Sh. Al-Islam Mustafa Sabri

Shaykh Mustafa Sabri Efendi was the last Mufti of the Ottoman Empire and held the title Shaykh Al-Islam [1] during his life. He was born in the year 1286 H (1869 CE) in Anatolia, and is considered one of the biggest scholars of his time.

Sh. Mustafa Sabri lived a life of knowledge, da’wah, and struggle. He was forced to migrate from Turkey to Egypt as not to be compelled to speak words in support or praise of the oppressors.

"وإذا البلاد تغيرت عن حالها ** فدع المقام وبادر التحويلا
ليس المقام عليك فرضا واجبا ** فى بلدة تدع العزيز زليلا"ـ

During his life in Egypt, he led a life of poverty and hunger. However, he did not let this poverty and continuous hunger diminish his Faith or doubt his position, and he is quoted to have said of this poverty he faced following his migration to Egypt:

“That is much better for me than being a supporter of the oppressors” [2]

هاجر شيخ الإسلام مصطفى صبري من تركيا إلى مصر؛ كي لا يمدح طاغوتًا مجرمًا، فكان يبيتُ جائعًا بالقاهرة ويقول: هذا خيرٌ مِن تأييد الظالمين!ـ

At a time when the Indians were protesting the English administration, Mahatma Gandhi went on hunger-strikes that would receive ample attention and media coverage, including by the Muslim owned news agencies. Shaykh ul-Islam Mustafa Sabri, upon witnessing this, is reported to have said [3]:

“Gandhi decides to start a hunger-strike, and the whole world has shaken from its place. While the Ottoman Shaykh ul-Islam, with his family, has been starving for years and the Islamic world remains unaware. The Ottoman dynasty is in such a miserable state, it’s Shaykh ul-Islam would eat dry beans for months and nobody would be aware of this.”

He wrote a tearful poem in which he described his condition and contrasts between his fasting and hunger and that of Gandhi, in which he says [4]:

“Except that between the two fasts is an astonishing difference, which I shall clarify without hesitation

He has fasted while having food to eat, while I fasted because I have nothing to eat, which has been my state since arriving as a visitor to Egypt

And his fast became the talk of everyone, while my fast is something only known to me

It is for the sake of Islam, that which I am facing … etc”

Poem Mustafa Sabri

He died and was buried in Egypt in 1373H (1954 CE).

May Allah have mercy on him.



[2] Benefitted from Sh. Muhammad Wael al-Hanbali (Facebook)

[3] The Last Ottoman Shaykh ul-Islam: Mustafa Sabri Effendi:

[4] Poem benefitted from Facebook post