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 a 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 holder 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