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Mohammed Hassen Ali

last king of the kingdom of Jimma in Ethiopia, scholar, was born in Jiren, the political capital and commercial center of southwestern Ethiopia. As a young man Abba Jobir received the best Muslim education under several prominent Muslim scholars who settled in Jimma during the reign of his famous grandfather Abba Jifar II (r. 1878–1932).

His grandfather was the most famous, wealthiest, and most popular Oromo king throughout Ethiopia during the second half of the nineteenth century. He was a very foresighted politician who had an excellent grasp of the importance of firearms in warfare. He sent agents to the expanding kingdom of Shewa and realized that King Menilek had superiority in weapons; therefore, he peacefully submitted to Menilek. Although four other Oromo kings who resisted Menilek were destroyed, Abba Jifar II signed a peace treaty with the Christian king of Shewa in 1882 In exchange for local ...

Article

Cathlyn Mariscotti

Egyptian Islamic scholar and prominent writer of Arabic literature, was born on 18 November 1913 into a conservative religious household in Dumyat (Damietta) in the Egyptian Delta. She was a descendent, on her mother’s side, of a shaykh of the Al-Azhar, the prestigious mosque and university in Cairo, and her father taught at Dumyat Religious Institute. Well acquainted with her family history, ʿAbd al- Rahman sought to continue this proud tradition. She began learning basic reading and writing skills before the age of five in a kuttab in her father s village This early instruction prepared her to read the Qurʾan ʿAbd al Rahman s later education became more difficult however as her father did not believe that girls should be educated outside the home because secular education did not provide proper instruction for them As a result ʿAbd al Rahman s mother would continually intervene to help her ...

Article

Emad Abdul-Latif

university professor and Imam, was born in 1885 in Abu Gerg village in Minya, Upper Egypt, to a wealthy and prestigious family. His father, Hassan Abdul Razik Pasha, was a prominent politician, and his mother, Khadooja Abdul Salam Al Shureiy, descended from a famous family in Upper Egypt. He studied at Al-Azhar under Sheikh Muhammad Abdou, who deeply influenced his ideologies. After obtaining his Alamyya certificate in 1908, he traveled to France to complete his studies at the Sorbonne University and then the University of Lyon. Upon receiving his doctorate, he settled in Lyon to teach the Arabic language and Islamic Law. World War I put an end to his stay in France. By the end of 1914 he returned to Egypt, where he worked as an employee at Al-Azhar and then a judge in the Islamic courts. Upon his appointment in 1927 as an associate professor at ...

Article

Mohammed Hassen Ali

Islamic scholar in the Oromo region of Ethiopia, was born in the village of Saphalo in Harerge. His real name was Abubakar Usman Oda. He was destined to make the village of his birth the most famous place in Harerge. In fact, “Bakrii,” the root form of which is cognate with “Abubakar,” came to be inseparably linked with the name of his village. Thus, he was generally known as Shaykh Bakrii Saphalo, and indeed, few of his admirers ever knew his real name.

He received twenty years of advanced Islamic education, becoming a shaykh (scholar-teacher). He opened his first center of teaching in Saphalo in 1927 Eventually he opened five centers of teaching in several places becoming the most famous teacher in eastern Ethiopia In addition to religious education and philosophy his teaching ranged over geography history mathematics astronomy Arabic and composition in the Oromo language During his long ...

Article

Joel Gordon

founder and martyred leader of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers, the archetypical modern Islamist mass movement, was born in Mahmudiyya, a Delta town not far from Alexandria, in October 1906. His father, a devotee of a mystical Sufi order and graduate of the prestigious al-Azhar seminar in Cairo, owned a watch repair shop and sold gramophones, but he gave religious lessons by day. He oversaw young Hasan’s memorization of the Qurʾan and taught him the watch business. Hasan attended Qurʾan school in the provincial city of Damanhur, but in keeping with his father’s modernist religious sensibilities, he went on to government preparatory school, then, at age 14, enrolled in a junior teachers school in the Delta city of Damanhur. In 1924 he entered Dar al-Ulum, the teacher training college in Cairo.

Banna went on to pursue a career in the state educational sector but his life became dominated by a ...

Article

Jonathan Miran

scholar of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh), Muslim community leader, prolific writer, and first Italian-appointed Grand Mufti of Eritrea, was born in Anuqtu (on Mount Kindid in Akkele Guzay) in 1909. Shaykh Ibrahim belonged to the Saho-speaking Minifere group and more precisely the Faqih Harak clan. His father, Shaykh Ahmad Umar Kuri (d. 1924), received advanced religious education in the Hijaz (Arabia) and was a specialist in the Islamic legal sciences and the director of an Islamic school in eastern Akkele Guzay in Eritrea. Shaykh Ibrahim traveled to the Sudan in 1925 and studied in Omdurman before continuing on to Cairo in 1926 to pursue an advanced religious education. In the Egyptian capital he studied in several Al-Azhar secondary institutes (1926–1931) before enrolling at al-Azhar University. He graduated from al-Azhar in 1937 with a specialization in Hanafi jurisprudence and worked in various editorial capacities for Cairene publishers specializing ...

Article

Efraim Barak

, Egyptian Muslim cleric, Islamic leader, and well-known preacher and scholar, was born on 9 September 1926 in Sift Turab, a small village on the Nile Delta. His father, ʿAbdallah, who was, according to his son, “half peasant, half merchant,” died when Qaradawi was two years old, and he was raised by his mother and his uncle, Ahmad, a poor illiterate farmer. By the time he was nine years old, he had completed his studies of the Qurʾan at the traditional kuttab (Islamic elementary school) in his village. He then moved to a nearby city, Tanta, to continue his studies at the Islamic secondary school. Qaradawi completed the initial four years of religious studies in 1942, and that same year he joined the Muslim Brotherhood.

In 1944, Qaradawi resumed his studies at the Religious Institute in Tanta. At the beginning of 1949 following the assassination of the ...

Article

Ellis Goldberg

Egyptian author, literary critic, and activist who helped shape contemporary political Islam, was born in the Upper Egyptian village of Musha in Asyut province on 9 October 1906. His father, Qutb Ibrahim, was a farmer and member of the nationalist Watani party led by Mustafa Kamil. Qutb attended a state-run primary school, but had also memorized the Qurʾan in its entirety by 1916. Qutb experienced the massive 1919 revolt against British rule as a teenage activist. He left the village in 1921 and lived in the Cairo suburb of Zaytun with his mother’s brother for four years, while attending a high school associated with the modernist educational institution Dar al-ʿUlum (founded 1871). In 1929 he entered Dar al-ʿUlum itself and graduated in 1933.

After graduation Qutb first appeared on the Egyptian intellectual scene as a poet and literary critic He was then thought of as a ...

Article

Salah Trabelsi

Tunisian historian and Islamologist, has devoted the best part of his career to teaching and researching medieval Maghreb and Mediterranean history. His profile is that of an atypical intellectual. After a long career teaching in primary and secondary schools, Mohamed Talbi took and passed the Arab Studies competitive examination. On the eve of Tunisia’s independence, he joined the Institute of Higher Education of Tunis. In 1955 he became the first dean of the School of Letters and Human Sciences of Tunis. He also chaired the school’s history department before devoting his full energies as director of the scientific journal Les Cahiers de Tunisie. He was born in the city of Tunis and spent most of his life there.

In 1968 Talbi defended his PhD thesis at the Sorbonne. Entitled L’émirat aghlabide 186–296, 800–909: Histoire politique (Paris: Adrien Maisonneuve, 1966; English trans. The Aghlabid Emirate, a Political History: 184/860–296/909 ...

Article

Louis Brenner

Muslim teacher and spiritual guide, was born in Segou in present-day Mali. He is also known as Tierno Bokar Salif Tal and Cerno Bokar Saalif Taal. Great nephew of al-Hajj ʿUmar Tal, militant religious reformer and leader of the Tijaniyya Sufi order in West Africa, he was therefore a member of one of the most prominent Muslim scholarly and political families in the region. His father was a respected religious scholar and close associate of Amadu, son and successor to ʿUmar, and his mother, Aissata, was the daughter of an accomplished scholar and companion of Amadu who had joined ʿUmar from Sokoto.

Tierno’s life was shaped by the contradictory crosscurrents that flowed from his family heritage, from the French colonial conquest of the region, and from his personal religious convictions. Following the French capture of Ségou in 1890 his father joined those who fled eastward to escape the advancing ...