Mohamed Said Ramadan Al-Bouti

Mohamed Said Ramadan Al-Bouti
محمد سعيد رمضان البوطي
Title Shaykh, Allama, Great Islamic Scholar of Levant, Shaheed Al-Mihrab, Grand Mufti[1]
Born 1929[2]
Died 21 March 2013
Ethnicity Arab, Kurdish
Era Modern
Region Syria
Religion Islam
Denomination Sunni
Jurisprudence Shafi'i[3][4]
Creed Ash'ari
Awards Dubai International Holy Quran Award, 2004

Mohamed Said Ramadan Al-Bouti (Arabic: محمد سعيد رمضان البوطي w 1929 – 21 March 2013) was a notable Sunni Muslim scholar who was also known as "Shaykh of the Levant". He was killed on 21 March 2013, during the Syrian civil war, reportedly in a bomb explosion,[7] though "many questions about the death" have been raised by videos of the scene.[8]

Called a "prolific writer whose sermons were regularly broadcast on television",[9][7][10] and "more familiar to Syrian TV viewers than anybody other than President Bashar al-Assad",[8] Al-Bouti authored more than sixty books on various Islamic issues, and was considered an important scholar of the approach based on the four schools of Sunni Islam and the orthodox Ash'arite creed.

Early life

Al-Bouti was born on the Boutan Island in 1929 in the village of Ayn Dewar in Turkey near Iraq,[11] when his cleric father Mulla Ramadan "fled Kemalist repression and sought refuge in Damascus".[12][13] al-Bouti came from a Kurdish tribe that resided in many regions across Syria, Iraq and Turkey.[14]

The family immigrated to Damascus when Al-Bouti was four years old.[11] Al-Bouti was soon enrolled in religious education in Damascus.[11] At the age of eleven, Bouti studied the Qur'an and Muhammad's biography with Shaykh Hasan Habannakah and Shaykh al-Maradlnl in the Jami' Manjak Mosque in al-Midan. Later when the mosque was transformed into the Institute of Islamic Orientation (ma'had al-tauyTh al-islami), he studied Qur'an exegesis (tafsir), logic, rhetoric and the fundamental principles of Islamic law (usul al-fiqh) until 1953.[2]

In 1954 he traveled to Cairo to complete his undergraduate studies at Al-Azhar, at the Faculty of Sharia.[10]

On the completion of his three-year degree in law from the Faculty of Sharia Al-Azhar, and another Diploma in Education from the Faculty of English again at Al-Azhar, al-Bouti returned to Damascus with a Sharfa teaching qualification (ijaza) and an education diploma.[15]


Al-Bouti started his career teaching at a secondary school in Homs between 1958 and 1961.[10] He was appointed lecturer at the Faculty of Sharia at the University of Damascus in 1960. He went to Al Azhar University for a doctorate in Shariah and received his doctorate (PhD) in 1965.[15][16]

He returned as an instructor at the University of Damascus in 1965 eventually becoming the dean of the Faculty of Sharia at the same university from 1977 to 1983.[12] He subsequently became a lecturer in comparative law and religious studies at Damascus University; for some time he was also the Dean of the Sharfa faculty. Al-Bouti was professor of comparative law, and worked as lecturer on Islamic Creed (aqeedah) and Muhammad's Biography (seerah).[15]

He was also a visiting professor at many Arab and Islamic universities and supervised the master's and doctoral degrees in the Sharia College at Damascus University and other universities.[16]

Al-Bouti was a member of the Aal al-Bayt Foundation for Islamic Thought in Amman, Jordan,[17] of the Supreme Council of the Academy of Oxford[18] and of the Supreme Advisory Council for the Tabah Foundation in Abu Dhabi.[19]

During the Muslim Brotherhood's revolution in 1979 in Syria, al-Bouti vocally condemned the attacks of Islamic militants,[20] while most of his senior colleagues were either silent or supportive of the opposition.[12] Al-Bouti was chosen for the Dubai International Holy Quran Award in its eighth session in 2004 (1425 A.H.) to be the "personality of the Muslim world".[16] In 2008, Al-Bouti was appointed preacher of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus.[12]

On February 2011, Rüdiger Nehberg and Tarafa Baghajati met Ramadan al-Bouti and obtained a fatwa against female genital mutilation.[21]


Most of al-Bouti's ideas are put forward within the framework of traditional legal scholarship, frequently referring to Qur'anic verses, Hadith and the opinions of the leading classical authorities, in particular al-Nawawi, Ibn al-Arabi, al-Ghazali, and al-Shafi'i. Due to his profession, al-Buti regards Islamic law as the core of the Islamic religion; whenever he speaks of Islam he means the principles, injunctions and practical implications of the Sharia.[6]

In his preaching and writings, Al Bouti worked to refute not only secularism but other western ideologies such as Marxism and nationalism.[22] In addition he criticized the proponents of what some viewed as Islamic reform, from modernist Muhammad Abduh to Salafi literalist Muhammad Nasiruddin al-Albani.[12]

He devoted one book to criticizing dialectical materialism. He wrote two books refuting the views of Salafism and explaining their incoherence:[23]

Al-Bouti had a "long-standing opposition to both military and political activism in the name of Islam" based on the belief that Islam should be ‘the common element that unites’ all political forces rather than taking the side of one force, which he explained in his book Jihad in Islam (1993).[12] Al-Bouti was not, however, opposed to operations carried out by the Palestinians in the occupied territories against the state of Israel.[18] He supported the decision of Azhar University to freeze the dialogue with the Vatican after the Pope's comments that offended Muslims.[24]

Al-Bouti specialized in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) and usul al-fiqh (principles of jurisprudence) according to the Shafi'i school of law. Most of his views are based on the Qur'an, hadiths and the opinions of the leading classical authorities, such as al-Nawawi, al-Ghazali and al-Shafi’i.[3][4]

Syrian protests 2011 and his position

Following the outbreak of the Syrian chaos in March 2011, Al-Bouti criticized anti-government protests and urged demonstrators not to follow "calls of unknown sources that want to exploit mosques to incite seditions and chaos in Syria."[14]

The opposition called him a hypocrite over his support for the uprising in Egypt, which he had written was Islamic, only to condemn protests as un-Islamic when they broke out in Syria itself. Al-Bouti did criticize President Assad in public, shortly after demonstrations had started, for a government decision to fire hundreds of female teachers for wearing the hijab. Following Al-Bouti's criticism, the decision was quickly revoked by President Assad.[25]


A book of Quran was in the hand of Al-Bouti at the time of assassination

Al-Bouti was killed while giving a religious lesson to students at the Iman Mosque in the central Mazraa district of Damascus.[7] The bomb attack reportedly killed at least 42 people and wounded more than 84. It marked the first time during the civil war a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a mosque.[7] Al-Bouti's death is said to have removed "one of the few remaining pillars of opposition to the uprising" among the majority Sunni Muslims who have formed the base of support for the uprising.[26]

According to Thomas Pierret — a lecturer in Contemporary Islam at the University of Edinburgh — the death of Al-Bouti means the loss of the "last credible ally among the Sunni religious elite" for the Syrian government. Al-Bouti was "a Muslim scholar of world standing," Pierret states.[26]

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack and both the government and the opposition condemned the attack and accused each other of perpetrating it. Among opposition forces there was "a mixture of suspicion and shock that a notable religious figure ... would be targeted" by a suicide bomber inside a mosque.[7]


Some, including Jim Muir of the BBC, have questioned whether a bomb killed Al-Bouti.[8] Official film footage shown on Syrian television taken after the bombing appears to belie a bomb scene,[27] showing "superficial debris, but not the kind of structural damage or bloodbath that would be expected from a huge bomb killing 50 people in an enclosed space".[8]

The BBC claims Al-Bouti shows no sign of serious injury following the explosion, and his desk and the books on it are not disturbed.[8] However within seconds a man with his back to the camera walks up to the scholar, does something and then leaves, leaving al-Bouti "limp" and "bleeding heavily from the mouth and from a wound to the left side of his head". Almost immediately al-Bouti is carried away by five other figures. None of the figures show any attempt "to attend to [Al-Bouti] or investigate his injuries", and their movements have "nothing of the panic and chaos that accompanies big bomb explosions in crowded places". The authenticity of this video "has not so far been seriously challenged" and its "implication seemed to be that the sheikhs' killing was the work of the regime".[8]

In reply to the video, gave an interview to the Sheikh's son, Tawfiq for his account of the event. According to the interview,[28]

“All the injured told the same story of the bombing, a man entered the mosque & sat alone. Later he walked and bombed himself. My father leaned to the right after being injured and tried to adjust his hat. When the injury took effect he fell to the left.”
“There was no shooting inside the mosque. My martyred son had rushed to his grandfather side, without noticing his mortal injury. He died because of it later. Who got up to check on my father, is his grandson, my murdered son, not a murderer as the MSM [mainstream media] claimed.”[29]

In December 2013, Syrian television showed what it claimed were confessions to the murder of al Bouti by Syrian, Iraqi and Palestinian members of Jabhat al-Nusra.[30]


Bouti published nearly 60 books and religious publications (in Arabic),[7] some of philosophical nature. Most of his philosophical works are published by Dar Al-Fikr:

Selective books include:

TV programs:


  1. Miriam Cooke and Bruce B. Lawrence, Muslim Networks from Hajj to Hip Hop, p 259. ISBN 080785588X
  2. 1 2 Andreas Christmann , 'Islamic scholar and religious leader: A portrait of Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Būti', Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (Publisher: Routledge), Vol. 9, No. 2, (1998) p. 150.
  3. 1 2 Zekeriya Budak, Islamic Jurisprudence for Muslims in the West (2011), Leiden, p. 19.
  4. 1 2 Al-Bouti, M.S.R., Hâdhâ Wâlidi: al-Qissa al-Kâmila li hayât al-Shaykh mullah Ramadân al-Buti min wilâdatihi ilâ wafâtihi, Damascus, Dar Al-Fikr, 8th edition, 2006, p. 13.
  5. Thomas Pierret, Religion and State in Syria: The Sunni Ulama from Coup to Revolution, p 79. ISBN 1107026415
  6. 1 2 3 4 5 Andreas Christmann , 'Islamic scholar and religious leader: A portrait of Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Būti', Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (Publisher: Routledge), Vol. 9, No. 2, (1998) p. 155.
  7. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Karam, Zeina (21 March 2013). "Sheikh Mohammad Said Ramadan Al Buti, Syrian Pro-Assad Cleric, Killed In Damascus Bombing". Huff Post. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
  8. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Muir, Jim (10 April 2013). "Syria 'death video' of Sheikh al-Bouti poses questions". BBC News.
    • Quote from Zeina Karam in Huffington Post
      "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."
  9. 1 2 3 "Bouti, Prominent Sunni Muslim Scholar". 22 March 2013.
  10. 1 2 3 Dr. M. Sa'id Ramadan Al-Bouti
  11. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Pierret, Thomas. "Syrian Regime Loses Last Credible Ally among the Sunni Ulama". 22 March 2013. Syrian Comment. Retrieved 24 March 2013.
  12. Habib Ali Jifri on Shaykh al-Buti Marifah forum
  13. 1 2 Sheikh al-Bouti, the Syrian Sunni cleric who stood by Assad| 22 March 2013
  14. 1 2 3 Andreas Christmann , 'Islamic scholar and religious leader: A portrait of Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Būti', Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (Publisher: Routledge), Vol. 9, No. 2, (1998) p. 151.
  15. 1 2 3 4 5 6 "Quran award recognises Al Bouti's contributions". 2004-10-05. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  16. "The Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought". Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  17. 1 2 "Islamic scholar rejects terror tag for holy war". 2002-04-26. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  18. "The Senior Scholars Council - About Us". Tabah Foundation. 2008-01-13. Retrieved 2014-06-05.
  19. Andreas Christmann , 'Islamic scholar and religious leader: A portrait of Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Būti', Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (Publisher: Routledge), Vol. 9, No. 2, (1998) p. 152-153.
  20. Design Layout: Sascha Acker, Texte: Annette Nehberg-Weber. "TARGET Ruediger Nehberg".
  21. Andreas Christmann , 'Islamic scholar and religious leader: A portrait of Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Būti', Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (Publisher: Routledge), Vol. 9, No. 2, (1998) p. 154.
  22. Andreas Christmann , 'Islamic scholar and religious leader: A portrait of Shaykh Muhammad Sa'id Ramadan al-Būti', Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations (Publisher: Routledge), Vol. 9, No. 2, (1998) p. 157.
  23. Muslim Seminary Ends Talks With Vatican Over Pope's Comments| Francis X. Rocca| Religion News Service| huff post|01/20/11
  24. Phil Sands. "Thousands grieve for murdered Syrian imam who supported Assad".
  25. 1 2 Pierret, Thomas. "Syrian Regime Loses Last Credible Ally among the Sunni Ulama". March 22nd, 2013. Syrian Comment, Joshua Landis. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  26. "فيديو.. لحظة قتل الشيخ البوطى رئيس اتحاد علماء الشام و أكبر داعم لسوريا وقيادتها".
  27. +ProSyriana. "Tawfiq AlBouti on the Video of His Father Murder". SyriaNews.
  28. " - Son of Scholar Martyr Buti Refutes NATO's Propaganda [Eng subs]".
  29. Terrorists affiliated to Jabhat al-Nusra confess to assassination of Sheikh al-Bouti, Dec 22, 2013
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