The politics of egypt state society relationship with god

the politics of egypt state society relationship with god

See, Joseph Badi, Religion in Israel Today: The Relationship Between State and Religion (New York: Bookman especially consecrated to the service of God, and both are simply learned men Rather, the societies and politics of both are. So in what follows I want to think about politics in Egypt today, especially by I then argue that modern sovereignty (of subject and state) makes it difficult for certain that is politically divisive and archaic in its assumptions of personal relations. Many modernizers view the present “crisis” of Arab society as being rooted in. Taking the case of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, and building on 'Virtuous Society' and State Developmentalism in Egypt: the Politics of 'Goodness'' in .. And this was not the first time their relationship with Mubarak's regime had just identify a MB, at first, as a good person, serving people and God, doing khayr.

In making this claim Namnam draws on a revolutionary tradition that affirms the necessity of political violence in this world as a means of making historical progress. The necessity of this secular violence is called for by an unseen future, a force in which all rational individuals should have faith. Hannah Arendt had this to say about the origins of this tradition: Marxist and Marxisant movements that aimed to capture the state apparatus because it was a historical necessity encountered a typical dilemma.

Not only was it deemed necessary for the revolutionary party to model itself on the power structure of the reactionary state in order to fight it effectively, it also found it necessary not to destroy state apparatuses entirely when it took over the bourgeois state.

Ancient Egyptian civilization

It was necessary for state apparatuses to be retained in order to fight the class enemy. Furthermore, in order to run the appropriated state apparatuses, revolutionaries had to turn to technicians and specialists from the old regime who had the necessary experience—that is to say, who were members of the old class and who therefore brought with them the continuity of old time.

the politics of egypt state society relationship with god

I will return to this point below when I discuss the encouragement by the military government of a growing body of patriotic citizens who voluntarily denounce their fellows to state authorities. The hatred of secularists toward the Muslim Brothers, he argues, has been politically far less significant than the enmity of the state apparatuses toward them because self-styled secularists had neither mass organizations nor direct access to the repressive instruments of the state. The state therefore saw the Brotherhood as a serious political challenge: It is often suggested by liberals and secularist militants that the Freedom and Justice Party government should have reached out to them as potential allies against the deep state, but supporters of the Brotherhood point to the longstanding hostility of these elements towards them which no doubt was reciprocated and ask rhetorically what value there would have been in reaching out to a small, unfriendly, yet politically powerless current.

This is the kind of mutual distrust, based on a long history of contradictory political experience, that renders new foundations virtually impossible. And how did one notion threaten the other?

Ancient Egyptian civilization (article) | Khan Academy

I was struck, as many other observers were, by the passionate expressions of hatred against the Muslim Brothers coming from liberal and left members of the middle and upper classes. The emotional undertone of political alignments and responses tends to be ignored or underestimated in many accounts that attribute rationalistic motives to the struggling forces.

the politics of egypt state society relationship with god

They included traditional lower-class deference toward the elite that took the initiative, as well as a desire on the part of middle-class militants to revolutionize the nation-state, and a fear on the part of those who owed their privileged position to the Mubarak regime that their lifestyle was threatened by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Motives are often colored by the concealed desires and misguided views that people have of themselves.

Sometimes the attempt to explain political protest takes a more sophisticated form. Thus a day after the coup the sociologist Hazem Kandil wrote reassuringly: Revolutionary France went through five republics before settling into the present order, and America needed a civil war to adjust its democratic path. It is not uncommon in the history of revolutions for coups to pave the way or seal the fate of popular uprisings. Those who see nothing beyond a military coup are simply blind.

How, other than by the ballot box, can one determine that that right is indeed being exercised? And yet here we are, proving to ourselves that we write our own history and that we can depose our rulers if they do not succumb to our will. The disputes themselves make for a kind of unity. As hostility to the Mursi government mounted, the secular activists joined the state apparatuses and their business allies who had been working to unseat Mursi from at least November allowing the army to enter the political arena publicly yet again.

We have escaped from a prison of politics to a prison of old books. No one sees this world with his own eyes, only with the eyes of others: How can Ibn Taymiyya debate with Marx? How can Hegel converse with Ibn Arabi? If disagreement is considered a source of culture and a sign of its fertility and vitality, cultural despotism and polarized thinking reign supreme over the present scene.

Faced by the dominance of [social] fragmentation and splintering, the idea of eliminating the other has taken the place of accepting the other, of the relationship of neighborliness, of the interweaving [of different ideas] — all this has disappeared.

But he is right to draw attention to the significance of friendship and antipathy in exchanges between people who do not always recognize the disparity of times to which the people they draw on or dismiss belong.

Heated debates across radically different traditions, he says, seem endless and fruitless because appropriate sensibilities and the exercise of imagination are both lacking. Certainly mutual distrust and hostility have been major features of political life in Egypt ever since January Especially in times of political upheaval, fear, suspicion, and misattributions of intention render trust—and therefore friendship—extremely fragile. One answer is that it has a decisive outcome and is therefore the best way, in politics as in law and natural science, of determining the truth.

This discursive move gave the market its ideological claim to being a neutral mediator for resolving conflicts over value, a claim that has since become central to the secular tradition of the modern liberal state. The electoral process itself has adapted itself in several ways resource investment, targeting swing voters, gaining and losing seats to the idea and practice of the market. The market has become part of liberal commonsense and liberal governance: It is not simply that public views are now mutually unintelligible which they areor that debate is interminable which it is.

It is that, like the destructive shifts following capitalist crises, the fractious time of petty dispute and distrust overwhelms the temporality of learning discursive traditions, on recognizing how dependent one is on others, and living accordingly.

The beginning of state welfare, state funded education, and secularization—as well as the growth of the secret police and the military. Thus much Egyptian political history since the defeat ofand especially after the death of Nasir inis seen by the left as the unraveling of the state structure even though the military and security apparatuses retained and even enlarged their presence in it: And it is the continuous dislocation effected by the logic of the market that renders tradition increasingly precarious.

Thinking About Tradition, Religion, and Politics in Egypt Today – Critical Inquiry

The unities enabled by market-promoted lifestyles—fashions in clothes, foods, corporal appearance—are not to be confused with the embodied disciplines of tradition that Shaykh Usama talked about because fashion is ephemeral. One can take up fashion or abandon it whenever one feels like it.

Over the last few decades the increasing circulation of money from rentier income has contributed to rapid social mobility that has helped undermine past solidarities and commitments, and created personal aspirations together with resentment at the failure to realize those aspirations.

With the increasing complexity of social-economic life, relationships have a tendency to become oversimplified and crude. The space of genuine friendship, critics say, is disappearing. With the growth of consumerism deepening differences among life chances grow too; [75] continuity with the past, essential to friendship, is devalued. To what extent these reactions reflect a sense of anxiety on the part of the older middle classes about rapid social mobility that sometimes seems to threaten them is difficult to say.

If looked at carefully, of course the matter is complicated: People still belong to families and associations, and they claim they have friends. Nevertheless, commitment to others—and trust in them—is in considerable tension with the liberal incitement to individual autonomy.

When the middle classes welcome the modernization of Egyptian society, they point to individual autonomy as the basis of economic enterprise and efficiency and to its rejection of religious group identity in politics. The nineteenth- and twentieth-century restructuring of Egyptian society and polity towards what was conceived of as modernity encouraged a new form of governmentality: But it is not quite correct to say that the pervasive corruption of Egyptian society that accelerated with marketization has removed any space for ethics.

What one sees, I suggest, is a new form of ethics that is gradually overtaking the old: Azhar has acquired an increasingly public role in the post-coup era. Working in close collaboration with the Ministry of Religious Endowments, the present Grand Shaykh of al-Azhar, Ahmad at-Tayyib who supported the military coupaspires not only to greater prominence in the public domain but also to greater collaboration with the state in the extended regulation of mosques, preachers, Islamic research centers, some university faculties, etc.

But two points need to be noted about that Islam. It is a force in the service of state authority, an instrument of modern sovereignty for the protection of modern sovereignty—an aim to which the Muslim Brotherhood has also been committed.

The short, familiar answer is: I have already argued against the claim that religious disagreements are typically inconclusive and therefore should be excluded from the rational debate that democracy requires.

I might add that theological disagreements are themselves resolved—which is one way that religious traditions evolve. It is true that such resolutions presuppose certain assumptions that others may not share, but that is a problem common to all situations where opponents are unable to reconcile their fundamental values.

the politics of egypt state society relationship with god

Many Egyptians have an understandable concern at the attempts to impose an Islamic personality on a country containing diverse traditions and identities. What is there about the modern state that requires a homogeneous political identity? The modern state seeks a singular personality for itself in the exercise of sovereignty, and claims that this is necessary for the progress and modernization of its subjects.

The desire to assert and preserve the unity of the People rests on a political metaphysic that is shared by liberals and Islamists alike, a metaphysic that underpins the modern concept of sovereignty: Thus a common complaint against Mursi was that he was not acting as the leader of all Egyptians.

Like all heads of liberal democracies, he responds to the conflicting interests of fellow citizens by yielding to those who exert effective pressure on his government, whether through elections or financial pressures or personal allegiances. Even the Supreme Constitutional Court is not the ultimate guardian of a unified people in Egypt. One may recall here a remark Michel Foucault once made in relation to the Iranian revolution: But they are mistaken: For the modern state including varieties of the liberal state is held together not by moral ideals and social contracts but by technologies of power, by instrumental knowledge—and also, importantly, by the way it requires dependence on and demonstration of truth: This evolution emerged in and helped define modern Europe, later to be adopted, adapted, and imposed in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Liberal celebrations of the modern state do not recall that its emergence involved the crushing of city freedoms by rising territorial princedoms based on modernized military force and centralized social discipline. This identification seems to me problematic, however, for at least two reasons. As not modern but still Islamic? As not really Islamic but modern? As neither modern nor Islamic? This is not due to accident, or to some eternal human vice.

Many of the reasons for such transformation are intrinsic to its liberal character—most importantly, its commitment to securing the life and property of its citizens, to making them fully safe. Popular struggle to oppose that erosion is extremely difficult because it is not simply a matter of the restoration of rights but of confronting an elaborate structure of state protection, control and secrecy that is almost impossible to dislodge. This gives cause for worry about liberty to some citizens while offering to others an opportunity for extending state security and state power—for the sake of property if not always of life.

The crucial point about the modern nation-state is precisely its mobile and contradictory character: Because the latter task takes priority over the former, it calls for the accumulation of secret information about the entire subject population in order to preempt any possibility of subversion by a minority within it.

In societies heavily dependent on information technology like the US this can be done by sophisticated techniques such as the National Security Agency uses. But in all revolutionary societies this has been done by recruiting as many of the ordinary population as possible into becoming secret informers on neighbors, colleagues, friends, and relatives.

The Anglican philosopher Stephen Clark has argued that looked at critically, liberal arguments for political obligation within the modern state have no force, and that consequently the only alternatives are between anarcho-capitalism and a theocratic state, and it is the latter he endorses: In order to do so one would need to draw on older ideas that have been pushed out by the narrative of secular progress since premodern times, such as the absence of rigid territorial boundaries and the presence of overlapping authorities.

The primary question is how far rights and duties attaching to civil status can be negotiated just as they now are in international law without an overarching authority.

In the absence of sovereignty there would be no distinction between international and domestic law. Egyptian rulers used the idea of divine kingship and constructed monumental architecture to demonstrate and maintain power. Map of Ancient Egypt and the Mediterranean and Red seas. Land is beige and the habitable regions of Egypt are highlighted in Green all along the Nile River and the delta that opens out to the Mediterranean Sea in the north.

Lower Egypt is the northern region and Upper Egypt is the southern region of this map. The areas in green show the habitable regions of Egypt.

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons. Even before the Old Kingdom period, the foundations of Egyptian civilization were being laid for thousands of years as people living near the Nile increasingly focused on sedentary agriculture, which led to urbanization and specialized, non-agricultural economic activity.

Evidence of human habitation in Egypt stretches back tens of thousands of years. However, it was only in about BCE that widespread settlement began in the region. Around this time, the Sahara Desert expanded. Some scientists think this expansion was caused by a slight shift in the tilt of the Earth.

Others have explored changing rainfall patterns, but the specific causes are not entirely clear.

The most important result of this expansion of the Sahara for human civilization was that it pushed humans closer to the Nile River in search of reliable water sources. Apart from the delta region, where the river spreads out as it flows into the sea, most settlement in the Nile Valley was confined to within a few miles of the river itself, see map above.

The Nile River flooded annually; this flooding was so regular that the ancient Egyptians set their three seasons—Inundation, or flooding, Growth, and Harvest—around it.

This annual flooding was vital to agriculture because it deposited a new layer of nutrient-rich soil each year. In years when the Nile did not flood, the nutrient level in the soil was seriously depleted, and the chance of food shortages increased greatly. Food supplies had political effects, as well, and periods of drought probably contributed to the decline of Egyptian political unity at the ends of both the Old and Middle Kingdoms. Although we do not know the specific dates and events, most scholars who study this period believe that sometime around the year BCE, a leader named either Narmer or Menes—sources are unclear on whether these were the same person!

Somewhat confusingly, when you look at a map of this area, Lower Egypt is the delta region in the north, and Upper Egypt refers to the southern portion of the country, which is upriver from the delta. You may encounter this terminology when reading about rivers in history, so a good trick is to remember that rivers flow downhill, so the river is lower toward its end at the sea and higher closer to its source!

After political unification, divine kingship, or the idea that a political ruler held his power by favor of a god or gods—or that he was a living incarnation of a god—became firmly established in Egypt. For example, in the mythology that developed around unification, Narmer was portrayed as Horus, a god of Lower Egypt, where Narmer originally ruled.

He conquered Set, a god of Upper Egypt. The use of hieroglyphics—a form of writing that used images to express sounds and meanings—likely began in this period. As the Egyptian state grew in power and influence, it was better able to mobilize resources for large-scale projects and required better methods of record-keeping to organize and manage an increasingly large state. During the Middle Kingdom, Egyptians began to write literature, as well. Hieroglyphic writing also became an important tool for historians studying ancient Egypt once it was translated in the early s.

Four vertical columns of colorfully painted hieroglyphics on a white background depict birds, eyes, a crab, and pottery, among other images. Image courtesy British Museum As rulers became more powerful, they were better able to coordinate labor and resources to construct major projects, and more people required larger supplies of food.

Projects to improve agricultural production, such as levees and canals became more important. Irrigation practices consisted of building mud levees—which were walls of compacted dirt that directed the annual flooding onto farmland and kept it away from living areas,—and of digging canals to direct water to fields as crops were growing.

Elites, those individuals who were wealthy and powerful, began building larger tombs which were precursors to the pyramids. These tombs represented a growing divide between the elite and common people in Egyptian society. Only the wealthy and important could afford and be considered as deserving of such elaborate burials.

A mastaba, which was the typical grave marker for early Egyptian elites. Looks like a pyramid except lower to the ground and with a flat top instead of a pointed one. These were precursors to the pyramids. Image courtesy British Museum. Old Kingdom rulers built the first pyramids, which were both tombs and monuments for the kings who had them built. Building monumental architecture, such as the Great Pyramid and the Sphinx in Giza, and temples for different gods required a centralized government that could command vast resources.

Great Sphinx of Giza mythical creature with a human head and a lion's body and the pyramid of Khafre.