3- What role did the Nasser and Sadat Presidencies play in shaping political Islam in Egypt?
Political Islam is playing a major rule now in the current political scene; so it is important to analyze how it rose in Egypt and how it has been shaped over the years. The political Islam is mainly a set of ideologies that holds the belief that Islam can be a political ideology as much as it is a religion. Although Islamic thinkers have always emphasized the enforcement of the Islamic law (Sharia) as the main reference of the state’s political and social ideologies, they never agreed on the exact means and degree of enforcing it. This difference of course dates back to the early times of Islam when different interpretations lead to a schism in the guided Caliphate called the Great Fitna which results we have to bear with until today. As the Islamic Thinker Mohamed Abdu suggested the Holy text is “alive” in the sense that its interpretations differ greatly depending on the background of the interpreter, these different interpretations lead to the forging of different schools of thought and Madhabs. And as political Islam is directly derived from Islamic teachings and has been affected by the differences in interpretations, Political Islam has never been united under one banner. The Ex Egyptians presidents Gamal Abd El Nasser and Anwar El Sadat had their different ways in dealing with the Islamists and of course helped in shaping political Islam in Egypt. Before Gamal Abd El Nasser, Egypt’s second president, Islamist groups were largely concerned with seeking independence from whichever external colonial, imperial, or even domestic (as the case with the monarchy) forces present within Egypt. When Nasser came into power, they had just emerged from a stalemate with the palace, which had revoked one of its groups’, the Muslim Brethren (MB), license for aiding an entrapped regiment by British forces during the 48-49 war and that was the launch of the Islamists gaining their identity in Egypt. And so, it can be said that political Islam was awakened by social, political, and economic factors. However, no one can deny that it has been provoked by oppression, controversial policies, being banned from political participation, violence, manipulation of the public opinion and etc.
At first, Abd El Nasser tried to co-opt the Muslim Brotherhood to his side to benefit from their popularity. The relationship has evolved into cooperation in 1954 when Mohamed Naguib called for democratic elections and for the army to return to its bases; Abd El Nasser opposed that and made an agreement with the Muslim Brotherhood in order to get rid of the political parties on the scene and free the atmosphere for both of them only, and the MB agreed and this was a strategic mistake. After that, Mohamed Naguib was put under house arrest and Abd El Nasser became the president; but then at the same year, there was an attempt to assassinate Abd El Nasser, while making a public announcement in El Manshia. Nasser suspected the brotherhood and many of the Islamists and ordered the execution of six of the suspects, and the arrest of several thousand, which included Sayyid Qutb (who was the founder of Islamic Jihad movement ideology) and Ayman al-Zawahiri. Nasser by that had simply announced his opposition to the Islamic groups and made them “the banned groups”. Nasser’s main aim in that was centralizing the power and protecting the revolution from potential opponents, including the Muslim Brothers. Islamists then were becoming more and more anti- Nasser’s state and his regime, even more so after the 1967 defeat; they made us of the Arabs’ defeat in Egypt by referring it to Nasser’s deviation away from God and his “war on Islam” had led to the defeat, and that God was punishing them for that. The Islamists by that were trying to win the public and fuel them against Nasser and his regime, but Nasser was smarter than and declared his resignation...
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