A controversial Muslim cleric who famously compared uncovered women to ‘pieces of meat’ has died in Egypt at 82.
Sheik Taj El-Din Hilaly’s death – once Australia’s most high-profile Islamic cleric as Mufti of Australia – was confirmed by his daughter, Asma, in a statement to Daily Mail Australia on Thursday morning.
Hilaly was one of the most controversial figures in Australia in the early 2000s after making a series of contentious remarks.
In October 2006, he sparked a firestorm after comparing women who did not cover up their skin to ‘uncovered meat’ left to be eaten by cats.
Sheik Taj El-Din Hilaly (pictured) has died in Egypt at the age of 82
The last photo of Sheik Taj El-Din Hilaly (pictured) was taken on September 24, during his trip to Mecca and Medina
‘If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats’ or the uncovered meat?’ Hilaly said in a Ramadan sermon.
‘The uncovered meat is the problem. If she was in her room, in her home, in her hijab, no problem would have occurred.’
He later unreservedly apologised after the controversy, which made women so angry they planned to march in bikinis at Lakemba mosque.
‘I had only intended to protect women’s honour,’ the sheik said.
Two years earlier, in 2004, a sermon he gave at a mosque in Lebanon included comments that appeared to be in support of the attack on the World Trade Centre.
‘September 11 is God’s work against oppressors,’ he said.
‘Some of the things that happen in the world cannot be explained; a civilian airplane whose secrets cannot be explained if we ask its pilot who reached his objective without error, who led your steps? … God is the answer.’
However, he later told SBS Radio that Muslims rejected any ideology or actions that supported terrorism or actions that would harm Australia.
‘There is fear that this is not the Australia that we know,’ he said.
Hilaly (pictured, centre) was one of the most controversial figures in Australia in the early 2000s after making a series of controversial remarks.
In a separate speech, Hilaly praised jihadist militants fighting U.S.-led coalition forces in Afghanistan and Iraq, but condemned terrorist attacks against civilians in New York, London and Madrid.
In a statement on Thursday, Hilaly’s daughter Asma said: ‘Sheik Hilaly was an institution whose legacy will outlive most of us. He was a caring father for the community.’
‘He served tirelessly, he would respond to the call of any member of the community night or day.
‘He can be credited with nurturing the love of Islam in the hearts of the Australian Muslim community.
‘He worked tirelessly, even in the face of concerted campaigns in the public sphere, he remained steadfast and a model of humility and hard work for the community. He was an Australian icon who will leave a huge void.’
Hilaly had been living in Egypt but frequently travelled back to Australia.
He died just after he finished a pilgrimage to Mecca, called Umrah. His cause of death is unknown.
His friend and colleague, Shaykh Ahmed Abdo, added a tribute on social media (pictured)
His friend and colleague, Shaykh Ahmed Abdo, added a tribute to social media on Thursday morning.
‘My heart is saddened by the news of the passing of Sheik Taj El-Din Hilally, a pioneer in the establishing of the foundations of the Muslim community in Australia,’ Mr Abdo wrote.
‘May Allah raise his ranks and unite him with Rasulallah.’
The Lebanese Muslim Association also released a statement to pay tribute.
‘He carried the weight of the Australian Muslim Ummah alone on his very broad shoulders and his even bigger heart,’ it read.
‘Sheik Taj, the LMA and Lakemba Mosque will forever be indebted to you for your invaluable service and commitment to Islam in Australia.
‘You were the beacon of light when our Ummah was fractured.’
Hilaly was appointed served as the Inam of Lakemba Mosque for 31 years, between 1982 and 2013, during which time he was also appointed Mufti of Australia in 1988.
He was an Islamic scholar who worked as a guest speaker and delivered online lectures until his death.
In 2005, he was named ‘Muslim man of the year’ at the Australian Muslim Achievement Awards.
A funeral prayer for Sheikh Taj will take place at Lakemba Mosque on Friday after Dhuhur prayer.
Source: | This article originally belongs to Dailymail.co.uk