Islam and Modernity in Egypt: Contention and Resolve

By Maha F. Habib.

Published by The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society

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Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

The reform of Islam since the advent of colonialism has been informed by the relationship of Islam and its adherents to the ‘other’ (the West) and its knowledge systems. Through readings of modern Egyptian literary narratives, the relationship of Islam with modernity is examined, with a focus on the struggle for self-definition and representation. These narratives are mapped for their expression of cultural contestation over key concerns: liberalism, secularism, the tension between tradition and modernity, the desire for progress, and gender issues. These concerns are of an existential nature, and the struggle over these issues suggests a search for an authentic sustainable and self-sufficient discourse. However, the expression of this cultural contestation and its manifestations do not suggest a viable, sustainable and self-sufficient discourse, particularly as expressed within the social sphere. What is eminent is an expression of ambivalence: epistemological uncertainty, ontological anxiety, and a threatened sense of identity, mirroring a pre-existing social reality.

Keywords: Islam, Modernity, Secularism, Religious Identity, Religiosity

The International Journal of Religion and Spirituality in Society, Volume 2, Issue 1, pp.161-168. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 217.192KB).

Maha F. Habib

Ph.D., Institute of Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter, Exeter, UK

Maha F. Habib, PhD. in Arab and Islamic Studies, University of Exeter. Dr. Habib has an interest in postcoloniality in the Middle East, with a special focus in the study of cultural and religious thought, social change, and literature.