A Return to Islam:
Revolution and Revitalization
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.
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”
Furthermore, Muhammad Ali encouraged students, businessmen, and scholars to go to
Colonial rule and European modernization eclipsed the institutions of an Islamic
state and society—the sultan, Islamic law, and ulama.
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.
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.
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
Owen, R. "Egypt and Europe: From French Expedition to British Occupation," in
Modern Middle East: A Reader, ed. A. Hourani, 116
Shaltut, Shaykh Mahmud. “Socialism and Islam” in Esposito,
Islam in Transition
University Press, 2007, 176
Esposito, John L.
Islam: The Straight Path
. Oxford University Press, 2005, 165