Wilferd Madelung

Wilferd Ferdinand Madelung FBA (December 26, 1930 – May 9, 2023) was a German author and scholar of Islamic history widely recognized for his contributions to the fields of Islamic and Iranian studies.[1] He was particularly celebrated in Iran for his "knowledgeable and fair" treatment of the Shia perspective.[1]

Wilferd Madelung
Wilferd Madelung 2006 May.jpg
Madelung in 2006
Born(1930-12-26)December 26, 1930
Stuttgart, Germany
DiedMay 9, 2023(2023-05-09) (aged 92)
Alma materGeorgetown University, University of Hamburg
Occupation(s)Author, scholar

Early life and careerEdit

Madelung was born in Stuttgart on December 26, 1930.[2][3] After World War II, as an adolescent, he accompanied his parents to the US where his father, Georg Hans Madelung, continued his career as an aeronautic engineer specializing in rockets.[4] Wilferd Madelung enrolled at Georgetown University in Washington DC before going to Cairo in 1951 to study Arabic literature and Islamic history.[5] From 1958 to 1960, he served as cultural attaché at the West German Embassy in Baghdad, before starting his scientific career.[5]

Academic careerEdit

Madelung received his doctorate and habilitation at the University of Hamburg in Germany (lecturer for Islamic studies 1963–1966).[6] His PhD thesis was titled "The Qarmatians and the Fatimids. Their mutual relations and their teachings on the Imamate."[7] He was a visiting professor at the University of Texas at Austin in 1963, and assistant professor (1964–65), associate professor (1966–68) and professor of Islamic History from 1969 until 1978 at the University of Chicago.[5][8] He was the Laudian Professor of Arabic at the University of Oxford from 1978 to 1998.[9]

During this time, his 1997 book The Succession to Muhammad was celebrated as a landmark work in the equitable depiction of Shia views on the Islamic succession process following the death of Muhammad.[1] Madelung also wrote academic journal articles and lectures about Ibadism.[10] From 1999, he was a member of the British Academy,[11] and a senior research fellow at the Institute for Ismaili Studies in London.[12]

In 2013, he was awarded the Farabi International Award by the Iranian Ministry of Islamic Guidance and Culture for his significant contributions to the fields of Islamic and Iranian studies.[13]


Madelung died on May 9, 2023, at the age of 92,[14] having produced around 200 books on essays in his field.[1]


  • Madelung, W. (editor) - Arabic Texts Concerning The History of The Zaydī Imāms of Tabaristān, Daylamān And Gīlān, collected and edited by Wilferd Madelung. Franz Steiner Verlag, Beirut and Wiesbaden, 1987.[15]
  • Madelung, W. - Religious Trends in Early Islamic Iran. Columbia Letters of Iranian Studies no. 4, The Persian Heritage Foundation, 1988. ISBN 0-88706-700-X / 0-88706-701-8 (pbk.).
  • Madelung, W. - Religious and Ethnic Movements in Medieval Islam, Ashgate Publishing, 1992. (New editions from 2016 on by Routledge, Oxon and New York, ISBN 978-086078-310-7
  • Madelung, W. - The Succession to Muhammad, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0521646960.
  • Madelung, W. and Walker, P. - An Ismaili Heresiography: The 'Bāb al-Shayṭān' from Abū Tammāms' Kitāb al-shajara, Leiden, 1998.[16]
  • Madelung, W. and Walker, P. - The Advent of the Fatimids: A Contemporary Shi'i Witness. An Edition and English Translation of Ibn al-Haytham’s Kitab al-Munazarat, by Wilferd Madelung and Paul E. Walker. I.B. Tauris, London, 2000, ISBN 1-86064-551-8. (Published online by Cambridge University Press in 2016.)
  • Madelung, W. - Der Imam al-Qasim ibn Ibrahim und die Glaubenslehre der Zaiditen, Walter De Gruyter Incorporated, 2002 (first edition 1966), ISBN 9783110826548.
  • Aḥmad b. Yaḥyā al-Balāḏurī: Ansāb al-Ašrāf (Part 2). Edited by Wilferd Madelung. Beirut, 2003.
  • Muhammad Ibn Umail: Book of the Explanation of the Symbols. Kitāb Ḥall ar-Rumūz (Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum. Vol. I). Edited by Theodor Abt, Wilferd Madelung, Thomas Hofmeier, with Introduction by Theodor Abt. Living Human Heritage Publications, Zurich, 2003; ISBN 3-9522608-1-9.
  • Madelung, W. - Religious schools and sects in medieval Islam, Variorum Reprints, 1985.
  • Madelung, W. (editor) - The Book of the Rank of the Sage. Rutbat al-Ḥakīm by Maslama al-Qurṭubī. Arabic Text edited with an English Introduction by Wilferd Madelung. Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum IV. Living Human Heritage Publications, Zurich 2016.[17]
  • Muhammad Ibn Umail: The Pure Pearl and other texts by Muhammad Ibn Umail. Ad-Durra an-naqīya, As-Sīra an-naqīya, Al-Qașīda al-Mīmīya, Al-Mabāqil as-sab'a (Corpus Alchemicum Arabicum. Vol. V). Arabic Edition by Wilferd Madelung with an Introduction by Theodor Abt. Translation by Salwa Fuad and Theodor Abt. Living Human Heritage Publications, Zurich, 2019; ISBN 978-3-9524468-3-6.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b c d "Tehran meeting to commemorate Islamic scholar Wilferd Madelung". Tehran Times.
  2. ^ "Madelung, Wilferd @ HPK".
  3. ^ Dinars and Dirhams: Festschrift in Honor of Michael L. Bates. BRILL. 2021-02-01. p. 13. ISBN 978-90-04-46071-3.
  4. ^ "Wilferd Madelung". Archived from the original on 2022-07-25. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  5. ^ a b c "The Institute's Latest Publication Honours Wilferd Madelung's Contributions to Islamic Studies". Archived from the original on 2022-07-25. Retrieved 2022-07-25.
  6. ^ "Madelung, Wilferd" (in German). University of Hamburg. 12 July 2022.
  7. ^ "Quarmaten und Fatimiden. Ihre gegenseitigen Beziehungen und ihre Lehre vom Imamat." Doctoral certificate (dated 30th of August, 1957) with the signature: 364-13 Phil Fak Prom 1372 in the State Archives of the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg.
  8. ^ "Professor Wilferd Madelung FBA". Archived from the original on 2022-07-17. Retrieved 2022-07-17.
  9. ^ "Wilferd Madelung". Archived from the original on 2022-07-03. Retrieved 2022-07-17.
  10. ^ Custers, Martin H. (2016). Al-Ibāḍiyya: A Bibliography. Vol. 3 (Second revised and enlarged ed.). Hildesheim-London-N.Y.: Olms Publishing. pp. 442–444. ISBN 9783487153544.
  11. ^ "Professor Wilferd Madelung FBA". Archived from the original on 2021-01-15. Retrieved 2022-07-17.
  12. ^ "Our people". Archived from the original on 2022-07-17. Retrieved 2022-07-17.
  13. ^ "IIS Senior Research Fellow Receives Farabi Award". 3 Jul 2013. Archived from the original on 10 February 2023. Retrieved 10 February 2023.
  14. ^ "ویلفرد مادلونگ دار فانی را وداع گفت". Vista.ir. Retrieved 10 May 2023.
  15. ^ Staif, Abdul-Nabi (1994). "Book Review of Arabic Texts Concerning the History of the Zaydī Imāms of Tabaristān, Daylamān and Gīlān". Journal of Islamic Studies. 5 (1). doi:10.1093/jis/5.1.125. Archived from the original on 2018-06-05. Retrieved 2023-05-10 – via Oxford University Press.
  16. ^ Madelung, Wilferd; Walker, Paul (1998). An Ismaili Heresiography: The 'Bāb al-Shayṭān' from Abū Tammāms' Kitāb al-shajara. Brill Publishers. ISBN 978-90-04-45098-1.
  17. ^ Madelung, Wilferd (2017). "Maslama al-Qurṭubī's Kitāb Rutbat al-ḥakīm and the History of Chemistry". Intellectual History of the Islamicate World. 5 (1): 118–126. doi:10.1163/2212943X-00501005. ISSN 2212-9421. Archived from the original on 2022-09-22. Retrieved 2023-05-10 – via Brill Publishers.

External linksEdit

  • Institute for Ismaili Studies - Culture and Memory in Early and Medieval Islam: A Festschrift in honour of Wilferd Madelung, ed. F. Daftary and J. Meri. London: I.B. Taurus, 2003.