Friday, July 29, 2005

Al-Sanhuri Biographical sketch

As requested, here is a brief sketch of `Abd Al-Razzaq Al-Sanhuri's life, based on the entry in Encyclopedia of Islam. I will only include basic information in bullet form, to avoid infringing on Brill's copyrights. However, I will include some short quotations from their text:

`Abd Al-Razzaq Al-Sanhuri


  • Born 11 August 1895 in Alexandria, Egypt, died 1971 in Cairo.
  • "The Arab world's most distinguished scholar of modern jurisprudence, with the regeneration of Islamic law figuring prominently in his work".
  • Drafted civil codes for Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya.
  • Obained License en droit in 1917 from the Khedival School of Law (top of his class).
  • Started carrer in Mansura:

    • Wakil niyaba (assistant attorney general) in mixed courts.
    • Teacher in the school for Shari`a judges.

  • Went to France in 1921, to study at U. Lyon with E. Lambert.

    • Wrote thesis on English law, which won first prize.
    • Wrote a second thesis on the Caliphate (1926), calling for re-establishing the Caliphate and reforming Arab legal systems.

  • Returned to Cairo in 1926, appointed at National (Cairo) University Faculty of Law.
  • Wrote many treatises merging Egyptian and Islamic Law, including:

    • `Aqd al-Ijar (lease contract).
    • Nazariyyat al-`Aqd (Contract theory).

  • In 1935, went to Baghdad as Professor and Dean of the newly established Law School.
  • In 1936, published Majallat al-Qada', comparing Islamic codifications in Majallat al-Ahkam and Murshid al-Hayran on the one hand, and European codes on the other.
  • Returned to Egypt in 1936 as Dean of Faculty of Law, started revising Egyptian civil law, making it fully compliant (in his opinion) with Islamic Law.
  • Deputy Minister of Justice in 1944.
  • Minister of Education 1945-6, 1947.
  • Defended the new civil code in 1948 before parliament. His critics "wanted a completely Islamic code", and he argued that his proposed code "included all the Islamic law it was then possible to adopt" taking into consideration "sound principles of modern legislation".
  • Chief justice of Majlis al-Dawlah in 1949.
  • Supported the revolution early on, but was attacked physically by demagogues and demonstrators in 1954.
  • Best publications came after retiring from public life, including his magnum opus:

    • Masadir al-Haqq fi al-Fiqh al-Islami (Sources of Justice in Islamic Jurisprudence), 1954-9 (6 parts in 2 volumes).

4 Comments:

Blogger heraish said...

assalamu alikum,

Who is Al-Dawalibi and what is the name of his book regarding interest? Also is there any contemporary Islamic Jurist who is alive who has discussed the possible permissability of simple interest on bank deposits and/or mortagage transactions in light of current business practices?

As Muslims we are not required to blindly follow the "jurists" but I am just asking just to possibly research there views.

10:15 AM  
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Blogger dawood said...

I can't believe that I have missed this post as an avid reader of your blog... I wish I had seen it back in 2005!

I am currently contemplating doing my Honours or postgrad on Sanhuri and his conception of legal reform. He seems to have been one of the greats, and the nuance in his thought is very impressive.

It makes me sad that even now, the calls for reform and research on Islamic law are still waiting to be answered

12:21 AM  
Blogger Houstonlaw said...

I totally agreed with dawood that reforms in Islamic laws are still in list.

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3:29 AM  

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