Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), Mufti of the Egyptian realm, is one of the most famous figures in recent Islam. In Egypt, he is now generally remembered as a great scholar and a patriot, a great renewer of Islam and one of those who awakened the nation. That said, there have always been mixed views among scholars, in the Muslim world and the West, about regarding him as the leading modernist of Islam. For some, his modernism consisted of creating a synthesis of Islam and modern thought; for others, it consisted of a bridge he built between the old world and the new one. Some see him as having revived the true Islam, and some see him as having proposed an alternative to true Islam.
Amongst the many manuscripts and publications that were written during and after Abduh’s life, there have always been unknown works that have been discovered by scholars over the last fifty years. To that end, I was fortunate to identify some unknown works within the rare books collection of the Aga Khan Library in London. It is believed that the collection belongs to the category of the “Unknown Works”. The preliminary analyses show that the handwriting of the manuscripts matches the autograph manuscript of Muhammad Abduh.
This paper aims to shed light on the significant role of Muhammad Abduh in the Islamic reform movement in the second half of the 19th century. The newly discovered collection stresses on his thought about political and social reform that lead to reforming Islam.
Dr Walid Ghali is Assistant Professor at the Aga Khan University Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations (AKU-ISMC), and the Head of the Aga Khan Library in London. Dr Ghali received his PhD in Arabic Manuscripts Studies from Cairo University in 2012. His current research focuses on the Egyptian reformer Muhammad Abduh through unknown works that haven’t been published before. His forthcoming publications are on manuscripts preservation (Book), Quran manuscript from East Africa (Article), and Mawlid celebration in Egypt (chapter). Also, he is currently editing an Arabic manuscript on one of the Sufi orders in North Africa.
Office of the Provost, Aga Khan University.