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1. Ana-Maria Rizzuto, M.D., The Birth of the Living God: A Psychoanalytic Study (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1979), p. 8. [BACK]

2. See my “The Political Economy of Religious Commodities in Cairo,” American Anthropologist 97, 1 (March 1995), pp. 51–68; and “Signposts along the Road: Monumental Public Writing in Egypt,” Anthropology Today 11, 4 (1995), pp. 8–13. [BACK]

3. This phenomenon is also referred to, by its participants, as “al-sahwa al-islamiyya” (the Islamic awakening), and by its critics as “al-islam al-siyasi” (political Islam), among other labels. I prefer “Islamic Trend” as a relatively neutral term that captures both the political sense of the recent “Islamism,” which emphasizes political ideology, as well as the quiet but deepening spiritual engagement of large parts of the Egyptian population. [BACK]

4. See Andrea Rugh, “Reshaping Personal Relations in Egypt,” in Fundamentalisms and Society, vol. 2 of The Fundamentalism Project, ed. Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993), pp. 151–80; also Gehad Auda, “The “Normalization” of the Islamic Movement in Egypt from the 1970s to the Early 1990s,” in Accounting for Fundamentalisms, vol. 4 of The Fundamentalism Project, ed. Marty and Appleby (1994), pp. 374–412. [BACK]

5. Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics (CAPMAS), Statistical Yearbook, Arab Republic of Egypt, 1988 (Cairo: CAPMAS, 1988), pp. 174–78. [BACK]

6. CAPMAS, Al-Ihsa’at al-thaqafiyya: Al-Idha‘a wal-sahafa 1983 (Cairo: CAPMAS, 1985), p. 28. I want to thank Sayyid Taha of CAPMAS for going out of his way to provide me with the unpublished information for 1986. [BACK]

7. 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). [BACK]

8. Gilles Kepel, Muslim Extremism in Egypt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), p. 22. [BACK]

9. For example, in the 1984 elections to the Egyptian People's Assembly, candidates supported by the Muslim Brotherhood won seven seats in an alliance with the Wafd Party, an alliance that captured a total of 65 of the 455 places in the Assembly. In the 1987 elections, the Brotherhood broke its alliance with the Wafd and instead ran its candidates with two smaller parties, the Liberal and the Socialist Workers Parties; Brotherhood candidates captured 35 of the 60 seats won by that coalition. Saad Eddin Ibrahim, “Taqdim,” in Nemat Guenena's Tandhim al-jihad: Hal huwa al-badil al-islami fi Misr? (Cairo: Dar al-huriyya, 1988), p. 16. Considering the fact that Egyptian elections are always fixed in favor of the ruling National Democratic Party, these results probably underestimate the strength of political sympathy for the Muslim Brotherhood and other representatives of the Islamic Trend. [BACK]

10. Michael Taussig, The Nervous System (London: Routledge, 1992), p. 126. [BACK]

11. Karl Marx, “The Grundrisse,” in The Marx-Engels Reader, ed. Robert C. Tucker (New York: Norton, 1978), p. 230. [BACK]

12. Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction in Education, p. 38. [BACK]

13. Lambert Kelabora, “Assumptions Underlying Religious Instruction in Indonesia,” Comparative Education 15 (1979), p. 333. [BACK]

14. Eickelman, Knowledge and Power in Morocco, p. 168 [BACK]

15. Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1983), p. 39. [BACK]

16. Daniel Lerner, The Passing of Traditional Society (New York: The Free Press, 1964), p. 96. [BACK]

17. The “Protocols” are a famous series of anti-Semitic tracts with a tangled and horribly fascinating history; see Norman Cohn, Warrant for Genocide (Brown Judaic Studies 23) (Chico, Calif.: Scholar's Press, 1981). [BACK]

18. Walter Ong, Interfaces of the Word: Studies in the Evolution of Consciousness and Culture (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977), p. 90. [BACK]

19. The concept is Walter Ong's, from his Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word (London: Methuen, 1982), p. 135. [BACK]

20. In addition to Messick's The Calligraphic State, see his “Legal Documents and the Concept of “Restricted Literacy” in a Traditional Society,” International Journal of the Sociology of Language, no. 42 (1974), pp. 41–52; and “The Mufti, the Text and the World: Legal Interpretation in Yemen,” Man, n.s., 21 (1986), pp. 102–19. [BACK]

21. Williams, Sociology of Culture, p. 111. [BACK]

22. Annabelle Sreberny-Mohammadi and Ali Mohammadi, Small Media, Big Revolution: Communication, Culture, and the Iranian Revolution (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1994). [BACK]

23. “Official reports on the Arabic broadcasts (Strictly Confidential),” item 7361, James Heyworth-Dunne Collection, Hoover Institution Archives, Stanford University. [BACK]

24. Lila Abu-Lughod, “Finding a Place for Islam: Egyptian Television Serials and the National Interest,” Public Culture 5 (1993), p. 500. [BACK]

25. Lila Abu-Lughod, Writing Women's Worlds (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), p. 183. [BACK]

26. L. Abu-Lughod, “Finding a Place for Islam,” p. 495; “The Romance of Resistance: Tracing Transformations of Power through Bedouin Women,” American Ethnologist 17, 1 (1990), p. 52; Smadar Lavie, The Poetics of Military Occupation (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1990), pp. 96, 169, 246, 295, 349, 350, 353. [BACK]

27. Williams, Sociology of Culture, pp. 99–100. [BACK]

28. Jean-François Lyotard, The Postmodern Condition: A Report on Knowledge (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984), pp. 4–5. [BACK]

29. Williams, Sociology of Culture, pp. 102–3. [BACK]

30. None of these institutions has an imprimatur in the sense that the Roman Catholic Church does, but their reputation stands as legitimation for products issued under their supervision. However, academics who collect clandestinely produced Islamic material in Egypt tell me that the way to tell whether it is “hot,” i.e., likely to get the author arrested, is to check the end pages for the registration number for Dar al-Kutub, the national library. If it's not registered, it's been judged by its producers too controversial to bring to the attention of the state. [BACK]

31. Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman, interview, 26 July 1989, pp. 521–22. [BACK]

32. Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman, interview, 26 July 1989, p. 525. [BACK]

33. Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman, interview, 16 February 1990, pp. 282–83. [BACK]

34. Amina al-Sa‘id, al-Wafd, 7 April 1989, p. 6. [BACK]

35. Umm Samira, interview, 27 April 1989, p. 363. [BACK]

36. This conversation was particularly ironic as it took place in a bar on the last day of Ramadan, where he had had one of his Egyptian friends, a dual citizen with a Swiss passport, order an extra drink for him. Egyptians may not purchase alcohol during Ramadan, unless they can prove they're not Egyptian (p. 367). [BACK]

37. Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman, interview, 16 February 1989, pp. 281–82. Based on this hadith, some American Muslim converts “refer to themselves as reverts, arguing that every child is born a Muslim.” New York Times, 13 November 1990, p. A12. [BACK]

38. Ahmad Rabi‘ al-Hamid Khalaq Allah, Al-Fikar al-tarbawiy wa tatbiqatihi laday jama‘at al-ikhwan al-muslimin (Cairo: Maktaba Wahba, 1983), pp. 133–34. [BACK]

39. “Takhiru li-nutfikum, fa’inna al-‘araq dassas,” al-Liwa’ al-islami, no. 357, 24 November 1988, p. 17; ‘Abdallah Nasih ‘Alwan, Tarbiya al-awlad fi al-Islam (Cairo: Dar al-Islam, 1985), pp. 42–43. [BACK]

40. ‘Alwan, Tarbiya al-awlad, p. 43. The author adds that marriage with close relatives is not recommended; exogamy protects the child from “infectious diseases [and] hereditary ailments, widening the circle of family familiarity, and developing social ties.” Citing two hadiths of the Prophet (for which, he notes, he is unable to find sources): “Don't marry a relative, or the child will be created scrawny,” and “Marry outside, and don't debilitate,” he reiterates the agreement of modern scientific findings with the ancient wisdom of Islam: “The science of heredity has proven as well that marriage with relatives makes weak progeny…and that the children inherit blameworthy moral qualities and disapproved social habits. This truth was established by the Messenger of Islam (God's peace and blessings upon him), fourteen centuries ago, before science could say the same thing and bring his truths to light for those who can see it” (p. 44). [BACK]

41. Samia ‘Abd al-Rahman, interview, 16 February 1989, p. 280. [BACK]

42. Karim Shafik, interview, 9 August 1990, pp. 570–71. [BACK]

43. Quoted in the editorial of al-Liwa’ al-islami, no. 357, 24 November 1988; and by Dr. Ahmad Fu’ad al-Sharbini during a United Nations conference on the Rights of Children the previous week, in al-Ahram, 23 November 1988, p. 3. [BACK]

44. Silwa Mashhur, in al-Liwa’ al-islami, no. 357, 24 November 1990, p. 18. [BACK]

45. Al-Liwa’ al-islami, no. 357, 24 November 1988, pp. 1, 17. [BACK]

46. Interview, 12 June 1989, p. 447. [BACK]

47. This phrase is Timothy Mitchell's, Colonising Egypt, p. 132. [BACK]

48. Interview, 12 June 1989, p. 447. [BACK]

49. Mahmoud Mahdi, al-Ahram, 24 March 1989, p. 13. [BACK]

50. During the academic year 1988–89, the sixth grade was abolished in a reorganization mandated by the Ministry of Education, resulting in the combination of the sixth and seventh grades. In 1995, this resulted in a doubling of the entering class at the already overcrowded Cairo University. The ministry is considering reversing its decision. [BACK]

51. In August of 1989, the Shaykh of al-Azhar, Jad al-Haqq ‘Ali Jad al-Haqq, agreed to submit to al-Azhar's High Council a Ministry of Education proposal that would bring the curriculum at al-Azhar primary institutes into line with the curricula of the Ministry of Education beginning the following academic year. The aim of the plan was the “raising [of] the practical educational level at al-Azhar and its adaptation to the spirit of the age, tying it to the solution of social problems.” Al-Jumhuriyya, 26 August 1989, p. 6. [BACK]

52. Wolfe, trans., Egypt's Second Five-Year Plan, p. 143; Statistical Yearbook, 1977, p. 146; Statistical Yearbook, 1988, p. 158; Susan H. Cochrane, Kalpana Mehra, and Ibrahim Taha Osheba, “The Educational Participation of Egyptian Children,” World Bank Discussion Paper, December 1986. [BACK]

53. The average Egyptian's image of proper education is very much tied to the “bookishness” derided by school reformers. Aisha Rafea, in an article on the Pyramids School in Giza, quotes a concerned mother:

“I am determined to transfer my son to another school by the beginning of the new school year,” said one mother who expressed great dissatisfaction with the fact that children are given no assignments at the Pyramids School, and are not taught the alphabet while children at their age at other schools start learning how to write at KG1 level. “Compared to his sister who is the same age but goes to the Ramses College, my son hardly knows how to write,” she added, saying that in her opinion the year at the Pyramids School was a total waste of time. Yet she admitted that her son loves his school and his sister doesn't. The reason for that, she thinks, is that “his school is like a club while hers is a real place of education.” (“The School of No Homework,” Cairo Today, February 1989, pp. 46–47)


54. Cromer wrote in his Report for 1903 that

the Egyptians, as a race, are somewhat inclined to sedentary pursuits, and until recent years the educational system confirmed, rather than corrected, this tendency. A few years ago, physical drill and English sports were introduced into the curriculum of the Government schools. The effect upon the physique and character of the pupils has been so manifestly beneficial that their advantages are now generally recognized, even in quarters where their introduction was at first opposed. (Parl. Pap., 1904, vol. 111, p. 267)

On the physical education movement in Europe, see J. S. Hurt, “Drill, Discipline and the Elementary School Ethos,” in Phillip McCann, ed., Popular Education and Socialization in the Nineteenth Century (London: Methuen & Co. Ltd., 1977), pp. 167–92. In addition to tightening school discipline, the physical education movement was motivated by the fear of bodily degeneration associated with urbanization. For a contemporary view, see Lord Brabazon, “Decay of Bodily Strength in Towns,” The Nineteenth Century 21 (1887), pp. 673–76. Aside from obvious humanitarian motivations, physical education, hygiene, and nutritional programs were called for in Egypt for political and economic reasons. Egypt's minister of education wrote in 1943 of assertions “that the rising generation is weaker in body, possesses less fortitude, and is more impatient with life than the preceding generation. Landowners bitterly complain of the indifferent health of agricultural labourers and their physical debility which has adversely affected their productiveness to a marked extent.” El-Hilali, Report on Educational Reform, p. 48. [BACK]

55. This poster was inspired by a similar picture on page 5 of the first grade religion textbook. [BACK]

56. Dr. Surur later became—as of 1994—Speaker of Egypt's People's Assembly. [BACK]

57. As of March 1996, Tantawi is the new Shaykh of al-Azhar, replacing the recently deceased Jad al-Haqq ‘Ali Jad al-Haqq. [BACK]

58. Labib al-Saba‘i, al-Ahram, 31 March 1989, p. 13. [BACK]

59. Dr. Muhammad Yahya, al-Sha‘b, 23 May 1989, p. 7. On the subject of maps bearing the name of Israel, Dr. Ahmad Fathy Surur, minister of education, promised the Majlis al-sha‘b on 14 May 1989 that “all maps not bearing the name of Palestine would be burned.” Al-Wafd, 16 May 1989, p. 1. [BACK]

60. Al-Sha‘b, 23 May 1989, p. 11. [BACK]

61. Janet Abu-Lughod, “Rural Migration and Politics in Egypt,” in Rural Politics and Social Change in the Middle East, ed. Richard Antoun and Ilya Harik (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1972), p. 326. [BACK]

62. Umm Samira, interview, 2 June 1989, pp. 415–16. [BACK]

63. Wafa’i Isma‘il, interview, 7 August 1989, p. 554 [BACK]

64. Bourdieu and Passeron, Reproduction in Education, p. 44. [BACK]

65. Article 6 in Qanun al-ta‘lim raqam 139 lil-sana 1981 (Cairo: al-Hay’a al-‘amma li-shu’un al-mutabi‘ al-amiriyya, 1986), p. 3. [BACK]

66. Al-Jumhuriyya, 22 September 1989, p. 7. [BACK]

67. Even given new techniques of inculcation, some Egyptian Christians argue that reliance on the Qur’an as a text has a negative effect on the Egyptian educational system in general. A recent graduate of ‘Ain Shams University told me, “The essays that people write [in school] are repetitive and unorganized, because the Qur’an is that way, and people are taught, even if indirectly, to mimic that style, held up as a model of the best there is. We have no multiple-choice tests here.” Jihan al-Manar, interview, 17 October 1988, pp. 81–82. [BACK]

68. Interview conducted by Hamid ‘Izz al-Din, al-Akhbar, 18 August 1989, p. 4. [BACK]

69. Al-Ahram, 3 May 1989, p. 6. [BACK]

70. Al-Akhbar, 16 June 1989, p. 1; al-Ahram, 13 August 1989, p. 8. [BACK]

71. Mahmud Mahdi, al-Ahram, 12 May 1989, p. 13. [BACK]

72. Sometimes the financial incentives are not quite as compelling; the magazine al-Tasawwuf al-islami (Islamic Sufism), for example, sponsored a contest in which individuals qualified for prizes by answering a few questions about Sufism; the prizes ranged from £E 50 ($20) for first prize to a year's subscription to the magazine, for those placing thirteenth to twentieth. [BACK]

73. Al-Ahram, 3 May 1989, p. 6. [BACK]

74. Al-Ahram, 10 February 1989, p. 11. [BACK]

75. Denis Sullivan provides a comprehensive analysis of these institutions in Private Voluntary Organizations in Egypt: Islamic Development, Private Initiative, and State Control (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1994). [BACK]

76. CAPMAS, Statistical Yearbook, 1988, pp. 135, 137. [BACK]

77. Samir Shawqi, interview, 5 August 1989, p. 541. [BACK]

78. Al-Wafd, 20 July 1989, p. 6. [BACK]

79. Al-Muslim al-saghir, September 1988, p. 32. [BACK]

80. Laylat al-Qadr (The night of power) is the anniversary of the date during Ramadan when Muhammad first began to receive revelations from God through the angel Gabriel. [BACK]

81. Al-Ahram, 12 May 1989, p. 13. [BACK]

82. Interview, 16 August 1989, p. 585. [BACK]

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