Leading Imams of the Grand Mosque in Makkah

Saudi Arabia, Hejaz, Mecca, al Haram mosque, elevated view
Nabeel Turner Getty Images

We hear their voices, but rarely know much else about them. We may recognize the leading Imams of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, but other imams rotate the duties of this esteemed position. Following is information about several other imams who have recently held the position of Imam at the Grand Mosque (Masjid Al-Haram) in Makkah.

Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al-Jahny:

Sheikh Abdullah Awad Al-Jahny is one of the Imams of the Grand Mosque in Makkah.

Sheikh Al-Jahny was born in Madinah, Saudi Arabia in 1976 and did most of his early education in the City of the Prophet. Like many of the Grand Mosque imams, he holds a Ph.D. from Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah. Sheikh Al-Jahny is married and has four children - two sons and two daughters.

Sheikh Al-Jahny is one of the few imams who has regularly led prayers in the largest, most esteemed mosques of the world, including: Masjid Quba, Masjid Qiblatain, Masjid An-Nabawi in Madinah, and the Grand Mosque (Masjid Al-Haram) in Makkah.

In 1998, Sheikh Al-Jahny had been hired as the new imam of one of the largest mosques in Washington, DC. However, at the same time, he was appointed by King Abdullah to lead the prayers in the Prophet's Mosque in Madinah. It was an honor he could not pass up. He was appointed as imam at the Grand Mosque in Makkah in 2007, and has led the taraweeh prayers there since 2008.

Sheikh Bandar Baleela:

Sheikh Bandar Baleela was born in Makkah in 1975. He holds a Master degree from Umm Al-Qura University, and a Ph.D. in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence) from the Islamic University of Madinah. He has worked as a teacher and professor, and was the imam of smaller mosques in Makkah before being appointed to the Grand Mosque in 2013.

Sheikh Maher bin Hamad Al-Mueaqley:

Sheikh Al-Mueaqley was born in Madinah in 1969. His father is Saudi and his mother is from Pakistan. Sheikh Al-Mueaqley graduated from the Teacher's College in Madinah and planned to be a math teacher. After moving to Makkah to teach, he later became a part-time Imam during Ramadan, then as Imam at some small mosques in Makkah. In 2005 he earned a Masters degree in fiqh (Islamic jurisprudence), and the following year he served as Imam in Madinah during Ramadan. He became a part-time Imam in Makkah the following year. He is pursuing a Ph.D. in tafseer from Umm Al-Qura University in Makkah. Sheikh Al-Mueaqley is married and has four children, two boys and two girls.

Sheikh Adel Al-Kalbani

Sheikh Al-Kalbani is best known as the first black Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah, but there is much more to know about him. While other Imams are full-blooded tribal Arabs from Saudi Arabia, Sheikh Al-Kalbani is the son of poor immigrants from neighboring Gulf states. His father was a low-level government clerk who immigrated from Ras Al-Khaima (now UAE). Sheikh Al-Kalbani took night classes at King Saud University in Riyadh, while working his way through school at a job with Saudi Airlines.

In 1984, Sheikh Al-Kalbani became an Imam, first at the mosque inside the Riyadh airport. After serving as the Imam of Riyadh mosques for several decades, Sheikh Al-Kalbani was appointed to the Grand Mosque in Makkah by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. Of the decision, Sheikh Al-Kalbani was quoted as saying at the time: "Any qualified individual, no matter what his color, no matter where from, will have a chance to be a leader, for his good and his country’s good.”

Sheikh Al-Kalbani is well known for his deep baritone, beautiful voice. He is married and has 12 children.

Sheikh Usama Abdulaziz Al-Khayyat

Sheikh Al-Khayyat was born in Makkah in 1951, and was appointed Imam of the Grand Mosque in Makkah in 1997. He learned and memorized the Quran at a young age, from his father. He has served as a member of the Saudi Parliament (Majlis Ash-Shura) and as an Imam.

Sheikh Dr. Faisal Jameel Ghazzawi

Sheikh Ghazzawi was born in 1966. He is a department chair at the University of Qiraat.

Sheikh Abdulhafez Al-Shubaiti