Office assumption date
Rabīˁul-ˀAwwal 27, 1193 AH/April 13, 1779 CE
1208 AH/1793 CE
A Note about the Grand Imam
Grand Imam Shihābuddīn ˀAbū ṣ-Ṣalāḥ Aḥmad Ibn Mūsā Ibn Dāwūd Al-ˁArousī was born in 1133 AH/1720 CE, in the village of Minyat ˁArous, Minoufiyyah, Egypt. He was educated by the senior scholars of Al-Azhar. He devoted himself to seeking knowledge until he occupied the superiority among the scholars of his time, the case which qualified him to assume Al-Azhar Grand Imam’s position after the death of Grand Imam Ad-Damanhourī. Al-ˁArousī occupied a sublime status among the rulers; thus, his intercession was acceptable. He left a huge legacy represented in his students and his scholarly heritage. He continued to teach at Al-Azhar and to exert effort in serving people until his death in 1208 AH/1793 CE.
Brief Biographical Notes
Grand Imam Shihābuddīn ˀAbū Aṣ-Ṣalāḥ Aḥmad Ibn Mūsā Ibn Dāwūd Ash-Shāfiˁī was born in the village of Minyat ˁArous in 1133 AH/1720 CE, in a family of wide fame, strong influence, and high status whose men had authoritative positions in the country. He joined Al-Azhar as he had always wished, and devoted his time and efforts to acquire knowledge in various types and disciplines. He learned Arabic and Islamic disciplines from the most prominent scholars of Al-Azhar, including Sheikh Aḥmad Al-Mallawī, Sheikh ˁAbdullāh Ash-Shabrāwī, the seventh Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, Sheikh Yūsuf Al-Ḥifnī, Sheikh ˁAlī Qāitbay Al-Aṭfīḥī, Sheikh ˁῙsā Al-Barrāwī, and many other scholars.
Al-ˁArousī was a student of Sheikh Aḥmad Ad-Damanhourī, the tenth Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. He was also educated by Sheikh ˁAlī Aḥmad Aṣ-Ṣaˁīdī Al-ˁAdawī. For several years, he attended his classes, memorizing his lessons. In addition, he learned Mathematics, Algebra, Rhetoric and many other disciplines from Sheikh Ḥassan Al-Jabartī. Afterwards, he got closer to Sheikh Aḥmad Al-ˁIryān, who took care of him and gave him glad tidings that he would become the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, the matter which later came true after Al-ˁIryān’s death.
Al-ˁArousī worked hard to seek knowledge. He occupied superiority among the scholars of his time and became one of the leading Shafiˁī scholars. He was an editing scholar who edited many classical books. Al-ˁArousī hated superficiality of knowledge, and used to advise his students to delve into reading the classical books.
Grand Imam Al-ˁArousī was influenced by his teacher Sheikh Aṣ-Ṣaˁīdī. He was considered one of the great Grand Imams of Islam, a luminary scholar with great adherence to applying religious principles. Al-ˁArousī proclaimed the truth, enjoined good and endeavored to establish the law of Allah. He loved diligence in seeking knowledge, and hated the nonsensical matters. Al-ˁArousī was proud of the dignity of knowledge, realizing its value. Rulers revered him, appreciated his advice, tolerated his blame, and accepted his intercession and mediation.
Al-ˁArousī excelled in Arabic Grammar, Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence, Rhetoric, and other disciplines and arts. In addition, he composed poetry using the common style of his time, and had many love poems. Al-ˁArousī assumed Al-Azhar Grand Imam’s position from 1192 AH/1787 CE until his death in 1208 AH/1793 CE.
Notable Contributions and Events
• He defended the Egyptian people’s rights, and stood firm to the rulers, urging them to fulfill people’s rights.
• He stood against the Mamluke Princes’ oppressions. When Governor Aḥmad Aghā contravened the rights of the people of Al-Ḥusayniyyah, Grand Imam Al-ˁArousī did not stop fighting until they got safe, and gained back what had been taken from them. Then he went to Ismāˁīl Bek and the case ended up with dismissing Aḥmad Aghā, and appointing someone else instead.
• When Ismāˁīl Bek asked the scholars to demand the [Ottoman’s] state to send soldiers to maintain security, Grand Imam Al-ˁArousī objected saying that soldiers should be from Egypt.
• Grand Imam Al-ˁArousī assumed a lofty position with his knowledge, righteousness, piety, and support for the truth. Thus, his intercession was acceptable to the rulers who would approach him and accept his mediation in resolving any dispute among them. Princes would also consult him and request his viewpoint on many issues.