Al-Azhar Grand Imams

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

Thursday, September 10, 2020

ˁAbdul-Majīd Salīm (1371 AH/1952 CE-1371 AH/1952 CE)

ˁAbdul-Majīd Salīm

First office assumption date

Dhul-Ḥijjah 25, 1369 AH/October 7, 1950 CE

First retirement date

Dhul-Ḥijjah 3, 1370 AH/September 4, 1951 CE

Second office assumption date

Jumāda l-ˀŪlā 11, 1371 AH/February 7, 1952 CE

Second retirement date

Dhul-Ḥijjah 28, 1371 AH/September 17, 1952 CE


Muḥammad ˁAlī’s Family and the first Egyptian Republic (1952-2011) CE

A Note about the Grand Imam

     Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Majīd Salīm was born in Mīt Shahālah, Menoufiyyah, Egypt. He memorized the Noble Qur’an, then joined Al-Azhar, where he was educated by top scholars, including Imam Muḥammad ˁAbdou, and Sheikh Ḥasan Aṭ-Ṭawīl. He obtained his Master’s Degree, and then worked in teaching and in judiciary. He assumed the Grand Mufti’s position (1346 AH/1928 CE to 1364 AH/1945 CE). He assumed Al-Azhar Grand Imam’s position twice. The first in 1369 AH/1950 CE, succeeding Grand Imam Maˀmoun Ash-Shinnāwī, but he resigned in the following year. The second time was in 1371 AH/1952 CE, but he resigned again in the same year. He died in 1374 AH/1954 CE.

Brief Biographical Notes

     Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Majīd Salīm joined Al-Azhar and obtained the First-Class Master’s Degree in 1326 AH/1908 CE. He held positions in teaching and in judiciary until he assumed the Grand Mufti’s position, where he remained for nearly twenty years (1346 AH/1928 CE to 1364 AH/1945 CE). He issued a great number of Fatwas (Islamic Verdicts) that dealt with people's social life.

     Salīm witnessed great events which took place in Egypt, and lived during an unstable period in the history of the country. He had great stances against the corruption experienced under the Egyptian regime at that time. He was keen to protect Al-Azhar’s dignity, and prevented the governmental interference in its affairs without referring to Al-Azhar scholars. He stood firmly against corruption, despite the threats he had to face.

     Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Majīd Salīm was known as the Legislator and Reformer. He paid special attention to the issuance of codifying Islamic Law and social reform, based on correct Islamic constants. In addition, he was also concerned with rapprochement between the Islamic Schools of jurisprudence; thus, he called for the abandonment of fanaticism and disagreement that tore the Islamic Nation apart into dissonant sects.

     However, Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Majīd Salīm’s most notably reforms were those carried out at Al-Azhar according to a sound organized program. During his tenure, Al-Azhar globally played a great role and carried out its real mission. He strived for developing Al-Azhar and made great strides towards its reform. He also directed the scholars to author books in the various disciplines to promote the Islamic Culture throughout the world. Besides, he delegated Azhari missions to various parts of the world, and took care of the international students studying at Al-Azhar. In addition, he directed the Azhari scholars to defend Islam and refute the orientalists’ false claims. Moreover, he called for translating the meanings of the Noble Qurˀān into modern languages, and linking Al-Azhar with Eastern universities, especially the Islamic ones. He worked on increasing Al-Azhar's budget so that it could accomplish its required duty.

     Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Majīd Salīm died on Thursday morning, Ṣafar 10, 1374 AH/October 7, 1954 CE, leaving an obvious reform message to Al-Azhar Al-Sharif.

Notable Contributions and Events

• He made intensive efforts in his attempt to bring the Islamic Schools of jurisprudence closer together to keep people away from disputes. Thus, he communicated with Muslim Scholars in various parts of the Muslim World. He also used all his energy to contribute to the establishment of Jamāˁat ut-Taqrīb (Rapprochement Group).

• He took a stance against the narrow-minded partisan life, which he believed was inconsistent with Al-Azhar's mission.

• He played a prominent role in the legislative committee formed to reform the Family Status Laws.

• Salīm left a huge scholarly legacy of fatwas, amounting to more than fifteen thousand (15,792), which is considered an Islamic Jurisprudential Legacy.

• He was keen to develop Al-Azhar according to clear programs so that it could carry out its mission perfectly.

•  Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Majīd Salīm defended Al-Azhar's rights, especially concerning its budget. He made his famous statement, “Stinginess here and extravagance there!” which was the reason why he was dismissed from his position in his first tenure.

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