egypt - 1 A Return to Islam: Revolution and Revitalization...

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A Return to Islam: Revolution and Revitalization Rebecca Ney Throughout history, Egypt has been under secular rule beginning in 1517 when the Ottoman Empire took the symbols of the caliphate from Cairo to Istanbul. In 1789, Egypt experienced the Napoleonic invasion in which western culture was introduced into the region much earlier than other Islamic countries. Egypt began to rely heavily on Europe “between 1848 and 1860 [when] Egypt rose from twenty-sixth to twelfth place as a market for British exports…[later] it moved from being the tenth…to the sixth” 1 Furthermore, Muhammad Ali encouraged students, businessmen, and scholars to go to France. 2 Colonial rule and European modernization eclipsed the institutions of an Islamic state and society—the sultan, Islamic law, and ulama. 3 Egypt’s relationship to the west was further exacerbated with the Suez Canal project in 1869, as Egypt obtained loans from Europe reaching 100 million pounds. 4 Through these means, Egypt became incorporated within the European economic system. While France and England ultimately accepted Egyptian independence in 1922, Egypt was still completely rooted in and relied on Europe through the political, economic, and historic ties. Even after achieving independence, the King and Prime Minister installed were loyal to British powers. This brief history illustrates the difficulties Egypt faces in trying to embrace the Islamic union of religion and society amongst colonial and western intrusion. The once hailed western lifestyle was now criticized as responsible for the westernization and secularization of Muslim societies from its institutions, to values, to dress, music, and cinema. This led to a moral decline and spiritual malaise. 5 The initial reaction of revivalists was aimed at colonialism because it had ingrained western ideals and systems into the Middle East. Egypt adopted these models to improve their standing in world politics and power. The modern and western way of government presumed 1 Owen, R. "Egypt and Europe: From French Expedition to British Occupation," in The Modern Middle East: A Reader, ed. A. Hourani, 116 2 Shaltut, Shaykh Mahmud. “Socialism and Islam” in Esposito, Islam in Transition , Oxford University Press, 2007, 176 3 Esposito, 126 4 Owen , 116 . 5 Esposito, John L. Islam: The Straight Path . Oxford University Press, 2005, 165 1
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religion and politics should be separated, 6 yet Islam is a total way of life, and herein was the controversy. The revivalists wanted to revert back to the religious fundamentals of the Quran and Sunna, and overcome the influences of modernity and secularism as there should be no separation between Islam and society. 7
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egypt - 1 A Return to Islam: Revolution and Revitalization...

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