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Nasserism Revitalized. A Critical Reading of Hasan Hanafī's Projects "The Islamic Left" and "occidentalism" (and their Uncritical Reading)

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Hasan Hanafī is often described as leading and original reformer of Arab thought, renovator of the Islamic cultural heritage (turāth) and advocate of political freedom. But these categorizations are based on insufficient analyses of his writings on both the Islamic and the Western intellectual heritage as well as his statements on current political issues. A critical reading of the first unveils that Hanafī misrepresents religious and philosophical doctrines and that he systematically passes over the fact that the relations between intellectual currents which he claims as role models for the "Islamic left" were marked by deep enmity. His writings on Marxism reveal that he merely condemns capitalism on moral terms without deeper analysis of the way it works. He himself proposes the idea of historical cycles determining the course of Eastern and Western civilization. This allows him to predict the imminent decline of the latter. The contradicting elements in Hanafī's thought do, however, gain coherence when analyzed in the context of his writings on the modern history of Egypt and the Middle East at large. Here he juxtaposes activist and progressive Nasserism to the religious quietism used by Sadat to legitimize his rule. From 1978 onwards he became an advocate of the Islamic revolution in Iran which he saw as rebirth of Nasserim and Tiermondism in general.

Affiliations: 1: Göttingen


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