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Forty-eighth named Grand Imam of al-Azhar by Hosni Mubarak, the new highest dignitary of Sunni Islam is a
proponent of interfaith dialogue
President Mubarak has appointed Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed Ahmed al-Tayeb forty-eighth Grand Imam of al-Azhar, which gives it the role of spiritual leader of Sunni Islam in the world. To everyone's surprise, the Rais made his decision from Germany where he is convalescing after an operation.
Since the death of Imam Tantawi, occurred March 10, the question arose as to his successor at the head of al-Azhar mosque, but the university, schools and groups of ulema (scholars of Islamic theology). This choice is very delicate, the cleric is irremovable. He was once elected by his peers, but since a decision by President Nasser in 1961 he was appointed by presidential decree.
Hosni Mubarak enjoys long-standing culture and the qualities of great theologian of the new imam. He was appointed mufti of the Republic (second Muslim cleric in the country, entrusted with deciding between licit and illicit) in 2002. In 2003, he gave it a much greater responsibility: the management of the prestigious University of al-Azhar, the first educational center in Sunni Islam.
"A man of great humanity"
Age 64, Imam al-Tayeb is a product of al-Azhar. At ten, he learned the Koran in the village school attached to that institution. Later, he enrolled in Cairo, Faculty of Theology, graduated in 1969 and his MA in 1971. He then devoted himself to teaching, and has a doctorate from the Sorbonne on "Faith and philosophy of Islam."
Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb is moderate and liberal. It is also scarce in al-Azhar, one French. Supporter of interfaith dialogue, he gave ample evidence. At the time he was preparing his doctorate, he often went to the library of the Dominican Institute for Oriental Studies (IDEO), where he was received as a friend.
Mufti, then president of the university, he maintained excellent relations with the Dominican Institute. He meets regularly P. Jean-Jacques Perennes, Dominican Republic and Secretary General of Ideo, and recently received several officials in his office to consider joint projects with them. "He is a man of great humanity, one feels deeply good," he said of the P. Perennes.
Denise AMMOUN, Cairo
Photo: The new Imam of al-Azhar, Sheikh Ahmed al-Tayeb Mohamed Ahmed at his office in Cairo Sunday, March 21, the first day of his office makes him the highest authority in Sunni Islam (AP Photo / Ahmed Gomaa).