Al-Azhar Grand Imams

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

Wednesday, September 16, 2020

ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud (1393 AH/1973 CE-1398 AH/1978 CE)

ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud

Office assumption date

1393 AH/1973 CE.

Retirement date

1398 AH/1978 CE.


The First Egyptian Republic.

A Note about the Grand Imam

     Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud was born in an honorable knowledge-loving family. He joined Al-Azhar, then he obtained his Ph. D. from Sorbonne University. On Ṣafar 22, 1393 AH/March 27, 1973 CE, he was appointed as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar. During his tenure, Al-Azhar was interacting with the political issues of Egypt and the Muslim and Arab nation. He left a great scholarly legacy in which he combined authoring, editing and biographical works. He participated in presenting a large number of radio and TV shows. Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud continued to fulfill his required duties for the sake of Al-Azhar and the Muslim nation until he died on Dhul-Qiˁdah 15, 1397 AH/October 17, 1978 CE.

Brief Biographical Notes

     Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud was born on Jumāda l-ˀŪlā 2, 1328 AH/May 12, 1910 CE in the village of Abū Aḥmad, now known as As-Salām, Belbeis, Ash-Sharqiyyah, Egypt. He joined the kuttāb (preschool Qurˀān class) in his village where he completed memorizing the Qurˀān. His father wanted him to be enrolled at Al-Azhar, but he was unable to join it due to his young age. Therefor, his father enrolled him at a primary school. In 1923, he was of a suitable age, so his father took him to Al-Azhar, where he started his study at the mosques affiliated to Al-Azhar.

     In 1925, a new Azhari Institute was opened in Zagazig, to which Sheikh ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud was moved. He was not content with that, so he also joined an evening Muˁallimīn Institute (Azhari Institute which qualified students to teach), and thus combined the two courses of study. When he reached the first year secondary stage, his intellectual excellence qualified him to submit for the Secondary School Certificate Exams, as an external student, and passed, thus achieving his goal to join Al-Azhar.

     There, he was educated by the elite of its scholars, including the three former Grand Imams Shaltout, Al-Marāghī and Mouṣṭafā ˁAbdur-Rāziq, in addition to other luminary scholars including Sheikh Muḥammad ˁAbdul-Laṭīf Dirāz, and ˁAlī Surūr Az-Zankalūnī. Sheikh ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud was not content with what he learnt at Al-Azhar as he was keen to seek knowledge in other places. He eagerly attended the lectures given by prominent scholars and intellectuals, including Dr. Aḥmad Muḥammad Al-Ghamrāwī, Grand Imam Muḥammad Al-Khiḍr Ḥusayn, and the great thinker Muḥammad Farīd Wajdī.

     In 1351 AH/1932 CE, Sheikh ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud obtained his Bachelor’s Degree from Al-Azhar. In October of the same year, he traveled to France and joined the Sorbonne University to study History of Religions, Philosophy and Sociology, and in 1937, he obtained another BA in these disciplines.

     In 1938, he gained a scholarship from Al-Azhar to obtain PhD in Sufism. His PhD thesis was entitled  ˀUstādhu s-Sāˀirīn (The Master of Seekers [to Allah]), Al-Hārith Ibn ˀAsad Al-Muḥāsibī. Despite the war circumstances, Sheikh ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm insisted on completing his thesis and defended it on June 8, 1940, obtaining his PhD degree with Excellence and First Honors, then he returned to Egypt.

     Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud continued to fulfill his duties at Al-Azhar until he passed to his Lord on Tuesday, Dhul-Qiˁdah 15, 1397 AH/ October 17, 1978 CE.

Notable Contributions and Events

  • He expanded the establishment of new Azhari institutes.
  • He had an influential stance regarding the application of the Islamic Law of Sharia.
  • He played a great role in codifying the rules of the Islamic Law.
  • He confronted the attempts to impose laws contradicting the rules of the Islamic Law.
  • He completed the Islamic Constitution Project.
  • Grand Imam ˁAbdul-Ḥalīm Maḥmoud paid due attention to the issues of the Muslim World.


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