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Dajani, Zahia Ragheb (1987) The Egyptian Udaba and the crisis of Islam: A study of the Islamic thought of Taha Husayn, Muhammad Husayn Haykal, and 'Abbas Mahmud al-'Aqqad and its influence on Egyptian political, social and intellectual life. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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This study is centred around the thoughts and contributions of three Egyptian Udaba namely, Taha Husayn (d. 1973), Muhammad Husayn Haykal (d. 1956), and 'Abbas Mahmud al-'Aqqad (d. 1964). The significance of their writings lies partly in the critical period in which they appeared, which was a period of religious, spiritual and national crisis. On the religious side, it was not confined to Egypt, but covered the whole Islamic world for it was the period in which the Ottoman Caliphate was abolished. With the collapse of Islamic political power, the Christian missionary thrust tried to penetrate the core of Islamic belief itself by portraying Islam as a necessary obstacle to progress. For this purpose, several attacks were simultaneously engineered. One was directed against the Arabic language which was described as unfit for modern usage. Its replacement by spoken dialects would have meant creating a delinkage between language and the Qur'an, relegating the Qur'an to the position of a liturgical and ritualistic document that interests only a few scholars and religious specialists. Another attack was directed against Arabic literature casting doubts on its content and value for modern generations with new thoughts, ideas and aspirations. A more powerful attack was directed against the Prophet Muhammad, and his companions and immediate successors. The Udaba' took up the challenge by upholding the Arabic language, expounding the true facts of the Prophet's life, and by introducing new styles of literature which derive from the Islamic fountainhead, and using styles attractive to modern readers. Among other things, the thesis shows how the Udaba's contributions in this respect were instrumental in blunting the attacks of missionaries, and incidentally, in pre-empting the attacks of Marxism which assumed dangerous proportions after World War II. Their assertion of the dignity of Islam and of the unquestionable Islamic identity of Egypt and of the great potentials of the Arabic language will remain as lasting contributions.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses > Proquest
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2018 15:04

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