Majid Khadduri, 98; Formed Graduate Program For Middle East Studies

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 3, 2007

Majid Khadduri, 98, founding faculty member of the Middle East studies program at the Johns Hopkins University Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, died Jan. 25 of failure to thrive at Manor Care in Potomac. He was a resident of the District.

One of the pioneers of Middle East and Islamic studies in the United States, he made a number of contributions to the study of the Arab world, particularly Islamic law and jurisprudence, the politics and history of Iraq, and the role of personalities in the Middle East.

He knew many of the political and intellectual leaders he wrote about, and many of his students went on to become prominent diplomats, journalists, scholars and civil servants, both in the United States and in the Arab world.

"He had a real mastery of Islamic law, and he remained one of its leading authorities," said Fouad Ajami, director of the Middle East Studies Program at SAIS and the school's Majid Khadduri professor.

Dr. Khadduri was born in Mosul, Iraq, and received his undergraduate degree from the American University of Beirut in 1932. After obtaining his doctorate from the University of Chicago in 1938, he returned to Iraq to teach at the Law and Higher Teachers College in Baghdad. In 1945, he was a member of the Iraqi delegation to the founding session of the United Nations.

Dr. Khadduri returned to the United States in 1947, where he taught at Indiana University and the University of Chicago before joining SAIS in 1949 and establishing the first graduate center in the United States focused on modern Middle Eastern studies. He also offered some of the first courses on Islamic law in the United States.

He was director of the Middle East studies program until retiring in 1980. He wrote more than 35 books in English and Arabic and hundreds of articles on Islamic jurisprudence, Arab personalities and the politics of Iraq, Libya, Egypt, Syria and Saudi Arabia. Many remain standard works.

He also founded the al-Shaybani Society of International Law, an organization of academic and legal scholars interested in a better understanding of legal issues affecting the Muslim world. He was a visiting professor at a number of other institutions, including Columbia University, Harvard University, the University of Virginia and Georgetown University.

His wife, Majdia Khadduri, died in 1972.

Survivors include two children, Farid Khadduri and Shirin Khadduri Ghareeb, both of Bethesda; a brother, Khalid Khadduri of Spotsylvania; a sister, Khairiya Askar of San Diego; and three grandchildren.

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