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Lecture: Reimagining Modernity with Omnia El Shakry (virtual)

March 15, 2022 | 2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

Inwardness: Comparative Religious Philosophy in Modern Egypt


This article centers the Islamic philosopher ʿUthman Amin in order to explore the intellectual exchange between Muslim and Christian scholars in twentieth century Egypt. Specifically, I elucidate Amin’s philosophy of inwardness and its attendant virtues of seclusion, spiritual contemplation, and the jihad of the self, through the lens of an Islamic discursive tradition. How might we understand the concept of an Islamic discursive tradition, as a philosophy of reasoned and embodied religion, within the context of such interreligious encounters? Amin, I argue, was engaged in an experimentum mentis in which inwardness provided an angle of lucidity from which Islam and Christianity could gaze upon one another. In so doing, I demonstrate the heuristic value of the thought of Alasdair MacIntyre and Talal Asad to the theorization of tradition in studies of interreligious encounter and scholarly exchange.


Omnia El Shakry is a cultural and intellectual historian of the modern Middle East and the author of The Arabic Freud: Psychoanalysis and Islam in Modern Egypt (Princeton University Press, 2017) and editor of Understanding and Teaching the Modern Middle East (University of Wisconsin Press, 2020). She is professor of History at the University of California, Davis and is currently working on two book projects. The first rethinks the unconscious and the imaginary through the prism of non-Western theory and apophatic theology, and the second traces religious concepts, practices, and sensibilities across a movement of intellectual exchange between Muslim and Catholic scholars in twentieth century Egypt


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Reimagining Modernity for the Postsecular Age is a joint project of the Franklin Humanities Institute (FHI) and Religions & Public Life @ The Kenan Institute

Duke University


March 15, 2022
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm
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