Muhammad Quraish Shihab

Muhammad Quraish Shihab (Arabic: محمّد قريش شهاب; Muḥammad Qurayš Šihāb; February 16, 1944) is an Indonesian Arab-Bugis Muslim scholar in the sciences of the Qur'an, an author, an Academic Scholar, and former Minister of Religious Affairs in the Fourth Development Cabinet (1998). He is the older brother of the former Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare, Alwi Shihab.

Quraish Shihab
قريش شهاب
Portrait of Muhammad Quraish Shihab as Minister of Religious Affairs of the Republic of Indonesia
Minister of Religious Affairs
In office
March 14, 1998  May 21, 1998
Preceded byTarmizi Taher
Succeeded byMalik Fajar
Other roles
1992–1998Rector of Syarif Hidayatullah University
1984–Board member of Indonesian Ulema Council
Personal details
Muhammad Quraish Shihab

(1944-02-16) February 16, 1944
Rappang, Celebes, Japanese-occupied East Indies
SpouseFatmawaty Assegaf
  • Abdurrahman Shihab (father)
  • Asma Aburisy (mother)


Quraish was born in Lotassalo, Rappang, on February 16, 1944. His father was Abdurrahman Shihab, an Islamic scholar and professor at State Institute of Islamic Sciences and his mother was Asma Aburisyi. Quraish is the fourth son of twelve siblings. His three older siblings, Nur, Ali (d) and Umar, and two younger siblings, Wardah and Alwi Shihab, were also born in Rappang. Seven other siblings namely Nina, Sida, Nizar, Abdul Muthalib, Salwa and twin sister Ulfa and Latifah, were born in the village of Buton.[2]

Quraish Shihab, called Bang Odes by his younger siblings,[3] is an Arab Indonesian of Ba 'Alawi sada family, where his family lineage traces back to Muhammad, the prophet of Islam.[4] In addition to Arab, he is also of Bugis descent.[5]

Personal life

Quraish Shihab (right) and his eldest daughter, Najelaa Shihab (left).

Quraish married Fatmawaty Assegaf on February 2, 1975 in Surakarta. From the marriage, they have four daughters (Najelaa, Najwa, Nasywa, Nahla) and one son, Ahmad.


After completing his early education in Ujung Pandang, Quraish continued his secondary education in Malang, which he did while at the Dar al-Hadith Al-Faqihiyyah boarding school under guidance of Habib Abdul Qadir Bilfaqih.[3]

In 1958 he went to Cairo, Egypt, and Admitted to 2nd grade in Al-Thanawiya (middle school level) at Al-Azhar. In 1967, he earned an LC (Bachelor's degree) from the Department of Tafsir and Hadith, the faculty of Islamic Theology in Al-Azhar University. He continued his education at the same faculty in 1969 and earned master's degree in Tafseer of the Qur'an with the thesis entitled Al-I'jaz Tashri'i li Al-Qur-an Al-Karim.[6]

Upon returning to Makassar, Quraish served as the Vice Rector for Academic and Student Affairs at IAIN Alauddin, Ujung Pandang. In addition, he was also entrusted with other positions, both for academic positions such as the Coordinator of Private Higher Education Region VII in Eastern Indonesia, and non-academic positions such as the Assistant Police Chief of Eastern Indonesia in the field of mental development. While in Makassar, he also had time to do some researches. Some of his papers were "Implementation Harmony Religious Life in Eastern Indonesia" (1975) and "Problems Endowments South Sulawesi" (1978).[2]

In 1980, Quraish Shihab returned to Cairo and continued his education at his old alma mater. In 1982 he earned his doctorate in the sciences of the Qur'an with the dissertation studying the method of al-Biqa'i (al-Biqa'i is a scholar of exegesis from Damascus in the 15th century[7]) entitled The Research and Study of The Pearls System of al-Biqa'i ( Arabic: نظم الدرر للبقاعي – تحقيق ودراسة, romanized: Naẓami Al-Durar li al-Biqā'iy - tahqīq wa Dirāsah),[8] where he graduated summa cum laude with first class honors (Arabic: ممتاز مع مرتبة الشرف العول, romanized: Mumtāz ma'a Martabat al-Sharaf al-'Ula).


In 1984 Quraish was assigned as a lecturer in the Ushuluddin faculty and postgraduate faculty at IAIN Syarif Hidayatullah, Jakarta. He was entrusted to positions at various departments: among others; the co-chairman of Indonesian Ulema Council (MUI) (since 1984); member of Lajnah Pentashih Qur'an at the Department of Religious Affairs (since 1989) and member of the Advisory Board of National Education (since 1989).

Quraish Shihab is also heavily involved in several professional organizations; he is a member of the Shari'ah Science Society; member of the Consortium of the Religions at the Ministry of Education and Culture, and is the Assistant Chief of the General Association of Indonesian Muslim Intellectuals (ICMI).[2]

Quraish was appointed as Indonesian Minister of Religious Affairs in 1998 for about two months, and later appointed as The Indonesian Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Ambassador to Egypt and accredited to Djibouti in Cairo from 1999 to 2002.


Quraish has written since he was twenty two years old, with his first book was 60-pages book written in Arabic titled Al- Khawathir published in Egypt.[3] He has written more than 30 books. Among them are:[9]

  • Tafsir Al-Manar: privileges and disadvantages (Ujung Pandang: IAIN Alauddin, 1984)
  • Filsafat Hukum Islam (The Philosophy of Islamic Laws) (Jakarta: Department of Religion, 1987);
  • Mahkota Tuntunan Ilahi (The Crown of Divine Guidance; a book on The Exegesis of Surah Al-Fatihah) (Jakarta: Untagma, 1988)
  • Membumikan al-Qur'an (Earthing the Quran) (Bandung: Mizan, 1992). This book is one of the Best Seller that has sold for more than 75 thousand copies.
  • Lentera Hati: Kisah dan Hikmah Kehidupan (Lantern of Heart: The Story and Lessons of Life) in 1994 (with multiple reprinted editions)[10]
  • Tafsir Al-Mishbah, a 15-volumes complete (30 juz) exegesis of the Qur'an (Jakarta: Lentera Hati)
  • Wawasan Al-Qur'an: Tafsir Tematik Atas Pelbagai Persoalan Ummat (The insights of Koran: The thematic interpretation of various questions)[11]
  • Kaidah Tafsir (The Principles of Exegesis) (Lentera Hati, 2013), a book about methodologies and principles of Qur'anic interpretation.
  • M. Quraish Shihab Menjawab pertanyaan Anak tentang Islam (Quraish Shihab Answering Children's questions about Islam) (Lentera Hati, 2014)

In addition to writing, he gives lectures in Islam-related programs at some television stations. Some popular programs, among other Kultum and Hikmah Fajar on RCTI, and Tafsir Al Mishbah in MetroTV.

Recognitions and awards

Quraish has been mentioned as one of 500 the most influential Muslims in the world in 2012 to 2015 by the Royal Islamic Strategic Studies Centre, a research entity affiliated with the Royal Aal al-Bayt Institute for Islamic Thought headquartered in Amman, Jordan.[12] In 2009, he received the Islamic Book Fair (IBF) Award for his works in writing best-seller books.[13] He received Lifetime Achievement Award in the same year from the Department of Islamic Theology of the Islamic State University of Jakarta on November 12, 2009.[14]


Quraish Shihab issues some fatwas which are considered controversial or too liberal by many Muslims in Indonesia. In 1993 and again on December 6 of 2003, he issued a fatwa allowing Muslims to say Merry Christmas to the Christians and published on the Republika daily-newspaper.[15]

Around the year 2006, he wrote a book titled "Jilbab Pakaian Wanita Muslimah" expressing his long held but controversial view that it is not obligatory for women to wear the hijab (veil), which clashed with opinions of many Islamic scholars. In the book he concludes that the verses in the Quran related to women's clothing have various interpretations, and said the legal provisions on the tolerable limit of female's aurah is zhanniy or a conjecture.[16]

In the program Tafsir Al-Misbah[17] on Metro-TV broadcast on July 12, 2014, Quraish Shihab was accused of saying that Prophet Muhammad does not receive a guarantee from Allah to enter paradise. However, he made a clarification saying that he never said that, and he stated a sahih hadith stating that Prophet Muhammad was given a guarantee to go to heaven because of Allah's mercy.


  1. "Quraish Shihab si Pengubah Dunia". Tempo (in Indonesian). Aug 26, 2012. Retrieved Aug 17, 2014.
  2. "M. Quraish Shihab: Profile". Archived from the original on August 18, 2014. Retrieved Aug 17, 2014.
  3. Ismail, Rachmadin (July 8, 2015). "Quraish Shihab, Sahabat yang Penuh Canda dan Fans Real Madrid". DetikNews (in Indonesian). Retrieved July 9, 2015.
  4. see Ba 'Alawi sada for more info
  5. Desi Triana Aswan (May 15, 2019). "TRIBUNWIKI: Petuah untuk Anaknya Viral, Ini Profil Quraish Shihab, Ulama Bugis, Mantan Menteri". TribunMakassar (in Indonesian). Retrieved July 4, 2022.
  6. Quraish Shihab, Muhammad (2007). "Membumikan" Al-Quran: Fungsi dan Peran Wahyu dalam Kehidupan Masyarakat. Indonesia: Mizan Pustaka. p. 6. ISBN 978-9-794330173.
  7. Ahmad Khan, Israr (2003). Al-Biqa'i and al-Islahi: A Comparative Study of Tafsir Methodology.
  8. "الدراسات الإندونيسيون في التفسير وعلوم القرآن". ملتقى اهل التفسير. Retrieved September 12, 2014.
  9. "Karya-Karya M. Quraish Shihab". Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  10. Quraish, Shihab (2007). Lentera Hati: Kisah dan Hikmah Kehidupan (in Indonesian). Mizan Pustaka. ISBN 978-9-794330197.
  11. Quraish Shihab, Muhammad (1996). Wawasan Al-Quran: Tafsir Tematik atas Pelbagai Persoalan Umat (in Indonesian). Mizan Pustaka. ISBN 978-9-794330852. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  12. "The Muslim 500". Retrieved November 19, 2015.
  13. "Quraish Shihab Terima Penghargaan" (in Indonesian). March 1, 2009. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  14. "Quraish Shihab terima Lifetime Achievement Award" (PDF) (in Indonesian). Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  15. Husaini, Adian (2002). Penyesatan opini: sebuah rekayasa mengubah citra (in Indonesian). Gema Insani. ISBN 9789795617303. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  16. "Quraish Shihab, Tokoh Tafsir yang Akrab Dengan Kontroversi". Kiblat (in Indonesian). July 15, 2014.
  17. "Tafsir Kontemporer: Jawaban Al-Qur'an Terhadap Perkembangan Zaman". Sabda Diksi (in Indonesian). December 19, 2022. Retrieved Aug 17, 2014.
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