Grand Imam of al-Azhar
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 Sunni Islam title and a prominent official title in Egypt. He is considered by some Muslims to be the highest authority in Sunni Islamic thought and Islamic jurisprudence and holds great influence on followers of the theological Ash'ari and Maturidi traditions worldwide. The Grand Imam heads the 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
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 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.
Holders of the title
- 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