Tuesday, February 8, 2011


Grand Sheikh of the Al Azhar University, Grand Imam of the Al Azhar Mosque

Sheikh Ahmad Muhammad al Tayeb was appointed as Grand Sheikh of Al Azhar in March 2010, after the pass ing of his predecessor, Dr Muhammad Sayyid Tantawi. He was formerly the president of the Al Azhar for seven years and prior to that, served for two years as the second most powerful cleric in Egypt as its Grand Mufti. Al Tayeb’s scholarly influence as a leading intellectual of Sunni Islam spans the globe. He has served as the dean of the Faculty of Islamic Studies in Aswan, and the theology faculty of the International Islamic University in Pakistan. He has also taught in universities in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. Sheikh al Tayeb holds a PhD in Islamic philosophy from Sor bonne University.

Advocate of Traditional Islam

Al Tayeb has emphasised his mission to promote traditional Islam since becoming Grand Sheikh. He has since issued decisions to teach all four schools of traditional Islamic thought at Al Azhar University, while stressing the importance of teaching students about Islamic heritage - considering Al Azhar graduates as ambassadors of Islam to the world.

Spiritual Leader of the Al Azhar University

Sheikh al Tayeb leads the second-oldest university in the world, where teaching has continued without interruption since 975 CE. Al Azhar represents the center of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence. It is a key institution that issues authoritative religious rulings and has pro vided extensive Islamic education to Egyptian and international students since its inception over a millennium ago. This history makes Al Azhar a bastion of Sunni traditionalism. The university is considered one of the most prominent Islamic educational institutions, and the foremost center of Sunni Muslim scholarship in the world.

Administers the Al Azhar Education Network

Al Azhar is the second oldest, and currently the largest, university in the world, having risen from a group of three schools in the 1950s to its current state with 72 feeder schools, and close to 400,000 students studying there at any one time. Including schools that are part of Al Azhar waqf initiatives there are close to 2 million students. This immense size and grounded respect make the head of Al Azhar an extraordinarily powerful and academically influential person. In spite of his huge workload as president, and now as Grand Sheikh, al Tayeb publishes regularly in numerous academic journals, dealing particularly with the reception of Islamic culture and philosophy in the Western world. Al Tayeb is also a member of the Egyptian Society of Philosophy, the Supreme Court of Islamic Affairs and is the head of the Religious Committee at the Egyptian Radio and Television Union.

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