Panel: Forming the Modern Muslim – Islam, Education and the Individual


Raum: F 42, UG, Fürstenberghaus
Tag Zeit    
Mi 09:00-09:30 Elsässer What is „Islamic Modern“? – An inquiry into the educational ideas of Hasan al-Banna
Mi 09:30-10:00 Franke Before, during and after the uprising: women and academic education in contemporary Egypt
Mi 10:00-10:30 Maye-Saidi Islam in Moroccan Textbooks
Mi 10:30-11:00 Pause  
Mi 11:00-11:30 Kreil Sex Revealed: the Muslim Brothers and sexual education
Mi 11:30-12:00 Bajes “Anasheed” in the political socialization of Islamic movements: Hamas as model
Mi 12:00-12:30 Sabaseviciute Muslim Brotherhood as an incubator. The Islamic educational model as conceived by Sayyid Qutb


Sebastian Elsässer


Sebastian Elsässer (Mi 09:00-10:30)

Aymon Kreil (Mi 11:00-12:30)

Beschreibung des Panels:

This panel calls for contributions about the making of contemporary Islamic education by political elites and state-employed intellectuals, Islamic revival movements like the Muslim Brotherhood, or independent Islamic preachers and educators. How does educational thought and practice reflect the wider context of ideas about national citizenship, economic agency, and the modern individual? Which are the various sources of tradition and modernity that go into the often complex and contradictory process of formulating specifically Islamic models of education?



Abstracts der Vorträge:

Bajes, Dalal: “Anasheed” in the political socialization of Islamic movements: Hamas as model

In this paper, the researcher addresses the role of the Islamic song “Anasheed” in the political battles waged by Islamic movements focusing on the case of Islamic resistance movement Hamas in Palestine. The central question that the researcher attempts to answer is: What is the importance of the “Anasheed” and music in the political socialization of the Islamic movements?

The researcher will address the following topics: Anasheed in social culture; Between the Institute of Music and the mosque; Anasheed in the political culture and political awareness. The researcher will try to answer these questions through tracking the Anasheed in Hamas’s ideology and by content analysis of the most famous Anasheed in the history of the movement, and connect that with rapid political events witnessed by the region and the most important stage of preparation before the first intifada, and the stage of the Intifada, the Oslo Accords, emergence of the Palestinian Authority, the second intifada, the stage of the second legislative elections and beyond.

The researcher believes that the impact of the Anasheed among the members of the Islamic movement is similar to the effect of political singing in most countries where the resistance movements used this kind of singing for motivating people to participate in the struggle against colonialism, or dictatorships in their countries.

Elsässer, Sebastian: What is „Islamic Modern“? – An inquiry into the educational ideas of Hasan al-Banna

Considering the outstanding importance of Hasan al-Banna for the Muslim Brotherhood, it is surprising how little attention his writings, especially the canonical „Maǧmūʿat ar-Rasāʾil“ have been given in Western scholarship. The commonplace assumption that al-Banna „wasn’t a first-rate intellectual“ has turned scholars‘ attention away from the fact how defining professed allegiance to Hasan al-Banna’s „manhaǧ“ (method, programme) has been for the identity of the Ikhwani movement. This manhaǧ, in turn, is being identified within the movement mainly with al-Banna‘s ideas and practice in the fields of daʿwa and tarbiya (education). His educational thought ranges from instructions concerning spiritual practice, supererogatory praying and fasting, and character building to an outline of the well-known system of „families“ (usar) and other practical directions as to how people should be formed and re-educated once they enter the Brotherhood. As generations of Muslim Brothers acted on al-Banna‘s manhaǧ and reflected on its meaning, they also produced a large body of exegetical literature that shows how al-Banna’s concepts and instructions continue to shape Ikhwani-style activism all over the Arab world.

Based on Hasan al-Banna’s original writings, especially the pivotal „Letter of Instructions“ (risālat at-taʿālīm), and a number of commentaries, my contribution is a preliminary investigation into al-Banna’s educational thought, its main concepts, its intellectual and textual sources, and nature and extent of its continuing importance within the Muslim Brotherhood movement.

Franke, Lisa Maria: Before, during and after the uprising: women and academic education in contemporary Egypt

The project aims at analysing the current situation of academic education in contemporary Egypt by focussing on women’s social, cultural, religious/secular situation and political participation. The women’s agency inside and outside of such spaces as universities in terms of involvement and contribution as intellectuals (i.e. women who are publicly critical of society) and Islamic religious scholars (ulama) will be analysed and the interactions between space, gender and knowledge explored. Explicit and even more so implicit gender-specific dimensions of how spaces of knowledge are constructed and experienced, especially during and since the uprising shall be dealt with in this paper. Such institutions as al-Azhar University and their pre- and post-revolutionary role in educating and employing women as well as in conveying the state’s ideology will be analysed. The impact of Islam for women and their academic education will be dealt with in addition to the private and public
knowledge spaces and their power on family and gender structures. The norms that regulate or influence families and the women’s agency and access to knowledge are of interest in this context.

Kreil, Aymon: Sex Revealed: the Muslim Brothers and sexual education

From the 1990’s on, pressures for the creation of sexual education programs going beyond the teaching of distinctions between haram and halal practices became loud in circles of the Egyptian Muslim Brothers. They obtained rapidly a large echo through the counselling pages of the Islam-Online website. Citing explicit evocations of sex in the Islamic corpus in order to justify their endeavour, they attempt to rephrase cognitive behavioural therapy through their interpretation of the requirement of Islam. Science is shown as a tool parallel to religion for the exploration of the single Truth created by God. For the conciliation of the different sources of knowledge, a partial metaphorisation of the religious texts is needed, with the main emphasis put on the universal values that they are deemed to express. Nevertheless, sex before marriage is banned, for instance, as well as homosexual practices. Consequently, these tries can also bring along instability in belief when individuals have to choose between conflicting visions of reality. Then, authority rises again as a crucial issue. The 2010 debates in the Egyptian parliament around a project of sexual education for schools, strongly opposed by the Muslim Brothers’ MPs, and the joining by the promoters of sexual education among the Muslim Brothers to the dissident candidacy of Abu al-Futuh at the 2012 presidential elections eventually gives us an insight of their place in the Brotherhood, and how doctrine lately became again a focal point for the organisation.

Maye-Saidi, Katherine: Islam in Moroccan Textbooks

Howard Mehlinger has described textbooks as the modern version of village storytellers as they “are responsible for conveying to youth what adults believe they should know about their own culture as well as that of other societies.” Apple says that textbooks convey ‘legitimate knowledge’ and Podeh describes them as “ideological tools”. In Morocco, all textbooks used in public schools are written and published by the state, which means that the Moroccan state, to paraphrase Mehlinger et al., conveys the legitimate knowledge pertaining to Moroccan culture as well as the official Moroccan Weltanschauung to Moroccan youth. In this paper, this knowledge, and especially the Islamic aspect of Moroccan identity, will be examined using textbooks for history and civics. The newly amended constitution, which for the first time defines national identity, will also be examined in the paper as it is a further source of official discourse on identity.  Key questions here include: What role does Islam play in the national narrative on national identity? Does the pre-Islamic period belong to Morocco’s historical heritage? Other avenues for examination also include, for example, “Hebraic influences” which, according to the post Arab-Spring constitution, “enrich” Moroccan identity.

Sabaseviciute, Giedre: Muslim Brotherhood as an incubator. The Islamic educational model as conceived by Sayyid Qutb

Before joining the organization of Muslim Brotherhood in 1953, Sayyid Qutb was a poet and novelist highly concerned with the educational reform in Egypt. Initially trained as a teacher, Qutb served for more than twenty years as an inspector and a developer of teaching methods in the Ministry of Instruction, authored two schoolbooks and several educational books aimed at children, and travelled to the United States in order to acquaint himself with « Western » educational models.

In my contribution, I seek to explore how this educational knowledge accumulated by Sayyid Qutb during his mandate as an educator was affected by the joining the Muslim Brotherhood organization. This question concerns mainly the modes of transfer and adaptation of his educational model conceived in the « unislamic » (Jâhili) environment, as he himself stated, to the Muslim Brotherhood environment.

My argument is that changes induced could be observed on two different levels. Firstly, the passing from the literary to the religious field resulted in the shift of focus from « instruction » (ta’alîm) to « upbringing » (tarbiya). With the loss of concern for the institutional aspect of education – which could be explained by its irrelevance for any organization devoid of institutions – the role of upbringing was transferred to the members of organization presented as « a family ». The latter point is closely linked with the second type of transformation, which corresponds to Sayyid Qutb’s vision of the vital need to isolate young Muslim Brothers from the corrupting influence of the society. This idea led Sayyid Qutb to conceive the role of Muslim Brothers as an incubator (mahdan) where the upbringing is assured by the members in order to relieve the « pressure of the society ». These ideas exposed in his writings in the early 1950’s are crucial in order to understand the vision of Muslim Brotherhood as a parallel society forged by independent upbringing.