Australian Muslim cleric dies in hospital

Christine McGinn

Australia's top Islamic leader has died.

Grand Mufti Sheikh Abdul Azeem al-Afifi died in hospital in Melbourne's north before dawn on Wednesday, the Australian National Imams Council said in a statement.

"Sheikh Abdel Aziem Al-Afifi has dedicated himself to serving the Australian Muslim Community for over 20 years," it said.

"Sheikh Abdel Aziem Al-Afifi had been widely recognised and respected by the Australian Muslim community and the wider Australian society."

The sheikh, a founding member of the council, was only elected as Grand Mufti in March.

He had been ill for some time.

The council executive committee will act in the role of Mufti of Australia until a meeting is held within 15 days to determine a new leader.