Abdullah A. Al-Arian is an Assistant Professor of History at Georgetown University’s Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service in Qatar. In the fall of 2014, he was also a Carnegie Centennial Visiting Fellow with the Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Denver. Dr. Al-Arian received his doctorate in history from Georgetown University. He is the author of Answering the Call: Popular Islamic Activism in Sadat’s Egypt, published by Oxford University Press. He received a Master’s degree 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 Jadaliyya. He is also a frequent contributor to the Al Jazeera English network and website.
During his fellowship at CIRS, Al-Arian worked on a research project that aimed to reconsider how we understand the historical role of Islamic social movements in the Arab world. In particular, it looked at the transnational diffusion of what we might call the Muslim Brotherhood “idea” and its subsequent localization in particular nation-state contexts. In reviewing the individual histories of these movements, one notes that in the period beyond the initial diffusion of the Muslim Brotherhood mission established in Egypt during the interwar era, there emerged a tendency for local movements to chart an independent course that tracked closely with the development of national politics in their respective contexts. In this way, what this project aimed to do was to write Islamic social movements back into the national histories of their respective states. By placing the trajectory of Islamists within the context of a broader development of national political and socioeconomic change we can properly situate the development of their charitable associations and social infrastructure to their political party structures and use of national symbols.