Since 2003, Dr. Ali Gomaa has served as the grand mufti of Egypt, a position of religious authority second only to the sheikh of Al-Azhar University. An Egyptian native and one of Islam's most respected scholars of Islamic law, Gomaa oversees Dar al-Ifta, Egypt's highest fatwa-issuing authority. Prior to his appointment as grand mufti, he served as a professor of jurisprudence at Al-Azhar University, where he specialized in usul al-fiqh, the science of religious law; there, he published over 25 books on various topics in Islam. Gomaa has also issued a number of fatwas on topics ranging from gender equality to democracy. In addition to regular media appearances on Egyptian television, Gomaa has been especially vocal in reaching out to non-Muslim media outlets as a means of promoting understanding and tolerance; he also writes a weekly column in the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.