The Future of Culture in Egypt

Th Husayn

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
The Future of Culture in Egypt

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A childhood accident rendered him totally blind, but he persisted in studies, going on to al-Azhar and attending lectures at the new Egyptian University in Cairo. He became a member of the circle that formed around Lutf al-Sayyid and the newspaper al-Jardah. In 1915 he went to France for studies for four years and returned to front stage in the literary and academic life in Egypt. He was a university administrator and later Minister of Education. His ideas were precocious for Egypt of the early twentieth century: in 1926 his book rejecting pre-Islamic poetry as forgery caused a scandal and was taken off the book stands, and in 1938 his Future of Culture in Egypt was equally provocative.

The book, published in 1938, from which this selection is excerpted received a critical reception from the religious authorities, reminiscent of that which they had given to Ali Abd al-Raziqs book. Taha Husayn writes that Egypt is not an Arab but an African state. Indeed, the identity of modern Egypt was rooted in its ancient Pharaonic civilization, which he believes constituted a unified system of thought, institutions, and practices. If external influences counted for anything in the creation of Egyptian identity, they were of Mediterranean provenance. Less a historian than a man of letters, Taha Husayn here reifies the Egyptian mind which, he believes, shares much with Greece and Europe but very little with areas east of the Levantine coast.

Chapter.  2284 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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