Imams of Masjid Al Haram
In Islam, the term “Imam” refers to prayer leader. It is a position of great honour within the Muslim community. An Imam is chosen based on their knowledge of Islam, their piety, and their skill when it comes to reciting the Holy Quran.
During Hajj, Umrah, or even congregational prayers, it is the duty of the Imams to ensure that the call of prayer (Azaan) is made on time, Salah is performed as per the Sunnah, the sermons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) are read out to the people, and the pilgrims who come with questions and concerns are guided in the light of Islam. Even though you might already know the leading Imams of Masjid Al Haram, the other Imams rotate their duties for the esteemed position. Read on to learn more about the Imams of Masjid Al Haram.
Who Is the Imam of Masjid Al Haram Today 2023?
Currently, the Khateeb and Chief Imam of Masjid Al Haram is Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al Sudais. He is among the most famous Islamic personalities and is known for his wonderful voice and pious nature. Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al Sudais was appointed as the Imam of Masjid Al Haram at the young age of 22 in 1984. He is also a state-level minister as he holds the title of President of the General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques (GPH).
Top 10 Imams of Masjid Al Haram
Here is a list of the top ten Imams of Masjid Al Haram.
Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al-Sudais
Born in Qassim, Saudi Arabia, in 1961, Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al-Sudais is amongst the most famous personalities among the Muslim Ummah. He is widely recognised for his lovely voice and for delivering critical and strong sermons.
The Imam of the Grand Mosque was educated in Riyadh, and had memorised the Holy Quran at the young age of 12. In 1982, Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al-Sudais completed his graduation from the Faculty of Sharia and finished his final years of study at Umm Al Qura University. In 1995, Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al-Sudais earned his PhD in Sharia.
Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al-Sudais was appointed as the Imam of the Great Mosque in 1894 when he was only 22. Since then, he has led the Taraweeh prayers annually and achieved a milestone by completing the Holy Quran and reciting the Khatam-ul Quran Dua for the 35th time. King Salman appointed Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al-Sudais to deliver the Last Sermon in the years 2016 and 2020. He is the current Khateeb and Chief Imam of Masjid Al Haram. He is also the President of the General Presidency for Affairs of the Two Holy Mosques.
Sheikh Yasir bin Al-Dossary
Sheikh Yasir Al-Dossary was born in 1980 AD in the Al-Kharj province. He is amongst the most renowned Quran reciters in the Islamic world and the Imam of the Great Mosque. Sheikh Yasir Al-Dossary graduated from the Faculty of Sharia at Imam Muhammad bin Saud Islamic University. He completed his Masters in Comparative Jurisprudence from the Higher Judicial Institute. Sheikh Yasir Al-Dossary also obtained his PhD in the Department of Comparative Fiqh from the same institution.
Sheikh Yasir Al-Dossary memorised the Holy Quran while working as the secretary-general of the Prince Sultan Association. He is the founder of Ayat Quranic Media Group and works as an Associate Professor at King Saud University. Sheikh Yasir Al-Dossary has been the Imam of several masjids, including Abdullah Al-Khulaifi Mosque and Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Baz mosque. Sheikh Yasir Al-Dossary was appointed as the Imam of Masjid Al Haram by King Salman in the holy month of Ramadan in 2015.
Sheikh Faisal Ghazzawi
Sheikh Faisal Ghazzawi was born in 1965 in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. After graduating from high school in 1989, Sheikh Faisal Ghazzawi earned his Master’s Degree in 1996 and PhD in 2002 from Umm Al Qura University. He belongs to the Muhajireen community and is well known for delivering the strongest prayers and hosting and greeting guests generously. He is the current President of the Faculty of Quranic Recitation at Umm Al Qura University. In 2008, Sheikh Faisal Ghazzawi was appointed as the Imam of Masjid Al Haram and as the Khateeb in 2016.
Sheikh Bandar Baleelah
Sheikh Bandar Baleelah is another official Imam of Masjid Al Haram. He was born in 1975 in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Bandar Baleelah completed his graduation from Makkah and got his Master’s Degree in 2002 from Umm Al Qura University. He received his PHD Degree in 2008 from the Islamic University in Madinah.
Sheikh Bandar Baleelah was initially appointed as a Guest Imam for leading the Taraweeh prayers in Ramadan in 2013. He was permanently designated as the Imam of the Great Mosque. He is also works as a professor in the Faculty of Shariah at Taif University. Sheikh Bandar Baleelah was designated as the Khateeb and Imam of the Istisqa Prayer in July 2016 by King Salman.
Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al-Juhany
Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al-Juhany was born in 1976 in Madinah, Saudi Arabia, and he memorised the Quran at an early age. For several years, Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al-Juhany participated in the Quran Recitation Competition, held in the Great Mosque, and won every time.
Belonging to a religious background, Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al-Juhany studied at the Umm Al Qura University and got his PhD in Islamic Sharia and Quranic Recitation. During 1998-1999, he was selected to lead the Tarweeh prayers in Masjid Al Nabawi. However, in 2007, Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al-Juhany was finally appointed as the permanent Imam to lead Salah in the Great Mosque. He is the only Imam who has been blessed to lead prayers in Masjid Qiblatein, Masjid Al Quba, Masjid Al Haram, Masjid Al Nabawi and Masjid Al Jinn. He is the youngest Imam of the Great Mosque.
Sheikh Saleh Al-Humaid
Born in 1950 in Buraydah, Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Saleh Al-Humaid memorised the Holy Quran at the age of 20. He received his early education in Buraydah, whereas, for his higher studies, he enrolled in Umm Al Qura University. There, Sheikh Saleh Al-Humaid completed his Bachelor’s and Master’s in 1976 and 1982, respectively.
He has served as the President of the High Judiciary Commission and the President of the Soura Council. In 1983, the 33-year-old Sheikh was appointed as the Imam of Masjid Al Haram. He is also an advisor to the Royal Council of Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly
Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly was born in 1969 in Madinah, Saudi Arabia. He was a keen student of Mathematics, memorised to Holy Quran, and started leading Salah in many Masjids. Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly got his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Umm Al Qura University. He is renowned for his soulful voice, and for delivering the most emotional prayers while reciting the Holy Quran.
Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly was appointed to lead Taraweeh in Masjid Al Nabawi in 2005 and 2006. However, due to his popularity amongst the Muslim Ummah and the Royal Family, Sheikh Maher Al-Muaiqly was delegated as an Imam to lead Taraweeh in Masjid Al Haram in 2007.
Sheikh Usamah Abdul Aziz Al-Khayyat
Sheikh Usamah Al-Khayyat is one of the most loved Imams of Masjid Al Haram. He was born in 1956 in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. He graduated in 1977 and earned his Master’s Degree in 1988 and PhD in 1998 from Umm Al Qura University, respectively. Sheikh Usamah Al-Khayyat was appointed as the Imam and Khateeb of Masjid Al Haram in 1997 by King Fahad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Saud. He is also a member of the Shoura Council and a professor in Usool Deen and the Faculty of Dawah at Umm Al Qura University.
Sheikh Saud Al Shuraim
Sheikh Saud Al Shuraim was born in Riyadh in 1966. He memorised the Holy Quran after completing high school. He got his Master’s from Imam Muhammad bin Saud University and PhD from Umm Al Qura University. In 1992, Sheikh Saud Al Shuraim was appointed by King Fahad as the Imam to lead the Taraweeh prayer, and he has been doing so since then.
Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani
Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani is the first Black Imam of Masjid Al Haram. He belongs to a poor immigrant family. Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani took night classes at the King Saud University in Riyadh. He started leading prayers in the masjid inside Riyadh airport. Soon after, Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani was appointed as the Imam of Masjid Al Haram by King Abdullah. He is known for his beautiful and deep baritone voice.
Former Imams of Majid Al Haram
The Imams of Masjid Al Haram are appointed by the King, the custodian of the Two Holy Mosques of Saudi Arabia. Therefore, they keep changing with time. A short biography of the two former Imams of Masjid Al Haram is as follows:
Sheikh Khalid Al-Ghamdi
Sheikh Khalid Al-Ghamdi was born and raised in Makkah, Saudi Arabia. During his tour to Pakistan in April 2015, Sheik Khalid Al-Ghamdi said that he had completed the memorisation of the Holy Quran at the young age of 16 under the guidance of a Pakistani cleric in Makkah. When questioned about his education, the former Imam of Masjid Al Haram said that he had completed his elementary, secondary, and higher education from Makkah and held a Master’s Degree in Recitation and Tafseer of the Holy Quran from the Umm Al Qura University in the College of Dawah.
Sheikh Khalid Al-Ghamdi was initially the Imam of a small mosque in Makkah. However, his life changed in 2014 when he was appointed as the deputy Imam of Masjid Al Haram. In 2008, Sheikh Khalid Al-Ghamdi was finally appointed as the permanent Imam. The first time Sheikh Khalid Al-Ghamdi led the Zuhr and Isha Salah, he started crying profusely the moment he heard his voice echoing in the halls of Masjid Al Haram. Sheikh Khalid Al-Ghamdi delivered his first Khutbah in the Great Mosque on 4 September 2015. Throughout his period as Imam, he has led many prayers alongside Sheikh Yasir Al Dossary and Sheikh Bandar Baleelah. Sheikh Khalid Al-Ghamdi retired as the Khateeb and Imam of Masjid Al Haram in September 2018.
Sheikh Saleh Al-Talib
Sheikh Saleh Al-Talib was born in 1974 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Sheikh Saleh Al-Talib graduated and got his Master’s Degree in Comparative Islamic Jurisprudence from Imam Saud University. Not only this, but the former Imam of Masjid Al Haram also understands and speaks English fluently as he has a Master’s in International Law from Georgetown University, Washington DC, USA.
Sheikh Saleh Al-Talib is also the Judge of the High Court of Makkah and was appointed as Khateeb and Imam of the Great Mosque in 2003. He used to lead Salah Al Isha in Masjid Al Haram and retired from the prestigious honour on 13 July 2018.
Summary – Imams of Masjid Al Haram
Known as the leader of the Masjid, an Imam is one of the most significant positions in the Muslim community. In order to maintain consistency and order, over time the King of Saudi Arabia has appointed several grand mosque imams, each having a different duty. Today, Sheikh Abdul Rehman Al-Sudais is the Chief Imam and Khateeb of the Great Mosque.