Taha Husayn

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Date: 1889-1973

Region: Africa

Subject: Religion

Medium: Literature


Taha H.jpg

Artist: Taha Husayn

Confronting Bodies: Religious authorities, members of parliament, offended students, and members of the sheikh community.

Dates of Action: 1927

Location: Egypt

Description of Artwork: Husayn published several books containing his highly controversial lectures. He argues that in order to progress, "oriental" thinking must be abandoned in favor of the Greek mentality, that the caliphate (an Arabic style of government) was not established by a Prophet and is not required by Islam, and claims that pre-Islamic poetry was mostly forged.

The Incident: Husayn had four separate charges placed against him for attacking Islam. These involved questioning the authority of the Qur'an, suggesting it may have been altered by various tribes, and by denying that Islam has precedence over all other religions. The calls were for Husayn to be brought to trial and be kicked out of the university where he was a professor.

Results of Incident: The charge of undermining the authority of the Qur'an was found to be valid, but the other charges were dropped for being scholarly matters rather than religious. The charges were dropped due to lack of criminal intent, which was nessecary to convict over religious offenses.

Husyan offered to resign at his univerity, but the offer was rejected. His book was banned but he later revised it and deleted offensive passages. In 1932, the government removed him as dean from his school because of his book, but he was reinstated in 1934.

Source: Censorship: A World Encyclopedia. Ed. Derek Jones. Chicago; London: Fitzroy Dearborn, 2001.