Grand Imam of al-Azhar

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The Grand Imam of al-Azhar (Arabic: الإمام الأكبر), also known as Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar (Arabic: شيخ الأزهر الشريف), currently Ahmed el-Tayeb, is a prestigious and a prominent official title in Egypt and Islamic world.[1] He is considered by most Muslims to be the highest authority in Sunni Islamic thought and Islamic jurisprudence[2] and holds great influence on followers of the theological Ash'ari and Maturidi traditions worldwide. The Grand Imam heads the Al-Azhar Al Sharif, al-Azhar Mosque, and by extension al-Azhar University, and is responsible for official religious matters along with the Grand Mufti of Egypt.

History of the title[edit]

The title of the Grand Imam of al-Azhar was officially established in 1961. In the 14th century the head of al-Azhar was granted the title of Mushrif of al-Azhar, then later Nazir of Al-Azhar[3] and, during the Ottoman Empire, the Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar. Today the bearer of the title also carries the title of the Grand Sheikh.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Beattie 2000, p. 225
  2. ^ Bennett 2005, p. 220
  3. ^ Dodge 1961, p. 83

Further reading[edit]

  • Dodge, Bayard (1961), Al-Azhar: A Millennium of Muslim learning, Middle East Institute
  • Beattie, Kirk J. (2000), Egypt during the Sadat years, Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 978-0-312-23246-7
  • Bennett, Clinton (2005), Muslims and modernity: an introduction to the issues and debates, Continuum International Publishing Group, ISBN 978-0-8264-5481-2