The struggle between the then-called modernists (mujaddidun) and traditionalists (qudama' or salafiyyun) could be traced back to late 19th and early 20th century. It was the time, when the revivalist thinkers (nahdawiyyun) reached the end of their lives, leaving their messages to be continued by the next generation. There came a series of ideas and demands for social and cultural reforms, propagated by successive thinkers.A quite comprehensive reflection of all that is found in the ideas and activities of Taha Husayn (1889-1973). The paper traces his al–Azhar years among a generation of Azharites, who were - as inspired earlier by Muhammad Abdu - strong adherents of the freedom of speech, antagonists of obsolete opinions, and supporters of the right to interpret the sources of faith (ijtihad). They regarded themselves as messengers of reform, modernity and revivalism. Taha Husayn was one of those, who devoted themselves to struggle against backwardness. Their plans envisaged the innovation of the philosophy of Ibn Sina and Ibn Rushd, besides the complete neglect of obsolete scriptures that had hitherto devastated the mentality of al-Azhar and the minds of Azharites. The thought of Taha Husayn (against the background of his forerunners), in the first place the struggle against the domination of al-Azhar and Azharites upon the system of education in Egypt of the first half of the 20th Century as well as his educational reform project, is reconstructed on the basis of his vast writings alongside the rich public activity.
Financed by the National Centre for Research and Development under grant No. SP/I/1/77065/10 by the strategic scientific research and experimental development program:
SYNAT - “Interdisciplinary System for Interactive Scientific and Scientific-Technical Information”.