Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Sheikh Tantawi, Egypt's top cleric dies aged 81

Sheikh Tantawi, Egypt's top cleric dies aged 81
The entrance to al-Azhar University. ( by EDWARD WILLIAM LANE )

Egypt's foremost Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, has died, aged 81, while on a trip to Saudi Arabia.

Sheikh Tantawi was the Grand Imam of the al-Azhar mosque and head of the al-Azhar University, Sunni Islam's centre of learning and scholarship.
He died of a heart attack in the Saudi capital Riyadh, where he was attending a prize-giving ceremony.
Sheikh Tantawi had infuriated radical Islamists with his moderate views on women wearing the veil.
His body will be taken to the Saudi city of Medina, the burial place of the Prophet Muhammad, for burial, Egyptian authorities said.
An adviser to the Sheikh told Egyptian television Sheikh Tantawi's death was a shock, as before leaving for Saudi Arabia he had seemed in "excellent shape and health".
A member of Sheikh Tantawi's office, Ashraf Hassan, told news agency Reuters that Mohamed Wasel, Sheikh Tantawi's deputy, was expected to temporarily take over leading the institution until the Egyptian president appointed a new head for the body.

Moderate views

Sheikh Tantawi was appointed to his position by Egypt's President Hosni Mubarak in 1996.
But as a government appointee, he was always forced to negotiate a careful path between his religious imperatives and his government position, the BBC's Christian Fraser in Cairo says.
He was vocal in his opposition to female circumcision, which is common in Egypt, calling it "un-Islamic".
Last year, Sheikh Tantawi barred female students at the university from wearing the full-face covering niqab veil.
He also caused upset other Muslim scholars by saying that French Muslims should obey any law that France might enact banning the veil.
His views on the veil prompted Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood to accuse him of "harming the interests of Islam".
He has also condemned suicide attacks, saying extremists had hijacked Islamic principles for their own ends.
"I do not subscribe to the idea of a clash among civilizations. People of different beliefs should co-operate and not get into senseless conflicts and animosity," he told a conference in the Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur in 2003.
"Extremism is the enemy of Islam. Whereas, jihad is allowed in Islam to defend one's land, to help the oppressed. The difference between jihad in Islam and extremism is like the earth and the sky," Sheikh Tantawi said. ( BBC news )


  1. Excuse me. Can you explain what radical Islam and moderate views are?

  2. "There is no moderate Islam "- Dutch legislator Geert Wilders.

    "moderate Islam does not exist and that the Quran could not be reformed or modernized" David Bukay (Ph.D.), teaches at the School of Political Science in the University of Haifa.

    President Mohamed Nasheed said that he would welcome German assistance in building up their own version of Sharia law in the Maldives. read more (,maldives-asks-germany-for-help-with-climate--and-sharia.html )

  3. I like the way you answered my question. Thanks. May Allah protect you.

  4. The elite in the Muslim world has always been mostly moderate - sometime to a degree that would shock many religious zealots, but historically ignorant ones. Sometimes I miss the old days when fools knew how to shut up.

    Sheikh Tantawi was a good honest man.

  5. Are killings of innocent lives and bombings terrorist activity even if they kill ours?