In 1999, an Egyptair jet flying from New York to Cairo crashed in the Atlantic. American investigators have focused on the actions of the Egyptian co-pilot who, they contend, deliberately crashed the plane in a murder/suicide. Central to this theory is the co-pilot's repeatedly uttered prayer to Allah as the plane twisted into its fatal dive, a sign of his determined action. Islamic scholars have vehemently objected, noting the everyday character of the prayer. Stereotypes of Islamic faith and its supposed fanaticism remain strong in American imaginations. Abdo's account of the recent, resurgent role of Islam in Egyptian society belongs on every American's bookshelf. Using interviews across the Egyptian social spectrum, Abdo reaches beyond official prattling to explore groups of university students, professionals, and academics. Abdo explodes myths about political and religious extremism in "popular Islam." Instead, she details a growing, powerful grassroots attempt to build an Egypt both modern and Islamic. The Islamic fundamentalist extremists so prominent in American presentations of Islam have largely failed. The jury is still out on the ultimate influence of this Islamic revival and its consequences for the West, but Abdo shows that revival cannot be ignored or dismissed.
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