Egypt in Transition

By Jean Lacouture; Simonne Lacouture et al. | Go to book overview

VII
The Reformers

A small, bold group of the faithful seized on Arabi's revolt as a signal and impulse for a still more daring enterprise than the political and spiritual liberation of Egypt -- the revival of a positively Moslem civilization which would incorporate modern developments without submitting to them in the realm of politics. Anyone who has seen the half-hearted and mediocre attempts that are being made today to renew and re-adapt Islam, is struck by the energy and courage of the men of 1880.

It would be absurd to try to compress the efforts of Jamal ud-Din al-Afghani or Mohamed Abduh and their companions, into the narrow framework of the Arabi rising. They preceded that rising and survived it long after, both in their breadth of vision and the consequences of their work. It is significant that the fellah-Colonel's movement, to all appearances attached to the past, should have cut across the relatively modern programme of the Afghan sheikh and his Egyptian disciple. The reformers' teaching needed a political platform and a field of action. Islam is such that its ideas have no form until they are applied concretely through the community.

Arabi's anti-European behaviour seemed to contradict the teachings of Jamal ud-Din, who had met Renan in Paris, and of Mohamed Abduh, who was a great reader of Herbert Spencer. But neither Renan nor Spencer enabled these pious and proud men to forget that the Moslem community was humiliated and held in thrall. The support given to the anti-European rising went side by side in their minds with a hunger for Western science and the spirit of free inquiry, In both cases it was a matter of working for the revival of Islam through spiritual progress -- inspired by Europe's example -- as well as by political regeneration, provisionally directed against the foreigner, and by rooting out the people's superstitions which were an obvious instrument of oppression. Nearer to our own times we find the same triple outlook in the Maghrib.

This blend of spiritual reformism and Moslem patriotism had,

-74-

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Egypt in Transition
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page 5
  • Contents 7
  • Illustrations 8
  • Introduction - Egyptian Continuity And Revolutions 11
  • Part One - The Awakening of Egypt 37
  • I - The Advent of Bonaparte 39
  • II - Mohamed Ali Creates a State 50
  • III - The Cotton Boom 56
  • IV - A Revolution in Irrigation 60
  • V - The Adventurous Khedive 63
  • VI - The Arabi Revolt 69
  • VII - The Reformers 74
  • VIII - British Technocracy 78
  • IX - The 1919 Revolution 82
  • X - The Wafd 86
  • XI - Making the Best of War -- 1939 97
  • XII - The Burning of Cairo 105
  • Part Two - The Officers' Republic 123
  • I - A Short History of the 'Free Officers' Movement 125
  • II - Power -- to What Purpose? 160
  • III - Neguib's Fall 179
  • IV - The Structure of Nasser's State 192
  • V - The 'Diplomacy' of Small Nations 196
  • VI - The Political Parties 240
  • VII - Revolutionary Tendencies, 1952-57 275
  • VIII - Not a Real Revolution. 292
  • Part Three - Working Life in The Valley 307
  • I - The Land and Its Men 309
  • II - The Agrarian Reform 340
  • III - The Problem of Over-Population 357
  • IV - Economic Growing-Pains 362
  • V - Industrialization and Social Problems 367
  • VI - The Aswan Dam Problem 388
  • Part Four - Forging a Society 397
  • I - Cairo -- City of Convulsions 399
  • II - In Search of a National Culture 413
  • III - Egypt, Islam and the Modern World 430
  • Part Five - The Great Test 451
  • I - Nasser as He Really Is 453
  • II - The Suez Crisis 467
  • III - The Franco-British Invasion 481
  • IV - Egypt Carries On 493
  • V - The 'United Arab State' 505
  • A Chronology of Modern Egypt 515
  • Reading List 519
  • Index 523
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