QuranGarden Scholar Biography
Thank you for joining us in this new series. In the following sessions, we are going to take a deeper look into the meanings and beauty of the holy Quran. We will start at the beginning of the Quran and cover it verse by verse.
This series is a direct adaptation of one scholar's lifetime work.
The scholar is: محمد متولي الشعراوي
Mohammad Mutwali AlSherawi was born in 1911 to a farming family in a small village in Egypt. He was well learned, and throughout his childhood and adult education he excelled in poetry and literature. His talents did not pass unnoticed by his father who wanted to send him to complete his higher education in الأزهر, one of the most prestigious Islamic institutes at the time. Mohammad, however, had different plans in mind. He wanted to stay and help his family farm the land. Sensing his child’s potential, the father kept the pressure on. In an attempt to change his father’s mind, Mohammad asked him to buy all the major references in literature, culture, Arabic language, and Islamic studies. These were valuable books, and not cheap by any means. Despite the financial burden, his father came through, and bought him all the books he asked for knowing well that they were not part of Al Azhar's curriculum.
Mohamed excelled in his studies, and read far beyond what was asked of him. He enjoyed the Arabic language, poetry, and was well known for his ability to express his ideas in a clear and simple manner.
He graduated in 1943 and held several teaching jobs until he moved to Saudi Arabia in 1950 to work as a professor of religious studies in the university of Mecca. In 1963 he moved back to Egypt and held a high position at the Al Azhar. And in November of 1976 he was appointed by the Egyptian prime minister to head the ministry of religious affairs. One of his first achievements as a government minister was to establish the first Islamic bank in Egypt.
Throughout his life Al-Sherawi was recognized with several awards including the presidential medal and two honorary Ph.D.s from top universities.
Perhaps his greatest work and most recognizable achievement was a televised Series called "Reflections upon the Quran" . The television show started to air in 1980 with the first few episodes covering his vision and method in explaining the Quran. This was followed by his reflections upon each verse of the Quran starting from the very first chapter. His TV appearance spanned over 10 years and covered more than two thirds of the Quran. His death however, prevented him from completing the entire text.
Al-Sherawi's method in explaining and reflecting upon the Quran depended on several sources. First, he relied on his thorough knowledge of the Arabic language and its intricacies. Second, He drew on his comprehensive knowledge of the entire text of the Quran, and third he focused on the social applications and everyday life lessons of the holy text. He also took special care to answer those who attacked or attempted to discredit verses of the Quran.
His ability to use clear and simple examples and to illustrate deep philosophical issues in an easy to understand manner helped him reach vast audiences of different social and educational backgrounds. His TV series reruns on many television channels to this day. It is this ability to reach the masses over decades is what we will try to tap into.
Al-Sherawi passed away in the summer of 1998. His funeral was broadcast live and attended by tens of thousands of admirers.
This work is a direct adaptation of his TV series. For our purposes, many English translations of the meaning of the Quran were considered. While no single translation can capture the true essence and beauty of the Quran, we found that more can be gained, and less will be lost, by looking at multiple translations simultaneously.
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