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The Fall and Rise of the Veil: Leila Ahmed There was an earthquake in the Arab- Islamic personality, not only in Egypt but in the entire Arab world. (Sociology.

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Presentation on theme: "The Fall and Rise of the Veil: Leila Ahmed There was an earthquake in the Arab- Islamic personality, not only in Egypt but in the entire Arab world. (Sociology."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Fall and Rise of the Veil: Leila Ahmed There was an earthquake in the Arab- Islamic personality, not only in Egypt but in the entire Arab world. (Sociology 156)

2 The Muslim Brotherhood Founded 1928, initially composed of the urban working class and recent rural immigrants, support later spreads to middle class Opposed incompetent, corrupt colonial govt, took a strongly anti-imperialist stand Built mosques, schools, hospitals, provided support for the poor, ambulance service, all for free to the general population – Provided services govt would or could not Supported Palestinians after foundation of Israel – British prohibited govt from doing so 2

3 The Muslim Brotherhood Goals – To free Egypt & other Islamic countries from colonial power – Reinstitute Islamic law, eventually the return of the caliphate – Purify society of immorality (gambling, prostitution, alcohol, etc.) – Universal Brotherhood of mankind and the global hegemony of the Islamic nation – Rejected national identity based in geography, promoted pan-Islamic unity – Emphasized its own stance of activist social responsibility and its work in the service of promoting a just social and economic order grounded in Islamic principles. – Jihad = the struggle to promote their form of Islam & oppose imperialism Officially non-violent Saw itself as distinct from Muslim masses, a vanguard Banned by govt in Dec. 1948, founder, Hasan al-Banna, assassinated by govt agents in Feb. 1949 (52-55) 3

4 The Muslim Brotherhood High level of membership overlap with the Muslim World League, backed by the Saudis Saudi Arabia & Wahhabi (Salafist) Islam – Sunni movement, official religion of Saudi Arabia – Strong emphasis on subordination of womenRadical emphasis on oneness of God, aggressive interpretation of what constitutes idolatry, militantly opposed to other forms of Islam, especially Sufism – Differs from Brotherhood, with its political & social justice emphasis, wish to minimize doctrinal & theological differences, desire for pan- Islamic unity. Thus, MB banned from proselytizing in SA despite alliance Members of the Brotherhood often highly educated, experienced in networking, organization – Generally, high level of secular training & education, many engineers, doctors, chemists, etc. All knowledge is divine (93-101) 4

5 Sayyid Qutb 1906-1966: Author turned Islamist theorist, Muslim Brotherhoods leading intellectual, tortured & executed under Nasser – Argues so-called Muslim societies are in fact jahilyya societies Term traditionally meant the ignorance of the world prior to the pre-Islamic Arabia, but here refers to a world in which the truths of God have been willfully corrupted by men Thus, non-Islamist Muslims not truly Muslims, and are thus legitimate targets of violence – All of society (law, art, education) must be based on Islam – There is no legislation but from God Islam as counter to both capitalism & socialism – Proposes jihad, violent and nonviolent, as an additional pillar of Islam Islamists as vanguard, professional revolutionaries Leadership argues against Qutbs ideas under Sadat, but he remains influential among militants from then until now, viewed as a martyr (70-72) 5

6 Sayyid Qutb Good relationship w/the Brotherhood I hate and despise Westerners, the British, the French, the Dutch, and now the Americans who were at one time rusted by many and also I hate and despise just as much those Egyptians and Arabs who continue to trust Western conscience. For Qutb, womens responsibility to society was synonymous with her biological function in life. – Family & childrearing defined womans identity, importance, and dignity. – No hesitation in confining them to permanent servitude to their husbands and families. – Unusually for an Egyptian of the era, never married, views on women became distinctly less empathetic and more extreme in his view of women over time. Qutbs views not characteristic of Brotherhood position in the 70s and after (107-109) 6

7 Zainab al-Ghazali 1917-2005: unsung mother of the Brotherhood, key activist, leader, & organizer – Joined Egyptian Feminist Union, left b/c it was not the right way for Muslim women, who needed to be called to Islam. As all rights derived from Islam, there is no woman question distinct from the emancipation of humanity, which is possible only through the restoration of Islamic law as sovereign. Invited by al-Banna to lead Muslim Sisterhood, but initially preferred to keep her Muslim Womens Association as an independent ally – After 1948 ban and persecution of Brotherhood, repents & pledges allegiance to al-Banna (109-111) 7

8 Zainab al-Ghazali Believed in womens subordination to husband, but also in stronger subordination to God, so she divorced her first husband b/c marriage distracted from activism – Believed women could work, be involved in politics, etc. as long as they also fulfilled their roles as wife and mother Remains Brotherhood standpoint If you dont go back to your religion and dress as I do, youll go to hell. Even if youre a good Muslim and you pray and do what is right; if you dress the way you do all your good deeds will be canceled out. (111-115) 8

9 Nasser July 1952, coup by Nasser & the Free Officers – Defeat by Israel in 1848 had delegitimized the govt – Bans the Brotherhood Ideology of pan-Arabism, national pride, socialism – Free education through university to all who qualify – Allied w/Soviet union – The trend toward socialism in Egypt was not, however, accompanied by a Soviet-style rejection of religion. On the contrary, the Nasser regime was well aware of the importance of religion and of laying claim to and acquiring legitimacy and authority through appeals to religion. – Secular, not secularist (52-59) 9

10 Arab Cold War Tension w/ rising Saudi Arabia results in Arab Cold War – Egypt allied with Soviets, Saudi Arabia w/US – Saudi Arabia welcomed many highly educated exiled members of the Brotherhood Nasser denounces Saudi Arabia as supporting imperialist causes, practicing a reactionary and stifling form of Islam that would lead to retardation and decline. – Opposition to class barriers, commitment to equality results in commitment to womens equality, opposition to the veil. Majority of women unveiled. – Lack of veil on women in senior govt positions implicitly proclaimed and affirmed the national ideal of women as equal citizens. In response, SA founds & funds the Muslim World League – Staffed largely by Brothers – Pan-Islamic, not pan-Arabic – Condemn socialism & Arab nationalism as un-Islamic, accuse irreligious Nasser of leading people away from Islam into secular ideologies Tension remains in contemporary Egypt SA backs the Brotherhood in Egypt (60-64) 10

11 1967: The Six Day War Nasser had privileged the military, promised to never again be defeated by Israel after 1948 – High prestige & funding In period of high tension, Israeli surprise attack wipes out the air force in minutes, inflicting 12,000 fatalities. – Catastrophic defeat for Egypt, Syria, Jordan Officer: – The Egyptian officers and soldiers saw their colleagues burned by napalm. We saw the army of our country destroyed in hours. We thought we would conquer Israel in hours.... I discovered that it wasnt Israel that defeated us, but it was the [Egyptian] regime that defeated us, and I started to be against the regime.... there was an earthquake in the Arab-Islamic personality, not only in Egypt but in the entire Arab world. Nasserism discredited (65) – Weber: necessity of collective self-respect 11

12 1967: The Six Day War After the defeat, a wave of religiosity sweeps Egypt – An apparition of the Virgin Mary was seen, miracles reported, thousands of Muslims & Christians gather to see it – Quaranic study groups multiply, monasteries deluged with applicants Confidence in govt shaken, and people began to see its promises as false and its secular ideologies as empty. Conservative Muslims say the defeat reveals that the ways of Islamic socialism were not the ways of God. – A total renunciation of man-made ideologies and a reorientation towards an unwavering commitment to the realization of Islam in the world was needed. God used Israel to punish His errant nation an allowed the forces of evil to conquer the Muslims because they had strayed from the Straight Path. – Saudis: defeat a divine punishment for forgetting religion Nasser: Allah was trying to teach Egypt a lesson, to purify it in order to build up a new society. 12

13 1970s & Sadat After Nasser dies in 1970, Anwar Sadat ascends to the presidency – Swaths self in religion, styles self the Believer President – To make allies among relig. Conservatives, releases Brothers from prison, invites back Brothers who had fled to Saudi Arabia – Covert support to Islamist groups on university campuses – Turns away from Soviet alliance & socialism toward US alliance Liberalizes economy, large inequality gap results, provoking resentment of western luxury goods owned only by wealthy – Muslim World League continues to fund Islamist groups – US views all this favorably, as these events run counter to (militantly atheistic) Soviet interests Brotherhood allowed to resume social, nonpolitical activities of religious outreach (dawa) – In return, the Brotherhood renounces violence, embraces gradualist approach to transforming society from bottom up – Some radicals splinter off as a result (68-70) 13

14 1970s & Sadat Banned from politics, the Brotherhood directs all of its considerable resources to social & charitable services – Schools, nurseries, day care, clinics & hospitals, legal aid, mosque construction, aid to poor, emergency relief services, at low or no cost – Then and now provide vital services for poor & distressed Muslims across the world Such work significantly improved the quality of life and alleviated real material hardships for countless people. It was also a highly effective form of dawa (75) After returning to Egypt after Camp David Accords in 1979, Sadat began speaking out against & taking action against Islamist groups, ordering mass arrests and ordering them disbanded on university campuses in 1981 – Later that year, assassinated by soldiers who were members of Islamic Jihad, a radical & violent Islamist group. Succeeded by Hosni Mubarak. 14

15 Islamism at the University Free education means enrollment skyrockets – 1970: ~200,000 university students, 1977: ~500,000. Number of female students rises almost twice as quickly as male Overcrowding results in mass transit & lecture halls, placing women, many from rural areas, into uncomfortably close environments with men, subject to harassment (77) – By 1975, Islamist groups gained control of important campus committees, becoming able to distribute literature at low cost, soon come to dominate student organizations The hijab begins to appear on university campuses, and is initially mostly confined there – An internal transformation as women separated themselves from mainstream society via unique dress and strict observance of Islamic tenets and rituals – Goal to bring about governance based on Quran and Sunna, rejecting intervening Islamic scholarship as deviance & encrustation of original message Oppose Communism, Zionism, & Feminism While the Brotherhood had advocated a domestic life for women, they now operated side by side with male activists (77-82) 15

16 Islamism at the University These organizations belonged to the broad mainstream of nonviolent Islamists – Hijab, language of brother and sister – In addition to hijab, women adopt ziyy, or zia Islami forms of dress, worn in limited array of fashions and somber colors – Erases social and class distinctions, reinforces commitment to egalitarian principles – Unmistakably modern Islamic dress, devised in styles and materials that signaled at once the modernity of its wearers and their Islamic commitment. – Also signals a commitment to a different form of Islam & Islamic society from that of surrounding culture Women so dressed appeared to be sitting in judgment on their society and critical of the way it appears to be going. Asdfasdv Society, families initially respond with alarm: It is not even Islamic. The veil truly the greatest enemy of civilization and progress (82-85) 16

17 Islamism at the University Islamic dress adopted mostly be female students intending to become professionals – El Guindi: The woman who takes up the veil is liberating herself.... by choosing to veil and not to be molested or stopped as she enters public space. – 19% say they wear hijab to avoid harassment, 20% say it brings them new respect. (87) In contrast to the Iranian regime, which imposed veiling, the quiet revolution that the Sunni Islamists were setting in motion in Egypt was seemingly rather implanting in women the will and desire to wear hijab. (116) 17

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