Office assumption date
1389 AH/1969 CE.
The First Egyptian Republic (1952-2011) CE.
A Note about the Grand Imam
Grand Imam Prof. Muḥammad Al-Faḥḥām was born in Alexandria on Rabīˁul-ˀAwwal 18, 1321 AH/September 18, 1894 CE. He grew up in an honorable family who lived in the village of Banī Murr, Assiut, Egypt. He memorized the Qurˀān at a young age and joined Alexandria Azhari Institute. He was known for intelligence and excellence since his childhood. In 1341 AH/1922 CE, Al-Faḥḥām obtained his formal secondary Azhari certificate. In 1355 AH/1936 CE, he was sent on a scholarship in Paris to obtain his Ph.D. degree in literature. He assumed Al-Azhar Grand Imam’s office during a critical period in Egypt's history and was able to lead Al-Azhar to fulfill its required duty perfectly.
Brief Biographical Notes
Grand Imam Prof. Muḥammad Al-Faḥḥām was a prominent and well-known scholar of Arabic language. He was one of the best researchers in the disciplines of Arabic language: grammar, morphology, rhetoric and literature.
Muḥammad Al-Faḥḥām was born in Alexandria in 1312 AH/1894 CE. He memorized the Noble Qurˀān and perfected its recitation. Then, he joined Alexandria Azhari Institute, where he obtained the primary and secondary certificates. In 1341 AH/1922 CE, Al-Faḥḥām obtained the Bachelor’s degree. In 1355 AH/1936 CE, he was sent on a scholarship in Paris to obtain his Ph.D. degree in literature. He obtained it with honors in 1366 AH/1946 CE. This scholarly process was prolonged due to the circumstances of the Second World War.
His ten-year stay in France did not change his habits, so he returned to Egypt adhering to his Islamic morals, appearance, and Arab dressing that distinguished Al-Azhar scholars. He was always seen wearing the Azhari uniform: a turban with a cloak and a kaftan, and he might replace the cloak with a kakūla (loose outer garment worn by Azhari scholars). Although he mastered French, he would not unnecessarily resort to speaking it.
Grand Imam Prof. Al-Faḥḥām used to give Arabic grammar lectures at the Faculty of Arts, Alexandria University. He developed the teaching courses in Comparative Literature at the Faculty of Arabic Language, Al-Azhar University. He contributed research papers in many conferences inside and outside Egypt. His various books were not published in combined editions except for his book about Sībawayh (a pioneer Arabic Language grammarian); and some of his research papers were published by the Arabic Language Academy.
He continued to be promoted in several teaching positions till he became the Dean of Faculty of Arabic Language, Al-Azhar University in 1959. Then, he retired. On Rajab 5, 1386 AH/September 17, 1969 CE, he was appointed as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar by a presidential decree, succeeding Grand Imam Ḥassan Maˀmoun. Prof. Al-Faḥḥām then carried out his responsibilities as a Grand Imam amid harsh conditions and violent currents such as preparation for the (Egyptian-Israeli) War of Attrition and the need to secure the home front. Meanwhile, a violent and strong missionary movement emerged, besides the dangers that threatened the Egyptian national unity. In Ṣafar 1393 AH/March 1973 CE, Grand Imam Al-Faḥḥām submitted his resignation due to health problems. Prof. ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud succeeded him. Then, Prof. Al-Faḥḥām devoted himself to worship, research and study, while he was suffering from severe illness and weakness. He died in 1401 AH/1980 CE, and was buried in his hometown, Alexandria.
Notable Contributions and Events
• He contributed to unifying the home front during the War of Attrition.
• He confronted the threat of Christian missionaries.
• He extinguished a sectarian strife and helped secure the home front.