Al-Azhar University

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For the university in Gaza, see Al-Azhar University – Gaza. Al-Azhar University_sentence_0

For the historic mosque building, see Al-Azhar Mosque. Al-Azhar University_sentence_1

For people named Azhar, see Azhar (name) and Azhari (name). Al-Azhar University_sentence_2

Al-Azhar University_table_infobox_0

Al-Azhar UniversityAl-Azhar University_table_caption_0
TypeAl-Azhar University_header_cell_0_0_0 PublicAl-Azhar University_cell_0_0_1
EstablishedAl-Azhar University_header_cell_0_1_0 c. 972; 1048 years ago (972)Al-Azhar University_cell_0_1_1
Religious affiliationAl-Azhar University_header_cell_0_2_0 Sunni IslamAl-Azhar University_cell_0_2_1
PresidentAl-Azhar University_header_cell_0_3_0 Dr. Mohamed HussinAl-Azhar University_cell_0_3_1
LocationAl-Azhar University_header_cell_0_4_0 Cairo, EgyptAl-Azhar University_cell_0_4_1
CampusAl-Azhar University_header_cell_0_5_0 UrbanAl-Azhar University_cell_0_5_1
WebsiteAl-Azhar University_header_cell_0_6_0 Al-Azhar University_cell_0_6_1

Al-Azhar University_table_infobox_1

University rankingsAl-Azhar University_header_cell_1_0_0
Global – OverallAl-Azhar University_header_cell_1_1_0
QS WorldAl-Azhar University_header_cell_1_2_0 701+Al-Azhar University_cell_1_2_1

Al-Azhar University (/ˈɑːzhɑːr/ AHZ-har; Arabic: جامعة الأزهر (الشريف)‎, IPA: [ˈɡæmʕet elˈʔɑzhɑɾ eʃʃæˈɾiːf, "the (honorable) University of Al-Azhar") is a university in Cairo, Egypt. Al-Azhar University_sentence_3

Associated with Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo, it is Egypt's oldest degree-granting university and is renowned as the most prestigious university for Sunni Islamic learning. Al-Azhar University_sentence_4

In addition to higher education, Al-Azhar oversees a national network of schools with approximately two million students. Al-Azhar University_sentence_5

As of 1996, over 4,000 teaching institutes in Egypt were affiliated with the University. Al-Azhar University_sentence_6

Founded in 970 or 972 by the Fatimid Caliphate as a centre of Islamic learning, its students studied the Qur'an and Islamic law in detail, along with logic, grammar, rhetoric, and how to calculate the phases of the moon. Al-Azhar University_sentence_7

Today it is the chief centre of Arabic literature and Islamic learning in the world. Al-Azhar University_sentence_8

In 1961 additional non-religious subjects were added to its curriculum. Al-Azhar University_sentence_9

Its library is considered second in importance in Egypt only to the Egyptian National Library and Archives. Al-Azhar University_sentence_10

In May 2005, Al-Azhar in partnership with a Dubai information technology enterprise, IT Education Project (ITEP) launched the H.H. Al-Azhar University_sentence_11

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Project to Preserve Al Azhar Scripts and Publish Them Online (the "Al-Azhar Online Project") to eventually publish online access to the library's entire rare manuscripts collection, comprising about seven million pages of material. Al-Azhar University_sentence_12

History Al-Azhar University_section_0

Beginnings under the Fatimids Al-Azhar University_section_1

Al-Azhar is one of the relics of the Isma'ili Shi'a Fatimid dynasty, which claimed descent from Fatimah, daughter of Muhammad and wife of Ali son-in-law and cousin of Muhammad. Al-Azhar University_sentence_13

Fatimah was called al-Zahra (the luminous), and the institution was named in her honor. Al-Azhar University_sentence_14

It was founded as mosque by the Fatimid commander Jawhar al-Siqilli at the orders of the Caliph and Imam Al-Mu'izz li-Din Allah as he founded the city for Cairo. Al-Azhar University_sentence_15

It was begun (probably on Saturday) in Jumada al-Awwal in the year AH 359 (March/April 970 CE). Al-Azhar University_sentence_16

Its building was completed on the 9th of Ramadan in the year AH 361 (24 June 972 CE). Al-Azhar University_sentence_17

Both Caliph al-Aziz Billah and Caliph Al-Hakim bi-Amr Allah added to its premises. Al-Azhar University_sentence_18

It was further repaired, renovated and extended by al-Mustansir Billah and al-Hafiz li-Din Allah. Al-Azhar University_sentence_19

The Fatimid caliphs always encouraged scholars and jurists to have their study-circles and gatherings in this mosque and thus it was turned into a madrasa which has the claim to be considered as the oldest such institution still functioning. Al-Azhar University_sentence_20

Studies began at Al-Azhar in the month of Ramadan, 975. Al-Azhar University_sentence_21

According to Syed Farid Alatas, the Jami'ah had faculties in Islamic law and jurisprudence, Arabic grammar, Islamic astronomy, Islamic philosophy, and logic. Al-Azhar University_sentence_22

The Fatimids gave attention to the philosophical studies at the time when rulers in other countries declared those who were engaged in philosophical pursuits as apostates and heretics. Al-Azhar University_sentence_23

The Greek thought found a warm reception with the Fatimids who expanded the boundaries of such studies. Al-Azhar University_sentence_24

They paid much attention to philosophy and gave support to everyone who was known for being engaged in the study of any branch of philosophy. Al-Azhar University_sentence_25

The Fatimid Caliph invited many scholars from nearby countries and paid much attention to college books on various branches of knowledge and in gathering the finest writing on various subjects and this in order to encourage scholars and to uphold the cause of knowledge. Al-Azhar University_sentence_26

These books were destroyed by Saladin. Al-Azhar University_sentence_27

Saladin Al-Azhar University_section_2

In the 12th century, following the overthrow of the Isma'ili Fatimid dynasty, Saladin (the founder of the Sunni Ayyubid Dynasty) converted Al-Azhar to a Shafi'ite Sunni center of learning. Al-Azhar University_sentence_28

Therefore, the Encyclopaedia of Islam (Leiden, 1936, 3rd vol., p. 353) writes that, "He had all the treasures of the palace, including the books, sold over a period of ten years. Al-Azhar University_sentence_29

Many were burned, thrown into the Nile, or thrown into a great heap, which was covered with sand, so that a regular "hill of books" was formed and the soldiers used to sole their shoes with the fine bindings. Al-Azhar University_sentence_30

The number of books said to have disposed of varies from 120,000 to 2,000,000." Al-Azhar University_sentence_31

Abd-el-latif delivered lectures on Islamic medicine at Al-Azhar, while according to legend the Jewish philosopher Maimonides delivered lectures on medicine and astronomy there during the time of Saladin though no historical proof has corroborated this. Al-Azhar University_sentence_32

Saladin introduced the college system in Egypt, which was also adopted in Al-Azhar. Al-Azhar University_sentence_33

Under this system, the college was a separate institution within the mosque compound, with its own classrooms, dormitories and a library. Al-Azhar University_sentence_34

Mamluks Al-Azhar University_section_3

Under the Mamluks, Al-Azhar gained influence and rose in prestige. Al-Azhar University_sentence_35

The Mamluks established salaries for instructors and stipends for the students and gave the institution an endowment. Al-Azhar University_sentence_36

A college was built for the institution in 1340, outside of the mosque. Al-Azhar University_sentence_37

In the late 1400s, the buildings were renovated and new dormitories were built for the students. Al-Azhar University_sentence_38

During this time Cairo had 70 other institutions of Islamic learning, however, Al-Azhar attracted many scholars due to its prestige. Al-Azhar University_sentence_39

The famed Ibn Khaldun taught at Al-Azhar starting in 1383. Al-Azhar University_sentence_40

During this time texts were few and much of the learning happened by students memorizing their teachers' lectures and notes. Al-Azhar University_sentence_41

In fact, blind young boys were enrolled at Al-Azhar in the hopes that they could eventually earn a living as teachers. Al-Azhar University_sentence_42

Ottomans Al-Azhar University_section_4

During the Ottoman period, Al-Azhar's prestige and influence grew to the point of becoming the preeminent institution for Islamic learning in the Sunni Muslim world. Al-Azhar University_sentence_43

During this time, the Shaykh Al-Azhar was established, an office given the leading scholar at the institution; prior to this the head of the institution was not necessarily a scholar. Al-Azhar University_sentence_44

In 1748, the Ottoman pasha tried to get Al-Azhar to teach astronomy and mathematics, to little avail. Al-Azhar University_sentence_45

During the time there wasn't a system of academic degrees, instead the shaykh (professor) determined if the student was sufficiently trained to enter a professor (ijazah). Al-Azhar University_sentence_46

The average length of study was 6 years. Al-Azhar University_sentence_47

Despite the lack of bureaucracy, the training remained rigorous and prolonged. Al-Azhar University_sentence_48

Students were loosely organized into riwaq (a sort of fraternity) organized according to their nationality and branch of Islamic law they studied. Al-Azhar University_sentence_49

Each riwaq was supervised by a professor. Al-Azhar University_sentence_50

A rector, usually a senior professor, oversaw the finances. Al-Azhar University_sentence_51

Post-Ottoman Al-Azhar University_section_5

By the mid 19thC, al-Azhar had surpassed Istanbul and was considered the mecca of Sunni legal expertise; a main centre of power in the Islamic world; and a rival to Damascus, Mecca and Baghdad. Al-Azhar University_sentence_52

When Egypt was granted nominal independence under British military occupation, The Kingdom of Egypt's new constitution was delayed because of King Fuad I's insistence that Al-Azhar and other religious institutions were to be subject to him and not parliament. Al-Azhar University_sentence_53

The King Fuad I Edition of the Qur’an was first published on 10 July 1924 by a committee from Al-Azhar University Prominent committee members included Islamic scholar, Muhammad b. Al-Azhar University_sentence_54

‘Ali al-Husayni al-Haddad. Al-Azhar University_sentence_55

Noteworthy Western scholars/academics working in Egypt at the time include Bergsträsser and Jeffery. Al-Azhar University_sentence_56

Methodological differences aside, speculation alludes to a spirit of cooperation. Al-Azhar University_sentence_57

Bergsträsser was certainly impressed with the work. Al-Azhar University_sentence_58

In March 1924, Abdülmecid II had been deposed as Caliph, supreme religious and political leader of all Muslims across the world. Al-Azhar University_sentence_59

The Grand Sheikh of al-Azhar repudiated the abolition and was part of a call from Al-Azhar for an Islamic Conference. Al-Azhar University_sentence_60

The unsuccessful "caliphate conference" was held under the presidency of the Grand Chancellor of Azhar in 1926 but no one was able to gain a consensus for the candidacy across the Islamic world. Al-Azhar University_sentence_61

Candidates proposed for the caliphate included King Fuad. Al-Azhar University_sentence_62

Modernization Al-Azhar University_section_6

In 1961, Al-Azhar was re-established as a university under the government of Egypt's second President Gamal Abdel Nasser when a wide range of secular faculties were added for the first time, such as business, economics, science, pharmacy, medicine, engineering and agriculture. Al-Azhar University_sentence_63

Before that date, the Encyclopaedia of Islam classifies the Al-Azhar variously as madrasa, center of higher learning and, since the 19th century, religious university, but not as a university in the full sense, referring to the modern transition process as "from madrasa to university". Al-Azhar University_sentence_64

Other academic sources also refer to al-Azhar as a madrasa in pre-modern times before its transformation into a university. Al-Azhar University_sentence_65

An Islamic women's faculty was also added in the same year, six years after Zaib-un-Nissa Hamidullah had been the first woman to speak at the university. Al-Azhar University_sentence_66

Religious ideology Al-Azhar University_section_7

Historically, Al-Azhar had a membership that represented diverse opinions within Islam. Al-Azhar University_sentence_67

The theological schools of Al-Ashari and Al-Maturidi were both represented. Al-Azhar University_sentence_68

It has a long tradition of teaching all four schools of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence (Hanafi, Maliki, Shafi, and Hanbali). Al-Azhar University_sentence_69

The chief mufti of each school of thought acted as the dean, responsible for the teachers and students in that group. Al-Azhar University_sentence_70

During the time of the Ottomans, the Hanafi dean came to hold a position as primus inter pares. Al-Azhar University_sentence_71

It also had membership from the seven main Sufi orders. Al-Azhar University_sentence_72

Al-Azhar has had an antagonistic relationship with Wahhabism. Al-Azhar University_sentence_73

According to a 2011 report issued by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Al Azhar is strongly Sufi in character: Al-Azhar University_sentence_74

However, in the early 20th century, enlightened Salafi thinkers such as Muhammad Abduh led a reform of the curriculum, reintroducing a desire for legal reform through ijtihad. Al-Azhar University_sentence_75

Subsequently, disputes were had between modernist intellectuals and traditionalists within al-Azhar. Al-Azhar University_sentence_76

Al-Azhar now maintains a modernist position, advocating "Wasatiyya" (centrism), a reaction against the extreme textualism of many Wahhabi Salafi ideologues. Al-Azhar University_sentence_77

Wasatiyya covers a range of thinkers, some who are liberal intellectuals with religious inclinations, preachers such as Yusuf al-Qaradawi and many members of the Muslim Brotherhood. Al-Azhar University_sentence_78

The nineteenth and current Grand Mufti of Egypt and Al Azhar scholar, is Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam. Al-Azhar University_sentence_79

The university is opposed to overt liberal reform of Islam and issued a fatwa against the liberal Ibn-Rushd-Goethe mosque in Berlin because it banned face-covering veils such as burqa and niqab on its premises while allowing women and men to pray together. Al-Azhar University_sentence_80

The fatwa encompassed all present and future liberal mosques. Al-Azhar University_sentence_81

Council of Senior Scholars Al-Azhar University_section_8

Al-Azhar University's Council of Senior Scholars was founded in 1911 but was replaced in 1961 by the Center for Islamic Research. Al-Azhar University_sentence_82

In July 2012, after the law restricting Al-Azhar University's autonomy was modified by the incoming president Mohamed Morsi, the council was reformed. Al-Azhar University_sentence_83

The Council consists of 40 members and as of February 2013 had 14 vacancies all appointed by the current imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed El-Tayeb, who was appointed by the prior president, Hosni Mubarak. Al-Azhar University_sentence_84

Once the remaining 14 vacancies are filled, new vacancies will be appointed by the existing Council itself. Al-Azhar University_sentence_85

All four madhahib (schools) of Sunni Islamic jurisprudence are proportionally represented on the council (Hanafi, Shafi'i, Hanbali, Maliki) and voting is on a majority basis. Al-Azhar University_sentence_86

In addition to El-Tayeb, other prominent members of the Council include the outgoing Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa. Al-Azhar University_sentence_87

The council is tasked with nominating the Grand Mufti of Egypt (subject to presidential approval), electing the next Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque, and is expected to be the final authority in determining if new legislation is compliant with Islamic law. Al-Azhar University_sentence_88

Although the council's decisions are not binding (absent new legislation), it is expected that it would be difficult for the parliament to pass legislation deemed by the council as against Islamic law. Al-Azhar University_sentence_89

In January 2013, Al-Tayeb referred a relatively minor issue related to Islamic bonds to the council, for the first time asserting the council's jurisdiction. Al-Azhar University_sentence_90

In 2013, the Council elected Shawki Ibrahim Abdel-Karim Allam to be the next Grand Mufti of Egypt. Al-Azhar University_sentence_91

This marks the first time that the Grand Mufti would be elected by Islamic scholars since the position was created in 1895. Al-Azhar University_sentence_92

Prior to this, the Egyptian head of state made the appointment. Al-Azhar University_sentence_93

Views Al-Azhar University_section_9

Al-Azhar's muftis have a history of being consulted on political issues. Al-Azhar University_sentence_94

Muhammad Ali Pasha appointed Al-Azhar muftis to the Consultative Council in 1829 and this would be repeated by Abbas I and later Isma'il Pasha. Al-Azhar University_sentence_95

At the same time, there were many cases where the Egyptian ruler would disregard the opinion of Al-Azhar scholars. Al-Azhar University_sentence_96

Sheikh Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy noted that among the priorities of Muslims are "to master all knowledge of the world and the hereafter, not least the technology of modern weapons to strengthen and defend the community and faith". Al-Azhar University_sentence_97

He added that "mastery over modern weaponry is important to prepare for any eventuality or prejudices of the others, although Islam is a religion of peace". Al-Azhar University_sentence_98

Sheikh Tantawy also reasserted that his is the best faith to follow and that Muslims have the duty of active da'wa. Al-Azhar University_sentence_99

He has made declarations about Muslims interacting with non-Muslims who are not a threat to Muslims. Al-Azhar University_sentence_100

There are non-Muslims living apart from Muslims and who are not enemies of Islam ("Muslims are allowed to undertake exchanges of interests with these non-Muslims so long as these ties do not tarnish the image of the faith"), and there are "the non-Muslims who live in the same country as the Muslims in cooperation and on friendly terms, and are not enemies of the faith" ("in this case, their rights and responsibilities are the same as the Muslims so long as they do not become enemies of Islam"). Al-Azhar University_sentence_101

Shi'a fiqh (according to a fatwa by Al-Azhar) is accepted as a fifth school of Islamic thought. Al-Azhar University_sentence_102

In October 2007, Muhammad Sayyid Tantawy, then the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar, drew allegations of stifling freedom of speech when he asked the Egyptian government to toughen its rules and punishments against journalists. Al-Azhar University_sentence_103

During a Friday sermon in the presence of Egyptian Prime Minister Ahmed Nazif and a number of ministers, Tantawy was alleged to have stated that journalism which contributes to the spread of false rumours rather than true news deserved to be boycotted, and that it was tantamount to sinning for readers to purchase such newspapers. Al-Azhar University_sentence_104

Tantawy, a supporter of then Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, also called for a punishment of eighty lashes to "those who spread rumors" in an indictment of speculation by journalists over Mubarak's ill health and possible death. Al-Azhar University_sentence_105

This was not the first time that he had criticized the Egyptian press regarding its news coverage nor the first time he in return had been accused by the press of opposing freedom of speech. Al-Azhar University_sentence_106

During a religious celebration in the same month, Tantawy had released comments alluding to "the arrogant and the pretenders who accuse others with the ugliest vice and unsubstantiated charges". Al-Azhar University_sentence_107

In response, Egypt's press union issued a statement suggesting that Tantawy appeared to be involved in inciting and escalating a campaign against journalists and freedom of the press. Al-Azhar University_sentence_108

Tantawy died in 2010 and was succeeded by Mohamed Ahmed el-Tayeb. Al-Azhar University_sentence_109

In 2016 Ahmed el-Tayeb reissued the fatwa on Shia Muslims, calling Shia the fifth school of Islam and seeing no problem with conversions from Sunni to Shia Islam. Al-Azhar University_sentence_110

However, the NGOs report that violence and propaganda against the country's Shia minority continues. Al-Azhar University_sentence_111

Shia Muslims are frequently denied services in addition to being called derogatory names. Al-Azhar University_sentence_112

Anti-Shia sentiment is spread through education at all levels. Al-Azhar University_sentence_113

Clerics educated at Al-Azhar University publicly promote sectarian beliefs by calling Shia Muslims infidels and encourage isolation and marginalization of Shia Muslims in Egypt. Al-Azhar University_sentence_114

Scholars from Al-Azhar declared the writings to Farag Foda to be blasphemous. Al-Azhar University_sentence_115

Muhammad al-Ghazali, a member of Al-Azhar, declared Foda to be guilty of apostasy. Al-Azhar University_sentence_116

According to Geneive Abdo, Muhammad al-Ghazali also added that anyone killing an apostate would not be punished, while according to Nathan Brown, Muhammad al-Ghazali stopped just short of condoning Foroda's assassination. Al-Azhar University_sentence_117

Foda was assassinated in June 1992, by an Egyptian terrorist group al-Jama'a al-Islamiyya, who claimed justification from Al-Azhar's fatwas. Al-Azhar University_sentence_118

In response, a scholar at Al-Azhar published Man Qatala Faraj Fawda. Al-Azhar University_sentence_119

In 2016 the grand imam of Al-Azhar, Ahmed el-Tayeb, said that leaving Islam (apostasy) is punishable by death. Al-Azhar University_sentence_120

In his view, crimes, assault and treason are forms of apostasy and must be punished. Al-Azhar University_sentence_121

Apostates must rejoin Islam or be killed. Al-Azhar University_sentence_122

Notable people associated with the university Al-Azhar University_section_10

10th–11th centuries Al-Azhar University_sentence_123

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19th – early 20th centuries Al-Azhar University_sentence_124

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1910s–1950s Al-Azhar University_sentence_125

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1950–present Al-Azhar University_sentence_126

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See also Al-Azhar University_section_11

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Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: University.