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The newspaper of The Johns Hopkins University February 5, 2007 | Vol. 36 No. 20
Obituary: Majid Khadduri, Founder of SAIS Middle East Studies Program, Dies

Khadduri in 1968
Photo by Fabian Bachrach

By Felisa Neuringer Klubes

Majid Khadduri, founding faculty member of the Middle East Studies Program at SAIS, died on Jan. 25 in Potomac, Md. He was 98.

A native of Mosul, Iraq, Khadduri joined the school's faculty in 1949 and the following year created at SAIS the country's first graduate program on the modern Middle East. He was the program's director until his retirement in 1980, making him one of the longest-serving SAIS faculty members. At the time of his death, Khadduri held the title of University Distinguished Research Professor.

"Professor Khadduri was one of the pioneers of Middle Eastern studies in the United States. 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, who also serves as the Majid Khadduri Professor. "Our Middle East Studies Program, launched by Dr. Khadduri, owes a great deal to him."

Ajami described his predecessor as an "exacting scholar," noting that the Middle East Studies Program during Khadduri's tenure produced a number of graduates who went on to distinguished academic and diplomatic careers in their own right, including Elie Salem, '53, as Lebanon's foreign minister; Soliman Solaim, '70, as Saudi Arabia's commerce minister; Samuel Lewis, '54, and Hermann Eilts, '47, as U.S. ambassadors to Egypt and Israel, respectively, at the time of the 1979 Camp David peace talks; and Malcolm Kerr, PhD '58, president of the American University of Beirut, who was assassinated on that campus in 1984.

SAIS Dean Jessica P. Einhorn said, "Professor Khadduri taught at SAIS for more than three decades and lived a long and full life after his retirement. On behalf of the SAIS community, we express our condolences and salute his many significant achievements with our memories."

Khadurri's accomplished career spanned more than 65 years, during which he was internationally recognized as one of the world's leading authorities on Islamic law and jurisprudence, Islam, modern Arab and Iraqi history, and politics and personalities of the Middle East. He was the author of more than 35 books in English and Arabic and hundreds of articles.

Prior to joining the SAIS faculty, Khadduri was a member of the Iraqi delegation to the founding of the United Nations, an event that took place at the 1945 U.N. Conference in San Francisco, and taught at the universities of Indiana and Chicago. Throughout his career, he also served as a visiting professor at other universities, including Columbia, Harvard, Virginia and Georgetown.

Khadduri received numerous research fellowships, grants and honors, including a Philosophical Society grant; a Ford Foundation fellowship; a Fulbright grant; three Rockefeller Foundation grants; honorary LHDs from Johns Hopkins and the State University of New York; the Order of Merit, first class, from the government of Egypt; and the Order of the Rafidain, from the government of Iraq.

He also played a key role in helping establish and build other institutions concerned with academic studies and research about the Arab world and Islam. Khadduri founded the Shaybani Society of International Law, an organization of academic and legal scholars interested in a better understanding of legal issues affecting the Muslim world, and was a founder of the Middle East Institute and of the University of Libya, where he became dean in 1957. He was an honorary fellow of the Middle East Studies Association, a founder and president of the International Association of Middle East Studies and a corresponding member of the Academy of Arabic Language in Egypt and of the Iraqi Academy.

A 1932 graduate of the American University of Beirut, Khadduri earned his doctorate in international law from the University of Chicago in 1938.

Khadduri is survived by a son, Farid Khadduri, of Bethesda, Md.; a daughter, Shirin Khadduri Ghareeb, a 1977 SAIS graduate, also of Bethesda; and three grandchildren. His wife, Majdia, died in 1972.

Plans for a memorial service at SAIS will be announced soon.


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