This chapter argues that although cultural symbols such as that provided by the Kharijites matter in Muslim societies, they are not fixed in the mind of believers compelling them to think and behave in specific ways. The meaning of such symbols may be informed by a historical tradition that weighs on individuals and the larger society, but this tradition is changed by individuals and institutions through time. In modern Egypt, the idea of Kharijism was reawakened to deal with a new environment, one driven by the modernizing forces of the nation-state and the global economy. Over time, however, this environment produced different interpretive readings of Kharijism.
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