|Died||11 July 1905 (aged 56)|
|Cause of death||Renal cell carcinoma|
|Movement||Salafi movement, Islamic Modernism|
|Notable idea(s)||Modernization of Islam|
|Notable work(s)||Risālat al-Tawḥīd (Arabic: رسالة التوحيد; "The Theology of Unity")|
|Alma mater||Al-Azhar University|
He also wrote, among other things, "Treatise on the Oneness of God", and a commentary on the Quran.
He also had Kurdish roots.
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.
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 in 1866.
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.
In 1877, Abduh was granted the degree of 'Alim ("teacher") and he started to teach logic, theology and ethics at al-Azhar.
He was also appointed to teach Arabic at the Khedivial School of Languages.
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.
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.
He had stated that every society should be allowed to choose a suitable form of government based on its history and its present circumstances.
Abduh spent several years in Ottoman Lebanon, where he helped establish an Islamic educational system.
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.
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.
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.
In 1900 he founded The Society for the Revival of Arabic Literature.
The conclusions he drew from his travels were that Muslims suffer from ignorance about their own religion and the despotism of unjust rulers.
Muhammad Abduh died in Alexandria on 11 July 1905.
People from all around the world sent their condolences.
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.
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.
Abduh regularly called for better friendship between religious communities.
Broadly speaking, he preached brotherhood between all schools of thought in Islam.
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.
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.
Abduh's collected works have been compiled and published in five volumes by Muhammad Imarah.
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."
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.
He added that he was “looking forward to seeing Muslims read the Torah and the Bible."
'Abduh was asked why he and (his teacher) Afghani had become Masons.
He replied that it was for a "political and social purpose".
Abduh and the Baháʼí Faith
Main article: Baháʼí Faith in Egypt
Further information: History of the Baháʼí Faith
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.
Rashid Rida asserts that during his visits to Beirut, ʻAbdu'l-Bahá would attend Abduh's study sessions.
The two men met at a time when they had similar goals of religious reform and were in opposition to the Ottoman ulama.
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."
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."
Credits to the contents of this page go to the authors of the corresponding Wikipedia page: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muhammad Abduh.