22 June 1997
June 22, 972 AD
AI Azhar is the grand scientific Islamic institute in charge of preserving, studying, clarifying and spreading the Islamic heritage. It is responsible for conveying the Message of Islam to all peoples.
It brings to light the truth about Islam and its impact on the progress of humanity, civilization, security and peace. AI Azhar , also takes interest in the revival of Arab civilization, the scientific and the intellectual heritage of the nation besides pinpointing the impact of the Arabs on the development and progress of humanity.
At the very beginning, it was called the Cairo Mosque after the new capital founded by Gowhar AI Siqqily. Later, during the reign of AI-Aziz Billah the Fatimid, the mosque was renamed as AI Azhar (Most brilliant or flourishing).
According to some historians this name was given following the building of Fatimid palaces known as Zahera (brilliant). Others maintained that the mosque was renamed as AI Azhar as an indication to its prospective role in the flourishing of science.
Above all, it cannot be excluded that the Fatimids who were descendants of Fatma AIZahraa, Prophet Mohammedís daughter, gave the mosque this name to honour the memory of their grandmother.
AI Azhar Mosque played a significant role in promoting the cultural life. During the Fatimid period, Egypt was rife with steadily progressing scientific activities. Large numbers of jurisprudents, scholars, philosophers and men of letters actively contributed to the cultural awakening of that period, where AI-Azhar was the key player.
The 15th century was the golden age for AI Azhar when it became a matchless great Islamic university sought by every Islamic scholar.
AI Azhar remained confined to its mission as a place of worship and a centre for teaching Islamic sciences. A university for higher education was established with the purpose of preparing Azharite scholars, Egyptian and otherwise, who acquire, along with modern science, accurate religious knowledge and sound belief.
During the academic year: 1996/97, AI Azhar University contained around 52 colleges (including humanities and sciences), where 133,000 students were enrolled.
AI Azhar, through its Islamic Researches Centre, takes interest in in-depth research in the fields of:
Islamic theology (Quran and Sunna), legislation, monetary and economic studies, international relations, Jihad, Palestine, Islamic call and Islamic civilization, as well as social, educational, family and youth affairs.
The mosque maintains significant parts of its original architectural elements despite the renovations and additions made through various ages.
The library is another token of honour. It is a great Islamic library which contains more than 34,000 manuscripts, some of which date back to the 9th century. The library receives scholars, researchers and students from Islamic and Arab countries and from all over the world.
AI Azhar continued to play a major nationalist role in resisting foreign aggression against Egypt, including the British Expedition in 1807, the Revolution against British occupation in 1919 and the Tripartite aggression in 1956.