Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Interdisciplinary Education

Major Professor

Arthur Shapiro, Ph.D.

Co-Major Professor

Stephen B. Permuth, Ed.D

Committee Member

Abdelwahab Hechiche, Ph.D

Committee Member

W. Steve Lang, Ph.D.


Islamism, Muslim Brotherhood, Censorship, Academic freedom, Human rights


This study explores Islamism's interplay with higher education as the movement advances an agenda for worldwide reformation. Over an eighty-year period, Islamism has appropriated higher education institutions, professional associations, on- and off-campus organizations, and publications as a primary means to achieve its utopian objective of the Nizam Islami, or "Islamic Order." Findings show how the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt developed a Weberian bureaucratic organizational and administrative structure to exert influence not only in Egypt but also the world. A Qutb-inspired "hijra" of Muslim Brothers in universities proved itself adroit at filling macro-and micro-level policy vacuums in Soviet-aligned post-colonial societies, marginalizing traditional forms of Islamic faith. However, the movement was as likely to establish itself in other types of authoritarian states that alternately tried to appease and suppress the movement. The Islamist "hijra" came to North America in the 1960's, founding the Muslim Students Association and the Islamic Society of North America. Then, early leaders in those groups taught and studied at The University of South Florida (USF) in Tampa, Florida. Following the "successful" paradigm of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamism's academic leaders brought to USF a program called "Islamization of society and knowledge"-disguised in the more benign term "civilizational dialogue"-which regards higher education as but another territory of reformation and conquest, or the dar al-harb. USF never addressed that aspect of re-Islamization from below (denoting quiet subversion of society) as a serious, possible academic freedom problem involving the politicization of USF's research and teaching mission. Re-Islamization from above (denoting violent destabilization of society) was debated, however, in a media campaign of Islamist dissembling that divided the university and its community for over a decade. Because of the stated hostility of Islamist education theory and practice to the academic enterprise, itself founded upon Enlightenment values of free inquiry, the study recommends that USF re-investigate the case about Sami Al-Arian, who was convicted in 2006 of providing services to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, in part, by using the university as a front for his cause.