Ignaz Goldziher

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Goldziher, Ignaz


Born June 22, 1850, in Székesfehér-vár; died Nov. 13, 1921, in Budapest. Hungarian Arabist and Islamist. Corresponding member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (1876): corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences (from 1897. except for 1916–19). Assistant professor (from 1872) and professor (from 1894)at the University of Budapest. Author of classical works on the history of Islam. Arabic philology, ancient Hebrew mythology, and the folklore of the Arabs and the ancient Jews. Founder of a critical school in bourgeois Islamic studies.

Goldziher’s main scientific contribution was his critical survey of the Muslim tradition (the Sunna) and the creation of a theory of the origin of the hadith—sayings ascribed to the prophet Muhammad. Goldziher and the Dutch Islamic scholar C. Snouck Hurgronje proved that the majority of the hadith do not date to the time of Muhammad (seventh century) but were created in the first two centuries of the existence of Islam (seventh to ninth centuries). Goldziher was the first to reveal the syncretistic character of Islam, demonstrating the influence of other religions, philosophical ideas, and juridical norms on early Islam, proving that each people of the Muslim East contributed to the meaning of the term “Islam.” He presented the history of Islam in view of the evolution of ideas and religious-juridical institutions, assigning them an independent role. Goldziher’s works are especially valuable for their abundance of concrete material from eastern sources. They have had a great influence on the development of Islamic studies in prerevolutionary Russia and in the USSR.


Muhammedanische Studien, parts 1–2. Halle. 1889–90.
In Russian translation:
Lektsii ob islame. St. Petersburg, 1912.
Kul’t sviatykh v islame. Moscow. 1938.


Krachkovskii, I. Iu. Izbr. soch.. vol. 5. Moscow-Leningrad. 1958. Pages 211–14.
Bartold, V. V. “Ignats Gol’dtsier.” Izv. Rossiiskoi AN, 1922, series 6, vol. 16.
Batunskii, M. A. “K voprosu ob ideino-metodologicheskikh osnovakh tvorchestva I. Gol’dtsiera.” Vestnik istorii mirovoi kul’tury, 1960. no. 6.
Ignace Goldziher Memorial Volume. Edited by S. Löwinger and I. Somogyi. Budapest, 1948. (Bibliography.)
Acta orientalia: Academiae Scientarium Hungaricae, vol. I. fasc. I.
Heller, B. Bibliographie des oeuvres d’Ignace Goldziher. Paris,1927.
Bousquet, G. H. Etudes islamologiques d’Ignace Goldziher. Leiden, 1962.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Born in 1916, Lewis was educated in the scholarship of the 19th century and early 20th orientalists, the mustashriqun as they were called by Arab historians, among them Sylvestre de Sacy, Snouck Hurgronje, Ignaz Goldziher, Joseph Schacht and William Muir, whose works on the life of Muhammad and the caliphate were underscored with the belief that 'the sword of Mahomet and the Coran are the most stubborn enemies of Civilization, Liberty and Truth which the world has yet known.' A slightly older contemporary was Hamilton Gibb, the acknowledged doyen of Middle Eastern studies in the West for the first half of the 20th century.
The fascination with Islamic origins still retains significant traction among European scholars a century after Ignaz Goldziher pioneered the field of Islamic Studies, and this focus diverts attention away from the transmission and dynamics of Islamic textual sources over the subsequent millennium of Islamic civilization.
His wistful presentation of "Mutazilism" as a "squandered" modernizing force for Islam is the re-packaging of an untenable mid-19th-century hypothesis, debunked a century ago by the great scholar of Islam Ignaz Goldziher.
Written in German by a young Jewish Hungarian scholar, Ignaz Goldziher, and bearing the nondescript title Muslim Studies (Muhammedanische Studien), it argued that the hadith, the vast body of sayings and actions attributed to the Islamic prophet Mohammed, lacked historical validity.
(38) What the century did accomplish, however, was a clear movement of the field of Qur'anic studies away from the Church circles into the heart of Orientalism--a shift that produced a significant result in the next century which marks a clear divide between the polemical works of the preceding era and the so-called scientific Orientalism which was given a definitive and new shape in this century by a number of Orientalists including Gustav Weil (1808-89), Abraham Geiger (1810-74), Theodor Noldeke (1836-1930), Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921), Christiaan Snouck Hurgronje (1857-1936), Otto Pretzl (1893-1941), and Richard Bell (1876-1952).
Vajda attributes discovery of the hadiths' animating principle to Islamic scholar Ignaz Goldziher (the first non-Muslim permitted to study at Cairo's al-Azhar).
Ignaz Goldziher (1850-1921) admired Islam, viewing it as a naturally Semitic religion that could speak to the needs of its Semitic relative, Judaism.
(Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1980), 30-32; Ignaz Goldziher, "Islamisme et Parsisme," Revue de l'Histoire des Religions 43 (1901): 22; Touraj Daryaee, "The Persian Gulf Trade in Late Antiquity," Journal of World History 14 (2003): 1-16.
Like Ignaz Goldziher's classic work Introduction to Islamic Theology and Law written a century ago, this book has the ring of truth where so many of the volumes recently published by university presses seem partisan or merely apologetic works.
Writing during the formative period of contemporary Western studies of Islamic scientific tradition, Ignaz Goldziher constructed one of the first models of the twentieth century that pitched the so-called sciences of the ancients ('ulum al-awa'il or ('ulum al-qudama')--which included exact sciences--against a nebulous and ill-defined "old Islamic Orthodoxy".
His view is often characterized as the marginality thesis, developed by several Islamists, but especially by the Hungarian Ignaz Goldziher, on whom Grant relies quite heavily in the middle section of his article.