Skip to main content

Shaltut, Mahmud (1893–1963)

SHALTUT, MAHMUD (1893–1963)

Mahmud Shaltut was an Egyptian religious scholar, jurist, and reformer of al-Azhar, the renowned center of Islamic learning in Cairo. Born in a farming village of lower Egypt, Shaltut distinguished himself as a student in the principal religious institute of Alexandria and later at al-Azhar. He became an instructor of Islamic jurisprudence (fiqh) at al-Azhar in 1927. The following year, the reform-minded Muhammad Mustafa al-Maraghi was appointed shaykh al-Azhar (rector), and Shaltut immediately emerged as one of his ardent supporters. When conservative opposition forced al-Maraghi out of office the following year, Shaltut continued pressing for reform. Because of his opposition, he was dismissed from al-Azhar in 1931. Upon al-Maraghi's reappointment as rector in 1935, he returned as a senior official in the faculty of Islamic law. Following service in numerous committees and conferences inside and outside of al-Azhar, Shaltut was appointed shaykh al-Azhar in 1958. During his tenure, Shaltut oversaw a modernization of the school's curriculum in theology and law, and the addition of new faculties, including medicine. His influence, however, was undermined when the Nasser government imposed direct state control over al-Azhar in 1961. The progressive bent to Shaltut's thought is best exemplified in his condemnation of Islamic sectarianism and his appointment of scholars of Shi˓ite fiqh at al-Azhar. But on social issues such as polygyny and birth control, he adopted more conservative positions that were at odds with government reform programs.

See alsoReform: Arab Middle East and North Africa .


Lemke, Wolf-Dieter. Mahmud Shaltut (1893–1963) und dieReform der Azhar. Frankfurt: P. D. Lang, 1980.

Zebiri, Kate. Mahmud Shaltut and Islamic Modernism. Oxford, U.K.: Clarendon Press, 1993.

Sohail H. Hashmi

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Shaltut, Mahmud (1893–1963)." Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. . 17 Sep. 2019 <>.

"Shaltut, Mahmud (1893–1963)." Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. . (September 17, 2019).

"Shaltut, Mahmud (1893–1963)." Encyclopedia of Islam and the Muslim World. . Retrieved September 17, 2019 from

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

The Chicago Manual of Style

American Psychological Association

  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.