Muhammad Abu Zahra

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Muhammad Abu Zahra (1898–1974) was an Egyptian public intellectual, scholar of Islamic law, and author. He also served as a member of al-Azhar's Academy of Islamic Research.[1]

Abu Zahra was born on March 29, 1898 in El-Mahalla El-Kubra, the second largest city in the Nile Delta.[2] In 1913, Abu Zahra completed high school and enrolled in the Ahmadi Madrasa in Tanta. In 1916, he scored highest on the entry examination for the judiciary institute in the Gharbia Governorate despite being several years younger and less experienced than his colleagues.[2] Having been rooted in traditional Azharite education, and never having studied in Europe or in Egyptian Westernized schools, Abu Zahra has been criticized by Orientalists as having a superficial grasp of Western methods.[3]

He taught at al-Azhar's faculty of theology and later, as Professor of Islamic law at Cairo University.[2] Between 1933 and 1942, he taught courses courses on the history of religions, denominations and sects at Azhar, during which time his lectures on comparative religion and Christianity were given, though the latter wasn't published until 1965.[3]

His more than forty books include biographies of Abu Hanifah, Malik ibn Anas, Al-Shafi'i, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Zayd ibn Ali, Jafar as-Sadiq, Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-'Abidin, Ibn Hazm and Ibn Taymiyyah, as well as works on personal status, pious endowments (waqf), property, and crime and punishment in Islamic law.[4]


  1. ^ Ralph H. Salmi, Cesar Adib Majul and George George Kilpatrick Tanham. Islam and Conflict Resolution: Theories and Practices, pg. 90. Lanham: University Press of America, 1998. ISBN 9780761810964
  2. ^ a b c Scholar of renown: Muhammad Abu Zahrah. Ed. Adil Salahi for Arab News. Published Wednesday, 14 November 2001; accessed Sunday 9 June 2013.
  3. ^ a b Patrice Brodeur, "Arabic Muslim Writings on Contemporary Religions Other Than Islam." Taken from Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions : A Historical Survey: A Historical Survey, pg. 244. Ed. Jacques Waardenburg. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999. ISBN 9780195355765
  4. ^ John Esposito, The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press 2003

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