This is what I do when I want to take a break from writing my dissertation : composing photo albums. A part of being relaxing and fun, it’s a very instructive activity, since there’s no a better way to learn history than through real persons with real faces. Here I made a selection of several fine men who were at the origin of Young Men’s Muslim Association in 1927 which started with nine old veterans and twelve young students, as accounted by Muhammad Mahmoud al Shaker. I was intrigued to see what type of education they received and what type of a look they assumed while going to the photo studio to snatch their photo. The results were rather surprising. Though the YMMA were frequently siding itself with al Azhar – namely in times of crisis between al Azhar and Taha Hussein – only two of them were dressed as sheikhs, while others had a proper effendi look, wearing a suit, cravate and tarbush. Only one of them, the famous Mustafa Kamel’s companion Abd al Aziz Gawish opted for a mixed solution, an original costume composed of a suit and a turban. As one of my friends suggested me, maybe Abd al Aziz Gawish was suffering from a tremendous headache that day.
These photos also allow to trace back educational choices of the 20’s intellectuals; the sheikhs in their ranks are progressively being replaced by the graduates in letters and teaching. A great number of them were men of letters and poets. A fact worth of exploring, since nowadays there are mostly scientific faculties that fill up the ranks of religiously oriented associations in Egypt.
Abd al Hamid Sa’id Abd al Aziz Gawish Ahmad Taymour
Tawfikiya School-Paris Azhar-Dar al Ulum-London Private learning
Muhibb al Din Khatib Muhammad al Khadr Hussein Muhammad al Ghamrawi
School-Sheikh Taher al Jaza’iri Sheikh Muhammad Dar al Ulum-London
Mekki al Azuz-Zaytuna
Yahya Ahmad al Dardiri Muhammad al Hihyawi Ali Mazhar
Doctor in Law Al Azhar-Dar al ‘Ulum School-Cairo University-Vienna
Young Preachers :
Muhammad al Shaker Abd al Salam Haroun Abd al Mun’am Khalaf
Cairo University (Letters) Azhar- Dar al ‘Ulum Dar al ‘Ulum
Tawfik Ahmad al Bakr Muhammad Mahgub Muhammad Abu Fadl Ibrahim
Cairo University (Letters) Dar al ‘Ulum Dar al ‘Ulum