Mahmūd Schaltūt

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Mahmūd Schaltūt in 1957

Mahmūd Schaltūt ( Arabic محمود شلتوت, DMG Maḥmūd Šaltūt ; * April 23, 1893 in Minyat Bani Mansur in Lower Egypt; † December 14, 1963 in Cairo ) was an Egyptian religious scholar who is best known for his efforts to reform the Azhar and to bring Sunnis and Shiites closer together . From October 1958 until his death he held the office of Sheikh of the Azhar .

Early years

Schaltūt entered the Religious Institute of Alexandria, which belonged to the Azhar, in 1906 and received his ʿālimīya diploma there in 1918 . In 1919 he was appointed teacher at the same institute. In 1927 he was transferred to Cairo to teach in the higher department. When Muhammad Mustafā al-Marāghī was appointed the new rector of the Azhar in 1928, he supported the reform program with great passion. In April 1941, Schaltūt became a permanent contributor to the weekly cultural newspaper ar-Risāla .

As a reformer in the "community of great scholars"

In early August 1941, Schaltūt was accepted into the highest Azhar body, the "Community of Great Scholars" ( ǧamāʿat kibār al-ʿulamāʾ ). As early as November 1941 he submitted a proposal for the reorganization of this body, in which he referred to the ideas of the Azhar Reform Commission, which had devised this body in 1910. According to his idea, the "community of great scholars" should receive a permanent secretariat, which had to deal with eight urgent tasks: (1) Defense of Islam against attacks; (2) Examining the issues on which Islamic scholars today disagree; (3) Compiling a list of the Isrā'īlīyāt appearing in the common Quranic commentaries that are contrary to the mind; (4) Issuing legal opinions; (5) exploring the human relationships that have emerged in the present with a view to judging them by Sharia law ; (6) reorganization of questions related to preaching; (7) Critical review of textbooks in the various sciences; (8) Supervising and directing the Azhar magazine ( Maǧallat al-Azhar ) so that it serves the Islamic spiritual movement.

In 1943, Schaltūt dealt again with the Azhar's mission in a lecture entitled "The Scientific Control Policy at the Azhar". Possibly the reason was that in July 1943 he was appointed as a member of a "Commission for the Study of the State of the Faculties and Institutes of the Azhar". A year later he gave a lecture on Muhammad Abduh , in which he expressly acknowledged the direction of Islamic reform that he founded.

In 1948, Schaltūt participated in the founding of the Dār at-taqrīb baina l-madhāhib ( "House of Approach between the Schools of Law " ), an institution that aimed primarily at improved relations between Sunnis and Shiites and had a pan-Islamic orientation.

Acting as the Sheikh of the Azhar

On November 9, 1957, Schaltūt was appointed deputy rector of the Azhar ( wakīl al-Azhar ) by a presidential decree , and a year later, on October 21, 1958, he was appointed Sheikh of the Azhar. In this office, too, he promoted rapprochement between Sunnis and Shiites. In an interview in July 1959, he expressly affirmed and approved the possibility of an intra-Islamic conversion from the Sunna to the Shia and vice versa. During the interview, which was reprinted several times later, he said: "According to the religious law of Islam it is permissible to worship according to the rite of Jafariya , known as the Imamite Shia , as well as according to all schools of Sunnis . " A little later he received the Iranian ambassador in Cairo for a meeting, which focused on the Azhar's striving for unity among Muslims. At the urging of the "Society for Rapprochement (between the Islamic denominations)" ( ǧamāʿat at-taqrīb ), Schaltūt published this and other sentences from the July interview, which had caused quite a stir, in the form of a fatwa .

Schaltūts position met with a lot of criticism from Sunni opponents of rapprochement with the Shia. As early as July 1959, ʿAbd ar-Rahmān al-Wakīl, the head of the "Society of the Helpers of the Muhammadan Sunna" ( Ǧamāʿat anṣār as-sunna al-muḥammadīya ) addressed him with an open letter in which he referred to controversial topics such as the cult of the tomb , Falsification of the Koran text and sinlessness of the imams protested against Schaltūt's conciliatory tone. In September 1960 Schaltūt was in in Riad appearing Wahhabi attacked furiously journal of the journalist Ibrahim al-Dschabhān. In view of this criticism and the changed political framework, Schaltūt did not pursue the project of a Sunni-Shiite rapprochement any further.

A little less than three years after he took office, on July 5, 1961, the Egyptian parliament passed Law No. 103 of 1961, which continues to regulate the affairs of the Azhar to this day. One of the main contents of this law was the creation of the Academy for Islamic Studies to replace the "community of great scholars". The conception of this new body was based in many respects on Schaltūt's reform proposals from 1941. In his efforts to reform the Azhar, he was assisted by Muhammad al-Bahī, the director of Azhar University, and Sheikh Ahmad Hasan al-Zaiyāt, the editor-in-chief of Azhar magazine.


Among the works of Schaltūts, besides works on the Koran, are a. a Koran commentary, an open-minded and traditional introduction to Islam ("Islam as doctrine and law") and its fatwas significant.


  • Rainer Brunner: Approach and distance. Schia, Azhar and Islamic Ecumenism in the 20th Century . Schwarz, Berlin, 1996. pp. 215-232. Digitized
  • Werner Ende: “The Azhar, Šaiḫ Šaltūt and the Schia” in W. Diem u. A. Falaturi (Ed.): Selected lectures: XXIV. German Orientalist Day; from September 26 to 30, 1988 in Cologne Steiner, Stuttgart, 1990. pp. 308-318. Digitized
  • Werner Ende: Art. " Sh altūt, Maḥmūd" in The Encyclopaedia of Islam. New Edition Vol. IX, pp. 260b-261b.
  • Wolf-Dieter Lemke: Maḥmūd Šaltūt (1893-1963) and the reform of the Azhar: Investigations into renewal efforts in the Egyptian-Islamic educational system . Frankfurt a. M. [u. a.]: Lang, 1980.
  • Kate Zebiri: Maḥmūd Shaltūt and Islamic modernism. Oxford: Clarendon Press 1993.

supporting documents

  1. See Lemke 45f.
  2. See end of 260b.
  3. See Lemke 126.
  4. See Lemke 127.
  5. See Lemke 134-140.
  6. See Lemke 143.
  7. See Lemke 148.
  8. See Lemke 139.
  9. See Brunner: Approach and Distance. 1996, p. 215f.
  10. Quotation from Brunner: Approach and distance. 1996, p. 219.
  11. See Brunner 237.
  12. See Brunner: Approach and Distance. 1996, p. 222.
  13. See Brunner: Approach and Distance. 1996, p. 244.
  14. See Brunner: Approach and Distance. 1996, pp. 245-250.
  15. See Lemke 147.
  16. See Malika Zeghal: Gardiens de l'Islam. Les oulémas d'al Azhar dans l'Égypte contemporaine. Paris 1996. p. 95.