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Al-Azhar Grand Imams

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

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Aḥmad As-Safṭī (1254 AH/1838 CE-1263 AH, 1847 CE)

Aḥmad Ibn Abdul-Jawwād Ash-Shāfiˁī As-Safṭī

Office assumption date

1254 AH/1838 CE

Retirement date

1263 AH, 1847 CE

Era

Muḥammad ˁAlī

A Note about the Grand Imam

     Grand Imam Aḥmad Ibn Abdul-Jawwād Ash-Shāfiˁī As-Safṭī was born in the village of Safṭ Al-ˁUrafāˀ, on the outskirts of Al-Fashn town, Beni Suef, Egypt. He memorized the Qurˀān there, then he joined Al-Azhar. He was educated by the senior scholars of Al-Azhar, the most prominent of whom were Sheikh Muḥammad Al-ˀAmīr and the two Grand Imams Ad-Damhoujī and Ash-Shanawānī.  He was well-known for chastity, righteousness and piety. He took office as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in 1254 AH/1838 CE.  Due to his preoccupation with the affairs and burdens of Al-Azhar Mosque, he did not write books or book annotations. Reference books mention that he had only two scholarly licenses of narration. He continued his life serving Al-Azhar Mosque and students there till he died in 1263 AH/1847 CE.

Brief Biographical Notes

     Grand Imam Aḥmad Ibn Abdul-Jawwād Ash-Shāfiˁī As-Safṭī, nicknamed “Aṣ-Ṣāˀim”, was born in the early thirteenth century AH, in the village of Safṭ Al-ˁUrafāˀ; on the outskirts of Al-Fashn town, Beni Suef, Egypt. He memorized the Qurˀān in his village, then he moved to Cairo to join Al-Azhar Mosque. He was educated by the senior scholars of Al-Azhar, the most prominent of whom was sheikh Muḥammad Ibn Muḥammad As-Sinbāwī, whose nickname was “Al-ˀAmīr Al-Kabīr” who authorized him with the license to teach all his recorded list of books and the books of others.

     Grand Imam As-Safṭī excelled in seeking knowledge and memorizing any information delivered to him. He worked as a teacher, and his class was attended by the largest number of students at Al-Azhar Mosque. His students were among the most talented. He kept delivering all the knowledge he had to his students. He made efforts in seeking knowledge and assimilating cultures, in order to read and explain them to his students. He was well known for chastity, righteousness, piety, abundance of knowledge, and erudition.

     As-Safṭī took office as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in 1254 AH/1838 CE, after the death of his former Grand Imam, Sheikh Ḥassan Al-Quesnī. He continued to take over the burdens of such position, working for Al-Azhar Mosque, overcoming obstacles meeting students, and supporting scholars there, besides carrying out the burdens of teaching. All of this distracted him from writing books or book annotations because he spent most of his time responding to his students’ inquiries and explaining what seemed difficult for them. Indexes and reference books mentioned that he had only two scholarly licenses of narration: the first one was from Grand Imam As-Safṭī to Sheikh Aḥmed Ibn Muḥammad Al-Jerjāwī, authorizing him on what he received from his teachers, including Sheikh Al-ˀAmīr. The second license was from Grand Imam As-Safṭī to Sheikh Ḥassanīn Al-Malṭ Al-Ḥanafī. In his license, he wrote, “I have authorized our student with narrations authorized to and from me, and also what I received from my teachers.”

     Grand Imam As-Safṭī was pious, meticulous and honest. He was God-fearing in everything he did till he died in 1263 AH/1847 CE. He was buried in Al-Mujāwirīn graveyard.

Notable Contributions and Events

  • He was educated by senior scholars of his time, the most prominent of whom were Sheikh Muḥammad Al-ˀAmīr and the two Grand Imams Ad-Damhoujī and Ash-Shanawānī.
  • Due to his many concerns, studying and collecting information, as well as managing the sheikhdom affairs, the sources did not record any social or political activity of him.
  • Poets congratulated him on his assumption of Al-Azhar Sheikhdom; they composed poetry to express their feelings and the feelings of the people.
 

 


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