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Islamic Reform and Conservatism: Al-Azhar and the Evolution of Modern Sunni Islam

10 May, 2015 11:44
Islamic Reform and Conservatism: Al-Azhar and the Evolution of Modern Sunni Islam
'Indira Gesink's deeply researched study on al-Azhar reform sheds new light on a major chapter in the history of modern Islam. Dispensing with conventional portrayals of entrenched conservatives resisting enlightened modernists, Gesink reveals a far more nuanced and complicated set of intellectual and political struggles over al-Azhar's organization, curriculum and administration. The revisionist account of Muhammad Abduh's character and career is particularly compelling. Gesink rescues the reputations of conservative sheikhs from the slanted perspective that Orientalists uncritically adopted. In addition, she vividly illustrates the overlapping influences on al-Azhar of the Muhammad Ali dynasty, British colonial authorities, eminent sheikhs and rowdy religious pupils. Al-Azhar's present influence in Egypt and the Muslim world owes much to this chapter in its history. Gesink's book most certainly deserves the attention of readers interested in modern Islamic institutions and thought along with specialists on Egypt.' – David Commins, Professor of History, Dickinson College; author of The Wahhabi Mission and Saudi Arabia (I.B.Tauris 2006)
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Islamic Reform and Conservatism: Al-Azhar and the Evolution of Modern Sunni Islam
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