Islam and the Search for Social Order in Modern Egypt

A Biography of Muhammad Husayn Haykal

By Charles D. Smith

Subjects: Biography
Series: SUNY series in Middle Eastern Studies
Paperback : 9780873957113, 249 pages, June 1984
Hardcover : 9780873957106, 249 pages, June 1984

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Table of contents


List of Abbreviations


Chapter One
Egypt and the Idea of Modernity: 1870–1907

Chapter Two

The Formative Years: Haykal between Egypt and Europe, 1888–1922

Egypt as Seen from Paris

The Romantic Idea: Love and the Intellectual as Portrayed in Zaynab

The Fear of Social Entrapment

Chapter Three

Ideal and Reality: Egyptian Politics, 1918–1930

Haykal, the Wafd, and the Egyptian Democratic Party, 1918–1922

The Liberal Constitutionalists in Politics, 1923–1930

Chapter Four

The Road to Islam: Intellectual Developments, 1924–1933

Chapter Five

The Transformation of the Reformist Message and the Writing of Hayat Muhammad

Al-Azhar and Egyptian Politics: 1924–1930

Sidqi, al-Azhar, and Christian Missionary Activity

Hayat Muhammad

Sufism, Science, Spiritualism, and True Faith

Summation and Conclusion

Chapter Six

The Shift to Islam: Its Continuation and Significance

Fi Manzil al-Wahy

Abu Bakr and 'Umar

Haykal's Portrayal of Islam in the Egyptian Context

The Liberal Dilemma: Islam and Politics, 1933–1940

Chapter Seven

Haykal As Politician, 1940–1954: The Liberal Constitutionalists and the End of Party Politics

The War and Egyptian Politics

The Interregnum, 1945–1950

The Slide Toward Destruction, 1950–1952

Capitulation and Despair

Chapter Eight






Charles D. Smith is Professor of Islamic and Middle East History at San Diego State University


"This is an outstanding piece of literary research and criticism. It is based on voluminous reading of difficult source material in Arabic, and on a rich and wise understanding of the cultural history of modern Egypt and of modern religious and civilizational issues. It is written in an erudite yet simple and relaxed style. And it tells us in great detail about the intellectual evolution of an outstanding cultural figure of the Arab and Muslim worlds. There are few others of these. " — Malcolm H. Kerr, UCLA

"Islam and the Search for Social Order in Modern Egypt fills an important gap in Egyptian intellectual and political history. Muhammad Husayn Haykal was one of the leading intellectuals of his generation and an important politician as well. By showing the difficulties and eventual defeat that Haykal faced both as a thinker and as a politician, the book furthers our understanding of why the old regime failed in Egypt in 1952. " — Donald M. Reid, Georgia State University

"This book succeeds in analyzing intellectual history of the pre-1952 period in Egypt 'from within,' so to speak. No other study approaches this period from Smith's perspective, treating the life of Haykal as a metaphor for a group of intellectuals and their attempt to fashion an ideology of development for modern Egypt. This study is more than a biography of Haykal, having the broader perspective of the problematic of 'Islam' in social development. The current evolution of society in Egypt continues to feature the exploration of many of the same issues that exercised Haykal. The care with which Smith has researched these issues imparts to the study a distinct aura of authenticity. But beyond that, he has given us a framework for understanding much of the present discourse in Egypt over the role of traditional culture and its interpretations of social reality for contemporary Egyptian politics and society. In short, far from being a strictly narrow-based study of one man's intellectual odyssey, the work has relevance for the larger issues of development for this critically important Arab state. " — Shahrough Akhavi, University of South Carolina