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Ambivalent Commitments: Troubles of Morality, Religiosity and Aspiration among Young Egyptians

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image of Journal of Religion in Africa

In contrast to a line of studies that inquire how Muslims try to solve the problem of living piously in a society dominated by materialist tendencies and secular rationality, in this article I turn the question around and problematize the will to live piously and the focus on self-discipline. In everyday lives of young men from the Nile Delta region, the Islamic revivalist project of creating comprehensive moral and civic virtues uneasily coexists with other less total aims and ideals, notably community and family bonds, romantic love, success and self-realization. I attempt to take these contradictions seriously and dwell on the ways people live them and their attempts to make sense of their lives. In particular, I look at the ways people employ the normative registers of religion, love and aspiration in their lives, the promises each of these ideals entail and the options that are available should any of these promises fail.

Affiliations: 1: Centre for Modern Oriental Studies (ZMO), Kirchweg 33, 14129 Berlin, Germany;, Email:


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