Islamism is often portrayed as a reaction against, or at best a belated accommodation to, modernization. Refuting this dismissive opinion, Bjørn Utvik explores the movement through the lens of its engagement with social and economic change in Egypt. Utvik provides a comprehensive picture of debates within mainstream Islamist groups that are grappling with concrete economic issues. He also marshals powerful empirical evidence of the modernizing tendencies of these groups. The economic discourse of the Egyptian Islamists, he argues, echoes that of radical nationalism in its support for justice, development, and independence, tempered by advocacy of a moral economy as a platform from which to combat not only the injustices of the current order, but also the archaic social practices and attitudes that are hindering development.
‘Bjørn Utvik’s book is most welcome to anyone interested in political Islam.’ — Michael J. Twomey, International Journal of Middle East Studies
‘A worthy contribution to the understanding of Islamist economics and the struggle for development.’ — Elias H. Tuma, Middle East Journal
‘Professor Utvik, unlike most Western commentators on Islamist opposition forces, has actually read their works and considered them with care. […] His book is an important contribution to our understanding of Islamist thinking on the most critical economic issues of our time.’ — Raymond W. Baker, Trinity College
Bjorn Olav Utvik is a lecturer in the Department of Culture Studies and Oriental Languages at the University of Oslo.