This chapter notes how the study of Islamic preaching came into fruition. This study is the accumulated product of several periods of field research, the longest of which was the first, an eighteen-month residence in a provincial town in Upper Egypt. The late 1970s marked the beginning of a time of exceptional socioreligious ferment in Egypt. The fact of being an American in Egypt at this time occasionally invited direct associations between the author of this book and the official foreign policy maneuvers that were then in high profile. He was Christian engaged on quite friendly terms with Islamic preachers. But when the author went back to Egypt in 1984–1985, hoping to reside in Minya to follow up and elaborate on earlier research, he shifted the focus to mosques and preaching on the national and transnational level.
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