Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb (Arabic: أحمد محمد أحمد الطيب) (born 6 January 1946) is the current Grand Imam of al-Azhar and former president of al-Azhar University. He was appointed by the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, following the death of Mohamed Sayed Tantawy in 2010. He is from Kurna, Luxor Governorate in Upper Egypt, and he belongs to a Sufi family.
Ahmed el-Tayeb in 2015
|Grand Imam of Al-Azhar|
|Assumed office |
10 March 2010
Mohamed Hussein Tantawy (Acting)
Abdel Fattah el-Sisi
|Preceded by||Mohamed Sayed Tantawy|
|Grand Mufti of Egypt|
10 March 2002 – 27 September 2003
|Preceded by||Nasr Farid Wasil|
|Succeeded by||Ali Gomaa|
|President of Al-Azhar University|
|Preceded by||Ahmad Omar Hashem|
|Succeeded by||Abdallah al-Husseini|
Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb
6 January 1946
|Alma mater||Al-Azhar University|
el-Tayeb studied Doctrine and Philosophy at Al-Azhar University, where he graduated in 1969, after that he had a Master's degree and Ph.D. in Islamic philosophy in 1971 and 1977 respectively. Later on, he went to study at the University of Paris for six months, from December 1977 to 1978. Afterwards, he held academic posts at Al-Azhar University, then administrative roles in Qena and Aswan, and he even worked at the International Islamic University, Islamabad in Pakistan in 1999–2000.
Between 2002 and 2003, el-Tayeb served as Grand Mufti of Egypt. El-Tayeb is a hereditary Sufi shaykh from Upper Egypt and has expressed support for a global Sufi league. He has been president of Al-Azhar University from 2003 until 2010.
As Grand Imam of al-Azhar, el-Tayeb intervened to reverse a decision by al-Azhar disciplinary board to expel a female student for "hugging" a male student at Al-Azhar university.
Political Party (Past)Edit
Prior to his appointment as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar and president of al-Azhar University, he was a member of Mubarak's National Democratic Party's Policies Committee. He initially refused to resign from his position in the National Democratic Party (NDP) by saying that there was no conflict between his role at Al-Azhar and membership in the party.
In April 2010, he resigned from his post in the party.
In an article published shortly after his appointment as president of Al-Azhar University, he was described as "a regime loyalist and member of Mr Mubarak's ruling National Democratic Party [who] takes a firm stance against the Muslim Brotherhood".
Tayeb was quoted as saying that Al-Azhar University would "never be an open field for the Brotherhood".
The same article reported that the Muslim Brotherhood's leader, Mohammed Badie, had congratulated Tayeb on his appointment. At the same time, the Brotherhood senior member, Sheikh Sayed Askar, also an Azharite, accused the government of "promoting one of its own at the expense of people better suited to the post".
In 2011, following the Egyptian revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood held a rally at the Al-Azhar mosque to oppose what it described as the Judaization of Jerusalem. He said at the rally that "the al-Aqsa Mosque is currently under an offensive by the Jews" and "we shall not allow the Zionists to Judaize al-Quds [Jerusalem]". He also alleged that Jews around the world were trying to prevent Islamic and Egyptian unity. The rally was criticized by the New York Daily News as anti-Semitic.
In 2016 the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, said that leaving Islam (apostasy) is punishable by death. In his view, crimes, assault and treason are forms of apostasy and must be punished. Apostates must rejoin Islam or be killed.
Opposition to sectarianismEdit
In an interview which aired on Egypt's Channel 1 on 25 October 2013 (as translated by MEMRI), Tayeb stated, "Since the inception of Islam 1,400 years ago, we have been suffering from Jewish and Zionist interference in Muslim affairs. This is a cause of great distress for the Muslims.".
He also argued that "the Quran said it and history has proven it: 'You shall find the strongest among men in enmity to the believers to be the Jews and the polytheists'". He also claimed that Jews consider non-Jews to be "extremely inferior" and that Jews "practice a terrible hierarchy, and they are not ashamed to admit it, because it is written in the Torah – with regard to killing, enslavement, and so on".
Islamic State of Iraq and the LevantEdit
He has strongly condemned the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant and stated that it is acting "under the guise of this holy religion and have given themselves the name 'Islamic State' in an attempt to export their false Islam" and (citing the Quran).
"The punishment for those who wage war against God and his Prophet and who strive to sow corruption on earth is death, crucifixion, the severing of hands and feet on opposite sides or banishment from the land. This is the disgrace for them in this world and in the hereafter they will receive grievous torment".
He has been criticized for not expressly stating that Islamic State was heretical. The Ash'ari school of Islamic theology - to which El-Tayeb belongs - does not allow calling a person who follows the shahada an apostate.
Tayeb has strongly come out against the practice of takfirism, declaring a Muslim an apostate, which is used by Islamic State to "judge and accuse anyone who doesn't tow their line with apostasy and outside the realm of the faith" and declares "jihad on peaceful Muslims" by using "flawed interpretations of some Qur'anic texts, the prophet's Sunna, and the Imams' views, believing incorrectly that they are leaders of Muslim armies fighting infidel peoples in unbelieving lands".
Wahhabism and SalafismEdit
In late 2016, at a conference of over a hundred Sunni scholars in Chechnya, Tayeb defined orthodox Sunnism as "the Ash'arites and Maturidites (adherents of the theological systems of Imam Abu Mansur al-Maturidi and Imam Abul Hasan al-Ash'ari) ... followers of any of the four schools of thought (Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki or Hanbali) and ... also the followers of the Sufism of Imam Junaid al-Baghdadi in doctrines, manners and [spiritual] purification." Having said that, Sheikh Ahmad al-Tayeb excluded the “Salafists” from the term of Ahluls Sunna (Sunnis) stating that Salafists – also known as Wahhabis – are not from among the Sunnis. The conference was believed to have been designed to take an "uncompromising stand against the growing Takfiri terrorism that is playing havoc across the world."
Tayeb attended several international meetings held in different countries such France, Jordan, Unites States, Italy, Indonesia, Germany and Switzerland.
- Abou el Magd, Nadia (21 March 2010). "Mubarak appoints a new chief of Al Azhar". The National.
- "أحمد الطيب شيخ الأزهر الجديد". www.aljazeera.net (in Arabic). Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- "شيخ الأزهر - فضيلة الإمام الأكبر الأستاذ الدكتور/ أحمد محمد أحمد الطيب". Azhar (in Arabic). 16 May 2016.
- Shahine, Gihan (25–31 March 2010). "'A good choice after all'; Will the appointment of a new grand sheikh restore Al-Azhar's credibility?". Al-Ahram Weekly. Archived from the original on 19 January 2012.
- Carnegie Endowment: "Salafis and Sufis in Egypt" by Jonathan Brown December 2011 | p 12 | "Ahmad al-Tayyeb, is a hereditary Sufi shaykh from Upper Egypt who has recently expressed his support for the formation of a world Sufi league."
- The New Arab: "IS threatens Egypt's Sufis after cleric murders" 9 December 2016 | The head of al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, practises Sufism, as have many leading Sunni Muslim clerics over the centuries.
- "EGYPT: Moderate cleric the front-runner in race to take over powerful Sunni Muslim post". LA Times. 13 March 2010.
- Topol, Sarah (22 March 2010). "Egypt names Ahmed el-Tayeb sheikh of Al-Azhar University". Christian Science Monitor.
- "Grand Imam of al-Azhar: The Imam of Tolerance". www.salemalketbi.com. Retrieved 28 January 2019.
- El-Beheri, Ahmed (21 March 2010): New sheikh of Al-Azhar: 'I won't resign from NDP', Egypt Independent
- Maher Ghali Katharina Natter, Diana (4 April 2010): "Mubarak accepts Azhar Sheikh's resignation from NDP", Masress
- Essam El-Din, Gamal (30 November 2012): "Constituent Assembly okays draft Egypt charter in night-time session", AhramOnLine
- Beck, Eldad (25 November 2011). "Cairo rally: One day we'll kill all Jews". Ynet. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
- Muslim Brotherhood rally vows to 'kill all Jews' By Oren Kessler, Jerusalem Post, 27 November 2011. (accessed on 17 August 2012).
- Mikelberg, Amanda (26 November 2011). "Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood holds anti-Semetic rally, draws thousands at Cairo's top mosque vowing to 'one day kill all the Jews'". New York Daily News. Retrieved 10 August 2012.
- BBC News (4 July 2013): "Q&A: Egypt military ousts Morsi" BBC News Service
- Ibrahim, Raymond. "Egypt's Top "Moderate" Cleric: Apostasy a "Crime" Punishable by Death". Middle East Forum. Retrieved 21 January 2019.
- "Islam's old schism: Sunnis v Shias, here and there". The Economist. 29 June 2013.
- Sheik of Al-Azhar Ahmad Al-Tayeb Justifies Antisemitism on the Basis of the Koran, MEMRITV, Clip No. 4048, 25 October 2013. (video clip available here).
-  Leading center of Sunni learning criticizes but does not accuse Islamic State of apostasy] by Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, 14 December 2014.
- Al Arabiya: "Head of Egypt’s al-Azhar condemns ISIS ‘barbarity’" Archived 6 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine 3 December 2014
- Asharq Al-Awsat: "Egypt’s Al-Azhar stops short of declaring ISIS apostates - Azhar statement rejects practice of takfirism" 13 December 2014
- Al Ahram: "In search of ‘renewal’ - Al-Azhar is at the centre of an escalating controversy" by Amany Maged 15 January 2015
- Al Monitor: "Al-Azhar refuses to consider the Islamic State an apostate" Archived 6 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine by Ahmed Fouad |"The sheikh of Al-Azhar, Ahmed al-Tayeb, repeated his rejection of declaring IS apostates on 1 Jan, during a meeting with editors-in-chief of Egyptian newspapers. This sparked criticism from a number of religious, political and media parties, especially since Al-Azhar could have renounced the Nigerian mufti’s statement on IS without addressing the issue of whether or not Al-Azhar considers the group apostates"
- Muslim World League: "Sheikh Al-Azhar Speech in opening of conference" Archived 15 October 2015 at the Wayback Machine 22 February 2015
- "Islamic conference in Chechnya: Why Sunnis are disassociating themselves from Salafists" Sep, 09 2016 | He stated: “Ahluls Sunna wal Jama’ah are the Ash’arites or Muturidis (adherents of Abu Mansur al-Maturidi's systematic theology which is also identical to Imam Abu Hasan al-Ash'ari’s school of logical thought). In matters of belief, they are followers of any of the four schools of thought (Hanafi, Shaf’ai, Maliki or Hanbali) and are also the followers of pure Sufism in doctrines, manners and [spiritual] purification.
- Ibid., "Islamic conference in Chechnya: Why Sunnis are disassociating themselves from Salafists"
- "Islamic conference in Chechnya: Why Sunnis are disassociating themselves from Salafists" Sep, 09 2016
- Teymoori, Ali (19 October 2016). "Fatwa of Al-Azhar's Grand Imam on Shia". Ijtihad Network.
- "2013 Sheikh Zayed Book Award Winners Announced". zayedaward.ae. 3 April 2013. Archived from the original on 10 November 2013. Retrieved 9 November 2013.