The Ideals and Interests in Intellectuals’ Political Deliberations The Arab Spring and the Divergent Paths of Egypt’s Shaykh al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyib and Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa

Main Article Content

Muhammad Amasha https://orcid.org/0000-0001-6467-6227

Keywords

Sociology of intellectuals, cultural sociology, Islam and politics, Arab Spring, Egypt, Ulama, al-Azhar

Abstract

The academic literature equates the Arab Spring politics of Egypt’s two highest official religious figures – the Shaykh al-Azhar Ahmad al-Tayyib and Grand Mufti Ali Gomaa—as “anti-revolutionary.” This article argues that al-Tayyib and Gomaa’s politics are fundamentally different. While Gomaa’s politics are submissive to the state, al-Tayyib’s politics are a negotation without confrontation. I explain the former by Gomaa’s struggle for religious authority either by seeking official positions or obstructing the revealing of information harmful to his religious legitimacy. The statist legitimacy threat against Gomaa is central to understanding his politics. Defending al-Azhar, on the other hand, is what explains al-Tayyib’s fluctuating politics. Theoretically, I advocate that explaining intellectuals’ politics requires focusing on their political deliberation. Only with a methodologically rigorous reconstruction of the intellectuals’ political deliberation and its context, can we decide the relative relevance of factors like ideals, interests, and structures (e.g., the state). I establish this with more than a thousand chronologically ordered primary sources and twenty interviews with people in Gomaa and al-Tayyib’s circles.

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References

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AMASHA: INTELLECTUALS’ POLITIit iCAL DELIBERAtiONS  71
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AMASHA: INTELLECTUALS’ POLITIit iCAL DELIBERAtiONS  73
71 Nadia Mahmoud Mustafa, ed., Al-Dawla al-Amawiyya.. Dawlat al-Futuhat (Cairo: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1996); Ali Gomaa, ed., Haqaʾiq Al-Islam Fi Muwajahat Shubuhat al-Mushakkikin (Egypt: Al-Ahram, 2002).
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85 Ibid.; Dr Ali Gomaa, “Al-Mutashaddidun | H15 | Sayyid Qutb Ma Lahu Wa-Ma
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87 “Hayʾat Tahrir al-Majalla,” Al-Muslim al-Muʿasir, 2020, https://shorturl.at/giWY4.
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89 Dr Ali Gomaa, “Ihtifal Al-Tariqa al-Shadhuliyya Bi-Hawliyyat al-Imam al-Muhaddith
Abdullah Ibn al-Siddiq al-Ghumari,” November 11, 2020, https://youtu.
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90 Alhabib ali al jifri, “Halaqa 19: Al-Khitab al-Dini Juzʾ 2|Amant Bi-Allah|Al-Habib
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91 Dr Ali Gomaa, “Yanfi.”
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93 Thomas Bauer, A Culture of Ambiguity: An Alternative History of Islam, trans.
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94 Mohamed Mattawa, “Awwal Liqaʾ l.D.Ahmad al-Tayyib Baʿd Twalli Mashyakhat
al-Azhar J1,” YouTube, March 22, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BN-
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95 Al-Tayyib: Al-Azhar Wa-l-Hizb al-Watani Ka-l-Shams Wa-l-Qamar, 2013, https://
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96 See Nathan J Brown and Ahmed Morsy, “Egypt’s al-Azhar Steps Forward” (Carnegie
Endowment for International Peace, November 7, 2013), https://bit.ly/3NJh9dS.
97 Al-Azhar, “Bayan ʿAjil Li-l-Azhar al-Sharif Bi-Khusus Fad Iʿtisamay Rabaa al-ʿAdawiyya
Wa-Nahdat Misr,” Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, August 14, 2013, https://bit.ly/3O1Kccq.
98 Birnamaj Wijhat Nazar Bi-Tarikh 21/3/2010 al-Juzʾ al-Sadis, 2010, https://www.youtube.
com/watch?v=lWKmSuhFORE&t=17s.
99 BBC News ʿArabi, “Birnamaj Fi-l-Samim Maʿ al-Duktur Ahmad al-Tayyib
Shaykh al-Azhar,” YouTube, April 13, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=S1T7kxljT2Q.
100 See Zeghal, “Al-Azhar.”
AMASHA: INTELLECTUALS’ POLITIit iCAL DELIBERAtiONS  75
101 Ahmad Al-Tayyib, “Bayan Ham Min Al-Azhar al-Sharif Bi-Shaʾn Takfir al-Muslimin,” Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, July 1, 2013, https://bit.ly/3Mwx6Tq.
102 See Daniel Crecelius, “Al-Azhar in the Revolution,” Middle East Journal 20, no. 1 (1966): 31–49; Zeghal, “Al-Azhar.”
103 Mohamed Mattawa, “Awwal.”
104 Huda Abu Bakr, “Al-Talaba al-Mafsulun Min al-Azhar: Raʾis al-Jamiʿa Ahmad al-Tayyib Qal Lana: Law al-Amn Has in Ana Shakhsiyyan Khatar Hayshilni Min Makani,” Sawt Al-Umma, March 12, 2007, https://bit.ly/3g4Xci1; Egynews, “Wijhat Nazar 21/3/2010- al-Duktur\ Ahmad al-Tayyib-al-Juzʾ al-Rabiʾ,” YouTube, March 21, 2010, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A-MgTLd_Yj0.
105 Muhammad Al-Bidiwi, “Al-Shaykh Usama al-Azhary: Nurid Ihyaʾ al-Manhaj al-Azhari Wa-Iʿadat Taʾhil al-Khitab al-Daʿawi Fi al-Masajid.. Wa-Misr Baʿd al-Thawra Fi Halat Suyula.. Wa-Yajib Mudaʿafat Tamwil al-Azhar Li-40 Milyar,” Youm7, October 6, 2011, http://www.youm7.com/507153.
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108 Luiz Sanchez, “Free Egyptians Party Support Al-Azhar Defence Front,” Daily News Egypt, January 22, 2013, https://bit.ly/3zAyKkh.
109 Egyptian Constitution, 2012, https://bit.ly/3xEsd6y.
110 123mosol, “Borhamy Azhar,” YouTube, April 27, 2014, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRTvPXzBvjU.
111 BBC, “Al-Azhar Yansahib min Lajnat Wadʾ al-Dustur al-Misri,” March 29, 2012, https://www.bbc.com/arabic/middleeast/2012/03/120329_egypt_azhar_withdraws.
112 Luʾay ʿAli, “Ghadab Azhari Min Tarashih ‘Muhammad Yusri’ Li-Haqibat al-Awqaf.. Niqabat al-Aʾimma: Tawajjuhuh Salafi Yukhalif Manhaj al-Azhar.. Wa-Sabaq An Ittaham al-Muʾassasa al-Diniyya Bi-l-Fasad..Wa-Bisababih Istaqal Farid Wasil Min Jamʿiyyat al-Huquq Wa-l-Islah,” Youm7, July 29, 2012, http://www.youm7.com/743803; Gianluca P. Parolin, “Shall We Ask Al-Azhar? Maybe Not: Lessons from the Ṣukūk Bill Incident,” Middle East Law and Governance 7, no. 2 (August 31, 2015): 212–35, doi:10.1163/18763375-00702002; Husayn, “Yakshif.”
113 123mosol, “Borhamy”; Qanat Salim ʿAzzuz, “Al-Shaykh ʿIsam Talima4-4: Khutabaʾ al-Masajid Bi-Madinat Nasr Man Zakku al-Sisi.. Kan Yusalli Khalfahum,” YouTube, April 17, 2021, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AMgFSk2vbi0; Ranya Rabiʿ Al-ʿAbd, “Mutalabat bi-Iqalat Shaykh al-Azhar baʿd Isabat Miʾat min Tullabih bi-l-Tasammum,” Al-Akhbar, April 3, 2013, https://al-akhbar.com/Arab/48742.
76  AMERICAN JOURNAL OF ISL AM AND SOCIE T Y 40:3-4
114 Luʾay ʿAli, “‘Al-Azhar’ Yarudd ʿala ‘Safwat Hijazi’: Allahum La Tuʾakhidhna Bi-Ma
Faʿal al-Sufahaʾ Minna.. Wa-Yasifuh Bi-”Mutamassih Bi-l-Thawra Wa-Mutallawin”..
Wa-Yushaddid ʿala Wujub al-Tasaddi Li-Man Yastakhdim al-ʿUnf Fi al-Muʿarada..
Wa-l-Azhar Awwal Man Qal an Dahaya al-Thawra Shuhadaʾ,” Youm7, June 23,
2013, https://bit.ly/2PggN5v; Sada Elbalad, “Safwat Hijazi: Shaykh al-Azhar Huwa
Min Aham Aʿdaʾ al-Thawra,” YouTube, June 25, 2013, https://www.youtube.com/
watch?v=pFjjP6HpXD4.
115 Al-Araby, “‘Tasrib Fidyu Ibahi’… Hall Yuʿaqib al-Nizam al-Misri Khaled Youssef?,”
January 15, 2019, https://bit.ly/3LRthtP.
116 Orlando Patterson, Slavery and Social Death (Harvard University Press, 1982).