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Al-Azhar Grand Imams

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

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Muḥammad Sayyid Ṭanṭāwī (1416 AH/1996 CE-1431 AH/2010 CE)

Muḥammad Sayyid Ṭanṭāwī

Office assumption date

Dhul-Qiˁdah 8, 1416 AH/March 27, 1996 CE.

Retirement date

Rabīˁul-Awwal 24, 1431 AH/March 10, 2010 CE.

Era

The First Egyptian Republic (1952-2011) CE.

A Note about the Grand Imam

     Grand Imam Prof. Muḥammad Sayyid Ṭanṭāwī was born on Jumādā Al-ˀŪlā 14,1347 AH / October 28, 1928 CE in the village of Salīm Ash-Sharqiyyah, Ṭamā, Sūhāg, Egypt. He memorized the Noble Qurˀān and perfected its recitation.  In 1363 AH/1944 CE, he joined Alexandria Azhari Institute, then the Faculty of Islamic Theology. He obtained his Bachelor’s degree in 1378 AH/1959 CE, then his Ph. D. in 1386 AH/1966 CE. Ṭanṭāwī continued to be promoted in scholarly and administrative positions until he was appointed the Grand Mufti of Egypt. On Dhul-Qiˁdah 8, 1416 AH/March 27, 1996 CE, he assumed Al-Azhar Grand Imam’s position. On Rabīˁul-ˀAwwal 24, 1431 AH/March 10, 2010 CE, he passed to his Lord and was buried in Al-Baqīˁ Graveyard, Medina. He wrote a large number of books and articles, and participated in lots of radio and television interviews.

Brief Biographical Notes

     Grand Imam Muḥammad Sayyid Ṭanṭāwī, was born on Jumādā Al-ˀŪlā 14, 1347 AH/October 28, 1928 CE in the village of Salīm Ash-Sharqiyyah, Ṭamā, Sūhāg, Egypt. He memorized the Noble Qurˀān and perfected its recitation. Then, he moved with his family to Alexandria and joined the Azhari institute there. After obtaining high secondary school certificate, he joined the Faculty of Islamic Theology. In 1378 AH/1959 CE, he obtained his Bachelor’s degree and was authorized to teach at Al-Azhar. In 1386 AH/1966 CE, he obtained his Ph. D. in Qurˀān Exegesis and Ḥadīth. The thesis topic was Banū Isrāˀīl fil-Qurˀān wa s-Sunnah (The Children of Israel in the Qurˀān and the Sunnah.)

     In 1388 AH/1968 CE, he was appointed as a lecturer at the Faculty of Islamic Theology. During his work at Al-Azhar University, he was seconded to the Islamic University in Libya for four years, where he worked on improving educational curricula in Libya. It was reported that professors in Libya used to attend his classes to acquire from his knowledge as students would do. After he returned to Egypt, he became the Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Theology in Assiut in 1396 AH/1976 CE. In 1400 AH/1980 CE, he was appointed the Head of Qurˀān Exegesis Department for Postgraduate Studies at the Islamic University of Medina. In 1404 AH/1984 CE, he returned to Egypt where he became the Dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies for Men in 1405 AH/1985 CE.

     On Safar 24, 1407 AH/October 28, 1986 CE, he became the Grand Mufti of Egypt. He remained in that position for ten years, during which he issued 7,557 fatwas recorded in the archives of the Egyptian Fatwa House. On Dhul-Qiˁdah 8, 1416 AH/March 27, 1996 CE, he succeeded Grand Imam Gādul-Ḥaq ˁAlī Gādul-Ḥaq to the position of Al-Azhar Grand Imam.

     Grand Imam Muḥammad Sayyid Ṭanṭāwī was considered an influential voice of awareness, enlightenment and tolerance through presenting the proper image of Islam to the contemporary generations. Many trustworthy scholars recognized his knowledge, virtue, diligence, and religious leadership. He was distinguished by his ability to encompass and derive [legal rulings] from the Islamic schools of Jurisprudence, and to issue fatwas which clearly indicated that the Islamic Sharīˀah had been timeless and universal.

     Grand Imam Ṭanṭāwī produced a huge Islamic and Arabic scholarly legacy. King ˁAbdullāh Ibn ˁAbdul-ˁAzīz invited him to be among the jury of King Faisal International Prize for memorizing the Noble Qurˀān, and awarding winners. On the morning of Rabīˁul-ˀAwwal 24, 1431 AH/March 10, 2010 CE, he died of a heart attack at King Khālid Airport in Riyadh, and was buried in Al-Baqīˁ Graveyard, Medina, KSA.

Notable Contributions and Events

•  He defended the Noble Qurˀān, refuting allegations of the enemies of Islam, and confronting the insults directed to Prophet Muḥammad (pbuh).

• He Supported the Palestinian cause and Arab rights in Jerusalem.

• He defended women’s rights, paying due attention to women issues, and calling for preserving the family rights. He supported women’s contribution in establishing society, through issuing a number of fatwas that indicated his broad horizon and wide knowledge.

• He was keen to emphasize the significance of the sincere religious discourse derived from the Noble Qurˀān and the Sunnah of the Prophet, due to its great influence on people.

• He was keen that Al-Azhar fully accomplish its mission in promoting Islamic missionary. He also stressed on taking into account to involve specialists in Islamic jurisprudence and Sharīˁa to clarify the legal rulings about controversial issues, and to prevent non-specialists from issuing fatwas.

• He played a major role in consolidating the national unity and preserving the Egyptian social cohesion.

• He was keen to encourage memorizing the Noble Qurˀān. In conferences and forums, he would typically say, “He who has not memorized the Holy Qurˀān does not really deserve to belong to Al-Azhar.”

• He established a weekly newspaper called Ṣawt ul-Azhar (The Voice of Al-Azhar). The newspaper’s mission has been to keep the Muslims knowledgeable about Al-Azhar.

 

 


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