BETWEEN HANDS: SANCTITY, AUTHORITY AND EDUCATION IN THE MAKING OF MODERN EGYPT:
Nimis, Sara Rose
This study argues that mysticism, as found in representations of sanctity (walaya) in Sufi philosophy and practice formed the basis of schema of leadership among the Egyptian elite and politics through a case study of Abu al-Anwar al-Sadat, head of the Wafa'i brotherhood in Egypt. The study employs an intertextual approach, analyzing resonant narratological themes in sources from a variety of genres, both literary and historical, including descriptions of Sufi devotion, certificates of learning, deeds of religious endowment, biography and hagiography, as well as bureaucratic documents, all of which share a connection to the Wafa'i brotherhood. Sufi philosophy and practice reflect a view of religious authority as "embodied," placing the physical bodies of Sufi saints rather than conceptual knowledge at the center of institutions for the transmission of authority. The habitus of interacting with religious authority as "embodied," produced particular kinds of political and economic actors. Specifically, the distribution of resources and positions of authority flowed through patron-client networks of exchange made up of a seamless combination of military households and Sufi brotherhoods. The study considers the mechanisms and principles by which an understanding of religious authority as embodied allowed religious elites to participate in the production of "orderly" institutions without rejection of "tradition."
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