CIRS Faculty Lectures, Dialogue Series, Race & Society, Regional Studies

CIRS Presents Abdullah Al-Arian's New Book on the Muslim Brotherhood

Abdullah Al-Arian

On Tuesday, January 13, 2015, CIRS hosted a book launch and reading by Abdullah Al-Arian, Assistant Professor of History at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar. Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat’s Egyptpublished by Oxford University Press in 2014, “examines the means by which the Muslim Brotherhood was reconstituted during Anwar al-Sadat’s presidency. Through analysis of structural, ideological, and social developments during this period in the history of the Islamic movement, a more accurate picture of the so-called ‘Islamic resurgence’ develops-one that represents the rebirth of an old idea in a new setting.

When revolutionary hero Gamal Abdel Nasser dismantled and suppressed Egypt’s largest social movement organization during the 1950s, few could have imagined that the Muslim Brotherhood would not only reemerge, but could one day compete for the presidency in the nation’s first ever democratic election. While there is no shortage of analyses of the Muslim Brotherhood’s recent political successes and failures, no study has investigated the organization’s triumphant return from the dustbin of history.

The Muslim Brotherhood’s success in rebuilding its organization rested in large part on its ability to attract a new generation of Islamic activists that had come to transform Egypt’s colleges and universities into a hub for religious contention against the state. Led by groups such as al-Gama’ah al-Islamiyyah (The Islamic Society), the student movement exhibited a dynamic and vibrant culture of activism that found inspiration in a multitude of intellectual and organizational sources, of which the Muslim Brotherhood was only one.

By the close of the 1970s, however, internal divisions over ideology and strategy led to the rise of factionalism within the student movement. A majority of student leaders opted to expand the scope of their activist mission by joining the Muslim Brotherhood, rejuvenating the struggling organization, and launching a new phase in its history.

Answering the Call is an original study of the history of this dynamic and vibrant period of modern Egyptian history, giving readers a fresh understanding of one of Egypt’s most pivotal eras.” Read more from Oxford University Press.

Abdullah Al-Arian received his doctorate in History from Georgetown University. He holds a Master’s degree in Sociology of Religion from the London School of Economics and his BA in Political Science from Duke University. He is co-editor of the Critical Currents in Islam page on the Jadaliyya e-zine. He is also a frequent contributor to the Al-Jazeera English network and website. His first book, entitled Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat’s Egypt was published by Oxford University Press in 2014. In fall 2014, he was the Carnegie Centennial Visiting Fellow at the University of Denver’s Korbel School of International Studies.