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Thursday, September 06, 2012

Prominent Egyptian cleric issues fatwa to ban Jews from holy sites in Muslim countries

Dr. Abdul Hamid al-Atrash, the head of the Fatwa Committee of Al Azhar in Egypt, has issued a ruling that Arabs may ban Jews from visiting their holy sites in Arab lands.

He was asked the question by the El Balad newspaper.

Al-Atrash says that as long as Muslims cannot travel to Jerusalem while it is in Jewish hands, then Muslims have the right to bar Jews from visiting their own holy places, under the Islamic concept of "reciprocity." Therefore, he says, Egyptian authorities have the right to ban Jews from going to the Alexandria synagogue on Rosh Hashanah.

He backed up his opinion with a Koranic verse, "Glory be to Allah, His Prophet and the believers, but the hypocrites know not." Also, he used a Hadith that says "Who allowed himself to be humiliated is not one of us," a saying that explains a lot. Apparently, Jews visiting Jewish holy sites is a humiliation for Muslims.

It is worth mentioning that there is nothing stopping most Muslims from visiting Jerusalem, via Jordan. A few months ago the Mufti of Egypt, Ali Gomaa, visited the Al Aqsa Mosque, and no Israeli stopped him. The only people upset over this were Muslims, including the Mufti of Jerusalem who declared it to be forbidden for Muslims to visit the city.

Two years ago, influential Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, chairman of the International Union for Muslim Scholars, likewise issued a fatwa against Muslims visiting Jerusalem.

So it is the Muslims who are banning Muslims from visiting holy sites in Israel- not Jews. If Israel doesn't believe that the visitor is a potential threat, he or she can come and visit anytime.

That sort of ruins the logic of the fatwa.

However, I have a feeling that the method of coming to that ruiing was not quite as rigorous and objective as legal rulings are supposed to be. It is almost like he knew what he would rule and only found textual "proofs" afterwards.