Field: Autobiography
Title: Return of the Pharaoh
Author: Zainab al-Ghazali
Publication: The Islamic Foundation 2006
ISBN: 0 86037 240 5
Rating: aaaaa
Level: Beginner
Reviewed by: Safwan

“This is but one story, but represents countless similar stories which have never become known to the general public” – Translator’s note.

The true story, which holds readers’ breaths, happened in Egypt, during Jamal Abd al-Nasir’s regime after the successful military coup against the King. The ‘Muslim Brotherhood’ better known as Ikhwan, was a very active and influential spiritual, economical, and political group under the leadership of it founder, Hasan al-Banna. The author slightly touched on her relation with Hasan al-Banna, issues they had, and eventually her bai’ah (pledge) to him only some time before his assassination.

The large bulk of the narration concentrates on the era of the despots. Jamal Abd al-Nasir, indeed was an ikhwan, received ikhwan’s popular support in the coup. But it did not take the ikhwan long before they realised that Jamal had no interest in upholding the values of Quran into his system. In no time, the atrocities began.

The author, along with Sayyid Qutb and Abd al-Fattah Ismail, tried to revive the group, then weakened by the demise of its founder and all the restrictions and banning imposed by Jamal’s regime. Abiding to the Islamic teachings of not to wage war against muslim rulers, they opted a path purely educational. Their aim was pure and simple- to educate the ummah, but the plan was meticulous, requiring piles of integrity and perseverance.

However, as the author tells, Jamal was afraid of them. He accused ikhwan of planning his assassination. No later many of its members, including Zainab herself, was taken into military prisons. She was quick to realise that they were not dealing with human beings any longer. These people are barbarous, brutal and ruthless- if only words can describe. In the words of Zainab, “they are worse than the beasts”.

The subsequent chapters depict situations where one with a sense will hesitate to talk about. The sufferings that the author went through were unimaginable. In a captivating manner, she described the ordeal she went through in the notorious Egyptian prisons. It was a real trial and test from Allah. The pharaoh had returned, in order that Allah takes more martyrs out of his evil acts.

The book ended with the author’s release. She was behind bars 1965-1971.



  1. by reading this summary, i can assume that this book really offers a story which is unknown to most of us..personally..the book is worth to be read =)

  2. ces safwan..just about to read this book as well..down2..hehe

  3. it's a simple yet captivating book. go on, try it!

  4. a.s a bd mokti4 May 2008 at 21:27

    bosan2 sambil2 study..lek2 jap..i read this book..huhu..indeed captivating, though IMHO too many repetitions about the in-prison situation... Nevertheless, kinda grasp the struggle of the author and Ikhwanul Muslimin against the Nasir regime..appreciate their struggle..