Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly: Australia’s most famous Muslim cleric behind infamous comment about women and ‘pieces of meat’ dies
A controversial Muslim cleric who compared uncovered women to “pieces of meat” has died aged 82.
The death of Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly – once Australia’s most prominent Islamic imam as Mufti of Australia – was confirmed by his daughter, Asma, in a statement to Daily Mail Australia on Thursday morning.
Hilaly was one of Australia’s most controversial figures in the early 2000s after making a series of controversial remarks.
In October 2006, he sparked a storm after comparing women who did not cover their skin to “uncovered meat” left for cats to eat.
The last photo of Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilaly (photo) was taken on September 24, during his trip to Mecca and Medina.
“If you take meat out uncovered and place it outside, in the street, or in the garden, or in the park, or in the yard, without a cover, and the cats come and eat it… whose fault is it, cats” or uncovered meat? Hilaly said in a Ramadan sermon.
“Uncovered meat is the problem. If she had been in her room, at home, with her hijab, no problem would have arisen.
He later apologized unreservedly after a controversy that angered women so much they planned to parade in bikinis at the Lakemba mosque.
“My intention was only to protect the honor of women,” the sheikh said.
In a statement released Thursday, Hilaly’s daughter Asma said: “Sheikh Hilaly was an institution whose legacy will outlive most of us. He was a caring father to the community.
“He served tirelessly, answering the call of any member of the community, day or night.
Hilaly (pictured, centre) was one of Australia’s most controversial figures in the early 2000s after making a series of controversial remarks.
“He can be credited with nurturing the love of Islam in the hearts of the Australian Muslim community.”
“He worked tirelessly, even in the face of concerted campaigns in the public sphere, he remained steadfast and a model of humility and hard work for the community. He was an Australian icon who will be deeply missed.
The cause of his death is unknown.
His friend and colleague, Sheikh Ahmed Abdo, added a tribute.
“My heart is saddened by the news of the passing of Sheikh Taj El-Din Hilally, a pioneer in laying the foundations of the Muslim community in Australia,” Mr Abdo wrote.
“May Allah raise his ranks and unite him with Rasulallah.”
Before her comments about women, Hilaly had criticized then-Prime Minister John Howard over anti-terrorism legislation, rejecting the claim that the laws were not “anti-Muslim”.
At the time, he told SBS radio that Muslims rejected any ideology or action that supported terrorism or any action that could harm Australia.
“There is a fear that this is not the Australia we know,” he said.
“There are people who are wary of such excessive force… I have received many complaints. There is fear, there is fire under the embers.