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Exploring the Utopian Impulse

Essays on Utopian Thought and Practice


Edited By Michael J. Griffin and Tom Moylan

Exploring the Utopian Impulse presents a series of essays by an international and trans-disciplinary group of contributors that explores the nature and extent of the utopian impulse. Working across a range of historical periods and cultures, the essays investigate key aspects of utopian theory, texts, and socio-political practices. Even as some critique Utopia, others extend its reach beyond the limits of the modern western tradition within which utopianism has usually been understood. The explorations offered herein will take readers over familiar ground in new ways as well as carry them into new territories of hope and engagement.
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From Shukri Mustafa to the Ashwaiyat: Utopianism in Egyptian Islamism


← 362 | 363 → BARRIE WHARTON

The tragic events of 11 September 2001, with the attack on the World Trade Center in New York by Al-Qaeda terrorists, catapulted Islam and Islamist political movements onto television screens and the front pages of newspapers worldwide. The events of that momentous day have left an indelible imprint on contemporary society, and subsequent military campaigns and terrorist attacks in Afghanistan and Iraq have kept Islamic activism at the forefront of global attention.1 However, this concern with the growth of “political” Islam is not new; for over the last forty years the rise of Islam, or more correctly the development of various Islamist movements, as a political phenomenon across the Muslim world has been greeted with fear and trepidation by both western governments and academics (see Sardar). In fact, the singular usage, “Islamist movement” is itself a misnomer, as it tends to suggest that there is one movement which, according to western observers, is an expansionist, borderless entity with a highly developed program of societal transformation that threatens the values, mores, and indeed the sheer existence of western civilization (see Roy). On the contrary, the emergence of various, often competing, Islamist movements bespeaks a deeply fragmented situation in which is encountered a myriad of deeply divergent and often radically opposed groups, currents, and trends whose methods, aims, and objectives differ not only from country to country across the Islamic world, but indeed within the states themselves.

← 363 | 364 → One could argue that much...

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