Al-Azhar Grand Imams

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

Friday, August 14, 2020

Muḥammad Al-ˁArousī (1233 AH/1818 CE-1245 AH/1829 CE)

Muḥammad Al-ˁArousī

Office assumption date

1233 AH/1818 CE.

Retirement date

1245 AH/1829 CE.


The Ottoman’s

A Note about the Grand Imam

     Sheikh Muḥammad Ibn Aḥmad Al-ˁArousī, whose father Aḥmad Al-ˁArousī preceded him in the position of Al-Azhar Grand Imam, was born in Cairo. He was raised and educated in scholarly circumstances; thus, he loved knowledge and was passionate about teaching.  After his father’s death, Imam Muḥammad Al-ˁArousī succeeded him in his classes, and took his place in teaching. He won all people’s hearts; thus, he was honored by princes, scholars and the people. They unanimously agreed upon his assumption of Al-Azhar Grand Imam’s office. He became the Grand Imam in 1233 AH/1818 CE, where he remained in the position for twelve years, besides teaching at Al-Azhar, until he died in 1245 AH/1829 CE.

Brief Biographical Notes

     Muḥammad Ibn Aḥmad Ibn Mūsā Ibn Dāwūd Al-ˁArousī joined Al-Azhar and was educated by the senior scholars of his time. He used to attend scholars’ classes, including his father’s. He succeeded his father in teaching after his death. He was passionate about teaching. He used to continue teaching from morning until evening; thus, he used to attend at Al-Azhar from dawn to evening. He was an eloquent speaker, and well-versed in meanings; thus, many students from Al-Azhar and its affiliated schools used to attend his classes to acquire from his flowing knowledge in various disciplines.

     After Grand Imam Ash-Shanawānī’s death, scholars unanimously agreed that Al-ˁArousī would become Al-Azhar Grand Imam because of his knowledge and scholarly position. Egypt’s Ruler, Muḥammad ˁAlī approved him as he did not find any more suitable scholar for such position than Muḥammad Al-ˁArousī. He remained in the position for twelve years. Assuming the Grand Imam’s position did not constrain Al-ˁArousī from teaching, nor was he distracted from his disciples. During his office, he had great stands which showed his marked decency and great wisdom.  With good judgment, he extinguished a sedition that was about to break out due to a fatwa prohibiting eating animals slaughtered by the People of the Book (the Jews and the Christians).

     Due to office burdens and preoccupation with studying and teaching, Grand Imam Muḥammad Al-ˁArousī did not have enough time to write books, except a manuscript in Hadith Terminology by which he authorized his student ˁAlī Ibn ˁAwaḍ Al-Bardīsī Al-Jirjāwī. In the introduction, after the Basmalah, he wrote, “In gratitude to Who have graciously bestowed us with Blessings. Seeking knowledge is one of the highest demands. Thus, when ˁAlī Al-Jirjāwī asked me to transmit all my narrations to him, and what I am authorized to narrate either in Exegesis, Ḥadīth, or any other rational and traditional disciplines, I authorized him for that”. He also wrote at the end of the Ijāzah (knowledge narration license), “May Allah grant me and him (Al-Jirjāwī) His guidance, preservation and care, for He is all Hearing and So Near.” The manuscript was handwritten by the Imam and stamped with his personal seal.

     Grand Imam Muḥammad Al-ˁArousī was unique by his great scholarly position and several advantages, one of which is that his father was also a Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. He also gained trust of the ruler of Egypt, the people, and the scholars. They unanimously agreed on appreciating and revering him. His fame was not a subordinate to his father's, but was rather due to his hard work and diligence. He continued to teach till he died in 1245 AH/1829 CE.

Notable Contributions and Events

• He gained the hearts of the ruler, princes and the people equally, and won their trust. Such consensus was rarely attained by any talented person.

• Grand Imam Muḥammad Al-ˁArousī was notably honored by the elites for his virtue and noble origin.



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