Tributes for Australian Muslim leader

Australian's top Islamic cleric Abdul Azeem al-Afifi has died in Melbourne. (AAP)

Australia's most senior Islamic cleric will be remembered at a service and burial after his hospital death in Melbourne.

In accordance with his faith, Australia's top Islamic leader will be farewelled at a funeral service just a day after his death.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Azeem al-Afifi, 48, died in a Melbourne hospital before dawn on Wednesday, after being ill with cancer for about a year.

He will be remembered for his legacy as a "peacemaker" at the Al-Taqwa Mosque in Truganina on Thursday before being laid to rest wrapped in a white cloth.

Islamic Council of Victoria executive director Nail Aykan spoke of his friend and colleague as a "real gentleman" who spoke softly and found common ground among people.

"He was a peacemaker, a bridge builder ... that is what he will be remembered for," Mr Aykan said.

"He was able to problem solve between groups. He was a teacher. He was also a champion for women's rights. He was a mentor and a role model for youth."

Mr Aykan said the sheikh was of Egyptian background but was proud of his identity as an Australian Muslim.

The sheikh was elected as grand mufti in March and was a founding member of the Australian National Imams Council.

"Sheikh Abdel Aziem Al-Afifi has dedicated himself to serving the Australian Muslim Community for over 20 years," the council said in a statement.

"Sheikh Abdel Aziem Al-Afifi had been widely recognised and respected by the Australian Muslim community and the wider Australian society."

Australian Multicultural Foundation executive director Hass Dellal told AAP the grand mufti was a "great person" and that his work to promote Australian Muslims' contributions will leave "a lasting legacy".

"It (his death) was a shock even though we had known he was ill," Dr Dellal said.

"He will be sorely missed not just by Australian Muslims. He was a great catalyst and brought people together and that was his real strength."

Federal Multicultural Affairs Minister Alan Tudge said the sheikh was an "effective leader and was a man of peace and good will".

The council executive committee will act in the role of mufti of Australia until a meeting is held within 15 days to determine a new leader.

Source AAP

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