'Abd al-Razzaq Sanhuri

Abd El-Razzak El-Sanhuri
DiedJuly 21, 1971(1971-07-21) (aged 75–76)

Abd el-Razzak el-Sanhuri or ‘Abd al-Razzāq al-Sanhūrī (1895–1971) (Arabic: عبد الرزاق السنهوري‎) was an Egyptian, legal scholar and professor who drafted the revised Egyptian Civil Code of 1948. He wrote the draft of the Iraqi Civil Code with the help of many Iraqi jurists guided by him.

el-Sanhuri was born to a poor family and, he was orphaned. His father was an employee in Municipal Council.

el-Sanhuri obtained his secondary school certificate in 1913 and then joined the faculty of Law, Cairo University where he obtained his BA in 1917 and he was influenced by the revolution of 1919. He was the Attorney General in 1920 and then traveled to France to obtain his doctorate and return in 1926 to work as a teacher of civil law.

He initially backed the 1952 Egyptian coup by providing legal counsel to the Free Officers Movement and their governing body, the Revolutionary Command Council (RCC).

He was forced into retirement by Gamal Abdel Nasser and physically attacked by a mob for attempting to restore constitutional government in 1954. Nevertheless, the RCC banned him along with 37 others from public office.

Sanhuri left Egypt and helped draft the civil codes of the pre-Baath Syria of Husni al-Za'im (who ordered an exact copy of the Sanhuri Code to replace the majalla in 1949[1]), Jordan (only completed and implemented in 1976, after his death),[2] and Libya (1954) and the commercial code of Kuwait (drafted by Sanhuri but only concluded and implemented in 1981, already after his death.[3] In 1970 Egypt awarded him its prize for social sciences.[4]

Sanhuri was known for attempting to recreate a "pure" Islamic law by modernizing the sharia using Western civil law (mainly of American and French inspiration), and the guidance when needed of a natural law obviously just to all, to guarantee justice above religion (but reaching its humanistic ends), ideology, and personal opinion in general, when all else (including the countries legislation, the sharia and traditional customs) fails to solve the problem.[5] One commentator argued that Sanhuri's code reflected a "hodgepodge of socialist doctrine and sociological jurisprudence."[6] Regardless of such interpretations, his place in the legal history of the modern Middle East is secure; his twelve-volume Al-Wasīṭ fī sharḥ al-qānūn al-madanī al-jadīd [Medium commentary on the new Civil Code] (Cairo: 1952–1970) "adorns the bookshelves of many an Arab law firm, even in countries where the Egyptian Civil Code is not law" (Chibli Mallat).

Sanhuri died on 21 July 1971 and was buried in Heliopolis, Cairo.[7]


  1. ^ Saleh, Nabil (1993). "Civil Codes of Arab Countries: The Sanhuri Codes". Arab Law Quarterly. 8 (2): 161–167. doi:10.1163/157302593X00050. JSTOR 3381555.
  2. ^ Al-Qasem, Anis (1989). "Injurious Acts Under the Jordanian Civil Code". Arab Law Quarterly. 4 (3): 183–198. doi:10.1163/157302589X00307. JSTOR 3381318.
  3. ^ Saleh, Nabil. "Civil Codes of Arab Countries: The Sanhuri Codes". Archived from the original on 7 December 2008. Retrieved 2008-10-24.
  4. ^ Arthur Goldschmidt, Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt, Lynne Rienner Publishers: 2000, p. 181
  5. ^ Abd Al-Razzak Al-Sanhuri, Egyptian Civil Code, Article 1, 1949, «in the absence of any applicable legislation, the judge shall decide according to the custom and failing the custom, according to the principles of Islamic Law. In the absence of these principles, the judge shall have recourse to natural law and the rules of equity
  6. ^ Amr Shalakany, "Between Identity and Redistribution: Sanhuri, Genealogy and the Will to Islamise," Islamic Law and Society (8): 201-244, 2001
  7. ^ Dictionary of African Biography. OUP USA. 2 February 2012. p. 268. ISBN 9780195382075.