The Independent Path of Shaykh al-Azhar 'Abd al-Halim Mahmud

Yoram Meital, Moshe Albo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


The present article calls into question the widely-held notion that the Islamic establishment in contemporary Egypt is subservient to the ruling class. We eschew the simplistic binary approach to interactions between the political and religious leadership, and claim that under the stewardship of Shaykh ʿAbd al-Ḥalīm Maḥmūd, al-Azhar maintained an autonomous agenda that diverged from the regime’s views on a fair share of public and political issues. By dint of a careful analysis of several major disagreements between Shaykh Maḥmūd and the ruling elite, we hope to shed new light on the complex dynamics that limited the regime’s ability to compel the religious establishment to toe the ‘party line’. Although al-Azhar indeed strengthened the regime and legitimized its overall policy, the institution also challenged the latter on crucial topics, such as the Personal Status Law, the sale of alcohol, and the integration of Islamic values into the education system’s curricula.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)159-182
Number of pages24
JournalDie Welt des Islams
Issue number2
StatePublished - 24 Aug 2014


  • Egypt
  • al-Azhar
  • political Islam
  • sharia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • History
  • Religious studies
  • Literature and Literary Theory


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