x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Sheikh Tantawi, scholar of unconventional ideas

Dubai's Grand Mufti recalls a man unafraid to oppose the majority

Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi speaks at the opening ceremony of the Mohammad Amin mosque in Beirut in 2008.
Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi speaks at the opening ceremony of the Mohammad Amin mosque in Beirut in 2008.

The Grand Mufti of Dubai, who has known Sheikh Mohammed Sayed Tantawi since 1999, has sent his condolences to his family and hailed him as a man of "brave" stances. "He was an individual who always stood his ground," Dr Ahmed al Haddad said. "He was stubborn in his views once he was convinced of them and didn't fear the repercussions or the fact that he was going against the flow of majority."

The Grand Mufti, who is also head of the Islamic Affairs and Charitable Activities Department, had repeatedly invited Sheikh Tantawi throughout the years for Ramadan lectures as well as other religious events. Dr al Haddad recalled numerous heated debates with Sheikh Tantawi, but with his death, and out of respect for him, refrained from elaborating further on the specifics of these debates. "Sometimes opposing opinions to the main accepted school of thought could be dangerous," he said, but added that nonetheless Islam does not forbid discussions and debates among its followers.

"Even as an old man, he kept in touch with the youth and took on many issues and brought them to the attention of the public," said Dr Haddad. Dr al Haddad's last meeting with Sheikh Tantawi was two months ago in Saudi Arabia. @Email:rghazal@thenational.ae