Al-Azhar Grand Imams

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

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Aḥmad Ad-Damhoujī (1245 AH / 1830 CE - 1246 AH / 1830 CE)

Aḥmad Ad-Damhoujī

Office assumption date

1245 AH/1830 CE

Retirement date

1246 AH/1830 CE


Muḥammad ˁAlī Pasha

A note about the Grand Imam Ad-Damhoujī

     Grand Imam Aḥmad Zain ˁAli Ibn Aḥmad Ad-Damhoujī was born in Cairo to a family whose origins were from the village of Damhouj, which is now one of the villages in Menoufia Governorate, after which he took his surname Ad-Damhoujī.

     He was educated at Al-Azhar Mosque. After completing his studies, he worked there as a teacher. He was distinguished by his knowledge accuracy. He devoted his life to seeking knowledge and commitment in worship, thus he did not write books like other Grand Imams of Al-Azhar.

     Among the most famous of his students are Sheikh Muḥammad Al-Qiwisnī, Sheikh Rifāˁa Aṭ-Ṭahṭāwī, and Sheikh Aḥmad As-Safṭī. He took over Al-Azhar sheikhdom as the Grand Imam in 1245 AH/1830 CE. He died at night on Dhu Al-Ḥijjah 10, 1246 AH/May 22, 1831 CE.

Brief Biographical Notes

     Grand Imam Aḥmad Zain ˁAli Ibn Aḥmad Ad-Damhoujī was born in 1170 AH/1756 CE, probably in 1176 AH/1762 CE. He joined Al-Azhar and was educated by the most prominent scholars of his time, including Sheikh Aḥmad Al-ˁAroūsī.

     After completing his studies, Sheikh Ad-Damhoujī worked as a teacher at Al-Azhar. He belonged to the Shāfiˁī school of jurisprudence. Although he devoted his time and effort to research and teaching, Sheikh Ad-Damhoujī did not write many books reflecting his rich knowledge and broad academic education. However, he conveyed his knowledge to many of his students. Grand Imam Ad-Damhoujī was distinguished by speech eloquence. He was an eloquent scholar who attracted students to listen to him and enjoy his lessons.

     Grand Imam Ad-Damhoujī was tireless in teaching his students. He used to stay in his classes since the morning until sunset. He was also known for his asceticism, modesty and being distant from trivial concerns of life. He devoted all his time to studying and teaching at Al-Azhar Mosque. His habit was that when he finished his teaching sessions with his students, he would go to pray and worship at Al-Azhar Mosque. It was also said about him that he was elegant and had a good shape. His home where he stayed was in an area called Ruqˁat Al-Qamḥ (Wheat Spot), located behind Ruwāq Aṣ-Ṣaˁayda (Upper-Egyptians’ Classrooms), near Al-Azhar Mosque. This area still exists nowadays. It is known as Ad-Damhoujī Alley, after his surname.

     Sheikh Ad-Damhoujī took office as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in 1245 AH/1830 CE following the death of Grand Imam Muḥammad Al-ˁAroūsī.

     Grand Imam Ad-Damhoujī died on the eve of ˁEid Al-Aḍḥa (Sacrifice Feast) on Dhul-Ḥijjah 10, 1246 AH/ May 22, 1831 CE. He had worked as the Grand Imam for only six months. Due to his short tenure as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, he was not in the limelight and did not attract much attention to him. In addition, his preoccupation with studying, teaching and worship did not give him the opportunity to write many books, unlike other Grand Imams of Al-Azhar before or after him.

Notable Contributions and Events

  • Al-Azhar remained without a Grand Imam for more than six months after the death of Sheikh Muḥammad Al-ˁAroūsī, till Grand Imam Ad-Damhoujī assumed the position.
  • A number of his students became of great influence after that, including Grand Imam Ḥassan Al-Qwisnī, Sheikh Rifāˁa Aṭ-Ṭahṭāwī and Grand Imam Aḥmed As-Safṭī.
  • Due to his short tenure as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, he was not in the limelight and did not attract much attention to him.
  • He did not write any book.

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