Al-Azhar Grand Imams

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

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Ibrahim Al-Bagouri (1263 AH / 1847 CE - 1277 AH / 1860 CE)

Ibrahim Ibn Muammed Ibn Amed Al-Bagouri

Office Assumption date

1263 AH / 1847 CE

Retirement date

1277 AH, 1860 CE


Muḥammad Ali and his family

A Note about the Grand Imam Al-Bagouri

     Ibrahim Ibn Muḥammad Ibn Aḥmed Al-Bagouri was born in Al-Bagour, Menoufia, Egypt, in 1198 AH / 1783 CE. He took office of the Sheikhdom in 1263 AH / 1847AD. After that, he continued teaching as his students were attached to him. Among his compilations there are the following:

Al-Jawhara on theology, At-Tuḥfatu l-Khayriya", and An Explanation of the Poem "Al-Burda" by Al-Buṣairῑ, Taḥqiqu l-Maqām and others. The Grand Imam Al-Bagouri remained in charge of the sheikhdom until his old age. It was thus required that four assistants be appointed to carry out the burden of the sheikhdom on his behalf until he died in 1281 AH/1864 CE.

Brief Biographical Notes

     As soon as Sheikh Ibraḥim Al-Bagouri joined Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, the French occupied Cairo in 1213 AH/1798 CE, so he left to Giza for a while. Later, he returned to Cairo after the departure of the French from Egypt in 1216 AH/1801 CE. Then, he wanted to make up for what he had missed, so he worked hard to seek knowledge. He continued his diligence until he was able to develop himself from being a student receiving knowledge to a scholar setting classifications and writing compilations in many fields of knowledge.

     In 1263 AH/1847 CE, he was appointed the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, while continuing to teach his students in addition to assuming the sheikhdom responsibilities.

     Grand Imam Al-Bagouri was concerned with protecting the dignity of the scholars. During his office, serious events took place, such as what happened during the reign of Ruler Said Pasha when young men were strongly demanded for the military service. Some village officials went into Al-Azhar Mosque in order to arrest some people who took shelter inside it. They asked for the Grand Imam’s permission, while delivering his lesson, but he shouted at them and ordered that they be beaten; so resident students hit them with shoes and sticks until they made them leave.

     Among such serious events, Grand Imam Al-Bagouri went to perform Hajj (pilgrimage), so he appointed four trusted imams on his behalf. A quarrel then broke out between a group of Levant students and some Upper Egyptian students, due to contention in sitting for the lessons. So, Khairuddin Pasha sent Turkish soldiers to storm Al-Azhar. They beat the Upper Egyptian students and arrested thirty of them and their scholars. For these grave events, Said Pasha proposed to appoint four assistants to carry out Al-Azhar affairs under the presidency of Sheikh Mustafa Al-‛Arousi. These assistants were Sheikh Aḥmed Kabwa Al-Māliki Al-‛Adawi, Sheikh Isma‛il Al-Ḥalabi Al-Ḥanafi, Sheikh Khalifa Al-Fashni Ash-Shāfi‛i and Sheikh Moustafa Ash-Shāfi‛i.

     When Said Pasha came back and knew what had happened, he rebuked Khairuddin Pasha and fired him. He approved the four assistants, but he did not bring a new Grand Imam due to his full respect for Grand Imam Al-Bagouri. This situation remained until the death of Grand Imam Al-Bagouri.

     Grand Imam Al-Bagouri wrote many works, the most important of which are the following: Tuḥfatu l-Murῑd ‛ala Jawharat ut-Twaḥῑd, An Expanantion of the Poem Al-Burda by Al-Buṣairi, and A Commentary on Al-Kashshāfu fῑ Tafsῑr il-Qur’an, An Expanantion of the Poem Bānat Su‛ād by Kaab Ibn Zuhair, and Ad-Durar ul-Hisān fῑ mā Yaḥṣulu bihi l-ˀIslāmu wa l-’Imān. Among his students was Sheikh Rifāah Aṭ-Ṭahṭāwi.

Notable Contributions and Events

  • Grand Imam Al-Bagouri protected the prestige of Al-Azhar students without any discrimination on the basis of doctrine or ethnical origin.
  • Grand Imam Al-Bagouri authored many books in various disciplines of Arabic language and Islamic Sharia.
  • Disturbances occurred in Al-Azhar, and so it remained for a while without a Grand Imam in charge.


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