❝ What must I do? – this is the most universal and urgent question of all; this is the daily bread of the human soul ❞

Mohamed Abdallah Draz, The Moral World of the Qurʼan (London; New York: I.B. Tauris, 2008). Page 292.

Islamic Scholar ‐ Author ‐ Professor

About the author

About Mohamed Abdallah Draz

“The late Professor Muhammad Abd Allah Draz was born in Egypt in 1894. He came from a family of distinguished scholars in religious studies, and studied in Cairo at al-Azhar, the most ancient and respected of Islamic Universities. Draz graduated in 1916, and went on to teach Qur'anic studies at al-Azhar for some eight years, commenting on some of the great Islamic scholarly texts, such as the Muwii.fii.qii.t of al-Shatib'i (d. 790/1388), one of the classics of Islamic jurisprudence. He was then sent on a scholarship to prepare for a doctorate at the Sorbonne. In Paris, he studied philosophy, the history of religions, psychology and ethics, before embarking on the preparation and writing of two dissertations, Initiation au Koran (published as part of the London Qur'an Series as Introduction to the Qur'an in 2000) and this work, the major and monumental La morale du Koran. Both were examined in December 1947, and resulted in Draz being awarded a doctorate with the highest distinction. On his return to Egypt, Draz taught at al-Azhar and Cairo Universities, producing many distinguished studies in Arabic. He died at a conference in Pakistan in January 1959.”

Exert from Introduction to The Moral World of the Qur’an, by renowned scholar of Islamic Studies Dr. Muhammad Abdel Haleem (SOAS University)
M. A. Draz Personal Life

Mohamed Abdallah Draz was born in 1894 in Mehallet Diyay in Desouk, Kafr ElSheikh, where he spent his childhood and youth. By age ten, he had memorized the Quran and moved to Alexandria. There, his father, Sheikh Abdallah Draz, was chosen by his professor, Imam Mohamed Abdo, to establish a branch of Al-Azhar Institute in Alexandria along with three of his fellow teachers.

On June 7th, 1917, M.A. Draz married Hosna Draz, daughter of Sheikh AbdelRahman Draz, and they continued to live in Alexandria until he left for France in 1936. Their first child was born in 1918, and by the time M.A. Draz left to study at the Sorbonne, they had five daughters and four sons. In 1937, his wife and nine children joined him in Paris, where his fifth son was born in 1939, just a few months before the outbreak of World War II.

The Draz family stayed in France until 1948. During that period, his second oldest daughter got married in Paris, and his first grandchild was born in 1941.

Due to the dire circumstances caused by WWII, M.A. Draz decided to split the family into two. His older daughters, who had finished studying at university, lived in the countryside in Limay with his younger sons in a small farm house that M.A. Draz renovated to be suitable for the family. The rest of his children, who were still studying at university, were based in Paris in an apartment on Rue du Puits de L’Ermite. M. A. Draz and his wife divided their time between the two homes.

M. A. Draz was a hands-on family man and father. Studying and working on his PhD dissertation did not stop him from being involved in the day to day needs and activities of his family. M. A. Draz had many hobbies; he enjoyed all kinds of sports, which he practiced regularly. When he grew older, his daily regimen consisted of a few minutes of morning exercises plus an hour of walking.

At 9:30 P.M. on January 5th, 1958 , M. A. Draz passed away after making his last diary entry while attending the International Islamic Colloquium in Lahore, Pakistan. His last letter to his family was written and sent from Lahore on December 27th, 1957, two weeks before he passed away. His body was flown to Egypt and his funeral started from Al-Azhar in Cairo on January 9th of 1958.

Upon his return from Paris in 1948 and until his death in 1958, M. A. Draz participated in many fields. He was a member of the Higher Committee for Education Policy at the Ministry of Education and the Higher Council for Broadcasting and in the Cultural Advisory Committee at Al-Azhar. He also represented Al-Azhar at international scientific and religious conferences in 1939, 1950, and 1951. M.A. Draz was also nominated as the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar in the deliberations of the Council of Ministers prior to the selection of Sheikh Al-Khidr Hussein.

M. A. Draz Historical Timeline

Professor's Father, Sheikh Abdallah Draz's Portrait Photo of a young Mohamed Abdullah Draz MA Draz and the other delegates sent to France, England and Germany in 1936 MA Draz return from France MA Draz making opening speech at the Islamic Colloquium in Lahore Pakistan in 1957

A Scholar is born

He was born on November 8th, 1894, in Mehallet Diyay, Desouk, Kafr ElSheikh, Egypt


Academic Foundation

He moved to Alexandria in the beginning of 1905 and joined al-Azhar Institute, which was established by his father Abdallah Draz, whom Imam Mohamed Abdo appointed for the job.


High School Diploma

He obtained his high school diploma from the Tanta Religious Institute (Al-Ahmadi Mosque), where his father, Abdallah Draz, was appointed vice-rector.


Al-Alameya Degree

When his father returned as vice-rector to al-Azhar Institute in Alexandria, Draz continued his studies there, graduated at the top of his class, and was awarded "Al-Alameya" degree, which is equivalent to a Ph.D. He was then appointed as a professor at the Institute.


French Mastery

He started learning French at night school in 1916, and he graduated at the top of his class in 1919. His ability to express himself in French allowed him to engage in political debates and express the anti-colonialist sentiments of his fellow citizens to the diplomatic missions based in Cairo in 1919. It also enabled him to rectify misinterpreted facts about Islam by writing to publications such as Le Temps, among others.


Academic Growth in Cairo

He moved to Cairo in 1928, where Sheikh Maraghy appointed him to teach at the Department of Higher Education at al-Azhar University. Later, when al-Azhar Colleges were established, he was selected to teach at the College of Theology in the faculty of Usul Al-Din (Fundamentals of Religion).


Scholastic Journey to France

At the beginning of 1936, he performed the Islamic Pilgrimage "Hajj." A few months later, on May 21st, 1936, he sailed from Alexandria to France as part of a scholastic delegation from al-Azhar University.


Sorbonne, France

He joined the Faculty of Arts at the Sorbonne in 1936 and received his Bachelor of Arts in 1940.


World Congress of Faiths in Paris

He represented al-Azhar at the World Congress of Faiths at the Sorbonne in Paris in July 1939.


Political Unrest in Western Europe

In 1940, when the Germans issued a warning to all Egyptians threatening arrest and a number of his colleagues were indeed taken into custody, Draz took it upon himself to defend them, paying little heed to his own freedom. It took several meetings with the German military commanders and many protests on his part, but eventually all the detainees were released.


World Congress of Faiths in London

He represented al-Azhar at the World Congress of Faiths in London, England in January 1947.


Dissertation Defense

He defended his dissertation in Salle Liard at the Sorbonne on December 15th, 1947. He was awarded a doctorate with the highest distinction, Très Honorable.


Return to Homeland

He left France and returned to Egypt with his family on March 15th, 1948.


Academic Leadership

He became a member of the Supreme Council of Scholars (Kebar al-Ulema) of al-Azhar in 1949.

He taught the history of religion at Cairo University and Qur'anic Commentary at Dar Al-Uloom, a teacher's college affiliated with al-Azhar. He also taught Arabic and moral philosophy at al-Azhar University and gave lectures at the Police Academy. Meanwhile, he oversaw the publication of his doctoral dissertations, Initiation au Coran and La Morale du Coran.

From the 4th to the 10th of December 1950, he represented al-Azhar at the International Universities Conference in Nice, France. He also represented al-Azhar at the Conference on Islamic Law in Paris, France, in July of 1951.


Political Advocacy

He met with the head of the Royal Court on June 19th, 1952, to express his dissatisfaction with the leadership of King Farouk and to advise him on a course of action.


Grand Imam of al-Azhar

He was approached to become the Grand Imam of al-Azhar, but his concern over the lack of autonomy in decision-making, which he believed should be independent of the state, prompted him to decline the offer.

On September 15th, 1952, his first radio broadcast aired and continued until 1957.


Islamic Colloquium

He represented al-Azhar at the International Islamic Colloquium in Lahore, Pakistan, in December 1957.


Unexpected Passing and Legacy

He died during the International Islamic Colloquium in Lahore on January 5th, 1958, at 9:30 P.M., before presenting his paper "Islam's Approach to and Relationship With Other Religions." His funeral started from al-Azhar on January 9th, 1958.

Characterized by the depth of the idea, the strength of the argument, and the robustness of the method

Arabic Publications:

  • AlNaba’ AlAzeem (Introduction to the Interpretation of the Quran)
  • Al-Mukhtar (From the Treasures of the Muhammadan Sunnah)
  • AlMizan bayn AlSunnah wal Bedaa (The Balance Between Sunnah and Heresy)
  • AlDeen (Introduction to the History of Religions)
  • Kalemat (On the Principles of the Philosophy of Ethics)/li>

French Publications:

  • Primary doctoral dissertation:La Morale du Koran (The Moral World of the Qur’an)
  • Subsidiary doctoral thesis:Initiation au Koran (Introduction to the Qur’an)

Bilingual Publications:

  • Principes de Droit International public en Islam (Principles of Public International Law in Islam)
  • L’Usure en Droit Musulman (Usury in the View of Islamic Law)
  • Al-Azhar, une Université ancienne et moderne (Al-Azhar, Old and Modern University)

Often invoked by his great achievements and publications within the Arabic & French libraries

Draz's scholarship and contributions to Islamic studies are still widely respected and studied today, particularly in the field of Quranic studies. His approach to critical inquiry and objectivity has inspired later generations of Islamic scholars to approach their work with similar rigor and openness.

Exclusive interviews with renowned Islamic scholars discussing M. A. Draz’s scholastic legacy. Shot for the documentary “The Memoirs of M.A. Draz” directed by Maggie Morgan.

Dr. Amira Abou-Taleb
PhD in Theology and Islamic Studies. Faculty of Theology, University of Helsinki
Dr. Mulki Al-Sharmani
An associate professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies, University of Helsinki.
Dr. M. Nasser Kotby
Professor at the Faculty of Medicine, University of Ein Shams
Dr. Omaima Abou-Bakr
Professor of English & Comparative Literature at Cairo University
Dr. Osama Fadel
Assistant Professor of Philosophy and Religious Studies
Dr. Ghaleb Bencheikh
President of the Foundation of Islam in France
Trailer of the documentary “The Memoirs of M.A. Draz”

Through the archives preserved by his sons, Mohamed Abdallah Draz’s great-granddaughter pieces together the fragments of his life. The journey unfolds from his native village of Mahallet Diyay, to the Azharite Institute of Alexandria, and war-torn Paris. Letters, diaries, expert testimonies, and family memories revive the peaceful doctrine of Islam he fought hard to spread throughout his life.


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“Another excellent book by M A Draz. Goes into some details about how the Qur'an was preserved, and why it is highly probable that the Qur'an is the word of God.”

Verified Amazon User

“This is an excellent companion to the Quran. It’s appropriate for a beginner but also highlights important and interesting translation issues. ”

Verified User

“Another excellent book by M A Draz. Goes into some details about how the Qur'an was preserved, and why it is highly probable that the Qur'an is the word of God.”

Verified User

“Really well written and accessible to the layman. A brilliant book about the life changing Quran.“

Cameron Anderson