urban women did not wear the hijab. The hijab only made a comeback at the end of the 20th century: again, this seems to be an example of de-secularization.The return of Islam to the political arena: from early marginality (1920s) to dominance (the 1970s onwards)We must thus ask how and when religion began to make a comeback in the Arab Muslim, and then the broader, Muslim world. Inother words, what forces were at play that reversed some of the policies and ideologies of Ataturk, Nasser, Baathism, and so on? A differentreligious option for post-colonial Ottoman and Arab society was entertained as early as the 1920s but remained marginal compared to secularoptions. One of the reasons why the religious option gained strength was probably the failure of the socialist and nationalist Arab governmentsto deliver equality, prosperity and political freedom. Often, the new Arab regimes came to replicate the unjust practices of the European orOttoman rulers who had preceded. The middle-class elite who were close to the secular sources of power may have prospered under the newsecularism, but the rural masses were still excluded. Furthermore, the European-style regimes had not succeeded in making Arabs and Muslimsthe equal of the Western powers on the global scale. Abandoning large chunks of their traditional past for an alien modernity did not seem to beoffering rewards. In this context, religion offered things the bureaucratic Western-style state had overlooked: community, support for the poorand marginal, equality, honesty, and as things got worse, hope.In such circumstance, people went back to the traditional Islamic texts and found different answers to the ones Ataturk, as-Said andar-Raziq had provided. Nationalism had divided the Islamic world up into nation-states: Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and so on. But these states, as inpost-colonial Africa, were often European fictions. Famously, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon emerged from the Sykes-Picot agreement of 1916, a secretagreement between French and British diplomats about how to carve up the Middle East in the event of an Ottoman collapse after the FirstWorld War. The rulers of these states were also chosen and manipulated by the French and British. Often, as in the case of Syria, the rulingfamily promoted by the Europeans, was a minority in local terms – in this case, the Assads belonged to the controversial Alawite minority, whilemost Syrians were Sunni Muslims. Thus to some minds in the Middle East, the idea of developing within these artificial “national” boundariesseemed to be like getting on board a doomed ship. Instead of thinking in terms of nations, a foreign notion deriving from the multiethnicEuropean continent (Italians, Germans etc.), one should think in terms of the one Islamic nation, or ummah, as mentioned in the Qur’an. Thisoffered the idea of a unified spiritual community that was not split by alien, external divisions.