This thesis proposes to examine some of the fatwas, or legal opinions, issued by Muhammad ‘Abduh, and taken from the manuscript ledgers at Dār al-Iftā’ al-Miṣriyah. The fatwas involve official and semi-official issues, problems of personal status, financial matters, and relations with others. They were picked for their clarity, peculiarity, diversity, and will be examined for their relevance to the needs of various groups of society at that time and for the legal argumentation used. The fatwas will be examined to try to determine ‘Abduh’s legal approach, and his methodology when dealing with everyday issues. Fatwas are also useful tools to gauge different trends and tendencies in a society. The queries reflect some of the preoccupations of individuals. As for the responses, whether these are timely or untimely, or whether they are mundane or peculiar, they demonstrate the degree of empathy of the mufti with the public. Indeed, Muhammad ‘Abduh once observed that the ‘ulamā’- Muslim religious scholars- of his time, even if they were highly qualified, were totally isolated from the needs of the public, and that the only interaction the community had was with the storytellers that they called preachers at the Friday prayers. Such a statement implied that he considered that the function of the religious scholars was to serve society.


Arab & Islamic Civilizations Department

Degree Name

MA in Arabic Studies

Graduation Date

Spring 5-26-2017

Submission Date

May 2016

First Advisor

Serag, Mohamed

Second Advisor


Third Advisor


Committee Member 1


Committee Member 2


Committee Member 3



139 p.

Document Type

Master's Thesis


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Institutional Review Board (IRB) Approval

Not necessary for this item


This thesis is divided into two parts. Part one, which sets the background, includes an introduction describing the scope and aim of this study, a short biography of Muhammad 'Abduh, and a section that examines his approach to the principles of Islamic jurisprudence. Part Two consists of nine uneven sections presenting the fatwas and responses, which are organised into categories. These cover official queries, faith and ritual; marriage and separation; interdiction or hijr; third-party rights, involving inheritance, gifts and endowments - waqfs; custody and guardianship; miscellaneous issues, i.e. fatwas which are awkward to classify; and finally, those that refer to penalties, etc. The conclusion sums up and underlines the findings, and an appendix is attached with the fatwas, as they are transcribed in Arabic.