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Al-Azhar Grand Imams

Al-Azhar Mosque/Al-Azhar Grand Imams
Al-Azhar Grand Imams

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

ˁAbdullāh Ash-Sharqāwī (1208 AH/1793 CE - 1227 AH/1812 CE)

ˁAbdullāh Ibn Ḥijāzī Ash-Sharqāwī

Office assumption date

1208 AH/1793 CE

Retirement date

1227 AH/1812 CE

Era

The Ottoman's: Muḥammad ˁAlī and his family

A Note about the Grand Imam

     Grand Imam ˁAbdullāh Ibn Ḥijāzī Ash-Sharqāwī was born in 1150 AH/1737 CE in Aṭ-Ṭawīlah village, Belbeis, Ash-Sharqiyyah, Egypt. He memorized the Noble Qur’ān in his childhood. He aspired to seek knowledge; thus he joined Al-Azhar where he was educated by many distinguished figures there, such as Ash-Shihāb Al-Mallāwī, Ash-Shihāb Al-Jawharī, Sheikh ˁAlī Aṣ-Ṣaˁīdī, Grand Imam Al-Ḥifnī, and Grand Imam Ad-Damanhourī.

     Ash-Sharqāwī witnessed major events in the history of Egypt. In such events, Al-Azhar led the resistance movement against injustice practiced by the Mameluke princes and also against the French occupation. He took famous stands on that. He died on Shawwal 2, 1227 AH/October 8, 1812 CE.

Brief Biographical Notes

     ˁAbdullāh Ibn Ḥijāzī Ash-Sharqāwī was born in 1150 AH/1737 CE in Aṭ-Ṭawīlah village, Belbeis, Ash-Sharqiyyah, Egypt. He memorized the Noble Qur’an in his childhood. He aspired to seek knowledge, thus he joined Al-Azhar where he was educated by many of distinguished figures there, such as Ash-Shihāb Al-Mallāwī, Ash-Shihāb Al-Jawharī, Sheikh ˁAlī Aṣ-Ṣaˁīdī, Grand Imam Al-Ḥifnī, and Grand Imam Ad-Damanhourī. He received the principles of the Khalwatiyyah (Ṣūfī) method from Grand Imam Al- Ḥifnī.

     Sheikh ˁAbdullāh Ash-Sharqāwī took over Al-Azhar Sheikhdom as the Grand Imam in 1208 AH/1793 CE after the death of his former Grand Imam Aḥmad Al-ˁArousī. Among the candidates to assume such great position was also Sheikh Mouṣṭafā Aṣ-Ṣāwī.  However, Ash-Sharqāwī assumed the Grand Imam's position with reliability. One of his achievements at Al-Azhar was that he established a Ruwāq (Classroom court) in Al-Azhar Mosque for the people of his province. This Ruwāq was called “Ruwāq Ash-Sharāqwah” after their nickname. He also wrote a number of books in various disciplines. Some of his students became great scholars, including Sheikh Muḥammad Ad-Dawākhlī, Sheikh Sulimān Al-Jamal, Ibrāhim Al-Bujairī, Sheikh Ḥussein Ibn Al-Kāshif, and others.

     Grand Imam Ash-Sharqāwī witnessed many events that took place in Egypt during his reign. He was nearly killed were it not for his scholarly stature, great position and the popular leadership he enjoyed, all enabling him to enjoy national leadership. He led the revolutions against injustice practiced by the Mameluke princes, the most important of which was the Revolution in 1209 AH/1795 CE. He also witnessed the French Campaign in Egypt. During his reign, Al-Azhar took the responsibility of leading revolutions against the occupiers. Moreover, during his reign, both the first and second Revolt of Cairo took place, despite the French attempts to polarize him. Additionally, he made an agreement with the French to lift the harm from Egyptian people.  Out of concern for scholars’ dignity, he played a great role in alleviating Al-Azhar scholars opposing the French occupation. He was able to spare the Egyptian people many calamities. Mino, the leader of the French Campaign in Egypt, arrested him in charge of hiding Lord Clipper’s killers in Al-Azhar Mosque.

     Grand Imam Ash-Sharqāwī played a major role in the turmoil period that followed the departure of the French from Egypt till the era of Muḥammad ˁAlī. He also led the popular resistance against Fraser expedition. He died in Shawwal 2, 1227 AH/October 8, 1812 CE.

Notable Contributions and Events

• He led popular revolutions against the Mamelukes, the most famous of which was the Revolution of 1209 AH/1795 CE.

• He established Ruwāq Ash-Sharāqwah in Al-Azhar Mosque.

• He stood against the French Campaign in Egypt.

• Mino, the leader of the French Campaign in Egypt, arrested him in charge of hiding Lord Clipper’s killers inside Al-Azhar Mosque.

• He played a role in organizing the popular resistance against Fraser Expedition in 1807.


Categories: Grand Imams
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