This lecture argues that attending jointly to Muhammad ʿAbduh (d. 1905) and Taha Hussein (d. 1973) helps situate the development of Hussein and of the history of modern Arabic literature in the context of ʿAbduhs religious and humanist scientific reforms. To discuss and demonstrate this argument, this lecture uses an interdisciplinary historical-literary framework. On the historical level, it turns to early-twentieth century Egypt to shed light on ʿAbduhs last phase of reform and to reveal the significant influence of the dynamics of the time, between British colonialism, the khedival regime and al-Azhar, on the reception of his reform in his aftermath. On the literary level, this lecture revisits the autobiographical trilogy al-Ayyām (The Days) to uncover the watershed events Hussein constructed with ʿAbduh, his self-perception as a loyal student thereof and the way he helped define ʿAbduh as the father of reason and patron of literature. Such a discussion, the lecturer would finally argue, opposes the disciplinary rift imposed on religion and literature, and contributes to retaining the bonds between both inquiries beyond orientalist, colonial and modernist power constrains.
Zahiye Kundos is a scholar of modern Arabic literature, culture, and religion. She is a postdoctoral fellow of the Minerva Stiftung and the Forum Transregionale Studien (Europe in the Middle East The Middle East in Europe research program), Berlin. She is currently working on a book entitled, In the Name of God We Will Be Modern (Once Again): Jamāl al-Dīn Al-Afghānī, Muhammad ʿAbduh, and the Critique of Modernity.
For in-person attendance, please register here: tinyurl.com/Kundos17Live