Office assumption date
1171 AH/1757 CE.
1181 AH/1767 CE.
A Note about the Grand Imam
Grand Imam Muḥammad Ibn Sālim Al-Ḥifnī, was born in the village of Ḥifnah, Belbeis, Ash-Sharqiyyah, Egypt, in 1100 AH/1688 CE. He joined Al-Azhar Mosque and was educated there by senior scholars of his time, thus they authorized him to teach and issue fatwas. He then took over teaching there. Many students attended his classes; thus, he became famous. Scholars of his time recognized his cleverness and self-confidence. He worked on promoting the Khalwatiyyah (Ṣūfī) method of worship and took over Al-Azhar Sheikhdom as Grand Imam. Grand Imam Al-Ḥifnī wrote many books in various disciplines. He died in Cairo on Rabīˁul-ˀAwwal 17, 1181 AH/12 August 1767 CE.
Brief Biographical Notes
Sheikh Muḥammad Ibn Sālim Al-Ḥifnī was born in the village of Ḥifnah, Belbeis, Ash-Sharqiyyah, Egypt, in 1100 AH/1688 CE. At the age of fourteen, he moved to Cairo and studied at As-Sināniyyah School in Al-Warrāqīn, then at the Tiberias School at Al-Azhar Mosque. After the death of Grand Imam ˁAbdullāh Ash-Shabrāwī, Al-Ḥifnī joined Al-Azhar Mosque in order to accomplish his studies there. He was educated by a number of senior scholars at that time, including: Muḥammad Ibn ˁAbdullāh As-Seljamāsī, ˁEid Ibn ˁAlī An-Numrusī, Mouṣṭafā Ibn Aḥmad Al-ˁAzīzī, Muḥammad Ibn Ibrāhīm Az-Zabādī, (nicknamed ˁAbdul-ˁAzīz), ˁAlī Ibn Mouṣṭafā As-Suwaysī Al-Ḥanafī (the blind), Al-Jamāl ˁAbdullāh Ash-Shabrāwī, Aḥmad Al-Malawī Ash-Shihābī, Aḥmad Al-Jawharī Ash-Shihābī, Mr. Muḥammad Ibn Muḥammad Al-Bulaydī, and Muḥammad Al-Budayrī Ad-Dumyāṭī.
Al-Ḥifnī excelled in Arabic Grammar, Islamic Jurisprudence, Logic, Ḥadīth, Theology, as well as Prosody. He gained his teachers’ confidence; thus, they authorized him to teach and issue fatwas. When he started teaching at Al-Azhar Mosque, many students attended his classes; thus, he became famous. Scholars of his time recognized his cleverness and self-confidence. Sheikh Al-Jabartī described him as “The great scholar and imam who was unrivalled in his time in knowledge and deed. He discovered fresh perspectives of knowledge about which early scholars had not known. He was known for his perfection and scrutiny. Scholars unanimously recognized his excellence in every field of religious knowledge. He was the sun of faith and religion.”
Al-Ḥifnī was passionate about Sufism in his prime, thus he used to frequently visit Sidi Shāhīn Al-Khalwati’s Mosque. Afterwards he was authorized by Sheikh Aḥmad Ash-Shāzhlī Al-Maghrabī. After that, he learned the Khalwatiyyah (Ṣūfī) method of worship from Sheikh Mouṣṭafā Ibn Kamālud-Dīn Aṣ-Ṣiddīqī Al-Bakrī who was his mentor. Historians reported much about his Ṣūfī behavior. Thanks to him, the Khalwatiyyah teachings far outreached, and many Ṣūfī leaders learned these teachings from him, including [the later Grand Imam of AlAzhar] ˁAbdullāh Ash-Sharqāwī.
Grand Imam Muḥammad Al-Ḥifnī wrote a large number of books in various rational and traditional disciplines. He continued to teach at Al-Azhar until he took over the sheikhdom as the Grand Imam in 1171 AH/1757 CE. He died in Cairo on Rabīˁul-ˀAwwal 17, 1181 AH/August 12, 1767 CE.
Notable Contributions and Events
• Many students attended his classes; thus, he became famous. Scholars of his time recognized his cleverness and self-confidence.
• He used to teach his students the reference books of Arabic Grammar, Rhetoric, and Principles of Islamic Jurisprudence.
• The senior scholars and statesmen of his time recognized his virtues.
• He wrote books in a large number of disciplines such as Arabic Grammar, Rhetoric, Literature, Islamic Jurisprudence, Ḥadīth, History, Logic, and Algebra.
• He played a great role in promoting the teachings of the Khalwatiyyah Sufi order.