Egyptian religious leader Sheikh Mohamed Sayed Tantawi, the head of al Azhar, has died during a visit to Saudi Arabia, Al Jazeera television reported on Wednesday. Ahmed Ibrahim, director general of information in the office of Shiekh al-Azhar said "the Sheikh of Al Azhar (82 years) was heading to Saudi Arabia to attend the ceremony of awarding the King Faisal International Prize for Service to Islam.
In 1986, he was appointed as Grand Mufti of Egypt on his 58th birthday, 28 October 1986. He held this position for almost ten years, until he was appointed Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Mosque and Grand Sheikh of Al-Azhar University by the Egyptian President, Hosni Mubarak, on 27 March 1996. The Al-Azhar Mosque is one of the most influential and important Sunni Muslim institutions.