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Education, politics, and the struggle for intellectual leadership: Al-Azhar between 1927 and 1945

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Chapter Summary

When the Egyptian historiographer ʿAbd al-Rahman al-Jabarti began to compose his famous chronicle ʿAjaʾib al-athar at the end of the eighteenth century, the classical self-image of Muslim scholars was still intact. This chapter presents al-Azhar's history in the twentieth century. It explains during the first half of the twentieth century-more precisely in the almost two decades spanning the rectorships of Muhammad Mustafa al-Maraghi (1928-1929 and 1935-1945) and Muhammad al-Ahmadi al-Zawahiri (1929-1935)-that al-Azhar not only became for the first time involved in the political power struggle, but that the process of far-reaching politicization of the university began. It was then, too, that a first serious challenge to the traditional claim of the 'ulama' to intellectual leadership was voiced by a prominent member of the Salafiyya class of Islamic intellectuals.

Keywords: Al-azhar; intellectual leadership; Muhammad al-Ahmadi al-Zawahiri; Muhammad Mustafa al-Maraghi; Rashid Rida



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