CAIRO – A bombing at the Iman mosque in the Syrian capital Damascus on Thursday evening, March 21, ended the life of Sheikh Mohammed Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, a prominent Sunni Muslim scholar who took a different route by supporting the Syrian regime.
The following lines shed light on the life and death of the prominent Muslim scholar.
- Al-Bouti was born in 1929 in the village of Ayn Dewar in northern Syria.
- Born on the Boutan Island of Turkey, the sheikh belongs to a Kurdish tribe that is spread across Syria, Iraq and Turkey.
- At the age of four, he headed to Syria with his father, Sheikh Mullah Ramadan, where he went on to study religion in Damascus.
- Al-Bouti started his career teaching at a secondary school in Homs in 1958 and 1961. He was appointed as part of the Shari’ah faculty at Damascus University.
- In 1965, Bouti moved to Egypt where he received a doctorate in Shari`ah law at the prestigious Al-Azhar University.
- He headed back to Syria, and where he was once a faculty member, he progressed into the respected position of vice dean at the College of Islamic Law at Damascus University in 1975 and in 1977 became dean.
- Bouti then retired but continued to lecture and write about Islamic affairs. He has authored more than 60 books and was a prominent religious reference in the Muslim world, holding the presidency of the Scholars Union for the Levant region.
- Al- Bouti held weekly sermons at the historic Ummayyad Mosque and in recent months, Syrian TV has carried his weekly addresses live. Bouti also had a regular religious TV program.
- Bouti was a vocal supporter of the Syrian regime since the early days of Bashar Al-Assad's father and predecessor, the late President Hafez Assad.
- Following the outbreak of the Syrian revolution in March 2011, he criticized anti-regime protests and urged demonstrators not to follow "calls of unknown sources that want to exploit mosques to incite seditions and chaos in Syria."
- He said “most of the protesters do not pray” and criticized prominent Egyptian scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi for playing “demagoguery that opens the door of sedition.” Qaradawi has supported revolutions in several Arab Spring countries.
- Despite his open support for Assad, Bouti was reported to have issued a Fatwa prohibiting the killing of protesters, according to Al Arabiya website.- In a recent study of the top 500 influential Muslim scholars in the Islamic world by the Jordan-based Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, Bouti came in 27th place.