After building Al- Azhar in the Fatimid era in 972 AD, it used to have an overseer, until Ottoman Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent’s firman about importance of inaugurating a sheikh of Al-Azhar chosen by scientists.
The position of Sheikh Al-Azhar remained elected by paramount chiefs among themselves and without the intervention of the state.
The Grand Governor or the sheikh of the country is dressing the sheikh of Al-Azhar, the official dress called "Frosmore".
If they are consensus on choosing one of the scholars, they will notify the Diwan of Efendi, the General Secretary of the Cairo Office, to inform the Pasha of the Ottoman “the Governor” with the name of the new Sheikh.
They also inform the sheikh of the country, the chief Mamluk princes, a large ceremony will be held on this occasion, and the governor or the sheikh of the country command dressing the sheikh of Al-Azhar, the official dress called "Frosmore".
This action by authorities was recognition of the appointment of sheikh of Al-Azhar chosen by scientists.
In his choice, he becomes the supreme chairmen of the mosque and has the direct supervision of scholars and students.
He also has his monetary and in-kind allowances, becomes, ex officio, a member of the Grand Court in Cairo, which was held under the chairmanship of the Ottoman Pasha or his deputy.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdullah Al-Kharashi, was the first to be chosen as the sheikh of Al-Azhar, where an Ottoman Firman was issued for him to take over the position of Sheikh of Al-Azhar Mosque and take over the presidency of its scholars, and oversee its administrative affairs and maintain security and order in Al-Azhar.
Current Sheikh of Al Azhar is: Dr. Ahmed Al- Tayeeb
Headquarters of Al-Azhar: Garden of Immortals in Darassa - Salah Salem Road - next to the Egyptian House of Fatwa.