Grand Mufti of Australia Abdul Azeem al-Afifi (right) died on Wednesday morning following cancer complciations
Hundreds of mourners have laid to rest Australia’s top Islamic cleric, who died this week following a long battle with cancer.
Melbourne preacher Abdul Azeem al-Afifi was appointed Grand Mufti of Australia – a leadership role for the Sunni arm of the community – in March.
But the sheikh has long been gravely ill and he died before dawn on Wednesday. Senior Islamic figures had announced he had fallen into a coma at the weekend.
Mourners today flocked to a mosque in Truganina, in the city’s west, for janaza funeral prayers about midday.
He was then buried at Fawkner cemetery.
The Australian National Imams Council, which elects the Mufti, announced his death with ‘profound sadness’.
‘(The sheikh) has dedicated himself to serving the Australian Muslim community for over 20 years,’ a spokesman said.
The ANIC said he was one of its founding members and had served two terms as the president.
Hundreds of mourners packed the Al-Taqwa mosque in Trugunina, in Melbourne’s west, on Thursday afternoon
Mourners (above) arrived for funeral prayers, known as janaza, about 12.30pm
The Islamic Council of Victoria said: ‘May Allah shower him with His Mercy and grant him the highest rewards in the hereafter’
Prominent preacher Shady Al-Suleiman said ‘he was a close brother to me and a sincere friend’.
‘A man of wisdom, forbearance and genuine care and concern over the Muslim community.’
The Islamic Council of Victoria said the Muslim community ‘has lost a great leader’.
‘May Allah shower him with His Mercy and grant him the highest rewards in the hereafter.’
The Grand Mufti was buried at Fawkner cemetery following the funeral prayers
Friends, loved ones and followers watch as workers prepare the burial site
In some of his few public remarks in recent months, al-Afifi condemned terrorism and said he was devoted to teaching kids how to be good Australians.
‘I’ll be very happy if I can do something to save our kids, and to keep them away from any bad idea,’ the sheikh told SBS.
‘(Also) to teach them how to be good Australians and to represent their country, and to serve our nation.’
Senior Muslim clerics attended the service to mark the life of ‘a man of wisdom’
In some of his few public remarks in recent months, al-Afifi condemned terrorism and said he was devoted to teaching kids how to be good Australians
The sheikh was buried at Fawkner cemetery about 3pm on Thursday
Egyptian-born Al-Afifi succeeded Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohammed as Mufti after six years.
The sheikh only recently replaced Dr Ibrahim Abu Mohamed (above)
Dr Mohammed’s reign was controversial, with commentators taking aim at him for declining to speak English in public.
A spokeswoman said Dr Mohammed preferred Arabic, a language he was more comfortable with.
Al-Afifi’s death could spark a fierce political fight for the Mufti role.
Daily Mail Australia understands there was dissension in the Islamic community over the process used to point al-Afifi.
The ANIC said its ‘executive committee will act in the role of Mufti an emergency executive committee meeting will be held within 15 days.’
A further memorial service will be held in Sydney at the organisation’s office on Friday.