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Al-Azhar head Sheikh Tantawi buried in Madinah
Thursday, March 11, 2010 10:22:56 AM, Agencies
Sheikh Tantawi, Egypt's top cleric dies aged 81: Egypt's foremost Muslim cleric, Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, has died, aged 81, while on a trip to ....Read Full
Riyadh: Sheikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, a prominent voice of the Islamic world and head of Al-Azhar, the highest religious authority in Egypt, who died in Riyadh on Wednesday following a heart attack buried in Madinah the same day.
Tantawi’s burial took place in Jannatul Baqee cemetery in Madinah after funeral prayers at the Prophet’s Mosque.
Family members and friends of the scholar were present.
Tantawi was born on Oct. 28, 1928, in the village of Selim El-Sharqia in the Upper Egyptian governorate of Suhag. He studied the Holy Qur’an in Alexandria and obtained a doctorate degree in Hadith and interpretation of the Holy Qur’an in 1966.
Tantawi was about to leave for Cairo, when he complained of pain.
Tantawi used his position as Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University to defend traditional interpretations of Islam against challenges from radical groups such as the Taleban and Al-Qaeda.
He was appointed Grand Mufti of Egypt in 1986. He held this position for almost 10 years, until he joined Al-Azhar in 1996.
Tantawi also had the distinction of leading the funeral prayers of Yasser Arafat in 2004. “Arafat has done his duty as a defender of the Palestinian cause, with courage and honesty,” Tantawi had said at the time.
Several heads of government, leaders, scholars and Islamic workers from across the world have sent their condolences to the Egyptian government.
Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and Crown Prince Sultan, deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation, sent messages of condolence to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the death of Tantawi.
Saudi Arabia’s Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz Al-Asheikh also expressed his deep sorrow at the demise of the Egyptian scholar.
“Sheikh Tantawi, who was currently serving as chairman of the International Islamic Council of Dawah and Relief (IICDR), will always be remembered as a warrior for Islamic causes and for his reconciliatory approaches on issues of different religions and practices,” said IICDR’s Secretary-General Omar Abdullah Naseef, who had been working with Tantawi for the last several years.
Naseef, who also served as deputy chief of the Shoura Council, said that Tantawi’s death “was a shock as he was in better health” despite his old age.
He said that Tantawi had taken a keen interest in the affairs of the IICDR, an international body representing 86 major Islamic organizations from across the world. “The Islamic rulings (fatwas) of Sheikh Tantawi, which at times were dubbed as controversial, carried great influence across the world and particularly in Egypt,” he said.
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