Shaykh al-Islām (Sheikh ul-Islam, Sheikhul Islam, Shaikh al-Islam, Şeyhülislam) is an honorific title used for outstanding scholars of the Islamic sciences :399 and was first used in Khurasan towards the end of the 4th Islamic century.:399 Later it became a prestigious position in the Ottoman Empire, that governed religious affairs of the Muslims.:400
List of scholars who received the title "Shaykh al-Islam"
The title shaykh al-Islam was reserved for very few scholars, those with the greatest merits. The following Islamic scholars were granted the title "Shaykh al-Islam":
- Ahmad Ibn Hanbal (b. 164 A.H.)
- Ibn Surayj (b. 249 A.H.)
- Al-Daraqutni (b. 306 A.H.)
- Abu Hamid al-Isfarayini (b. 344 A.H.)
- Al-Bayhaqi (b. 384 A.H.)
- Abu Ishaq al-Shirazi (b. 393 A.H.)
- Abu Talib al-Makki (b. 386 A.H.)
- Khwaja Abdullah Ansari:400 (b. 481 A.H.)
- Al-Juwayni (b. 419 A.H.)
- Fakhr al-Din al-Razi (b. 544 A.H.)
- Ibn al-Jawzi (b. 509/510 A.H.)
- Al-'Izz ibn 'Abd al-Salam (b. 577 A.H.)
- Ibn Daqiq al-'Id (b. 625 A.H.)
- Al-Nawawi (b. 631 A.H.)
- Ibn Taymiyyah (b. 661 A.H.) The Hanafi scholar 'Ala' al-Din al-Bukhari issued a Legal Ruling (Fatwa) whereby anyone who called Ibn Taymiyya the title "Shaykh al-Islam", had committed Disbelief (Kufr).
- Taqi al-Din al-Subki (b. 683 A.H.)
- Taj al-Din al-Subki (b. 727 A.H.)
- Ibn Hajar al-Asqalani (b. 773 A.H.)
- Zakariyya al-Ansari (b. 823 A.H.)
- Ibn Hajar al-Haytami (b. 909 A.H.)
- Siraj al-Din al-Bulqini (b. 724 A.H.)
In the Ottoman Empire
- Molla Şemseddin Fenari (1424–1430)
- Kemalpashazade Ahmed Shamsaddin Efendi (1526–1534)
- Ebussuud Efendi (1545–1574)
- Hoca Sadeddin Efendi (1598–1599)
- Hacı Halil Efendi (1819–1821)
- Mehmet Cemaleddin Efendi (1891–1909)
- William Henry Quilliam (1856–1932)
During the Ottoman empire, which controlled much of the Sunni Islamic world from the 14th to the 20th centuries, the Grand Mufti was given the title Shaykh al-Islam. The Ottomans had a strict hierarchy of ulama, with the Sheikh ul-Islam holding the highest rank. A Sheikh ul-Islam was chosen by a royal warrant amongst the qadis of important cities. The Sheikh ul-Islam had the power to confirm new sultans, but once the sultan was affirmed, it was the sultan who retained a higher authority than the Sheik ul-Islam. The Sheikh ul-Islam issued fatwas, which were written interpretations of the Quran that had authority over the community. The Sheikh ul-Islam represented the law of shariah and in the 16th century its importance rose which led to increased power. Sultan Murad appointed a Sufi, Yayha, as his Sheikh ul-Islam during this time which led to violent disapproval. The objection to this appointment made obvious the amount of power the Sheikh ul-Islam had, since people were afraid he would alter the traditions and norms they were living under by issuing new fatwas.
The office of Shaykh al-Islam was abolished in 1924, at the same time as the Ottoman Caliphate. After the National Assembly of Turkey was established in 1920, this office was in the Shar’iyya wa Awqaf Ministry until 1924, when the Ministry was abolished due to separation of religion from state, the office was replaced by the Presidency of Religious Affairs. As the successor entity to the office of the Sheikh al-Islam, the Presidency of Religious Affairs is the most authoritative entity in Turkey in relation to Sunni Islam.
Recent people claiming title are listed by country below.
- Azizul Haque, also known as Sheikh-Ul-Hadith, was the former Shaykh al-Islam of Bangladesh; he died in 2012. He was the first person to translate the Sahih al-Bukhari into Bengali language and he is also the founder of Jamiah Rahmania Arabia Dhaka.
- Delwar Hossain Sayeedi, a former Member of parliament of Bangladesh, is the current Shaykh al-Islam of Bangladesh. He is a world-renowned scholar, speaker and one of the twenty men who has the permission to enter in the Kaaba in Mecca.
- Shah Ahmad Shafi, the founder and leader of Hefazat-e-Islam Bangladesh, was nominated as the 2nd Shaykh al-Islam of Bangladesh in 2013. He is also the present rector of Al-Jamiatul Ahlia Darul Ulum Moinul Islam Hathazari and the chairman of Bangladesh Qawmi Madrasah Education Board.
- Muhammad Madani Miya Ashrafi al-Jilani is the current Shaykh al-Islam of the Indo-Pak Region and in the Sunni World. He received this title in 1974 by the current Shaykh al-Islam of their time.
- Abul A'la Maududi was the Shaykh al-Islām and Hadith of South Asia. He is regarded to be one of the greatest Muslim scholars of the 20th century. He is the second person in the history whose Gayby Salat al-Janazah took place in the holy Kaaba.
In Thailand, the Shaykh al-Islām is called Chularatchamontri (Thai: จุฬาราชมนตรี). Pursuant to the Islamic Organ Administration Act, BE 2540 (1997), Chularatchamontri is appointed by the King upon advice of the Prime Minister. He has the authority to administer all Islamic affairs in the Nation and to provide advice on Islamic affairs to government agencies. Chularatchamontri vacates his office upon death, resignation and removal by the King upon advice of the Prime Minister.
- Sheikh (Sufism)
- Grand Mufti
- Hujjat al-Islam
- List of Sheikh-ul-Islams of the Ottoman Empire
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- "Sayedee verdict Thursday". The Daily Star. 27 February 2013. Retrieved 28 February 2013.
- "Unknown Islamist group flexes its muscles in Ctg". The Daily Star (Bangladesh). 25 February 2010. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
- "৩০ জন আহত, গ্রেপ্তার ৩৯, আট ঘণ্টা সড়ক অবরোধ চট্টগ্রামে হেফাজতে ইসলামের কর্মীদের সঙ্গে পুলিশের সংঘর্ষ (Hefajat-e-Islam clash with police at Chittagong, 30 injured and 39 arrested, road blocked for 8 hours)". Prothom Alo. 25 February 2010. Retrieved 3 May 2013.
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