Writer Articles
Tarek Osman

Tarek Osman

The writer is the author of Islamism: A History of Political Islam (2017) and Egypt on the Brink (2010).

Enlightening minds

One of the most transformative of Mohamed Ali’s many initiatives was to move Egypt away from religious-based to secular education. This was an historic change. Egypt, and the entire Muslim-majority East, had effectively remained under purely religious education for around seven centuries since the end of the Islamic exploration of ancient philosophy, the development within Islamic civilization of major centers inspired by the Egyptian, Greek, and Persian heritage, and later the marginalization of them.

Rifaa Al-Tahtawi — the Parisian sheikh

There is gold here. Sheikh Rifaa Al-Tahtawi came to this conclusion when he was in Paris. He had been appointed the chaplain of one of the first educational missions (composed of a regiment of the Egyptian army) that Egypt’s early 19th-century ruler Mohamed Ali Pasha had sent to learn about and transfer knowledge and technologies from France to Egypt.

Modern Egypt: Interpreting decline

The most fundamental question that faced Egypt, and with it different parts of the Arab and Turkish and Persian-speaking orient at the beginning of the 19th century, was why have we fallen so far behind Europe? A few hundred years earlier, Europe had been a backwater of ignorance and crudity when compared to our own learned and sumptuous cultures.

Rebirth of modern Egypt

Egypt has a spell — or perhaps Egypt is a spell. For its lovers, and for those attempting to decipher the secrets of its immensely rich experience over millennia, Egypt’s geography and history form meanings that have been unfolding over successive epochs.

Understanding Ancient Egypt: Many symbols with multiple contexts

Many Egyptologists describe ancient Egypt as mysterious and magical, denoting that indeed many aspects and features of its life, and crucially of its religion, remain unknown to us.

Egypt in exile

To reflect on how a civilization thought about the divine is to look it into the eyes, attempting to delve into its soul.

Understanding Ancient Egypt — approaching the absolute

In theology, as in all important things in ancient Egypt, architecture is key to understanding. Grand temples typically have large courtyards, connected through an axis to different halls, overlooking a sacred lake, behind which is the sanctum sanctorum, the place of secrets, barred to all but a select few.

The search for Naguib Mahfouz

Egyptian Nobel Prize-winning novelist Naguib Mahfouz sculpted characters not just in his novels but also in the minds of his readers. Cinema also helped him. No Arab novelist has had more films made based on his novels. As a result, his written words and the films that different filmmakers have made of them allowed Mahfouz to imprint his characters deep in the Arab imagination.

Ancient Egypt — the bond between the land and its people

Why did many observers focus on Egypt as the origin of a rich flow of knowledge that they believed has been present throughout human history?

Understanding Ancient Egypt

A hundred years ago, Howard Carter unveiled the tomb of Tutankhamun. Within days, its contents became world famous. Egyptomania, in Britain, France, and the US, was born.