The factors that generated the uprisings -- the young bulge, literacy, and the tools of technology -- have spawned diverse ways of thinking among younger Islamists, too. Ibrahim Houdaiby's grandfather and great-grandfather were both supreme leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood. He became its best-known blogger in 2005. But Ibrahim also advocated pragmatism, internal democracy, less secrecy, religious tolerance, and women's rights.
"I had lots of debates with my grandfather," he told me. "One was over which comes first: freedom or sharia. My grandfather said sharia leads to freedom. My argument came from the Quran, which says, 'Let there be no compulsion in religion.' I said freedom comes first." Ibrahim eventually resigned from the Brotherhood over practical political differences.
The wild cards at the far end of the spectrum are the Salafis, ultraconservative radicals inspired by Saudi Arabia's puritan Wahhabi sect. They are often a hybrid. In Egypt, the Islamic Group started to renounce violence in the late 1990s as part of a deal with the government to release its imprisoned members. Some have even crusaded against jihadi tactics they once endorsed. Their willingness to share power, however, is not convincing because of rigid positions on everything from Islamic law and women to Israel.
Abboud al-Zomor, for example, provided the bullets to kill Egyptian President Anwar Sadat in 1981. Imprisoned for three decades, he was released after Mubarak's ouster. "There is no longer any need for me to use violence against those who gave us our freedom and allowed us to be part of political life," he told the New York Times this year. But Zomor's goal of creating a strict religious state has not changed -- and it does not inspire confidence about the movement's ability to compromise.
The new spectrum reflects the key bottom line: Over the next decade, the most dynamic debate will be among the diverse Islamists, not between Islamist and secular parties. These political tensions will play out as they vie to define Islam's role in new constitutions -- and then implement it in daily life.
These trends should not come as a surprise: Many Muslims share conservative values even as they push for freedoms. The right to human dignity, Muslims believe, is God-given -- a view shared by Thomas Jefferson and engraved on the walls of his memorial. The values of their religion are a starting point for all other aspects of life.
"Without Islam, we will not have any real progress," reflected Diaa Rashwan, an expert on political Islam at Cairo's Al-Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies. "When Western countries built their own progress, they didn't go out of their epistemological or cultural history. Japan is still living in the culture of the samurai, but in a modern way. The Chinese are still living the traditions created by Confucianism."
"So why," he mused, "do we have to go out of our history?"