Mostafa Mahmoud’s 2004 “The Devil Rules” is a book about hippies, rising drug abuse and Western supremacy over the Arab world. It is a book about the past and present, touching upon social, economic and political issues.
The book mimics the author’s own long journey in search of answers to the puzzling realities of this world. Mahmoud (1921–2009) was a prominent author who wrote on a number of different issues. Because of his background as a physician, he often adopted an inquisitive, scientific approach to interpreting the world in relation to religious faith.
In “The Devil Rules,” Mahmoud plays the devil’s advocate, trying to trace phenomena back to their “origins.” According to Mahmoud, the hippy movement was doomed to fail because peace can only be achieved once humans gain control of their whims and learn to give unconditionally.
Mahmoud touches upon the media’s control over the masses, describing it as a major weapon of mass destruction and calling it “modern time opium.”
The book also discusses social matters — such as addiction, smoking and crude sexuality — that have become normalized, as well as political issues such as the Israeli invasion and Zionist control over Western media.
For today’s readers, “The Devil Rules” may offer little in terms of information, but it offers something arguably much more important and relevant: The urge to think and analyze. As well as influencing many authors, “The Devil Rules” has helped many readers think for themselves, instead of blindly adopting what’s being presented to them.
For readers, the book is like a capsule of condensed material and thoughts, and a window for innovation. Although its general air is dark and gloomy, “The Devil Rules” is still somewhat optimistic, leaving every chapter open-ended for readers to place their own solutions or opinions.
This piece was originally published in Egypt Independent's weekly print edition.