Australia

Interim Mufti named after sheikh's death

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Australia's former Grand Mufti has been appointed as the interim Mufti of Australia after Sheikh Abdul Azeem al-Afifi died.

An interim acting Mufti of Australia has been appointed after Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Azeem al-Afifi, hailed as a visionary, died of cancer this week.

The Australian National Imams Council (ANIC) held an emergency meeting on Thursday, where Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed - the former Grand Mufti - was named interim Mufti until the council's next general meeting in March.

The sheikh died on Wednesday after battling cancer and was farewelled by thousands of people on Thursday during a service and burial in Melbourne.

The then newly-appointed Sheikh Abdel Aziem Al-Afifi at an interfaith event with Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed and Anglican Father Rod Bower.
The then newly-appointed Sheikh Abdel Aziem Al-Afifi at an interfaith event with Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed and Anglican Father Rod Bower.
SBS

The Grand Mufti is Australia’s most senior Muslim cleric and considered the highest official authority of religious law for Sunni Muslims. 

In Australia, the position can only be held for a maximum of two three-year terms under the current constitutional by-laws of the Australian National Imams Council.

The position is chosen by a committee of 18 members from the ANIC, which is made up of over 200 male imams from across Australia.

The role of the Grand Mufti varies in different Muslim cultures, but one of the core tasks is to provide religious leadership, including non-binding opinions on novel legal issues, drawing on an expert understanding of the sacred law.

The role, as defined by a mission statement of the ANIC, also involves significant outreach within the Muslim community through the support of local Islamic organisations. Promoting harmony and co-operation with the broader community in Australia is also a key goal.

Despite his terminal illness, Sheikh Abdel Aziem was elected as Australia's top Sunni Islamic leader in March this year.

Local surgeon Nezor Houli said at the service on Thursday that the sheikh remained warm and good-humoured in hospital until the end, determinedly upbeat in the face of a grim prognosis presented by his liver cancer.

"All the nurses really enjoyed looking after him and said he never complained. All he cared about was for the doctors not to tell his wife that he is dying,” he said. 

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