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, he 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 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 were not published until 1965.[3]

His books include biographies of Abū Ḥanīfa, Malik ibn Anas, Al-Shafi'i, Ahmad ibn Hanbal, Zayd ibn Ali, Ali ibn al-Husayn Zayn al-'Abidin, Ja'far as-Sadiq, Dawud al-Zahiri, Ibn Hazm and Ibn Taymiyyah, as well as works on personal status, endowments (waqf), property, and crime and punishment in Islamic law.[4][page needed]

Views on Salafi movement and Salafi Theology[edit]

Main articles: Salafi movement and Salafi Theology

Based on Abu'l-Faraj ibn al-Jawzi's criticism of Athari-Hanbalis, Muhammad Abu Zahra, a Professor of Islamic law at Cairo University deduced that Salafi aqidah is located somewhere between ta'tili and tashbih.[2][5]

Views on Ahmadiyya movement in Islam[edit]

Main article: Ahmadiyya Movement

According to Muhammad Abu Zahra, Ghulam Ahmad deviated from the mainstream aqidah of Islam due to his distinct views which is not shared by any other Schools of Islamic theology. First of all, Ghulam claimed that he found the grave of Jesus which is not accepted by any other Islamic school of divinity. In addition, Ghulam Ahmad conceded that the soul and the power of Messiah incarnated to his body due to his discovery of Jesus's grave. Because of this reason, his words are indisputable and absolute (Haqq). Moreover, Ahmad declared that he was authorized by Allah (Jalla Jalaalahoo) to make any revisions and modernization of Dīn, since he is the Mahdi. Furthermore, Ghulam does not give permission to Ahmadi-Women to get married with the other Muslim-Men of non-Ahmadi Muslim sects. This is clearly admission of the Muslims of the other madhhabs as Non-Muslims. Therefore, it is a justification that non-Ahmadis are being considered as Non-Muslims (according to the theological discourse developed) by Mirza Ghulam Ahmad.[6]


Abu Zahra wrote over a dozen books,[7] amongst them:[8]

  • Tarikh al-Madhahib al-Islamiyya (History of the Islamic Schools)
  • al-'Alaqat al-Dawliyah fi al-Islam (International Relations in Islam)
  • Zahrat al-Tafasir.
  • Al-Jarīmah wa al-‛Uqūbah fī al-Fiqh al-Islāmī.
  • Al-Mujtama‛ al-Insānī fī Zill al-Islām. (Human Society in the Shade of Islam)
  • Sīrah Khātam al-Nabiyyīn.
  • Tanzīm al-Islām lil-Mujtama‛.
  • Ilm Usul al-Fiqh.


  1. ^ Ralph H. Salmi, Cesar Adib Majul and George George Kilpatrick Tanham (1998). Islam and Conflict Resolution: Theories and Practices, p. 90. Lanham: University Press of America. ISBN 9780761810964.
  2. ^ a b c d 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 (1999), "Arabic Muslim Writings on Contemporary Religions Other Than Islam." Taken from Muslim Perceptions of Other Religions : A Historical Survey: A Historical Survey, p. 244. Ed. Jacques Waardenburg. Oxford: Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780195355765.
  4. ^ John Esposito (2003), The Oxford Dictionary of Islam, Oxford University Press.
  5. ^ Muhammad Abu Zahra, The history of Madhhabs and Schools of Islamic theology in Islam-Chapter on Wahhabi Movement.
  6. ^ Muhammad Abu Zahra, The history of Madhhabs and Schools of Islamic theology in Islam-Chapter on Ahmadiyya movement.
  7. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2014). Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications. pp. 156–7. ISBN 978-1780744209. 
  8. ^ Ahmed Al-Dawoody (2011). The Islamic Law of War: Justifications and Regulations. Palgrave Macmillan. p. 288. ISBN 9780230111608. 

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