Sheikh Mohamed Mutwali al-Sharawi
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Sharawi is dead Wednesday, June 17, 1998 CAIRO: The Arab world's best known television preacher of the Holy Qur'an, Sheikh Mohamed Mutwali al-Sharawi, died yesterday at the age of 87, Egyptian officials said. Sheikh Sharawi's regular weekly programme on Egyptian television immediately following Friday prayers was followed by millions around the Middle East. During his programmes, the Sheikh explained the Qur'an with humour and the use of examples drawn from everyday life. Egypt's state television interrupted its regular programmes to announce Sharawi's death, which it described as a "huge loss for all the Muslim world." It did not give the cause of death but Sharawi had suffered from diabetes. Sharawi, who had moderate views of Islam, was considered Egypt's top preacher. His books, tapes and videos are popular all over the Muslim world and he was given awards by several Arab Gulf countries. Prominent Egyptian imam dies CAIRO: One of the Muslim world's leading imams, Sheik Mohamed Mutwali Sharawi of Egypt, died of a heart attack yesterday. Egypt's leading Islamic authority, the Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar, Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, described Sharawi's death as a great loss not only to Egypt, but to the whole Islamic world. "Time rarely gives birth to such a glorious imam who devoted his life to making the word of God Esteemed," Tantawi said in a statement. Sharawi's "fingerprints on Islamic teaching were matchless," said Moustafa Mashhour, the leader of the Muslim Brotherhood group. Sharawi, who served as minister of religious endowments under Egyptian president Anwar Sadat in 1976-78, died at his home near the pyramids of Giza at Dawn, his family said. Last week Sharawi was admitted to hospital after a severe bout of asthma. Sharawi gave a religious lecture on Egyptian television on Fridays, that was popular particularly for the simple way in which he conveyed Islamic principles and his speaking in a colloquial dialect of Arabic. His teachings and rulings won him wide acclaim in the Muslim world. He is survived by three sons and two daughters. His son, Sheikh Sami, is an imam at Al-Azhar. He graduated from the Muslim world's oldest religious institution of Al-Azhar in the early 1940s and ran several charities funded by the Saudi royal family. He held firm views on women, transplantation of human organs and political issues. Sharawi said once he opposed transplantation of human organs bthis was an attempt to change God's will by making a human being alive longer than he or she were destined to. Sharawi's funeral was held at his village of Dakamis in Qalyoubia province, 200km north of Cairo, and was attended by thousands of people. The religious works of Sheik Sharawi are among the best-selling books in Egypt. The Akhbar al-Youm publishing house which prints them recently said it has sold some 700,000 copies. Agencies Thousands Mourn Egyptian Cleric By Salah Nasrawi Associated Press Writer Wednesday, June 17, 1998; 2:45 p.m. EDT CAIRO, Egypt (AP) -- Thousands of Egyptians, many of them weeping and chanting religious slogans, mourned the death today of Sheik Mohammed Mutwali Sharawi, a leading cleric in the Muslim world. Sharawi, minister of religious endowments under former President Anwar Sadat, died Wednesday at 87 at his home near the pyramids of Giza. The cause of his death was not announced. Last week, he was hospitalized for severe asthma. President Hosni Mubarak praised the popular cleric, saying he had ``greatly contributed to Islam and enriched Muslims with his wide knowledge of the correct teachings of Islam.'' Egypt's leading Islamic authority, the Grand Sheik of Al-Azhar, Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, described Sharawi's death as a great loss, saying: ``Time rarely gives birth to such a glorious imam who devoted his life to making the word of God esteemed.'' In his home village of Daqadous in the Nile Delta, thousands poured into narrow, dirt streets in a procession that carried Sharawi's body to the cemetery. Black-uniformed police pushed back crowds that surged toward the green coffin. Many mourners chanted, ``There is no god but God.'' Women dressed in black cried, and clouds of dirt drifted through the hot afternoon air. Sharawi gave a religious lecture on Egyptian television on Fridays that was widely watched because of the simple way in which he conveyed Islamic principles and because he spoke in a colloquial dialect of Arabic. His books, videotapes and cassettes were available at bookstores and sidewalk stalls across Cairo. His teachings and rulings won him wide acclaim in the Muslim world, but they were also controversial. Moderate Muslims considered them outdated. He angered feminists and human rights activists by supporting female circumcision and by ruling that women should not be appointed to top government positions or become judges. He also condemned organ transplants and the paying of interest on bank deposits. Sharawi was born in Daqadous, 75 miles north of Cairo. During his lifetime, he built a religious school, a mosque and a hospital in the village. He trained at Al-Azhar in Cairo, the leading religious institute in the Sunni Muslim world. He became a theological lecturer in Saudi Arabia and then rejoined Al-Azhar as a director of teaching. But he had to leave after falling out with then-President Gamal Abdel Nasser over Egypt's increasingly close ties with the Soviet Union. In what was possibly his most controversial move, he gave thanks to God after Egypt suffered a calamitous defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War. Asked why, he said that if Nasser had won the war, Egypt would have become a communist country. Sharawi is survived by three sons and two daughters.