Office assumption date
1120 AH/1709 CE.
A Note about the Grand Imam
Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Bāqī Al-Qillīnī, was born in Qillīn, Kafru-sh-Sheikh, Egypt. He memorized the Noble Qurˀān when he was young, then moved to Cairo and joined Al-Azhar where he was educated by the senior scholars of his time. Al-Qillīnī’s widely-spread fame and high esteem made his colleagues insist that he would assume Al-Azhar Grand Imam’s position. Sheikh Aḥmad An-Nafrāwī competed with him for the position, but the matter ended with the assumption of Grand Imam Al-Qillīnī in 1120 AH/1709 CE. Despite his passion for seeking knowledge, he did not author any books. Rather, he continued to teach at Al-Azhar until he passed to his Lord.
Brief Biographical Notes
Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Bāqī Al-Qillīnī was born in Qillīn, Kafru-sh-Sheikh, Egypt. He memorized the Qurˀān, then moved to Cairo and joined Al-Azhar Mosque where he devoted his time to seeking knowledge from the scholars of his time. The most prominent of his teachers were the three Grand Imams Muḥammad Al-Kharashī, Ibrāhīm Al-Birmāwī and Muḥammad An-Nashartī. Al-Qillīnī was known for his brilliant intellectual excellence. Therefore, he gained a high esteem and his fame widely spread, the case which qualified him to teaching at Al-Azhar. After the death of his teacher, Grand Imam An-Nashartī, Al-Qillīnī was nominated to assume Al-Azhar Grand Imam’s position. Sheikh Aḥmad An-Nafrāwī Al-Mālikī competed with him for the position, but Al-Qillīnī’s students made great efforts so that he would assume it, because they believed that he more deserved to take over such a great position. The matter ended with Al-Qillīnī’s assumption of the Grand Imam’s position in 1120 AH/1709 CE. Al-Qillīnī was not keen on occupying the Grand Imam’s position although it granted high esteem and was sought after by many people.
Students flocked from everywhere as they were keen to attend Sheikh Al-Qillīnī’s classes. Among the most prominent of his students was Sheikh Muḥammad Salāḥuddīn Al-Burullusī, who always attended his classes, and followed his footsteps in teaching the Mālikī Islamic Jurisprudence in particular, and the disciplines of Arabic Language and Islamic Studies in general. Grand Imam Al-Qillīnī paid due attention to instructing his students, and scrutinized heritage classics, in addition to researching into the main sources to extract the treasures they contained. During Al-Qillīnī’s tenure, Al-Azhar was notably flourished. Many of his students became distinguished scholars as he used to direct them to focus on the main references rather than the recently-added annotations. This indicated his wide horizon, polymathy and abundant knowledge. He was not a biased to certain views or a specific school of thought. Sheikh Al-Qillīnī would explain to his students what was hard for them to understand. He did not seem to author any books, as knowledge about his books is not available. Perhaps, he orally dictated his students and then left them to write down and record what he had authored. Al-Qillīnī remained as Al-Azhar Grand Imam until he passed to his Lord.
Notable Contributions and Events
- He was educated by the senior scholars of his time, including the three former Grand Imams of Al-Azhar, Muḥammad Al-Kharashī, Ibrāhīm Al-Birmāwī and Muḥammad An-Nashartī.
- The Ottoman ruler, as well as Al-Qillīnī’s teachers and students unanimously agreed on the necessity for Sheikh Al-Qillīnī to succeed his former Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, An-Nashartī, after the latter’s death.
- Historians did not record any social or political activities of Grand Imam Al-Qillīnī, nor did they mention any scholarly books by him.