Muhammad Abduh

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Muhammad Abduh
Muhammad Abduh.jpg
Personal
Born1849 (1849)[1]
Died11 July 1905 (aged 56)
Alexandria, Egypt, Ottoman Empire
Cause of deathRenal cell carcinoma
ReligionIslam
NationalityEgyptian
RegionMiddle East
DenominationSunni
MovementModernism[2][3][4][5]
Pan-Islamism[6][7]
Islamism[8][9]
Anti-imperialism[10]
Notable idea(s)Modernization of Islam
Notable work(s)Risālat al-Tawḥīd (Arabic: رسالة التوحيد‎; "The Theology of Unity")[11]
Alma materAl-Azhar University
OccupationIslamic scholar[11]
Muslim leader

Muḥammad 'Abduh (1849 – 11 July 1905) (also spelled Mohammed Abduh, Arabic: محمد عبده‎) was an Egyptian Islamic scholar,[11] jurist,[11] theologian[11] and writer.[11] He also wrote, among other things, "Treatise on the Oneness of God", and a commentary on the Quran.[1] He briefly published, alongside Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghānī, the Pan-Islamist anti-colonial journal Al-Urwah al-Wuthqa.[17]

Biography[edit]

Muhammad Abduh was born in 1849 to a Turkish father[18] and Egyptian mother[19] in the Nile Delta.[1] He also had Kurdish roots.[20] His family was of the Egyptian elite. His father was part of the Umad, or the local ruling elite. His mother was part of the Ashraf. He was educated in Tanta at a private school.[1] When he turned thirteen, he was sent to the Aḥmadī mosque, which was one of the largest educational institutions in Egypt. A while later Abduh ran away from school and got married. He enrolled at al-Azhar University[21] in 1866.[22] Abduh studied logic, philosophy and Sufism[23] at the Al-Azhar University in Cairo. He was a student of Jamal al-Din al-Afghani,[24] a philosopher and Muslim religious reformer who advocated Pan-Islamism to resist European colonialism. Under al-Afghani's influence, Abduh combined journalism, politics, and his own fascination in Islamic mystical spirituality. Al-Afghani taught Abduh about the problems of Egypt and the Islamic world and about the technological achievements of the West.[citation needed]

In 1877, Abduh was granted the degree of 'Alim ("teacher") and he started to teach logic, theology and ethics at al-Azhar. In 1878, he was appointed professor of history at Cairo's teachers' training college Dar al-Ulum, later incorporated into Cairo University. He was also appointed to teach Arabic at the Khedivial School of Languages.[22] He is regarded as one of the key founding figures of Islamic Modernism, sometimes called "Neo-Mu’tazilism" after the medieval Islamic school of theology based on rationalism, Muʿtazila.[25]

Abduh was appointed editor-in-chief of al-Waqāʾiʿ al-Miṣriyya, the official state newspaper. He was dedicated to reforming all aspects of Egyptian society and believed that education was the best way to achieve this goal. He was in favor of a good religious education, which would strengthen a child’s morals, and a scientific education, which would nurture a child’s ability to reason. In his articles he criticized corruption, superstition, and the luxurious lives of the rich.[22]

In 1879, due to his political activity, Jamal al-Din al-Afghani was exiled and Abduh was exiled to his home village. The following year he was granted control of the national gazette and used this as a means to spread his anti-colonial ideas, and the need for social and religious reforms.[1] He was exiled from Egypt by the British in 1882 for six years, for supporting the Egyptian nationalist revolt led by Ahmed Orabi in 1879. He had stated that every society should be allowed to choose a suitable form of government based on its history and its present circumstances.[22] Abduh spent several years in Ottoman Lebanon, where he helped establish an Islamic educational system. In 1884 he moved to Paris, France where he joined al-Afghani in publishing The Firmest Bond (al-Urwah al-Wuthqa), an Islamic revolutionary journal that promoted anti-British views. Abduh also visited Britain and discussed the state of Egypt and Sudan with high-ranking officials. In 1885, after brief stays in England and Tunisia, he returned to Beirut, as a teacher,[1] and was surrounded by scholars from different religious backgrounds. During his stay there he dedicated his efforts toward furthering respect and friendship between Islam, Christianity and Judaism.[22]

When he returned to Egypt in 1888, Abduh began his legal career. He was appointed judge in the Courts of First Instance of the Native Tribunals and in 1891, he became a consultative member of the Court of Appeal.[1] In 1899, he was appointed Grand Mufti of Egypt, the highest Islamic title, and he held this position until he died. As a judge, he was involved in many decisions, some of which were considered liberal such as the ability to utilize meat butchered by non-Muslims and the acceptance of loan interest. His liberal views endeared him to the British, in particular Lord Cromer; however they also caused a rift between him and the khedive Abbas Hilmi and the nationalist leader Mustafa Kamil.[1] While he was in Egypt, Abduh founded a religious society, became president of a society for the revival of Arab sciences and worked towards reforming al-Azhar University by putting forth proposals to improve examinations, the curriculum and the working conditions for both professors and students.[22] In 1900 he founded The Society for the Revival of Arabic Literature.[26] He travelled a great deal and met with European scholars in Cambridge and Oxford. He studied French law and read a great many European and Arab works in the libraries of Vienna and Berlin. The conclusions he drew from his travels were that Muslims suffer from ignorance about their own religion and the despotism of unjust rulers.[22]

Muhammad Abduh died in Alexandria on 11 July 1905. People from all around the world sent their condolences.[citation needed]

Thought[edit]

Work of Muhammad Abduh, translated in Old Tatar language and published in tatar city Kazan in 1911

I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but not Islam.

— Muhammad Abduh [27]

Muhammad Abduh argued that Muslims could not simply rely on the interpretations of texts provided by medieval clerics; they needed to use reason to keep up with changing times. He said that in Islam, man was not created to be led by a bridle, but that man was given intelligence so that he could be guided by knowledge. According to Abduh, a teacher’s role was to direct men towards study. He believed that Islam encouraged men to detach from the world of their ancestors and that Islam reproved the slavish imitation of tradition. He said that the two greatest possessions relating to religion that man was graced with were independence of will and independence of thought and opinion. It was with the help of these tools that he could attain happiness. He believed that the growth of western civilization in Europe was based on these two principles. He thought that Europeans were roused to act after a large number of them were able to exercise their choice and to seek out facts with their minds.[28] His Muslim opponents refer to him as an infidel; however, his followers called him a sage, a reviver of religion and a reforming leader. He is conventionally graced with the epithets “al-Ustādh al-Imām” and “al-Shaykh al-Muftī”. In his works, he portrays God as educating humanity from its childhood through its youth and then on to adulthood. According to him, Islam is the only religion whose dogmas can be proven by reasoning. Abduh does not advocate returning to the early stages of Islam. He was against polygamy if it resulted in injustice between wives. He believed in a form of Islam that would liberate men from enslavement and abolish the religious scholar’s monopoly on exegesis and abolish racial discrimination.[22]

Abduh described a fundamental re-interpretation of Islam as a genuine base of empowered Arab societies in the face of secular Western imperialism, and believed Islam to be the solution to political and social problems.[29]

Abduh regularly called for better friendship between religious communities. He made great efforts to preach harmony between Sunnis and Shias. Broadly speaking, he preached brotherhood between all schools of thought in Islam. However, he criticized what he perceived as errors such as superstitions coming from popular Sufism.[30] As Christianity was the second biggest religion in Egypt, he devoted special efforts towards friendship between Muslims and Christians. He had many Christian friends and many a time he stood up to defend Copts.[30] During the Urabi revolt, some Muslim mobs had misguidedly attacked a number of Copts resulting from their anger against European colonialism. Abduh also had meetings in Baghdad with the son of the Baháʼí Faith's founder and then spiritual leader, Abdu'l Baha, who he had a generally positive view of - although it was asserted by his students that he was unaware of the extra-Quranic religious scripture or status of Baha'ullah as a prophet in the faith and viewed it as a reformation of Shi'ism.[31]

Abduh's collected works have been compiled and published in five volumes by Muhammad Imarah.

Freemasonry[edit]

The Semi-secret organizational structure of freemasonry provided an open forum for the discussion and exchange of ideas between Egyptians from various social-economic backgrounds of Egypt. They played an important role in early Egyptian national politics. Recognising its potential political platform, Afghani joined Freemasons and also encouraged his disciples like Abduh to join it.[32] Through these associations, Abduh was able to establish contacts with Tawfiq Pasha and other leaders of Egypt.[33] At the age of 28, Abduh became a Freemason and joined a Masonic lodge, the Kawkab Al-Sharq ("Planet of the East"). Its members included Prince Tawfiq, the Khedive's son and heir, leading personalities such as Muhammad Sharif Pasha, who had been a minister, Sulayman Abaza Pasha and Saad Zaghlul.[34] A. M. Broadbent declared that "Sheikh Abdu was no dangerous fanatic or religious enthusiast, for he belonged to the broadest school of Moslem thought, held a political creed akin to pure republicanism, and was a zealous Master of a Masonic Lodge."[35]

Over the years, Abduh obtained membership in several other Masonic lodges in Cairo and Beirut.[11] In line with Masonic principles, Abduh sought to encourage unity with all religious traditions. He stated that,

"I hope to see the two great religions, Islam and Christianity hand-in-hand, embracing each other. Then the Torah and the Bible and the Qur'an will become books supporting one another being read everywhere, and respected by every nation." He added that he was “looking forward to seeing Muslims read the Torah and the Bible."[36]

'Abduh was asked why he and (his teacher) Afghani had become Masons. He replied that it was for a "political and social purpose".[37] Along with his mentor Afghani, Abduh would later withdraw from Freemasonry due to political disputes. An incident where Masons lavishly praised a British imperial visitor was a major reason for Abduh's quitting of Freemasonry. In his later life, Abduh disassociated himself from the Freemasons.[38] Abduh later would deny that he ever was an active freemason. Rashid Rida reports in Al-Manar that although Abduh once was a mason, he later “cleaned himself internally from Masonry".[39]

Abduh and the Baháʼí Faith[edit]

Like his teacher, Abduh was associated with the Baháʼí Faith, which had made deliberate efforts to spread the faith to Egypt, establishing themselves in Alexandria and Cairo beginning in the late 1860s. In particular, he was in close contact with ʻAbdu'l-Bahá,[11] the eldest son of Baháʼu'lláh and leader of the Baháʼí Faith from 1892 until 1921.[40] Rashid Rida asserts that during his visits to Beirut, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá would attend Abduh's study sessions.[41] The two men met at a time when they had similar goals of religious reform and were in opposition to the Ottoman ulama.[42][43] Regarding the meetings of `Abdu'l-Bahá and Muhammad 'Abduh, Shoghi Effendi asserts that "His several interviews with the well-known Shaykh Muhammad ‘Abdu served to enhance immensely the growing prestige of the community and spread abroad the fame of its most distinguished member."[44] Remarking on `Abdu'l-Bahá’s excellence in religious science and diplomacy, Abduh said of him that, "[he] is more than that. Indeed, he is a great man; he is the man who deserves to have the epithet applied to him."[45]

Works[edit]

Other works by Muhammad `Abduh

  • (1897) Risālat al-tawḥīd (“Treatise on the oneness of God;” first edition)[1]
  • (1903) Tafsir Surat al-`Asr, Cairo.
  • (1904) Tafsir juz’ `Amma, al-Matb. al-Amiriyya, Cairo.
  • (1927) Tafsir Manar, 12 volumes
  • (1944) Muhammad Abduh. "Essai sur ses idées philosophiques et religieuses", Cairo
  • (1954–1961), Tafsir al-Qur'an al-Hakim al-Mustahir bi Tafsir al-Manar, 12 vols. with indices, Cairo.
  • (1962 or 1963) (Islamic year 1382), Fatihat al-Kitab, Tafsir al-Ustadh al-Imam…, Kitab al-Tahrir, Cairo.
  • (no date), Durus min al-Qur'an al-Karim, ed. by Tahir al-Tanakhi, Dar al-Hilal, Cairo.
  • (1966) The Theology of Unity, trans. by Ishaq Musa'ad and Kenneth Cragg. London.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kerr, Malcolm H. (2010). "'Abduh Muhammad". In Hoiberg, Dale H. (ed.). Encyclopædia Britannica. I: A-ak Bayes (15th ed.). Chicago, IL: Encyclopædia Britannica Inc. pp. 20–21. ISBN 978-1-59339-837-8.
  2. ^ "On Salafi Islam Dr. Yasir Qadhi". Muslim Matters. 22 April 2014. Archived from the original on 20 December 2014. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  3. ^ Kurzman, Charles, ed. Modernist Islam, 1840-1940: a sourcebook. Oxford University Press, USA, 2002.
  4. ^ Amir, Ahmad N., Abdi O. Shuriye, and Ahmad F. Ismail. "Muhammad Abduh’s contributions to modernity." Asian Journal of Management Sciences and Education 1.1 (2012): 163-175.
  5. ^ Sedgwick, Mark. Muhammad Abduh. Simon and Schuster, 2014.
  6. ^ Bentlage, Eggert, Martin Krämer, Reichmuth, Björn, Marion, Hans, Stefan (2017). Religious Dynamics under the Impact of Imperialism and Colonialism. Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, The Netherlands: Brill Publishers. p. 253. ISBN 978-90-04-32511-1. ..the spirit of Pan-Islamism, i.e. the thoughts of Muḥammad ʿAbduh (1849–1905) and Jamāl al-Dīn al-Afghāni (1838–1897), can be felt in IslamCS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  7. ^ Aydin, Cemil (2017). The idea of the Muslim world: A Global Intellectual History. United States of America: Harvard University Press. p. 62, 231. ISBN 9780674050372. In 1884 the first pan-Islamic magazine, al-Urwat al-Wuthqa, was published in Paris by Jamal ad-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh.
  8. ^ Sedgwick, Mark (2013). Muhammad Abduh: Makers of the Muslim World. One World. p. 56. ISBN 978-1851684328. ..in 1884, Afghani and Abduh invented what would now be called radical Islamist journalism...
  9. ^ A. Dudoignon, Hisao, Yasushi, Stéphane, Komatsu, Kosugi; Gen, Kasuya (2017). "Chapter 3: THE MANARISTS AND MODERNISM". THE INFLUENCE OF AL-MANAR ON ISLAMISM IN TURKEY. 2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN, 711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017, USA: Routledge: Taylor & Francis Group. p. 56. ISBN 978-0-415-36835-3. Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838–1897), Muhammad Abduh (1849–1905), and Rashid Rida (1865–1935), were the ideological roots of Islamism (Islamcılık in Turkish) in the Ottoman Empire during this period.CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link) CS1 maint: location (link)
  10. ^ Aydin, Cemil (2017). The idea of the Muslim world: A Global Intellectual History. United States of America: Harvard University Press. p. 63. ISBN 9780674050372. In spite of his anti-imperialism, Abduh returned to Egypt...
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Büssow, Johann (2016). "Muḥammad ʿAbduh: The Theology of Unity (Egypt, 1898)". In Bentlage, Björn; Eggert, Marion; Krämer, Hans-Martin; Reichmuth, Stefan (eds.). Religious Dynamics under the Impact of Imperialism and Colonialism. Numen Book Series. 154. Leiden: Brill Publishers. pp. 141–159. doi:10.1163/9789004329003_013. ISBN 978-90-04-32511-1. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  12. ^ Syeda Saiyidain Hameed (2014), Maulana Azad, Islam and the Indian National Movement, Oxford, pp. 17, 36, ISBN 9780199450466
  13. ^ Hussein Abdul-Raof (2012), Theological Approaches to Qur'anic Exegesis: A Practical Comparative-contrastive Analysis, Routledge, p. 3, ISBN 9780415449588
  14. ^ Yakubovych, Mykhaylo. "A Cultural Significance of the Modern Islamic Exegetics for the Theory of Religious Tolerance." Int'l Stud. J. 9 (2012): 79.
  15. ^ Yahaya, Amiratul Munirah. "REFORM THOUGHTS IN TAFSIR AL-MARAGHI BY SHAYKH AHMAD MUSTAFA AL-MARAGHI." Online Journal of Research in Islamic Studies 1.2 (2017): 63-76.
  16. ^ Warren, David H. Debating the Renewal of Islamic Jurisprudence (Tajdīd al-Fiqh) Yusuf al-Qaradawi, his Interlocutors, and the Articulation, Transmission and Reconstruction of the Fiqh Tradition in the Qatar-Context. The University of Manchester (United Kingdom), 2015.
  17. ^ "Urwat al-Wuthqa, al- - Oxford Islamic Studies Online". www.oxfordislamicstudies.com. Retrieved 6 June 2020.
  18. ^ Adams, Charles Clarence (1933), "Muhammad Abduh: Biography", Islam and Modernism in Egypt, Volume 10, Taylor & Francis, p. 18, ISBN 0415209080, True, his father 'Abduh ibn Hasan Khair Allah, came from a family of Turkish origin that had settled in the village of Mahallat Nasr in the Buhairah Province at some remote time in the past...
  19. ^ Hourani, Albert (1962). Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age. Great Britain: Oxford University Press. p. 130.
  20. ^ Arthur Goldschmidt, Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt, Lynne Rienner Publishers (2000), p. 10
  21. ^ Hourani, Albert (1962). Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age. Great Britain: Oxford University Press.
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h Kügelgen, Anke von. "ʿAbduh, Muḥammad." Encyclopaedia of Islam, v.3. Edited by: Gudrun Krämer, Denis Matringe, John Nawas and Everett Rowson. Brill, 2009. Syracuse University. 23 April 2009
  23. ^ حلمي،, عبد الوهاب، محمد (2018). التصوف في سياق النهضة: من محمد عبده الى سعيد النورسي (in Arabic). Markaz Dirāsāt al-Waḥdah al-ʻArabīyah. ISBN 978-9953-82-815-2.
  24. ^ Kedourie, E. (1997). Afghani and 'Abduh: An Essay on Religious Unbelief and Political Activism in Modern Islam, London: Frank Cass. ISBN 0-7146-4355-6.
  25. ^ Ahmed H. Al-Rahim (January 2006). "Islam and Liberty", Journal of Democracy 17 (1), pp. 166-169.
  26. ^ Brockett, Adrian Alan, Studies in two transmissions of the Qur'an, p11
  27. ^ Ahmed Hasan (2 July 201). "Democracy, Religion and Moral Values: A Road Map Toward Political Transformation in Egypt". Foreign Policy Journal. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  28. ^ Gelvin , J. L. (2008). The Modern Middle East (2nd ed., pp. 161-162). New York: Oxford university Press.
  29. ^ [1]
  30. ^ a b Benzine, Rachid. Les nouveaux penseurs de l'islam, p. 43-44.
  31. ^ Juan R.I. Cole. Muhammad `Abduh and Rashid Rida: A Dialogue on the Baháʼí Faith. World Order Vol. 15, nos. 3-4 (Spring/Summer 1981):7-16.
  32. ^ Fahmy, Ziad (2011). Ordinary Egyptians Creating the Modern Nation Through Popular Culture. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. pp. 47–48. ISBN 978-0-8047-7211-2. Through these associations, Abduh was able to establish contacts with Tawfiq Pasha and other leaders of Egypt.<ref>Kudsi-Zadeh, A. Albert (1 February 2012). "Afghānī and Freemasonry in Egypt". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 92 (1): 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. doi:10.2307/599645. JSTOR 599645. In these efforts, Afghani was aided by some of his own disciples whom he persuaded to join Freemasonry... "It was through this association, remarks Rida, that 'Abduh was able to establish contact with Tawfiq Pasha and other leaders of Egypt.
  33. ^ Kudsi-Zadeh, A. Albert (1 February 2012). "Afghānī and Freemasonry in Egypt". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 92 (1): 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. doi:10.2307/599645. JSTOR 599645. In these efforts, Afghani was aided by some of his own disciples whom he persuaded to join Freemasonry... "It was through this association, remarks Rida, that 'Abduh was able to establish contact with Tawfiq Pasha and other leaders of Egypt.
  34. ^ "What did Muhammad Abduh do?". Arab News. Retrieved 14 August 2017.
  35. ^ Raafat, Samir. "Freemasonry in Egypt: Is it still around?" Insight Magazine, 1 March 1999
  36. ^ Muhammad 'Abduh, "Islam and Christianity," in Waqf Ikhlas, The Religion Reformers in Islam, Istanbul, 1995, p. 117
  37. ^ Rida, "Tatimmat," p. 402. Journal of the American Oriental Society, Vol. 92, No. 1 (Jan. - Mar., 1972), pp. 25–35
  38. ^ Kudsi-Zadeh, A. Albert (1 February 2012). "Afghānī and Freemasonry in Egypt". Journal of the American Oriental Society. 92 (1): 26, 27, 28, 29, 30. doi:10.2307/599645. JSTOR 599645. Abduh was one, although later in life he attempted to obfuscate his association.
  39. ^ Sedgwick, Mark (2013). Muhammad Abduh: Makers of the Muslim World. One World. p. 114. ISBN 978-1851684328. ..he evidently denied this to Rashid Rida, who explained in Al-Manar that while Muhammad Abduh had once been a Freemason, he had since “cleaned himself internally from Masonry.”
  40. ^ Bausani, Alessandro; MacEoin, Denis (14 July 2011) [15 December 1982]. "ʿAbd-al-Bahā". Encyclopædia Iranica. I/1. New York: Columbia University. pp. 102–104. ISSN 2330-4804. Archived from the original on 16 November 2012. Retrieved 25 October 2020.
  41. ^ Cole, Juan R.I. (1981). "Muhammad 'Abduh and Rashid Rida: A Dialogue on the Baháʼí Faith". World Order. 15 (3): 11.
  42. ^ Scharbrodt, Oliver (2008). Islam and the Baháʼí Faith: A Comparative Study of Muhammad 'Abduh and 'Abdul-Baha 'Abbas. Routledge. ISBN 9780203928578.
  43. ^ Cole, Juan R.I. (1983). "Rashid Rida on the Bahaʼi Faith: A Utilitarian Theory of the Spread of Religions". Arab Studies Quarterly. 5 (2): 278.
  44. ^ Effendi, Shoghi (1944). God Passes By. Wilmette, Illinois, USA: Baháʼí Publishing Trust. p. 193. ISBN 0-87743-020-9.
  45. ^ Cole, Juan R.I. (1983). "Rashid Rida on the Bahaʼi Faith: A Utilitarian Theory of the Spread of Religions". Arab Studies Quarterly. 5 (2): 282.

References[edit]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]

Sunni Islam titles
Preceded by
Hassunah al-Nawawi
Grand Mufti of Egypt
1899 - 1905
Succeeded by
Bakri al-Sadafi