted article is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) with permission from Radical Middle Way.

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