Al-Azhar head Tantawi buried in Madinah

THE LAST JOURNEY: Egyptian and Saudi officials carry the coffin of Sheikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi at the Riyadh airport on Wednesday. (AP)

By GHAZANFAR ALI KHAN | ARAB NEWS

RIYADH: Sheikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, a prominent voice of the Islamic world and head of Al-Azhar, the highest religious authority in Egypt, died here on Wednesday at the age of 81 following a heart attack. Sheikh Tantawi had arrived in Riyadh on Tuesday to participate in the award-giving ceremony of the King Faisal International Prize.

A revered figure among a large section of the world’s 1.5 billion Muslims, Tantawi had been associated with Saudi Arabia and the Arab world for the last several decades. He carries a legacy of exemplary services to Islam.

He was boarding an early morning flight when he suffered severe pain and fell on the stairs, Egyptian television said. He was rushed to the Amir Sultan Hospital in Riyadh where doctors pronounced him dead.

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.

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. Several heads of government, leaders, scholars and Islamic workers from across the world have sent their condolences to the Egyptian government.

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’s association with Saudi Arabia dates back to 1980, when he joined as chief of the Tafsir branch at the Islamic University of Madinah.

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,” he said at the time.

Comments

SABIR ISMAIL BOOTAY

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May Allah give the high place in Jannatul-Firdous. Though this is a big lose for Muslim Ummah, we've to accept the Allah's will.

SHEIKH GOOLAM MOHAMMUD

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Dear Brothers,
Assalaamu'Alaikum Wa Rahmatullah Wa Barakaatu,

It is with deep regret and sorrow that I learned the death of my dear Brother Sheikh Mohammd sayed Tantawi. I was with him in Egypt during the last assembly of conference IICDR and we discussed cooperation between Azar and Mauritius Island.
We have lost a great man in our Ummah.
On behalf of The Blue Crescent(Dawaa & Relief) Mauritius and the people of Mauritius,Kindly convey our condonlence to his family, Government of Islamic of Egypt, Directors of Al-Azar University and the lovely people of Egypt.
Wassalaam

Sheikh Goolam Mohammud
Secretary General
The Blue Crescent (Dawaa & Relief) Mauritius
P.O. Box 204
Curepipe
Mauritius
Tel:- 230-492 4883 Fax:- 230-698 7799

NISHTHAR IDROOS

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Alhamdulillah, its the ultimate for a muslim to be buried in Madinah, may Allah accept it from you and me.May Allah make Sheikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi's life in the grave easy, Ameen.

YESHUA (ISA SON OF MARYAM - SECOND COMING)

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One of my respected Muslims Ulema. Allah Bless him. May be one ot those who close to Allah in the Hereafter. Sent my messages of condolence to Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on the death of Tantawi.

Al-Fatiha (The Opening)

NORDDIN

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Al_Fatihah

RAMEE

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all i can say "God bless you" but what will you say to Allah about the muslim women viel and palestine seige around Gaza

TAWFEEQ ABDULKAREEM

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It is a painful pill to swallow! May Allah give him and other dead faithful the best of Jannah! Hope our brothers and sisters will take portent from death. It is a cup from which everyone among us shall drink from, voluntarily or involuntarily. Alhamudllah for a good life well spent!!!

MOHAMMED SADULLAH KHAN, RIYADH

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Great Loss

The death of Sheikh Muhammad Sayed Tantawi, a prominent voice of the Islamic world and head of Al-Azhar, the highest religious authority in Egypt is a great loss to the Islamic world. He was fortunate enough to be buried at Jannatul Baqi in Madinah. The Quran says very aptly that "Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un" means "Verily we belong to God, and to God we return ". Each one of us has to return to our Lord, irrespective of our deeds. He has given many fatwa's on the relevant issues faced by the Muslim world and was one of the most respected figures among Muslims. May Allah grant him Mercy and Jannah.

IMAN BAGHDADY

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he was a good man, subhana Allah who plans our every step, perhaps a few hours from then and he would have died in Egypt but Allah willed that he be buried besides the prophet saaws and the companions. May Allah make all our endings good and may he and our muslim dead be joined to the ranks of those whom Allah shades in mercy when there is no shade and may he stave his thirst by a cup from the hands of the prophet mohamed saaws. rahimahu Allah wa adkhalahu faseeh janaatih

ABDUL RAZAK

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May Allah, the Alimighty, reward the good deeds of Sheikh Tantawi and bestow His Rahma & Barakah on him (Aameen)

MEHDI

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so does the fact that he told sisters to remove their hijab in france not faze you guys? or the fact that he shouted down sisters who wear niqab? Does all that not matter? Do we look at the status of a person rather than his deeds?

BLESS

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he supported the French ban on the hijab. He wanted to ban the niqab in Egypt because the niqab is traditional and he thought traditions don't have a place in Islam. He supported building the Gaza wall. He was a great leader. We will miss him greatly for fighting his own religion's values and personal preferences of women and independent rights. May Allah have mercy on him and I don't think he deserves to be buried in Baqee cemetary.

IMAN BAGHDADY

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A man makes a fatwa if he makes a correct fatwa he gets double merit for the effort and for the correctness. If he makes an incorrect fatwa he gains merit for his effort. Sheikh Tantawi who are we to judge where a man deserves to be buried? Let Allah decide as He will decide all our burial grounds and He will decide who will enter heaven.
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