No God but God: Egypt and the Triumph of Islam

Oxford University Press
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Shrouded in mystery, the Islamic presence in the Middle East evokes longstanding Western fears of terrorism and holy war. Our media have consistently focused on these extremes of Islam, overlooking a quiet yet pervasive religious movement that is now transforming the nation of Egypt. Drawing on hundreds of interviews, No God But God opens up previously inaccessible segments of Egyptian society--from the universities and professional sectors to the streets--to illustrate the deep penetration of "Popular Islamic" influence. Abdo provides a firsthand account of this peaceful movement, allowing its moderate leaders, street preachers, scholars, doctors, lawyers, men and women of all social classes to speak for themselves. Challenging Western stereotypes, she finds that this growing number of Islamists do not seek the violent overthrow of the government or a return to a medieval age. Instead, they believe their religious values are compatible with the demands of the modern world. They are working within and beyond the secular framework of the nation to gradually create a new society based on Islamic principles. Abdo narrates fascinating accounts of their methods and successes. Today, for example, university students meet in underground unions, despite a state ban. In addition, sheikhs have recently used their new legislative power to censor books and movies deemed to violate religious values. Both fascinating and unsettling, Abdo's findings identify a grassroots model for transforming a secular nation-state to an Islamic social order that will likely inspire other Muslim nations. This model cannot be ignored, for it will soon help organized Islamists to undermine secular control of Egypt and potentially jeopardize Western interests in the Arab world.
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About the author

Geneive Abdo is the correspondent in Iran for The Guardian and The Economist. She has reported from numerous Islamic countries over a decade, from the Middle East to North Africa and Central Asia. As a correspondent based in Cairo, she covered the Middle East for The Dallas Morning News. Ms. Abdo reported the fall of the Soviet Union for Reuters news agency. She was a staff writer for Newsday and the Baltimore Evening Sun . A graduate of the University of Texas, she was later a Fellow at the Program for Near Eastern Studies at Princeton University.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Oxford University Press
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Published on
Oct 24, 2002
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780198029014
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Middle East / Egypt
Religion / Islam / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Available on Android devices
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Eligible for Family Library

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The Kharijites were the first sectarian movement in Islamic history, a rebellious splinter group that separated itself from mainstream Muslim society and set about creating, through violence, an ideal community of the saved. Their influence in the political and theological life of the nascent faith has ensured their place in both critical and religious accounts of early Islamic history. Based on the image of sect fostered by the Islamic tradition, the name Kharijite defines a Muslim as an overly-pious zealot whose ideas and actions lie beyond the pale of normative Islam. After a brief look at Kharijite origins and the traditional image of these early rebels, this book focuses on references to the Kharijites in Egypt from the 1950s to the 1990s. Jeffrey T. Kenney shows how the traditional image of the Kharijites was reawakened to address the problem of radical Islamist opposition movements. The Kharijites came to play a central role in the rhetoric of both religious authorities, whose official role it is to interpret Islam for the masses, and the secular state, which cynically turns to Islamic ideas and symbols to defend its legitimacy. Even those Islamists who defend militant tactics, and who are themselves tainted by the Kharijite label, become participants in the discourse surrounding Kharijism. Although all Egyptians agree that modern Kharijites represent a dangerous threat to society, serious debates have arisen about the underlying social, political and economic problems that lead Muslims down this destructive path. Kenney examines these debates and what they reveal about Egyptian attitudes toward Islamist violence and its impact on their nation. Long before 9/11, Egyptians have been dealing with the problem of Islamist violence, frequently evoking the Kharijites. This book represents an important contribution to Islamic studies and Middle East studies, adding to our understanding of how the Islamic past shapes the present discourse surrounding Islamist violence in one Muslim society.
Semitic words and names appear in unprecedented numbers in texts of the New Kingdom, the period when the Egyptian empire extended into Syria-Palestine. In his book, James Hoch provides a comprehensive account of these words--their likely origins, their contexts, and their implications for the study of Egyptian and Semitic linguistics and Late-Bronze and Iron-Age culture in the eastern Mediterranean. Unlike previous word catalogs, this work consists of concise word studies and contains a wealth of linguistic, lexical, and cultural information.

Hoch considers some five hundred Semitic words found in Egyptian texts from about 1500 to 650 b.c.e. Building on previous scholarship, he proposes new etymologies and translations and discusses phonological, morphological, and semantic factors that figure in the use of these words. The Egyptian evidence is essential to an understanding of the phonology of Northwest Semitic, and Hoch presents a major reconstruction of the phonemic systems. Of equal importance is his account of the particular semantic use of Semitic vocabulary, in contexts sometimes quite different from those of the Hebrew scriptures and Ugaritic myths and legends. With its new critical assessment of many hotly debated issues of Semitic and Egyptian philology, this book will be consulted for its lexical and linguistic conclusions and will serve as the basis for future work in both fields.

Originally published in 1994.

The Princeton Legacy Library uses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback and hardcover editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

A fascinating, accessible introduction to Islam from the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Zealot and host of Believer

FINALIST FOR THE GUARDIAN FIRST BOOK AWARD 

In No god but God, internationally acclaimed scholar Reza Aslan explains Islam—the origins and evolution of the faith—in all its beauty and complexity. This updated edition addresses the events of the past decade, analyzing how they have influenced Islam’s position in modern culture. Aslan explores what the popular demonstrations pushing for democracy in the Middle East mean for the future of Islam in the region, how the Internet and social media have affected Islam’s evolution, and how the war on terror has altered the geopolitical balance of power in the Middle East. He also provides an update on the contemporary Muslim women’s movement, a discussion of the controversy over veiling in Europe, an in-depth history of Jihadism, and a look at how Muslims living in North America and Europe are changing the face of Islam. Timely and persuasive, No god but God is an elegantly written account that explains this magnificent yet misunderstood faith.

Praise for No god but God
 
“Grippingly narrated and thoughtfully examined . . . a literate, accessible introduction to Islam.”—The New York Times
 
“[Reza] Aslan offers an invaluable introduction to the forces that have shaped Islam [in this] eloquent, erudite paean to Islam in all of its complicated glory.”—Los Angeles Times Book Review
 
“Wise and passionate . . . an incisive, scholarly primer in Muslim history and an engaging personal exploration.”—The New York Times Book Review
 
“Acutely perceptive . . . For many troubled Muslims, this book will feel like a revelation, an opening up of knowledge too long buried.”—The Independent (U.K.)
 
“Thoroughly engaging and excellently written . . . While [Aslan] might claim to be a mere scholar of the Islamic Reformation, he is also one of its most articulate advocates.”—The Oregonian
The Shi'a-Sunni conflict is one of the most significant outcomes arising from the Arab rebellions. Yet, there is little understanding of who is driving this tension and the underlying causes. By delving deeply into the historical factors leading up to the present-day conflict, The New Sectarianism sheds new light on how Shi'a and Sunni perceive one another after the Arab uprisings, how these perceptions have affected the Arab world, and why the dream of a pan-Islamic awakening was misplaced. Geneive Abdo describes a historical backdrop that serves as a counterpoint to Western media coverage of the so-called Arab Spring. Already by the 1970s, she says, Shi'a and Sunni communities had begun to associate their religious beliefs and practices with personal identity, replacing their fragile loyalty to the nation state. By the time the Arab risings erupted into their full fury in early 2011, there was fertile ground for instability. The ensuing clash-between Islamism and Nationalism, Shi'a and Sunni, and other factions within these communities-has resulted in unprecedented violence. So, Abdo asks, what does religion have to do with it? This sectarian conflict is often presented by the West as rivalry over land use, political power, or access to education. However, Abdo persuasively argues that it must be understood as flowing directly from religious difference and the associated identities that this difference has conferred on both Shi'a and Sunni. The New Sectarianism considers the causes for this conflict in key countries such as Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, and Bahrain and the development of regional trends. Abdo argues that in these regions religion matters, not only in how it is utilized by extremists, moderate Islamists, and dictators alike for political purposes, but how it perpetually evolves and is perceived and practiced among the vast majority of Muslims. Shi'a and Sunni today are not battling over territory alone; they are fighting for their claim to a true Islamic identity.
The Book of the Dead: The Papyrus of Ani is the Book of the Dead for Ani, the scribe from Thebes, and is "the largest, the most perfect, the best preserved, and the best illuminated of all the papyri," according to editor and translator E.A. Wallis Budge. "Books of the Dead" were ancient Egyptian funeral texts, employed from around 1550 B.C. to 50 B.C., intended to help the dead pass through the underworld into the afterlife with magic spells and inscriptions which were written on papyrus scrolls and placed in the coffin. The Papyrus of Ani is a key scroll in understanding Egyptian Books of the Dead, and this text is ideal for those interested in the early discovery and translation of Egyptian hieroglyphics. This is the original 1895 edition and includes the full version of The Papyrus of Ani. SIR ERNEST ALFRED THOMPSON WALLIS BUDGE (1857-1934) was born in Bodmin, Cornwall in the UK and discovered an interest in languages at a very early age. Budge spent all his free time learning and discovering Semitic languages, including Assyrian, Syriac, and Hebrew. Eventually, through a close contact, he was able to acquire a job working with Egyptian and Iraqi artifacts at the British Museum. Budge excavated and deciphered numerous cuneiform and hieroglyphic documents, contributing vastly to the museum's collection. Eventually, he became the Keeper of his department, specializing in Egyptology. Budge wrote many books during his lifetime, most specializing in Egyptian life, religion, and language.
A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist

"Extraordinary...Sensitive and perceptive, Mr. Hessler is a superb literary archaeologist, one who handles what he sees with a bit of wonder that he gets to watch the history of this grand city unfold, one day at a time.” —Wall Street Journal

From the acclaimed author of River Town and Oracle Bones, an intimate excavation of life in one of the world's oldest civilizations at a time of convulsive change

Drawn by a fascination with Egypt's rich history and culture, Peter Hessler moved with his wife and twin daughters to Cairo in 2011. He wanted to learn Arabic, explore Cairo's neighborhoods, and visit the legendary archaeological digs of Upper Egypt. After his years of covering China for The New Yorker, friends warned him Egypt would be a much quieter place. But not long before he arrived, the Egyptian Arab Spring had begun, and now the country was in chaos.

In the midst of the revolution, Hessler often traveled to digs at Amarna and Abydos, where locals live beside the tombs of kings and courtiers, a landscape that they call simply al-Madfuna: "the Buried." He and his wife set out to master Arabic, striking up a friendship with their instructor, a cynical political sophisticate. They also befriended Peter's translator, a gay man struggling to find happiness in Egypt's homophobic culture. A different kind of friendship was formed with the neighborhood garbage collector, an illiterate but highly perceptive man named Sayyid, whose access to the trash of Cairo would be its own kind of archaeological excavation. Hessler also met a family of Chinese small-business owners in the lingerie trade; their view of the country proved a bracing counterpoint to the West's conventional wisdom.

Through the lives of these and other ordinary people in a time of tragedy and heartache, and through connections between contemporary Egypt and its ancient past, Hessler creates an astonishing portrait of a country and its people. What emerges is a book of uncompromising intelligence and humanity--the story of a land in which a weak state has collapsed but its underlying society remains in many ways painfully the same. A worthy successor to works like Rebecca West's Black Lamb and Grey Falcon and Bruce Chatwin's The Songlines, The Buried bids fair to be recognized as one of the great books of our time.
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