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6. Growing Up: Four Stories

The youth of every nation are the secret of its strength, and the pillars of its rebirth, and the sign of its advancement; indeed, the believing youngster spends the period of his youth preparing himself for a noble life, and directs his energy toward useful works in building his future and raising his moral and intellectual level.

The processes reviewed in the last chapter transform the Islamic tradition not merely by molding it into a novel format—one could just as easily spend class time memorizing condensed legal manuals—but specifically by folding the child's phenomenal experience of the everyday into his understanding of the sacred, coaxing illuminations of God's will from the humble intersection of personal habit and the image of public good. Coded by age grade and supervised by the mechanics of the examination, these books (as well as children's literature produced by the private sector) act as supplementary revelation and updated sunna in which archetypal modern characters mingle with the prophets of the Qur’an and the exemplary citizens of Medina depicted in hadiths. The textbooks' wise fictional parents and teachers are messengers who bridge the imperfections of reality and the perfection of the divine. In the same way, the discoveries of science display God's will in an EKG pattern as surely as do Qur’anic evocations of the movement of the stars. In using the phenomenal world—both natural and social—as a framework through which divine truth is to be understood and in which it is to be applied, these texts continually renew divinity's instantiations to match human experiences at particular times and places.

Functionalization, as a set of discursive and social practices that provides both for the interpretation and the application of these divine truths, constructs not so much a single reading of Islam, but a framework in which Islam is to be read. Diametrically opposed positions can be derived from the same assumptions or observations, and disagreements then acquire the spurious appearance of fundamental difference when in fact they reveal a common set of understandings. As an example, compare the following three passages:

1. The renaissance of Islamic society stands upon the faith of individuals, and on the effects of this faith on their behavior.…[The Muslim] balances the demands of religion and the world, and works for [this] world as he does for the next, is precise in his work, and increases production without delay or indifference, until he has achieved prosperity, advancement and economic development for society.[2]

2. Work is a fundamental in the life of the individual, because it provides him with what he needs, and maintains his dignity and sets up for him and his family a respectable level of living, just as it is a fundamental in the life of society, because the wealth of the umma is a result of the work of its individuals, and there is no way to increase production without work in various fields: agriculture, manufacturing, trade, construction, teaching, and other profitable areas.[3]

3. There is in the Mahomedan religion itself a great want of encouragement to art, science, or industry. It does not give honour to labour. The book and the sword are the only two objects which it presents as worthy of the ambition or the reverence of its votaries. The Imams, who sometimes preach with the Koran in one hand and a wooden scimitar in the other, are living emblems of the present state of the Mussulman world—for the sword is powerless, and the book speaks in vain. Agriculture has no praise in the Koran, nor has manufacture nor commerce: it is the book of the desert, addressed to the inhabitants of the wilderness.…The Koran was addressed to warriors—to the fighting men of the waste. The Mahometan cultivator seems to accept and resign himself to a recognised condition of humiliation and inferiority—for him there is little comfort in the holy book.[4]

Despite their surface differences, the first two passages are essentially identical to the last in their understanding of the nature of religion. (The shorter passages are drawn from the Egyptian government's 1988 eighth grade religious studies textbook; the third is from the report on Egypt and Cyprus that Bowring submitted to the British government a century and a half earlier.) The extent to which Bowring's superficially distinctive passage is an ethnocentric representation of difference, a libel against Islam, and an offensive stereotype of the “indolent Oriental” is beside the point. What is significant is its agreement with the first two excerpts in their construction of the social categories into which religion in general is thought to fit. In this case, religion as a system of belief and practice should have something to say about work. There is, of course, no a priori reason why religious systems should pay any attention at all to productive or commercial activity, whether encouraging or discouraging it (although Islamic law, specifically, does have a long tradition of concern for commerce). What statements of this type do is not merely construct specific content—whether Islam does or does not honor work—but construct Islam as a whole by defining its extension, by defining work as one of the things about which Islam has something to say.

This discourse of work, as well as those of personal respectability, intellectual humility, and social accountability, are important and recurrent themes. Having seen in the last two chapters how adults structure religious communication with youngsters, we can continue to explore these themes by entering the religious environment of the older Egyptian child struggling to create his own personality while parents, politicians, and educators continue to guide him along various paths to adulthood. The stories teachers and parents tell their children in the process of forming them into responsible family members and useful citizens are obviously only a part—and arguably a very small part—of the stories they hear, the stories they live, and the stories they make for themselves.

We have seen in Islamic theory that the child passes through three stages of social and spiritual development. But alongside this religious progression lie other sets of age labels. Like its American counterpart, the Egyptian periodization of aging is imprecise and context-dependent. In rural Egypt, as in Yemen and elsewhere, children are often referred to as juhhal (sing. jahil), meaning “ignorant.” They are socially unformed beings in whom proper adab has to be cultivated.[5] Among middle-class urbanites, the word often used is tifl (pl. atfal), which means “baby,” a word that can refer to young babies specifically, or to children in general anywhere from birth to age eighteen or so, as can walad (pl. awlad), which means “boy.” Either term essentially refers to “kids.” Sibbi, “child” or “youth,” is sometimes used by teachers and psychologists for children between the ages of six and sixteen. Other terms are murahiq, “teenager” or “adolescent,” a learned word that applies to the older end of the age range, and tali‘a, which means, literally, “vanguard,” and is usually used in the plural, tala’i‘. Like sibbi, these last two terms are more commonly used in writing than in speech. Far more common is the social and age category shabb (pl. shabab), which begins between the ages of thirteen to sixteen or eighteen, and extends through the late twenties or early thirties. The shabab are essentially marriageable (or sexually mature) but unmarried young people. The word is used in much the same way as the English word youth, referring to a collective, almost as if it were an organized and independent social force. When pundits refer to the children or youth of the nation, they speak of awladna or atfalna, “our children,” and al-shabab, “the youth,” or shababna, “our youth.” This primary contrast set directs our movement from looking at the religious discourse aimed at children toward looking at that aimed at youth.

There are four areas where state interests intersect with the life cycle of the shabab: sexual development and marriage; the awakening of political consciousness and the beginnings of economic activity; the development of attitudes toward official religious institutions; and the role of educational and public outreach programs in the moral guidance of youth as they cross the threshold to adulthood and find their place in the worlds of family and work irrevocably altered. The stories people tell about this transition coexist, merge, and contrast in various ways with the stories they find ready-made for them in the increasingly Islamicized public environment. As we continue to explore these stories told by the textbook, the newspaper, and the radio, the political implications of this “mediated” Islam will become clearer. What we will see is that a religious authority based on the creation and utilization of mass literacy destabilizes the relationship between traditional religious elites, secular professionals, and the public. In Egypt as elsewhere in the Muslim world, religious messages become increasingly hard to govern the more intensely they are deployed.

It's Not Haram, But They Might Not Understand It

Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman's daughter, Nadia, was in the ninth grade when I first met her in 1989. She resembled Samia both in appearance and in dress, since she had been a muhaggaba since puberty. “Girls biyithaggibu [don higab] when they first get their period,” Samia explained, naturalizing her daughter's experience despite the fact that most Egyptian women today have made that choice later in their lives. Just as in her younger days, when learning about Islam was just as natural as getting tall, Nadia had always remained a good girl, her mother said, who never had to be coaxed or prodded to do the right thing. “Except,” she remembered,

about six months ago, she said to me, I have friends who are boys, why don't I call them on the phone, or have them call me. At first I said, don't call them, and don't let them call you. It's not haram, but they might not understand it, and might think the wrong thing.

And she said to me, well, you have male friends, and you talk to them on the phone, and they come over here and talk to you, why can't I do the same? I told her that it was because I had chosen these friends, and I trusted them, and that I am mature enough and experienced enough to know how to handle the situation if something isn't correct. She said to me, but in Islam, there's halal and haram, and if it's not the one, you shouldn't do it.

We went on like that, and I said that if she called them, the family of the boy might not understand, and so on. She finally solved the problem herself, by saying, I will not speak to him anymore, and he will not speak to me, because I think I love him, but he's in love with another girl. Now, since she's a teenager, she's very anti-men. They're all dirty, she says, and they just don't deserve to be paid attention to. Now she makes my days black, because when my friends call, she says I shouldn't speak to them!

I'm very frank in dealing with Nadia. I tell her things directly, and don't approach things by indirect ways. So I told her, it's haram to kiss boys or let them kiss you. And she said, Mama! How can you talk about things like this? But you know, at her age, boys and girls are always touching and pulling at each other, and slapping, and so on. She does shake hands with men. But on the schoolbus that she takes, she has seen some girls sitting in the laps of the boys, and was shocked by that.[6]

Nadia, turning against her mother the adolescent's universal sensitivity to discrepancies between theory and its application, was practicing with a rhetorical power aimed at asserting her own status as an arbiter of culture and custom.[7] Manipulating and experimenting with the discourse of absolutes, she claimed a position of superiority when her life circumstances changed and a plausible interpretation of Islamic gender segregation made a virtue of her necessity. Such disputes and negotiations over the nature of rules (“it's not haram, but…”), where rules apply (“she does shake hands with men”) and—most importantly—who can apply them (“now, when my friends call, she says I shouldn't speak to them!”), are as common between age grades as they are between political, ethnic, gender, or class rivals.

As in the home, schools deal with the potentials and problems of young teens by continuing to present them with models of proper behavior. Sex is approached gingerly in the religion curriculum for students like Nadia. It is confined, in the preparatory schoolbooks, to a single dialogue in which a teacher condemns youths' harassing comments to young women on the street.[8] Deeper consideration of sex and marriage is postponed until the final year of secondary school, when the issues of engagement, marriage, and the rearing of children enter the religion curriculum. In Cairo the average age of marriage for both men and women is rising steadily as it takes longer and longer each year for struggling families to save or borrow the money to finance a marriage. Marriage expenses include not only payments by the groom and the bride's accumulation of a suitable trousseau, but the celebration itself and the acquisition of an apartment in an artificially tight housing market. As Diane Singerman has shown, the investments families make in the marriage of their children are often the largest capital outlays of their lives. The prolonged period between physical maturity and marriage, together with family pressures that discourage the free association between young men and women, is stressful for everyone, particularly because families count on their reputations for upright behavior to attract suitable marriage partners for their children when the time comes.[9]

Since the reproduction of the family is at the center of everyday political and economic activities for most Egyptians, as well as being in theory the primary basis for a true Muslim society, schoolbooks depict marriage as one of God's principal intentions for humankind. Books advise young people to select their companions for religious and moral values rather than superficial qualities like looks or wealth.[10] While textbooks do not delineate the precise extent of parental responsibility in the choice of spouses for their children, they do advise that men and women at least be able to see each other before the engagement, even if the sunna restricts this viewing to the girl's face and hands, with conversation conducted in the presence of a mahram (a male relative of the woman not eligible to marry her).[11] In fact, although restrictions are hardly ever quite so draconian, the interactions of young people both before and after their engagements are closely monitored by relatives and constitute a frequent trigger for family quarrels, gossip, and public comment.[12]

Textbook discussions of family life cover the legal conditions of engagement and marriage, the legal rituals involved in their completion, and the respective rights of husband and wife. As in much of Islamic political writing, the rights of marriage partners are expressed as duties owed to them by other parties, in this case, their mates. Thus, the husband's rights include the expectation that his wife will obey him, manage the household, raise the children properly, and support the family emotionally. She bears the responsibility neither to leave nor to invite people into her husband's house without his permission (either general or specific), a custom of wrenching significance for women moving some distance from their extended families. The rights of the wife include her husband's payment of brideprice, and his financial support for her and her children, along with a suitable residence, sexual intimacy, sympathy, care and cooperation, all after the model of the Prophet's marriages. For young people who cannot marry for reasons of health, disposition, or finance, the Ministry of Education offers the Prophet's advice that fasting helps overcome carnal desires by strengthening control over the conscience and helping one transcend appetites that might otherwise lead to the sin of an unlawful “natural relationship” (‘alaqa tabi‘iyya).[13]

According to Egyptian pundits, the moral confusion responsible for premarital sexual activity, as well as social problems like street violence and drug use, can be traced to a variety of insidious influences. These include not only a staggeringly uneven economy where unemployment and inflationary pressures strangle family income in the face of continually rising expectations, but also the impact of globalized popular culture. Critiques of Egyptian cultural policy, which mandates the centralized monitoring and censorship of radio, film, television, and print production, and the regulation of imported films, videos, and music, cluster around three perspectives. While some critics decry the tendency to look abroad for popular culture when it could be produced more authentically at home, others target sex and violence in entertainment media either as psychologically harmful in general, or specifically as corruptions emanating from “the West.”

Arguing on the basis of economic as much as cultural independence, some newspaper columnists have asked, Why do Egyptians not manufacture girls' dolls named ‘Aisha to compete with Barbie? Why do Mickey Mouse and Tom and Jerry usurp the rightful place of Kalila wa Dimna (a popular pair of Arabic folktale characters)?[14] While Egypt is a prolific producer of soap operas,[15] most local products are outshone both in production quality and in popularity by American serials like Dallas, Knot's Landing, and Falcon Crest. Heavily edited for Egyptian viewing, these shows nevertheless saturate the airwaves with images of the wealthy, the decadent, and the promiscuous (albeit wealthy, decadent and promiscuous extended families often living in joint households, which partially accounts for their fascination: it is the social world of the Egyptian family with both its economic resources and its values precisely reversed). These shows are a constant subject not only of friendly conversations, but of newspaper editorials and letters, like this one in al-Ahram, written by the superintendent of geography at a private secondary school in Alexandria:

Great throngs of viewers have developed a powerful infatuation with [Falcon Crest], the proof of which is the increase in the length of commercials preceding it! It's certain that this series is nothing but a summons destructive and ruinous to every standard. For it deals, with great charm and detail, with how to murder one's brothers, and how to carry out wife-swapping with ease, and how to hatch every kind of vile and base plot! [It shows] how forbidden affections are open and public and acceptable to everybody, and practiced by everybody!! All this without any obstacle from religion or human nature or conscience.

After extolling the show's lavish production values, acting, photography, and the wardrobe of the stars, which is provided by “some of the trendiest fashion houses in the world,” the author demands,

Is this series a devastating cultural assault intended to infiltrate without awareness the subconscious of our youth and our daughters and our wives? Or is it a hidden appeal for the disintegration of values and the decay of society? And where is the supervision of all this? Of course I don't have official censorship in mind, for that has allowed its presentation…on the contrary, I contemplate supervision by the conscience of the nation [damir al-’umma] as represented by venerable men of religion and social scientists and the greatest intellectuals and writers and critics.…In general I call on all the viewers of this series to delve deeply into its contents and to perceive for themselves its danger and its aim: that it is, as I believe myself, deadly poison covered in the sweetest wrapping![16]

This sort of cultural critique, familiar to Americans in the conservative post-Reagan era, is an important reflection of a growing worldwide debate about the social, psychological and moral effects of market-based cultural production. Another columnist reminds the public that “We owe it to our children not to leave their enculturation to chance and dim-sightedness, and then to complain that among them are young addicts and deviants from our values.” [17] Medical experts counsel the public that media images can disrupt the balance between good and evil within a person, potentially triggering outbursts of random violence, as demonstrated by a press report of a young Australian man who wounded two dozen people in Melbourne after a rampage induced by seeing the movie Rambo. According to Dr. Muhammad Sha‘lan, professor of psychiatry at al-Azhar,

Sometimes artistic works contradict what is within a certain person living in certain circumstances, and the two are thrown together and cause an explosion…this doesn't mean that the artistic works are responsible, but if the works gave admirable models in leading roles, this person would have imitated a good model rather than a bad model like Rambo; these days violence is getting the better of us; violence in art and violence in life. We used to watch “Cinderella,” and now karate films are what we watch.[18]

Other mental health professionals concur. Dr. Sayyid Subhi, a professor of mental health and therapy at ‘Ain Shams, and chair of the Psychology Department at the College of Education in Medina in Saudi Arabia, argues that the victory of self-centered values in modern society, a condition he refers to as “moral retardation” (al-i‘aqa al-khuluqiyya; or “absence of conscience,” ghiyab al-damir), results from noncommitment to religious morals. It manifests itself in, among other things, the spread of drug addiction among Egyptian youth.[19] This is not a discourse rejecting “the West,” but a discourse questioning the nature of “modern society” as such. Often it contrasts a culture anchored in religious values with a culture that has lost its spiritual moorings, a culture become coarse, uncivil, and obsessed by cultural products organized around images of undomesticated (unmarried) sex and (nonmilitary and thus unpatriotic) violence.

The third critical response goes beyond encouraging cultural self- sufficiency or rejecting psychologically damaging entertainment, to foreground the specific cultural differences that distinguish an ideal Muslim society from the mores of Euroamerican society. Islamic critics, in particular, accuse the government of promulgating cultural and educational policies that are not only inconsistent, but positively harmful. While Islamic behavior is emphasized in religion textbooks and political speeches, it is obviously not a feature of Sylvester Stallone epics, nor, the critics say, is it even encouraged across the school curriculum. In a 1989 exposé in al-Nur, the weekly organ of Egypt's tiny Liberal Party, ‘Adil al-Ansari castigated the Ministry of Education and the administration of al-Azhar's secondary institutes for allowing the use of history books that delete mention of the great Muslim victories against the Mongols and Crusaders, and, even worse, the use of English language texts that portray “unveiling and the mixing of the sexes.” Al-Ansari reviewed several cases in which stories and dialogues present Egyptian and European women “unveiled and adorned”; parties and nights on the town in which men and women—both Egyptian and foreign—mix freely and stay out dancing “until three in the morning.” There were pictures of women at hairstylists, or sitting on the ground with hair and knees exposed, and in one instance a mosque in an illustration was complimented for its archaeological rather than its religious significance.

In a final example al-Ansari invoked a story told in the second-year secondary English textbook, in which an English businessman is invited to the apartment of Ibrahim, an Egyptian. Before coming to visit, the Englishman stops to buy flowers for the lady of the house, with her husband's full knowledge: “And when he goes to the home [of his friend], Layla the Egyptian opens [the door] to him and she is unveiled, and she greets this foreign man freely and he gives her the roses and she thanks him and brings him food amidst broad smiles.” [20] From the point of view of the religious activist, the breathless pornographic intent of these examples is clear. They are not merely descriptions of the interactions of English-speaking Egyptians and foreigners (some of the episodes take place abroad, in Lebanon and London, for example), but they are “a clear call to unveiling,” dancing, movie-going, and the mixing of the sexes. Description is perceived as exhortation. Critiques like this are commonplace in the popular press, arguing against the moral laxity of the elites who administer communications and schooling. In this particular case, the article referred to the use of these textbooks in al-Azhar secondary institutes, hinting that even the official religious elites do not have the nation's moral health at heart.

The discursive strategy of such critiques, and of much mainstream reporting as well, is what historian Laurence Moore has called “moral sensationalism,” [21] a strategy widespread in the nineteenth-century United States, where the growing market for written material stimulated publishers to attract wide audiences, and simultaneously drew a sharp response from Christian religious denominations who condemned the salacious content apparently demanded by the masses. In response, writers for mass audiences portrayed themselves as religious messengers and developed a hybrid style in which they could pander to public prurience by recounting in graphic detail the worst kinds of personal and social outrages (drunkenness, gambling, fornication, rape, and murder), for the purposes of criticizing lapses in public morality and the coarsening of public discussion. In both the Christian and Muslim traditions, this strategy has been one of the prime mechanisms moving public religious discourse from concern with doctrine and legal minutiae to concern with abstract moral questions.[22] No longer is religious writing expected to be purely exegesis, legal interpretation, or instruction in ritual performance. Now it can comment on political events, gender roles, or sensational crimes, and still bear a useful moral message. The economic imperatives of mass-produced print force a two-way syncretism in which religious themes benefit from the selling power of suggestiveness, while bawdy or violent themes are partly legitimized by their attendant religious critique. The market in cultural goods steadily alters the corpus of “Islamic” literature by predisposing some kinds of communications rather than others. Related to this transformation of journalistic style is the role university professors, physicians, and mental health specialists play in publicly and authoritatively encouraging religious adherence as a remedy for social and moral disintegration. Whereas in the last chapter we encountered the functionalization of religious practices in the context of teaching religion, here we find it in the context of explaining social and psychological problems. The same rhetorical process that lent medical legitimation to the wudu’ operates here as well: promotion of religion by disinterested secular professionals can be more compelling than the testimony of ‘ulama.

People Use Religion, Too

Because the child is not forever isolated within the family unit, and because of the complexity of modern society with its wealth of opportunities for distraction and corruption, children are exposed to influences that the pious family and the devout instructor can neither approve nor anticipate. Sometimes family standards even conflict with the moral vision of the school, but most busy parents, as concerned as they might be, lack the time to monitor the specifics of their children's school experience, trusting that their own models of adab will suffice, and that personal and family moral commitments will transcend the specific political biases of the state curriculum. Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman told me,

I've never read any of [Nadia's] textbooks, but I do try to correct misunderstandings that she gets from them. Like she might come to me and say, Mama, is it true that the Ottoman empire, or the Mamluk period was bad? I would correct these impressions, saying that the authors were biased in favor of nationalism or secularism, or so on. These two periods of our history are a target of those who want to attack Islam, but instead of attacking the religion of Islam, the rule of the shari‘a and so on, they attack the Ottoman Empire for the mistakes that it made. But we defend it as a frame for Islamic government [al-hukm al-islami]. [Nadia] would hear things here, and she would read In the Shadow of the Qur’an,[23] and other things by Sayyid Qutb, and she was brought up with discussions of Islam and the Islamic Republic and its revolution, and so on.

She tried to teach Nadia to be a critical reader and to focus her thoughts on a career. In 1993 Nadia was studying English and journalism at Cairo University in order, her mother said, “to serve Islam through the medium of English, and through writing.”

Samia herself came late to Islam, having been a socialist and Arab nationalist throughout her marriage to Nadia's father, and discovering only during the 1970s the spiritual significance of religion. On a January 1972 pilgrimage to Mecca she “ higabed” (the Egyptian word is “ithaggab” ), and

felt that it was khisara [loss, waste, pity] to lose it, to take off the Islamic cover. During the Hajj there's something that works inside of you, developing you, making progress in your feelings, making you really aware of the real things in life. And so I decided that for God I should be more obedient. Nothing is worth disobeying Him. Before this I didn't realize that not wearing Islamic garb is disobedient.[24]

During the late 1970s as Iran struggled to find its way around the sterile Cold War choices of capitalism and communism, she discovered the political significance of Islam as well, joining many more prominent Egyptian leftist and secularist intellectuals who made this journey and accrued the label “turathiyun judud ” (new adherents to the Islamic heritage), for their apparent “return” to an acknowledgment of the unique qualities of “Eastern” values as against “Western” cultural imperialism.[25] Personal journeys, while in many ways patterned systematically by the intersections of gender, class, and historical change, can be enormously unpredictable. With respect to religious commitment, both the bland universal truisms of formal instruction and the deeply personal images of the divine developed in the heart of the family can form a personal image of the sacred, which, “if it loses its meaning…can be set aside without being forgotten,” [26] and then regain its salience at another point in life. During periods in life when religious stories have no hold, their meanings are very different.

Muhammad Sulayman, like Samia, is a writer constantly struggling to maintain his standard of living despite holding a full-time job. An assistant editor for a small leftist publishing house in downtown Cairo, he published his first book—a slim black-and-purple volume of modernist poetry—at age thirty-six. Married, but with no children (“they need so much money to raise them. It's just too much to be responsible for”), he is from a town in the delta, where his father was one of the leaders of the local Muslim Brotherhood.

I grew up in a town in Minufiyya with 160,000 people, where the climate [manakh] was very religious. I used to pray [he holds his hands up beside his face and leans forward slightly to indicate prostration], and fast, and all that. Then when I was fifteen or so, my friends and I would go to the theater, and I started reading the work of a playwright named [Bertolt] Brecht, who was a socialist. And it was then that I learned that socialism was not just a book, a monolithic thing with only one idea to it, like there's a God and that's that. Socialism was wide [wasi‘], and it talked about poverty and solutions for poverty and the causes of poverty. Poverty wasn't caused by God, but by people, and people use religion, too. Brecht was full of ideas; tough, difficult ideas.

I wanted to be a director, and I read all of Brecht's plays, and when I understood them I became a leftist. Before that—this was around 1972 or 1973, when I was twenty years old, I was very religious [mutadayyin], but then I just left it altogether. Now, my father taught us everything about religion. He made me memorize the Qur’an. And I've really benefitted from knowing the Qur’an, especially out in the streets.

I was embarrassed when my father found out about my socialism. He said it was forbidden (muharram), and as soon as he learned of it there was a big argument and he kicked me out of the house, just like that, because he was convinced I was an atheist. I saw him just once after that, when he came to visit me in prison in 1977. Just that one time, and then afterwards he died. I have one brother, but he's gone; moved to Canada. And one sister, who's 28 now. She used to be a socialist, but now she's a religious muhaggaba. She's married to a businessman with a lot of money, and is concentrated on her work and on raising her kids. She's an assistant professor at the college of engineering, and is also getting her Ph.D there. My sister, we talk on the phone about once a year, but otherwise have no contact. You know how it is, we have relations of love because we're brother and sister, but not relations of friendship. She had taken on higab during the time I was in prison, because she was living in the house of my father.

In prison I met all kinds of people, including the religious ones, but they all thought I was a heathen [kafir] so although we had lots of discussions of things all the time, in terms of personal relations things never went beyond greetings. It's the same with my religious friends from childhood. They don't like to talk to me, because there's a verse in the Qur’an [he recites the verse] that says you're not supposed to associate with the kuffar.[27]

Muhammad's depressing story of estrangement from family and friends illustrates the suspicion with which different portions of the religious and political spectra view each other both then and now, as well as the paranoid politics of Sadat's regime, which imprisoned at one time or another nearly every dissenting voice in the country. The year during which Muhammad was imprisoned, 1977, was the year in which Sadat issued his call for a renewal of religious education in response to the January food riots, a call that underscored the importance accorded to this activity as a foundation of social and political stability. In the religion curricula of preparatory and secondary schools, political and economic concerns play a substantial role. In particular, there is a sustained emphasis on the role Islamic values and conduct play in the solution of problems like those that drove Muhammad Sulayman to socialism: the causes and effects of poverty. More than one-third of the eleventh grade textbook, in fact, is devoted to the presentation of Islamic prescriptions on lawful and unlawful gain, interest, usury, business practices, and spending on righteous causes. (This is also where the excerpts on Islam and work, quoted at the beginning of the chapter, are to be found.)

Religious studies textbooks for the preparatory school (roughly an American junior high or middle school, grades seven through nine) and secondary school (equivalent to grades ten through twelve in high school) are far more consistent in a formal sense than those in the primary curriculum. Each section of text regularly consists of a selection of Qur’anic verses or a Prophetic saying, followed directly by definitions of difficult vocabulary, an exposition of the meaning and intent of the passage, and a set of questions for discussion. Gone are the hymns, pictures, and matching exercises of the earlier grades. In their place are logical and legal arguments, beginning with ontological and teleological proofs of God's existence and power, based on two carefully distinguished sorts of evidence: rational and traditional (al-‘aql wa al-naql).[28]

Consistently emphasizing natural theology, books elaborate themes introduced in earlier grades, developing logical proofs from natural models of the necessity for the division of labor and the orderliness of society. So just as communities of ants, bees, and humans have leaders, the cosmos must have a supreme authority in God.[29] Expanding on the theme of authority and discipline, the requirement of prayer is adduced as traditional evidence for the necessity of order in society. Prayer is incumbent upon Muslims not only because God ordered it as a link between the divine and the created, but

because in prayer there is rising and bowing and prostration, all actions that invigorate the body, and the Muslim devotes himself to work with zeal and energy, and increases production and spreads the good, and promotes [the progress of] the nation.…[P]rayer accustoms us to order, and the keeping of appointments, and the binding together of Muslims with cooperative ties and love and harmony.…[C]ollective prayer binds society with ties of brotherhood and equality, as it acquaints every Muslim with the condition of his brothers.[30]

Moral behavior is closely linked not only with public order, but with economic development. The Ramadan fast, the books explain, reduces friction between the rich and poor by letting the wealthy experience the hunger and privation of the needy, prompting generous alms. This produces serenity in the hearts of the poor so that “everybody applies themselves to their work, and production increases, society becomes happy, and its economy develops.” [31] The fast also works indirectly by giving Muslims practice in willpower, helping to free them of “ugly habits like smoking, which takes its evil toll on the person's health, and then he can't do his work, and it reduces his productivity and reduces family income and causes the country's economy to slump.” [32]

Although humans are responsible for cooperating with each other to build and reform society, the process is still guided by God, who can override human effort as he pleases. Children are taught that the fulfillment of their own desires is secondary to the good of the society of believers, which God's wisdom safeguards. In the eighth grade children read the story of Ahmad, who

had wanted, after taking the General Secondary examination, to enroll in the College of Medicine, but his scores didn't enable him to realize his hope, and he enrolled in the War College. Emerging an officer, he had the honor of participating in the 10th of Ramadan War, whose heroes became eligible to be decorated because of their participation. He was most happy for this honor, as were his father and his family. Ahmad had wanted, and his father had wanted, and his family had wanted, but God does what he wants, and it was to the greatest good what He decided and willed.[33]

Elementary and preparatory schooling, a fictive teacher explains, provide technical education for every Egyptian so that he will have a vocation that will help him in “satisfying his needs and gratifying his desires.” Love for Egypt and for Islam requires everyone to seek responsible employment, which will promote “the honor of the nation and its citizens,” [34] but those who avoid honest labor are “weeds that suck up their nutrients to destroy useful plants and living things.” [35] A hadith of the Prophet condemning the destruction of shade trees in the desert is extended to all kinds of contemporary public facilities: means of transport such as buses and trains; means of communication such as telegraph, telephone, and mail offices; and public services such as schools, hospitals, libraries, museums, gardens and public restrooms. Students are warned against vandalizing or interfering with them, promising “those who would destroy them of a painful punishment on the Day of Resurrection.” [36]

Such discussions of work show how far the functionalization of religion can go toward wholly transforming religion's symbolic import. In its simplest form, the connection between Islam and labor may be expressed in a phrase from one of Safir's coloring books: “al-islam din al-‘amal” (Islam is a religion of work). More than the concrete notion that “Islam is a religion of cleanliness,” or the abstract one that “Islam is a religion of order and discipline,” the idea that “Islam is a religion of work” brings the whole weight of the religious heritage down behind a political program. It not only marks labor with divine intent, but marks the religious system with sociopolitical intent, and in so doing changes that system into something new. Function is a self-fulfilling prophecy, for once religion is perceived as useful in achieving given ends, it becomes used in prosecuting those ends (whether or not it does in fact achieve them), and that imputed functionality becomes in turn one of its empirical features.

I Had Some Friends There

Despite the relatively tight social controls Egyptian families impose on their children, many urban shabab, like the restless young hittistes (“wall-leaners”) of Algeria,[37] find ample opportunity for social and ideological experimentation in Cairo's broad shopping avenues, its backstreet drug subculture, its movie houses, schoolyards, and mosques. The spreading demands of the school, the workshop, or the office require that many young people be away from their families for long periods each day, and for the millions of unemployed the negative freedom of time opens up all sorts of opportunities that worry parents, politicians, and intellectuals alike. The cultural experimentation of youth—sometimes fickle and transitory, sometimes life-changing—unites across as well as divides along class and geographical lines. Brecht finds his way to the provinces, and inspired provincial youth flock to university or employment in the capital. Bedouin boys grow Islamist beards and receive impossible teasing from relatives, while bedouin girls, inspired by their teachers, show off school-bred religious knowledge to their elders and yearn to wear the urbane Islamist veil, one of the symbols of sophisticated Nile Valley modernity.[38] On city buses bald civil servants hunch over tiny copies of the Qur’an while behind them smudged shabab in tattered galabiyyas squint and struggle with moving lips to read articles about official corruption in the Muslim Brotherhood's al-Sha‘b newspaper; middle-class young women hidden behind face-veils and gloves ride the Cairo subway clutching popular manuals on Islamic gender roles, while lower-class women sit in mosque courtyards before weekly religious classes, debating the meaning of traditional rituals, amulets, and scriptural passages.[39]

While this seemingly collective intellectual experimentation with religion sometimes seems to be an ineluctable and unidirectional process, there are always gaps, reversals, and complications. Sometimes people outgrow intellectual inspirations; sometimes they are frightened away from them; and sometimes their penumbra persists in altered form. Almost like a mirror image of the leftist Muhammad Sulayman, Wafa’i Isma‘il was in many ways a “typical” American University in Cairo graduate, whom I met through an American acquaintance he was dating. Handsome, bilingual, well-to-do, and worldly, he studied political science at AUC, and later worked for his father's small architectural consulting firm in Ma‘adi, a wealthy bedroom community south of Cairo. Once he asked me about my own research, and when I mentioned that I had just visited the mosque of Anas Ibn Malik in Giza, he broke into a wide, embarrassed grin. Looking down at the glass of water he was holding, he chuckled,

Yeah, I used to go to Anas all the time. They have a lot of things going on there. I used to go there with my friends all the time to pray; there and a couple of little mosques, just tiny ones like the one you saw in [the documentary videotape] “The Sword of Islam”. You wouldn't think looking at me now, but I used to be into these kinds of groups, with some friends.

Probably from the time I was sixteen until I was twenty I used to be really religious, praying, and having all these kinds of discussions and whatever. None of my family is religious at all, and my family was very concerned about me; my father used to send people to talk to me. But I used to get up every morning to go pray at the mosque; sometimes I had to go out the window, because my father was against it.

I don't know, it's kind of what one of my professors was saying, that when you don't believe in something, and then you go to a place like this, and there are people there so friendly and caring and concerned about you. And you're so smart, and your father is so stupid and everything, and he doesn't pray, and he drinks and whatever, and you start wondering about your real identity.

But you go to one of these places and they're telling you, oh, the world is really horrible, and you're like, yes, yes, and they say that people are robbing each other, and it's so terrible, and you're agreeing, and then at the end they ask you to join, and of course you say, “sure!”. But I had some friends there, and we would have all kinds of discussions about sunna, and qadar [predestination], and this kind of stuff; this was all before Sadat [was killed]; then I stopped going. Three or four of my friends were arrested in September 1981, and then I knew some people arrested afterwards. But they soon got out.

Also I saw a lot of the stuff going on at the University, and I used to be involved a little in that, calling for the prayers and clearing the areas and stuff. I was in Commerce [at Cairo University] just for a semester before going to AUC. That was in 1982.[40]

This surprising revelation (“You wouldn't think looking at me now…”) helped make sense of one of his ruling interests in 1989: applying to graduate school at Cairo University and also in the United States, where he wanted to earn a degree in Middle East Studies with research on the politics of Islamist movements. An intellectualized response to his own former involvement, this desire was coupled with an alienation from Egyptian life that led him to question me persistently about why Americans came to live in his country, when all he wanted to do was go abroad.

Youngsters beginning more and more to move within the circle of their peers and to separate themselves from the enveloping bonds of the family experience a growing awareness of social injustices, political affairs, alternate viewpoints and role models, which subject them to conflicts both at home and elsewhere. The ideological success of small private sector Islamic groups among Egyptian youth depends partly on this disaffection and the consequent search for social and intellectual alternatives. These groups seem to have the tacit support of an enormous proportion of shabab, even those who never consider joining them. According to Samia Mustafa al-Khashab's 1988 survey, three-quarters of Cairo University students felt that the official religious establishment centered around the al-Azhar mosque was either partially or wholly ineffective in meeting the religious needs of Egyptian youth. Most of these felt that the institution needed to increase its activity in grappling with social problems,[41] and improve the performance of Islamic da‘wa, or outreach.[42] Almost all students felt that mosques needed to become more active in society, holding meetings for the religious enlightenment of youth (87 percent), establishing schools for religious instruction (66 percent), creating classes to fight illiteracy (60 percent), and setting up popular clinics for those who came to prayer (58 percent).[43] Each of these activities is currently provided by high-profile private sector social service agencies, whom students suggest the government emulate.

Overwhelmingly, students taking part in the survey were hostile to Sufi orders, which are often perceived by the middle and upper classes as sha‘bi: low class, popular, primitive, and fundamentally mistaken about the requirements of a true Islam. Although almost 85 percent of the students expressed ignorance of the goals of Sufism, they felt that Sufi orders were unnecessary (66 percent), and without positive roles in the solution of social problems (75 percent), in the political sphere (84 percent), or in spreading Islamic da‘wa (60 percent).[44] All these sentiments are strongly encouraged by the rationalistic modernism of the Islamist groups (despite the fact that leaders of the movement like Hasan al-Banna—not to mention Iran's Khomeini—had Sufi roots themselves). By contrast, a large majority of these students knew some of the names and goals of the Islamist groups ( “Takfir wal-Hijra,” al-Jihad, etc.) that operated in Egypt during the 1970s and 1980s.[45] Almost three- quarters believed that these groups take the feelings and opinions of Egyptian youth into account, and thought that some or all of Egyptian youth are sympathetic to them. They did not think that these groups should be eliminated (82 percent), because they are trying to change society for the better, and because they have contributed to the Islamic Awakening (al-sahwa al-islamiyya).[46] These feelings may have changed somewhat over the past decade as the government has waged its ever more intensive propaganda campaign against the Islamists, changing its label for them from “extremists” to “terrorists” since the beginning of the violent 1992 insurgency based in southern Egypt.

But by the late 1980s the state was responding through its schools. The theme of the Islamic education curricula for shabab—students in preparatory and secondary schools—was “Islamic Society,” and lessons clustered around “the three tightly interwoven themes of Faith, Morals, and Social Solidarity.” [47] The competition between public and private sector religious organizations for status and authority in the eyes of Egypt's youth lent particular urgency to the government's religious education programs, particularly at the primary and preparatory levels, where, according to newspapers, the religious curricula were being adjusted to create study materials that “translate knowledge into practice” (yatatarjamu al-‘ilm ila al-‘amal).[48] This holds true of the secondary curriculum as well, where, along with the principles of faith and social solidarity, textbooks and syllabi emphasized the role of legitimate authority in the government of Islamic society and the enforcement of Islamic conduct.

A ninth grade commentary on three verses in the Qur’an's sura 3, ’Al ‘Imran (103–5), outlines the state's theory of religious authority. The verses remind the new Muslim community of the blessing of their unification and warn them against disputation and divisiveness, laying out the advantages of “security and fidelity and stability.” If, according to the textbook, every person adheres to the sunna and “knows the limits of his responsibility,” then society “will be a strong, solid, cohesive, loving, cooperative, active and productive one whose strength and solidity no artful plot can weaken or disturb, whose unity no malicious sedition can sunder.” [49] The lesson goes on to say that the limits of individual responsibility for the enforcement of Islamic conduct are set by the Qur’an itself: “Let there arise out of you/A band of people/Inviting to all that is good,/Enjoining what is right/And forbidding what is wrong:/They are the ones/To attain felicity” (sura 3, 104).

The word umma, translated in this verse by A. Yusuf ‘Ali as “band,” or “group,” usually denotes an entire community, such as the community of believers. (A. J. Arberry, for example, interprets the verse this way: “Let there be one nation of you, calling to good/And bidding to honour, and forbidding dishonour;/Those are the prosperers.”) The textbook writers, however, have chosen to interpret umma in the phrase “wa l-takun minkum umma,” to mean “’ayy ta’ifa tad‘u ila al-khayr” (any group or class that calls [people] to what is right).[50] Glossed like this, the verse calls for one group of people within society, rather than the society as a whole, to bear responsibility for enjoining good and forbidding evil. “Calling [people] to the good lies in the domain of the teachings of the Qur’an and sunna, and no one can engage in this da‘wa except one who is an ‘alim of the book of God and the sunna of the Prophet. And the verse has conferred success upon this group, and their success is the success and righteousness of society.” [51]

Some of the discussion questions at the end of this lesson are essentially ideological tests that prompt teachers to gauge student feelings about religious unity and the specialized role of the da‘iya (the maker of da‘wa, or Islamic outreach). Questions ask students if they would like to be da‘iyas, and then enquire, “If your answer is yes, to what [objectives] would you call your classmates, the individuals in your family, and your neighbors?” Next the student confronts a hypothetical colleague whose ideas are not sanctioned by authoritative texts or persons:

  • 3.

    You observed a classmate frequently repeating statements and concepts that you haven't heard from a teacher or read in a book. Do you:

    1. Attack him and call him names and hit him?

    2. Correct his mistaken understandings and convince him of what is right through calm discussion?

    3. Incite your classmates to argue and break off their friendship with him?

    4. Advise him and show him books from which he can derive true information?[52]

On the other side of the equation, the Ministry of Education has recently begun requesting in its teacher-education exams, an essay on “The role of the teacher in combating terrorism,” the most recent gloss of the term extremism, which was used more commonly throughout the 1980s.[53] Such devices respond to the ideological competition of Islamist groups and the Muslim Brotherhood, whose lay members often harshly criticize state policy, both within and outside of the religious sphere. Most of the prominent and intellectually important Islamic activists in twentieth-century Egypt (and elsewhere) have been trained in fields other than Islamic studies. Hasan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, was a graduate of Dar al-‘Ulum, in Arabic, and worked as a primary school teacher. Sayyid Qutb was trained as a literary critic and worked as a consultant to the Egyptian Ministry of Education. ‘Abd al-Salam Faraj, the ideological leader of the group that assassinated Anwar Sadat, was an electrician. The prolific writer and religious philanthropist Mustafa Mahmud was originally a physician.[54] Their movements and the institutions they built were the result not of an appeal to traditional forms of religious authority and discourse, but of mobilizing charisma and modern forms of organization, communication, and recruitment. By restricting the range of moral authority to the circle of scholars trained by the religious faculties of al-Azhar, on the other hand, the state hopes to limit the appeal of such groups, although there are many competent ‘ulama, like Muhammad al-Ghazali for the Muslim Brotherhood, and ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Rahman for the smaller Islamic radical groups, who can lend legitimacy to the opposition.

The state's third-party “calls to order” (to borrow a concept from Bourdieu's writings on class) with respect to interpretive authority suffuse public culture. The minister of religious endowments, in an interview published in the Ramadan 1409 issue of Egypt's official Sufi magazine, confirmed forcefully the need to leave religious matters to specialists, saying that Egypt's youth are basically good, but that they lack “direction and guidance.” When asked about the difference between “religion” (al-din) and “religiousness” (al-tadayyun), the minister replied,

Religiousness is open to everyone, to all young people—[it is] even expected of every man, woman, youngster and old person. As for religion—as it is understood as theology, applied ethics, and dogma—we need to leave these… to specialists in them, because…among them are men of distinction and scholars who studied them and specialized in them from childhood.… It's enough [for the shabab] to know the general principles in religious matters.…The shame of our youth is that they want to make judgements on everything, and as a result of this there has been killing in the name of religion and splintering in the name of religion and destruction in the name of religion and fear and alarm in the name of religion, all of which happened because they are ignorant of the essential nature of religion.[55]

The nation's youth have a right to be enlightened and instructed and corrected by people with knowledge about Islam,

a religion of reason and order and gentleness and sympathy and tolerance… our youngsters need to know the essence and greatness of Islam, a religion of kindness, even to animals, even with enemies, and in war with the armies of the enemy. In summary, our youth need to know the truth of Islam and that the truth of the Islamic religion lives within the purview of the ‘ulama.…Changing the abomination by the hand falls under the responsibility of the ruler and the [public] guardian, and on the rest of the people falls the responsibility of advice and guidance by the tongue, or to despise the abomination in the heart.[56]

As a way to help them winnow reliable from unreliable advice, advanced students receive guidelines for approaching the mass media through which so many ideological battles are fought:

Modern science has extended the scope of the influence of the word, and people have begun to read them in newspapers and hear them in broadcasts and other means of communication on an immense scale. It is the duty of the Muslim to weigh his words, to measure his speech and not to aim at slander and calumny or insults, not to reveal a secret, and not to spread indecency and not to stir up animosity, but to speak noble words that please God and his Apostle.[57]

They are reminded that God ordered mankind, “But say not—for any false thing that your tongues may put forth—`This is lawful, and this is forbidden,' so as to ascribe false things to God” (sura 16, al-Nahl, 116), and that He forbade “sins and trespasses against truth or reason; assigning/Of partners to God, for which/He hath given no authority;/And saying things about God/Of which ye have no knowledge”(sura 7, al-’A‘raf, 33). Such practices are the primary source of distortion in corrupted religions,

so no one should forbid anything for religious reasons to any servant of God, or require anything of him, except by a true text of God and his Apostle, and whoever assails that has set himself up as an equal [sharik] to God, and whoever follows him in it has made him his Lord, and God has renounced anyone who attributes any allowance or prohibition to his religion without proof.[58]

Truly obeying God necessitates not just hearkening to His instructions, but understanding who may be trusted to know what His instructions are, so “we should stay within our limits and leave independent judgement in religion to the knowledgeable scholars [al-‘ulama’al-‘arifin], who bring together the motives and the means of independent judgement [ijtihad].” [59]

Likewise, the enforcement of Islamic conduct falls to specialists. Although Islam operates largely through cooperation and mutual advice (nasiha), between the government and the governed as well as between individuals, nasiha in religious matters is, according to the textbooks, a fard kifaya (a duty not incumbent upon all the individuals in the community, as long as some one person or group of persons attends to it), which applies to the ‘ulama alone.[60] The government and the governed “cooperate together in obeying God and defending His book and tradition and Prophet,” so that if someone refuses to obey God's law, there is a graduated series of appropriate responses. First, notifying the person that he is in error; second, admonishing him to behave correctly; third, reprimanding him for his misbehavior; and finally, if he still desists from proper conduct, forcible prevention. This last remedy, however, is also a fard kifaya, entrusted only to those whose job it is to enforce the rules of society (al-qa’imin bil-’amr).[61]

Islam's commitment to human rights, according to the texts, includes freedom of belief and opinion and requires a cordial attitude toward the members of other religious communities. Precisely because of its cautious apportionment of responsibility, Egypt's experience with the religion of the Seal of the Prophets has been a special one. This is how the Ministry of Education concludes its twelfth grade book:

Islam was Egypt's choice, and the environment of Egypt—through its religious culture since the time of the monotheist Akhenaton—was prepared for Islam, and absorbed it all: doctrine and law, science, culture and conduct. Since then, Egypt's features have differed from other Islamic countries. Islam in Egypt is Islam without fanaticism, Islam without extremism, and it is remarkable that Islamic Egypt alone, through fourteen centuries, has never been linked with excess or extremism in its religious conduct.… Indeed, the Egyptian personality is moderate in its religiosity and behavior, middle-of-the-road in its thought and practice, neither excessive nor negligent, and from here were the riches of civilization.[62]

As with the work ethic, the sections on religious authority consist of statements that are neither empirical claims nor exhortations. Instead, they are performative utterances, “rituals of social magic” whose very statement alters the world, for they become true by establishing a normative background against which reality is to be judged by those setting the terms.[63] These are not abstract matters of theory, but practical matters that—as we will see in the next chapter—frame legal prosecutions, political purges, and police roundups. Despite progressive expectations to the contrary, the creation and dissemination of instructive truths by the school has not so much replaced the use of physical force, as it has provided new opportunities on which to use it.

This Wonderful Girl Who Wore the Higab

The closest most Egyptian youth come to an organized rite of spiritual passage is the series of examinations that punctuates their school careers and finally grants them their certificates. Their families, who press them to study and who scrape together money for tutoring; their teachers, who sometimes earn several times their salaries by doing that tutoring; the state, which outlaws that tutoring altogether as a conflict of interest; and private companies that produce condensed study guides and summaries for the tests, are all involved as players in the summertime ritual that takes its most intense form in al-thanawiyya al- ‘amma, the general secondary exams.

The short-term pressures of nationwide testing are powerful motivators for the principal actors in this drama. Ordinary Egyptians respect education and use schooling as a means of status enhancement (particularly for girls, who, it is believed, are more attractive marriage partners if they have a certificate and can not only bring in income from outside employment, but save money by tutoring their own children[64]). But in part because teaching is the lowest-paid professional occupation in the country—the salary of a public sector secondary school teacher in the late 1980s was about thirty-five dollars a month; that in the private sector about twice that, but still not a living wage—it often attracts idealists who want to make a difference in the lives of young people. Particularly at private religious schools, committed community members join teachers to volunteer for tutoring work, help with bookkeeping, coach sports, and perform other tasks out of a sense that Islam is calling them to work with young Muslims.

Layla al-Shamsi was the head of the Literature Department at a private Islamic language school in Masr al-Gidida, the “New Cairo” northeast of the city center. The area—founded just after the turn of the century as a planned community for expatriates and well-to-do locals—is a modern and expansive area where military installations, airports, government agencies and factories are mixed with private mosques, villas, shopping centers and apartment blocks. In contrast to Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman's zayy islami, which consists of a long-sleeved dress and a designer scarf covering her hair and neck (called tarha), Layla wears khimar, which is one step more conservative. “I've been a muhaggaba for seven years now,” she said.

Before that I was really a Muslim in name only. I was educated in a Christian school—the English missions school. I consider myself that I was a non- Muslim then. I was an airline hostess for Saudia airlines, and travelled all over the world; to Europe, and Asia. I've spent a lot of time in England, and I was an English major [in college]. I don't have a teaching degree, or an advanced degree in anything, but I'm very good with children. I love working with children.

I'm 33 now. But seven years ago, when I was around 25, I began wearing higab. I had met this girl, this wonderful girl who wore the higab, and she began to tell me about Islam, and about being a real Muslim. And for a while I kind of felt both ways. While I was working, I really used to admire Western ways, and was very impressed with the West and their way of doing things, and thought, like a lot of you do, that women who wear the higab are oppressed by men, or retarded, socially or mentally retarded somehow. It wasn't a decision I made, really, it's not like there was some sudden inspiration from Allah or anything; but God always puts someone in our life, sets this person in our path to guide us, and for me it was this wonderful girl.

I started reading the Qur’an, but at first I did it with a critical eye, like you might, understanding it but not believing everything it said, trying to keep some kind of critical distance. And at the same time I was living in my old way—oh, I used to fast during Ramadan, and that kind of thing, but really I was a Muslim in name only—but I would go out with friends, even when I didn't drink anything, I would go to discos with people, where there was alcohol around, and I would try to sit there and have a good time, but started thinking that this really is a bad thing to be doing. I started feeling guilt. And believe me, I had never felt guilty about this kind of thing before! But I slowly began reading more and more, and deciding that I was living the wrong way. It took about a year between the time I met this girl, and the time I put on higab.

By 1989, Layla had taught at the school for four years, and was beginning her fifth. Strongly devoted to her students and to the institution, she told me that “when you work at this school, you're working for Islam. I have a lot of work here—when you're working for Islam you don't just say, “that's not my job”; you do a lot of different things for the good of the school.” [65] In her previous teaching job, which was not at an Islamic school, she says that the students were “very naughty,” but that here, they are well-behaved. “They've gone here, most of them, since they were in kindergarten, and they know that you should respect people, and be well-behaved. I really think that it's Islam that makes them so well-behaved. They know that for everything they do, they are accountable to God.” [66] She was quite sensitive to her own accountability, and worked inside and outside of class to lead her students down a different path than the one she herself had been made to travel.

I'm not married. I am too busy working with the children, and trying to plan things at the school, and have no plans to get married, because I have my own ideas about marriage and Muslim men. I love working with our children here, and that's the important thing to me. A Muslim woman keeps her own name, and her own economic resources, and keeps her own personality, her own individuality. I think that it's very important to work with children here, not to increase the number of Muslims in the world, but to work with the Muslims that are here already, to extend da‘wa to them and teach them how to be more than Muslims in name only. And I think it's very important to teach children about being Muslims so that they don't have to go through the kinds of things that we had to go through, not knowing about how to lead a good life. Because Islam isn't just the rituals; those are important, but Islam includes all aspects of life as well.[67]

I have small study groups, mostly with girls and women, but I've got one with some boys. Usually they say that men teachers should be teaching boys of this age, but since they were my pupils anyway.…But I picked these five boys out of one of my English classes to talk to them more about religious things, and about Islamic ways of life. Boys of this age are really very impressed by things they see in the movies or on television about the West, things they see in Knot's Landing and so on, and I try to teach them about the right alternatives. I really had no special criterion for choosing these five except I felt that they were closer to me, and we understood each other.[68]

On a visit to Egypt in 1993 I found these study groups had been discontinued because of Layla's marriage to an oil company executive who expected her to spend her time at home caring for their young son. When I tried to set up an interview appointment, she put me in touch with her husband, who, she assured me, could tell me anything I wanted to know. He explained that her new role is primarily to take care of the family and “to have things ready for me—whether it's food, or sex, or anything else.” While she still performed some administrative work at the school, she was trying very hard to restrict her interactions with people outside her family, particularly men. “She really doesn't mix with men,” her husband confided, “and it's not because of me, it's just the way she is.” Marriage appears to have shifted Layla's sense of accountability quite radically. Beginning her adulthood as an airline stewardess, the stereotypical specimen of female liberation and (literally) jet-setting mobility, she entered on a journey of slow but steady introspection and circumscription of activity. Accountability to herself, expressed as a love for travel and experience and pleasure, was superseded by concern for living right, and for being a Muslim in more than name only. So her sense of accountability—the acknowledgment that one is responsible for providing for the rights of others—shifted first to her students, whose right to their heritage she worked to protect, and then to her husband and child. But this shift was a difficult and unexpected one. Even draped in her long khimar in 1989 she expressed no desire to marry, but instead contravened even her own convictions about gender segregation by reaching out to young men to serve as a model, a habit that made her marriage and seclusion appear all the more dramatic.

In a sense, accountability to God and to the Islamic heritage is expressed as a complex series of accountabilities to other human beings. Sometimes the balance between accounts is a delicate negotiation, as when different sets of auditors—family, peers, the state—are in conflict, as they were for Muhammad Sulayman, Wafa’i Isma‘il, and Layla al- Shamsi. Layla lamented that parents send their children to her school “because they want their children to grow up as good Muslims,” but sadly, some parents “only stress the interior aspects” of Islam and let their daughters, for example, take off the uniform higab after school.[69] Inner piety without the strength to display proper public behavior is a serious flaw, because although God can monitor inner intentions, God's community cannot. Therefore displays of responsible behavior are vital, and the accountability of young people to their families, to their schools, and to their nation is ceaselessly reiterated in the press. Although youth have been receiving increasingly bad press in recent years, as concerns about their moral degradation and political dangerousness are aired, they are regularly redeemed through annual celebration of their struggle through high school exit exams.

Following Foucault (not to mention the lower-grade textbook that compares God's Day of Judgment with the school examination), we can highlight the sense in which the school imposes “a principle of compulsory visibility” [70] upon its students not only through a forced display of signifying dress and daily discipline, but through “highly ritualized” examinations in which “are combined the ceremony of power and the form of the experiment, the deployment of force and the establishment of truth.” [71] The examination, at the critical point of the final secondary exam, is not, however, a closed and secretive ritual. It is, in some ways, a highly public drama. Every summer newspapers publish analyses and debates about testing policy, and page after page of numerical listings detail the results that qualify for entrance into university. The religious press, for its part, uses the occasion to represent Islamic values as the key to academic accomplishment. Parents of students who excel in the general secondary exam extol the role of the family in the student's success. One father allocated 80 percent of his son's achievement to a supportive home environment and 20 percent to what he learned in school.[72] Pious students attribute high scores to higher powers. Sahar Ahmad Fikry, who scored eighth in the nation in the literature section, told a newspaper that she “performed the prayers, and read what she could of the Qur’an every day before beginning her studying and after finishing it…prayer was for her the only escape, to achieve rest and serenity and self-confidence, and gave her the opportunity to organize her time in relation to her studying.” [73]

On 11 June 1989, on the second day of the general secondary examination, almost one-quarter of a million Egyptian students sat for one and a half hours to answer five questions about Islam, questions that would help determine whether or not they would be able to attend university, and which field they could enter. For the first time, “objective” (also known as “American style”) questions were to be used on the examination. As with almost every decision taken by the government, this change was criticized in the opposition press. In the fortnight preceding the examinations, professors of education complained about the new style of question, which they conceded might be appropriate for the sciences or engineering, but which, when applied to religion, would not allow the student “the opportunity to express his views,…to reveal and explain his perspective, and if he had read any other sources or not.” [74]

Reprising the educational discourse of a century before, pundits admitted that while the old method of essay testing might have contributed to “a culture of memory,…of accumulation and retrieval,” the new method, although it would reveal the student's ability to apply scientific methods of thought to theoretical information in the curriculum, would not reveal his “interpretation of values and morals, and the connection of Qur’anic verses and Prophetic sayings to daily life.” [75] (In the end, the only question on the religion section of 1989's general secondary examination that actually included an objective portion was a question about sex: specifically, about the Prophet's advice for cooling the ardor of young celibates.)

Although students didn't find the exam particularly difficult,[76] some of them criticized the religious studies curriculum as weak in general, complaining that the subject, often occupying the last class of the school day, was easily skipped or ignored, and that it would be better taught by “specialized ‘ulama.” [77] For the following academic year, the Ministry of Education, jointly with the Ministry of Religious Endowments, had planned to place “religious visitors” in schools to organize religious meetings and discussions with students.[78] Criticisms of al-Azhar and other official religious institutions for dereliction of duty toward the country's youth—evident in al-Khashab's survey results—have led to public pleas by officials all the way up to the Shaykh of al-Azhar University, that religious scholars listen carefully to the concerns of the young and enter with them into constructive dialogue, so as to avoid the inevitable consequence of defection to alternate sources of inspiration.

Persuasion Beyond the Classroom

One way to engage in this dialogue and to reach citizens no longer in school is through public meetings and forums arranged through youth centers, universities, and summer camps. In recent years officials of the Ministry of Religious Endowments, the Office of the Mufti and the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sport have embarked each summer on an extensive spiritual chautauqua circuit referred to as “The Religious Awareness Caravan” (qawafil al-taw‘iyya al-diniyya). While the locations change, the themes remain largely the same, continuing the discourse of work, responsibility, humility, and accountability introduced in the school curriculum. During the second week of July 1989, for example, senior officials kicked off a new summer program at a youth camp at Abu Qir in Alexandria, answering questions late into the night and trying to “enlighten young people to the dangers that threaten them, like intellectual extremism that wears the cloak of religion, and [drug] addiction that leads to ruin.” [79] The Caravan planned to tour seven governorates in Lower Egypt and the Sinai. The minister of religious endowments announced that the purpose of the meetings was both to “alert youth to the dangers and temptations coming at us from without,” and to correct mistaken religious ideas (tashih al-mafahim al-diniyya al- khati’a). Explaining to an audience in Alexandria that acts of worship are not required by law in Egypt, because its people are “steadfast and religious by nature,” he summoned Egyptian youth to use the strength of religious conviction “for the sake of building and prosperity and increasing production.” [80]

Convention of official meetings and forums—sometimes televised—with groups of young people, professionals, workers, and students is not restricted to the summer months. In late March 1989, religious experts met for three days with students at the University of Sohag, answering questions about higab, the application of Islamic law in Egypt, the perceived gap between al-Azhar and popular concerns, and other matters.[81] The minister of religious endowments announced a program of public meetings to begin during the month of Ramadan, in which religious scholars and officials could “answer the inquiries of citizens and simplify religious matters for them.” [82] In April the minister met with students at the University of Minufiyya[83] and along with the mufti staged a week-long tour of the villages of Upper Egypt.[84] Later he counseled the youth of Damietta.[85] After the summer Caravan, public visits, meetings, and ceremonies continued as officials opened two mosques and answered the public's questions in the governorate of Behera.[86]

Aside from occasionally answering questions on the debt crisis or foreign affairs, officials return regularly to a set of common themes. The first theme is Islam's attitude toward work and production, with the mufti and the minister of religious endowments each warning audiences that “flight from the domains of work and production is a crime that the truth of Islam cannot forgive.” [87] At the same time, a Committee for Religious Affairs chaired by Dr. ‘Abd al-Mun‘im al-Nimr, a specialist in the religious and social problems of youth, announced the need for

deepening religious understanding among children and young people, since these understandings exalt the value of work in all its forms, and this is what we need in the coming stage, to shake mistaken social concepts that are firmly established, like the constant desire for [guaranteed] work with university certificates, and the avoidance of gainful [vocational] employment;…if Islamic values were deeply held, every citizen would honor any work, regardless of its nature.[88]

Almost two years later, under a new plan by President Mubarak to organize “meetings with various portions of the shabab in every workplace and production unit in the governorates, to clarify the view of Islam on the nature of mankind and the call to increased production in conformity with the summons of the Islamic religion,” the theme of work and production was maintained. “Egypt,” according to the minister of religious endowments, “is now living in a period of economic construction that demands the close cooperation of the efforts of the shabab, who hold fast to the true principles of their religion in order to pass through this economic crisis, and provide them with an appropriate life far from the extremism that leads to deviant behavior.” [89]

The second theme of the meetings is that of the dependence of Egyptian youth on the specialized knowledge of the ‘ulama. At the end of August 1989, students at Alexandria University heard the minister of religious endowments, Muhammad Ali Mahgub, warning them away from “merchants of religion who try to achieve their political goals in the name of religion, even if they turn Egypt into seas of blood.” Educated youth are to be makers of da‘wa only, not fuqaha’ (jurists) as well; “Don't mix up these subjects or confuse these practices,” Mahgub warned them. “And don't let the extremists slip into your ranks to achieve their political goals.” Knowledge should be obtained from the knowledgeable (yatalqa al-‘ilm min al-‘ulama), and not to do so is “the cause of violence and terrorism and extremism.” Firing a shot directly at the Muslim Brotherhood, the minister declared,

There's a pretty slogan, “Islam is the Solution” [al-islam huwa al-hall, the campaign slogan of the Muslim Brotherhood]. I say in all frankness: Yes, Islam is the solution to all political, economic, and social problems. But it demands calm, reflective planning, and is far from application until we have calmly, rationally ascertained the means we desire.[90]

A week later in Mansura, he reiterated that “there are things in religion that are not suitable to the comprehension of the shabab, and they need to leave debate about them and judgements on them to specialized scholars so as not to divide the umma or [threaten] its unity.” [91]

The third theme the public meetings share with the Ministry of Education's curricula is the rehearsal of Egypt's pacific heritage. Appeals are made “not to turn to the tools of violence and hatred, nor to the means of destruction and sabotage, and not to turn a stable and secure Egypt into a pit of struggle.” “For all its long history,” students in Alexandria were reminded, “Egypt has been a nation of tolerance and peace, and has never been a nation for extremist ideas, and the state and the shabab are one entity…the duty of the religious youth is to protect Islam's reputation and stay away from extremism; they should be religious in da‘wa only, and not in judging or commanding.” [92]

Throughout the religious campaign the statistical idiom pioneered by Cromer's contemporaries fixed social reality for public consumption. Port Said was assured in early August 1989 that all of the pillars of Islam are observed in Egypt, and that “ninety-five percent of the shari‘a of God…has been applied” as well.[93] Fewer than three weeks later, Alexandrians had to content themselves with the thought that only “ninety percent of the Islamic shari‘a is applied in Egypt,” [94] although a month earlier they had been assured “that moderate ideas now represent more than eighty percent among the shabab, and that the problem of extremist thinking has almost disappeared from Egypt through constructive dialogue.” [95] The Orwellian tint of such statistical formulations is striking, although in this case they do not mask a sinister truth, but merely clothe unverifiable pronouncements in the cloak of numerical certainty, a mode of discourse made possible only by the preparation afforded by the modern school. Even as estimates, the significance of such numbers lies not in their magnitude, but in the fact that the public is receptive to thinking about religious questions quantitatively, as if obedience to God were a variable that the state could measure and adjust like the production of electricity or the tonnage of fertilizer imported each year.


The ruling class is and will continue to be the class of decision makers. Even now it is no longer composed of the traditional political class, but of a composite layer of corporate leaders, high-level administrators, and the heads of the major professional, labor, political, and religious organizations.

What becomes clear from the study of these themes is not only the tension between the country's youth and its official religious establishment, but a tension at the very heart of the state's effort to maintain the authority of that establishment. On the one hand, in order to be considered legitimate spokesmen of the Islamic tradition, the ‘ulama must maintain a distinctive identity through a specialized program of training and socialization with a long history of its own. But on the other hand, in order to make use of this legitimacy they must rely on other professionals—journalists, scientists, secular academics, educators, and government officials—to help frame that tradition in socially useful terms. The dilemma of the professional religious class is that the thinner the tradition spreads itself over social, political, and economic problems—the more useful the tradition is—the more control over it they have to concede to others.

At the other end of the authority relationship stand the students, who are expected to learn to exclude themselves from the practice of ijtihad, independent reasoning about religious questions. In the words of Bourdieu and Passeron, schooling becomes, on this expectation, “the imposition of recognition of the dominant culture as legitimate culture and… of the illegitimacy of the cultures of the dominated groups or classes.” [97] They go on to claim that

one of the least noticed effects of compulsory schooling is that it succeeds in obtaining from the dominated classes a recognition of legitimate knowledge and know-how (e.g. in law, medicine, technology, entertainment or art), entailing the devaluation of the knowledge and know-how they effectively command…and so providing a market for material and especially symbolic products of which the means of production (not least, higher education) are virtually monopolized by the dominant classes (e.g. clinical diagnosis, legal advice, the culture industry, etc.).[98]

The curious feature of the Egyptian case is that the path to cultural legitimacy is not sequential to compulsory schooling, but parallel to it. Within the sphere of religious legitimacy, the holders of authority have an entirely different training from those who do not hold authority. The exclusivity of “higher” education is therefore irrelevant, and in fact the religious programs at al-Azhar tend to attract students from lower socioeconomic strata than many secular university programs. In order for compulsory schooling to relay knowledge of “legitimate” religious culture sufficient to attain its goal of social control, it must use pedagogical techniques that work to undermine the authority of the holders of religious legitimacy by marginalizing the means of cultural production that they possess. But at the same time, religion has been reformulated to apply broadly to areas of social planning that are outside the competence of the religious specialist. One of the results of mass religious instruction is thus to prepare students just enough to question the authority of the keepers of the Muslim tradition, and to question their own exclusion from its manipulation.

This dilemma is a special case of a distinction Raymond Williams has drawn between restricted cultural production, intended for other culture producers, and large-scale cultural production, intended for the general public.[99] It is a special case because traditionally trained religious scholars are charged both with the maintenance of their legitimate and legitimizing Islamic discourse, and also with the production—through very different means—of belief for the general public. The complicating factor is that groups and institutions that are more effective at the latter—schools and the market—can outcompete the traditional scholars and overwhelm their production, based in part on new organizations of knowledge production (the committee, the Children's Culture Unit, the interdisciplinary team of experts). This kind of knowledge-produced- for-exchange is what Lyotard labels “postmodern”; it is knowledge whose claim to attention is its social efficiency and the speed with which it is produced, rather than its place in a metanarrative of progress or salvation.[100] The state-subsidized intellectual production techniques of the ‘ulama, protected from market forces, are made to represent a standard against which “innovation” is measured,[101] and is thus forced into an appearance of false uniformity and spurious completeness (it is “the Islam”).

Rather than benefiting from its patronage of the ‘ulama, the state has suffered from the public realization that there are, empirically, a number of alternatives available on the market, and that the state version hardly looks like the most disinterested. “One of the difficulties of orthodox defence against heretical transformations,” according to Bourdieu, “is the fact that polemics imply a form of recognition; adversaries whom one would prefer to destroy by ignoring them cannot be combatted without consecrating them.” [102] Claiming their own return to sacred sources, lay religious intellectuals combat the subsidized ‘ulama by capitalizing on their access to market-oriented organizations and technologies and working to create a new and enlivened tradition of religious literature.[103]


1. Ninth grade religious studies textbook, 1988–89, p. 181. [BACK]

2. Eighth grade religious studies textbook, 1987–88, p. 140. [BACK]

3. Eighth grade religious studies textbook, 1987–88, pp. 198–99. [BACK]

4. Bowring, “Report on Egypt and Candia,” p. 5. [BACK]

5. For the Yemeni understanding of maturation, see Messick, The Calligraphic State, pp. 77–84; for rural Egypt, see Ammar, Growing Up in an Egyptian Village, pp. 125–26. [BACK]

6. Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman, interview, 26 July 1989, pp. 521–26. [BACK]

7. For an exemplary treatment of this theme, see Anna Tsing, In the Realm of the Diamond Queen (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993). [BACK]

8. Eighth grade religious studies textbook, 1987–88, p. 166. [BACK]

9. Diane Singerman, Avenues of Participation: Family Politics and Networks in Urban Quarters of Cairo (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1995). [BACK]

10. Twelfth grade religious studies textbook, 1989–90, pp. 44–45. [BACK]

11. Ninth grade religious studies textbook, 1988–89, p. 97. An explanation of the mahram had been provided in the ninth grade in the context of the Pilgrimage. [BACK]

12. Singerman, Avenues of Participation, pp. 85–94. [BACK]

13. Twelfth grade religious studies textbook, 1989–90, pp. 51–55. [BACK]

14. Dr. ‘Abd al-Subur Shahin, al-Akhbar, 1 July 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

15. L. Abu-Lughod, “Finding a Place for Islam.” [BACK]

16. Wadi‘ Thaluth Luqa, al-Ahram, 17 October 1988, p. 7. Significantly, the writer is a Copt, not a Muslim, indicating how widespread is the horror—and the attraction—of these shows. [BACK]

17. Al-Jumhuriyya, 13 September 1989, p. 5. [BACK]

18. Al-Ahram, 6 February 1989, p. 3. [BACK]

19. Al-Ahram, 9 June 1989, p. 13. [BACK]

20. Al-Nur, 12 September 1989, p. 3. [BACK]

21. The term is from R. Laurence Moore's analysis of religious publishing in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century America in his Selling God: American Religion in the Marketplace of Culture (New York: Oxford University Press, 1994). [BACK]

22. Moore, Selling God, p. 22. [BACK]

23. This Qur’an commentary was banned in Egypt. [BACK]

24. Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman, interview, 24 July 1989, p. 522. [BACK]

25. Alexander Flores, “Egypt: A New Secularism?” Middle East Report, no. 153 (July–August 1988), p. 27. [BACK]

26. Rizzuto, Birth of the Living God, p. 202. [BACK]

27. Muhammad Sulayman, interview, 7 August 1989, pp. 559–60. [BACK]

28. Seventh grade religious studies textbook, 1986–87, p. 40. [BACK]

29. Seventh grade religious studies textbook, 1986–87, pp. 40, 83, 87–88, 156. [BACK]

30. Seventh grade religious studies textbook, 1986–87, p. 158. [BACK]

31. Eighth grade religious studies textbook, 1987–88, p. 133. [BACK]

32. Eighth grade religious studies textbook, 1987–88, p. 133. [BACK]

33. Eighth grade religious studies textbook, 1987–88, p. 48. [BACK]

34. Eighth grade religious studies textbook, 1987–88, p. 205. [BACK]

35. Eighth grade religious studies textbook, 1987–88, p. 205. [BACK]

36. Eighth grade religious studies textbook, 1987–88, p. 188. For a similar example from another “new nation,” see Robert J. Foster, “Take Care of Public Telephones: Moral Education and Nation-State Formation in Papua New Guinea,” Public Culture 4 (1992), pp. 31–45. [BACK]

37. Meriem Verges, “ “I Am Living in a Foreign Country Here”: A Conversation with an Algerian “Hittiste,” ” Middle East Report, no. 192 (January–February 1995), pp. 14–17. [BACK]

38. L. Abu-Lughod, Writing Women's Worlds, pp. 236–37; “Finding a Place for Islam,” p. 495. [BACK]

39. Evelyn A. Early, Baladi Women of Cairo: Playing with an Egg and a Stone (Boulder, Colo.: Lynne Reinner Publishers, 1993), pp. 46, 118, 121–25. [BACK]

40. Muhammad Sulayman, interview, 4 August 1989, 552–53. [BACK]

41. Samia Mustafa al-Khashab, Al-Shabab wa al-tayyar al-islami fi al-mujtama‘ al-Misri al-mu‘asir: Dirasa ijtima‘iyya midaniyya (Cairo: Dar al-thaqafa al-‘arabiyya, 1988), p. 77. [BACK]

42. Al-Khashab, Al-Shabab, pp. 136–37. [BACK]

43. Al-Khashab, Al-Shabab, p. 80. [BACK]

44. Al-Khashab, Al-Shabab, pp. 104–5. [BACK]

45. Al-Khashab, Al-Shabab, pp. 116–17. Interestingly, most of their knowledge of these groups came from specialized religious books and general-interest newspapers and magazines: 16.9 percent had gotten their information on Islamic groups from classmates who were members; 28.2 percent from religious meetings; 59.6 percent from specialized religious books; and 52 percent from the press (p. 123). [BACK]

46. Al-Khashab, Al-Shabab, p. 118. [BACK]

47. Ninth grade religious studies textbook, 1988–89, pp. 3–4. [BACK]

48. Al-Ahram, 2 April 1991, p. 5. [BACK]

49. Ninth grade religious studies textbook, 1988–89, p. 189. [BACK]

50. Ninth grade religious studies textbook, 1988–89, p. 188. [BACK]

51. Ninth grade religious studies textbook, 1988–89, p. 189. [BACK]

52. Ninth grade religious studies textbook, 1988–89, p. 191. [BACK]

53. Al-Akhbar, 27 July 1993, p. 7. [BACK]

54. For a good review of the social origins of prominent Muslim political activists, see Valerie Hoffman, “Muslim Fundamentalists: Psychosocial Profiles,” in Fundamentalisms Comprehended, vol. 5 of The Fundamentalisms Project, ed. Marty and Appleby (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995), pp. 199–230. [BACK]

55. Al-Tasawwuf al-islami 11, 4 (Ramadan 1409 [April 1989]), pp. 18–19. [BACK]

56. Al-Tasawwuf al-islami 11, 4 (Ramadan 1409 [April 1989]), pp. 18–19. [BACK]

57. Tenth grade religious studies textbook, 1986–87, p. 38. [BACK]

58. Tenth grade religious studies textbook, 1986–87, p. 83. [BACK]

59. Tenth grade religious studies textbook, 1986–87, p. 84. [BACK]

60. Twelfth grade religious studies textbook, 1989–90, p. 78. [BACK]

61. Twelfth grade religious studies textbook, 1989–90, p. 78. [BACK]

62. Twelfth grade religious studies textbook, 1989–90, pp. 130–31. [BACK]

63. Pierre Bourdieu, “Authorized Language: The Social Conditions of the Effectiveness of Ritual Discourse,” in Language and Symbolic Power (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1991), pp. 109–11. [BACK]

64. Singerman, Avenues of Participation, p. 164. [BACK]

65. Layla al-Shamsi, interview, 24 September 1989, p. 656. [BACK]

66. Layla al-Shamsi, interview, 24 September 1989, p. 658. [BACK]

67. Layla al-Shamsi, interview, 9 August 1989, pp. 574–77. [BACK]

68. Layla al-Shamsi, interview, 9 August 1989, pp. 574–77. [BACK]

69. Layla al-Shamsi, interview, 24 September 1989, p. 655. [BACK]

70. In a literal as well as a figurative sense, it turns out. In May 1996 the Egyptian Constitutional Court upheld a 1994 decree by the minister of education banning girls from wearing the face-covering niqab to school. [BACK]

71. Foucault, Discipline and Punish, pp. 186, 184. [BACK]

72. Al-Nur, 16 August 1989, p. 3. [BACK]

73. Al-Nur, 16 August 1989, p. 3. [BACK]

74. Dr. Fathi Yusuf Mubarak, Professor of Curriculum and Teaching Methodology at the College of Education, ‘Ain Shams, quoted in al-Ahali, 23 May 1989, p. 10. [BACK]

75. Dr. Hasan Shahata, assistant professor of education at the University of ‘Ain Shams, quoted in al-Ahali, 23 May 1989, p. 10. [BACK]

76. Al-Akhbar, 12 June 1989, p. 1. [BACK]

77. Al-Nur, 16 August 1989, p. 3. [BACK]

78. Al-Ahram, 5 August 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

79. Al-Wafd, 10 July 1989, p. 2. [BACK]

80. Al-Ahram, 10 July 1989, p. 8; 7 July 1989, p. 6. [BACK]

81. Al-Wafd, 31 March 1989, p. 6. [BACK]

82. Al-Ahram, 28 March 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

83. Al-Ahram, 8 March 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

84. Al-Ahram, 17 April 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

85. Al-Ahram, 27 April 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

86. Al-Jumhuriyya, 16 September 1989, p. 7. [BACK]

87. Al-Akhbar, 31 July 1989, p. 6. “The Minister of Waqfs said that flight from the domains of work and production are destructive to society.” Al-Ahram, 2 September 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

88. Al-Ahram, 22 July 1989, p. 9. [BACK]

89. Al-Ahram, 2 April 1991, p. 5. [BACK]

90. Al-Akhbar, 25 August 1989, p. 3. [BACK]

91. Al-Ahram, 2 September 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

92. Al-Ahram, 25 August 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

93. Al-Ahram, 5 August 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

94. Al-Akhbar, 25 August 1989, p. 3. [BACK]

95. Al-Akhbar, 21 July 1989, p. 6. [BACK]

96. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, p. 14. [BACK]

97. Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction in Education, p. 41. [BACK]

98. Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction in Education, pp. 41–42. [BACK]

99. Pierre Bourdieu, The Field of Cultural Production: Essays in Art & Literature (New York: Columbia University Press, 1993), p. 115. [BACK]

100. Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition, pp. 52–53. [BACK]

101. Williams, Sociology of Culture, pp. 106–7. [BACK]

102. Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, p. 42. [BACK]

103. Bourdieu, Field of Cultural Production, pp. 83–84. [BACK]

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