Cairo as Capital of Islamic Institutions? Al-azhar Islamic University, the State, and the City<sup>1</sup>

Diane Singerman

in Cairo Contested

Published by American University in Cairo Press

Published in print October 2009 | ISBN: 9789774162886
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9781617970351 | DOI:
Cairo as Capital of Islamic Institutions? Al-azhar Islamic University, the State, and the City1

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This chapter reveals the “mapping of state power” as the state implements its master plans, designs parks, buildings, and communities; enforces its regulations and implements court decisions; arrests people and collects fines; demolishes buildings; shutters workshops; bulldozes markets; and forcibly “removes” residents and their noisy, polluting, or “dirty” workshops and businesses from one area to another due to the “public interest” or disasters such as fires, earthquakes, or rock slides. It also argues that globalization, cyberspace, and the new media have allowed “peripheral 'Ulama” to become central to the Egyptian public sphere. Before looking at the expansion of the new religious networks, it is useful to explain how Nasser's reforms were justified and integrated into the intertwined and ambivalent mythical tales of tradition and modernity centrality and decline, that made al-Azhar a nationally emblematic institution through its physical presence in Islamic Cairo and in the functions it represents. It also describes the enlargement of al-Azhar's territories.

Keywords: Cairo; Islamic University; al-Azhar; Nasser; globalization; 'Ulama; state power; cyberspace; new media

Chapter.  7884 words. 

Subjects: International Relations

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