Muhammad Mustafā al-Marāghī

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Muhammad Mustafā al-Marāghī at his desk

Muhammad Mustafā al-Marāghī ( Arabic محمد مصطفى المراغي, DMG Muḥammad Muṣṭafā al-Marāġī * 1881 ; † 1945 ) was an Egyptian reform-oriented Islamic scholar who dealt primarily with Koran exegesis in his writings , worked towards an Egyptian caliphate and held the office of Sheikh al-Azhar from 1928 to 1929 and again from 1935 to 1945 .

Early years

Al-Marāghī was a student of Muhammad Abduh and served as chief judge in Sudan from 1908 to 1919 . During this time he learned the English language and developed the first plans for an Egyptian caliphate. In a letter to the British Governor General of Sudan, Sir Reginald Wingate , he questioned the traditional Sunni doctrine, according to which the caliph must essentially come from the Arab tribe of the Quraish .

After the occupation of Mecca by the Wahhabis, al-Marāghī explored the possibility of establishing an Egyptian protectorate over the holy places while on a secret mission in the Hejaz . In 1926 he was one of the main organizers of the Caliphate Congress in Cairo. However, both initiatives ended in failure. At an unknown date, al-Marāghī became President of the Sharia Supreme Court of Egypt.

First term as Sheikh of Azhar

From this position he was appointed sheikh of the Azhar by the Egyptian king on May 22, 1928 at the suggestion of Mustafa an-Nahhas Pasha , against the will of the latter, who preferred al-Marāghīs conservative opponent Muhammad al-Ahmadī az-Zawāhirī in would have seen this office. In the month-long dispute over the occupation of the office, al-Marāghī received support from Mahmūd Schaltūt , another Azhar scholar, who welcomed his reform initiative in newspaper articles. In August 1928 he went public with a memorandum on reforming the Azhar . In it he called, among other things, to practice idschtihād , but also called for the introduction of a numerus clausus in the tertiary area of ​​training in view of the limited employment opportunities of Azhar graduates .

Al-Marāghī's dismissal by King Fu'ad I in 1929 and replacement by az-Zawāhirī sparked an uprising among the ʿUlamāʾ of Azhar University, which resulted in seventy of them being fired.

Second term

On November 17, 1934, the Azhar students passed a resolution demanding that az-Zawāhirī be recalled and al-Marāghī reinstated. The king gave in to these demands after a violent press campaign and reinstated al-Marāghī in his previous office in April 1935. After King Fuʾād died in the spring of 1936 and his son Faruq had ascended the throne, al-Marāghī's social and political influence increased sharply because there was a close relationship of trust between him and the new king. During his second term in office, al-Marāghī established a new policy of sending Azhar delegations to international congresses, particularly those with religious or legal subjects. Such delegations took part in the second international congress on comparative law in The Hague in 1937 and in the international religious studies congresses in London in 1936 and Paris in 1939.

Al-Marāghī also showed a great willingness to talk to Shiite scholars. He had particularly close contacts with the Shiite scholar ʿAbd al-Karīm az-Zanjānī (1887–1968), who was based in Najaf , and was involved in the dialogue between Sunnis and Shiites. At al-Marāghī's instigation, az-Zanjānī was proposed to preside over the Congregation, which in 1936 announced the beginning of Ramadan in Egypt . Conversely, al-Marāghī sent a study mission to British India in 1937 on al-Zanjānī's initiative . In February 1938, al-Marāghī wrote to al-Zanjānī and proposed the creation of an institution that would promote rapprochement between denominations and schools of law . This "Supreme Islamic Council" ( maǧlis Islāmī aʿlā ) should represent all Muslims at the same time. Al-Marāghī's plans, however, met with great skepticism from both az-Zanjānī and other Twelve Shiite scholars and were ultimately not implemented.

Overall, al-Marāghī's second term in office was viewed rather critically. Many scholars accused him of not pursuing the reforms he had originally planned on the Azhar out of comfort.


  • Rainer Brunner: Approach and distance. Schia, Azhar and Islamic Ecumenism in the 20th Century . Schwarz, Berlin 1996, ISBN 3-87997-256-7 .
  • Francine Costet-Tardieu: Un réformiste à l'Université al-Azhar: œuvre et pensée de Mustafâ al-Marâghî (1881 - 1945) . CEDEJ, Karthala, Cairo / Paris 2005, ISBN 2-84586-699-2 .
  • Martin Kramer: "Shaykh Marāghī's Mission to the Hijaz" in Asian and African Studies (Jerusalem) 16 (1982) 121-136.
  • Wolf-Dieter Lemke: Maḥmūd Šaltūt (1893-1963) and the reform of the Azhar: Studies on renewal efforts in the Egyptian-Islamic education system . Lang, Frankfurt a. M. [u. a.], 1980.
  • Muḥammad Muṣṭafā al-Marāġī: "A Defense of Reforms in Al Azhar (Note of Scheikh Mohammed Moustafa al Maraghy, Rector of Al Azhar Mosque, which he had the honor of presenting to his Majesty King Fouad, and the Prime Minister, concerning reforms in Al Azhar. Translation from Al Ahram, Cairo, 5 and 7 Aug. 1928) "in Muslim World 19 (1929) 183-195.
  • Amira El Azhary Sonbol: Marāghī, Muṣṭafā al-. In: John L. Esposito (Ed.): The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World. 6 Vols. Oxford 2009. Vol. III, p. 486.
  • Ḫair ad-Dīn az-Ziriklī : Al-Aʿlām . 8 Vol. VII, p. 103.

Individual evidence

  1. See Brunner: Approach and Distance. 1996, p. 81f.
  2. See Brunner: Approach and Distance. 1996, p. 82.
  3. See Lemke 57.
  4. See Lemke 18.
  5. See Marāġī 188f.
  6. See Lemke 97.
  7. See Lemke 98.
  8. See Lemke 107.
  9. See Brunner: Approach and Distance. 1996, p. 78f.
  10. See Brunner: Approach and Distance. 1996, p. 83f.
  11. See Lemke 126.