Reviving Turāth: Islamic Education in Modern Egypt
Access StatusFull text of the requested work is not available in DASH at this time ("restricted access"). For more information on restricted deposits, see our FAQ.
Elston, Mary Beinecke
MetadataShow full item record
CitationElston, Mary Beinecke. 2020. Reviving Turāth: Islamic Education in Modern Egypt. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThis dissertation examines a contemporary traditionalist movement amongst Muslim religious scholars (‘ulamā’) at Egypt’s al-Azhar—the preeminent institution of Sunni learning—that is seeking to revive turāth. Although turāth is often translated as “heritage” or “tradition,” for this movement turāth refers specifically to the premodern traditions of Islamic scholarship and education that were marginalized in official schooling in Egypt in the modern period. Based on two years of ethnographic and archival research at al-Azhar, the dissertation examines the discourses, practices, and institutional efforts of the turāth revival, bringing attention to how the ‘ulamā’ are seeking to shape the field of Islamic education in twenty-first century Egypt. The dissertation situates the ‘ulamā’s revival efforts within Egypt’s current political context, as well as in relation to the history of education reform in Egypt in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Through this ethnographic and historical exploration, the dissertation analyzes how the ‘ulama and their learning community construct an ideal of turāth through their texts, discourses and practices.
Part I of the dissertation (History Through the Lens of Turāth) examines the history of Islamic education in Egypt in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Chapter One explores the relationship between the ‘ulamā’s educational approach and the new schools established during the rule of Muḥammad ‘Alī (r. 1805-1848). This chapter also revisits the writings of Ḥasan al-‘Aṭṭār (1766-1835) and his student Rifā‘a Rāfi‘ al-Ṭahṭāwī (1801-1873) to reconsider their connection to Islamic modernism. Chapter Two analyzes education reform in al-Azhar between 1865 and 1961, arguing that by the end of the twentieth century, education in al-Azhar had bifurcated into “official” reformed education (al-Azhar University and institutes) and traditional education (the study circles).
Part II of the dissertation (Reviving Turāth) analyzes the contemporary turāth revival in Egypt. Chapter Three introduces Ali Gomaa (1952-), the former Grand Mufti of Egypt and a prominent representative of the turāth revival. This chapter analyzes Gomaa’s conceptualization of turāth. Chapter Four explores Gomaa’s efforts to reestablish the Azhar study circles in the 1990’s in order to both revive turāth and counter “extremism” (al-taṭarruf). This chapter introduces the “parallel Azhar sector,” which refers to a network of institutions centered around al-Azhar mosque that teach turāth to Muslim youth. Chapter Five analyzes the practices and discourses that constitute turāth in the Azhar study circles. Chapter Six explores the ‘ulamā’s use of social media to promote the turāth revival.
Citable link to this pagehttps://nrs.harvard.edu/URN-3:HUL.INSTREPOS:37365713
- FAS Theses and Dissertations