Egyptian religious scholar who worked to reform al-Azhar, reversing its decline and recapturing its previous role as an active participant in Egypt's educational, cultural, and political destiny. Best known for his knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and Quranic interpretation. Envisaged a reformed Islam and shariah capable of becoming a source for modern legislation. Promoted an activist international role for al-Azhar in fighting religious fanaticism and uniting Islamic ummah and various schools of thought. Reorganization and budgetary allowances allowed him to engage in ijtihad (independent legal reasoning) in an effort to reform education through introduction of modern subjects and end religious fanaticism by narrowing the differences between the different legal schools (madhhabs).