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Islam after Liberalism$
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Faisal Devji and Zaheer Kazmi

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190851279

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190851279.001.0001

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Arabic Thought in the Liberal Cage

Arabic Thought in the Liberal Cage

(p.17) 1 Arabic Thought in the Liberal Cage
Islam after Liberalism

Hussein Omar

Oxford University Press

This chapter argues that Egyptian practitioners of party politics, such as Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid and ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Jawish, articulated many of the key insights of a postcolonial critique of Eurocentric modernity in the years 1904–1922 over half a century before those critiques appeared in the academic field of postcolonial theory. These political activists repeatedly refused and refuted the charge that they were motivated by pecuniary greed or religious fanaticism, instead insisting that their thoughts and actions be recognized as political, while rejecting the restricted notion of the political as it had come to be defined by imperial hegemons. They rejected the imperial claim that the political and the ethical existed in separate domains and insisted on an alternative model wherein a political education was not, and could not be, understood separately from a moral one. Through the questions these intellectuals posed, they interrogated the very basis of the political theory upon which Lord Cromer’s rule in Egypt was derived. They would come to dismiss the immaculate sphere of “politics” posited by imperial officials as a myth, in a manner that would prefigure several later twentieth century notions of the political.

Keywords:   Egypt, Party politics, Postcolonial critique, Eurocentric modernity, Fanaticism, Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Jawish, Political education, Lord Cromer, Arabic thought

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