We use cookies to enhance your experience on our website. By continuing to use our website, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. You can change your cookie settings at any time. Find out more Nasser, Gamal Abdel - Oxford Islamic Studies Online
Select Translation What is This? Selections include: The Koran Interpreted, a translation by A.J. Arberry, first published 1955; The Qur'an, translated by M.A.S. Abdel Haleem, published 2004; or side-by-side comparison view
Chapter: verse lookup What is This? Select one or both translations, then enter a chapter and verse number in the boxes, and click "Go."
:
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result

Nasser, Gamal Abdel

By:
Derek Hopwood
Source:
The Oxford Encyclopedia of the Islamic World What is This? Provides comprehensive scholarly coverage of the full geographical and historical extent of Islam

Nasser, Gamal Abdel

Gamal Abdel Nasser (1918–1970), more properly, Jamāl ʿAbd al-Nāṣir, Egyptian soldier and statesman and proponent of Arab nationalism. Leader of the group of Free Officers that overthrew King Farouk (Fārūq) in 1952, Colonel Nasser became chairman of the Revolutionary Command Council in 1954 and was elected president of the Egyptian Republic in 1956, a post that he held until his death in 1970. He was one of the generation of Third World leaders who had to face the demands of ruling postcolonial countries in the age of the superpowers and the Cold War, while at the same time coping with the problems of economic development in poor, overpopulated countries. In addition, Egypt under Nasser became the center of the Arab world and Arab nationalism, and Nasser was seen as the leader who would unite Arabs in the struggle to eliminate both the last vestiges of imperialism in the Middle East and the ally of the West, Israel.

Nasser came into office with no firm ideology or plans and made several attempts to provide a broader base of legitimacy for his rule. He decided on socialism as the best solution and in the Arab Socialist Union tried to establish a vehicle to put his ideas into practice. Socialism, he believed, would foster development and provide a political framework for the country.

In the Charter of 1962 he set forth guidelines for Egypt's future. His ideas were strongly influenced by the then widely held principles of Marxism. In the charter, religion is mentioned hardly at all, and Islam only once as the historical determinant of Egypt's thought and spiritual development. Yet Nasser was not a Leninist atheist or a secularizing Atatürk. He valued Islam as an essential part of Egyptian life and believed that it should be enlisted to further the ends of the socialist revolution. Nothing he proposed conflicted with deeply held religious principles, yet he did not want these principles to be allowed to hinder the development of a progressive, modernizing society. Islamic values were to be used positively to reinforce the legitimacy of the state political system.

Presumably in order not to offend Christian Egyptians, the charter stressed the “eternal moral values of religions,” not solely of Islam: “All religions contain a message of progress. Their essence is to assert man's right to life and freedom” [italics added]. But the religious leaders of al-Azhar University went further, stressing that the aims of Islam and socialism were identical—the achievement of social justice, equality, freedom, and dignity, and the elimination of want. Al-Azhar served as an organ of state propaganda, and Nasser himself used mosque pulpits as a platform from which to proclaim his policies. After the Arab defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli War, when it seemed that Arab nationalism and socialism had failed, Nasser appealed more strongly than ever to Islamic values. Traditional Islamic themes and symbols were revived, and he made frequent references to Allāh in his speeches. By the time of his death he was trying to set Egypt on a different course, less socialist, more accommodating, in which religion would play a greater role.

See also ARAB NATIONALISM; ARAB SOCIALISM; EGYPT; and NASSERISM.

Bibliography

  • Ginat, Rami. Egypt's Incomplete Revolution: Lutfi al-Khuli and Nasser's Socialism in the 1960s. London: Routledge, 1997.
  • Gordon, Joel. Nasser: Hero of the Arab Nation. Oxford: OneWorld Publications, 2006.
  • Gordon, Joel. Nasser's Blessed Movement: Egypt's Free Officers and the July Revolution. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.
  • Hopwood, Derek. Egypt, Politics and Society 1945–90. 3d ed.London and New York, 1991. An introductory survey.
  • McNamara, Robert. Britain, Nasser, and the Balance of Power in the Middle East, 1952–1967: From the Egyptian Revolution to the Six-Day War. London: Routledge, 2003.
  • Rejwan, Nissim. Nasserist Ideology, Its Exponents and Critics. New York, 1974. Good coverage of the subject.
  • Shafik, Viola. Popular Egyptian Cinema: Gender, Class, and Nation. Cairo: American University in Cairo Press, 2007.
  • Stephens, Robert. Nasser: A Political Biography. London, 1971. An early but comprehensive work.
  • Vatikiotis, P. J.Nasser and His Generation. London, 1978. A good study by a keen observer.
  • Vatikiotis, P. J.The Modern History of Egypt. 4th ed.Baltimore, 1991. The standard history of the whole period.
  • Previous Result
  • Results
  • Highlight On / Off
  • Look It Up What is This? Highlight any word or phrase, then click the button to begin a new search.
  • Next Result
Oxford University Press

© 2020. All Rights Reserved. Cookie Policy | Privacy Policy | Legal Notice