© Copyright 2016 Cambridge University Press. This article analyzes in depth four main writings by the pioneering nahda intellectual Rifa'a Rafi'al-Tahtawi, who drew on classical kinds of adab to articulate new kinds of political subjectivities. He especially draws on the image of the body politic as a body with the king at its heart. But he reconfigures this image, instead placing the public, or the people, at the heart of politics, a "vanquishing sultan" that governs through public opinion. For al-Tahtawi, adab is a kind of virtuous comportment that governs self and soul and structures political relationships. In this, he does not diverge from classical conceptions of adab as righteous behavior organizing proper social and political relationships. But in his thought, disciplinary training in adab is crucial to the citizen-subject's capacity for self-rule, as he submits to the authority of his individual conscience, ensuring not only freedom, but also justice. These ideas have had lasting impact on Islamic thought, as they have been recycled for the political struggles of new generations.
© 2015 by Princeton University Press. All rights reserved.In the decades leading up to the Arab Spring in 2011, when Hosni Mubarak's authoritarian regime was swept from power in Egypt, Muslim women took a leading role in developing a robust Islamist presence in the country's public sphere. Soft Force examines the writings and activism of these women-including scholars, preachers, journalists, critics, actors, and public intellectuals-who envisioned an Islamic awakening in which women's rights and the family, equality, and emancipation were at the center. Challenging Western conceptions of Muslim women as being oppressed by Islam, Ellen McLarney shows how women used "soft force"-a women's jihad characterized by nonviolent protest-to oppose secular dictatorship and articulate a public sphere that was both Islamic and democratic. McLarney draws on memoirs, political essays, sermons, newspaper articles, and other writings to explore how these women imagined the home and the family as sites of the free practice of religion in a climate where Islamists were under siege by the secular state. While they seem to reinforce women's traditional roles in a male-dominated society, these Islamist writers also reoriented Islamist politics in domains coded as feminine, putting women at the very forefront in imagining an Islamic polity. Bold and insightful, Soft Force transforms our understanding of women's rights, women's liberation, and women's equality in Egypt's Islamic revival.