DOHA - As fury continued over the visit of Egypt's Mufti to Al-Quds (occupied Jerusalem), prominent scholar Sheikh Yusuf Al-Qaradawi denounced the visit as haram, unlawful, for normalizing ties with Israel and its military occupation of the Muslim holy city.
I did not expect such an eminent person like Sheikh Gomaa to go against this consensus and visit Jerusalem and offer prayers in the Al-Aqsa mosque, Qaradawi, president of the International Union for Muslim Scholars (IUMS), said in a statement published on his website on Friday, April 20.
There is a mutual agreement among Muslims and Christians that visiting Al-Quds shall remain prohibited as long as Israel continues to occupy it by force.
Gomaa visited Al-Quds on Wednesday and prayed in Al-Aqsa Mosque, Islam's third holiest shrine.
He was accompanied by Jordan's Prince Ghazi bin Mohammed, King Abdullah II's cousin and advisor on religious issues.
The two men also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Greek Orthodox patriarchate during the visit.
Gomaa argued that his visit was "unofficial" and he entered the holy city through Jordan and the West Bank, not from the Israeli side.
Jordan's ministry of Awqaf and Islamic affairs said the visit was in accordance with a command from Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessing be upon him).
Qaradawi described the visit to Al-Quds under Israeli occupation as haram (unlawful) according to the Islamic law for cooperating with the occupants.
"We must feel as though we are banned from Al-Quds and fight for it until it is ours," Qaradawi said from Doha, Agence France Presse (AFP) reported.
He said that those "who visit legitimize an entity which plunders Palestinian lands, and are forced to cooperate with the enemy's embassy to receive a visa".
Last month, Al-Qaradawi discouraged Muslims against visiting Al-Quds while it is still under Israeli occupation.
"Such visits might also give legitimacy to the occupation and could be seen as normalization," Qaradawi said.
Uproar surrounding the visit continued as Egypt's Writers' Union was reportedly discussing terminating the membership of Gomaa, Al-Ahram official newspaper reported on Saturday, April 21.
Salah Alrawy, member of the union's Board of Directors said that the union has already prepared a decree to terminate Gomaa's membership, given that he broke the national consensus on boycotting Israel by all means, which includes a travel ban to Al-Quds while it's under Israeli occupation.
Alrawy said that the union will hold an urgent meeting Monday, 23 April, to take a final decision on the matter.
Another statement issued by the Deputy Chairman of the Muslim Brotherhood Gomaa Amin affirmed that Egypt's Grand Mufti visit to occupied Al-Quds is unacceptable under any name.
"This totally unacceptable, because Jerusalem is under occupation," Amin said in a statement to Ikhwanweb.
There is an almost unanimous consensus on banning all visits until Jerusalem is free again.
Amin added that Gomaa's visit harmed the feelings of Egyptian Muslims and Christians as well.
"The Grand Mufti has violated the emotional perspective of Muslims, he said.
Pope Shenouda III had emphasized this ban for our Christian brothers and sisters, against visiting Jerusalem under occupation. So, it certainly is unacceptable for the Mufti to visit the Holy City at this time".
Al-Quds is home to Al-Haram Al-Sharif, which includes Islam's third holiest shrine Al-Aqsa Mosque, and represents the heart of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Israel occupied the holy city in the 1967 war and later annexed it in a move not recognized by the international community or UN resolutions.
Since then, Israel has adopted a series of oppressive measures to force the Palestinians out of the city, including systematic demolition of their homes and building settlements.