Heeding the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Egypt (1970-1981)
Voll, John O
This study examines the means by which the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt was reconstituted during the years of Anwar al-Sadat's presidency (1970-1981), following a lengthy period of dismantlement and suppression. By including analysis of structural, ideological, and social developments during this period in the history of the Islamic movement, a more accurate picture of the so-called "Islamic resurgence" develops, one that represents the rebirth of an old idea in a new setting.The Muslim Brotherhood's success in rebuilding its organization rested in large part on its ability to attract a new generation of Islamic activists that had come to transform Egypt's colleges and universities into a hub for religious contention against the state. Led by groups such as al-Gama`ah al-Islamiyyah (The Islamic Society), the student movement exhibited a dynamic and vibrant culture of activism that found inspiration in a multitude of intellectual and organizational sources, of which the Muslim Brotherhood was only one. By the close of the 1970s, however, internal divisions over ideology and strategy led to the rise of factionalism within the student movement. A majority of student leaders opted to expand the scope of their activist mission by joining the Muslim Brotherhood, rejuvenating the struggling organization, and launching a new phase in its history.Drawing upon Social Movement Theory, the methodological approach avoids the pitfalls of essentializing a religious movement, instead opting to treat it as a rational social actor that is conscious of its place in the ever-expanding marketplace of ideologies. The resulting analysis explores the Muslim Brotherhood's da`wa, its mission, within the context of two parallel challenges: the organization's attempt to secure its legitimacy in the face of rising opposition from fringe movements, and applying the lessons of its legacy of conflict with the state by treading a path that avoided confrontation. The study looks at wider questions that emerged within the Islamic movement, such as the adaptability of traditional religious thought to a contemporary social context, the development of a coherent political program, and the Muslim Brotherhood's active competition with the regime for legitimacy in the eyes of the faithful.
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