Al-Azhar Grand Imams

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

Saturday, September 12, 2020

ˁAbdur-Raḥmān Tāj (1374 AH/1954 CE - 1378 AH/1958 CE)

Sheikh ˁAbdur-Ramān Tāj

Office assumption date

1374 AH/1954 CE.

Retirement date

1378 AH/1958 CE.


The First Egyptian Republic.

A Note about the Grand Imam

     Sheikh Ḥussein Tāj, known as Grand Imam ˁAbdur-Raḥmān Tāj, was born in Assiut, Egypt, in 1896. He studied at Al-Azhar and obtained his Ph.D. degree in philosophy and history of religions from Sorbonne University in 1942. He worked as a teacher and then an inspector at Al-Azhar institutes. He became the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar from January 1954 till 1958. Sheikh ˁAbdur-Raḥmān Tāj was appointed as a minister in the Arab Union upon its establishment in 1958. He was a member of the Fatwa Committee, Senior Scholars, Arabic Language Academy (ALA), and Al-Azhar Islamic Research Academy (AIRA). He wrote many valuable studies and research papers on Qur’ān exegesis and Arabic linguistics. He died in 1975.

Brief Biographical Notes

     Sheikh Ḥussein ˁAli Tāj, known as Grand Imam ˁAbdur-Raḥmān Tāj, was born in Assiut, Egypt, in 1896. He memorized the Qur’ān at the age of ten, and soon learnt the Oft-repeated Qur’ān recitations from great reciters. He was famous for his sweet recitation.  In 1910, he joined the Alexandria Azhari institute after moving there with his family. That institute surpassed other institutes by major reforms that had been made there. The teachers there were also distinguished, as they mastered means of educational explanation, clarification and behavioral guidance of the students. ˁAbdur-Raḥmān Tāj continued his studies in the same institute following a new method, based on preparing lessons before attending classes with his instructors, and hence discussing with them with awareness and understanding. Thus, his intelligence and talent were well recognized by his teachers. He ranked first in most stages of his education.  In 1923, he obtained his high school degree with excellence, where he ranked first among his counterparts.

     Sheikh Tāj specialized in Sharīˁa Judiciary. He obtained his Bachelor degree in Sharīˁa judiciary and Islamic Sharīˁa Disciplines in 1926. After his graduation, he was appointed as a teacher at the Assiut Azhari Institute. In 1931, he was transferred to the Cairo Azhari Institute. In 1933, he was chosen to give lectures at the Faculty of Sharīˁa, Al-Azhar University. In 1936, he was selected a member of the first scholarship to Sorbonne University in France. He stayed there for seven years to continue his studies. The outbreak of the World War II did not hinder him from moving forward with his studies until he obtained his Ph.D. degree in philosophy and the history of religions in 1942. His Ph.D. thesis topic was “Babism and Islam” which was a valuable research. In 1943, he returned to Egypt to assume several positions and obtain memberships of several scholarly academies and organizations.

     Grand Imam Tāj was distinguished by his cultural diversity. This was due to several reasons, such as being a member of ALA and AIRA, in addition to his mastery of both Arabic and French languages, the case which enabled him to combine cultures from East and West. In addition, his intensive and contemplative readings of classical books helped him with his moderate scholarly discussions of many opinions published in newspapers and magazines. He saw some such opinions as a source of danger to society. So, he was keen to correct mistakes, refute and respond to them. This was clearly reflected in the books he wrote, some of which were printed and others are still in manuscripts.

Notable Contributions and Events

• Enriching the Islamic and Arabic libraries with many valuable books and accurate specialized research papers.

• Making efforts to uphold the approval of Zakat Law.

•  Introducing a number of reforms in Al-Azhar to promote it, including the following:

• Teaching foreign languages at all levels of education, starting from institutes and colleges to graduate studies.

• Reforming administrative systems and examination regulations.

• Making an agreement to establish the Islamic Mission Hostel to accommodate foreign students studying at Al-Azhar.

•  Introducing a military education system at Al-Azhar.

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