Palestinian Muslim worshippers walk past the Dome of the Rock mosque, situated in the Al Aqsa mosques compound. Image Credit: AFP

Dr. Abbas Shoman, a member of the Supreme Council of Senior Scholars of Al Azhar Al Sharif, expressed his astonishment over a fatwa forbidding Emiratis’ prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque, issued by the Mufti of Jerusalem after the announcement of the UAE-Israel peace treaty.

Dr. Shoman said: “I refuse to issue Sharia fatwas that are not based on sharia rules, and I do not know as a specialist in Islamic jurisprudence that there is a justification that annuls the prayers of an entire people of a Muslim country in a mosque on the grounds of a political position taken by their state.”

He added: “Indeed, the fatwa is selective and not based on Sharia. I am not saying so to defend the UAE, nor to interfere in its political positions estimated and taken by its leaders.”

Dr. Shoman clarified that the fatwa is in contrary to strong pressure and demands by Palestinian leaders for issuing fatwas that call on all Muslims to visit and pray at Al Aqsa mosque. He added: “As far as I know, there has never been a fatwa in our Islamic history that prevents a person or a group from praying in a mosque for Muslims.

He referred to Turkey, which has relations with Israel since 1949 and was the first Islamic country to recognise Israel. The Turkish-Israeli relations are strong and continue to this day. They also have cooperation agreements in the economic and military fields, a solid cooperation that goes far beyond normalisation of ties.

“Despite these strong ties, we yet to hear about a Palestinian fatwa forbidding the prayers of Turks in Al Aqsa Mosque. Also, Qatar has commercial relations with Israel, and though, we never heard about the forbidding of Qataris’ prayers in Al Aqsa and we do not want to hear,” Dr. Shoman concluded.

Al Azhar Al Sharif is the top Sunni Islamic institution in the Muslim world.