JAFFA, Israel – The former Grand Mufti of Egypt has weighed in on a question that has troubled Islamic theologians for some time. He controversially ruled that a martyr is “a man who loved a woman” in secret “and took his love to his grave.”
Ali Gomaa (pictured), who is no stranger to controversy, came under fire after he made the comments in a televised interview for Valentine’s Day.
“The real and pure love is enough to cause the death of the man, who kept the secret of his love to spare his loved one the confusion, he is by all means a martyr,” he answered to his critics, citing a verse attributed to Prophet Mohammed: “He who loved a pure love, kept it a secret and died, is a martyr.”
He added that he meant to say “love is not forbidden, it just has its clear religious rules. Therefore, a love that doesn’t obey by these rules shakes people up and may lead to breaking up marriages.”
Islamic theologians have been preoccupied with the definition of martyrdom, which is used to define Muslims who died while fulfilling a religious commandment, especially the waging of jihad. The term is also used for Muslim casualties of the military expansion of Islam.
Once the highest religious authority in the country, Gomaa’s martyrdom definition was ridiculed left, right, and center.
“According to his logic, we will all die martyr’s deaths,” said one social media user, while others accused him of dumbing down religion and disrespecting martyrs.
Another asked: “What if someone keeps it only partially secret?” A few came out in his defense.