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Numen 59 (2012) 427455

Millennial Politics in Modern Egypt: Islamism and Secular Nationalism in Context and Contest
Jerey T. Kenney
Department of Religious Studies, DePauw University 7 E. Larabee St., Greencastle, IN 46135, USA

Abstract As a type often linked to societies in transition, millennialism provides a useful framework of analysis to understand the contestation between the two movements that shaped Egypts modern identity: Islamism and secular nationalism. Both movements blended political and religious form and content as they strove to unite people in a collectivist eort to create an ideal society that addressed the nations material and cultural needs. Indeed, millennial discourse provided a medium through which Egyptians worked out their nationalist aspirations in a religious key and envisioned their religious values and identity in nationalist form. The volatile, irrational character of millennial movements made Egypts postcolonial transition to modern politics fraught and uncertain. And the authoritarian trend among Egypts ruling secular nationalists exacerbated the situation. In the end, Egypts seminal Islamist movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, proved capable of reorienting itself, downplaying its millennial claims, and espousing a rational politics. Its evolution speaks to the capacity of millennial movements to transform themselves and the societies of which they are a part. Keywords millennialism, Islamism, secular nationalism, Egypt, modernization

The prominence of Islamist movements in modern Muslim societies has long drawn the interest of scholars. Events surrounding the Arab spring of 2011 have shifted interest in Islamism beyond the academy and into the popular media as Islamist activists, primarily in Tunisia and Egypt, negotiate the political hurdles of more open societies and
Koninklijke Brill NV, Leiden, 2012 DOI: 10.1163/15685276-12341234


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politics. The questions on many peoples minds, in both the West and the Muslim world, are whether Islamists are capable of working within a democratic framework, whether they will nd a way to uphold both equal treatment of all citizens, Muslims and non-Muslims, and whether the traditional Islamic ideals that Islamists have long asserted will improve the modern Muslim condition. Heated debates about the nations future political culture have already emerged in Tunisia and Egypt, where Islamists won early victories at the polls.1 Secularists have expressed fears that Islamists are Janus-faced, outwardly espousing their commitment to democracy and tolerance but secretly waiting to impose their fundamentalist views, which will divide society, jeopardize relations with the West, and stunt economic growth. Islamists retort that secularists constitute a Westernized elite whose liberal values do not represent the Muslim masses and who at times have been willing to subvert democracy simply to prevent Islamists from coming to power. The potential of Islamists to lead a nation as Islamists will hinge, in part, on their ability to reinterpret and integrate their ideals within the framework of practical governance.2 In short, they must adapt and change, even as they maintain their Islamist identity and integrity. The challenges that lie ahead for Islamists, and for all citizens in the region, are signicant. Just as signicant are the challenges for students of the region, especially students of modern Islam, to get the story of this historic period of transition right. How one frames Islamism and Islamist movements matters, because it will determine whether the story is told accurately and fairly. In the Western academy, analyzing and typing Islamist movements have proven dicult for two interrelated reasons: the critical limitations
1) At the time of writing, November 2011, the Islamist Nahda party won some 41% of the seats in Tunisias constituent assembly, empowering it to form a government; see Islamists and secularists at one, The Economist, November 26, 2011, 58. In Egypt, the Brotherhood party, the Freedom and Justice Party, gained around 40% of the vote in the rst round of parliamentary elections; Salast parties won around 25% of the vote, making an Islamist dominated government likely; see David D. Kirkpatrick, Voting in Egypt Shows Mandate for Islamists, The New York Times, December 1, 2011, A1. 2) The case of Turkey under the leadership of Erdogan and the AK party might suggest that this issue has been resolved, but Islamists in Turkey came to power by distancing themselves from an overt Islamist agenda and embracing secularism.

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of tools of analysis derived originally from case examples in Western societies and the tendency to misread if not assume the worst of religio-political interaction in Muslim societies. For some scholars, fundamentalism proved a useful tool of analysis, once the characteristics of the typology were expanded beyond the narrow particulars of the American Christian experience (Lawrence 1989; Riesebrodt 1993). One of the limitations of fundamentalism, however, has been the tendency to view it as a static type. People seemingly become fundamentalist, either as a response to modernity or dramatic historical change, and they remain in the type, as it were, abiding in the solace oered by the characteristics of the worldview and lifestyle. It is this xed identity response that made fundamentalism little more than a religious stereotype in popular discourse and some comparative academic studies (Kenney 2005). This article focuses on the insights provided by millennialism as a typology for analyzing Islamism in Egypt, in particular the Society of Muslim Brothers. It argues that Islamism and the rst instantiation of secular Egyptian nationalism, Nasserism, were both millennial in character, and that the dominance and eventual failure of Nassers secular revolutionary millennialism facilitated Islamisms longterm success in Egypt. As a type often linked to societies in transition, millennialism proves particularly helpful for understanding modern Egypt, because it assumes that the social movement of Islamism is engaged in a shifting environment and is itself subject to change. Moreover, millennialism constitutes a type whose characteristics easily infuse both religious and political movements (Lanternari 1963; Talmon 1968). In Egypt, both Islamism and Nassers secular nationalism blended political and religious form and content as they strove to unite people in a collectivist eort to create an ideal society that addressed the nations material and spiritual needs. Indeed, millennial discourse, as will be argued, provided a medium through which Egyptians could work out their nationalist aspirations in a religious key and envision their religious values and identity in nationalist form. Millennialism, then, was more than just a movement in modern Egypt; it was a broad national mindset that facilitated social transformation from traditional to modern, from prepolitical to political and cultural authenticity. That millennialism had such a potential was not readily recognized by early critics of the Society of Muslim Brothers (hereafter Muslim Brotherhood).


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Modern Politics and the Perceived Threat of Irrational Religion Critics of the Muslim Brotherhood were typically concerned about three interrelated characteristics exhibited by the movement: its rejection of Western political liberalism, its assertion of Islams capacity to address all the developmental needs of modern Muslim societies, and its willingness to advocate violence to bring about Islamist goals. For some students of the modern Middle East, these very characteristics were reminders of a dangerous trend inherent in the Islamic tradition from its inception, the Mahdist ideal of restoring Islam and Muslim society to their perfected form through the cleansing force of godordained violence.3 In Islamic tradition, the Mahdi or rightly-guided one is linked to a host of messianic, eschatological expectations, in both the Sunni and Shii branches. The Mahdis appearance, according to the standard narrative, marks the end of a period of social discord and chaos, when justice will be reestablished and the world restored to its natural order. The Mahdis reign was never thought to last a thousand years, but the hope generated by his promised coming proved as inspiring to Muslims as the Messiahs millennial reign did for Christians. Claimants to the Mahdist mantel of authority emerged throughout Islamic history and across the expanse of the Muslim world. A number of modern uprisings in Africa tapped into the Mahdist legacy. In the region of Hausaland (modern Nigeria), Uthman Dan Fodio (17541817), casting himself in the traditional role of mujadid or renewer of the faith, established the Caliphate of Sokoto and named himself the Caliph. In North Africa (Cyrenaica), Muhammad b. Ali al-Sanusi (17871859) founded a Su brotherhood, the Sanusiyya, that spread throughout the region, fostering his ideas of piety, asceticism, and Islamic renewal in the face of European incursion. In the Sudan, Muhammad Ahmad (18481885) declared himself the Mahdi and led a revolt that gave rise to a multigenerational movement the Mahdiyya and an organized territorial state (Lapidus 1988:512514, 854859). These gures were part of a larger Islamic revivalism that swept Muslim societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries as Muslims
Mahdism is the closest term in the Islamic tradition that relates to the broader, inter-religious categories of messianism, millenarianism, and millennialism.

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responded to the social and cultural challenges of Western colonialism and modernization. The well-known reformers Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (18381897) and Muhammad Abduh (18491905) were part of this revivalist spirit; concerned about the decline of Islam and the weakness of Muslim peoples, they attempted to highlight the traditions longstanding embrace of science and reason, the twin forces that were thought to account for the Wests power advantage. Muslim Brotherhood thinkers were intellectual heirs to the reformers, but they also adopted an activist approach to transforming society, like the Mahdist-inspired movements in Africa. Mahdism, however, was never an identied source of inspiration for the Brothers. Indeed, Hasan alBanna (19061949), who founded the organization in 1928, eschewed attempts by some of his followers to cast him as a charismatic, spiritual gure (Lia 1998:114115). So why did some Western scholars tie the Muslim Brotherhood and Hasan al-Banna to Mahdism? The answer lies less in the clear millennial signs that the Brotherhood evinced than the secular sign of the times that Western critics wished to promote in Muslim societies. Writing at the midpoint of the twentieth century, when Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries had gained their independence and adopted forms of secular nationalism, these critics sought to stigmatize the Brotherhood as an aberrant form of modern politics. In his Haskell lectures, delivered at the University of Chicago in 1945, H. A. R. Gibb listed Mahdism as one of the three interpretive forces at work among Muslim thinkers the other two being secularism and neo-Mutazilism4 threatening the survival of the Islamic tradition: The heresy of Mahdism is its belief not only that the minds and wills of men can be dominated by force but that truth can be demonstrated by the edge of the sword (Gibb 1972:121).5 For Gibb, Mahdism proved the most

The Mutazilites were a classical theological-philosophical sect that highlighted the importance of reason and justice in their conceptualizations of god, to such an extent that they claimed that god, bound by the dictates of reason, must be just. Orthodox Sunnism, in the classical period, came to reject Muatazilite views because they placed limits on gods power to determine the nature of good and evil. Neo-Muatazilism is sometimes used to denote modern interpretive ideas that favor reason above traditional, literal understandings of sacred sources. 5) Gibb identied two modern examples of revolutionary Mahdism, the Muslim Brothers in Egypt and the Khaksars in India (1972:136 n.5).


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dangerous of these forces, because the other two were unlikely to appeal to the Muslim masses; and if orthodox leaders were unable to reconcile traditional doctrine and modern social realities, Mahdism was likely to win out. Other scholars expressed much the same concern about the danger posed by the Muslim Brotherhood to Egypts political future. One of Gibbs students at Harvard University, Nadav Safran, entitled a chapter in his study of Egypt The Ideology and Mentality of Mahdism (Safran 1961). Like Gibb, Safran viewed the Brotherhoods revolutionary violence as worrying, but he was more troubled by the failure of the Brotherhood to provide a meaningful ideology to justify violence and unite Egyptians. Instead of an ideology, according to Safran, the Brotherhood oered a simple creed, and one grounded more on faith than systematic thought (1961:231). For Safran, the very fact that the Brotherhood could not articulate a modern political program, that they relied on pious pronouncements and vague statements about Islams capacity to govern a modern state, demonstrated its messianic tendency (1961:239242). Safran viewed the Brotherhoods messianism as part of a larger cultural pushback in Egypt against the progressive eorts of Muslim reformers and liberal nationalists. And the question that lay ahead for the nation, as he saw it, was whether Egypts nationalist leaders would control the religious impulse that moves the masses or cynically play to these impulses and chart a dangerous anti-Western, anti-modernist course. Would Egypt remain bound to the romantic, emotional religious sentiment infusing nationalism in much of the Middle East, or would it orient itself toward the West, as Kemal Ataturk had with Turkey? In his highly-regarded Rand Corporation study of political and social change in the Middle East and North Africa, Manfred Halpern presented the choice facing Muslims between secular modernity and regressive Islamist millennialism in even starker terms than Safran (Halpern 1963). The Muslim Brotherhood, and all Islamist movements, according to Halpern, were totalitarian and fascist, bent on mobilizing passion and violence to enlarge the power of their charismatic leader and the solidarity of the movement (1963:135). Drawing on Norman Cohns then recently-published research on European millennial movements in the Middle Ages, Halpern saw important

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comparisons between pre-modern European fascism and modern Islamism:

In the fteenth century in Europe, as in modern Islam, groups arose which joined in the call for a religious Reformation, but opposed the alliance of the leading reformers with established secular authority. Instead, they adopted a militant social chiliasm that is, they organized themselves for an immediate leap into the promised millennium. (1963:136)

And the willingness of Muslims to make such a leap, according to Halpern, was inherent in the Islamic tradition:
Moslems have been perennially ready for the mahdi, the messenger of God, who would lead the community in a religio-political leap into the immediate fulllment of all spiritual and material needs even before judgment day. The reconstruction of society through the spiritualization of politics has been a permanent theme of opposition politics in Islam. While European fascism was compelled to propagandize myths that were new to the majority of the population, neo-Islamic totalitarianism simply exploits the tradition of converting Islam in times of crisis into an apocalyptic vision of spiritual and political redemption. (1963:136)

For Halpern, Islamist millennialism was a symptom of the failure to accept the necessary cultural and social changes that modernity had brought in its wake changes that secularists in Egypt and other Muslim-majority nations had accepted; millennial movements like the Muslim Brotherhood held onto traditional, dying forms of identity that prevented them from appreciating the normalness of modern secular life (1963:142). And this normalness included the recognition and embrace of social dislocation and constant change. The Muslim Brotherhood, according to Halpern, could not adapt to this modern condition, though their totalitarianism was a product of it: The Brotherhood is itself a symptom of uprootedness, yet cannot accept modern uprootedness as the precondition of modern liberation (1963:138). The point in singling out these scholars is not to discredit their research, for each has made seminal contributions that have stood the test of time in our understanding of modern Muslim societies. Rather, the intent is to focus on their particular understanding of millennialism and its application to the Muslim Brotherhood in the context of Egypts


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social and political transformation. For these authors, Islamist millennialism represented a choice facing modern Egyptians, but it was a misguided one because it was not a modern one. They wished to see a progressive, liberal nationalism take root in Egypt, very much like the nationalisms in place in the West; and they could not imagine how a movement that wished to see religion taken seriously in both society and politics, like the Muslim Brotherhood, could lead modern Egypt. A modern nation required a modern ideology, and religion in the structure of modern societies played a minor cultural role, not a major ideological one. Labeling the Brotherhood as Mahdist, messianist, or millennialist was a means of judging the movements religious politics as antithetical to modern nationalism. The Muslim Brotherhood, then, in their estimation, constituted a throwback to a retrograde and unchanging form of social and political organization one that depended on passion, not reason; groupthink, not individualism; violent revolution, not rational change; religious totalism, not secularism. Two problems, however, arise from these attempts to anathematize the Muslim Brotherhood as a millennial or Mahdist movement that threatened Egypts future orderly politics. First, at the midpoint of the twentieth century, Egyptians did not actually have the choice between orderly politics and millennialism. Instead, they were choosing between two competing millennialisms: the Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood and the nationalism of Gamal Abd al-Nasser. Second, while millennialism has an ancient history, with recurring patterns, the beliefs associated with it do not lead inexorably to the disastrous political results claimed by the abovementioned critics. Like any revitalization movement, millennialism has the capacity to unite people under a banner of salvation that sacrices rationality and individualism. But such movements also have the potential, as Vittorio Lanternari has noted, to serve as vehicles of larger social change:
All messianic movements . . . serve to implement the popular awareness of the need for change in the religious life, and, in so doing, pave the way for reform in the cultural, political, and social structure of secular society. (1963:321322)

Whether this potential is realized depends on historical factors, not the inherent nature of millennialism, which is to say that the future value or danger of a movement is not predictable before it has run its

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historical course.6 Islamism in Egypt had not run its course when these critics were predicting its inherent danger to rational politics. And Nassers secular nationalism had not yet shown its own millennial colors when the same critics embraced it as Egypts optimal political future.

Egypts Secular Millennium: Nassers Revolutionary Nationalism Modern national consciousness took root in Egypt in the last quarter of the nineteenth century, but a nationalist movement and competing nationalisms, including Islamism did not emerge until the rst half of the twentieth (Gershoni and Jankowski 1986). The most intense period of nationalist ferment occurred between the rst phase of Egyptian independence from British colonial rule in 1922 and the Free Ocers revolution of 1952. This period, known as the liberal experiment, stands out in modern Egyptian history as a time of heightened political awareness, party formation, anti-colonial activity, and open debate (Marsot 1977). The 1952 revolution eectively put an end to British rule and empowered the Free Ocers, under the leadership of Nasser, to search for a viable political and economic system of governance. This search resulted, after several dilatory years, in the establishment of a corporatist state, under the banner of Arab socialism. It was not, however, the ideological content of Nassers rule that warrants comparisons with millennialism. Rather, it was his charismatic style of rule and his exercise of state power to bend the nation to his will. While Egypts revolution was clearly motivated by secular reasoning and forces, its shift in the direction of millennialism blurred the distinction between secular and religious. Indeed, millennialisms capacity to accommodate, and interweave, secular and religious revolutionary content made it an ideal instrument of change for Egypts traditional society. At the time of the revolution, Egypt embodied in many ways the political, social, and economic conditions that have historically given rise to millenarian/millennial movements, whether of a religious or secular variety. Development policies, begun initially in the nineteenth

Talmon makes the important point that the evaluation of millennial movements in academic literature even the way cases are selected for study reects value premises about the ecacy of gradual and radical social change (1968:360).


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century, had transformed the organizational power of the state, introduced dramatic changes in daily life, and heightened social expectations. Economic disparities between rural and urban, landowners and fellah (peasants) alienated large segments of the population and created social unrest. British colonial policies, which fostered native dependence and weakness, thwarted attempts by Egyptians to grow industries, improve education, and implement self-rule. Moreover, exposure to Western values, education, and lifestyles had created a crisis of cultural orientation that sometimes pitted a native Westernizing elite over and against the masses (Hopwood 1982; Marsot 1977). Taken together, these conditions set the stage for the revolution, but they do not account for the millennial direction of post-revolutionary Egypt. Yonina Talmon identies ve characteristics of millenarian movements that provide a useful comparative framework for analyzing the similarities between Nasserism and Islamism in Egypt: the quest for total, imminent, ultimate, this-worldly, collective salvation (1968:351). As a distinct style of rule, Nasserism was slow in the making, a product of the Free Ocers assessing Egypts capacity for fast-paced revolutionary change and coming to two main conclusions about what the nation required: strong leadership and a clear-cut ideological course with no distracting opposition. Elements of this thinking were evident in Nassers own published assessment of the causes of revolution, where he wrote of Egyptians inability to assert themselves politically and the countrys need for a heroic gure to take charge (Nasser 1955). Egypt, according to Nasser, had arrived at a dramatic historical moment, when it was nally prepared to take its place among the great nations of the world. And Nasser cast himself in the heroic role of shepherding Egypt to its this-worldly salvation, to dramatic transformations in education, communication, transportation, industry, economic equality, social justice, and international leadership. This was to be accomplished through a collectivist eort, by focusing the energies of all citizens and bringing all the nations resources to bear upon identied problems. Immediately following the revolution, all political parties were eliminated except for the Muslim Brotherhood, and within two years even the Brotherhood ran afoul of the regime and was declared illegal. A series of single-party institutions rst the Liberation Rally, then the National Union, and nally the Arab Socialist Union evolved to

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implement government policies, inspire the populace, and control opposition (Hopwood 1982:8497). While these institutions were alleged to represent the masses, Nasser maintained ultimate power and eectively undermined any potential political challenges to his authority, real or imagined, within the regime. As one author has noted, none of these institutions was meant to be an active institution with decision-making powers, but was conceived basically as a civic association to mobilize the people (Dessouki 1983:15). Economically, Nasser embarked on course of nationalization that eventually brought manufacturing, utilities, banks, communications, transportation, and unions under state control. Even al-Azhar, the oldest and most prestigious center of Islamic learning in the Muslim world, was incorporated into the array of state ministries and exploited to provide religious legitimacy for state policies (Hopwood 1982:9597). Nasserism, like millennialism in general, erased the distinction between private and public, between the interests of the individual and those of the group. As Nassers corporatist policies began to take hold, associational life constricted and became another instrument of state power (Bianchi 1989). A series of associational laws were passed to limit the ability of civic groups to form and operate without government permission. The Ministry of Social Aairs, whose task it was to oversee civil society, denied permits to any organization with an explicit or implicit political agenda; it also set restrictions on private money funding charitable activities. Longstanding civic groups that the state found dicult to eliminate, such as labor organizations and professional syndicates, were forced to adopt membership rules that subverted their potential political opposition (Kassem 2004:8899). Nasser attempted to co-opt political opposition whenever possible. But he also employed the prerogatives of authoritarian regimes everywhere: the creation of self-serving laws to undermine opponents and empower state authority, the resort to security forces to suppress threats, and an eective propaganda machine. Egypts prisons during Nassers rule housed a range of political opponents Wafdists, communists, Islamists most jailed without trial and subjected to harsh treatment. When Anwar Sadat, Nassers successor, eventually freed many of those imprisoned under Nasser, a genre of prison literature emerged, attesting to the former presidents depraved treatment of political opponents. Sadat, in fact,


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tried to distance himself from the violations of human rights and the colossal mistakes that occurred during his predecessors rule (Sadat 1977:209210).7 Nassers revolutionary nationalism fused state and society, and created a totalizing world view that elevated both the state and its charismatic leader to a cult-like status. In many ways, the Nasserist state, despite its secular objectives, took on the style and function of a religion, following a pattern of development in newly independent nations in Africa and Asia that David Apter has termed political religion (1963). Political religion, according to Apter, is a mobilization system adopted by nations that wish to modernize at a rapid pace but lack the basic material and social infrastructure to facilitate such a transformation. In such circumstances, some political leaders tend to use force in order to retain authority and instill in the citizens attitudes of respect and devotion to the regime (1963:61). In place of reasoned debate and consultative politics, the state substitutes emotional appeals to the masses, a forced politicization of all aspects of life, and unquestioned loyalty. As a result,
The state becomes a total system of meaning that dominates and informs all levels and spheres of society. Like religion, political religion lends participants a degree of meaning and importance unparalleled in normal political circumstances. That importance is derived from faith in the states myth of origin and greatness; and from submission in, and submission to, its greater purpose. The individual and state are thus joined into a mystical union of sorts, sharing the same mission in this life and destiny in the historical hereafter. (Kenney 2006:6263)

For Apter, there is a clear distinction between political religion and religion, between systems that promise this-worldly meaning and rewards and those that promise transcendent meaning and rewards in the world to come. But because his focus is solely on the political eld, he misses the parallel transformations traditional religions undergo in developing societies. For if political nationalism can take religious form (i.e., political religion) in a country like Egypt, it is also the case that religion can take political form, that religious leaders and movements
Sadat cast his own attempt to shape a post-Nasser path of development in Egypt as the second revolution; see chapter 8 of Sadat 1977.

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shape religion to the practical, developmental needs of the country. Millennialism, as a category of analysis, has the exibility of addressing the betwixt-and-between nature of identity and ideology in traditional societies in transition. Millennial movements rise above the structural and cultural limitations of the moment to foster a new vision of the future; and they do so by mobilizing all aspects of society (either structurally, ideationally, or both), by erasing distinctions between individual and group, private and public, religion and politics, sacred and mundane. The success of such movements is measured, in the short term, by the extent to which participants are drawn into the worldview being fostered and, in the long term, by the capacity of the movement to facilitate a transition to a less revolutionary political order. Nassers short-term success at winning the hearts and minds of Egyptians is the stu of legend. His long-term success was undone by the dramatic loss to Israel in the Six Day War of 1967. Perhaps the best insight into Nasserisms legacy emerged from the Egyptian writer Tawq al-Hakims post-1967 apologia for supporting Nasser:8
[Nasser] had inundated us with magic and dreams in such a way that we didnt know he had inundated us. Perhaps as they said it was his personal magic when he spoke to the masses, or perhaps it was the dream in which we had begun to live because of those hopes and promises. Whatever the fact, those glowing images of the accomplishments of the revolution made out of us instruments of the broad propaganda apparatus with its drums, its horns, its odes, its songs and its lms. We saw ourselves as a major industrial state, a leader of the developing world in agricultural reform, and the strongest striking force in the Middle East. The face of the idolized leader, which lled the television screen loomed at us for long hours and explained to us how we had been before and what we had now become. We could not help but believe, and burn our hands with applause. (Hakim 1985:28)

The short-term success of the magic and dreams millennialism by another name turned to disappointment because Nasserism failed to lead the country into the promised land of national development and power. As the loss to Israel demonstrated, at least to those with eyes to

In 1930, al-Hakim had addressed Egypts dire need for a strong man at the helm; see Ansari 1986:77.


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see, Egypt had not absorbed the blessings of modernization promised by Nasser. The nations military proved incapable of defending its people and territory; its industries produced substandard goods available domestically but not competitive in global markets; and its economy remained stagnant and dependent on state intervention. 1967 was a turning point for Egypt and the entire Arab world, ushering in a period of cultural crisis and self-criticism (Ajami 1981). In the immediate aftermath of the war, Egyptians rallied in support of Nasser when he tried to resign. For the masses, it seemed as if Egypt without Nasser was unthinkable (Hopwood 1982:77). But the millennial expectations associated with Nassers secular nationalism waned dramatically in the 1970s, in large part because Anwar Sadat, Nassers successor, embarked on a de-Nasserization campaign (Ansari 1986; Hopwood 1982; Ajami 1981:9596). Sadat steered Egypts domestic politics and economy, along with the nations international relations, in a new direction. Open-markets, peace with Israel, and good relations with the West were the order of the day. But both Sadat and his successor Hosni Mubarak maintained Nassers preference for authoritarianism, though theirs was of a more mundane variety. Gone was the mass rally, hyping a grandiose vision of Egypts future; gone too was the mystagogic aura of political religion. Instead, Egypts post-Nasserist, post-millennial narrative increasingly focused on carving out a nonrevolutionary space in a late- and then post-Cold War international environment, dominated by neo-liberal capitalism, which has itself taken on millennial qualities (Comaro and Comaro 2000). The long-term pressure on a receding and weakening Egyptian state made it dicult for the regime to rule eectively. Under Sadat and then Mubarak, the state pulled back from the social commitments made under Nasser, adopting neo-liberal economic policies demanded by Western powers and institutions like the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, and relying more and more on authoritarian measures to assert itself; and neither leader managed to replace Nassers tacit social and political contract with a viable one of his own. Thus, the long-term legacy of Nasserist millennialism resulted not in a transition to orderly politics but, rather, in an authoritarian cul-de-sac of stalled development, intrusive global capitalism, and growing disparities between rich and poor. Islamisms legacy was quite dierent.

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The Muslim Brotherhood: A Millennial Movement in Transition On the eve of the revolution, the Muslim Brotherhood had been operating for almost a quarter of a century. By 1953, some 1,500 branches of the movement existed throughout Egypt, and membership was estimated between 200,000 and 300,000 (Mitchell 1969:328). Hasan alBanna, the founder of the Brotherhood, was assassinated in 1949, but before his death he had, through speeches and publications, laid the intellectual groundwork for Islamism in Egypt. Just as important, he had overseen the establishment of an array of educational, business, and charitable activities. The Brotherhood, then, constituted a signicant grass-roots movement that had integrated itself into the deep tissue of Egyptian society. It was this very organizational strength that made the movement attractive to the Free Ocers who, immediately before and after the revolution, hoped to use its structure and mass appeal as a basis for promoting their own power and agenda. The falling out between the Brotherhood and Free Ocers occurred rather early, after it became clear to the Brotherhood that the Free Ocers did not take Islam seriously as a viable modern ideology. An assassination attempt on Nasser, carried out by members of the Brotherhoods Secret Apparatus, provided the regime with a reason to crush the movement (Mitchell 1969:105162). With the Brotherhood eliminated as the only remaining political competition to the Free Ocers, Nasser proceeded to map out his own political strategy. Thus, Nassers revolutionary millennialism emerged against the backdrop of an existing Islamist millennialism one forced to operate underground, awaiting the opportunity to prove its capacity to lead Egypt. This underground status was key to the continued survival of the Islamist ideal as an alternative, if untested, option to secular nationalism and rule. This same status also impacts the way Talmons ve characteristics map onto the Brotherhood millennialism. Lacking state control or support, the Brothers ideology never informed a ruling government in Egypt. They were always a movement in search of power, and thus their intellectual critique of existing society contains some of the best insights into their millennial character. Like other voices in the nationalist movement, the Brothers combined nativist self-assertion and calls for modernization. But the rhetorical turn of Brotherhood discourse


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constantly highlighted the dierences between Islamism and other modern isms, and the uniqueness of Islamisms capacity to address the needs of Muslims in a world dominated by Western norms and nations. Hasan al-Banna expressed this uniqueness in one of his early seminal writings:
Brethren, you are not a benevolent organization, nor a political party, nor a local association with strictly limited aims. Rather you are a new spirit making its way into the heart of this nation and reviving it through the Quran; a new light dawning and scattering the darkness of materialism through the knowledge of God; a resounding voice rising and echoing the message of the Apostle . . . It is simply the truth, and no exaggeration, that you know that you are bearing the burden after the rest of mankind has shunted it o. If someone should ask you: To what end is your appeal made?, say: We are calling people to Islam, which was brought by Muhammad . . . government is part of it, and freedom is one of its religious duties. If someone should say to you: This is politics!, say: This is Islam, and we do not recognize such divisions. If someone should say to you: You are agents of revolution!, say: We are agents of truth and of peace in which we believe and which we exalt. (al-Banna 1978:36)

Here the words reect the millennial claims of ultimate and total transformation: Islamism reaches beyond the everyday structure of life to encompass a larger reality a reality no longer relevant to Western political systems. Islamism addresses both the material and spiritual aspects of life. In fact, it is both political and, at the same time, beyond politics because of its higher purpose, its higher calling. It is both revolutionary and beyond revolutions because of its ultimate hold on truth. And the Islam of al-Bannas conception is a total system of meaning that denies modern divisions between religion and politics, public and private recognized by the West, and that fullls all the needs of humankind:
If you examine the teaching of Islam, you will nd that it promulgates the soundest principles, the most suitable regulations, and the most precise laws for the life of the individual, man or woman, for the life of the family both during its formation and its dissolution, and for the life of nations during their growth, their strength, and their weakness, and sanctions ideas before which even reformers and leaders of nations have stood hesitant. (al-Banna 1978:87)

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It was precisely this kind of amorphous language that frustrated critics of the Brotherhood in Egypt and beyond. But in the context of Egypts debates about nationalism, which were dominated by Western ideals and models, the Brotherhood adopted such language to position itself as an alternative voice, the only true Islamic voice. The majority of Egyptians active in the nationalist movement denounced the British occupation, fought for independence, and called for national unity, but they also envisioned a future Egyptian nationalism dened by the same characteristics that shaped national identity in the West: people, land, language, culture, history, and religion. The Brotherhood, however, took a dierent tack: it dened everything in terms of Islam and the willingness of people to adhere to its dictates. Its nationalism was a collective bond of faith and its politics an implementation of Gods divine plan. The only meaningful division of modern identity which the organization recognized was one between believers and non-believers:
[K]now that the Muslim Brotherhood regard mankind as divided into two camps vis--vis themselves: one, believing as they believe, in Gods religion and His Book, and in the mission of His Apostle and what he brought with him. These are attached to us by the most hallowed of bonds, the bonds of creedal doctrine, which is to us holier than the bond of blood or soil. These are our closest relatives among the peoples: we feel sympathy toward them, we work on their behalf, we defend them and we sacrice ourselves and our wealth for them in whatever land they may be, or from whatever origin they may spring. (al-Banna 1978:5556)

The Muslim Brotherhood, then, oered its followers a nationalism that was a counter-nationalism, a politics that was a counter-politics, and a modernity that was a counter-modernity. The most obvious inuence that the Brotherhood hoped to counter was that of the West, but the West, because of the history of colonialism, was not simply a foreign presence that could easily be removed. The West had invaded the hearts and minds of fellow Egyptians, fellow Muslims. Not only, then, did the Brothers not share a bond of faith with the secular West; they also did not share a bond of faith with those Muslims who, having adopted Western values and mentality, did not agree with their understanding of Islams ideological potential. With faith so dened, interactions with people outside the movement always carried the potential for conict, ideological and physical:


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As for other people with whom we do not yet share this bond, we will be at peace with them as long as they refrain from aggression against us. We believe, however, that a bond does exist between us and them the bond of our mission and that it is our duty to invite them to what we adhere to because it is the best that humanity has to oer, and to employ such ways and means to succeed in this mission as our faith has designated for that end. As for those of them who show hostility toward us, we shall repel their aggression by the most virtuous means through which such hostility may be repelled. (al-Banna 1978:56)

Despite the potential for conict, the Brotherhood did not engage in violent attacks on either the Egyptian state or fellow citizens during its early phase of development. And the violence that was attributed to the organization had much in common with the violence of other Egyptians, with the patterns of political and social violence that swept Egypt as parties and groups negotiated the nations future in the streets (Mitchell 1969:322). The Brotherhoods ultimate millennial goal of establishing an Islamic order, ruled over by an Islamic state that implements Islamic law (sharia) and adopts the Quran as its constitution diered markedly from other nationalist movements. But members relied on the means of mainstream civil society to communicate their ideal: preaching, teaching, social activism, and philanthropy. Violence only emerged as a prominent feature of Brotherhood activities after the Nasserist state eliminated political opposition, severely curtailed civil society, and drove the movement underground. This historical shift in method of activism reects a general pattern that has been observed in millennial movements and their historical trajectories: When a group is relatively comfortable in society and they achieve some success in building their millennial kingdom, progressive themes may be highlighted. When disaster, opposition, or persecution is encountered, catastrophic themes will receive prominence (Wessinger 2000:8). The Brotherhood had, by any measure, achieved a great deal of success in Egyptian society by the time of the revolution, and it saw this success undermined by an authoritarian regime unwilling to tolerate meaningful political opposition and bent on controlling civil society for its own purposes. Their this-worldly ambitions in ruins, members found themselves working out the fate of the movement while operating underground and in Nassers prisons. Indeed, the prison experience

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proved a decisive turning point in the evolution of the millennial character of Islamism in Egypt, as the prison transformation of Sayyid Qutb, a leading Brotherhood ideologue, makes clear (Kepel 2003:26 35; Kenney 2011:692693).9 Jailed in 1954, along with thousands of other Brotherhood members, Qutb witnessed rst-hand the abuse, humiliation, and torture inicted on fellow Muslims by what he viewed as a depraved regime; and he expressed the anger and frustration of this experience in his now famous radical primer Maalam l-tariq (Signposts Along the Way, also translated as Milestones), which he penned in prison. What is most striking about this work is not the oblique invective directed against Nasser and the secular state something that one might readily expect;10 rather, it is the seeming hopelessness that infuses the writing. Unlike Qutbs pre-prison writings, which call upon believers to work to improve society along Islamist lines, Maalam l-tariq advises believers to expect the worst, to suer and die a martyrs death for the faith (Qutb 1987:188202). When Qutb determines that the Brotherhood is no longer able to carry out its mission in society, to achieve some success in a progressive millennial manner, he reinterprets success for the Brothers in catastrophic millennial terms: The highest form of triumph is the victory of soul over matter, the victory of belief over pain, and the victory of faith over persecution (Qutb 1987:191, 1993:131). Qutbs own life and writings trace out the Islamist transformation in Egypt from mainstream to radical Islamism and testify to the contextspecic history that led to this transformation. Radicalism, however, never became the dening feature of either the Brotherhood or Islamism in Egypt. The prison experience gave rise to a general debate among Islamists about how to survive in the authoritarian environment, and dierences of opinion led to splits among Islamists. Some rejected the use of violence to achieve their goals, while others, following Qutbs interpretive lead, decided that force was a necessary means of dealing
For an insightful analysis of how the prison experience led Qutb to reframe and rework a previous piece of writing, see Shephard 1996. 10) Qutb never mentions Nasser by name in Signposts, nor does he speak directly about Egyptian society or the Muslim Brothers; instead, he adopts thinly-veiled references that readers easily recognized.


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with an oppressive, sinful regime. In the fallout of the debate, the Muslim Brotherhood became the representative of nonviolence, of social activism within whatever limited space the state permitted; and radical oshoot groups emerged during the 1970s and 1980s to take up a path of direct confrontation (Kepel 2003). Sadat and Mubarak tolerated the Brotherhood as an unocial opposition, though the organization remained ocially outlawed. Its capacity to operate openly, however, always depended on playing within certain rules of the game, which included an avoidance of overt political activism and a willingness to denounce militant Islamist outbursts. Over time, the secular state and the Brotherhood reached a modus vivendi of sorts, but it was always a tenuous one at best (Auda 1994). It lasted for approximately forty years, from the early 1970s to the Arab spring of 2011, because 1) the Muslim Brothers lacked the capacity to foment a popular revolution on their own, and 2) the states authority could not withstand the popular backlash that would surely have occurred if it tried to eliminate a movement long known for its eorts on behalf of the poor and would-be middle class. During this period, the Brotherhoods stock rose and fell according to levels of Islamist violence; but the states popularity rose and fell also, usually according to shifts in economic stability, growing disparity between rich and poor, government corruption, and perceptions of the regimes subservience to Western political needs and pressure. In the end, Egypts ruling elite held on to power through a combination of authoritarianism, crony capitalism, and support from Western nations fearful, especially after 9/11, of an Islamist takeover. Meanwhile, the Brotherhood waited in the political wings. Having established its ideological dierences with the secular state in midcentury, the movement continued to play the role of spoiler, promising Islamic solutions to this-worldly problems, symbolized by the slogan Islam is the answer. But unlike Egypts secular elite, whose income, education, and lifestyle distanced them from the masses, Islamists continued to engage fellow Egyptians, to build organizational networks and to spread their message. And their eorts paid o, for by the mid1980s the Brotherhood emerged as the only opposition movement . . . capable of mobilizing substantial popular support for an ideological program distinct from that of the Mubarak regime (Wickham 2002:92).

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In addition, starting in the 1980s, a breed of new Islamists began to take shape out of the Brotherhood, thinkers capable of both criticizing aspects of past Brotherhood ideology and activism and laying the groundwork for a more centrist, pragmatic role for Islamists in a pluralistic political setting (Baker 2003). In short, Egyptian Islamists grew more complex and less easy to categorize, and a prominent faction of them came to eschew the millennial claims that dened the rst generation of Islamists. Thus the Muslim Brotherhood managed to adopt a more rational politics during the Mubarak years, even if it had little opportunity to benet directly in the political sphere from this shift.11

From Millennial Movement to Political Participation and Beyond The events of the Arab spring in Egypt have brought the millennial path of the Muslim Brotherhood into high relief. With the overthrow of Mubarak in January 2011 and the opening of the political eld, the Muslim Brotherhood formed a political party, the Freedom and Justice Party, and began to capitalize on its organizational strength in the build-up to announced elections. In fall 2011, the Freedom and Justice Party claimed victory after the early round of parliamentary elections and was positioned to form what will be the rst democratically-elected government in modern Egypt.12 Given the evolution of the Brotherhoods ideology and activism, it is clear that the Muslim Brotherhood has emerged as a case of a millennial movement that has made a successful transition from millennial or revolutionary politics to orderly politics a movement that has served as a bridge during a period of national development and awakening (Talmon 1968; Barkun 1974). And this success is tied, historically, to a failure of secular politics to serve as a vehicle for Egypts political modernization. Fouad Ajami addressed this problem thirty years ago in his assessment of Arab politics after the 1967 defeat:

The various ways in which the Muslim Brotherhood engaged in political activism without participating in formal politics have been treated by Wickham 2002 and Abdo 2000. 12) See note 1.



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Were Sadat to oer a viable parliamentary option, there would be a more balanced duel between orderly politics and millenarianism. His failure to do so, part of the broader failure to solve the question of political participation in Arab society, leaves the fundamentalists [i.e., Islamists] with ample room for maneuver. Politics have been driven into the mosque and the symbols of opposition have become avowedly religious, because the ruling elites remain bent on monopolizing political power. (Ajami 1981:181)

What Ajami could not predict was that, long-term, Islamists would be part of the solution to the problem of political participation in Egypt, and Islamist millennialism would lead eventually to broader national interests and party politics. Scholars who did recognize the historical continuity between millennialism and nationalism typically understood the reformative end of the movements activism to be secular society and politics (Lanternari 1963; Worsley 1968; Barkun 1974). This perception is in keeping with representations of nationalism as a modern political identity shorn of its religious origins, no matter the religious culture or particular national history:
Even where religion was a crucial factor in the development of nationalism and a source of its initial legitimacy . . ., even where it played midwife at the birth of nationalism and protected it in its infancy, religion was reduced to the role of a handmaiden, an occasionally used tool, and came to exist on nationalisms suerance . . . What needs to be kept in mind is that the nature of nationalism is never determined by the religious context in which it may grow, and though often aected by this context to an extent, it is ultimately dened by the constraints of the immediate situations faced by the social groups actively involved in the formation of the national consciousness. These constraints are emphatically secular. They are generated not by the exigencies of salvation and the responsibility before his Creator that each man must meet alone, but by the tensions in mens social relations, which agitate peculiarly social passions and anxieties status anxiety, the concern for dignity, recognition, and ones place among others all that, in short, which religion dismisses as vanity. (Greenfeld 1996:181182)

Of course, neither the Muslim Brotherhood nor the majority of Egyptian citizens ever regarded the nation in such stark secular terms. Indeed, the word secular (ilmani) among Egyptians has often been associated with godlessness, immorality, and the West.13 This attitude is hardly
13) For insight into Egyptian attitudes toward secularism in the post-Arab spring political climate, see Anthony Shadid and David D. Kirkpatrick, Activists in Islamic

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surprising, given secularisms association with three successive authoritarian rulers Nasser, Sadat, and Mubarak who imposed Western political economies and failed to address Egypts fundamental problems, and given the corporatist states ongoing policy of undermining political organizations and parties that might have given secular politics a better reputation. Moreover, the secular Wests continued interference in Egypt and other Muslim lands soured many on economic and political values associated with the West. Yet, despite the fact that secular nationalism has not been kind to Egypt, Egyptian society, like the rest of the Muslim world, has become secularized, as Sami Zubaida notes, in that many of [its] institutions and practices have no relation to religion (Zubaida 2011:4). Put dierently, the structural impact of modernity of global capitalism, industrialization, and social dierentiation has changed Egypt forever, and there is no going back. In its early years, the Muslim Brotherhood rejected secularization as un-Islamic, as an inauthentic form of modern Muslim identity. This rejection included Western forms of political and economic organization, such as nationalism, pluralism, democracy, party politics, and capitalism. But the Brotherhood reformed over the years, transitioning from a millennial movement to mainstream politics, by integrating two fundamental realities that it had originally deemed incompatible: rst, the cultural importance of Islam to modern Egyptian collective identity, which the Muslim Brotherhood itself contributed to over the years; and second, modern forms of political and economic organization associated with secularization, such as political parties, pluralism, democracy, and a free market economy, which the Brotherhood came to accept through a process of interpretation. Thus, the new Islamists helped make structural modernization more compatible with Egyptian sensibilities by infusing it with Islamic values and discourse; they made universal aspects of secular modernity seem not only less threatening but essential to Egypts future by framing them in Islamic terms and, at the same time, by rejecting secularisms cultural universality (Baker 2003). They accomplished, then, through
World Vie to Dene Islamic State, The New York Times, 30 September 2001; and Neil MacFarquhar, After Revolt, Egyptians Try to Shape New Politics, The New York Times, 18 March 2011. For a global comparative analysis of secularization and attitudes toward the secular, see Norris and Inglehart 2004.


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an Islamic frame of reference what the early critics of the Brotherhood thought only secularists could accomplish. Sami Zubaida has called the kind of interpretive process engaged in by the new Islamists spray-on Islam, because it supposedly simply covers a secular structure with a religious gloss (Zubaida 2011:4). The importance of such a gloss, however, should not be underestimated, especially if it facilitates the acceptance of institutions and structures that would otherwise be viewed with suspicion by the masses. Moreover, whatever truth there is to the notion of spray-on Islam within Islamism and in religious discourse on modernization more broadly speaking, there is nothing supercial about the extent to which Muslim Brotherhood thinking had to change to accommodate the two realities mentioned above. Indeed, some scholars have described this new thinking as post-Islamism, which Asef Bayat denes as
. . . a project, a conscious attempt to conceptualize and strategize the rationale and modalities of transcending Islamism in social, political, and intellectual domains. Yet, Post-Islamism is neither anti-Islamic nor un-Islamic nor secular. Rather it represents an endeavor to fuse religiosity and rights, faith and freedom, Islam and liberty. It is an attempt to turn the underlying principles of Islamism on its head by emphasizing rights instead of duties, plurality in place of singular authoritative voice, historicity rather than xed scripture, and the future instead of the past . . . Post-Islamism is expressed in acknowledging secular exigencies, in freedom from rigidity, in breaking down the monopoly of truth. In short, whereas Islamism is dened by the fusion of religion and responsibility, post-Islamism emphasizes religiosity and rights. (Bayat 2007:11)

The post in post-Islamism suggests that Islamism has reinvented itself, either willingly, out of necessity, or something of both, and the logical question that arises is: Reinvented into what? If Islamism is, as Bayat notes, neither anti-Islamic nor un-Islamic nor secular, how does one classify it? The current political eld in Egypt indicates that Islamists have become, in short order, savvy political party activists. But is the endpoint of Islamist millennialism, of the Muslim Brotherhood in particular, simply party politics? Is the future course of the Brotherhoods Freedom and Justice Party like that of the Christian Democratic Union in Germany a religiously-grounded party that, over time, sheds its religious roots and diers little from other secular parties? And what of

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the millennial rhetoric that, though toned down and reformulated, informed and sustained the Muslim Brotherhood all those years in the political wilderness, the rhetoric that envisioned a total Islamic order, manifesting itself in an Islamic state, governed by Islamic law, with the Quran as the constitution? In a Western sociological context, a revolutionary millennial movement might follow a set path, and one that distinguishes between politics and religion: When a revolution takes power, the millenarian rhetoric survives, just as, on the religious level, millenarian doctrines survive the transition from sect to church (Barkun 1974:133). But there is no church in Islam, and the transformed sect, the Muslim Brotherhood, is on the verge of taking power in Egypt. One possible outcome of the current situation is that the Muslim Brotherhood will eventually facilitate the emergence of a civil Islam in Egypt, an open society that respects dierence, nurtures civic engagement, and builds a healthy political culture all undergirded by widely accepted norms and values drawn from Islamic tradition. As Robert Hefner has noted, there is not one civil Islam but many variations: Most versions begin, however, by denying the wisdom of a monolithic Islamic state and instead arming democracy, voluntarism, and a balance of countervailing powers in a state and society (Hefner 2000:12 13). The rhetoric of the new Islamists in Egypt, along with the current statements of Muslim Brotherhood political leadership, resonates with such a result. But much depends on the mechanisms for achieving it, which is another way of saying that Islamism in Egypt is in motion because the political endgame is still being negotiated, both in the voting booth and on the streets. A civil Islam can only emerge where conditions are right, for [a] healthy civil society requires a civilized state (Baker 2003:20). If millennialism is no longer driving Muslim Brotherhood activism, it has not disappeared from the Islamist scene in Egypt. The Salas have inherited aspects of earlier Muslim Brotherhood millennialism its aggressive, judgmental, self-righteous claims about what constitutes true Islam and a true Muslim life, along with occasional calls for violence against enemies of Islam (Gauvain 2010). In the current political moment, Muslim Brotherhood and Sala political parties are competing with one another, and the Brotherhoods public pronouncements


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have contrasted its own progressive notions of Islam with the foreign Wahhabi-fundamentalism of the Salas. In one of those ironic turns of history, the Muslim Brotherhood, once accused of irrational politics and backward social policies, is now leveling the same accusations against Salas.

Conclusion The evolution of the Muslim Brotherhood speaks to the potential of millennial movements to both transform themselves and the societies of which they are a part. The Brotherhoods long history of operating in the authoritarian netherworld of illegality, repression, and restricted participation in civil society provided the movement with sucient time to reect and to begin to articulate a more mainstream set of ideas that resonated with the Egyptian populace. In post-colonial contexts, millennial movements are born out of the search for a tolerably coherent system of values, a new cultural identity, and a regained sense of self-respect (Talmon 1968:355). That search in Egypt generated two millennial movements whose competing systems of values and cultural identity served as counterpoints for debates about how to be modern. While the moderate Islamism of the Muslim Brotherhood has captured Egypts cultural center, the debate has not ended, and neither has the potential for millennialism to aect future Egyptian politics. Indeed, millennialism in Egypt has much the same potential as it does in the United States, another highly religious nation with a population primed to read its present and future in mythic terms.14 This same millennial potential contributes to the uneasy place of secularism in Egyptian and American political culture. Millennialism, in its progressive and catastrophic forms, quickens politics, infusing it with a passion and purpose beyond what one of the early critics of the Muslim Brotherhood called the normalness of modern secular life (Halpern 1963:142). Secular politics is mundane politics; millennial politics is perfected politics, the politics of bringing heaven to earth. That religious people will strive, at times, for perfected politics is a
14) Here it should be noted that Egypt, unlike the United States, has limited capacity to project an apocalyptic politics outside its own borders; for an analysis of Unites States apocalyptic politics after 9/11, see Gray 2007.

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given. The manner in which they strive for such a politics, however, depends on historical conditions. In early American history, millennial movements and discourse proved key to the democratization of American Christianity:
American popular culture allowed self-educated people to espouse millennial hopes, hopes rife with the conviction that a novus ordo seculorum was unfolding. Common folk could, in this culture, challenge their betters; democracy was the cause of God . . . Even when political and social realities seemed to defy democratic standards, populist preachers vied with elites for the birthright of the nation. They called America back to roots that had much to do with popular sovereignty and the right to think for oneself. (Hatch 1989:188)

Thus not all those who pursue millennial dreams follow the path, notably outlined by Cohn, of delusion, paranoia and death. The Islamist millennialism of the Brotherhood has proven a direct contributor to the democratization of Islam in Egypt. Whether this cultural evolution will enable a deeper structural transformation to take root in Egyptian politics remains to be seen.

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