Al-Azhar University in the Events of the Arab Spring (Case of Egypt)

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Abstract


Due to the comprehensiveness of Islam, the role of the “Islamic factor” in political processes in the Middle East and North Africa is great, while the nature of the manifestations of the “Islamic factor” largely depends among other things on the current state of modern religious educational institutions, including those serving as a forge of Islamic personnel today. One of the most prestigious universities in Islamic oikumene, giving religious education for Muslims from all over the world, is AlAzhar al-Sharif (the shorter Al-Azhar is more common). It was here that some famous thinkers studied, who further significantly contributed to the development of the so-called “political Islam”. This study is an attempt to clarify the role of Al-Azhar University and related Islamic scholars in the socio-political processes of the Middle East and North Africa. Conducting the research, the author largely turned to the sources of the Islamic religion (the Qur’an, Hadith), theological texts of a number of thinkers (for example, the interpretation of the Qur’an Rashid Rida), religious polemical works (the work of Sheikh Osama al-Azhari against the “Muslim Brotherhood” and other “Islamist” trends), documents compiled by the leadership of Al-Azhar; academic literature on related issues. The author came to the conclusion that the “Islamic factor” did not play a crucial role at the beginning of events, but vividly manifested itself subsequently. The actual suppression of Islam by secular dictators created a fertile ground for the acute discontent of believing citizens and activists of various movements who uphold a particular version of the Islamic political alternative. The most influential university in the Islamic world, Al-Azhar, in an official document, “Arab Spring”, indicated the possibility of a shift in despotic power, while emphasizing at the same time the inadmissibility of violent suppression of peaceful protest. Certain Azharite theologians were directly involved in the events of the “Arab Spring”, in particular, the passionate scholar Yusuf al-Qaradawi, associated with the Muslim Brotherhood movement and graduated from Al-Azhar, as well as Sheikh Emad Effat, who died during the suppression of an unarmed speech 15 December 2011. Such activity of various Islamic forces in the political sphere is primarily due to the very nature of the Islamic tradition, which does not separate the “sacred” and “profane”.


About the authors

Yurii Vitalevich Lashkhia

RUDN University

Author for correspondence.
Email: george-leo@mail.ru
Moscow, Russian Federation

postgraduate student, the Department of Theory and History of International Relations

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