Young Men’s Muslim Association : The Beginning

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.

Old Fathers 

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Abd al Hamid Sa’id                 Abd al Aziz Gawish                      Ahmad Taymour

Tawfikiya School-Paris         Azhar-Dar al Ulum-London                      Private learning

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    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

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Yahya Ahmad al Dardiri      Muhammad al Hihyawi                  Ali Mazhar

        Doctor in Law                Al Azhar-Dar al ‘Ulum        School-Cairo University-Vienna

Young Preachers : 

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Muhammad al Shaker        Abd al Salam Haroun      Abd al Mun’am Khalaf

Cairo University (Letters)           Azhar- Dar al ‘Ulum                 Dar al ‘Ulum

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 Tawfik Ahmad al Bakr      Muhammad Mahgub      Muhammad Abu Fadl Ibrahim

Cairo University (Letters)             Dar al ‘Ulum                      Dar al ‘Ulum