?Abd Al-Hamid Kishk (Shaykh) (1933-1996)

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A pioneering "cassette preacher" of the 1970s, ˓Abd al-Hamid Kishk was born in the Egyptian Delta village of Shubrakhut, the son of a small merchant. Early on he experienced vision impairment, and lost his sight entirely as a young teen. He memorized the Qur˒an by age twelve, attended religious schools in Alexandria and Cairo, then enrolled at al-Azhar University. He graduated in 1962, first in his class, but rather than an expected nomination to the teaching faculty, he was appointed imam at a Cairo mosque.

Kishk ran afoul of the Nasser regime in 1965. He claimed he was instructed to denounce Sayyid Qutb, refused, and subsequently was arrested and tortured in prison. In the early 1970s, cassette recordings of his sermons and lessons began to proliferate throughout Egypt; by the late 1970s he was arguably the most popular preacher in the Arab world. Attendance at his mosque skyrocketed, reaching 100,000 for Friday sermons by the early 1980s. In September 1981 he was arrested as part of Anwar al-Sadat's crackdown on political opponents, and was in prison when Sadat was assassinated. Upon his release he regained his following. He published his autobiography, The Story of My Days, in 1986. He died a decade later, in 1996.


Jansen, Johannes J. G. The Neglected Duty: The Creed of Sadat'sAssassins and Islamic Resurgence in the Middle East. New York and London: Macmillan, 1986.

Kepel, Gilles. Muslim Extremism in Egypt: The Prophet andPharaoh. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1993.

Joel Gordon