Al- Azhar

Azhar, Al-

 

(al-Jami al-Azhar), a complex of Muslim religious and secular educational institutions. It was founded in Cairo in the tenth century under the auspices of al-Azhar Mosque, which was built in 970–72 during the reign of the Fatimid caliph al-Mu’izz (953–975). Reorganized in 1961, al-Azhar includes the High Academic Council of al-Azhar; the Academy of Islamic Studies; al-Azhar University, consisting of the faculties of Islamic jurisprudence, theology, Arabic studies, engineering, agriculture, medicine, and business administration, and the Islamic Girls’ College; and institutes and special religious establishments in Cairo and provincial centers. During the 1968–69 academic year, more than 30,000 students, 18 percent of them from other Muslim countries, studied at the university and its institutes. The university is headed by a rector, the sheikh of al-Azhar, who is the chief imam. The government of Egypt has a minister for the affairs of al-Azhar. The central library of al-Azhar has 80,000 volumes (1969) and 20,000 manuscripts. Al-Azhar publishes Majallyat al-Azhar (Journal of Azhar), known as Nur al-Islam (Light of Islam) from 1929 to 1936.

REFERENCES

Mahmud abu-l-Uyyun. Al-Jami al-Azhar: Nubdhafi Tarihi. Cairo, 1948.
Al-Azhar fi ithnai ashara aman. Cairo, 1965.

G. SH. SHARBATOV

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Summary: LATE in the 18th century Abdullah el- Sharqawi, the Grand Sheikh of Al- Azhar declared his solidarity with the peasants in the Delta province of Bilbeis, some 80 kilometres from Cairo.
This demand was one reason behind a series of demonstrations that have been recently held, in which protesters have asked that the post of the Sheikh of Al- Azhar should be assumed through election and not by appointment.
Al- Azhar institution--which groups a 10th century mosque, a university and several affiliated schools--is Sunni Islam's highest seat of learning.