This is the first detailed study of the life and thought of Shaykh Mahmud Shalt=ut (1897-1963). Shaltd=ut was an Egyptian scholar and reformer who held the most senior position open to Sunni Muslim religious scholars - that of Rector of the Azhar University in Cairo. His period of office (1958-63) was a turbulent time in Egypt and within the Azhar itself, with President Nasser's socialist government initiatinga radical reorganization of that institution in
accordance with its policy of exerting greater control over the forces of Islam in Egypt. One of the most popuar and progressive Rectors of the Azhar in recent times, his writings have received extremely wide readership throughout the Muslim world. They reflect both his traditional religious background and his
great concern with the contemporary problems of Muslims, thus providing an insight into some of the tensions which arise in the confrontation with modernity. In his important work in the areas of Islamic jurisprudence and Qur'anic commentary, he strove to demystify Islamic scholarship and make its fruits available to ordinary Muslims. He issued fatwas on a wide range of topics of particular relevance in the modern age, such as financial transactions and family planning.
By focusing on the work of an essentially traditional religious scholar, this study will fill a serious gap in modern Islamic studies. Set against the wider context of the cultural and revolutionary changes of Egypt at this time, it will also provide valuable insights for students charting the
development of the modern Middle East.
'The fascination of the volume is its concentration on Shalt=ut's work as an interpreter of the Qur'an and a scholar of jurisprudence.'
Jorgen S. Nielsen, Centre for the Study of Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Birmingham, Reviews in Religion and Theology, August 1994
'a detailed, in-depth study of his life and thought ... The study is based on careful, detailed, and exhaustive research and is likely to remain the authoritative work on Shalm=ut for some time to come ... written in a style that is readily accessible to non-specialists.'
M. Swartz, Boston University, Choice, May '94
'Zebiri has provided us with a very important study on the modernist `Ulama', especially Muhammad 'Abduh's legacy ... The book fills a gap in that direction and in answering why the modernist 'ulama' have not succeeded in modernizing and also why they have not failed.'
Ahmad S. Moussalli, American University of Beirut, Journal of Islamic Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1, 1995
`The overall thesis is clear and convincing ... Specialists in religion and jurisprudence will appreciate Zebiri's detailed attention to Quranic exegesis and modern interpretations of the sharia ... this carefully argued monograph has made an important start in a neglected field and provides a solid basis on which other studies can build.'
International Journal of Middle East Studies
`She propounds a learned comparative study intended to clarify the similarities and divergences between Shaltut's exegesis, on the one hand, and that of `Abduh, on the other. The author demonstrates her grasp of this important field by comparing Shaltut's tafsir with other contemporary ones.'
British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
`...Zebiri is to be congratulated for her summaries of Shaltut's style and his use of sources. Zebiri's overall assessment of Shaltut is sober and fair. Her book is clealy written and interesting, critical and sympathetic...it would make an excellent textbook for students at many levels.'
Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies