Intellectual Life in the Arab East, 1890-1939 0815660863, 9780815660866

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Intellectual Life in the Arab East, 1890-1939
 0815660863, 9780815660866

Table of contents :
The Ideology of Economic Nationalism in its Egyptian Context: 1919-1939
Shaykh ‘Ali Yusuf: Egyptian Journalist and Islamic Nationalist
East and West in ‘Ali Mubarak’s 'Alamuddin
Beirut, Jabal Lubnan, Jabal 'Amil
‘Abd al-Ghani al-‘Uraisi and al-Mufid: the Press and Arab Nationalism before 1914
Bulus Nujaym and the Grand Liban Ideal 1908-1919
Shaykh ‘Abd al-Qadir al-Qabbani and Thamarat al-Funun
Negib Azoury and his Book Le Reveil de la Nation Arabe
Amin al-Rihani: the Self View of a Modem Arab
Shaykh Ahmad ‘Arif al-Zayn and al-Irfan
Damascus, Baghdad, San'a
Damascene Intellectual Life in the Opening Years of the 20th Century: Muhammad Kurd ‘Ali and al-Muqtabas
Another Reading into al-Husari’s Concept of Arab Nationalism
The Political Ideas of Yunis al-Sab‘awi
Al-Iman and al-Imam: Ideology and State in the Yemen: 1900-1948
Program of the Seminar

Citation preview



Marwan R . Buheiry A rn old H ottinger Khaldun S. al-Husry Walid Kazziha A bbas Kelidar Rashid Khalidi T arif Khalidi Hisham Nashabi Gerald J. O berm eyer R oger O w en Wadad al-Qadi Samir Seikaly Stefan WUd

Intellectual Lite In the 4rab East, 1890-1939 * M ARW AN R . B U H EIRY, E ditor

Center fo r Arab and M iddle East Studies A M ERICAN U N IV E R SITY O F BEIRU T

Intellectual Life in the Arab East, 1890*1939 Marawan R. Buheiry, Editor First published in 1981 by the American University o f Beirut © 1981. All rights reserved Printed in Beirut, Lebanon

THIS VOLUM E includes papers presented to the Special Seminar on “ Intellectual L ife in the A rab East, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 3 9 : U nexplored D im ensions” , organized b y the Departm ent o f H istory and A rchae­ o lo g y at the Am erican University o f Beirut (M ay 29 -31 , 1 9 7 9 ), under the sponsorship o f the Center fo r Arab and M iddle East Studies o f the University. The Center, previously know n as the M iddle East Area Program, then as the Graduate Center fo r M iddle Eastern Studies, is on e o f the fo ca l points in the academ ic and cultural life in the Faculty o f Arts and Sciences at the University. It provides an interdisciplinary graduate program involving all the departm ents specialized in A rabic and M iddle Eastern studies, nam ely the Departm ents o f A rabic and Near Eastern Languages, H istory and A rch aeology, P hilosophy, P olitical Studies and Public A dm inistration, E con om ics, and Social and Behavioral Sciences. F or its students, it offers the degree o f Master o f Arts in the field o f Arab and M iddle East studies. F or th e international scholarly public interested in A rabic, Islam ic and M iddle Eastern studies, it publishes its scholarly journal, al-Abhath, also its sum mary index to A rab affairs, The Arab D ocum ents. With the assistance o f the Sheikh Zayid Chair fo r Islam ic Studies, th e Center was able, as o f 19 7 7 , to organize a w ide range o f cultural activities, open fo r the U niversity's interested Faculty m em bers and students, fo r the Beirut pu blic and fo r specialized visiting scholars from various parts o f the w orld. Such activities range from open forum s to regular pu blic lectures and to scholarly co n ­ ferences on particular top ics related to A rabic, Islam ic and M iddle Eastern studies. The C enter’s publication p o licy is to publish the scholarly lectures in its journal, al-Abhath, the papers o f the open forum s as separate Papers o f the C enter fo r Arab and Middle East Studies, and the papers presented in con feren ces and similar acti­ vities in special volum es covering the Proceedings; hence this v o­ lum e, containing the proceedings o f the Special Seminar on “ In­


tellectual L ife in the Arab East, 1 8 9 0 -1 9 3 9 ” , w hich was the first con feren ce-type activity the Center held. On behalf o f the Center, I w ou ld like to extend m y thanks to Professor Kamal Salibi, Chairman o f the D epartm ent o f H istory and A rch aeology; to A ssociate Professor Marwan Buheiry fo r organizing the Special Seminar and editing the proceedings, to Zahi Khuri, Suha Tuqan and Mary Barakat o f the O ffice o f Univer­ sity Publications fo r seeing the volum e through the various stages o f p rodu ction .

Ihsan A bbas D irector, C enter fo r Arab and Middle East Studies


v ix

F orew ord P reface C A IR O


R og er Owen The Id eology o f E con om ic Nationalism in its Egyptian C on text: 1919-1939


A bbas Kelidar Shaykh ‘A li Y usuf: Egyptian Journalist and Islam ic N ationalist


Wadad al-Qadi East and West in ‘ A li M ubarak’s *Alamuddin BEIRU T, JA B A L LU BN AN , JA B A L ‘ AM IL


Rashid Khalidi ‘ A b d al-Ghani al-‘ Uraisi and al-Mufid: the Press and A rab N ationalism b efore 1914


Marwan Buheiry Bulus N ujaym and the Grand Liban Ideal 1908-191 9


Hisham Nashabi Shaykh ‘ A b d al-Qadir al-Qabbani and Thamarat al-Funun


Stefan Wild Negib A zou ry and his B ook L e R eveil d e la N ation A rabe


A rnold H ottinger A m in al-Rihani: the S elf V iew o f a M odem A rab


Tarif Khalidi Shaykh Ahm ad ‘ A rif al-Zayn and al-Trfan ▼ii



Samir Seikaly Dam ascene Intellectual L ife in th e O pening Years o f the 20th C entury: Muhammad Kurd ‘ A li and al-Muqtabas


Walid Kazziha A n oth er R eading in to al-Husari’s C oncept o f Arab Nationalism


Khaldun S. al-Husry The P olitical Ideas o f Yunis al-Sab‘awi


Gerald J. O berm eyer Al-Iman and al-Im am : Id eology and State in the Y em en: 1 9 00-194 8


Program o f the Seminar


IN M A Y 19 7 9 , the D epartm ent o f H istory and A rch aeology and the Center fo r A rab and M iddle Eastern Studies organized an interna­ tional seminar to reconsider som e aspects o f the intellectual and social history o f the Arab East betw een 1 8 90 and 1939. A high priority was accorded to a num ber o f dim ensions w hich seem ed in need o f further exploration . N otable am ong these was the political press as a m irror reflecting the vital issues o f the period : nationalism ; relations w ith the W est; politica l and social reform ; and the role o f religion in society . O f the thirteen articles in this volum e, seven deal in som e way w ith the press: the newspapers and periodicals discussed include al-Mu*ayyad, Thamarat al-Funun, al-Mufid, al-Muqtabas, al-'Irfan, al-Iman, and La revue phénicienne. A general consensus em erged both from m any o f the seminar papers and from the ensuing dis­ cussions that the Nahda, or Arab Renaissance, to o k on a m arked politica l ton e, alongside its traditional emphasis on literature, ph ilosoph y, history and culture. Thus, several o f the papers give evidence o f a grow ing awareness in the region o f such intrusions as im perialism and Zionism , and o f som e o f the pitfalls o f westerni­ zation. O ther contribution s focu sed on the them e o f identity, as fou n d in the w orks o f ‘ A li M ubarak and A m in R ihani; Arab nationalism , specifically in the w orks o f Najib ‘ A zou ry, Sati‘ al-Husri and Yunis ai-Sab‘aw i; and the econ om ic thought o f the Egyptian national bourgeoisie. The articles in this volum e, first presented at the seminar with such m odifications as their authors chose to m ake in the follow in g m onths, are grouped b y region. F or the actual organization o f the panels, the order o f presentation, and the list o f participants, co n ­ sult the appendix. In keeping with the m ultidisciplinary nature o f the seminar, the principle o f accom odating as m uch as possible the individual author’s ow n preferences regarding transliteration, spel­ ling, footn otin g , and other conventions was adopted. ix



This b o o k is far from being a survey o f m odem A rab intellectual history. It is rather an attem pt both to build on the w ork o f A n ­ tonius, H ourani and Sharabi, and to provok e further scholarly interest in a field requiring continu ous assessment, particularly in light o f num erous sources, such as the daily press and periodicals, w hich have n ot been fu lly used h eretofore. In this respect, the library o f the Am erican University o f Beirut is particularly w ellsuited to serve as a center fo r research, containing as it does on e o f the w orld’s best collection s o f A rabic prim ary material fo r this and oth er periods. Scholars exploring the ep och considered in the sem i­ nar m ay encounter, as som e o f us have don e, their ow n present albeit m ore in terms o f seedtim e than o f harvest. Marwan R . Buheiry

THE ID E O LO G Y O F ECONOMIC N ATIO N ALISM IN ITS EG YPTIAN C O N TE X T: 1919-1939 R oger O w en St. Antony’s College, Oxford

T O SPEAK very generally sets o f ideas can be studied either fo r their intrinsic interest or because they represent the attitude or w orld view o f a particular group or social class. A nd it follow s that in each case the m ethod em ployed and the questions asked w ill also be differen t. While a study o f the first kind w ill naturally concentrate on the intellectual con ten t o f the ideas under exam ination, on their origins and on their relationship to other system s o f thought, the secon d w ill necessarily con cern itself less with their m erit and m uch m ore with the w ay they are used. In such cases the ideas them selves are n ot likely to be either very p rofou n d or very consistent, m ir­ roring as they d o the am biguities o f the interests o f those w ho em ploy them . Their purpose is n ot to provide com prehensive or tota lly satisfying answers to problem s but rather to persuade p eop le to act in a certain way or to allow their holders to im prove their ow n social position and to com bat rival and potentially dangerous sets o f ideas w hich appear to threaten it. It is a study o f this second type w hich is the con cern o f this paper. What I w ou ld like to d o is to exam ine a certain set o f ideas about the econ om y and about its future developm ent held by a small group o f influential Egyptian bankers, m erchants and businessmen in the years betw een the tw o w orld wars. I also want to argue that, w hile each individual idea was borrow ed from elsewhere, in E gypt they were put together to form a relatively coherent id eology o f econ om ic nationalism w hich allow ed this group to use the m o­ m entum o f the Egyptian struggle fo r independence fo r its ow n, m ore narrow , interests. In so doing I w ill draw heavily on the w ork o f Marius D eeb and R obert T ign or.1 But I w ill also cast a few o f their m ost im portant findings in a som ew hat d ifferen t m ould.1 1. See in particular M. Deeb, Party Politic» in Egypt: The Wafd and it» Rival», 1919-1939 (London 1979) pa»»im; R.L. Tignor, uThe Egyptian Re­ volution o f 1919: new directions in the Egyptian econom y” , Middle East Studie», XQ, 3 (Oct. 1976) 44-60; and “ Bank Misr and foreign capitalism” , International Journal o f Middle East Studie», VIII (1977) 161-81.




1. T he Creation o f an Id eology o f E con om ic Nationalism b efore 1919 ‘ Plus tard la population augm entant d ’une façon très sensible, la nation insista pour dem ander par l’organe de ses journaux, que le gouvernem ent encourage l’industrie et donne plus de soins à sa propagande étant donné que l ’agriculture seule ne pourrait pas suffire à occu per tou te la nation’ . (R ep ort by Sayed Marei to Brussells Congress o f the Egyptian N ational Party, Septem ber 1910)2 ‘ We have no collective econ om ic existence, we play n ot an active but a passive role, we suffer in E gypt the fluctuations o f econ om ic m ovem ents w ithout being able, in turn, to exert any influence upon them . The goods w hich pass ou t o f the hands o f the agriculturalist pass in nearly all cases into those o f foreigners... We take little or n o part in industry because we have n ot the capital to engage usefully in financial transac­ tion s’ . (R ep ort o f the Egyptian Congress at H eliopolis, 1 9 1 1 )2 3 ‘ Il est certain que l’investissem ent, dans l’industrie, de capitaux vraim ent égyptiens serait préférable à tous égards. Les entre­ prises sont sujettes à un m eilleur con trôle quand elles s’exer­ cent sur le lieu m em e où résident ceux qui y sont intéressés. Le bén éfice industriel, au lieu d ’émigrer a l’étranger reste dans le pays et aide ainsi au m ouvem ent général de sa pros­ périté. La population aussi bien que les pouvoirs publics co n ­ sidèrent avec plus de bienveillance une industrie constituée avec des capitaux égyptiens, les capitaux étrangers étant quelque fois regardés, à tort il est vrai, com m e des intrus qui exploiten t le pays sans p rofit pour lui’ . (R ep ort o f the G overn­ m ent Com m ission on C om m erce and Industry, 1 9 1 7 )4* As these quotations will help to show , the question o f E gypt’s econ om ic independence and future developm ent was a subject which excited strong feelings in the early years o f the 20th century. Indeed it w ould be true to say that the report o f the G overnm ent’s Com m ission on C om m erce and Industry sum med up several decades o f Egyptian — and to som e extent — British thought on the subject 2. Sayed Marei, “ L’industrie en Egypte” , Congrès National Egyptien, Oeuvres du Congrès National Egyptien tenu à Bruxelles le 22, 23, 24 Septembre, 1910, 231. 3. “ The economic situation” , Minutes o f the Proceedings o f the First Egyptian National Congress (Alexandria 1911) 31-2. 4. Rapport de la Commission du Commerce et de l'Industrie, 2nd edition (Cairo 1922) 70.



with its emphasis on the dangers o f m onoculture (or over-depend­ ence on one cro p ), on the im portance o f industrialisation as a way o f diversifying econ om ic activity and o f providing em ploym ent fo r the surplus rural population, and on the need to reduce foreign co n tro l.5 It m attered little that none o f these ideas were either new or original: the con cep t o f m onoculture had been developed in France in response to the devastation brought to the econ om y o f parts o f the south in the 1890s by the vine disease, phylloxera, efforts to reduce econ om ic dependence had been part o f the pro­ gramme o f a series o f regimes w hich felt threatened by the pow er o f Britain, France and Germ any from that o f Peter the Great to the Y oung Turks.® What was m uch m ore to the poin t was the way in w hich they were so enthusiastically adopted n ot just by Egyptian nationalists as a w hole but, m ore particularly, by the small group o f bankers and financiers w hose m em bers were so well represented on the Com m ission o f C om m erce and Industry itself. A lthough its President, Ismail Sidqi, had spent m ost o f his w orking life as a governm ent o fficia l, the other Egyptians were Am in Yahya, a m erchant and businessman, Talat Harb, director and manager o f a num ber o f im portant enterprises and Yusuf Qattawi w ho belonged to on e o f the leading Jewish banking fam ilies. M eanwhile, the inter­ ests o f the local foreign business com m unity were represented by Henri Naus o f the pow erful Egyptian Sugar C om pany. What all these men had in com m on was n ot just the belief that Egypt should industrialise, som ething which they shared with the overwhelm ing m ajority o f nationalist thinkers, but that this process should be the w ork o f local capitalists using local funds. A nother im portant clue to the interests o f this group com es from the way in w hich the R eport so clearly recognizes the weakness o f their ow n position . Egypt was still predom inantly an agricultural country with on ly a tiny m odern industrial sector. Its banks, its public com panies, its capital m arket were com p letely dom inated by foreigners.7 Com pared with the pow erful landlord class, the few 5. On this general subject see S. Radwan, Capital Formation in Egyptian Industry and Agriculture 1882-1967 (London 1974) 177-85; E.R.J. Owen, Cotton and the Egyptian Economy 1820:1914: A Study in Trade and D e­ velopment (Oxford 1969) 333-51; and R. Mabro and S. Radwan, The In­ dustrialization o f Egypt 1939-1973 (Oxford 1976) ch. 1.6 7 6. For example, C. Keydar, “The political economy o f Turkish democracy” , New L eft Review, 115 (May/June 1979). 7. A.E. Crouchley, The Investment o f Foreign Capital in Egyptian Companies and Public Debt (Cairo 1936) cii.4.



native Egyptian businessmen and financiers possessed little e c o ­ n om ic or political pow er. T o m ake m atters w orse it was n ot even clear h ow far the latter were united in all o f their aim s, w ith som e o f them very m uch m ore com m itted to the goal o f an independent Egyptian industrialisation than others. In such a situation they had n o alternative but to put forw ard their ideas in the m ost general kind o f way w ith particular emphasis on their ‘national’ com p on en t. This, it was supposed, w ou ld n ot. on ly provide a com m on d en o­ m inator fo r those few Egyptians w ho h op ed to obtain a greater share o f the business then being transacted b y foreigners, bu t it w ou ld also forge a link w ith the rest o f their fellow -coun trym en w hose active support they needed if they w ere ever t o be able to im prove their situation against their European rivals. Thus the R eport goes to great lengths to argue the case fo r greater local participation in industry and finance in as persuasive a w ay as possible. It repeatedly underlines the im portance o f Egyptians in­ vesting in their ow n econ om ic developm ent. It insists o n the need fo r fa ctory w orkers to act sensibly and responsibly in the national interest. But if Egyptian support was indispensable it was n o t to be en­ couraged in such a w ay as to frighten influential m em bers o f the foreign business com m un ity living in Cairo and A lexandria. H ence the stress on the im portance o f capitalism as a means o f cem enting an alliance w ith those local European elem ents w hose m on ey and expertise was also necessary if the program m e o f industrialisation and econ om ic independence was to get o f f the ground. Unlike their fellow capitalists in Turkey w ho had join ed the Y oun g Turk m ovem ent, the em bryonic class o f Egyptian industrialists and financiers had little chance o f u tilizin g the pow er o f the state to create the con dition s fo r their ow n advance. What was called fo r instead was the m uch m ore d ifficu lt process o f using the fo rce o f nationalism to build up their position w ithou t either disturbing the loca l foreign com m un ity or allow ing Egyptians o f oth er classes to believe that they had interests w hich were n ot in harm ony with their ow n . In this sense the R eport o f the Com m ission on C om m erce and Industry is n ot ju st the program m e o f a particular social group bu t also a definitive statem ent o f their econ om ic and political position . 2. n » e E con om ic Nationalism o f the 1920s ‘ N éanm oins, en dépit de la supériorité du produ it loca l cer­ taines adm inistrations égyptiennes donnent la préférence au produ it étranger, soit volontairem ent, soit parce que F offre



locale étant plus élevée que celle étrangère, les adm inistrations son t en quelque sorte forcées, d ’opter pou r l’article im porté par suite de l ’application littérale que fo n t les services du con trôle d ’un réglem ent de finance qui veut que l’on accepte l ’o ffre la plus baise, alors m êm e que l'ach at du produ it supér­ ieur représenterait pou r le Trésor une sérieuse écon om ie'. (I.G . Lévi, 1929)8 During the early 1920s a num ber o f im portant m oves were m ade to im plem ent various parts o f the program m e o f econ om ic nation­ alism as set ou t in the R eport o f the Com m ission on C om m erce and Industry. In 1920 the Bank Misr was fou n ded as the first w h olly Egyptian bank w ith a charter w hich specifically laid dow n that on ly native Egyptians cou ld becom e either shareholders or directors. This new institution played a m ajor role in m obilising the savings o f local peop le and using them to support a variety o f projects including the establishm ent o f a num ber o f public com panies. This was follow ed , in 1922, by the creation o f the Egyptian Federation o f Industries by certain m em bers o f the Alexandria and Cairo foreign com m un ity, notably Henri Naus and the fa ctory ow ner, S. Som aga, w hose b o o k L'industrie en E gypte (C airo 1 9 1 6 ) represented a pow erfu l plea fo r a push tow ards greater industrial developm ent. A t on ce the federation, and its influential journal, L 'Egypte industri­ elle, becam e an im portant source o f pressure on the governm ent to im plem ent certain key proposals o f the Com m ission on C om m erce and Industry’s report such as the establishm ent o f preferential rail­ way rates fo r Egyptian industry and the local purchase o f Egyptianm ade products. F or a few years there was a small differen ce o f emphasis betw een the ideas expressed by Talat Harb, the fou n der o f the Bank Misr and those o f the leading ideologues o f the Federation o f Industries such as Ismail Sidqi and I.G . Lévi, w ith the form er attaching greater im portance to the need fo r purely native capital and enter­ prise. But in 1925 such differences assumed little m ore than an academ ic or polem ical im portance when the Bank Misr officia lly join ed the Federation and Talat Harb becam e one o f the first Egyp­ tian m em bers to sit on its board. This trend becam e even m ore pron ou n ced in 1927 when the Bank, em boldened b y the news that the governm ent was going to insist on regaining the cou n try’s right to set its ow n tariff level when the existing international treaties expired in 19 3 0 , began to em bark on a m ore active p olicy o f pro­ m oting Egyptian industrial enterprise. It was im m ediately apparent8 8. Dr. I.G. Lévi, "L'industrie égyptienne: préjugés et errements” , L'Egypte Contemporaine, 115 (May 1929) 507.



that both the large sums o f m on ey involved in establishing such plants as the S ociété Misr pou r la Filature et le Tissage du C oton (1 9 2 7 ) and the requisite technical expertise were beyon d those w hich the Bank itself cou ld provide. From then on it was n o longer laid dow n that all the directors o f the new com panies had to be native Egyptians.9 A nd in 1929 this process was taken a stage further when the S ociété Misr pou r l’E xportation du C oton was fou n ded w ith half its capital provided by the G erm an-ow ned co tto n exp ort house o f H ugo Lindem ann. Talat H arb’s rather lam e justification o f the new partnership in terms o f the fa ct that Lindem ann him self spoke A rabic and had lived all his life in E gypt m ust have appeared to m ost o f his colleagues as a tacit adm ission that his program m e o f encouraging purely native enterprise was im possible to im plem ent at such a stage o f the cou n try's developm en t.101 Som ething o f the same logic was at w ork in the case o f the atti­ tude o f both the Bank Misr and the Federation o f Industries tow ards state intervention in the econ om y. With tariff autonom y approach­ ing, it becam e necessary n ot just to ensure that the governm ent was willing and able to p rotect the right industries w ith the right level o f du ty but also that the nature o f the relationship betw een state and private sector was defined in such a w ay as to m axim ise the interests o f E gypt’s entrepreneurs. The Bank Misr's 1929 report on industry, w ritten b y Talat Harb and Y usuf Qattawi was an at­ tem pt to d o just this. A lthough it begins by reiterating the same kind o f argument as the Com m ission on C om m erce and Industry abou t the need fo r econ om ic independence and industrial develop­ m ent, its main thrust is sum m ed-up b y the suggestion that state and private capital w ork hand in hand to draw up a jo in t program m e fo r tiie establishm ent o f a num ber o f new p rojects.11 O nce again m uch abou t the position o f E gypt's still tiny financial and industrial class is clearly revealed. Its m em bers needed the support o f the governm ent in a large num ber o f w ays— to provide tariff p rotection , to provide credit — but they were also anxious to ensure that such help was obtained on their terms and in such a way as to increase their ow n pow er w ithou t m aking them overly dependent on state con trol. As events in the 1930s were to show , even a sym pathetic Prime M inister like Ismail Sidqi was both unable and unw illing to m ake p olicy solely in terms o f the interests o f this on e group. Never­ theless, b y stating their case fo r a national capitalism in such forth ­ 9. Tignor, “ Bank Misr and foreign capitalism” , 170. 10. Ibid., 171. 11. Bank Misr, Insha’ al-qina'at al-ahliyya (Cairo 1929?) 65ff.



right term s E gypt’s ow n capitalists w ere able to maintain an im ­ portant id eological bridgehead when it cam e to the discussion o f pu blic econ om ic p olicy and to ensure that it was con du cted with reference to their interests. 3. The E con om ic Nationalism o f the 1930s ‘ L ’E gypte possède toutes les con dition s nécessaires pou r as­ surer le développem ent de certaines industries et leur réussite. Elle dispose d ’une part, d ’un grand nom bre de matières pre­ mières propres à la transform ation industrielle et, d ’autre part, la main d ’oeuvre ne lui fait pas défaut. L ’ouvrier égyptien se con ten te d ’un salaire m odeste; il est sobre, résistant et apte à s'assim iler au progrès. En som m e, il ne lui m anque que l’expé­ rience pour regagner cette réputation d ’habileté d on t jou is­ saient ses ancêtres et d on t les vestiges et m onum ents sont les plus éloquents tém oignages’ . (A hm ed Abdel-W ahab Pasha, 1 9 3 5 ).l2 'N ever speak bu t in A rabie and d o n ot answer w hom soever speaks to y ou in another tongue. Never enter a shop whose title is n ot written in A rabic. Buy on ly from an Egyptian, wear on ly what is m ade in E gypt, eat on ly Egyptian fo o d ... scorn what is alien w ith all you r soul and in you r nationalism be zealous even to m adness...’ (Part o f program m e o f Y oung E gypt, Misr al-Fatat) 13 The achievem ent o f E gypt’s ta riff au ton om y and the onset o f the w orld depression produ ced a p rofou n d change in the econ om ic and political environm ent in w hich the cou n try ’s still em bryonic industrial and financial class had to operate. On the one hand, the sums w hich were required fo r the new industrial enterprises were m uch larger than ever b efore, and this at a tim e when the funds w hich native Egyptians were willing to invest were m uch reduced. As a result, if new factories and other plants were to be constructed it w ou ld be necessary to rely still m ore n ot on ly on m em bers o f the local foreign com m unity but also on capitalists in Europe itself. On the other hand, the effects o f the w orld crisis produ ced an upsurge o f local nationalism w hich soon directed its attention tow ards the econ om ic sphere. In 1930 Salama Musa fou n ded his Jamiat al-Misri lil-Misri aim ed partly, as he said, at awakening the nation’s econ om ic con scien ce. In 1931 the W afd, soon to be fo l­ low ed b y other popular organisations, organised a b o y co tt o f British 12. SE Ahmed Abdel-Wahab Pasha, “ L’Egypte moderne: problèmes économi­ ques et financiers” , L ’Egypte Contemporaine, 153-154 (Jan.- Feb. 1935) 159. 13. Quoted in al-Talia (Cairo) 1,3 (March 1965) 159-62.



good s, som ething w hich was soon extended to a program m e o f per­ suading Egyptians to abandon the purchase o f Western products o f all kinds.l* While local industrialists were obviou sly in a position to derive som e ben efit from such m ovem ents they had to be m ore careful than ever that this did n ot damage their relationship w ith foreign capital. T hey were also brought face to face w ith the fa ct that, in a clim ate o f radical nationalist activism , their ow n role in the econ om ic leadership o f E gypt w ou ld inevitably be subject to scrutiny and possibly to challenge. That they m anaged to weather these d ifficu lt years as easily as they did testifies greatly to their continuing ability to bolster a weak position w ith a persuasive battery o f pow erfu l argument. A secon d im m ediate advantage en joyed by E gypt's entrepreneurs in the 1930s was a significant change in the attitude o f British business tow ards their efforts. Whereas in the 1920s, the British, by and large, had tried to discourage E gypt's industrial developm ent, particularly that supported by the Bank Misr, in the 1930s som e Britons began to see the advantage o f cooperatin g with Egyptian enterprise as a way o f gaining a fo o th o ld inside the cou n try's new ta riff barrier. 15 The first fruits o f this new strategy was the creation o f Misr A irw orks in 1932 w ith 40 per cen t British capital. It reached its culm ination in 1938 w ith the establishm ent o f tw o large com ­ panies fo r dyeing, spinning and weaving co tto n in w hich the Bank Misr w ent in to a 5 0 /5 0 partnership w ith B radford Spinners and Weavers. 16 Given such developm ents it was naturally m ore im portant than ever fo r E gypt’s industrialists to stress their ow n strong nationalist credentials, the m ore so as their grow ing success was bringing them in to co n flict w ith tw o other im portant groups w ithin Egyptian society . One was the large landowners w h o, when facing falling profits during the 1930s, began to p oin t to Hie fa ct that the indus­ trial sector paid alm ost n o taxes and thus occu p ied a uniquely privileged position within Egyptian society. This was to prove the first shot in a struggle in w hich the basic interests o f those w hose in com e cam e prim arily from land and those w ho m ade their m oney from m anufacturing were show n to be m ore and m ore in co n flict. F or their part, publicists close to the industrial sector, aware that it was n o longer so reliant on the landowners fo r capital, were free to explore the logic o f this new situation, a process culm inating in 14. Deeb, Party Politics, 261-3. 15. Tignor, "Bank Misr and foreign capitalism” , 171-3. 16. Ibid., 178.



M irrit G hali's 1945 plan fo r a lim ited land reform , in part on the grounds that this w ou ld widen the m arket fo r Egyptian industrial goods.17 The secon d group were the workers in the m anufacturing sector itself. During the 1930s Egyptian industrialists, supported b y Ismail Sidqi him self, launched regular attacks on the existing lim ited legal protection o f w orkers’ rights in the interest o f keeping wages as low as possible. F or all these reasons efforts to stress the role o f national capital in national econ om ic developm ent rem ained o f great im portance. C onclusion It has been the main argument o'f this paper that a small section o f Egyptian society — the industrialists and financiers — used a species o f econ om ic nationalism to maintain a rem arkable ideological hege­ m ony over thinking abou t the econ om y and its developm ent during the tw o inter-war decades. It cou ld also have been argued that this hegem ony continued until w ell after the R evolution of1 9 5 2 a n d th a t it was on ly in the m id-1950s that its basic premises began to be challenged in a system atic and ultim ately persuasive w ay. That the main com ponents o f the id eology were ‘ b orrow ed ’ from abroad is o f m uch less im portance than that they were em ployed so effective­ ly in an Egyptian con tex t fo r so long. P roof o f their influence can be seen in tw o related fields. First, E gypt’s industrialists and financiers were dble to use the argument fo r national capital to increase their ow h sphere o f influence at the expense o f these very foreign capita­ lists on w hose support they continued to rely. By 1946 there were som e 60 purely Egyptian-m anaged public com panies as against on ly a hândful in the early 1920s. By 19 5 1 , according to Issawi, over a third o f E gypt’s com pany directors had names w hich identified them as either Muslims or C opts as op p osed to about 30 per cent with obviously European names. 18 S econ d, w hile im proving their posi­ tion against m em bers o f the local foreign com m un ity, they were also able to keep the state and other sections o f Egyptian society with con flictin g interests at bay. Up to 1952 there was no significant act o f nationalisation in the Egyptian industrial sector, m ost rules and regulations were fram ed so as to suit the requirem ents o f E gypt’s entrepreneurs while challenges from both workers and large landowners were successfully beaten o ff. Given the initial weakness o f their position this is a n otew orth y achievem ent. 17. For example, Mirrit Ghali Bey, uUn programme de réforme agraire pour l’Egypte” , L ’Egypte Contemporaine, 236-237 (Jan.-Feb. 1947) 6. 18. C. Issawi, Egypt at Mid-eentury: An Economie Survey (London etc. 1954) 63.

SH AYKH ‘ A LI YU SU F: EGYPTIAN JO U RN ALIST AN D ISLAM IC N A TIO N A LIST A bbas Kelidar School o f Oriental and African Studies

NO OTH ER CO U N TRY in the Arab w orld has experienced the full im pact o f the printing press like E gypt. T hroughout the nineteenth century and the early part o f the tw entieth, Cairo was the centre o f the intellectual ou tpu t w hich dom inated the cultural clim ate o f the Arab countries* The printing press m ade it possible fo r writers, journalists, and publicists from different parts o f the Arab w orld to reach a wider readership. It consolidated their solidarity; and brought the intellectuals recognition as precursors o f m odem ideas. T hey served as the catalyst fo r the em ergence o f new con cepts, the revival o f older notion s on the reorganization o f society, the State, and the individual’s position , as well as the nature o f his relation­ ship with both . The press in E gypt flourished to such an extent that in 1881 a press law was introduced to regulate and con trol its activities. A year later follow in g the British occu pation o f E gypt the law was overrun by political developm ents. F or a period o f seven years there was a lull in the activities o f the Egyptian press. Many o f the revolutionary journalists w ho acted as spokesm en fo r the ‘ Urabist cause were im prisoned, deported, or went into hiding. What was left o f the press had to reorient itself and take fresh stock o f a new situation. Previously the journalists were prim arily concerned with the twin problem s o f Islamic fundam entalism , and that o f regenera­ tion . A fter 18 82, they had to pit themselves against foreign co n ­ trol and the British occu pation o f Egypt. In 1889, a little know n journalist started a new newspaper nam­ ed al-Mu'ayyad, destined to becom e one o f the m ost influential journals o f the age. The man was Shaykh ‘ Ali Y usuf. He was o f o b ­ scure and hum ble origins, had no particular means and enjoyed no social standing. The poverty into which he was born haunted him fo r the rest o f his life. In his quest to escape from it, he sought the association o f men o f pow er and influence. He courted n otoriety by his marriage which becam e a cause célèbre in 1904. N onethe­




less, Y usuf becam e a noted politician, a respected publicist, a suc­ cessful journalist, and a wealthy man. He possessed a sharp mind and a clear view which he effectively applied to his pen. ‘ A li Y usuf was b om in 1863 in Balsfura, a village in Upper Egypt. A fter receiving what local education there was, he m oved to alAzhar. For som e reason he did n ot com plete his studies there. Soon after leaving al-Azhar, he em barked on a journalistic career, first as a writer fo r al-Qahira al-hurra, and later fo r Mir'at al-Sharq which was edited by Muhammad ‘ A bduh a ton e tim e. B efore al-Mu'ayyad was launched, he edited a literary periodical know n as al-Adab.1 Al-M u'ayyad started publication in D ecem ber 1889, a few m onths after the publication o f al-Muqattam, edited by Y a‘qub Sarruf and Faris Nimr. The im pact o f al-Muqattam's pro-British tendencies was im m ediate. It provoked the nationalist circles to think o f pub­ lishing a newspaper to voice their views, and reflect their op p osi­ tion to the occu pation . T hey approached the Egyptian Prime Minis­ ter R iyad Pasha, seeking his backing fo r the project. Riyad w ho had fallen ou t with Lord Crom er, the British Consul-General and the man w ho dom inated Egyptian politics, offered his blessing and support. The ch oice o f ‘ Ali Y usuf as editor was rather surprising, and m ight have been deliberate to allow the sponsors a certain m anipulation o f the publication. He was little known in the p oliti­ cal circles, but what he lacked in political experience, he m ore than com pensated in sound journalistic expertise. His capacity fo r hard w ork, and unflagging am bition to succeed made him one o f the leading political journalists. In the initial stages, how ever, there is little d ou b t that al-Mu'ay­ yad served as a platform fo r the nationalist writers. Articles by the leading men o f letters like ‘A bduh, where his reply to Hanotaux was published,1 2 Am in Fikri, Mustafa L utfi al-M anfaluti, Ibrahim al-Laqqani, and the Zaghlul brothers, Sa‘d and Ahm ad Fathi, gave the paper a high standing and considerable prestige. Many observers saw Ali Y usuf as no m ore than m erely the figure-head o f the paper. British consular reports described him as “ the screen to the real

1. Philippe de Tarrazi, Tarikh al-sahafa al-'arabiyya, III (Beirut 1914) 3440. Also Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, Ayam laha tarikh, I (Cairo 1954) 47-61. 2. al-Mu'ayyad (25 July 1900).



w ire-pullers.” 3 H owever, the editor soon im pressed the public by his individual style, and after a shaky and uncertain beginning alM u'ayyad m atched its rivals in technical achievem ent to becom e the leader o f the native Muslim press read from Cairo to Istanbul, and from Baghdad to A den. Y usuf w ielded a m ost able pen. A lfred Hartmann rightly said o f his style that it had all “ the distinct charac­ teristics o f the old sch ool, yet with great skill (he tackled) the m ost m odem questions o f the day, preserving linguistic purity.*’4 Y u su f’s talents were put to excellen t use on behalf o f his pow er­ ful backers, and in defen ce o f Egypt and Islam. A t the outset it was R iyad Pasha and the reform ist group o f ‘ A bduh. A fter the ac­ cession o f ‘ A bbas Hilmi II in 1892 the editor o f al-Mu'ayyad fou n d in the new and you ng Khedive a fervent supporter. ‘A bbas, w ho resented the hegem ony exercised by L ord Crom er over Egyptian affairs, em ployed the newspaper to vQice his antagonism against British dom inance. N othing cou ld have given a conservative and a traditionally orientated Shaykh greater pleasure than to m ount a virulent cam paign o f polem ics against Crom er than the support o f what Y usuf regarded as E gypt’s legitim ate ruler. As the relation betw een ‘ A bbas and Crom er deteriorated over the years, the Khe­ dive drew closer to Y usuf to such an extent that al-Mu'ayyad be­ cam e practically the officia l m outhpiece. The estrangem ent o f the you ng nationalist leader M ustafa Kam il, w ho had served his jou r­ nalistic apprenticeship on al-Mu 'ayy ad, and the Khedive after 19 04, consolidated the friendship betw een Y usuf and ‘ Abbas. The alliance betw een the Palace and al-Mu 'ayyad was beneficial to both parties. The p oor and hum ble journalist from Upper E gypt derived considerable material benefits fo r him self, as well as p rotec­ tion fo r his newspaper. His close w orking relationship with the Khedive bestow ed on him em inence, wealth and social status. It served him well as a journalist to o , particularly at a period when the Palace was the centre o f nationalist intrigue. Y usuf accom pani­ ed the Khedive on many o f his annual visits to the Sublim e Porte, where he was decorated by Sultan ‘ A bdul Hamid fo r his services to Islam and the defence o f the Em pire. Over the years the editor o f

3. Cromer to Salisbury, No. 83, secret, Cairo 117 June 1896 )F.O. 78/4762. 4. A. Hartmann, The Arabic Press o f Egypt (London 1899) 12.



al-Mu'ayyad becam e ‘ A bbas’s friend, con fidan t, and counsellor on practically all matters o f im portance. On his part, 'A li Y usuf served the Khedive loyally and to the best o f his endeavour. In an age when men o f letters, and publish­ ing concerns required the protection o f pow erful patrons to sur­ vive, Y usuf was prepared to becom e the instrum ent o f his benefac­ tors, but on ly as far as their interests did n ot clash. Thus when in 1 9 07, the political groupings that published the leading nationalist papers were transform ed in to political parties, it was on ly natural that al-Mu'ayyad*s group w ould becom e a political organisation. The Jarida grouping began the process when it becam e the Umma party, the forerunner o f the W afdist m ovem ent, w hich advocated the establishm ent o f an Egyptian nation-state and called fo r the gradual evolution o f E gypt in to a self-governing entity in co-opera­ tion with Britain. The group o f Mustafa Kamil and his newspaper al-Liwa becam e the National Party. It cam paigned fo r com plete in­ dependence and the prom ulgation o f a constitu tion to lim it the pow ers o f the Khedive. 'A li Y usuf set up the C onstitutional R eform Party. Its declared aim was to support Khédivial authority within the lim its laid dow n in the Firmans granted to E gypt by the O tto­ man Sultan. Close and faithful to the Khedive as he was, Y usuf was n ot en­ tirely devoid o f independence and personal integrity. He m aintain­ ed friendly and equally close relationship with other religious and sem i-political groups. In many ways these groups were opposed to the authoritarian proclivities o f the Khedive. Muhammad ‘ Abduh and his disciples, w ho en joyed British approval fo r their reform ist campaign o f religious institutions, were often consulted by Y usuf despite the im placable op p osition o f 'A bbas. The editor o f al-Mu 'ayyad did n ot take part in ‘ A bbas’s drive to rem ove ‘ Abduh from his influential position o f M ufti o f Egypt. On the contrary, he attem pt­ ed to m ediate between the M ufti and the Khedive, acting as a re­ straining influence on them , and som etim es as a political broker fo r both . M oreover, ‘ Ali Y usuf was as concerned about the burn­ ing issues o f the day, the threat to the Muslim w orld, the rejuvena­ tion o f Islam and the com m un ity, and the general question o f re­ form as 'A bdu h was. The main province o f al-Mu'ayyad was radical politics. As the press becam e the on ly legitim ate means by which the nationalist



leaders cou ld publicise their views, and propagate their ideas, E gyp­ tian opp osition to the British occu pation fou n d ch ief expression in violent newspaper articles and editorials. In this field Y usuf was n ot an original thinker. He follow ed in the mainstreams o f ‘ A bd u h ’s Islam ic m odernism . It was as a journalist and political publicist where he m ade his mark. Y usuf was prim arily a newspaperm an, a purveyor o f news and political ideas in an age when newspapers had considerable influence in m oulding the political ou tlook o f their readers. Over the years, Y u su f’s invective m ellow ed a little, but n ot where Islam was concerned. A true and native son o f E gypt, Y usuf knew better than m ost o f his rivals how to appeal to the minds o f his countrym en. D eeply rooted in the culture o f al-Azhar, he spoke with great authority on all matters related to Islam. Though he did n ot believe in the crea­ tion o f a single Islamic state he appreciated the im portance o f Mus­ lim solidarity. In m any ways he was bound to take the fundam en­ talist’s approach to politics, and believed passionately in the ad­ vantages o f retaining Muslim traditions o f governm ent. In m any o f his editorials there was a deep sense o f anger and resentm ent against any criticism o f Islam and the Muslims. He com bined editorial ability with astute, and at times n ot to o scrupulous management to win fo r his newspaper a leading position in the Muslim w orld, directing his appeal to conservative orth od ox opin ion . It was this that led Rashid Rida to describe al-Mu 'ayyad as “ the m eeting point o f Muslim thoughts, and the ech o o f their sentim ent.’ ’ s This is n ot surprising since Y usuf follow ed closely on the themes develop­ ed by al-'Urwa al-Wuthqa, the periodical which Sayyid Jamal alDin al-Afghani and ‘ Abduh published in Paris in 1884. Y usuf adopted the p olicy o f al-'Urwa in his perception o f the Egyptian question. He insisted that sovereignty over Egypt was the exclusive preserve o f the O ttom an State, and that the interna­ tional status o f the Suez canal prevented Britain from dom inating Egypt to the exclusion o f the other partners. He also follow ed the fam iliar pattern o f utilizing w orld pow er co n flict to the advantage o f a small and helpless cou n try. The opp osition o f France and that o f Czarist Russia was often cited as a counterw eight to British in­ fluence. In his paper he attem pted to stir up Muslim sentim ent5

5. al-Manar, 1 (1 8 9 8 )9 5 0 .



especially in India to embarrass Britain and taunt her administra­ tion as anti-M uslim, and enlist the assistance o f the rival European pow ers in this endeavour. H ow ever, follow in g the signing o f the entente cordiale between Britain and France in 19 0 4 , Y usuf seems to have com e to the con clu sion that O ttom an Turkey was to o weak to intervene in E gypt’s favour, and a p olicy o f conciliation tow ards the British occu pation w ould be m ore profitable. The ar­ rival o f Sir E ldon G orst as the new Consul-General, follow in g the resignation o f L ord Crom er in 1 9 07, marked a shift in British p oli­ cy tow ards Egypt after the resentm ent caused by the Danshway incident o f 1906. G orst was n ot as strict and overbearing as Crom er was, and Y usu f’s approval m ust have been m otivated by his desire to see the pow ers o f the Khedive restored and enhanced. F or as long as the struggle fo r pow er in E gypt was between the Khedive and the British Consul-General, it was abundantly clear on w hose side ‘A li Y usuf and his paper w ould be. Lord Crom er was regarded as the usurper o f political pow er, and it was on ly pro­ per fo r the leading Muslim journal o f E gypt to campaign fo r the lim itations o f C rom er’s authority, as w ell as the pow ers o f the Brit­ ish advisors he im planted in every governm ent departm ent. A ny dim inution in the authority o f the British officials in the Egyptian adm inistration was seen as a nationalist gain. H ow ever, the unequivocal support fo r the Khedive made the de­ mand o f ‘ A li Y usuf fo r the in trodu ction o f representative govern­ m ent rather incongruous. In 1902 Y usuf was elected a m em ber fo r a Cairo district in the General A ssem bly, a sem i-parliam entary in­ stitution w hose fu nctions were purely consultative. His seat in the A ssem bly a fford ed an added platform to maintain his cam paign fo r reform s in the Egyptian adm inistration. In 19 04, he presented som e o f the earliest proposals o f their kind to the A ssem bly, call­ ing fo r the establishm ent o f a full representative cham ber to act as the national legislature o f E gypt, replacing the existing bodies o f the Legislative C ouncil and the General A ssem bly. He condem ned these bodies as inadequate, called fo r the reform s o f the electoral law, and the extension o f the franchise. It seems that having failed to impress upon successive governm ents the need to resist British pressure, and having failed to procure m ore pow ers fo r ‘ A bbas, he decided to appeal to the Egyptian pu blic over the head o f their governm ent, and in defiance o f C rom er’s com m and o f Egyptian affairs.



R eform rem ained a constant them e in his articles and served as the fou ndation o f his political party. The colum ns o f al-Mu'ayyad were open to the leaders o f the reform m ovem ent. ‘ Abduh and Ra­ shid Rida were frequent contributors. Qasim Am in had his treatise on the em ancipation o f wom en serialized in it, and so was the Tab a Y al-Istibdad by ‘ A bdul Rahman al-Kaw akibi; Muhammad Kurd ‘ A li, the Syrian publicist and Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi, the Iraqi poet and writer were frequent contributors. In its first year o f publica­ tion , the paper com m ended the cabinet o f R iyad Pasha for various reform s which it introduced. These involved the abolition o f the m uch-hated corvee (al-'awna), the reorganization o f irrigation schem es, and reduction in taxation as well as the reform o f educa­ tion , especially the in trodu ction o f A rabic as the m edium o f in­ struction in sch ools. The question o f the language and its im por­ tance to the educated Egyptian becam e alm ost an obsession o f the editor o f al-Mu 'ayyad. From the very outset ‘ A li Y usuf ech oed the leaders o f the re­ form m ovem ent by insisting that education was the essence o f Is­ lam ic regeneration. He con du cted a vigorous cam paign fo r im prove­ m ent in all sectors o f the educational institutions, religious, public and private sch ools. In his journal he supported various schem es to reform al-Azhar and the low er religious sch ools, the religious courts and the awqaf. He cam paigned fo r m ore sch ools to be set up by the governm ent as well as by charitable foundations. Egyptians were encouraged to renounce their dependence on the British au­ thorities fo r their edu cation, and Y usuf cou ld claim som e credit fo r the m any sch ools opened by private citizens w hich were estab­ lished as a direct result o f his appeal. When the Egyptian press be­ cam e engaged in the campaign to set up an Egyptian university alMu ’ayyad played a leading role in the public debate on the subject. The p roject was set o f f by an article written by Ahm ad Hamid ‘Awad in 1905 w hich marked the beginning o f the cam paign that culm inated in the opening o f the university in 1 9 0 8 .6 Y u su f’s m ost impressive achievem ent while a m em ber o f the Gen­ eral A ssem bly was his persuasion o f Sa‘d Zaghlul, when M inister o f E ducation in 19 07, to make A rabic the m edium o f instruction in prim ary sch ools. Zaghlul was rather reluctant to accept the p ro­ posal on the grounds o f the scarcity o f com p eten t teachers to give 6. Ahmad Shafi202 53. For the econom ic transformation o f Damascus in particular see “ Aghniyauna\ ai-}éuq: