The Ottoman Cities of Lebanon: Historical Legacy and Identity in the Modern Middle East 9781350989030, 9781786730367

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The Ottoman Cities of Lebanon: Historical Legacy and Identity in the Modern Middle East
 9781350989030, 9781786730367

Table of contents :
Author biography
Note on Transliteration
1. Ottoman Saida – ‘Islamic City’, Modern State?
2. Ottoman Beirut – Liberal Cosmopolis or Islamic Fortress?
3. Ottoman Tripoli – A Fragmented Mirror
Back cover

Citation preview

James A. Reilly is Professor of Modern Middle East History at the University of Toronto. He is the author of A Small Town in Syria: Ottoman Hama in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries (2002), as well as a number of peer-reviewed articles on the Ottoman Levant.

‘A welcome addition to the growing literature on how history is constructed and transmitted in divided societies . . . a work that anyone with an interest in contemporary Arab intellectual life and culture will find interesting, as it articulates how history is remembered and interpreted differently by various communities within Lebanon. This, as Reilly keenly observes, hinders the actual emergence of a national project that might bring the country together. There is no pre-existing work that provides this service.’ Bruce Masters, John E. Andrus Professor of History, Wesleyan University

‘In yet another remarkable study by James Reilly, he makes an important contribution to the history of the eastern Mediterranean, focused this time on the three major Ottoman administrative centres of Sidon, Beirut, and Tripoli. Building on his earlier work on Damascus and Hama, he produces a careful and thoughtful analysis of the social life of Greater Syria in Ottoman times with relevance to the present. Despite its brevity, the study manages to explain and analyse the works of important historians of Syria and explains their differences and lasting contributions. The book is also a major addition to the fields of Ottoman and urban Middle East history in the depth of its analysis of historical documents and their insights into a world of tolerance and economic activity that the author understands better than most. This careful study ties in the past with key aspects of Lebanon’s current political and cultural climate, and emphasises important points of agreement and conflict in contemporary historical discourse. I would recommend this book to experts and students in the field but also to anyone interested in the history of the Levant, modern Lebanon and Syria, and the modern social and economic history of the modern Middle East.’ Leila Fawaz, Issam M. Fares Professor of Lebanese and Eastern Mediterranean Studies, Tufts University ‘Was Lebanon once “Arab”, “Islamic”, “Lebanese”, or something else? James Reilly shows how Lebanese historians continue to offer up many different versions of the Ottoman past. He skilfully weaves together the past generation of Lebanese scholarship, and explains how historians have taken turns at manufacturing, questioning, and debunking their own national myths. Anyone with an interest in history writing in the contemporary Middle East will find this book rewarding.’ Jim Grehan, Professor of History, Portland State University ‘James A. Reilly’s book presents a detailed study of local histories of the Ottoman cities of Lebanon, filling a gap in the historiography of Lebanon that has so far mostly focused on Mount Lebanon. The book also tackles one of the main challenges of Lebanese historiography: how to incorporate in one historical synthesis the histories of the different regions included in the modern state of Lebanon. On both counts, the book makes an original and valuable contribution.’ Carol Hakim, Associate Professor of History, University of Minnesota and author of The Origins of the Lebanese National Idea 1840–1920 (2013).

THE OTTOMAN CITIES OF LEBANON Historical Legacy and Identity in the Modern Middle East


Published in 2016 by I.B.Tauris & Co. Ltd London • New York Copyright q 2016 James A. Reilly The right of James A. Reilly to be identified as the author of this work has been asserted by the author in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988. All rights reserved. Except for brief quotations in a review, this book, or any part thereof, may not be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the publisher. References to websites were correct at the time of writing. Library of Middle East History 63 ISBN: 978 1 78453 554 4 eISBN: 978 1 78672 036 8 ePDF: 978 1 78673 036 7 A full CIP record for this book is available from the British Library A full CIP record is available from the Library of Congress Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: available Cover image: Ottoman Saida as rendered in David Roberts’s book The Holy Land, originally published in 1842. An original edition of the book is in the University of Toronto’s Thomas Fisher Rare Book Library. Rare books library staff produced this image at the author’s request. Typeset in Garamond Three by OKS Prepress Services, Chennai, India Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY

To Sabah and Kamal


Note on Transliteration Acknowledgements Introduction 1. 2. 3.

viii ix 1

Ottoman Saida – ‘Islamic City’, Modern State? 43 Ottoman Beirut – Liberal Cosmopolis or Islamic Fortress? 71 Ottoman Tripoli – A Fragmented Mirror 113



Notes Bibliography Index

163 185 193


I have transliterated Arabic words and names based on the system used in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, but without the full range of diacritical marks. (These, however, can be found in the index.) I have not italicised or strictly transliterated Arabic loan-words that are found in English dictionaries; thus sharia, kadi and waqf, for example. When I have consulted an author’s Arabic text and that author’s preferred spelling of his or her name is easily known, I have used the author’s preferential spelling whilst initially noting (via transliteration) the Arabic spelling: thus Khalid Ziade [Khalid Ziyada].


The late Kamal Salibi first introduced me to Lebanon’s history during student days in Beirut in the 1970s. In the years after that he continued to be a source of stories and insight that fuelled my interest in his country’s past. My knowledge of the Mashriq’s Ottoman legacy was encouraged and deepened by Salibi’s colleague, Samir Seikaly, by Salibi’s student Abdul-Rahim Abu Husayn, and by the doyen of Syrian–Ottoman studies, Abdul-Karim Rafeq. My interest in historiography was encouraged (and pushed toward publication) at various times in ensuing years by Ulrike Freitag, Jørgen Nielsen, Christine Philliou, and Amy Mills. I thank Muhammad Hasan al-Rawwas of Saida, Lebanon for sharing with me a copy of his unpublished dissertation. Here in Canada, Virginia Aksan has been an intellectual companion and guide into the wider world of Ottoman historical studies. Colleagues and students at the University of Toronto have been there for me to test ideas and solicit feedback. To all of them, and to those whom I may have overlooked, I extend thanks and appreciation. Of course, none of them is responsible for the analysis and conclusions that I offer here. As this book headed toward publication I had the support and assistance of I.B.Tauris editors including Thomas Stottor. Pat Fitzgerald’s copyediting skills enhanced and improved the manuscript’s expression and presentation.



I dedicate this book to my family – Sabah and Kamal – who have given me love and support over the many years of this journey. It is gratifying that, with this book, I can pay a kind of homage to Sabah’s birthplace and hometown, Saida.


Modern nations, without exception, lay claim to a past that defines a national story. This is equally true of modern nations that were at the core of older empires; that seceded and broke away from older empires; or that were colonies of empires. Since the two world wars, the ideas of nations and nationhood have become normative within the international political system. In the case of the Lebanese Republic, it emerged from the wreckage of the Ottoman Empire after World War I. France, the newly installed colonial power, unilaterally drew the major part of Lebanon’s borders in 1920 (France and Britain together determined Lebanon’s southern border with Palestine). During the 1920s French officials also supervised the creation of Lebanon’s constitution and its governing institutions. Based on Ottoman precedents France expanded the role of confessional (religious) identities in Lebanese politics. Ergo by the 1920s, Lebanon was on international political maps. Like leaders and educators in other newly minted countries during an era of aspirational nation states, those of Lebanon now needed a historical narrative to foster a sense of belonging to, and continuity with, the new country. This necessitated writing a history that asserted the historical distinctiveness of the imagined or aspirational nation, and that emphasised sharp polarities between



the national essence (however understood) and a multifaceted imperial past (the Ottoman past in Lebanon’s case). Newly independent countries like Lebanon that had been governed as an integral part of an imperial metropole (in contrast to overseas colonies) faced particular challenges in historically defining and delineating a national ‘us’ versus an imperial ‘Other’. In Ireland, for example, much of modern Irish history was reworked ‘to stress the supposed message of Irish history – which involved a necessary degree of deliberate amnesia’.1 In independent Bulgaria, whose lands were for four centuries a core region of the Ottoman Empire, writers constructed a national history that depicted Ottoman rule ‘as a total, endless, and senseless evil’,2 and used the metaphor of the ‘Turkish yoke’ as a shorthand for the experience of that epoch.3 Modern Greeks and Turks both have ‘a complex past that . . . defie[s] linear interpretation’,4 and in Greece and Turkey nationalist histories were developed and promoted to ‘reproduce frameworks of interpretation informed by the respective nationalist imaginaries . . . in complicity with the promotion of forgetting of a pre-national past’.5 Thus Greek nationalist historians minimise the significance of ethnic Greeks who were linchpins of the Ottoman imperial system prior to the nineteenth century, and Turkish nationalist historians project a modern, novel and contested form of national identity back on to pre-national populations. The land of Egypt too was an integral part of the Ottoman Empire, though at a greater distance than the lands of Bulgaria, Greece and Turkey from the imperial centre at Istanbul. The modern state of Egypt was founded by Ottoman elites, who in the era of nationalism in the twentieth century made common cause with ‘native’ Egyptian nationalists to excise from history the Ottoman roots of the Egyptian polity and to assert a discrete and historically rooted Egyptian nationhood.6 What all of these constructions of national history have in common is essentialism: ‘Essentialism is one of the safest and most comforting intellectual harbors of the human mind . . . In its reliance on myths and mythmaking, essentialist thinking is



a functional fantasy in the creation of . . . fictions to establish national solidarity.’7 In Lebanon professional academic history writing took root in the 1930s, and then in the 1940s and 1950s a textbook that popularised a Lebanese national narrative was prepared for Lebanese schools.8 Textbooks are key instruments of nationalist proselytising and identity-construction.9 The Lebanese textbook narrative highlighted the institutions of autonomous rule that had emerged in Mount Lebanon during the Ottoman era (1516– 1918), and the key roles played in this story by leaders of politicised Maronite Christian and Druze confessional communities. In this rendering, Mount Lebanon’s practices of autonomous self-rule under the Ma‘ni and Shihabi Emirs (seventeenth to nineteenth centuries) was a basis or an antecedent for the internationally guaranteed autonomous administration (the Mutasarrifiyya) of Mount Lebanon established from 1861 to 1914. In turn, the Mutasarrifiyya laid the groundwork for the post-1920 Lebanese Republic (Indeed, popular and public understandings of Lebanon’s history reached even further back into history, linking modern Lebanon’s exceptionalism to the activities and achievements of ancient Phoenicians).10 Lebanon’s nationalist historians recalled its history in a way that emphasised Lebanon’s distinctiveness from its surrounding Syrian environment, which was cast as Lebanon’s Other. For the most part, writers who advocated the Lebanese nationalist narrative were Christians, or at least they identified with what was presumed to be the Maronite Christians’ political project of a distinctive, non-Syrian and non-Arab Lebanon. However, advocates of Lebanese nationalism were not able to establish a hegemonic narrative; historical memories in Lebanon, like the state itself, were divided along communal or confessional lines. Concurrent with the development of the Lebanese national narrative described above, a rival Arab nationalist one developed. It denied Lebanon’s fundamental distinctiveness from the rest of Syria (coded as Arab), and characterised Lebanon as a nationally illegitimate colonial creation invented to bolster French



influence and Christian political claims. Those who advocated the Arab nationalist narrative were mostly Muslims, though Orthodox Christian writers who identified with the idea of a greater Syrian homeland (including Lebanon) also challenged the Lebanese nationalist discourse. Divergent historical narratives thus emerged out of a common mass of data and experience, underscoring Hayden White’s point that history writing, both academic and popular, is a form of storytelling.11 Societies like Lebanon’s that emerged out of multinational empires in modern times have confronted the challenge of constructing stories – national historical narratives – that connect the present to the past and inform or legitimise present-day realities, attitudes and institutions with reference to the past. How histories characterise these older multinational empires serves as a useful mirror to modern collective identities and contentions. Historians working in Ottoman successor states in the Balkans and the Middle East relate the old empire to modern issues and identities from various perspectives, ranging from a categorical condemnation of the Ottoman legacy, to selective incorporation of it, and even (as we shall see) to expressions of nostalgia for the bygone Ottoman era. Moreover, acute crises in the post-imperial nation state give rise to historical re-evaluations as people affected seek explanations for present predicaments. In times of crisis writers of history and the narratives they develop play key roles in the dialogue between past and present.12 Amidst Lebanon’s political disintegration during the years of civil war and invasion (1975–90), and as institutions of the Lebanese Republic collapsed or atrophied, a plethora of Lebanese historians offered sharply contrasting representations of their society’s past. The wartime historiographical conflict intensified earlier debates, and reflected a crisis in the older textbook Lebanese national narrative with its linear and teleological march from ancient Phoenicia to medieval mountain refuge to Druze–Christian Emirate to autonomous Mutasarrifiyya, culminating in the



twentieth-century Lebanese Republic. The dominance of this textbook narrative had never been unchallenged, but during the civil war years it became just one of a number of contending viewpoints. Lebanon’s pre-eminent historian Kamal Salibi [Kamal al-Salibi] wrote of ‘the war over Lebanese history’,13 and responded to the intellectual crisis of the war years by deconstructing important elements of the older narrative that some of his earlier work had helped to develop and legitimise. He appealed instead for the creation of a new synthesis that could serve as part of a postwar process of national reconciliation. But according to German scholar Axel Havemann, Lebanese history writing in the civil war years became almost entirely consumed with sectarian narratives.14 In 1989, Lebanese political figures under Saudi patronage agreed at Ta’if to a political and constitutional arrangement for ending the Lebanese war. The Ta’if Agreement included provisions that called for a revision of Lebanon’s history curricula in a way that would ‘strengthen national attachment and integration’.15 In the civil war years and subsequently, Lebanese history writers’ sense that they represent their community, or their nation, or both has been a recurring characteristic of their work. Little wonder, then, that when peace was restored after 1990 Lebanon’s professional historians turned to the task of reconstructing a national history. They did this at a time when, according to historian May Davie, Lebanese historiographic methods ‘continuent a` e´crire le passe´ en fonction des necessities politiques du present’ [‘continued writing the past according to the political needs of the present’].16 Some writers put their faith in a positivist approach, believing that serious and open-minded academic study might in and of itself produce a coherent national narrative. Their faith seemed to be rooted in a presumption that facts will speak for themselves or are waiting to be discovered and properly read for their true or real meaning to become apparent. For instance, in a welcoming address delivered to a conference convened by the newly inaugurated Lebanese Society for Ottoman Studies in 1991, the president of the state-run Lebanese University, Hisham



Haydar, suggested that ‘serious and deep study of the sources’ was needed to develop a revamped Lebanese nationalist framework of inquiry.17 The Society was established in 1987 by historians at the Lebanese University, and it advocates the study of Ottoman documents and Turkish archives to find what they say about Lebanon.18 The Society’s secretary-general, senior historian Munir Isma‘il, was optimistic that a renewed interest in Lebanon’s Ottoman past would be a first step towards rewriting Lebanon’s history on a sound and scholarly (or ‘scientific’, ‘ilmi) basis.19 Likewise, driven by a sense of national-social mission, Lebanese University historian Joseph Labaki wrote hopefully in 1995 that a re-examination of Lebanon’s later Ottoman period might help to create a sense of Lebanese national unity.20 These scholars’ sentiments highlight the importance of creating a ‘usable past’ for citizens of the modern nation state, particularly in countries like Lebanon, whose territory and institutions emerged from a colonial experience. For instance, as early as 1959 the Lebanon-based, Syrian-born liberal historian Constantine Zureik [Qustantin Zurayq] asserted that historians’ social and political responsibilities meant that they should write a humanistic, enlightened and liberal history of Arab nationalism.21 But whereas in some postcolonial situations national elites appeal to history in attempts to legitimise social hierarchies and the postcolonial state itself, in other contexts ‘the elements entailed in the process of [modern] identity formation may not be compatible with state formation’.22 Lebanon’s politically charged confessional identities are products of modern history (i.e., they are not merely or mainly primordial holdovers from long ago),23 and so attempts to craft state-centred historical representations exist in tension with the consolidation and assertion of subnational communal identities. Often a desideratum of state-centred representations is to incorporate communities ‘in a hierarchically organized yet homogeneous nation state through strategies that . . . tend to naturalize’ social and political hierarchies.24 However, historians and intellectuals who see themselves as tribunes for subnational



communities employ similar tropes in their efforts to consolidate modern communal consciousness. During the civil war years and after, confessional representations of Lebanon’s history proliferated. The writing of this time associated sectarian themes with concepts such as Lebanese ethnic roots, nationality and identity.25 Although Lebanon’s foundational myths include references to the ancient Phoenicians, the country’s Ottoman centuries are the proximate past that matters. Ottomanera institutions, leaderships, events and communal identities were implicated with modern state formation and with the onset of French colonial rule. Thus historians’ interpretations of Lebanon’s Ottoman era relate to present-day adumbrations of identity, legitimacy and power. In sorting, organising, and making sense of their material, historians’ work represents ‘socially institutionalized knowledge of the past’.26 Social memory is not spontaneously generated; rather it is culturally created and historians are participants in that creative process through the ways that they craft their narratives and choose to tell the national story. Moreover, as part of constructing or redefining identities associated with modernity, examination of the past offers a way to develop and propagate a historically rooted modern sense of the community.27 In societies undergoing profound and wrenching change, ‘reinterpretation of the historical record provides one of the most powerfully resonant vehicles by which to convey new images of society and to discard old or unpalatable ones’.28 In authoritarian Arab states there is likely to be tension between independent scholarly investigation and regimes’ use of history to reconcile ‘the imperatives of regime legitimacy, state loyalty, and national identity through historical references’.29 However, history production in Lebanon has a different dynamic, given that the deliberately weak Lebanese state was built alongside a conscious institutionalisation of confessional identities. The genesis of modern social identities in the East Mediterranean region including Lebanon accompanied the creation of a kind of official nationalism in the later Ottoman



Empire. Ottoman elites sought to nationalise their dynastic empire, but in doing so they dissolved or repudiated earlier forms of political legitimacy, and unwittingly facilitated novel types of modern identity that did not necessarily support the revamped Ottoman framework.30 Those who emerged as interpreters of the past were the modern intelligentsia, an elite who criticised the recent past in order to legitimise their leadership role in calls for reform.31 The Ottomans’ bad press among the intelligentsia of its Middle Eastern successor states was facilitated by widespread acceptance of the influential ‘decline’ paradigm for understanding the majority of the Ottoman centuries.32 A combination of the decline paradigm with expressions of nationalism in the Ottoman successor states gave rise to a historiography emphasising politics of local notables (a‘yan) and their significance. This historiography could be used to promote an anachronistic nationalist framework for understanding Arabic speakers’ Ottoman experience, since it ‘meshed particularly well with the nationalist assumptions of a native Arab elite in at least implicit confrontation with an imposed Turkish elite’.33 Those who treat issues of identity in the Arab Middle East not only must deal with the Ottoman past, but also with a European colonial history. Sometimes nationalist-minded writers conceptualise the Ottoman and European periods as successive instances of colonial rule. Yet under the rubric ‘decolonisation of history’, nationalist narratives can end up offering mirror images of colonial discourse.34 Like the colonial histories they mirror, nationalist historical narratives are divided into pre-colonial, colonial and post-colonial periods. Most nationalist histories have privileged urban elite perspectives and left rural people, ethnic minorities and women in the shadows. Nationalist narrators often chose to characterise the pre-colonial past as a kind of unspoiled Eden. Notes Maghrib historian Edmund Burke III: ‘Both colonial and nationalist histories present a homogenized and essentialized vision of both Self and Other’.35 Typically, nationalists subsume dissonant voices of pre-colonial protest into an elite and nationalist master



narrative in which the agency of subalterns is not admitted. Moreover, nationalists tend to present the process of colonial conquest as a Manichean contest between light and darkness, overlooking ways in which colonial conquest included a political dimension that interacted with the (oft-unacknowledged) politics of the pre-colonial era.36 Preoccupation with heritage (Ar. turath), and wishing to reconnect with a ruptured pre-colonial past, are familiar exercises in the development of modern communal and national identities. Anthropologist Faedah Totah has observed of turath: In its current meaning and usage . . . turath represents the inherited cultural, intellectual, religious, literary and artistic output within an ideological sentiment that unites all Arabs and serves as a referent for the present not only to what has happened but also to what should have happened and did not.37 In nationalist historiography the process of reconnecting with the pre-colonial past is characterised as an awakening of heretofore hibernating collective consciousness. The metaphor of awakening a slumbering nation includes the corollary assumption that there is a national essence identifiable and traceable over the centuries. ‘Nation-as-essence’ (including, in the Lebanese case, the iteration of communal essentialism) is retroactively projected into an eternal nation or community.38 Lebanese historians’ confessional readings of history – including varieties of confessional and national essentialism – have been noted and analysed over the last quarter-century both within and outside of Lebanon.39 History writers working within patriotic, nationalist or confessional paradigms risk narrowing their visions to ask questions already defined by the nature of their subject. The result, as Youssef Choueiri observes, is a succession of partial glimpses of a richer and more complex reality. Thus a major gap in Arab Ottoman and colonial-era studies is ‘the relative absence of the



ordinary Arab man and woman, their needs, fears, and aspirations’.40 Modern national consciousness often first took root in those Arab lands that were most tightly bound up with the Ottoman state. Arabs who embraced the idea of the modern state frequently did so not in opposition to the Ottoman movement of reform and state rationalisation, but in association with it. Choueiri asserts that Arab writing to 1918 advanced a generally positive view of the Ottoman state as defender of the Islamic caliphate-sultanate. The ‘Ottoman option’ as a path to modernity was not decisively closed off until 1918, after which the nation state paradigm asserted itself inter alia through denigration of the recently deceased Empire.41 Lebanese writing about the country’s Ottoman period has in large part focused on the histories of the mountain-based Ma‘ni and Shihabi principalities or emirates for the earlier centuries, and the autonomous district or Mutasarrifiyya for the later decades. Typically these were seen as precursors to the modern Lebanese state.42 Although the Emirate and Mutasarrifiyya grew up within an Ottoman framework, national-minded historians tended to treat Ottomans as ‘outsiders’ to the Lebanese story on a par with other ‘outsiders’ represented by Europeans. The major coastal cities – where most Lebanese citizens today live – were marginal or peripheral to this mountain-centric Lebanese national narrative.43 Granted, narratives regarding the supposed Phoenician ancestry of modern Lebanon could symbolically incorporate the coastal cities into a historical vision of the country.44 But with respect to the immediate political antecedents of the modern Lebanese state, the largest coastal cities (Saida, Beirut and Tripoli) had been centres of Ottoman provincial administrations. In religious terms, the coastal cities’ populations had been predominantly Sunni Muslim historically, whereas the confessional protagonists in mountain-based narratives were mainly Maronite Christians and Druze. The particular focus of this book is a selection of Arabiclanguage monographs and papers on the major coastal cities that



were published in Lebanon after 1975. These offer opportunities for historiographic investigation. How do history writers construct their narratives? Do these accounts fit into some kind of an expanded Lebanese story extending beyond the mountain? How salient are elements of confessional special pleading in these accounts? How do their authors understand Lebanon’s Ottoman past in a more general sense, and the relationship between the Ottoman past and the Lebanese present? What agency (if any) is attributed to marginalised historical actors such as urban populations of workers, market-garden cultivators and women? The chapters that follow will demonstrate that history writing on Lebanon’s Ottoman cities, while not completely ignoring the lived fabric of urban life, is preoccupied with nation, state and sect. Taken as a whole, the Ottoman cities material surveyed in this book reflects and highlights Lebanon’s divisions. It offers insights into attitudes that were expressed in history writing during and after the 1975– 90 civil war in Lebanon. Such writing, it turns out, cannot and does not offer ideological or historiographical solutions to Lebanon’s debates, divisions and polarisations. Three major critiques of Lebanese national historiography appeared during and after the civil war years of 1975– 90. The first of these (1984) was Lebanese sociologist Ahmad Beydoun’s Identite´ confessionnelle et temps social chez les historiens libanais contemporains.45 The next (1988) was historian Kamal Salibi’s A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered. This was followed in 2002 by the work of Axel Havemann, a German historian whom Salibi inspired, in a study titled Geschichte und Geschichtsschreibung im Libanon des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts: Formen und Funktionen des historischen Selbstversta¨ndnisses.46 Writing in the midst of the civil war, Beydoun argued that Lebanese history writing has mostly been a field for communalist contentions. In other words, historians from different confessional communities offer competing discourses and interpret events and their significance through communalist lenses. He focuses on four significant historical issues to illustrate his point. The first is the



idea of a historical Lebanese ‘core’ society and territory in Mount Lebanon. Beydoun starts with Maronite historians who assert the Lebanese historical nature of today’s national territory, through their identification of the name ‘Lebanon’ with the mountain at the earliest possible date, and by emphasising the foundational nature of neighbouring regions’ political submission (no matter how transitory) to the rulers of this ‘Lebanon’.47 In the 1930s, a Shi‘i discourse emerged that emphasised the historical distinctiveness of the predominantly Shi‘i Jabal ‘Amil, linking the latter to the wider reference of Syria rather than subordinating Jabal ‘Amil to the idea of Lebanon.48 Subsequently, Christian historians whom Beydoun categorises in a generic category of ‘historically Greek Orthodox’ (including later derivations from the ‘Greek’ trunk, including Greek Catholic Melkites and formerly Orthodox converts to Protestantism), argue that the name of Lebanon was not used the way that the Maronite historical tradition would have it, but they acknowledge its growing usefulness as a political identifier with the passage of time.49 Druze writers, for their part, have emphasised the official Ottoman administrative name for the mountain, which identified it politically as Druze.50 Sunni historians see this region’s name as part and parcel of its Arabisation,51 not acknowledging that it had any ‘national’ identity distinct from the Arab framework. A later Shi‘i author argued that the Arabs failed to conquer Lebanon not (as the Maronite historiographical school would have it) because of the tenacity of the mountain’s native defenders, but because the rugged land was not worth besieging. The Arabs were similar, this author argued, to other conquerors in this respect.52 So according to this author, Mount Lebanon was not anything special historically; it was akin (or equivalent) to Jabal ‘Amil.53 Beydoun notes a diversity of Muslim historical views, but what they have in common is rejection of the idea of a historic Lebanese quintessence located in the mountain.54 The second significant historiographical issue that Beydoun takes up concerns the identity of the victims of a harsh attack



launched against the Kisrawan region of Mount Lebanon by the Cairo-based Mamluk sultanate in 1305, following the Mamluks’ defeat of the Crusaders. The significant issue for Beydoun is how historians’ perceptions vary according to authors’ confessional affiliation or background. After discussing the medieval and Mamluk historical sources, with all of their silences and ambiguities,55 Beydoun goes on to analyse the ways that historians of different communities have understood and interpreted the punitive Mamluk expedition. Maronite historians of the twentieth century have asserted that Maronites, with Druze allies in the Jurd region, resisted the Mamluk expedition and were its principal victims. They asserted this as part of establishing a Maronite ‘historical claim’ to Kisrawan, which only later (in the Ottoman period) became predominantly Maronite in population. In this way Maronite historians bridged the absence of a medieval Maronite majority in Kisrawan, and their growing presence there later by the seventeenth century.56 Beydoun regards the most assertive Maronite interpretation (of resistance to the Mamluks, and of Maronite demographic continuity in Kisrawan between the fourteenth and seventeenth centuries) as ‘caracte´ristique de certains de´lires psychotiques’ [‘characteristic of certain psychotic delusions’],57 and then goes on to speak more respectfully of interpretations offered by historians of other Christian confessions (derived from the ‘Greek’ trunk: one is Melkite and the other is a Protestant of Greek Orthodox ancestry, namely Kamal Salibi). They see in the extant medieval sources that the inhabitants of those parts of the mountain attacked by the Mamluks in 1305 were Nusayris (today’s ‘Alawis), Druze and Shi‘ites. Salibi is particularly forceful regarding the Shi‘ites’ role in resisting the Mamluks.58 Early in the civil war years (1977), a Shi‘i historian published a tract from the medieval jurist Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328) whose text provided further evidence that the principal targets and victims of the Mamluk expedition against Kisrawan were Shi‘ites.59 Salibi subsequently reiterated that Shi‘ites had been the dominant



population of Kisrawan prior to the Mamluk expedition.60 Sunni historians discussing the same episode were pro-Mamluk, arguing that the Mamluk armies represented the authority of the legitimate state. Some even used the pejorative Mamluk term for Shi‘ites, rawafid (‘rejecters’ of the first three Sunni caliphs).61 Commenting on the significance of this debate, Beydoun brings it back to his own day: ‘En effet, la lutte engage´e entre les historiens autour de l’identite´ du Kisrawan me´die´val n’est aujourd’hui dans sa propre qu’un aspect du conflit suscite´ par l’he´ge´monie maronite dans l’E´tat libanais actuel’ [‘In fact, the battle waged among historians around the identity of medieval Kisrawan is today just an aspect of the conflict caused by Maronite hegemony in the present-day Lebanese state’].62 Maronites present medieval Kisrawan as an instance of their defence of the particularism of the mountain against the neighbouring Other (‘musulman, arabe, de´sertique’).63 Even the Mamluks’ implantation of ‘strangers’ (Turcoman Muslims) in the mountain did not erase its specificity, with the outsiders eventually acceding to the Maronite vision of a distinct mountain.64 Participation of the Maronites – if established – in the defence of Kisrawan against the Mamluks assures the former (theoretically) of a continuous presence in Kisrawan since the time of the seventh-century Mardaites (discussed below) to the dawn of the fourteenth century.65 Thus Maronites’ abandonment of Kisrawan between the 1305 devastation and the beginnings of their documented presence there in the sixteenth century can be interpreted as a forced exile, allowing Maronite historians to invoke the trope of the Maronites’ ‘return’ to Kisrawan in the early Ottoman period. Moreover, these historians interpret Druze participation in the defence of Kisrawan in 1305 as a harbinger of the later Maronite-Druze political combination in Lebanon. This is all part of the historiographical groundwork for asserting that the history of Lebanon is rooted in its mountain core and in Lebanese Maronitism.66 In the other camps, the historiographical outlook or bias limits the medieval Maronite presence to the northern part of the



mountain (i.e., not Kisrawan). This challenges the identification of the ‘mountain core’ with Maronite hegemony. These nonMaronite historians’ goal is to present the Kisrawan events in a way that bolsters the role and claims of their own communities. If Shi‘ites establish that they were the principal victims of the Kisrawan campaign, then they strengthen their ‘Lebanese’ credentials. In this case Shi‘ites would have as much of a claim to ‘Lebanism’ as do Maronites. Or, Lebanon is not ‘apart’ from its regional environment, but is a part of it.67 Druze use the 1305 events as a way of affirming their connection to the mountain and their roles as steadfast defenders of its autonomy.68 As for Sunni historians, they generally deny any specificity to the mountain, and instead identify with the interests and idea of the Islamic state. Thus Sunni historians write supportively of the Mamluk state that devastated Kisrawan, inasmuch as these events demonstrate the Islamic state’s ability to incorporate the mountain (against the thesis of its historic separateness and distinctiveness).69 Once again, it is historians hailing from Christian communities (Melkite and Protestant) without a stake in the question of Kisrawan’s medieval identity who are the ones best able to acknowledge the diversity of the region’s medieval population and the ambiguity of the extant primary sources. The non-Maronite Christians do not privilege any one historical community: ‘[L]eur position marginale dans la tension communautaire permet a` ces historiens de conserver un sens critique tendant, en ge´ne´ral, a` conformer le re´cit historique au re`gles d’objectivite´’ [‘Their marginal position in intercommunal tensions allows these historians to maintain a critical sense that conforms, in general, to presenting the historical record in the light of objective criteria’].70 The medieval Kisrawan issue generated debate because it was linked to the historical trope of ‘core’ Lebanese territory to which other regions were appended. For Maronites, Kisrawan and the mountain more generally define Lebanon; for Shi‘i historians it is part of their community’s historical patrimony; for Sunni



historians this supposedly ‘core’ region was in fact subjected to the authority of the universal ‘Islamic state’.71 The third historiographical issue that Beydoun takes up concerns the identity of the seventh-century Mardaites, Christian warriors who appear in histories of the mountain at the time of the Arab conquest of Byzantine Syria. Catholic, and especially Maronite, writers used the example of the Mardaites to affirm the pre-existence of a Lebanese entity (as a refuge from imperial power) before the Arab conquest.72 Beydoun highlights a school of thought that linked Maronites to the Mardaites, and that therefore saw the Maronites (¼ Mardaites) as the founders of a mountain refuge in the seventh century that was non-Arab and predominantly Christian.73 On the other hand, two non-Maronite Christian historians (the Greek Orthodox Asad Rustum and Protestant Kamal Salibi) were sceptical, and Salibi went so far as to say that Lebanon and the Maronites themselves were Arabised before the Arab conquest of the seventh century.74 The Melkite historian Henri Abu Khatir – whom Beydoun often cites – saw the Mardaites as mercenaries with whom the Muslim Umayyad caliphs did deals in the name of realpolitik.75 In other words, in the eyes of these non-Maronite Christian writers, the Mardaites do not fit the idealised nationalist construction of principled Maronite Christians who defended the autonomous mountain against Byzantine emperors and Muslim caliphs.76 Contention around the Mardaites fits into a larger pattern whereby Christians (Maronites especially) wrote of ‘Lebanese history’ as if it was their history – with their community, and their mountain, at the core. Muslim historians either insist that their history is also part of the core (i.e., they want in), or they have focused on Arab-Islamic history as an expression of their primordial identities.77 Muslim historians at first declined to write ‘histories of Lebanon’, but bit by bit and in fits and starts they consented to write it to challenge the Christian (especially Maronite) image of their history, and to construct a Lebanese historical framework that has a dignified place for their



community. The first important study by a Muslim on the history of Lebanon was written by Adel Ismail (‘Adil Isma‘il), a history of Fakhr al-Din II published in 1955.78 Both Ismail and Shi‘i historian Muhammad al-Makki (1977) published histories that sought to acknowledge or legitimise Lebanon as a multiconfessional project, beginning with accounts of the seventhcentury Mardaites in which all communities have primordial founding roles.79 But Maronite Butrus Daw’s multivolume work published from 1970 to 1980 reasserted Maronite primordial claims, going all the way back to the Phoenicians and casting Arab-Muslims as the Other or the enemy.80 According to Daw, the Mardaites mark the founding moment of the ‘national’ Maronite community, and Maronites’ struggles for independence in the ensuing centuries show their fealty to this founding moment. Beydoun interprets Daw as embodying a sectarian Maronite response to Lebanon’s 1970s crises. Daw’s whole primordialist thesis hinges on his identification of the Mardaites with the Maronites, an outlook that Daw himself characterises as a Maronite point of view (Beydoun hastens to add that this is the viewpoint of only some Maronite writers).81 Daw identifies Maronites with the Lebanese idea, ‘Lebanism’, and writes a history in which other groups, families and rulers become ‘Lebanised’ to the degree that they identify with Maronite values of patriotism for the homeland.82 In contrast, Beydoun continues, the basis of Sunni claims to Lebanese identity are very different: La pre´sence ancienne des sunnites sur la coˆte libanaise et leur appartenance a` la confession des E´tats islamiques qui l’ont gouverne´e nominalement et effectivement (et sans interruption aucune de la fin des Croisades a` celle de la premie`re guerre mondiale) forment le point de de´part de la formulation historique d’un patrimoine sunnite libanais qui met en relief, a` partir d’une position particulie`re (celle de pouvoir), la ‘libanite´’ de l’actuelle communaute´ sans empeˆcher son origin de s’e´taler en dehors des frontie`res



libanaises [The Sunnis’ ancient presence on the Lebanese coast and their affiliation to the religion of the Islamic states which nominally or effectively governed the coast (and without interruption between the end of the Crusades and the First World War) form the point of departure for the historic formulation of a Sunni Lebanese patrimony. This highlights, from the perspective of power, the Lebanese-ness of the present Sunni community, without denying its original presence outside of the Lebanon’s frontiers].83 Similarly, Shi‘ites’ deeply rooted presence in Jabal ‘Amil and in the Biqa‘, along with their historic presence in Mount Lebanon, allow their historians to attest to their own Lebanese patrimony.84 Beydoun then recaps his characterisation of modern Lebanese history-writing: 1) authors focus on group identities; 2) they reject, or attempt to diminish, the role of others outside their own community; 3) they use origin stories to fix the identities of one’s own group and of the Other(s); 4) they fill up historical blanks or ambiguities with imagined pasts, excluding all doubt or uncertainty, and asserting full confidence in their tendentious judgments.85 To wit: La pole´mique autour de l’identite´ des Mardaı¨tes nous a paru . . . rece´ler le de´sir d’accorder, ou celui de de´nier, aux maronites l’origine persistante de l’identite´ libanaise ne´e dans le jeu de la re´sistance a` l’Autre persistant: le musulmanArabe. Dans les divergences sur l’identite´ de ces fameux morts du Kisrawan me´die´val, nous avions vu auparvant un reflet de la lutte entre les protagonistes du Liban de notre temps, dont chacun souhaite affirmer une pre´sence historique dans le ‘noyau’ dynamique de l’unite´ libanaise contemporaine [The polemic around the identity of the Mardaites appears to us to reflect the wish to grant or to deny to Maronites the persisent origin of a Lebanese identity born in the act of resistance to a persistent Other: the Arab Muslim.



We have already seen in the differences over the identity of the famous dead of medieval Kisrawan a reflection of the struggle among the Lebanese protagonists of our time. Each wishes to affirm a historic presence in the dynamic ‘core’ of present-day Lebanese nationhood].86 Despite all the ink spilled on the subject, however, few contemporary historians still argue about the stories of the Mardaites and defenders of medieval Kisrawan. Instead they expend more energy interpreting the implications of the violent mid-nineteenth-century social movements known as the harakat, as well as the significance of the sixteenth- and seventeenthcentury emir Fakhr al-Din II. The harakat and Fakhr al-Din II are the third and fourth issues that Beydoun uses to illustrate his thesis about the confessional nature of most Lebanese history writing. Unlike the Mardaites and medieval Kisrawan, these latter subjects offer an abundance of historical primary source material.87 But just as in the case of the Mardaites and Kisrawan, Beydoun says that writers’ confessional affiliations reflect presentday communitarian preoccupations. Because primary sources on the harakat are plentiful, historians do not sharply disagree regarding basic ‘objective facts’ (contrary to the situation of the Mardaites and medieval Kisrawan). Rather, debates focus on how to determine and to apportion shares of moral responsibility for the events. Writers’ ideological orientatations (which, in Beydoun’s account, usually are associated with their confessional affiliations) are revealed in the system of values that they apply to the facts, and their distribution on a moral grid.88 The preoccupations that drove the earlier debates about the Mardaites and medieval Kisrawan also prevail in literature on the harakat: Druzes want to reclaim what had been rightfully theirs whilst Christians argue a right to the land of the mountain against Druze claims, since (according to Christian writers) their presence on the mountain preceded the appearance of the Druze community and even of Islam.89



In this context, Christian historians’ presentation of Muslims (including Druzes) as backward-looking and pro-status quo, and of Christians as representing nineteenth-century progress and modernity, go back to M. Jouplain’s foundational Christiannationalist text, La question du Liban (1908).90 In his account of the harakat Jouplain expressed his conviction that the content of Lebanese Christianity was aligned with European-democratic values, championed national independence, was modernist and was revolutionary. He identified Druze belief, in contrast, as Muslim: rigid in the face of the future, Ottoman-feudal in political orientation, dependent, sectarian, traditionalist and conservative. Thus the Christian and Druze outlooks were said to represent two different worldviews.91 Also according to Jouplain, the Ottoman sovereigns were ‘outsiders’ on a par with the Europeans, and he portrays the Ottomans as consistently and manipulatively hostile to the ‘historical autonomy’ of the mountain.92 Jouplain argues that Maronites had a consistent democratic orientation, despite zigs and zags in the policies and alliances of Maronite leaderships in the 1830s and 1840s. Therefore, the civil war between Maronites and Druzes that reached its apex in 1860 was not sparked by the expansionist policies of the Maronite church (representing ‘democracy’); rather, responsibility lies with feudal families, the Druze, the Turks and (up to a point) the British: all of them enemies of the modern democratic values that Jouplain identifies with the Maronites.93 His recurrent trope is that of ‘Maronite democracy’ versus ‘Druze feudalism’. So in Jouplain’s account, the universal values or claims of democracy are assigned to one party in an intercommunal struggle.94 Jouplain’s 1908 ouevre was directed at an external, French, audience and perhaps also at Lebanese Christian elites. The basic image and interpretation that Jouplain projects continued (Beydoun says) to be the foundational narrative for those Lebanese of pro-Maronite political persuasion who express themselves in French rather than in Arabic.95 Druze historian ‘Abbas Abu Salih, publishing in 1980, challenged received wisdom (shared by most major Christian



historians as well as by the Sunni Muslim Adel Ismail) that posited fraternal coexistence between Maronites and Druzes, ruptured by a combination of external forces (Europeans, Ottomans, Egyptians). Abu Salih also challenges pro-Maronite historians’ narratives that see Maronites’ assumption of a dominant position as a ‘natural’ phenomenon that had the unfortunate consequence of later erupting into class conflict during the harakat. For Abu Salih, class conflict was a secondary phenomenon. Instead he sees an endemic and deeply rooted struggle for power occurring during the many years (seventeenth century and beyond) when Maronites spread southward. The harakat were merely the open expression of these endemic tensions.96 He characterises the Druze as defending themselves against Maronite aggrandisement and aggression.97 The view of these events expressed by a Muslim historian, Wajih Kawtharani (1976), is basically an Ottoman loyalist one. While Kawtharani is critical of specific aspects of the Ottoman state and of Ottoman policy, he blames the Maronites for not being loyal to the Empire in terms that Beydoun interprets as tantamount to blaming Maronites for not being Muslims.98 Beydoun then reiterates his principal contention that Lebanese historians generally follow a communitarian logic, identifying with and interpreting history through their own respective communalist lenses. Christian historians remember their inequality and oppression in former times, and they see the creation of non-Muslim Lebanon as a liberation. Muslims remember when Islam and power were joined, and they regret the loss of this normative relationship. So the ‘pro-Ottomans’, Beydoun says, do not reflect on the Ottoman Empire as a socio-political regime so much as they regard it as the last historical incarnation of the universal Islamic Self. The social formations produced by historical Islam are not examined in and of themselves, but rather in relation to an original and normative Islam.99 Beydoun, for his part, is critical of historical reification whether confessional, nationalist or Marxist.100



Fourth and last, Beydoun takes up the issue of historiography around Fakhr al-Din II (d. 1635). Just as Lebanese historians’ treatment of the harakat divulges their understandings of social divisions, he says, so too their treatment of Fakhr al-Din permits readers to see how they imagine and conceptualise the state.101 Writers debate the identity of Fakhr al-Din’s ‘state’, pulled between Arabism, Lebanism, Syrianism, Europeanism or Islamism. How writers interpret Fakhr al-Din’s emirate (which was, strictly speaking, a tax farm or series of tax farms devolved onto him by Ottoman suzerains) reveals their own preferences for understanding what Lebanon is or ought to be. Interestingly, though, Beydoun asserts that authors develop their various theses about Fakhr al-Din without mentioning opposing viewpoints. As is his wont, Beydoun finds a correlation between historians’ views of Fakhr al-Din and their communities of origin. In this light, the most symbolically charged battle around Fakhr al-Din has to do with his religious affiliation.102 Fakhr al-Din, and his state, become a mirror through which Lebanese historians have staked out their positions regarding the Lebanese state of Beydoun’s day.103 In his conclusion Beydoun asks why Lebanese historiography cannot be, or is not, anything more than ‘des interminables apologies antagonistes, soucieuses, non pas tellement d’e´tablir la version ve´ridique des faits . . . mais bien plutoˆt de grandir en valeur le groupe auquel l’historien s’identifie’ [‘interminable antagonistic apologetics, concerned not so much to establish a verifiable version of the facts, but more often to boost the community with which the historian identifies’].104 It is not enough to attribute everything to the ‘impact of the West’, a method of nonexplanation that Beydoun characterises as intellectually lazy and imitative in a self-justifying way.105 Confessional attitudes were interpellated into historians’ understandings of the Lebanese state: Maronites hid their dominance whilst citing ‘coexistence’; Shi‘ites emphasised communal autonomy in a shared state; Sunnis, ‘equitable participation’; and those of non-Maronite Christian



background adumbrated different visions of the nation state, often responding to the particular context in which they found themselves (Lebanese nationalist here, Syrian nationalist there, Arab nationalist somewhere else). He praises Greek Orthodoxaffiliated or -descended historians for being the most comprehensive in scope and modern in technique. Their position forced them to write beyond the boundaries of confession, to encompass the full extent of Lebanon’s national frontiers and its state. Asad Rustum (d. 1965) and Kamal Salibi (d. 2011), he says, were the two historians most concerned with adhering to scholarly or scientific norms.106 Authors’ confessional affiliations count for much in Beydoun’s book, but nowhere in its more than 600 pages does he refer explicitly to his own communal background. However, both his name and his dedication of the book to his hometown Bint Jubayl, in southern Lebanon near the border with Israel, would reveal to the Lebanese reader his confessional affiliation. For the present writer, Beydoun’s glosses of various authors’ viewpoints, identifying them with authors’ confessional backgrounds, make narrative and analytic sense. However, when the present book in its subsequent chapters turns to the literature on Lebanon’s Ottoman coast, it will argue that not every Lebanese-based work of history is easily reducible to a confessional type, even if many of them can be. One wonders if, in his zeal to expose and critique the essentialist nature and assumptions of much Lebanese historiography, Beydoun journeyed too far towards a reductionism of his own by making Lebanese historiography mostly or mainly about writers’ sectarian identities and little else. Kamal Salibi described his 1988 book A House of Many Mansions as ‘not a history of Lebanon, but a critical study of different views of Lebanese history’.107 His starting point was the contrast between Lebanese Christian and Muslim views of Lebanon’s past: Christians affirming a discrete Lebanese historical identity rooted in earlier centuries, and Muslims denying it.108 Salibi’s major themes include the following



assertions: Maronites are Arabs; historically Mount Lebanon was not exceptional compared to the rest of geographic Syria, nor was it a Christian refuge from Muslim persecution;109 the Ottomans could and did assert their authority in Mount Lebanon whenever they pleased;110 and Lebanon saw no Maronite-Druze historical pact or decision ‘to join ranks under one generally accepted leadership for the defence of their common mountain homeland against Ottoman tyranny’.111 Interestingly, Salibi deals with the whole fraught business of the Mamluk expedition of 1305 against Kisrawan (whose significance to Maronite nationalist historians Beydoun had dissected) in just two sentences.112 Developing his theme that in political terms Lebanon in Ottoman times was historically unexceptional, Salibi notes that the ‘autonomy’ exercised by emirs Fakhr al-Din II Ma‘n (deposed 1632) and Bashir II al-Shihab (deposed 1840) were common Ottoman phenomena.113 However, as part of his effort to construct or salvage some kind of Lebanese historical narrative that might be useful in post-civil war efforts at reconstruction, Salibi qualifies his rejection of Lebanon’s political uniqueness. He argues that the mountain and Beirut’s long-term cultural and economic association with Christian Europe (the Maronite church’s union with Rome, missionaries, educators, trade, the silk industry), and the dialectic between Beirut and the mountain, did create a distinctive political and cultural pattern.114 Therefore Salibi arrives via a different route from taken by the ‘Maronite school’ to argue for Lebanese exceptionalism: ‘Here . . . special social rather than political conditions prevailed.’115 Specifically: . .


Christian mountain society maintained strong traditional links with Western Europe (via union with Rome); Druze mountain society was so confident of its own solidarity (‘tribal’, in Salibi’s eyes) that the Druze welcomed Christians to live among them; Beirut, a harbour town open to commerce with Europe, had a significant Sunni Muslim population while being surrounded


. .


by the Maronite- and Druze-populated mountains; European/Western missionary presence in the region was of long duration; the silk economy forged links between the mountain and the city.

All of these conditions formed the backdrop for the emergence of Beirut as the leading commercial, cultural and educational centre in Syria in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.116 Salibi distinguishes his perspective from that of the Maronite or Christian nationalist school, who (as shown in Beydoun) had typically argued that some kind of significantly Christian Lebanese entity was identifiable and historically traceable from late antiquity onward. The intellectual or cultural challenge facing the Lebanese Republic, Salibi believes, stems from the incorporation into it of populations who had not shared the historical experiences of Mount Lebanon and Beirut. The confessionalism of Lebanese society is a reflection of divisive tribalism: In the final analysis, tribalism under whatever cover is a poor political foundation on which to build a viable modern society. Greater Lebanon, no less than Mount Lebanon before it, was truly a statue of gilded bronze standing on feet of clay.117 Therefore Salibi shares Beydoun’s understanding of Lebanon’s society as being essentially confessional in its organisation and ethos, although Salibi would say tribal-confessional. Salibi also has an interesting attitude toward the ‘Greek’ Christian tradition (from which his ancestors hailed), and he invites comparison with Beydoun in this respect too. Writing of confessional tensions in the newly independent republic (1940s– 1950s), he says: ‘Between the Sunnite and Maronite extremes in Beirut, there was a buffer of moderation – the non-Maronite Christian communities large



enough to count politically, namely the Greek Orthodox and the Greek Catholics.’118 Turning to ‘the war over Lebanese history’ (the title of one of his chapters), Salibi notes Druze forces’ destruction of a statue of Fakhr al-Din II in 1983 that had been erected ten years previously by the Maronite-dominated Lebanese state authorities.119 Whilst the Druze under the leadership of politician and militia chief Walid Jumblatt (b. 1949) did not dispute or contest the honour due to Fakhr al-Din as a particularly energetic figure from Lebanon’s past, the Emir’s image and statue had become symbolic of his misuse by the Christian ruling establishment to develop a historical picture of Lebanon that the Druze as a whole rejected. Salibi cites Jumblatt (who had once been his student at the American University of Beirut) as saying that the ‘correct’ history of Lebanon had to be stripped of its ‘Christian-fabricated myths’.120 In a summary way Salibi then notes that a Sunni historiographic challenge to the Lebanese national narrative was published as early as the 1930s, when two educators associated with the Sunni Maqasid education system published books that denied to Lebanon any special history apart from the history of Syria or ‘the Arabs’ as a whole.121 What Salibi calls the Christian establishment then commissioned a textbook emphasising the historicity of Lebanon contrasting it from its Syrian and Arab surroundings; this was the publication of Asad Rustum (Greek Orthodox) and Fu’ad Afram al-Bustani (Maronite). Their book (published 1937) ‘emphasized the special historical character of Lebanon to an extent that no Muslim was willing to accept, and which even many Christians regarded as going far beyond the limits of reason’.122 Salibi states that Muslim opposition prevented its formal adoption.123 (Havemann – see below – suggests it was widely used anyway.) Although Maronites hoped that Druzes and Shi‘ites might eventually buy into a version of their understanding of Lebanon – as a refuge from persecution for religious minorities, whose political identity had been historically established as a consequence of Christian leadership – intellectuals of both the



Druze and Shi‘i communities balked. Contrary to the most optimistic Christian interpretations, the Druze did not see Lebanon as an equal shared enterprise. Rather, ‘starting with Ottoman times, [Lebanon’s history] was more than anything else a record of Maronite usuprations of Druze rights’.124 As for the Shi‘ites, they could not buy into Maronite historiographical nostalgia for the Shihabi emirate in general or Emir Bashir II in particular, under whom their ancestors had suffered cruel depradations and experienced political marginalisation.125 Salibi himself, as shown earlier, does argue for a kind of Lebanese historicity and particularism, just not the kind identified with the Maronite-centric school of historiography. Histories of Maronites and Druze and their interrelationships do offer a kind of political continuity, he says, and offer one model of Arab particularism among many. On this score, he also takes a swipe at the Arab nationalist view of history, against which the Maronite Lebanese nationalist interpretation was developed. The Arab nationalist view is misleading, because it posits ‘a united national march that went wrong’. Rather, he says, Arab history is best understood as a collection of parochial histories into which the history of Mount Lebanon comfortably fits.126 Lebanon’s uniqueness, in Salibi’s view, rests on its pioneering role in the adoption and assimilation of modernity in the Arab world. Relying on a diffusionist model of modernity, and interpreting or understanding Lebanon’s various communities as tribal-confessional, he says that different communities assimilated modernity at different rates – Christians first, Shi‘ites last – and the consequence or outcome was a particular social formation whose truly national or inclusive history still waits to be written.127 Whereas Salibi does much in his book to challenge or dismantle the more ideologically driven elements of the Lebanese Maronite nationalist school of history, his writing replicates some of the partisan tensions and conflicts of his predecessors. On the one hand, he does attempt to bridge the older Arab vs Lebanese argument, by stating that all Lebanese communities were



culturally and historically Arab. And he does challenge the older Arab nationalist assumption that Lebanon was some kind of outlier in the modern Arab story because of its Christian elites’ reluctance or hesitation to embrace the Arab nationalist understanding of identity and history. Salibi does this by pronouncing both Lebanese Maronite nationalist and Arab nationalist renderings of history to be myths, ill supported by the actual record when it is examined dispassionately. Where Salibi replicates the partisan tensions or value judgements of earlier writers is with his liberal appreciation of Western-style modernity (the only kind, apparently), and his diffusionist understanding of its spread, from European–American core regions to receptive communities in Lebanon. Because Christians were most receptive, and were most exposed to the European–American agents of modernisation (missionaries, consuls, etc.), they were the pioneers of modernity in Lebanon with the other communities playing catch-up, the Shi‘ites being the last to arrive. This judgement or assessment restates the older Lebanese historical problem in a new way, by identifying particular (tribal-confessional) communities as leaders and as followers. Rather than Lebanon-as-refuge, Salibi writes of Lebanonas-laboratory (of Arab modernity), and Christians have pride of place in both renderings. With respect to the Ottoman period, there is little in Salibi of the disparaging or dismissive attitude that marks many nationalist (whether Lebanese or Arab) accounts of those four centuries. He interprets the Ottomans as ultimately sovereign for most of this time, and as being influential in the development of the mountain and Beirut in ways that sometimes worked to the benefit of local political forces, at other times to their detriment, depending on the prevailing political circumstances (regional and international). The Ottomans, in other words, were an imperial presence who represented neither religious (Muslim) nor ethnic (Turkish) oppression in any systematic or sustained way. Inspired by conversations that he had with Kamal Salibi and other Lebanese historians, German historian Axel Havemann



published his own critique of Lebanese historiography in 2002.128 Havemann’s focus is on ‘Lebanese’ history writing from the time of the autonomous Mutasarrifiyya (1861–1915) until the end of the 1990s. His goal is to see what views and ideologies about Lebanon and its national identity (or self-understanding) have been adumbrated. In his introduction, Havemann identifies Salibi, Wajih Kawtharani and Jean Sharaf as historians of note whose views are relevant to a ‘national’ discourse. With respect to the Ottoman era specifically, Havemann offers a long historical pre´cis of Lebanon, drawing on widely accepted Lebanese and international scholarship, and within this narrative he places or contextualises his subject historians and their writings. Havemann’s account of Ottoman Lebanon focuses almost exclusively on the mountain and the Mutasarrifiyya; he hardly mentions the cities or immediate hinterlands of Tripoli, Beirut and Saida, which will be the focus of the present work.129 Havemann’s main point is that most Lebanese history writing has been sectarian in orientation and that a truly national history has yet to be devised or widely accepted. This is not an isolated problem but is linked to the entirety of the contemporary Lebanese experience: ‘Sectarian education is stronger in Lebanon today than in any previous time.’130 Havemann is particularly interested in what professional (that is, academic) history writers have had to say about Lebanese ‘self-understanding’, and notes that the professionalisation of history writing began during the Mandate period. The debate about whether Lebanon was a historically legitimate entity, or merely a fragment of Syria arbitrarily truncated from the mother country by French colonialism, began then.131 The canonical example of the Lebanese national narrative was represented by the school textbook published in 1945 and reissued in 1957. This is the Bustani– Rustum collaboration that Salibi referenced. Havemann (contrary to Salibi) implies that the Bustani– Rustum collaboration did make its way into the government school curriculum, whereas Salibi says that Muslim opposition prevented its adoption. Whatever the case, Havemann



argues that the textbook bore the imprint more of its Maronite coauthor (Bustani) than of its Greek Orthodox co-author (Rustum).132 Havemann accepts the premise that authors’ political and historical orientations generally line up with their confessional or sectarian identities – a premise or a point that is common to Beydoun and Salibi as well. Given the fragile sense of nationhood felt by the citizens of postOttoman states, including Lebanon, it is no surprise that historians – even or especially professional academic historians – see their work as part of a project of nation-building. Havemann quotes the Syrian-born, Lebanese-based Arab nationalist historian Constantine Zureik as writing in 1959 that historians’ social and political responsibilities meant that they needed to write a humanistic, enlightened and liberal history of Arab nationalism.133 This sense of mission – whether on behalf of Arab nationalism, Lebanese state nationalism or Lebanese confessional nationalism – can be seen to animate much of the history writing emanating from Lebanon. Salibi himself, in A House of Many Mansions, was concerned to find for Lebanon and Lebanese a ‘useful past’ that did not rely on poorly sourced sectional or sectarian myths. In any case, Havemann notes, sectarian themes dominated Lebanese history writing in the independence era up to the civil war. These themes were either an expression of agreement, or historical compatibility, with sectarianism and sectarian narratives or were attempts to dethrone sectarianism by not recognising it.134 Havemann praises Salibi as a critical national historian,135 and he introduces Salibi’s A House of Many Mansions by asserting that, in the civil war years, history writing had simply become another expression of sectarian ‘retreat’ or retrogradation. Moreover, ‘local histories’ (including city, regional and sect histories) proliferated in the civil war years, linked to the distintegration of the Lebanese national project.136 Because the present study focuses on city histories particularly, it is in a position to test Havemann’s thesis on this score. As will be argued in subsequent chapters, evidence



from histories of Beirut, Saida and Tripoli is that historical writing about these cities nearly always had a larger, national canvas in mind. In other words, the ostensible subject might be Saida, Beirut or Tripoli, but the larger question typically is a particular understanding of a wider, national collective identity. Havemann backhandedly acknowledges as much when he observes (in the context of two Sunni-sectarian studies of Beirut that will be discussed in a subsequent chapter) that their characterisations of the past, including the Ottoman past, are instrumentally designed to clarify and defend present-day conduct in the heightened sectarian consciousness of the war years.137 Conveying a more positive view of Marxist historiogaphy than did Beydoun, Havemann identifies Marxist writing generally as an important wartime refutation of sectarian historiography. In this context Havemann begins with Lebanese University historian Mas‘ud Dahir, ‘the most productive Marxist author’.138 He complains, though, that Dahir’s writing is more ideological than historical.139 Beydoun had complained about Lebanese Marxist historical writing (though not about Dahir specifically) that it assiduously avoided issues of sectarianism even when writing about sectarian events, except to imply that sectarianism was a form of false consciousness.140 Although the 1989 Ta’if Agreement called for the ‘unification’ of Lebanese historical textbooks,141 Havemann offers a detailed account of the inability in the 1990s to create such textbooks.142 Havemann concludes his study with a call for the production of ‘objective’ history, noting however that most Lebanese history writing has been ‘ideological’.143 Havemann’s work is a useful and thorough study of sectarian special pleading in civil war-era Lebanese historiography, and when read alongside Beydoun’s and Salibi’s books, Havemann makes a convincing case that the biases of Lebanese history produced by Lebanon-based scholars particularly can usually be matched or related to the respective authors’ political-confessional affiliations. He calls this kind of writing ‘ideological’, as opposed



to objective or factual, and in that sense Havemann’s epithet ‘ideological’ includes room for Marxists (even though they typically seek consciously to disavow any kind of sectarian or confessional bias). There are distinctions, however, among Beydoun, Salibi and Havemann with respect to their normative stances. Writing in the midst of civil war, Beydoun expressed intellectual doubt about the existence of Lebanon as a homeland, a state or a nation. He did not do so in a normative way (e.g., by arguing that Lebanese historically ‘really’ are something other than Lebanese, such as Syrians or Arabs). Rather, Beydoun wondered simply whether, when Lebanese wrote of ‘Lebanon’, they were even thinking about the same thing. Beydoun dedicated his book to his home town of Bint Jubayl, on the border between Lebanon and Israel and (at the time of his writing) occupied by Israel, using Bint Jubayl to epitomise an identity crisis for the country as a whole: ‘A` Bint Jubayl, mon village, anxieux depuis trois ge´ne´rations de savoir dans quel pays il se trouve’ [‘To Bint Jubayl, my village, for three generations anxious to know in which country it is’]. For Salibi, the reality of Lebanon and its historical rootedness was never in doubt, but the country sorely lacked a unifying national narrative because its history had long been a bone of contention between Lebanese Christian nationalists who made absurd historical claims, on the one hand, and Lebanese Arab nationalists who denied the Christian narrative and countered it with absurd assertions of their own. Salibi was suggesting a way forward, one that accepted Lebanon’s Arabness (i.e., the longstanding Arab cultural affiliation of its various communities), but that denied Arab nationalists’ claim of normative political homogeneity that uniquely excoriated Lebanon for its distinct political identity. (Not for nothing, Salibi notes, did many Christians suspect that this type of Arab nationalist discourse was but a thinly disguised polemic of Muslim hegemony.) Instead, Salibi argued that Lebanon was like all other Arab societies in the Mashriq (Arab East) because, not in spite of, Lebanon’s parochial and distinct cultural and political history.



Salibi’s understanding of Lebanon therefore sought to incorporate Arab identity and Christian or non-Sunni community distinctiveness into one historically defensible and nationally integrative project or package. As for Havemann, he is critical of ‘ideological’ readings of Lebanese history (typically, confessional readings) and he calls instead for an ‘objective’ history. In this instance the critique is stronger than the remedy. Havemann is good at exposing the confessional biases and narratives of specific historians, and his work complements Beydoun’s inasmuch as Havemann is mostly dealing with more recent authors than did Beydoun, who was more interested in the older ‘foundational’ texts of various sectarian discourses. Havemann cites Salibi as an example or a model of the type of ‘objective’ (non-ideological) historical discourse that he himself favours. But can the line between ideology and objectivity be drawn so cleanly? Who is the judge of one or the other? Salibi was a Lebanese nationalist, albeit of a liberal and integrative rather than a sectarian or exclusive kind. Beydoun attributed the ability of Salibi (and other historians of ‘Greek’ confessional heritage) to stand apart from Lebanon’s confessional polarisations precisely to the ‘Greeks’’ intermediary position between the polarisations of Christian and Muslim sectarian nationalisms. Salibi himself, in his account of the early years of Lebanese independence, suggested this mediatory or go-between role for Lebanon’s nonMaronite Christian communities. All of which is to say that, pace Havemann, Salibi’s understanding of Lebanese history is also ‘ideological’, at least to a degree. If we return to the insights of Hayden White (referenced earlier, note 11), then Havemann’s effort to draw a stark difference between ideological and objective history appears even more problematic. History is a kind of storytelling, and academic history is storytelling that observes (or ought to observe) certain rules about verification of data and identification of primary sources. Ideology (a worldview conditioned by nation, gender, class, ethnicity, confession, etc.) will inevitably permeate all work to one degree or another, and the



crucial distinction is, do readers find a given account more or less persuasive, according to their understanding of critical academic standards? An account where ideology overwhelms or trumps the responsible and fair citation of evidence, and that simply disregards (rather than argues against) contrary accounts, will be less convincing than one that strives to meet all of these criteria. Yet the latter may be no less informed by its author’s ideological worldview than the former. A brief historical summary of the major coastal cities of today’s Lebanon during the late medieval and Ottoman periods will help to highlight and contextualise material in the chapters that follow.144 After the Mamluks’ definitive expulsion of the Crusaders from the Levant in the thirteenth century, the coastal towns of Saida and Beirut became military outposts for the Mamluk sultans of Egypt. In the wake of the Crusades Saida and Beirut were mostly depopulated, and they remained little more than garrison outposts settled by relatively small numbers of presumably loyal Sunni Muslim communities until the Ottomans’ arrival in the sixteenth century. The port city of Tripoli’s experience was different. Whilst its old coastal site was left to atrophy as a garrison post and lookout station, and became known as al-Mina’ (‘The Port’), a new Tripoli was built a few kilometres inland around the massive hulk of the Crusader citadel that dominated the coastal plain. So when the Ottomans arrived in Syria in 1516– 7, Tripoli was the most densely built up of the three coastal cities. It also became a significant Ottoman port, geographically favoured since a gap in the coastal mountain range made Tripoli a natural Mediterranean gateway to the Syrian interior via the crossroads town of Homs. From Homs, soldiers, travellers and traders joined the imperial road (tariq sultani) that extended northward and southward through Syria between Aleppo and Damascus. The advent of Ottoman rule brought a period of relative peace to the Syrian littoral. Muslim fears of a new crusade in the East Mediterranean receded without disappearing entirely (hence the



Ottomans’ reconstruction of Jerusalem’s walls), and networks of commerce, trade and pilgrimage joined coast and interior to wider imperial markets, whether by sea or by land. Tripoli and Saida became provincial seats in 1579 and 1660, respectively. Saida developed into the port of Damascus, and Beirut played second fiddle to Saida both economically and administratively in this context. Prior to Saida’s designation as the seat of a province, it had become a commercial and military base for the ambitious, mountain-based tax farmer and muqata‘aji (Ottoman feudatory) emir Fakhr al-Din Ma‘n II (d. 1635). Readers will repeatedly encounter this emir’s name in the pages that follow, since the textbook Lebanese nationalist narrative designated him as the founder of the Lebanese political entity. It was in part to rein in such mountain feudatories that the Ottomans designated Saida as a discrete province in 1660, whereas prior to then Saida had depended administratively on Damascus. Meanwhile, the Ottomans in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries more often than not found themselves allied with France against the common Hapsburg enemy. Ottoman commerce with France invigorated trans-Mediterranean trade, and French merchants took up residence in Tripoli and Saida from the seventeenth century onward. Saida and Tripoli both came to be known for their regional and international trading links and episodic commercial prosperity, assisted by their favourable locations on richly cultivated (though narrow, at Saida) coastal plains. The Ottomans assigned taxation rights and administrative duties in the mountain hinterlands behind Tripoli, Beirut and Saida to military families, some implanted (like the Turcoman Sayfa family in Tripoli, politically influential from 1579– 1627), and some already locally rooted (like the Shi‘i Hamadas and Druze Ma‘ns in the north-centre and south of Mount Lebanon). During their ascendance the Sayfas were governors of Tripoli as well as rulers of its hinterland; the Ma‘ns at their peak (under Emir Fakhr al-Din II) exercised authority in Beirut, Saida and Tripoli as well as in their original mountain bastion. In the late sixteenth century,



and for most of the seventeenth, the Ottomans were preoccupied with wars on their northern and eastern frontiers against European Christian and Iranian Shi‘i rivals, and this imperial preoccupation left Syria in the hands of governors and local forces who sought to carve out spheres of influence and shares of Syrian local wealth and revenues for themselves. Though the Ottomans brought down Ma‘n emir Fakhr al-Din II in 1613 and then again in 1632, when he grew too ambitious, nonetheless the Ma‘n family continued to play a political role in the mountain till supplanted by their allies and relatives the Sunni Shihabs in 1697. In the course of the eighteenth century Tripoli and Saida remained provincial seats, but both were losing ground in the bythen decentralised Ottoman pecking order. Damascus took over much of Tripoli’s interior agricultural hinterland (namely, the districts of Homs and Hama) in 1725, coincident with the emergence of the al-‘Azm family as recurring governors of Damascus. Like other Ottoman provincial notables the al-‘Azms had their political ups and downs, but during periods of their ascendancy members of the family were concurrently appointed to governorships in Tripoli and Saida. In due course a coastal administrative rival to Damascus emerged, based nominally in Saida but actually in Acre. From 1775 on, the de facto seat of Saida province was actually in Acre, under the iron-fisted rule of the Bosnian Mamluk Ahmad al-Jazzar (d. 1804). During his years of maximum influence al-Jazzar also won appointments to Damascus. For the most part, though, al-Jazzar engaged in a jousting match that had political, fiscal and sometimes military dimensions, pitting coastal interests (represented by al-Jazzar) against interior interests (represented by governors of Damascus including those of the al-‘Azm family hostile to al-Jazzar). The governorship of Tripoli, and political factions among the titled feudatories of Mount Lebanon, were affected by and enmeshed in this rivalry. Suffice it to say that Saida was in Acre’s shadow in those years, and Beirut was alternately dominated by Acre or by mountain feudatories of the Shihab family. Political power in



Tripoli alternated between the rival poles of Acre and Damascus. Al-Jazzar’s principal ally in Tripoli was a local Janissary strongman named Barbar Agha (d. 1835), who continued to be Tripoli’s local representative of Acre’s interests under al-Jazzar’s successors. Early in the al-Jazzar epoch Tripoli and Saida remained commercially important because of the ongoing presence of French merchants, but al-Jazzar’s disputes with them reduced Saida’s appeal to the French. Later, Napoleon Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt (1798) and his unsuccessful siege of al-Jazzar in Acre (1799) undermined France’s long-established commercial position in the Levant. French commercial activities were suspended altogether during the Napoleonic Wars, but once French merchants reestablished themselves in the East Mediterranean after 1815 they preferred to work from Beirut, a favourably situated port where administrative and commercial interference from Acre or Damascus was less onerous than at Saida. The emirate of Mount Lebanon, now in the hands of the publicly Muslim but cryptoChristian Bashir II al-Shihab (deposed 1840), had usually been allied with al-Jazzar for reasons of expediency. After al-Jazzar’s death in 1804, Bashir’s mountain emirate maintained good relations with both Damascus and Acre. In local terms Bashir II consolidated his authority in 1825 at the expense of feudatory rivals, including the most important Druze muqa‘ataji of the day. This development, combined with Bashir’s opportunistic alliance with the invading armies of Egypt’s rebellious governor Muhammad ‘Ali in 1831, set the stage for a wholesale transformation in the roles of, and relationships among, the coastal towns of Saida, Tripoli and Beirut. Nine years of Egyptian rule in Syria (1831– 40) propelled the ascendance of Beirut over its erstwhile administrative betters, Tripoli and Saida. The Egyptian administration coincided with a dramatic change in the volumes and quantity of trade between the Ottoman East Mediterranean and European markets in the context of the Industrial Revolution and improvements in international transportation and infrastructure (soon to include steamships and



railroads). Indeed, the strength of Egypt and its invading army were linked to revenues generated by Egypt’s growing integration into international markets as a cotton producer. During their rule of Syria, Egyptian authorities designated Beirut as the principal entrepoˆt for East Mediterranean trade with Europe. The foreign merchant community grew, accompanied (or followed) by European educators and missionaries who made Beirut a centre of their Levant operations. When Egyptian rule came to an end (via an Ottoman and British alliance) and Ottoman rule was restored, Beirut retained and deepened its commercial and cultural primacy. With the Ottomans’ return, the pro-Egyptian emir Bashir II fled into exile, and the politics of the mountain were no longer an entirely internal Ottoman affair. Bashir’s polarising and opportunistic political style had led to the rise of political factionalism along Christian and Druze confessional lines, reinforced now by French patronage of Maronite Christians and British patronage of Druze political leaders. The newly returned Ottomans revived the old designation of Tripoli and Saida as provincial seats, but this arrangement eventually gave way to one in which all three coastal cities were subordinated to a newly formed unified province of Syria (excluding Aleppo) with its seat at Damascus (1864). In the meantime, the mountain hinterlands of Beirut and Saida shattered along Christian– Druze political lines, closely watched and influenced by interested foreign powers, leading to bloody strife in 1860. These events triggered a French military intervention and the subsequent creation of an internationally guaranteed administrative district (Mutasarrifiyya) in Mount Lebanon, from which the coastal cities of Tripoli, Beirut and Saida were excluded. Beirut became a district seat of the Syrian province in 1864, subordinating Saida commercially, politically and administratively to Beirut for once and for all. Beirut’s commercial and cultural importance developed at breakneck speed. It was a centre for international trade and modern schools, both foreign and local. Beirut became one of the



fountainheads of the nineteenth-century Arabic literary revival (Nahda) that led to new expressions of political and cultural consciousness. Already by the 1860s and 1870s Beirut’s mercantile circles resented their continuing subordination to Damascus, citing the inconvenience and expense of travelling to the interior provincial capital to deal with administrative and judicial affairs, and they lobbied for an enhancement of Beirut’s status in the Ottoman administrative hierarchy. Recognising Beirut’s importance, and its sensitive role as the principal foothold of European Christian cultural and commercial influence in the East Mediterranean, the Ottoman government designated Beirut as the seat of a provincial capital in 1888. At that point Tripoli and Saida were confirmed as administratively subordinate to Beirut, which by the late nineteenth century had leapfrogged over them both to become far and away the wealthiest and most prosperous of the three coastal towns. Beirut’s dramatic fluorescence led to a significant change in its demography as Ottoman Christians began to flow into the city from the mountain hinterland in search of the opportunities that Beirut offered. By the end of the nineteenth century Beirut, in the recent past a mostly Muslim outpost of third rank, had become a cosmopolitan Ottoman city of the first rank with a Christian majority. Ottoman sultan Abdu¨lhamid II (1876–1909) promoted government infrastructure in Beirut (public parks, schools and institutes, a modern clock tower and a ceremonial fountain) designed to make it a model of imperial modernity. In the years following the restoration of the Ottoman constitution in 1908, Beirut, with its education, publishing and commercial institutions, was a major theatre for the development of Arabic thought on community and politics, including the trends that became precursors to Arab, Syrian and Lebanese nationalisms. Beirut also was the principal port for autonomous Mount Lebanon, and an entrepoˆt for people and goods bound for the Syrian interior through newly built railroad lines to Damascus and beyond. Saida by this time had sunk into quiet provincialism, sustained mainly by its ties to the fertile coastal plain and its immediate



mountain hinterland. As for Tripoli, it remained an important access point for the northern Syrian interior, but it represented a kind of faded glory in the later Ottoman context, as economic and cultural dynamism, and administrative importance, shifted to the provincial capital Beirut. During World War I the Ottoman government – personified in Syria by Jamal Pasha, the implacable Turkish military administrator sent to coordinate the war effort – abolished the autonomy of Mount Lebanon and channelled all of Syria’s resources to support what in the end was a losing cause. In the diplomatic aftermath of the Ottomans’ defeat, British occupation forces on the Syrian coast gave way in 1919 to their French allies, who the next year moved inland and deposed the short-lived British-supported autonomous Arab administration headquartered at Damascus. In 1920 French authorities drew a definitive border between Greater Lebanon and the rest of Frenchcontrolled Syria. The territory of Greater Lebanon included Tripoli, Beirut, Saida, the mountain hinterland, the Jabal ‘Amil region in the south bordering British Palestine and the Biqa‘ valley on the eastern side of the Lebanon mountain range. This territorial entity became the Lebanese Republic in 1926 with its capital at Beirut, recognising and affirming the city’s primacy. The political genealogy of Lebanon, however, was rooted in the history and politics of the mountain, and it was the mountainbased narrative that became the basis for a Lebanese national historical narrative in the twentieth century. Yet most Lebanese lived, or soon came to live, in the burgeoning coastal cities, especially Beirut. The incongruence between a modern urban and coastal reality and a semi-mythologised mountain past was one of the many tensions that bedevilled attempts to construct a functional Lebanese national narrative – not to speak of the rival narrative claims made by Arab-oriented and Greater Syrian nationalist writers, as noted earlier. Hence this book explores what twentieth- and early twentyfirst-century Lebanon-based writers, publishing in Arabic during



and after the civil war years, have made of the country’s Ottomanera history by highlighting their accounts of Tripoli, Beirut, and Saida. During the Ottoman centuries these towns and cities were Ottoman in a political sense, and Arab in a cultural and linguistic sense, more than they were ‘Lebanese’. The latter word, as an adjective, only came into widespread use during the nineteenth century and then it mostly referred to the mountain, not to the Ottoman provincial capitals, past and present, that were strung out along the mountain’s Mediterranean shore. Thus the ways in which Lebanon’s Ottoman coast has been constructed and represented in historiography offer insights into the contentious processes of collective identity formation in modern Lebanon.



Recently published accounts of Ottoman Saida have emphasised the significance of its contributions to Lebanese people’s heritage and legacy (turath). The old city benefitted from renewed attention in the 1990s and 2000s, partly as a consequence of the emergence in Lebanon’s political and economic life of a native son of the city, Rafik Hariri (Rafiq al-Hariri, d. 2005). A man of humble origins who made his fortune in Saudi Arabia and then mixed business, politics and personal and public interests in post-Ta’if Lebanon, Hariri was a member of parliament and recurrent prime minister who, along with his parliamentarian sister, patronised efforts to refurbish and to highlight old Saida’s architectural and material heritage. So whereas in the pre-civil war years a glossy coffee-table book about Saida published in Lebanon gave short shrift to old Saida’s extant characteristics, and focused only on ancient and early medieval legacies up to the time of the Crusades, Saida’s extant Ottoman-era heritage predominated in a glossy post-Ta’if coffeetable book whose publication was supported by the Hariri Foundation.1 The trilingual book was presented as part of an effort to revive interest in the fortunes of old Saida. These same efforts resulted in the publication in 2003 of a scholarly study by Lebanese anthropologist Maha Kayyal on the craft industries of



Saida.2 Co-sponsored by the Hariri Foundation, the Lebanese office of UNESCO, the National Heritage Association and the Foundation for the Development of Arts & Culture, Kayyal’s anthropological study began with a historical chapter written by Saida public historian Talal al-Majdhub, on whom more later. Justifying or explaining the book’s focus on crafts, the president of the Lebanese office of UNESCO, Fadia Kiwan, wrote in the foreword that crafts are a significant element in local selfidentification, and that knowing about and encouraging craft production is a way of holding on to a sense of self in the face of dangers posed by cultural and economic attacks or challenges (apparently a reference to the homogenising tendencies of globalisation).3 In a second foreword Muna Hrawi, head of the National Heritage Association (formed during her husband’s presidential term in 1996) wrote that the Association’s motto is: ‘A nation without heritage is a nation without identity.’ She added that the Association has a comprehensive understanding of the word ‘heritage’. It does not only mean museums and old buildings, but also the arts. Therefore the craft worker is a basic part of Lebanon’s social heritage. The preservation and revival of craft work is part of the country’s present-day revival (Nahda) and national project.4 The comments in these two forewords, and the preservation efforts to which they refer, date from the decade when Lebanon was emerging from its 15 years of civil and regional war, and when hopes for a recovery were being promoted by Rafik Hariri and those around him. Saida’s heritage of crafts and architecture would necessarily encourage a focus on the Ottoman era and its legacies – understood, in the context of ‘heritage preservation’, in a mostly positive if not nostalgic light. Before embarking on a study of post-Ottoman historical retrospectives and reflections, it is worth pausing to consider how Ottoman Saida was portrayed in Arabic writing at the time, towards the close of the Ottoman era. A valuable source on this score is a report prepard by two Ottoman Arab civil servants for the Ottoman Turkish governor of Beirut province in 1916– 17.



The authors, Rafiq Tamimi and Muhammad Bahjat, were civil servants. Thus they were part of the Ottoman system, and when they wrote this system was a given, likely to endure in Syria for the rest of their lives as it already had (in one form or another) for four centuries. There was therefore no nationally inflected hindsight in their remarks, unlike later writers who had to take into account the creation of the Lebanese Republic in the 1920s. Tamimi and Bahjat began by remarking on Saida’s green and pleasant setting, but they went on to say that the city in their day would not remind visitors of the fabled Saida of antiquity.5 Its best houses were in the Beirut style (multistorey, arched windows and peaked tiled roofs), but the authors depicted the bulk of Saida’s housing stock negatively: ‘walls covered with smoke, dark inside, putrid courtyards cut off from fresh air’. They advocated clearing away the old housing stock that could not be improved.6 Nevertheless the authors were impressed with Saida’s legacy of old public and commercial buildings, and then they proceeded to mention some of the newer additions. Interestingly, all of these newer buildings were either foreign or Christian in character, and taken together they created ‘a constructive, civilizational spirit’ in Saida.7 In their historical summary of the city, Tamimi and Bahjat note its contestation between Muslims and Christians at the time of the Crusades, a contestation that ended not with the Mamluks (whom they do not mention) but with the arrival of Ottoman rule. Saida remained in a ruined condition until the Druze prince Fakhr al-Din II revived its commerce and gave it new buildings. Saida slumped again afterwards, was marginalised by Ahmad al-Jazzar (who moved the provincial seat to Acre) and then lost its commercial pre-eminence to Beirut.8 However, according to Tamimi and Bahjat Saida’s revival in recent decades (i.e., prior to World War I) could be measured by the growth of its modern schools. As modernist-minded government officials, the authors offered statistics to measure Saida’s economic and educational attainments. They decried the absence of a civic spirit among the city’s Muslim majority, and opined that Christians were more



interested than Muslims in attaining formal education. Muslims suffer from general backwardness, they said, a failing that is especially pronounced among that community’s girls and women. A rare bright spot in their cultural survey of Saida was the periodical al-‘Irfan, whose publisher they described as a Mutawalli (¼ Shi‘i) who wished to raise his community’s cultural level. Publication had recently ceased because of wartime paper shortages, but Tamimi and Bahjat hoped that it would be able to resume.9 It is worth unpacking a few elements of the Tamimi and Bahjat narrative, to compare and contrast it with accounts that would be written later. First, their writing reflects no awareness of Lebanese or Arab ‘nationhood’. Their subjects in this section are Muslim and Christian Sidonians who are citizens of the Ottoman Empire. Second, though acknowledging the ‘glorious ancient past’, their historical awareness focuses on the Crusades and afterwards, with the arrival of the Ottomans presented as the resolution of a conflict that had brought Saida’s fortunes low. Third, the ‘Druze prince’ Fakhr al-Din II is a figure whose career had a beneficial impact on Saida, but he is not presented as the harbinger or founder of a national entity. Fourth, the word umma (community, nation) is reserved for religious communities (Muslims and Christians), as well as for Mutawallis. This was an acknowledgement of religious diversity in the Ottoman city, without attempting to give Saida a particular sectarian or ethnic flavour. (The term Mutawalli, common in its day and not used pejoratively by Tamimi and Bahjat, would in later decades cease to be used in polite discourse, much as ‘coloured’ as a reference to African-Americans faded from polite North American discourse between the early and later parts of the twentieth century.) Finally, as employees and officials in the Committe of Union and Progress provincial administration, Tamimi and Bahjat had no qualms or hesitation about advocating ‘modernity’ even if this meant appropriating foreign or Christian tools to socialise an allegedly ‘backward’ Muslim community. There was, as yet, no



nostalgia for Old Saida; to the authors’ utilitarian minds, the old city’s infrastructure and housing stock were reminders of backwardness, not touchstones of nostalgia, turath, or identity. Let us now jump ahead 50 years. In the decade before the outbreak of the country’s civil war in 1975, Saida was the subject of two widely circulated textbook-like histories published in Lebanon. They traced Saida’s story from ancient times, through the medieval Islamic, Crusader, Mamluk and Ottoman periods. One was a Lebanese nationalist account and the other appeared in an Arab nationalist context. Despite their different political orientations, their renditions of Ottoman-era Saida shared much in common. In 1966 education official Munir al-Khuri published his Sayda ‘abra hiqab al-tarikh. It is a popular history in the sense that it was intended for a general readership and it was not encumbered with the usual scholarly apparatus of footnotes and references. Its tone is dispassionate and serious. This sober tone, paired with Khuri’s responsibilities for teacher training, would likely have communicated to his readership that his is a scholarly account. Khuri’s assumptions fit within the Lebanese nationalist framework prevalent at the time, viz., a political entity called Lebanon had emerged by the sixteenth century, vested in the dynasty of Ma‘n emirs and their Shihab successors. There was a ‘national spirit’ reflected in sectarian plurality including the creation of a ‘national army’.10 Saida was part of this Lebanon, and Khuri periodises the city’s history within the context of the Ma‘ni emirate.11 Saida reached the apex of its early Lebanese history during the reign of Ma‘ni emir Fakhr al-Din II (d. 1635), whose era represented a golden age.12 Khuri attributes the Ottomans’ creation of a province or wilaya of Saida in 1660 to their wish to thwart the Lebanese struggle for freedom.13 In discussing the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, Khuri conflates the interests and sentiments of Emir Bashir II Shihab (r. 1788– 1840) with those of the population of Saida and its province, disregarding his own text’s evidence that Bashir was a factional figure rather than a



‘national’ one.14 When Khuri arrives at the Ottoman reform period of the 1840s onward, he asserts that the returning Ottomans wanted to end the ‘independence’ of Mount Lebanon and so they lit the fires of sectarian conflict, assisted by European powers. As part of this destructive programme, Lebanese leaders were stripped of their power and the ‘Lebanese army’ was disbanded. Thus the Ottoman rulers sought to make themselves indispensable, and foreign powers found pretexts to intervene whilst working to foment a bloodbath.15 The specific history of Saida is little discussed in all of this, except to demonstrate that Saida was touched by the developing violence even as its local leaders sought to protect vulnerable Christians in 1860.16 Khuri avers that Turkish (Ottoman) rule in the post-bloodbath years (1861– 1914) was characterised by injustices.17 Nonetheless, despite Ottoman oppression Saida maintained its cultural life in the final Ottoman decades. Missionary schools played an important role in this cultural life, and Saida personalities and luminaries contributed to the Arabic literary Nahda (Renaissance).18 People in Saida greeted joyfully the restoration of the Ottoman parliament and constitution in 1908 at the hands of the Young Turks (Committee of Union and Progress or CUP). Yet Sidonians, like other Arabs, were resolute in their opposition to both the Sultan’s oppression and the Turkification policies of the CUP leadership (the Unionists).19 Thus whatever Saida and its people achieved in the Ottoman period they did despite Ottoman rule, and despite the Ottomans’ efforts to sever Saida from its Lebanese political identity. A few years after Khuri’s book appeared, the Beirut Arab University (BAU) published an Arab nationalist inflected history of Saida written by ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Salim, Professor of Islamic History at BAU as well as at the University of Alexandria, Egypt. The BAU had been established through the cooperation of two Islamic charitable associations (one Egyptian, the other Lebanese) in association with the University of Alexandria.20 In the 1960s the BAU represented an intellectual beachhead for Islamically



inflected Nasserite pan-Arabism in the Lebanese higher education scene. The author, Salim, was likely Egyptian and he published prolifically in that era on Arab and Islamic history. This book was an effort to insert Saida into an Arab nationalist historical outline. In his introduction, Salim argues that the Arab-Islamic history of Saida had been obscured, so he was seeking to restore these aspects to the city’s narrative.21 In contrast to later Islamically oriented writers in the 1980s and 1990s, though, Salim deals with the Ottoman period only in a cursory way, and then only to highlight the career of Emir Fakhr al-Din II as a shining moment in Saida’s Arab-Islamic record. Salim’s narrative trajectory is of Fatimid and Mamluk glory (eleventh to sixteenth centuries) followed by Ottoman or Turkish-induced decline, a decline that the period of Fakhr alDin’s rule reversed only briefly. The book’s final section is entitled ‘Revival of Saida in the Era of Fakhr al-Din II’. To judge by the evidence in Salim’s book, the apparent stagnation and decline of Saida after the Mamluk era was (ironically?) a by-product of Ottoman ‘security’. This conclusion suggests itself because Salim’s glorification of the Mamluks focuses on their military construction projects designed to ward off hostile Christian fleets. In the wake of the Crusades (eleventh to thirteenth centuries) Saida became a Mamluk fortress on the maritime frontier. Salim goes on to argue that Fakhr al-Din temporarily reversed Saida’s decline by initiating a programme of infrastructure and military construction and by encouraging commerce and trade.22 But, Salim concludes, Saida steadily declined once again after Fakhr al-Din’s deportation and death, a centuries-long slump that lasted until Lebanese independence.23 Unlike Khuri, Salim does provide references and footnotes for his material. So these two 1960s accounts – Khuri’s Lebanese nationalist rendition and Salim’s Arab nationalist one – share an admiration for Emir Fakhr al-Din II, but otherwise they offer a gloomy and dismissive portrait of the Ottoman period. Unlike the Ottomanera officials Tamimi and Bahjat, both of the later writers insist or



assume that Saida had been part of a national entity (whether Lebanese or Arab-Islamic) that endured suppression in Ottoman times. Khuri insists that Lebanon had an early modern historical existence, and that in their opposition to Lebanese national aspirations the Ottomans stirred up sectarian animosities to hang on to power. Salim’s assumption is that Ottoman rule resulted in a decline linked to the absence of national independence. On the eve of the 1975–90 Lebanese war a graduate student at the Lebanese University wrote an MA thesis on the trade of Ottoman Saida that took a decidedly different tack. Published posthumously in 1987, the study by Antoine Abdel Nour [Antun ‘Abd al-Nur]24 offered a different understanding of Saida in the eighteenth century, seen not through the lens of national or nationalist history but rather focusing on Saida as a locus of regional and international trade. Abdel Nour’s book is less a product of original, primary source based research than it is a synthesis and reinterpretation of secondary materials available to him in the early 1970s. He notes that the history of Saida between 1660 and 1770 is almost entirely obscure. There are no local histories, and historians of Mount Lebanon mentioned Saida only incidentally. But Saida during this epoch was the most important of Lebanon’s coastal cities. It was the centre and entrepoˆt of of trade between West and East in the eastern Mediterranean, and between the coast and the Syrian interior. Moreover, as the seat of a governor, it was a political centre as well.25 Without explicitly saying so, therefore, Abdel Nour was staking out a position that flew in the face of the by-then received wisdom, namely, that nothing particularly noteworthy or interesting could be obtained from an examination of Saida’s history in the period between the death of Fakhr al-Din II and the stirrings of the nineteenthcentury Arabic Nahda. Because in the early 1970s Saida’s Islamic sharia law court records were not accessible to scholars (Abdel Nour would examine them only later, when working on his French PhD dissertation), he focused on accounts of Saida’s foreign trade, especially its trade with France, and accounts of Saida written on



the basis of French sources. In his comments on methodology and historiography, Abdel Nour cites the Annales school as an influence, explaining that the Annales approach prioritises economic and social history as being central to understanding the underlying historical trajectory. Histories of events are marginal compared to the history of social and economic structures. He continues by noting that although Lebanon has a copious historiography, second only to that of Egypt in the Arab East, it mainly focuses on Mount Lebanon. Lebanon’s historiography has taken only a cursory glance at coastal cities, and there is no study of the economic and social history of coastal cities. Therefore, within the context of his MA thesis, he chose to focus on foreign trade because of the relative abundance of foreign record keeping connected with this trade.26 (A few years later Abdel Nour would go on to write an introduction to the Ottoman-era history of Syrian cities.)27 In Tijarat sayda, Abdel Nour treats Ottoman governance in Saida during the eighteenth century. Unlike earlier historians, he does not offer a polemical or dismissive characterisation of Ottoman rule in this era, but nor does he romanticise it as some later, Islamically oriented writers would be wont to do. He notes that Ottoman governors were rotated frequently, and their primary purpose was to maximise their personal income to recompense what they had paid to obtain the governorship. They sought to exploit differences among mountain political figures further to maximise their gubernatorial revenues. Perhaps underestimating the degree to which the city’s proximate green belt of market gardens and orchards was tied to Saida and its inhabitants, Abdel Nour opines that governors’ writ often did not extend much beyond Saida’s walls.28 Ottoman authorities treated foreign merchants better than they did their own ‘national’ (watani) merchants, contributing to a situation that saw Ottoman merchants marginalised in Saida’s foreign Mediterranean trade.29 Western Christian piracy also limited Ottoman Muslims’ participation in shipping.30 Ottoman merchants (Muslim and Christian) were predominant in Saida’s internal commerce



(urban– rural and interregional).31 While trade roads leading into and out of Saida were generally safe in the earlier eighteenth century, they were neglected and badly maintained. Moreover, road safety declined later in the century when even Lebanese mountain ‘princes’ (amirs) would get into the act of pillaging.32 Saida port was in its worst condition ever in the Ottoman era. Fakhr al-Din had improved it, but in his later more rebellious years he obstructed it and other coastal harbours to prevent hostile Ottoman fleets from entering. Subsequently the Ottomans did not improve Saida’s port, despite French merchants’ protests, because the Ottomans did not wish to see hostile military forces using it either. Nonetheless, despite its shortcomings, Saida’s port was the best port in the seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Eastern Mediterranean with respect to security (due to its garrisoned Sea Castle) and its facilities and capabilities.33 Abdel Nour’s treatment of Acre-based Ottoman governor Ahmad al-Jazzar signals the author’s openness to different, or at least more nuanced, interpretations of the middle years of Saida’s Ottoman period. To historians of Mount Lebanon, he says, alJazzar was a bloodthirsty tyrant (hence his name: ‘the Butcher’). But to residents of major cities that depended on trade, including Saida, Beirut, Tripoli, Damascus and Aleppo, al-Jazzar was a strong and effective Ottoman governor who stood up to the Russian Mediterranean fleet (1770s), anti-Ottoman rebels and the invading army of Napoleon Bonaparte (1799). The historical picture of al-Jazzar is complicated, he says, by the calumny directed against him by the French, whose merchants he expelled from Saida. Al-Jazzar (in contrast with most other eighteenth-century coastal governors) remained at his post a long time, and invested in fortifications and a standing military force for the province that included Saida. He was determined to crush those who had rebelled against the Ottoman Empire, including the Shi‘ites of Jabal ‘Amil under their chief Nasif Nassar.34 Indeed, the eighteenth century had been for the Shi‘ites a period of economic and cultural flouresence of what later became defined as southern Lebanon. They were,



however, defeated and marginalised by Ahmad al-Jazzar after he had crushed their ally, the rebellious Galilee-based Arab chieftain Zahir al-‘Umar.35 Abdel Nour’s account of Saida, its trade and the twists and turns of its eighteenth-century regional politics highlights a degree of analytic sophistication that was lacking in the work of his 1960s predecessors, at least with respect to Saida’s regional conditions. First, Abdel Nour does not anachronistically assume that there already was a political entity called Lebanon. Second, he takes as a given that most people in and around Saida were Arabic-speaking Ottoman subjects, but he does not attribute to them quasi-national identities that they did not express or articulate at the time. Third, Ottoman governance worked to the advantage of certain local interests (merchants, major towns and local producers) and against the interests of others (rural chieftains and communities like the Shi‘ites). Although he does not make sweeping claims on behalf of his work, given its largely tertiary nature, Abdel Nour demonstrates an unteleological view of the history of what later became the Lebanese national space. Some writers who followed him would pick up on this kind of approach, whilst others would redouble their commitment to a story based on backward projection of a sense of an ethnic, linguistic or religious sense of nationality. The writer who introduced the 1987 edition of Abdel Nour’s work, Walim al-Khazin, sought to place Abdel Nour’s 1973 writing into a context that would have some kind of social or national meaning in the midst of Lebanon’s later crises. Al-Khazin says that the author’s father, literary scholar and lexicographer Jabbour Abdel Nour [Jabbur ‘Abd al-Nur], taught his son to value balanced judgement and textual precision. Al-Khazin laments the ‘fallen state’ of Saida in the present day, in contrast to the era of commercial prosperity that Abdel Nour’s book documents. He praises the author’s ‘objective’ approach to history, very different from fanaticism, partisanship and special pleading. AlKhazin closes by expressing his hope that readers will be inspired



by Abdel Nour’s book, and that it will show them some ‘glittering possibilities’ for a country that now wanders in the darkness.36 Here, in al-Khazin’s words, one sees a foreshadowing of the motto that would be quoted later by the National Heritage Association’s Muna Hrawi (cited earlier in this chapter). A social collectivity must look to (or fashion) a heritage to give the collectivity an anchor in confusing, uncertain or catastrophic times, and to hope that something both new and authentic can be built from the legacy of the past. Once again, it is the Ottoman period in Lebanon’s history that is the most pertinent and the most meaningful for understanding or defining what this heritage is (or how it should be understood, since ‘heritage’ as such is not really a thing or an object). Three full-length studies of Saida written after 1975 took the later Ottoman period for their subject matter and used it to reflect on questions of modernity and collective identities. The earliest of the post-1975 studies is Tarikh sayda al-ijtima‘i 1840– 1914 by Talal Majid al-Majdhub, published in 1983 and based on doctoral work that he did with senior historian Nicola Ziadeh [Niqula Ziyada], who wrote an introduction.37 AlMajdhub attributes his choice of subject and period to both personal and academic reasons: a long absence from the city and a wish to become reacquainted with it, and a wish to examine an important period in the history of Saida that had not attracted much scholarly notice till then.38 His book’s periodisation relates to Saida’s political history, beginning with its 1840 reincorporation into the Tanzimat (reform) era Ottoman administration after nearly a decade of Egyptian rule, and ending with the Empire’s entry into World War I. Al-Majdhub’s book is a well-documented account based on a range of primary source materials in Arabic and in English. He uses sharia court registers, monastery and patriarchate archives, Saida municipal records, endowment (waqf) and land registry documents and period newspapers, in addition to American and British consular reports. The chapters are arranged topically not



chronologically, and they deal with subjects such as administration, taxes, military service, land and agriculture, urban geography, commerce, communications and family life. The book ends suddenly and abruptly without a summarising conclusion. On the face of it, al-Majdhub offers a descriptive account of multifarious aspects of Saida, its quarters, neighbourhoods, districts and holy places, its institutions and its people in the final Ottoman decades. It does not offer an evident or obvious sense of overall historical development or historical change. It is as though the author felt that unearthing, sorting and organising his data was justification enough to publish the material. Considering al-Majdhub’s work on that level for a moment, one can appreciate his prioritisation of archival exploration. After all, Abdel Nour had noted in his doctoral dissertation, published one year previously, that scholars’ knowledge of the social organisation of Ottoman Syrian towns was still rudimentary.39 Al-Majdhub pays homage to Abdel-Nour as one of those who encouraged and inspired him. And in his introduction, al-Majdhub’s mentor Ziadeh emphasises the novelty of social history in modern Arab historiography, observing that earlier generations were preoccupied with political-historical narratives.40 Ziadeh makes explicit his assumption that historians have a responsibility both to meet the requirements of academic methodology and to reflect patriotic feelings in their work.41 When one looks closely at al-Majdhub’s book a kind of overarching thesis does emerge even if he does not identify or highlight it as such. The underlying message, appearing and reappearing in a number of places, is an ongoing assumption of responsibility by public state institutions that supplanted private institutions usually associated with religion. The narrative’s overall tone is one of progressive change, including the sphere of public works, communications, safety and education. Al-Majdhub frequently cites new laws and regulations put into place by the municipal or Ottoman provincial governments aimed at bringing about urban improvements. The reader is left with a sense of



historical change that is state driven, and that generally has a progressive aspect (planting trees, paving roads, taking modern education in hand, ensuring personal safety and security). One area of state activity with a potential for negative or more critical treatment is mandatory military service. However, al-Majdhub’s discussion of military service is an almost clinical description of the means by which conscription was administered and how incidents of popular opposition (flight or avoidance) were bureaucratically managed. He does note that Ottoman conscription to fight in faraway places (Yemen, Libya, Crete, the Balkans) was a burden on Saida’s population, but he implies that this burden was shared and was not arbitrarily imposed, inasmuch as government officials (often themselves Sidonians) hosted and participated in popular rejoicing when local troops returned home. Moreover, he notes that sometimes Christians chose to demonstrate their patriotism and their commitment to civic equality by voluntarily enlisting rather than pay the military service exemption tax. Readers are thus encouraged to conclude that Ottoman military service was a patriotic duty, not an external imposition. Even during World War I – whose agonies left some of the worst memories of life under the later Ottoman Empire – al-Majdhub reports that people in Saida were confident that the government would pay them generously for needed war supplies.42 What is missing in this social history is a sense of social analysis. The advent of modern state institutions marks a historical watershed in any society, but al-Majdhub does not ask who was empowered or disempowered, or who won or who lost, as a consequence of the modern state’s increasing intrusion into people’s lives.43 Al-Majdhub’s book is a modernist work. Although appreciative of the past and its textures, the author does not wax nostalgic for a lost Eden. Instead al-Majdhub conveys a message about the potentially positive or progressive role that the modern state can play in development of society. His account does not deal with



wider Ottoman concerns (for instance, the pressures and issues responsible for the Ottomans’ creation of municipalities in the first place). Nor does he address the impact of these administrative changes on the relationship between Saida and higher levels of government. But to summarise again what his work offers: al-Majdhub’s is a modernist and implicitly patriotic-nationalist approach, inasmuch as he looks to the state as an engine or agent of progressive change. In 2003, exactly 20 years after the publication of Tarikh sayda al-ijtima‘i, al-Majdhub wrote a historical pre´cis of Ottoman Saida for Kayyal’s aforementioned book on modern Saida’s craftworkers. In it al-Majdhub emphasises the importance of Saida’s Ottoman era, which is the practical source of Saida’s turath, the city’s millennia-long history notwithstanding. He characterises the Ottomans as facilitators or protectors of craft traditions, and therefore (by implication) of modern Lebanon’s turath. As one would expect from his earlier work, al-Majdhub in 2003 gives a sympathetic account of the Ottomans’ Tanzimat reform programme. Nonetheless, with respect to craftworkers and their livelihoods, he observes that the well-meaning Ottoman reforms could not protect local markets and manufacturers from the growth of European imports. Two features of al-Majdhub’s 2003 pre´cis stand out in contrast to the vocabulary and orientation of his earlier book. First, he oddly and reductively characterises the preTanzimat Ottoman Empire as an example of ‘harsh bureaucratic totalitarian rule’. Second, without elaboration or extended argumentation he employs the concept of Ottoman Saida as an ‘Islamic city’.44 The first statement is peculiar because it is uncharacteristically polemical and it does not conform to any scholarly understanding of pre-Tanzimat Ottoman rule. PreTanzimat authority was often arbitrary, but it was not highly bureaucratised and was not totalitarian in any ordinary understanding of the word. (After all, Abdel Nour had noted that the Saida governor’s authority sometimes did not extend beyond the limits of the city’s walls.) The second statement (about



Saida as an Islamic city) was not a theme or a trope of al-Majdhub’s earlier work. By employing it in 2003, al-Majdhub may have been responding to an increasingly clamorous sectarian discourse that sought to inscribe a predominantly religious meaning into the concept or understanding of turath. As a public historian and heritage activist in Saida,45 al-Majdhub would have been fully aware of this discourse. A fully confessional or religious-national approach to history is visible in a work that appeared five years after al-Majdhub’s monograph. Ghassan Munir Sinnu’s Madinat sayda 1818– 1860: dirasa fi al-‘umran al-hadari min khilal watha’iq mahkamatiha al-shar‘iyya46 was originally a master’s thesis written under the supervision of the prominent Lebanese Islamic Studies scholar Ridwan al-Sayyid. The time period selected is determined by Sinnu’s sources; namely, the sharia law court registers of Saida. His is a source-specific study, the author explains, foregoing the use of other sources except as needed to clarify what is in the sharia court registers.47 Sinnu has an eye for painstaking detail. He extensively glosses archaic or colloquial words and phrases, so that readers can use his book almost as a reference or as an entre´e into the language and concerns of Saida’s Ottoman-era registers. Though in form the book is documentary and not overtly analytical, unstated assumptions shape Sinnu’s presentation and organisation of material. And in his introduction to the book, supervisor Ridwan al-Sayyid articulates assumptions of his own. Sinnu’s first assumption is that the fundamental distinction in Ottoman Saida was confessional, i.e., between Muslims and Christians (with the Ottoman city’s small Jewish community mentioned in passing). This is not a source-driven conclusion but, rather, an a priori assumption that Sinnu brings to his material. Whilst the author’s overall approach is relentlessly empirical, including extensive verbatim quotations from sharia court documents, he devotes a good deal of analytic time and effort to disclosing patterns of Muslim – Christian interaction and difference. Whether with respect to housing and landownership



patterns, endowments, commercial activities and commercial property holding, and even clothing and personal possessions, Sinnu offers an analysis highlighting confessional identities. Other kinds of Ottoman-era social distinctions (based, for instance, on class, status, gender or region of origin) receive cursory notice but he neither dwells on nor develops them. A second assumption, specific to the subject of endowments, is that personal piety is the key to understanding the history of Muslim waqfs. Sinnu’s depiction of waqfs and how they worked economically and socially is reportorial and to the point, yet the presentation is wrapped in layers of piety. At the very least one sees here a kind of identification between the author and the social values that he believes the waqf institution represented.48 A third assumption is that the sharia court registers can speak for themselves, once they are read carefully and their content made plain. Sinnu characterises the registers as exact, accurate and objective, and he praises them for their freedom from personal or partisan opinions.49 He acknowledges the court records’ limitations as sources, inasmuch as only events and socio-legal practices and institutions that were officially recognised came to authorities’ attention and thus were recorded.50 Yet despite this acknowledgement he reiterates in his conclusion that the registers are important because of their objectivity, their freedom from ideological or political bias, and their commitment to recording uncontested or unimpeachable facts.51 An inference from these remarks is that the author identifies with the sharia court registers’ implicit outlook, worldview and ordering of society. Their tone and their content ring true; therefore they must be ‘objective’. By taking his sources at face value Sinnu opts not to ask questions about the power relationships embedded within the sharia law court documents. At the end of his text, Sinnu summarises the subjects that he has covered but offers no explicit analytic conclusion for readers to consider.52 In terms of his work’s treatment of the Ottoman period, Sinnu volunteers no clear opinions on the Ottomans or their overarching



imperial system. But in contrast to the work of an earlier generation (al-Khuri and Salim), he conveys no hostility to the Ottomans as a state or as a ruling group. One can interpret Sinnu’s book as a religio-nationalist look at a relatively idyllic pre-colonial world, in which the Ottomans were at worst a neutral presence and – to the extent that they supported the institutions and outlook inscribed in the registers – were more often a benign one. Sinnu does not place his work in a historical context as much as in a source-specific one. His review of the sharia court registers literature (Arabic, English and French) up to the mid-1980s is mostly current (though he overlooks French scholar Andre´ Raymond’s two-volume study of Cairo), but Sinnu’s review of literature relating to Arab, Muslim or Ottoman cities is sparse. He cites secondary sources pertaining to Saida, published or written in Arabic from 1913 onward, as well as Abdel Nour’s French-language book on Arab cities. But Sinnu does not engage Abdel Nour on any issues. In view of Sinnu’s reticence regarding his book’s assumptions and its historical context, his mentor Ridwan al-Sayyid’s introduction is interesting for its explicit though summarily stated formulations. Al-Sayyid characterises the sharia court registers in a manner that complements and supports Sinnu’s view of them as unproblematic reflections of social reality.53 Moreover, al-Sayyid argues that Sinnu’s study demonstrates the reality of ‘the Islamic city’, and al-Sayyid uses this concept to refute and criticise those writers (unnamed) who believe that Islam lacked a proper urban structure. (Perhaps the German-educated al-Sayyid is thinking of Max Weber here.) Moreover, al-Sayyid continues, Islamic cities have been defined not only by their physical structures but also by their theoretical and political roles within Islamic societies. He cites early Islamic examples of the encampment (misr) and the phenomenon of emigration (hijra) to make the point. An essentialist religio-national agenda appears to be on full display. Whilst al-Sayyid’s assertions are offered purportedly as refutations of elements of colonial or Orientalist historiography,



he ends up supporting a paradigm (‘the Islamic city’) and advocating a causal mechanism (a reified Islam) that emerged out of the Oriental Studies tradition.54 A third and subsequent full-length work on Ottoman Saida is Muhammad Hasan al-Rawwas’s dissertation, filed in 1997 and written at the Lebanese University under the supervision of prolific Lebanese historian Hassan Hallak [Hassan Hallaq], on whom more later.55 In contrast to Sinnu, al-Rawwas’s work is more of a selfconscious historical narrative that seeks to define and explain social structure in a context of changing times. Its periodisation is political: from the end of Egyptian rule in Syria in 1840, to Saida’s incorporation into the new province of Beirut in 1888. AlRawwas’s dissertation fits in the genre of urban/regional histories that have characterised much of the international historiography of the Ottoman Arab provinces since the 1970s.56 As such his is not a ‘nationalist’ history per se, since the subject is not the nation but the urban centre and its region. Al-Rawwas bases his findings largely on documents from Saida’s sharia court and its waqf administration, referring occasionally to the books of al-Majdhub and Sinnu for clarification or background perspectives. Like Abdel Nour, and like international historians known for urban and regional histories, al-Rawwas is keen to place Saida in its geographic and economic context. The dissertation’s empirical content is particularly rich when it comes to describing the various waqfs of Saida as well as the families, markets and institutions to which they were linked. The reader comes away from al-Rawwas’s text with a good sense of the city’s physical and social space, even though he eschews any political analysis along the lines of, e.g., ‘politics of the notables’ or ‘development of the modern state’. His concern is Saida’s loss of standing in the later nineteenth century, as Beirut’s municipal leaders skilfully exploited new opportunities linked to the emerging world economy under the aegis of a Eurocentric capitalism. Al-Rawwas does not share Sinnu’s intense interest in drawing attention to non-Muslims and to devising various statistical



analyses around religious and confessional affiliations. Christian and Jewish individuals and institutions are mentioned in passing but their identities do not constitute an axis of al-Rawwas’s analysis. However, like Sinnu, al-Rawwas does establish a precolonial baseline against which subsequent developments can be assessed. Although his tone is mostly detached and measured, al-Rawwas becomes defensive and polemical in parts of his introduction.57 He accuses unnamed Arab historians of slandering and falsifying Ottoman history, following in the footsteps of their European teachers and masters. He denounces equally unnamed European historians for their pejorative generalisations about Saida and offers a riposte. Much of this reads as a ‘straw man’ argument, particularly as the miscreants are not identified nor are their alleged defamatory statements sourced to enable checking. The introduction is a clue that al-Rawwas will offer a generally positive or favourable vision of Saida and its society under Ottoman administration, and especially under Islamic law. The other kinds of histories, he says, are twisted or distorted (munharif).58 Hence al-Rawwas’s perspective fits a pattern, noted in Burke’s treatment of North Africa (see Introduction), wherein pre-colonial society is depoliticised and portrayed as a kind of abstract or idealised model. Al-Rawwas’s abstract model derives from the idea of an Islamic city whose characteristics are very much derived in the first instance from principles of the Qur’an and jurisprudence or fiqh.59 He asserts that Saida’s physical, social and institutional structure in Ottoman times conformed to fiqh injunctions with respect to personal privacy, public behaviour, and public/private space.60 Here again, the reader finds an adamant denunciation of (unnamed) European historians and European-influenced Arab historians. Yet al-Rawwas’s proposed remedy is itself drawn from the armoury of Orientalist-empiricist methodology. The historian who reads sources with the proper mindset can present a ‘true picture’ of the historical past, including a Weltanschauung appropriately labelled ‘Islamic’.



Of these three historians, al-Majdhub would appear best to meet the expectations of a state-nationalist approach to the Ottoman era. Yet his monograph does so in a way that does not so much posit the awakening nation against the Ottoman imperial system as much as posit the awakening of state and society to the demands of life in the modern era. Al-Majdhub does not explicitly address the issue of ‘the Ottoman option’ for modernity, but his protagonist is the modern municipality, itself very much a reflection of an Ottoman option at the local level. It is tempting to see in al-Majdhub’s work an implicit appeal for faith in the modern state, and for the construction of a state capable of nation building. He wrote and published his book when the Lebanese state and its institutions were in advanced states of disintegration. His monograph can be understood as fitting within a wider national narrative of the development of modern state institutions. At the same time there is nothing uniquely ‘Lebanese’ about the story he relates. Sinnu’s work, though it resembles a reference manual in many ways, is suffused with a sense of reverence and respect for Islamic law and for the system of rule that enabled society to be so ordered. To the extent that he attempts analysis, he is preoccupied with issues of Muslim – Christian relationships and distinctions between them in Saida’s society. He presents an implicitly positive depiction of the Ottoman period, though the focus throughout remains very much on the local level. Perhaps Sinnu’s foregrounding of confessional relations, and his presentation of a depoliticised and uncontentious recent historical past under the aegis of Islamic law, flow out of the Lebanese situation of the 1980s. Party and faction leaders’ assertions of political interests based on religious identity were particularly acute and raw in a war-torn society that was without functioning state institutions and was threatened with lawlessness. Sinnu also appears to share what Beydoun identified as a Sunni predilection to assume the normativity of the Islamic State, which in this epoch would have been that of the Ottomans.



Writing after the restoration of internal peace in 1990s, al-Rawwas offers a more explicit statement of a religiousnationalist agenda. By arguing that the Qur’an and fiqh provided the basic principles of Islamic urban life; by asserting that Ottoman Saida was an Islamic city according to this definition; by demonstrating how fiqh principles regulated public life, economic activities and civic values in Saida, al-Rawwas posits a pre-colonial ideal of sorts that was already coming under assault in the period that he studied. In this case the Ottomans historically had been protectors and patrons of the cherished social model, but by the nineteenth century new values were ascendant, as represented by the rise of Beirut and the eclipse of Saida. Here there is a kind of idealisation of the ‘Islamic’ Ottoman Empire without fully considering how the Empire was itself engaged in a project of modernity. Although modernising Ottoman officials cast their project in ‘Islamic-national’ terms, nevertheless their new laws and institutions challenged many pre-existing institutions and social assumptions. Was nineteenth-century Beirut a challenge to the Ottoman idea? Or did upstart Beirut represent a model for the fulfilment of Choueiri’s ‘Ottoman option’, whose potentials (for better or for worse) were cut short by the political ruptures of World War I?61 And what are the implications of this kind of historical narrative for a nation state (the Lebanese Republic) built to some extent around the city of Beirut, and around an ideology that emphasises Beirut’s (and Lebanon’s) alleged ‘intermediary’ role between West and East? At least two of these historians (al-Majdhub and al-Rawwas) have roots in Saida, and they have been active in the realm of public history.62 And with respect to confessional interpretations of the past, two of the three – Sinnu and al-Rawwas – can be characterised as ‘confessional historians’. That is, their sense of social solidarity, their sense of historical connection, is expressed in terms of reverence for Islamic law and manifest regret (in al-Rawwas’s case) for the passing of a historically rooted Islamic urbanism. But one author – al-Majdhub – appears as a state-oriented modernist who



does not relate to the ‘Islamic’ aspects of Saida’s past in quite the same way as do the other two. Thus not all histories produced in Lebanon in the post-1975 period can be pigeonholed into a confessional mould – a point that will be further demonstrated when the discussion moves to histories of Beirut and Tripoli. And even ‘confessional’ history, when done conscientiously, offers empirical riches ripe for incorporation into a broader Ottoman historiographic synthesis. An emphasis on the Islamic dimensions of Saida’s heritage, with a predominant focus on the Ottoman era, is the subject of a book on the Old City’s Islamic religious buildings published in 2004.63 Its architecturally trained author, Subhi ‘Abdallah, opens with a brief and derivative synopsis of Saida’s Ottoman history. He reiterates the historically untenable assumption that the Ma‘ni dynasty of Emir Fakhr al-Din II represented a deeply rooted Lebanese political entity that preceded the Ottomans’ arrival. In general, ‘Abdallah’s synopsis treats the Ottoman era as historically uninteresting from the eighteenth century onward, marked as it was by a steady decline symptomised by Ottoman sultans’ absorption in the ‘pleasures of the palace’.64 Nonetheless, the bulk of Old Saida’s extant Islamic religious architecture dates from the Ottoman period,65 so ‘Abdallah’s book focuses on the architectural legacies or heritage of this time. His subsequent historical remarks (discussed below) create an unresolved tension in ‘Abdallah’s understanding of the Ottoman historical period. At the outset he affirms his opposition to ethnic or national biases in presentations of Islamic architecture, and he quotes European Christian, Western scholarly and Turkish nationalist accounts of Islamic architecture that he deems derogatory or nationalchauvinist.66 Instead, he favours a cultural-diffusionist approach (in contrast to ‘blind imitation’) whereby artistic and architectural innovations and change have multiple sources and causes, commensurate with the spread of Islam to diverse lands, environments and peoples. (Just so no one forgets, he reminds his readers that the first mosque was Arab, and this Arab model



spread to the four corners of the earth.) Somewhat defensively or apologetically, he states that he is going to avoid questions around what Islamic buildings may ‘originally’ have been churches or temples, asserting that Muslims protected the sanctuaries of those who submitted peacefully to them.67 The book’s stated goal is to identify elements that were essential to Islamic buildings and architecture in Saida during the Mamluk and Ottoman periods. ‘Abdallah indicates that there has been an absence of scholarly interest in this aspect of Saida’s architectural heritage, and he will pursue his scholarship by combining firsthand visits to and observations in the religious buildings in Saida with material from documents and registers available exclusively through the Mufti’s offices in the city (Dar al-Ifta’).68 It is likely no coincidence that ‘Abdallah’s book appeared at a time of heightened public concern for Old Saida and its heritage, as demonstrated by Karkabi’s aforementioned coffee-table book of 1996 and Kayyal’s UNESCO-supported craft industry book of 2003. The absence of earlier interest in these buildings (if true) is perhaps linked to their lack of utility in the creation of a Lebanese national narrative, which overemphasised developments in the mountain and underestimated or disparaged the significance of the wider Ottoman environment. In his more focused treatment of Saida’s Ottoman-era history, ‘Abdallah touts the city’s features as a centre of mercantile, agriculture and craftworking activities, especially (but not exclusively) during the period of Fakhr alDin II. Basing his account mostly on a 1966 study, ‘Abdallah characterises the emir as a Lebanese national figure manoeuvering between ‘Turkey’ and ‘Europe’.69 (Note that in the seventeenth century Fakhr al-Din would not have referred to himself as a Lebanese; Ottoman statesmen would not have said they were acting on behalf of Turkey; and the Tuscans with whom Fakhr alDin had an alliance and with whom he took refuge would not have called themselves Europeans.) More to the point, Fakhr al-Din rebuilt Saida and roused the city from its centuries-long slumber, which had persisted since the end of the Crusades.70 Echoing



(but not citing) Abdel Nour’s published work, ‘Abdallah goes on to characterise Saida post-1660 as ‘the basic commercial center of southern Syria’, with connections to Palestine, Damascus and the ports to Saida’s north. Though Beirut eclipsed Saida in the nineteenth century due to new technologies of communication and administrative changes, Saida nonetheless remained a flourishing agricultural centre until the end of the Ottoman period.71 At the same time, though, ‘Abdallah sees Ottoman governor Ahmad alJazzar (whom Abdel Nour had characterised as an effective defender of the region’s trading cities) as a cause and symptom of Saida’s loss of status. Al-Jazzar expelled the French merchants from Saida and made Acre the de facto provincial seat, sparking a renewed decline (inhitat) in Saida’s architectural and economic fortunes. Compounding this decline was the physical damage caused by a major earthquake in 1837 and a British naval bombardment in 1840.72 The one area where ‘Abdallah has something positive to say about Ottomans as such is in the domain of religious architecture generally, and the era of the architect Sinan (d. 1588) specifically.73 He identifies the Ottomans’ architectural focus as being on ‘the important Turkish cities’, and notes that local architecture, especially in the Arab countries, retained and protected links to its past without blindly imitating Ottoman models. 74 In Ottoman Saida no grand buildings were constructed. Mosques, zawiyas and maqams were built commensurate with Saida’s relatively small size, and were constructed from locally abundant materials (especially sandstone). They bore an Ottoman imprint, and ‘no one can deny that the Ottomans participated in the development of Islamic art’.75 A way to finesse the revalued significance of the Ottoman period and its artefacts without attributing much historical weight or value to Ottoman rule as such is to distinguish between the Ottoman imperial framework (decadent, corrupt, etc.) and the civilisational values that allegedly flourished within it, or despite of it. At one point ‘Abdallah sings the praises of Saida’s older



(mostly Ottoman-era) Islamic architecture, citing not only its good taste and decoration but also its complementarily and compatibility with conditions found in the ‘Arab nation’. He contrasts this indigenous civilisational artistic, ecological and architectural expression with the imported tastes, artefacts and styles imported holus-bolus from the West, whose civilisation came to dominate entire peoples. His study, ‘Abdallah says, along with other calls to protect heritage buildings, show clearly the difference between an imported civilisation (‘the West’) and one that has been living in these lands for a very long time.76 (He adds that art and beauty are essential elements of Islamic civilisation, as indicated by Qur’anic endorsement of these qualities.) These are all striking observations. Although his book’s subject is religious architecture, ‘Abdallah’s contextualising device is to understand Old Saida as representing an IslamicArab framework that is threatened with inundation from elsewhere (‘the West’). When authors like Sinnu, al-Rawwas and ‘Abdallah emphasise the Islamic framework or values of the Ottoman-era institutions and phenomena that they discuss, it is as though they need to persuade their Arabophone readers of this point. If the Islamic-Arab framework were self-evident, such argumentation (buttressed with references to the Qur’an and to fiqh) would hardly be necessary. We will see more of this kind of argumentation when we turn to histories of Beirut. So, what is going on here? One clue to unlocking this discourse is found in the twentieth-century debate over whether Lebanon is fundamentally ‘Western’ or ‘Eastern’, Mediterranean or Arab. This polarising dichotomy (which strikes the present writer as false and exaggerated) was a subset of the twentiethcentury arguments between Lebanists and Arabists. Beyond this history, though, the interpretations and glosses advanced regarding Saida’s Ottoman period are very much linked to present-day fears, concerns and debates about the bases for a Lebanese, and/or Arab and/or Islamic understanding of an effective modernity that holds fast to and is rooted in some sense



of cultural ‘authenticity’. Perhaps the disappointments of the post-World War II Arab-wide national liberation project, and a subsequent reactive retrenchment into various kinds of cultural nationalism, give these culturally and religiously tinged arguments their special urgency at this point in history.77 In post-1975 studies of Saida, unlike those written and published earlier, the Ottomans (or at least the Ottoman era) emerge with some historical credit. None of the later authors uses the Ottomans or ‘the Turks’ as straw men in historical polemics; rather, it is unnamed Orientalists and Western-trained Arab historians who bear the brunt of such treatment. None of these studies engages with the Ottoman environment in a sustained way, yet all implicitly or explicitly accept the legitimacy of laws and institutions associated with the Ottoman era, whether this era is seen as one of progressive state-generated modernisation (al-Majdhub’s monograph), of memorable cultural achievement (‘Abdallah) or as a regrettably lost expression of verities and virtues associated with a society ordered under Islamic law within the Islamic city (Sinnu and al-Rawwas). While outwardly focusing on the history and architecture of one city in the nineteenth or early twentieth centuries, on a deeper level all four authors have attempted to make something sensible and valuable of their society’s Ottoman past. Their efforts take on urgency and poignancy, given that they all wrote during decades of severe trials for Lebanon’s society and state.


As Chapter 1 argues, post-1975 Lebanese Arabic writing on Ottoman Saida oscillates between nostalgic visions of the Islamic city and a normative vision of life under a modern, well-ordered state. With regard to corresponding literature on Beirut, Lebanon’s capital since 1920, readers encounter varied understandings of Ottoman Beirut and its significance. In some general histories of Beirut the Ottomans and the Ottoman era are almost incidental.1 But histories that do pay attention to Ottoman Beirut are split between those that see it as a multi-religious cosmopolitan crossroads and a fulcrum of modernist Arabism, on the one hand, and those that portray Ottoman Beirut as a noble and beleaguered Islamic fortress on the other hand. Many of the post-1975 accounts evince a present-mindedness in the sense that their portraits of Ottoman Beirut implicitly or explicitly indicate what they believe Beirut ought to be. The authors’ commitments or perspectives range between and among three nationalisms – Lebanese, Arab and Arabo-Islamic – where the first and third overlap with the second but not with each other. The Lebanese and Arab nationalist outlooks tend towards criticism of, or scepticism



about, Ottoman rule. The third (Arabo-Islamic) outlook is mostly pro-Ottoman. Before looking at recent writings on the Ottoman era, readers may benefit from a contextualising glimpse backwards to see how Beirut, described in 1916 as ‘the queen of the Syrian littoral’,2 was presented or portrayed during the later Ottoman era. The vehicle for this exploration is Dalil bayrut [Guide to Beirut], written and published by newspaperman ‘Abd al-Basit al-Unsi in 1909.3 It appeared at a time when the first flush of optimism about the restored Ottoman constitution (1908) had not yet faded, and before the Italian invasion of Ottoman Libya (1911) and the outbreak of the Balkan Wars (1912– 13) raised doubts and fears about the ability of the constitutional regime to survive at all. The Dalil – akin to an almanac or yearbook in its layout and organisation – was intended to be the first of a recurrent series. But no subsequent ones were published. Al-Unsi explains his motivation or purpose as modelling Dalil bayrut on descriptions of civilised and progressive (or advanced) countries, so that readers can learn of the city’s affairs and circumstances. His chronological summary begins with the first man, Adam.4 Significant recent dates in the history of Beirut, beginning with 1256 H /1840 CE , include many administrative and Ottoman milestones.5 Another section of the book offers a complete list of Ottoman sultans and ends with Abdu¨lhamid II, who was still on the throne at the time of publication. The sultans’ list is followed by a potted and sympathetic history of the constitutional movement in the Ottoman Empire.6 This material is succeeded by a list of reigning monarchs in the world, classified as Islamic and foreign, followed by royal feast days of foreign kings.7 So the reader finds here a world ordered by kings and monarchs, whose feast days offer a shared language of governmental legitimacy and affirmation. It is a world in which the Ottoman sultan has a rightful place, and in which he has priority among the monarchs designated ‘Islamic’.8 Al-Unsi further underscores the normativity of these late-Ottoman



political arrangements by his subsequent enumeration of the Ottoman Empire’s ‘well-guarded provinces’, and ‘independent districts’ where Mount Lebanon is one of several, administratively on a par with Jerusalem, Benghazi and Dayr al-Zur. Then there are further ‘special regions’ under foreign control (Egypt, Tunis, Bosnia-Herzogovina).9 The Dalil continues by presenting Beirut within a modern Ottoman framework. After a discussion of railways and a list of the names of railway stations, the text turns its attention to the province of Beirut, its governors and officials and its administrative divisions. This is capped by a laudatory presentation of the career of the then-incumbent provincial governor, Husayn Nazim Pasha.10 Reverting once more to lists, the Dalil next names notable teachers and scholars in Beirut, spiritual leaders (‘heads of the ta’ifas’), foreign consuls and lawyers.11 Al-Unsi then presents brief summaries of individual mosques, Sufi lodges (zawiyas) and masjids; enumerates notable tombs and churches; and mentions benevolent societies, official schools and private schools, as well as schools for girls.12 Lists of various people and places go on for many pages more, including among others merchants, specialised craft workers, shops, services, manufactories, parks and recreational areas and steamship companies.13 A summary history of Beirut characterises it as being among the first ranks of Ottoman cities. The summary goes on to describe a flourishing city filled with government offices and institutions, and buzzing with commercial activity.14 The text observes that inhabitants of Beirut province speak Arabic, and some excel in Turkish. Al-Unsi notes (in a neutral, matter-of-fact tone) a growing tendency to learn Turkish because it is the official language of the state. Moreover, spurred on by commerce, many Beirutis are reported to be learning foreign languages like French and English.15 The Dalil concludes with a separate section on Mount Lebanon,16 followed by paid advertising.17 With respect to al-Unsi’s Beirut, the present-day reader is struck by how firmly and self-consciously embedded it is in



Ottoman modernity. The intimate local details of merchants, craftworkers and local markets are joined to enumerations of local and governmental institutions, luminaries and professionals, administrative officials and Ottoman sultans. The sultanate is a normative form of government in a world populated by other monarchs and heads of state. Commensurate with his nod to modern civilisation in the introduction, al-Unsi demonstrates that Beirut is Arabic in language, Ottoman in political identity and modern in outlook. The Muslim dimension of Beirut is documented on a par with the Christian dimension, and neither is treated as dominant or essential compared to the other. The sole gesture acknowledging an overarching Islamic flavour or facet to late-Ottoman Beirut is al-Unsi’s division of world monarchs into the categories ‘Islamic’ (meaning, more kindred to the Ottoman sultanate) and ‘other’. Perhaps because his Beirut was embedded in a modern monarchy deemed ‘Islamic’, al-Unsi did not perceive modernity as a threat to ‘heritage’ or identity. His Beirut was cosmopolitan, modern, Islamic, Arabic-speaking and Ottoman all at once. Whereas al-Unsi was proud of Beirut’s place at the centre of a modern Ottoman province, a Lebanese historian of Beirut province writing nearly 100 years later offered a jaundiced view. For Ilyas Jurayj, Beirut’s prominence in the later Ottoman Empire was mainly a consequence of European plans to advance Western political and economic interests in the Middle East as a prelude to colonisation. Beirut’s Ottoman-era boosters and promoters therefore unwittingly played the role of useful idiots in someone else’s nefarious grand scheme. Beirut’s rise was part and parcel of plans to force open the Ottoman Empire to international capital, and to cultivate loyal local clienteles for the European powers. The salience of sectarianism in the later Ottoman period was also the consequence of a plan to encourage sectarian consciousness to bolster prospects for cultivation of local clienteles. Both the sectarian government of Mount Lebanon and a Zionist entity in Palestine had been planned or



envisaged as far back as 1801, before the Tanzimat reform programme and before the arrival of ‘free trade’ in the Ottoman lands. These were far-seeing plans that took a long time to implement and to realise. The fabrication of sectarian strife was a precondition for their success, however. The inhabitants of the future Beirut province were helpless in the face of these plans and pressures. They responded to events as they happened; the inhabitants could not see the overarching strategy at work; and they were far from the centres of power in any case.18 Jurayj goes on to assert that not only the district of Mount Lebanon (est. 1861), but the province of Beirut itself, were outcomes of French planning that had as its ultimate goal French rule in Syria.19 The French attempted to identify and to manipulate a separatist Arab leadership in the province of Beirut, and they found it in Beirut’s Arabist political movements of the pre-1914 period.20 Prewar clientelist relationships between European powers and local actors paved the way for the Arab Revolt and the subsequent mandate.21 Thus Jurayj is critical of nationalist historians who praise the 1913 Beirut Reform Movement (on which, more later). Christians in the Beirut Reform Movement, he says, were ciphers of the foreign powers to which they were linked. As for Arabist Muslims, they were mostly being manipulated by Great Britain.22 Jurayj’s is not a typical ‘nationalist’ account (whether Lebanese or Arab), since he sees the origins of modern national identities in the Beirut province as products or outcomes principally of international manipulation and skulduggery, not as the manifestation of some kind of innate national essence. Neither does Jurayj (a Christian writer, on the evidence of his name) seek to reify or to memorialise some kind of religious (‘Islamic’) identity and culture as a genuine or authentic representation of indigeneity. Nor is the process of technical and cultural modernisation that Ottoman Beirut underwent a particular point of national or religio-national pride (as it is for other authors; see below), since in Jurayj’s view these processes but marked the



beginnings of fragmentation and subordination in a modern world setting. Jurayj’s book is a very long one and it contains an enormous quantity of detailed exposition, most of it from French documentary sources. He explains his motivations for writing as follows: 1) the political economy of Beirut province has not yet been written, and therefore his integrated political-economicsocial study is original and may be a model for studies of other regions; 2) Beirut province was an important international entryway to the region, and this study therefore represents a good vantage point for considering the emergence of ‘the political entities that formed after World War I’, including long-term international plans to create these divisive entities (that is, Lebanon, Syria, Palestine, etc.); 3) his study has broader implications for studying the history of Arab peoples, relating the story of their past and glimpsing their present and future.23 The reader discerns a note of resignation or fatalism in Jurayj’s approach, where beneath his dense documentation of institutional, political, social and cultural history he attributes a decisive historical role to manipulative and powerful international forces, who work inexorably toward achieving their goal of sowing sectarian and political division preparatory to European colonial rule and Zionist expansion. There is little room for historical contingency in Jurayj’s worldview; the outcome was fixed long ahead of time. Implications of this outlook for Arab peoples’ ‘present and future’ cannot be hopeful. Although Jurayj does not specifically reference his own day, one may speculate that the doleful conditions of the Arab East in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries contributed to the author’s attitude of fatalistic helplessness. Of Ottoman rule specifically Jurayj has little good to say. The era of Abdu¨lhamid II had been one of injustice, oppression and terror. Popular excitement in Beirut at the time of the 1908 constitutional restoration masked divergent perspectives and loyalties.24 In the first flush of enthusiasm the Unionists’ Arab allies (who might well have included al-Unsi, based on internal



evidence from the Dalil) called for Arab – Ottoman brotherhood. However, the deposition of Sultan Abdu¨lhamid II in 1909 took the wind out of their sails, and whetted the appetites of foreign powers.25 In any case, Jurayj adds, the Unionists’ calls for Arab – Ottoman brotherhood were tactical and insincere. The new regime followed a ‘racist’ policy of Turkish chauvinism and Turkification. Arab ethnic consciousness was a positive response to Turkification. But the Committee of Union and Progress tried to rally Muslim support by demagogically raising the issue of capitulations and, along with the French, the CUP encouraged the cultivation of sectarian loyalties.26 So here, in this interpretation of post-1908 politics, Jurayj implies that Unionist and foreign machinations shortcircuited what might otherwise have been a (hypothetical) healthy Arab national consciousness. So, does Jurayj understand Beirut’s Ottoman-era history in nationalist terms? The preponderance of his narrative suggests that nascent Arab national consciousness, while potentially something healthy and unifying, was in fact manipulated by illintentioned Others (Turkish Unionists or European powers); and that the outcomes that these manipulations produced had been long planned and long anticipated in their general outlines if not in all of their details. Moreover, the transformation of Beirut and its province throughout the final Ottoman decades unfolded according to these wider, sordid ambitions that in the end left the Arabs weak and divided. Jurayj portrays himself as someone working ‘in the service of historical truth’.27 Jurayj has been an instructor at the Lebanese University, and his book is introduced and supported by a colleague who is one of Lebanon’s best-known historians, Mas‘ud Dahir, whose perspective is generally identified with the Marxist Left.28 In his introduction, Dahir hails the progress made in recent decades in understanding with greater precision and specificity the history of different regions in the Ottoman Empire, especially during the Tanzimat and after. Increased use of primary sources (local sharia courts, central Ottoman archives, European



documents) have played important roles in this reassessment. Dahir welcomes the emergence of a new generation of historians, Arab and non-Arab, in this endeavour. He praises international cooperation and exchange in the effort, one that generates new hypotheses and understandings. In particular he cites the influence of the French Annales school in bringing about this development. Dahir links the new or current interest in social history to Ibn Khaldun (d. 1406), the world pioneer in social-historical inquiry. Today a new generation of Arab social historians has appeared, ready to rewrite Arab history on a new basis. The emergence of this generation has sparked new interest in Arab history during the Ottoman era. New approaches to Ottoman-era Arab history undertaken in the second half of the twentieth century include a centre-periphery or dependency approach. Economic factors loom large in many studies of the Ottoman ‘occupation’ of the Syrian lands (bilad al-sham): taxes, commerce, the rise of port cities and the emergence of merchant families. Others have taken up detailed study of local a‘yan (notables) and za‘ims (strongmen) in the Arab provinces. Based on copious material in the sharia court records, their inquiries include extensive studies of waqfs and land tenure. These historical sources offer ways to understand and to chart peasant resistance to sultanic taxes, on the one hand, and to ascertain arbitrary elite behaviour in the assessment and proliferation of taxes, on the other. Thus a wide range of issues and subjects is being studied in depth. Some analyses emphasise crystallisation of sectarian identities in the Syrian lands during and after the Tanzimat, and they offer a new methodology for understanding political movements beginning with the placement and roles of sectarian, religious and ethnic minorities in them. These studies’ overall goal is to analyse the deep roots of the most important political and cultural tendencies in the Arab provinces in the last part of the Ottoman period, and the role of Nahda intellectuals in the formation of public opinion. It was these intellectuals’ important role in the propagation of national, liberal and enlightenment thought that turned public opinion against the



Ottoman Empire. New historians have sparked interest in architectural preservation, and have criticised older approaches or narratives. Their criticisms are rooted in the Ottoman archives whose existence was unknown to historians of earlier generations. All of this, Dahir, concludes, has given rise to a new generation of historians who look at the Ottoman era through the lenses of scholarship, not ideology.29 (Like German scholar Axel Havemann, Dahir draws a sharp line between the concepts of scholarship and ideology.) On this score Dahir mentions and praises the role and work of Tunisian scholar Abdeljelil Temimi [‘Abd al-Jalil al-Tamimi], who over the years has worked to bring together Arab and Turkish scholars to explore their understandings of the Ottoman Empire. Dahir says that it is important now to focus on the role – positive or negative – that the Ottoman administration played during the Ottoman occupation of the Arab countries; and then on the subsequent weakness of Ottoman administration and its impact on the development of the Arab provinces, followed by European occupations beginning with Bonaparte’s invasion of Egypt. Dahir observes contradictory Maghrib and Mashriq views of the Ottoman Empire and its significance. Arabs of the Mashriq (the East) see a negative role to Ottoman rule that led to Arab backwardness or underdevelopment (takhalluf). Arabs of the Maghrib (the West) have positive feelings about the sultanate, which served as a protective arm for Maghrib Arabs during many centuries before the Maghrib fell prey to European colonial attacks and invasions, with all of their negative consequences specified. What is needed, Dahir says, is a reappraisal of the Ottoman sultanate in both the histories of the Syrian lands and the Maghrib. Dahir acknowledges that Istanbul was a source of administration and law in many domains over many decades. But then this ‘harsh’ (sarim) central authority began to experience military defeats in Europe and in the lands of the sultanate itself. Its weakness led to the necessary rise of a‘yan as local power brokers, and the sultanate became dependent on them. Local authority was based on tribal,



family or confessional solidarities, and not all of these local forces remained loyal to the Empire. The eighteenth century became the era of a‘yan, and that paved the way for local revolutions or uprisings that weakened the sultanate from within, and encouraged ‘colonial outsiders’ to prepare European military attacks on the sultanate. New historians focus on the external factors that sparked or fuelled confessional and sectarian movements, peasant uprisings, Bedouin tribal rebellions, and so on. He then goes on to give a summary of the Tanzimat era, noting once again and with specific reference to Beirut province, a shift from ideological to scientific or scholarly research and writing among the ‘new generation of social historians’.30 In due course Dahir arrives at the nub of his argument. Essentialist studies, he says, do not attract new historians and anthropologists. Nonetheless, there is a continuing active presence of essentialists (unnamed) in the ranks of Arab historians. This is not a sign of well-being, and is an indication of the cultural crisis in Arab historical research, a crisis likely to continue for many decades more. These essentialist studies use populist slogans to incite people’s feelings through religious, ideological expressions compatible with an essentialist reading of historical events. They do not advance a deep scholarly analysis of the movement of history and of future possibilities.31 Before moving on to Dahir’s specific comments about the Jurayj book, it is worth considering a few implications of what he has already said. Throughout Dahir’s introduction Ottoman rule is referred to as an ‘occupation’, implying the dominance of an external alien force, a force that remains psychologically and politically ‘outside’ the national space and eventually leaves (or ought to leave). But the so-called Ottoman occupation lasted for 400 years and it became very much a part of indigenous society, first through the cultivation of local elites and intermediaries, and later through the integration of provincial elites into the imperial system. When the old, decentralised imperial structure became anachronistic, Ottoman subjects were by fits and starts brought



into the Ottoman state as citizens, at least notionally. A characterisation of this long and intertwined relationship as one of ‘occupation’ comes out of the nationalist era and arises from nationalist assumptions, and itself represents a kind of ideological essentialism.32 Labelling the Sultan’s government an ‘occupation’ would not have made much sense to a proud Ottoman Arab Beiruti constitutionalist like al-Unsi.33 Another preoccupation that Dahir’s text reveals is his concern for assessing whether Ottoman rule was ‘good’ or ‘bad’, as opposed to simply (or mainly) trying to comprehend Ottoman rule and its legacy for modern Lebanon and the Arab world. Dahir’s words demonstrate that the need to pronounce moral judgement on the Ottoman era remains strong, regardless of the frameworks and outlooks identified with the new generation of historians. But assessing the Ottoman era as positive or negative (or ‘harsh’) implies that there were nonOttoman – or even national – alternatives that might have had different outcomes or characteristics. With one or two possible exceptions (e.g., Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha’s Egypt) it is hard to know what realistic alternatives to Ottoman rule might have existed, except for the possibility of an even earlier imposition of European colonial rule in the East than actually happened. Turning to Jurayj specifically, Dahir says that the book demonstrates the critical methodology of new social historians. Methodologically, Jurayj relies on primary sources and comparisons of European and Ottoman documents. His study is particularly valuable, Dahir says, for its emphasis on the role of big landowners in the central administration of the province, the formation of an ascendant modern bourgeoisie, and the beginnings of liberal and socialist thought in a nationalist and patriotic context that repudiated confessional and sectarian differences and that called for Arab national independence, sovereignty and affiliation. Beirut’s dynamic post-Ottoman role, Dahir adds, is anchored in its Ottoman-era development.34 Thus Dahir portrays Jurayj’s work as being very positive about cultural aspects of the later Ottoman period, stating that it supports or reinforces the



idea that Beirut was a cosmopolitan city; both then and now it has been in the vanguard of Arab cities with respect to cultural production, Arab heritage and comprehensive cultural work. Beirut is and was receptive to the global arts of culture and politics, and it opens its heart to all Arab poets, writers and thinkers. In Jurayj, Dahir finds evidence that a democratic liberal culture was a prominent aspect of Lebanon’s intellectual makeup. Both Beirut and Lebanon were imprinted with a democratic stamp, and they offered exemplars of rational, critical and modern thought.35 Here Dahir has chosen to underemphasise or ignore passages in Jurayj that portray adherents of these intellectual currents not as bold pioneers but as dupes – witting and unwitting – of avaricious colonial powers. Dahir was not reading a different book from the one that readers will encounter; rather he has chosen to see in Jurayj a historical affirmation of cosmopolitan national and liberal values that Dahir apparently holds dear. The fullest statement published after 1975 of the position that emphasises Ottoman Beirut’s cosmopolitanism is Hasan Za‘rur’s Bayrut al-tarikh al-ijtima‘i 1864 – 1914. It appeared c.1990 under the auspices of an Islamically identified press.36 In contrast to depictions of Beirut as an Islamic fortress (discussed later), Za‘rur’s study is devoid of religious apologetics or polemics. Writing in the immediate aftermath of the 1975 – 90 war, Za‘rur strikes a patriotic-nationalist tone in his book’s dedication: ‘To one who believes in the unity of Lebanon: its land, people, and existence.’ A professor at the state-run Lebanese University, Za‘rur writes that Beirut’s nineteenth-century rise was a consequence of the Ottomans’ open door to foreign capital, but this open-door policy stemmed from Ottoman weakness not strength. Capitalist development ruptured traditional social arrangements and gave rise to a ‘national’ (Muslim–Christian) bourgeoisie who staffed Beirut’s new offices and institutions. This bourgeoisie is the social class who campaigned for Beirut’s administrative independence from Damascus, a goal that they



achieved with the creation of the Province of Beirut in 1888. Thus Za‘rur presents his readers with a bourgeois class that was developing a national consciousness, which led them eventually to oppose racist Turkish oppression and to support political decentralisation in the Ottoman Empire.37 Here one encounters a modernist assumption of history as a story of progress with a destination point, i.e., national consciousness. Za‘rur goes on to say that this important era needs serious study, but so far there has been a lack of ‘scholarly, objective study’ of it in Lebanese publications. His goal is to write a well-documented history that stays away from ideological polarisation.38 (This is probably a reference to polarising confession-based polemics.) The book’s underlying thread is that of class analysis stressing the emergence and importance of a local bourgeoisie in an international context. Za‘rur is aware of class tensions without, however, fully integrating them into his analysis. Unaddressed questions include whether labour unrest, including strike action in Beirut, contributed to the consolidation of a class consciousness that transcended confessional identities. Likewise unaddressed is whether and how class conflict conditioned the political attitudes of the emergent bourgeoisie.39 Za‘rur’s overall interpretive framework emphasises economic integration and dependency, a process in which the Ottoman state was complicit. The developing Beiruti (¼ Lebanese?) bourgeoisie were weak, and they were not strong enough to become a social force capable of defending the interests of national capital, an incapacity illustrated most dramatically in the silk industry.40 Za‘rur links the emergent bourgeoisie’s failure to establish its hegemony to tensions and divergent goals within their ranks, divergences that often corresponded to their confessional identities. Prior to 1908 the Ottoman authorities supported Beirut’s Muslims via employment in the civil service and official support for modern Muslim schools.41 Muslim political figures and newspapers continued to express a proOttoman position in the years 1908 – 12, and they moved into vocal opposition only after the Unionists consolidated control of



the central government in early 1913 and intensified their ‘Turanist’ policies. The high point of the national bourgeoisie’s political efforts was the Beirut Reform Movement of 1912 – 1342 (the subject of a special study to be discussed later). Overall, Za‘rur’s thesis is that Ottoman Beirut was shaped by its international environment in a way that created a stunted urban bourgeoisie that was unable to complete a bourgeois political project at the time and, by implication, later on as well. In the following decade another work appeared that specifically emphasised Ottoman Beirut’s cosmopolitanism. This was a long chapter by Nicola Ziadeh, whom we met in Chapter 1 as al-Majdhub’s supervisor and an advocate of patriotism in the writing of history. Ziadeh’s chapter appeared in a book published by UNESCO in 2004 whose translated title is Cosmopolitan Arab Cities between 1870 and 1930: Beirut, Alexandria, Aleppo.43 Born in Damascus in 1907 and subsequently a schoolteacher in Britishruled Palestine,44 Ziadeh had a lengthy university-level academic career in Lebanon from 1958 until his death in 2006. In the UNESCO book’s introduction, Salwa al-Sinyura al-Ba‘asiri, the Secretary-General of the Lebanese National Committee for UNESCO, says that three ‘objective historians’ were commissioned to write this study. These historians’ contributions would demonstrate ‘that Arab civilisation is living and vibrant, both influencing other civilisations and being influenced by them’, and that Arab civilisation ‘is able in our present time to conduct an open and objective conversation with other cultures and civilizations’.45 The apologetic purpose of the book is further elaborated by its editor, a member of the Lebanese National Committee for UNESCO, who says that the collection casts light on Arab civilisation as a living culture, and that it refutes those (unnamed) who claim that Arab culture is introverted, violent and destined to be part of a clash of civilisations. On the contrary, Arab civilisation’s openness is deeply rooted and is essential for building peace in today’s globalised world. Each of Beirut, Alexandria and Aleppo from the later nineteenth to the



mid-twentieth centuries offers examples of ‘shared life among different peoples, ethnicities and religions’, forming ‘a rich and varied tapestry’. The editor’s goal was to produce a scholarly book written in an accessible style.46 Ziadeh’s Beirut chapter emphasises the city’s importance within the later Ottoman Empire, attested by the attention given to it by the Ottoman government, the rapid expansion of Beirut’s economic infrastructure and educational institutions and the importance of the city’s newspapers in developing and promoting a modern civic and political consciousness.47 Much of Ziadeh’s material consists of extended quotations or close paraphrases; he is particularly indebted to Za‘rur’s c.1990 study and to an arbitrary and limited range of published memoirs and accounts, full bibliographic information for which is lacking. Though Ziadeh does not explicitly acknowledge a theoretical stance, his account fits a modernisation paradigm whereby a precocious enlightened elite sparks wide-ranging social transformations. Recurring themes in Ziadeh include Beirut’s openness to the wider world; competition and coexistence among Beirut’s religious communities; and an increasingly hostile official Ottoman attitude to Beirutis’ aspirations. Though both Muslims and Christians participated in Beirut’s cultural project, Christians had a head start in terms of modern education and so they played a greater and more salient role in the development of a ‘national culture’. Most Beirut newspapers published between 1870 and 1912 called for Ottoman unity, but critical newspapers were harassed and shut down.48 Nonetheless, both Christian and Muslim notables began to develop an Araboriented anti-Turkish consciousness. Arab consciousness developed despite the existence of sectarian tensions, manipulated by Ottoman rulers and exacerbated by the inflow of Muslims into a predominantly Christian city. Newly urbanised Muslims brought their rural culture and grudges with them, and because of their numbers they were not easily acculturated into Beirut’s tolerant civic norms.49 Nonetheless, development of a shared



civic consciousness accelerated after 1908 when the brief high hopes raised by the restoration of the Ottoman constitution were followed by disappointment as the dominant Unionists in Istanbul adopted policies that favoured or privileged Turks.50 Therefore, in Ziadeh’s account cosmopolitan Beirut emerges as a city that championed Arab freedom and liberty. He traces Beirut’s progressive or enlightened role historically all the way back to the late medieval period. Because of the mountain-based Maronite Christians’ early acquaintance with the European Renaissance, the mountain defended Beirut from the worst of Mamluk and Ottoman conservatism and oppression. The port town hence became the cultural capital of this progressive Mount Lebanon consciousness. Fast forward to the late nineteenth century, and Beirut’s role as a champion of Arab consciousness and freedoms was consecrated in the late Ottoman Empire, fulfilling the city’s historical mission.51 Reading Ziadeh’s chapter in the UNESCO collection one understands that Beirut’s emergence as a centre of Arab-inflected cosmopolitanism and liberalism in the late Ottoman era was not so much a function of dependent economic integration and class formation (Za‘rur), but was more a reflection of the predominance of modernist Christians who worked with enlightened Muslims against the dead weight of most other Muslims’ backward social and political practices and ideas, tied as these were to repressive and authoritarian political regimes (medieval Mamluks and early modern Ottomans). So while Za‘rur constructs an analysis premised on the model of dependent development, Ziadeh offers instead a confessionally charged understanding of modernisation. The two writers present divergent ways of understanding Beirut’s cosmopolitanism, with implications for respective interpretations of Lebanon’s challenges and predicaments in the early twenty-first century. A secondary source that Ziadeh did not cite but that is nonetheless relevant to his thesis regarding Beirut’s pioneers of modernism is Fawwaz Sa‘dun’s sharply focused account of the



Beirut Reform Movement (1912 – 13). Published in 1994 under the auspices of Beirut’s aged Sunni grandee Sa’ib Salam (d. 2000) and introduced by the doyen of Lebanon’s historians, Kamal Salibi, the book offers a carefully researched and sympathetically written account of the most significant political movement to emerge in Beirut during the late Ottoman era.52 Salibi’s introduction presents a framework for interpreting and understanding the genesis and nature of the Reform Movement. Like many who have written and published in Lebanon about the later Ottoman Empire, Salibi assumes that the Unionists were dedicated to a racialist policy of Turkification. He goes on to mention a range of Arab responses to these policies, responses that unfolded in the context of the spread and development of modern education. Salibi praises the generation that opened modern schools in Beirut, spurred by the example of foreign missions, and he singles out for special recognition the (Sunni) Muslim Maqasid benevolent association and its early twentiethcentury leader, the Beirut notable Salim ‘Ali Salam (father of the aforementioned Sa’ib Salam). Salibi says that prior to 1908 Arabist political consciousness was not fully manifest. Christians pioneered it but most Muslims saw the Ottoman Empire as the state of Islam and the caliphate. Unlike Ziadeh’s account, published one decade later, Salibi does not assign value judgements to the different Christian and Muslim political orientations of the later Ottoman era. He notes, however, that the Unionists’ decision to govern the state as a Turkish (not Ottoman) empire began to shift Muslim opinion towards Arabism. The Beirut Reform Movement was a reflection of this growing Arabist sentiment. The movement’s adherents advocated administrative decentralisation within an Ottoman framework. Interestingly, Salibi contrasts the ‘sincerity’ and ‘innocence’ of the Beirut Reform Movement with the ulterior motives of other Arab organisations and associations that were supported by foreign powers and that aimed to break up the Ottoman Empire. In contrast, Salibi says, the Beirut Reform



Movement rejected attempts by foreign powers to co-opt it. It was a noble lost cause whose positive legacy is still felt today.53 Commencing his text, author Fawwaz Sa‘dun states that his is the first work to focus on the Reform Movement. The AUB library’s microfilm of the memoirs of Salim ‘Ali Salam, a prime mover of the Reform Movement, were essential to Sa‘dun’s task. In addition to the Salam memoirs, Sa‘dun relies heavily on newspapers from the era. In fact, large parts of Sa‘dun’s text are verbatim quotations from the press of the day. Sa‘dun’s grasp of the Reform Movement’s historical environment is well grounded. He offers a pithy and informed overview of various movements of Ottoman reform prior to the twentieth century. Dealing with the critical years of the Reform Movement itself, he contextualises the multiple international crises that beset beleaguered Ottoman governments from 1908 to 1912.54 Sa‘dun’s portrayal of the Unionists, however, is monochromatic. He shares what seems to be a common local view about the Unionists, namely that they pursued conscious and consistent policies of Turkification and ethnic discrimination from 1909 onward. Specifically, he says, relations between the Unionists and the Arabs were strained because the Unionists: 1) were led by Freemasons (presumably problematic because masons were secular and irreligious); 2) were under the influence of Jews; and 3) were advocates of Turanist racial theories invented in Germany by pseudo-intellectuals who included at least one prominent Jew. Unionists showed their bloodthirstiness and penchant for ‘collective murder’ early on (in Adana in 1909, against Armenians).55 In contrast, Sa‘dun sympathetically portrays the anti-CUP Liberty and Entente Party. Its appointed governor of Beirut, Adham Bey, encouraged the Beirut Reform Movement in 1912. However, the Unionists replaced him in February 1913 after they had seized power in a coup the month before, and as they renewed their ‘terroristic’ policies.56 The Beirut Reform Movement failed to achieve any of its goals. The Unionists co-opted some of the Beirut Reform leaders by making promises that the Unionists either could not



keep or had no intention of keeping. During World War I many of the leading Reform Movement personalities were arrested and executed. These developments left the Arab Revolt of Sharif Husayn of Mecca as the only available vehicle for asserting Arab rights.57 Apart from representing his project of restoring to history an overlooked or underappreciated Ottoman-era reform movement, Sa‘dun’s book also looks to explain and to justify the emergence of anti-Ottoman political consciousness among leading figures of Beirut, including prominent Muslims. Sa‘dun (unlike, say, Ziadeh) does not employ the generalised trope of ‘Ottoman oppression’ to explain the Turkish– Arab relationship; rather, he sees a sharp parting of the ways made necessary and inevitable by the Unionists’ adoption of anti-Arab attitudes. Sa‘dun links the Unionists’ policy shift to sinister influences (Jews and Freemasons), even though his account of the Empire’s political dilemmas post-1908 would be sufficient to explain the Unionists’ attitudes and suspicions in a less conspiratorial manner. In any event, the ‘innocence’ and ‘purity’ of the Reform Movement could not withstand the brutal political realities that smothered it. Those who hold fast to a liberal vision of Beirut and Lebanon see in the short life of the Beirut Reform Movement a touchstone of what might have been (or what one day might yet be?). On the other hand, Jurayj’s dismissal of the political tendencies inherent in Beirut (including the Reform Movement) reads as a sign of despair. In contrast to accounts of ‘cosmopolitanism’ that highlight or acknowledge Beirut’s multi-confessional historical mix and cultural character, a number of Arabic-language histories published since 1980 aim to prove Beirut’s Arabo-Islamic identity by emphasising the city’s history as a bastion of Islam and of Muslim rule. (This line of argument had been adumbrated pre-1975 as well.) The high degree of contentiousness about Beirut’s past stems from a number of factors. First, Beirut is Lebanon’s capital and arguments about it can be seen to represent



arguments in microcosm about the country as a whole. Second, of Lebanon’s three major Ottoman-era administrative centres, Beirut is the only one where a Christian majority grew to surpass its Muslim population, unlike Saida and Tripoli, which remained overwhelmingly Muslim in population throughout the successive Ottoman, Mandate and independence eras. Also unlike Saida and Tripoli, Beirut was physically partitioned during the 1975 – 90 civil war years. On one side of the divided city were avowedly Muslim or Arab nationalist parties and militias, and on the other side were predominantly and avowedly Christian Lebanese nationalist parties and militias. So the military battle for Beirut found its echo in a historiographic war waged on the printed page. Outlines of an Islamocentric discourse about Beirut are clearly visible in a book that appeared in 1973, prior to the outbreak of the civil war. Muhammad Taha al-Wali’s Tarikh al-masajid wa’ljawami‘ al-sharifa fi bayrut58 was commissioned by the Sunni religious authorities (Dar al-Fatwa), and its text places Beirut’s Muslim religious architecture in a sectarian historical framework. The book was introduced by the Syrian-born scholar and polymath Salah al-Din al-Munajjid, who argues that Lebanon’s ‘Islamic aspect is under-studied and in need of historical attention’. He praises al-Wali’s effort, because history will forget those (i.e., Muslims) who do not remember their own history and nor will others be aware of Muslims’ rich history in the absence of sustained attention from Muslim themselves.59 In the author’s opening remarks al-Wali welcomes the opportunity to contribute to the study of Muslims in Lebanon. He dedicates the book to ‘sons of my community [umma], the people of my religion [din], and my country [balad]’.60 Al-Wali’s first chapter is titled ‘Muslims in Beirut from the Islamic conquest till today’. Shortly after the Muslim conquest Beirut became a ‘pure Muslim city’, and continuously held on to its Muslim character until the time of the medieval Crusades.61 Local Christians were beneficiaries of the Crusader occupation, and



they were justly punished with exile after the final Mamluk victory over the Crusaders.62 Other Christians took refuge in Kisrawan along with ‘discordant’ (nashiza) sectarian (batini) groups. Supported by a fatwa from (the vociferously anti-Shi‘i scholar) Ibn Taymiyya (d. 1328), Mamluk Sultan Qalawun did battle against these enemies and recalcitrants.63 (This was the infamous Kisrawan bloodletting of 1305, whose historiography Beydoun analysed.) Beiruti Muslims remained vigilant against attempts by Crusaders and their nearby local Christian allies to reconquer the city. The Mamluks made Beirut more Muslim by exercising military vigilance and by resettling Muslims there. So at the time of the Ottoman conquest Beirut was a purely Muslim city. But Christians began to slip into or to infiltrate (tasarrub) Beirut because the Ottomans did not care and were preoccupied with anti-Shi‘i struggles linked to the dynasty’s wars with Iran. So Christians began to build small churches, especially outside the walls of the old city.64 Already, before his readers even get to the Ottomans, al-Wali is presenting a history that puts (Sunni) Muslims at the centre and assigns Christians and esoteric Shi‘ites (batinis) to the outer sphere. In later pages he mentions traces of batini traditions and practices still found in Mamluk Beirut, that Mamluks sought to suppress along with Shi‘i communities in the hinterland.65 In a footnote, al-Wali draws a sharp distinction between batini groups and the ‘true doctrines or beliefs of Islam’.66 Interestingly, al-Wali’s account of the seventh-century Arab conquest of Beirut borrows a leaf from apologetical colonialist or Zionist narratives in its assumptions. He emphasises Beirut’s fall from glory in the century and a half preceding the Arab conquest – hence the Muslim Arab newcomers redeemed and revived a fallen land. Their benign conquest, enabled by the grace of God, marked a rebirth for Beirut. He reports in a neutral, matter-of-fact tone about the conquerors’ policies of Arabisation and Islamisation. He speaks positively of the warrior-guardians (murabitun) who settled on the coast to prevent Christian (Rum) exiles from



returning.67 To this reader, al-Wali’s lack of self-awareness is striking, with respect to parallels that might be drawn with Zionist narratives of modern Palestine. Apparently conquest and forced exile can be jolly or laudatory phenomena if the right kind of people are doing the conquering and exiling. Nonetheless, alWali does muster some kind words for his Christian fellow countrymen who beseeched the conquering Crusaders to spare the tomb of the jurisprudent Imam al-Awza‘i from the Franks’ general destruction of early Muslim places of worship. (Imam al-Awza‘i [d. 774] is a foundational figure in the Muslim history of Beirut.) In all other respects, the Crusaders’ conquest and occupation of Beirut is shown to be destructive and ugly.68 Al-Wali explains why the subsequent conversion of the Crusaders’ Beirut cathedral into a mosque (twice – first under Saladin, and then a second time and for good under the Mamluks) was justified. Apart from this converted cathedral – today, downtown Beirut’s venerable al‘Umari mosque – no Mamluk-era mosques remain extant because of neglect or the municipality’s construction of new streets in the earlier part of the twentieth century.69 Therefore, as readers will also have seen in the case of Saida, the bulk of Beirut’s Muslim architectural heritage is Ottoman. Al-Wali’s overall disposition is to see the Ottomans as legitimate Muslim rulers, not as occupiers. His chapter on the ‘Administration of mosques in the Ottoman period’ quotes extensively from a late-era sultanic decree. The image he presents is of the Ottoman sultan as a legitimate amir al-mu’minin, ‘commander of the faithful’.70 This said, the Ottoman sultanate in the earlier phases of its rule left day-to-day matters in the hands of local princes. Such local rulers sought to endear themselves to the population through construction of mosques. Al-Wali disputes whether some of these princes, the emirs of the Gharb region, were Druze: ‘They always showed fealty to Islam, the religion of the state in whose name they governed.’71 However, he acknowledges that the ‘most famous’ example of an early local mosque was built by a Druze Tanukh prince.72 So whilst the



Ottomans as such did not do much for mosque construction in Beirut, they left room for and encouraged initiatives by local officials and philanthropists. Beirut’s precipitous growth in the nineteenth century, especially after it became the capital of a province in 1888, led to a rush of mosque construction in the ‘new suburbs’ (today core neighbourhoods of the city) on the part of local activists and philanthropists.73 Beirut’s rapid late-Ottoman growth also revived the longdormant Christian threat, in al-Wali’s rendering. Even as early as the later eighteenth century, before Beirut began its modern ascent, the town came under Christian political control as part of the fiefdom of the crypto-Christian mountain emir Bashir II Shihab. According to al-Wali, Bashir II opened the doors of the heretofore mainly Muslim city to Christians from the mountain, who subsequently determined Beirut’s fate.74 Beirut’s rapid rise began in the shadow of the Egyptian invasion of Syria in 1831, led by the commander Ibrahim Pasha. Al-Wali notes (correctly) that Ibrahim Pasha’s invasion was French backed, and he says Ibrahim’s government gave Christians a licence to flow down into Beirut from the hills and mountains. Ibrahim’s withdrawal from Syria, forced by a British-led coalition of European powers, allowed these powers to revive the Crusaders’ policy of banishing Muslims from the eastern coast of the Mediterranean. The result of this policy was that Christian numbers rose, so that Muslims and Christians were evenly divided in Beirut at the turn of the twentieth century.75 Hence the migration of Christians to Beirut in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was part of a long-term European plan. However, al-Wali adds parenthetically, in local parlance ‘Beiruti’ still meant a Muslim, whilst Christians who had migrated to the city were known as ‘Lebanese’ (lubnani).76 Al-Wali does concede that Christian supremacy via inmigration to Beirut was attenuated somewhat by the migration of Muslims from North Africa to Syria, including Beirut, after the French occupations of Algeria and Tunisia. The Muslim newcomers, al-Wali adds, were seeking the protection of the Ottoman state,



which at that time was the state of the Islamic caliphate. After 1912 similar waves of Muslim arrivals came from Morocco and Libya after their occupations by European powers.77 Al-Wali expresses sorrow at the subsequent demise of the Ottomans, ‘who had been a firm shield for 600 [sic] years against European attempts to bring an end to Islam and Muslims’.78 Beirut had been happy under Ottoman protection, he continues, characterising Ottoman rule as a shield against ‘lurking’ (mutarabbis) foreign ambitions to end Muslims’ existence and to terminate their religion. The Ottoman defeat in World War I marked another test for the region, as the Crusaders returned to Beirut under the flag of the ‘Allies’ (scare quotes in the original).79 When the Ottoman army left Beirut, they did so carrying the standard of the caliphate.80 Now that the Ottoman shield had broken, France proclaimed the existence of Greater Lebanon with Beirut as its capital. Consistent with their prewar designs, the French encouraged all kinds of outside Christian sects and missionaries to come to Beirut. These included Syrian Orthodox, Chaldeans and especially Armenians, ‘who fled Anatolia under the press of military events during Mustafa Kemal’s independence war against the Greeks and Allies’. France turned over wide tracts of state land on the peripheries of the city to these new Christian arrivals.81 (It is telling that al-Wali’s fealty to the memory of the Ottoman state is such that he obfuscates what were originally called the Armenian Massacres, and what later became known as the Armenian Genocide.) Ottomans as defenders of Islam and Christians as invaders of Beirut at the behest of foreign powers are strongly recurring motifs in his historical presentation. Clearly we are outside of the discourse of Lebanese or even Arab nationalism here, with the sharp lines that al-Wali draws between Christians and Muslims, and his apologetical treatment of Ottoman rule, even in its final and most catastrophic phases. His anti-national and highly sectarian attitude is scarcely offset by his text’s de rigueur appeal for Christian– Muslim coexistence in present-day Beirut.82



Al-Wali’s cursory comments on modern Shi‘ism also are interesting to note, given the Sunni – Shi‘i rivalries that became so visible decades after the publication of his 1973 book. In it, he notes (whether nostalgically or wistfully) that in Ottoman times there had been no separate Shi‘i mosques in Beirut. All of the city’s Muslims had prayed together in Sunni mosques. This changed after independence in 1943. Al-Wali goes on to list the modern Shi‘i mosques, ending with an appeal for Muslim unity and implying that, really, Shi‘ites do not need separate or distinct places of worship.83 Al-Wali is not an academic historian, but at different times he was employed in Lebanon’s justice system and at Lebanon’s National Library. He published his work under the patronage of the country’s Sunni Muslim religious authorities. Therefore his views cannot be dismissed as marginal or peripheral to a certain form of communal self-understanding. In the years of the Lebanese civil war that followed al-Wali’s publication, academically credentialed historians who shared his overall perspective on Beirut, including its Ottoman era, would add their voices to his. Twenty years after the publication of his first book, including the 15 years of warfare that had torn Lebanon apart, al-Wali published a second book. It is a self-consciously Muslim account of Beirut that is suffused with nostalgia for the Ottomans, in particular for the person and era of Sultan Abdu¨lhamid II.84 In this later book al-Wali portrays the purported founder of Lebanon, Emir Fakhr al-Din II, as an ambiguous figure whose longest lasting legacy was the impoverishment of Beirut and the destruction of its port.85 He has kind words to say about Ottoman Governor Ahmad al-Jazzar (d. 1804) and his patronage of Beirut’s litterateurs. Al-Wali credits Ottoman policies (rather than local heroes) for Beirut’s nineteenth-century revival.86 Ottoman administrators were part of the solution to the 1860 confessional strife in Mount Lebanon, Sultan Abdu¨lhamid II was a patron of the city and on the eve of World War I the populations of Beirut and



the mountain alike were loyal Ottoman subjects.87 His overall message is that the Ottomans were good for Beirut, and al-Wali appears to be fighting an intellectual rear-guard action against interpretations of Beirut’s history that seek to justify antiOttoman nationalist sentiments. A wartime example of a Muslim sectarian history appeared in 1987, written by ‘Isam Muhammad Shabaru.88 The author taught Arab and Islamic history at the Lebanese University, and he owns the publishing house that issued this and other books he has written.89 His Tarikh bayrut is an extended religio-nationalist essay based almost entirely on secondary sources. Shabaru emphasises his personal identity as a Muslim Arab of Beirut, a city whose history is part of the wider Arab and Muslim story.90 The issue of Islamic identity is central to Shabaru’s concerns. He asserts that the Arab conquest of the seventh century consecrated Beirut’s identity, despite efforts of Crusaders and their modern-day successors to efface it.91 In contrast to Nicola Ziadeh, Shabaru gives the Mamluks and Ottomans high marks for achieving Islamic unity and for reinforcing Beirut’s Muslim character, respectively. During the Ottoman period ‘Beirut became a domain of struggle and faith’.92 In addition to foreign invaders (Crusaders both medieval and modern), Shabaru’s principal antagonists are local Christians in general and Maronites in particular. The latter are collectively singled out for opprobrium,93 unlike the ‘good’ Christians who did not challenge Muslim rulers and who depended on these rulers’ patronage and support. Thus those who were Ziadeh’s agents of modernisation become Shabaru’s agents of subversion and discord. Likewise, Shabaru takes up the bloody inter-confessional clashes of 1840 –60 principally to demonstrate the virtues and magnanimity of Muslim notables generally, and those of Beirut in particular.94 Shabaru’s attitude towards nationalism is mixed. In its early guise, he says, Arab nationalism was a Christian project designed to divide Arab Muslims from Turkish Muslims and to replace Islamic solidarity with Arabism. During the reign of Sultan



Abdu¨lhamid II (1876– 1909) the overwhelming majority of Muslims remained loyal to the Ottoman sultanate and caliphate.95 Later, though, the emergence of Turkish nationalism threatened Beirut’s identity. In this context, Shabaru asserts that Beirutis were the first to give life to the idea of Arab nationalism (presumably of the ‘good’ variety).96 Shabaru’s book ends as it begins with the question of Beirut’s essential identity. The French Mandate, he says, sowed the seeds of sectarian and confessional discord by ignoring the majority of Beirutis and those people within Greater Lebanon who wanted Arab unity with Syria. ‘But Beirut has met all challenges, and its response is still that it is the capital of Arabism and of Islam.’97 Certainly Shabaru’s polemic falls far short of the academic historian’s mark, his professorial status notwithstanding. But Tarikh bayrut offers a useful example of employing history to advance a religio-nationalist agenda, developing an anti-Christian theme that al-Wali had adumbrated in 1973. Thirteen years after the publication of his 1987 battle cry, Shabaru published a comparatively sober account of the Beirut Maqasid, a Muslim benevolent association with roots in the Ottoman period.98 As with his earlier book, he positions himself as a committed and engage´ author. He states that his goal is ‘to extract and lay bare historical truth, so all can see it as it is’. He hopes to inspire other organisations and personalities to give us ‘sound history built on knowledge and truth, distant from any tendentiousness or bias, and to stir within us feelings of belonging’.99 He insists on using lunar calendar hijri dates in his study, not only because in its early years the Maqasid also did so, but also because the use of hijri dates today ‘is a civilizational and national duty . . . to give life to the distinctive characteristics of our Arab nation, and will make impossible this nation’s fragmentation and disappearance’.100 Shabaru positions himself as interested only in historical truth, not material profit or political gain. He appears to bear an animus toward the thendirector of the Maqasid, Tamam Salam (son of Sa’ib Salam, and



later appointed Lebanese prime minister in 2014).101 Shabaru considers Tamam Salam to be a failure as leader of the Maqasid,102 and Shabaru regards his book as a rectification project meant to support the patriotic and national mission of encouraging reform and enabling the country’s future.103 The precise alleged shortcomings of Tamam Salam are outside the scope of the present study of retrospectives on the Ottoman era, but one clue to Shabaru’s grievances is his insistence that in the early years of its existence, the Maqasid society was a collective enterprise of Beirut’s (Sunni) Muslims, a point demonstrated by the hundreds of families and individuals who contributed to it.104 The participation of so many Beirut Muslim families and government officials in support of the early Maqasid encouraged some Christians to donate to it as well.105 (The author’s animus against Maronite Christians was clear from his 1987 book; in this 2000 study he does not clarify the sectarian affiliations of early Christian donors to Maqasid, but it appears from their names that most of them were Greek Orthodox Christians.) Consistent with a theme in his earlier book, Shabaru writes that the establishment of the Maqasid society in 1878 was among the Muslim responses to a missionary education ‘offensive’ that was meant to prepare the ground for colonial rule (In other words, to counter a foreign Christian education ‘crusade’.) Even the early national (non-denominational) schools, he says, such as the celebrated one founded by Nahda intellectual Butrus al-Bustani, had a Christian character.106 The Maqasid, Shabaru says, was the most prominent Muslim response to the Christian missionary education offensive, a response that also included Ottoman government schools. Therefore Muslims participated in the educational and cultural revolution in Beirut in the second half of the nineteenth century. Shabaru emphasises Muslims’ historical majority in Beirut ‘since the time of the Arab-Islamic conquest’.107 Although Shabaru is critical of the Ottomans’ alleged lack of interest generally in Muslims’ cultural ‘backwardness’ (takhalluf), he stresses that the establishment of the



Maqasid was encouraged by local reform-minded Ottoman officials (Midhat Pasha and Ra’if Bey) in their meetings with Beiruti Muslim notables. Moreover, these officials donated money and land to the Muslim notables in order to facilitate the Maqasid’s establishment.108 After Abdu¨lhamid II suspended the constitution and exiled Midhat Pasha, the Maqasid (Shabaru reports) briefly became a partner of Beirut Christians who were agitating for freedom from Turkish rule in the name of Arab nationalism.109 (This would be the ‘good’ Arab nationalism that Shabaru’s earlier book had endorsed.) But the Sultan dissolved the Maqasid in 1882, and Beirut families who had supported the Maqasid financially and materially regarded its officially sanctioned replacement as a government body that had usurped these families’ legitimate rights.110 The Beirut Maqasid revived in the post-1908 Young Turk period, and one of its principal figures was Salim ‘Ali Salam, who (as seen earlier in this chapter) played a major role in the prewar Beirut Reform Movement. During the war the Ottoman authorities dissolved the Maqasid yet again.111 The most prolific academic figure to advance a self-consciously Muslim-confessional view of Beirut’s Ottoman period is Hassan Hallak, Professor of History at the Lebanese University with an additional affiliation to the Beirut Arab University.112 Some of his published work in the 1980s dealt with the Ottoman period, for which he promoted the use of Beirut’s sharia law court registers and waqf materials as historical sources. Moreover, Hallak has been a member of the Lebanon National Committee of UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme,113 which aims at preserving and disseminating archive holdings and library collections worldwide.114 He also is a trustee and administrator for the Islamic Centre for Education in Beirut (est. 1979), named for the early medieval jurisprudent Imam al-Awza‘i.115 Hallak’s selection of topics, his use of evidence, his organisation of material and his conclusions (explicit or implicit) reveal an outlook that foregrounds the role of urban Muslims in defining and defending Beirut’s (and Lebanon’s) ‘authentic’ Arab identity and



orientation. Undifferentiated Muslims (a problematic generalisation, but more on that later) are the author’s protagonists, whilst their adversaries typically are foreign, non-Arab Christians and Jews. Indigenous Arab Christians are a subsidiary set of actors, and like Shabaru, Hallak distinguishes between good and bad Christians. The former are patriots who followed the Muslims’ lead and shared Muslims’ perspectives, and the latter are bad-faith operators who were loyal to their foreign allies and patrons among Christian powers.116 Hallak typically gives the Ottomans sympathetic treatment. He presents them as protectors and defenders of Beirut and its region;117 favourable towards and helpful to his protagonists (Beirut’s Muslims);118 conscientious upholders and administrators of key Muslim institutions including those associated with waqfs;119 and progressive administrators who oversaw development of Beirut’s infrastructure.120 Hallak particularly admires Sultan Abdu¨lhamid II, and he is hostile to the Sultan’s Unionist adversaries in the CUP. Hallak portrays Abdu¨lhamid as a consistent defender of Islam and of Arab interests, especially with respect to Zionism, Palestine and Jerusalem.121 In contrast, he portrays the CUP as usurpers and traitors acting at the behest of foreign powers. Moreover, repeating a trope found in Sa‘dun’s otherwise very different book, Hallak says that the CUP was part of an international conspiracy hatched by Jews and Freemasons. Indeed, with no supporting citations or documentation he makes the dubious assertion that most members of the CUP were not Turks or even Muslims.122 Hallak emphasises the influence supposedly wielded within the CUP by Salonika-based Do¨nmes (crypto-Jews who publicly identified as Muslims), and he alleges Do¨nme ‘infiltration’ of Ottoman government ministries.123 The purported identity of interests among foreign powers, Jews, Freemasons and the CUP is the major theme of another book that Hallak published in 1984, whose title translated is The Role of the Jews and International Powers in the Downfall of Sultan Abdu¨lhamid II from the Throne (1908–1909).124 Hallak’s evidence of a Jewish–Masonic conspiracy includes citations of contemporary



writings that advanced this interpretation – such as translated passages from the deposed and embittered Abdu¨lhamid’s memoirs – plus a limited selection of like-minded secondary sources (including one based explicitly on the Protocols of the Elders of Zion125). Paradoxically (or illogically), Hallak also maintains that the supposedly crypto-Jewish and non-Turkish CUP advocated pan-Turanism.126 The common theme linking the Jewish-conspiratorial and pan-Turanist characteristics of the CUP was the CUP’s hostility to Arabs and its advocacy of antiArab racist sentiments.127 This depiction of the CUP – with its resemblance to Sa‘dun’s, discussed earlier – is crude and un-nuanced but it serves Hallak’s narrative. The Arabs did not betray the Ottoman Empire, it says; rather the Empire’s post-1908 Unionist leadership betrayed the Arabs. As long as the Ottoman Empire represented the ideals and realities of an Islamic state, Arabs had no problem being a part of it. But when the CUP, with its Zionist– Jewish– Freemasonic and pan-Turanist agendas, displaced the faithful Ottomans of old, Arabs of Beirut and elsewhere could remain true to themselves and to their interests only by advocating Arabism and administrative decentralisation.128 The major theme emerging from Hallak’s published work on Ottoman Beirut is his portrayal of the city as a timeless Muslim and Arab space. Different historical events, rulers and personages come and go, but Beirut’s essential character endures. At an early point in his monographic study of Ottoman Beirut published in 1987, Hallak (like Shabaru) observes that the city has repeatedly been attacked and besieged by non-Muslims: Byzantines in 969, Crusaders in the Middle Ages and Europeans in 1840 and 1912.129 He uses ellipses (not a period or full stop) to end the paragraph, implying that the story of siege and attack has continued to the present day. As if to drive the point home, he juxtaposes the old Martyrs’ Cemetery (for Muslims who died fighting the medieval Crusades) with the Muslims’ new Martyrs’ Cemetery created in 1985 to



honour those who died defending Muslim Beirut against its latter-day enemies.130 Hallak’s descriptions and characterisations of historic Beirut emphasise its links to a wider Arab and Muslim environment. He repeatedly asserts the Muslim orientation and essence of the city. The 1987 book’s discussion of Beirut’s suqs or markets links their spatial pattern and organisation to wider Islamic-Arab urban traditions.131 An Islamic theme also contextualises the extension of the Damascus railroad line to Beirut’s port (1900), since this development made Beirut an attractive gateway for pilgrims travelling to Mecca.132 Hallak associates the presence of public baths (hammams) in Beirut with Muslim practices and forms of ritual purity (rather than, say, to a Mediterranean city-building archetype).133 His chapter on Sufi lodges or zawiyas begins with an assertion about Beirutis’ piety from the early days of Islam, a passage that cites the medieval jurisprudent Imam al-Awza‘i as a representative example of Beirutis’ historic devotion to the faith.134 The text then immediately jumps to the nineteenth century, extolling and listing names of learned Muslim luminaries during the later Ottoman period, men whom Hallak portrays as heirs to al-Awza‘i and the early Beiruti Muslims. Hallak rhapsodises: ‘The presence of this learned Beiruti elite [nukhba min ‘ulama’ bayrut wa-fuqaha’iha] filled the city’s zawiyas with devotion and piety. Muslims continuously went to them to obtain and increase their knowledge.’135 Though waqfs of all confessions are acknowledged, the Muslim waqf institutions are framed in a pietistic and nonhistorical way.136 He begins his discussion of an Abdu¨lhamid-era public fountain with references to the sharia and to Prophetic Hadith, underscoring the ‘Islamic’ nature of this public works project.137 A chapter on Beirut’s medical facilities acknowledges contributions made by foreign missionaries and their local Christian associates. However, Hallak’s narrative emphasises Muslims’ efforts to ‘catch up’ with Christians in obtaining modern medical training, and he lauds these early Muslim medical pioneers for their Islamic service.138 In his account of the then extramural quarter of



al-Raml, Hallak mentions owners’ names of nearby gardens, and readers can therefore infer that al-Raml was confessionally mixed. Yet when he writes of urban development in this area and the new construction that it witnessed, he names two mosques exclusively.139 Turning to another extramural quarter, what became predominantly Christian al-Ashrafiyya, Hallak does not reference urban growth or construction but rather dwells on the Muslim origins of its name, associated with warriors (mujahidin) of the Crusader era.140 For the garden suburb of al-Hamra’ the author mentions confessionally mixed family names associated with the area, and he identifies its major Ottoman-era landmarks as the ‘famous al-Hamra’ tower’ (for defence/military purposes) and al-Hamra’ Mosque.141 He asserts that the open space to the east of the city walls – known popularly as the Burj (‘Tower’, after a defensive bastion that once stood there) – was in Ottoman times called by its modern name of Sahat al-Shuhada’ (‘Martyrs’ Plaza’). He bases this early dating of the name Martyrs’ Plaza on an unspecified (i.e., not footnoted) reference in Beirut’s sharia law court registers. The historic martyrs in question, he adds, were those who defended Beirut against the Crusaders.142 (A more widespread explanation of the name Martyrs’ Square is that it is post-Ottoman, and that it refers to the nationalist ‘martyrs’ whom the Ottoman authorities executed during World War I.)143 A chapter in the 1987 monograph dedicated to the morality and virtues of Beirutis illustrates the author’s theme about the essentially Islamic character of the city, by highlighting the biographies of two Muslim notables who lived and worked during the last Ottoman decades (one was elected to the first Ottoman parliament and served the Ottoman civil authority, and the other was a religious figure).144 The normative Beiruti is a Muslim.145 Hallak’s major monographic work on Ottoman Beirut presents it as a place defined first and foremost by its affiliation with and fealty to the cultural and religious norms associated with the identities ‘Muslim’ and ‘Arab’. Behind this emphasis on



norms of culture and identity lies the author’s anxiety that they were in jeopardy of being lost or overlooked in his own day. As noted, Hallak posits continuity between historic threats to Beirut from foreign (Christian) powers of old, and current threats emanating from present-day non-Muslim and non-Arab sources. His three book-length publications on Ottoman Beirut that appeared in quick succession during the 1980s146 – one monograph and two collections of documents – emerged out of this defensive posture. Hallak describes his monograph as a contribution to the preservation of heritage (turath): the book grew out of his duty as a scholar, a Lebanese and as an Arab. Scholarly work on Ottoman Beirut is necessary, he says, because Beirut’s historical characteristics have been erased by the ongoing war (a reference to the Lebanese conflicts of 1975 onward). The new generations need to be taught about Beirut’s and Lebanon’s history. Their lack of knowledge, he says, poses a problem for national cohesion or ‘belonging’ (intima’).147 But what kind of cohesion or ‘belonging’ does Hallak mean? Introducing his collection of sharia law court documents from Ottoman Beirut, Hallak says that publishing these sources can revive the Islamic and Lebanese heritage, and overturn traditional historical understandings.148 A similar sense of mission frames his published collection of Ottoman-era waqf documents from Beirut. They will revive the Islamic and Lebanese heritage in its civilisational and human aspects;149 will cast light on Muslims’ rights and presence in the country by presenting historical testimony and evidence regarding Muslims’ present and former properties and endowments;150 and will demonstrate ‘the human aspects of the endowment system that shepherded and protected all social elements without distinction according to religion, race and sex’.151 He explicitly appeals for revival of the Muslim waqf institution to provide for society’s various needs.152 So by inference, the preferred (and historically accurate) representation of Lebanon’s history would place Muslims at its centre rather than relegate them to the periphery, as mountain-centric Lebanese



histories have been wont to do. A sense of national cohesion and belonging will emphatically include Muslims, fully cognisant of their historical role and rights. Moreover, Muslims’ laws and institutions can potentially be at the heart of an inclusive definition of Lebanon. Hallak’s 1987 monograph (like Shabaru’s publication of the same year) does not on the face of it meet typical expectations for academic publishing, although it is identified as an academic work. The tone and structure of Hallak’s book remind one of ‘memorial books’, that is, detailed reconstructions of facts or data about lost places and lost communities.153 The book is replete with narrative, anecdotes and lists of names and places, but it lacks historical narrative and analysis. Throughout there are almost no notes or citations, even though the text does occasionally mention travellers’ names, historians’ writings and document collections as sources for specific quotes or general information. Most of the time the reader has no way to explore or verify the data and assessments that Hallak offers. For instance, the book’s section on Beirut’s port jumps across decades and even across centuries.154 Chapters on suqs and mosques move back and forth in time, building up an image of Ottoman and pre-Ottoman Beirut as a timeless Muslim, Arab city.155 The lists go on and on – individuals associated with the suqs, the city’s public ovens, orchards and gardens in and around Beirut, the public baths, the buildings, streets and extramural districts, caravanserais, public squares, Beirut family names, and so on. No significant historical forces, conflicts, or changes ripple the surface of this meticulously crafted composite portrait of the ‘traditional’ city that was submerged or destroyed by the forces of the post-Ottoman twentieth century. Hallak appears to rely on the Ottoman-era sharia court registers for much of this information, but he gives no specific references. A simple ‘traditional – modern’ dichotomy provides the unstated organisational framework for Hallak’s book, where (in plain contrast to Ziadeh) ‘tradition’ is associated positively with Ottoman, Arab and Islamic legacies. Yet the author conflates later



Ottoman ‘modernity’ with this older vision of the traditional city. The first modern hospitals, the early twentieth-century electric tramways and the various periodicals, scientific societies and associations that grew up in late Ottoman Beirut are recounted as evidence of Ottoman– Muslim– Arab achievements that form a part of the lost or threatened heritage of the Ottoman city.156 A specific point that Hallak makes is that developments like these prove that Ottoman Beirut was not culturally and intellectually ‘stagnant’.157 The reader detects here a renewed presentation of the theme that traditional Beirut, Ottoman Beirut, Muslim-Arab Beirut was a dynamic civilisational and cultural centre across the centuries, with ‘dynamism’ here demonstrated via evidence of technological and intellectual modernity in the latter phases of Ottoman rule. The implication is that Abdu¨lhamid-era modernisation (technical, organisational and administrative) was respectful of Beirut’s Arab and Islamic heritage in ways that post-Ottoman transformations were not. Hallak’s account elides the role of foreign (e.g., French) capital in Beirut’s late-Ottoman growth and expansion, and instead he folds these changes into his understanding of tradition and ‘heritage’. This kind of ideological positioning creates its own tensions. As discussed in the previous chapter, in the 1990s one of Hallak’s students, Muhammad al-Rawwas, wrote an account of Saida which portrayed Beirutis’ partnership with foreign capital as an alliance that undermined Saida, which previously had prospered as an Ottoman-protected Islamic city. Whereas Hallak presents Ottoman modernity as a progressive enhancement of Beirut’s Arab and Islamic heritage, al-Rawwas sees it as a danger to the same heritage in a neighbouring town.158 For all of his devotion to notions of tradition and heritage, however, Hallak the historian is mostly unconcerned with historical context or processes of historical change. Take, for instance, his treatment of the public fountain unveiled in 1900 during the era of Sultan Abdu¨lhamid in the open extramural square previously known as Sahat al-Sur (‘Wall Plaza’; today Riyad al-Sulh Square). The construction of Abdu¨lhamid’s



fountain in this busy carrefour was part of an Ottoman project to remake Beirut and to place the imperial government’s stamp on the city in a new way. Abdu¨lhamid’s fountain represents turn-ofthe-century Ottoman attempts to redefine relations between state and society by reshaping the use of public space.159 But Hallak does not acknowledge any wider significance to the fountain. Except for some opening references to sharia, prophetic Hadith and Beirutis’ need for water, the author makes no attempt to explain the timing, location and form of the fountain through any kind of analytic or historical framework.160 It simply becomes another part of Beirut’s Ottoman turath. The fountain issue illustrates a broader point, that Hallak is uninterested in contextualising the history and development of Ottoman Beirut except in generalised cultural-essentialist terms. If one effect of Hallak’s oeuvre is to ‘naturalise’ a history of Beirut so that it fits easily into a composite Arabo-Islamic nationalist paradigm, another effect is to ratify and valorise social hierarchies within Muslim Beirut. Hallak’s Muslims are by and large an undifferentiated mass, whose views, outlooks, values and interests are more or less identical and internally cohesive at any given time. The leaders or representatives of this Muslim identity are the notables who rose to positions of political and religious leadership in the later Ottoman period, and whose influence continued afterwards in the periods of the French Mandate and the independent Lebanese Republic. Dominant themes are these families’ Ottoman or Arab origins and their activities, roles and pre-eminence in various administrative, institutional and sometimes military fields. What was good for these families was good for Beirut. So in Hallak’s representation, the politics of notable representation and leadership are givens, and the recitation of the families’ names, origins and achievements are points of pride and praise.161 Along with asserting Beirut’s Arab and Islamic historical essence, Hallak’s work naturalises the Muslim social hierarchies that accompanied late Ottoman state formation and carried over into the Lebanese Republic.162 His work expresses a



kind of religious– ethnic nationalism, where the basic unit of history is the primordial Arab and Muslim subject, whose identity and shared interests with other Arabs and Muslims are expressed in the seamless emergence of a ‘natural’ social and political leadership group. By implication, Beirut’s Muslims who possess the ‘proper’ consciousness of their group interest should defer to these natural leaders. The implications of Hallak’s line of thought for his own day are as follows: non-Muslims who challenge the prerogatives and status of this group identity are part of a continuum of ‘outside threats’ to the integrity of Muslim Beirut. On the other hand, radicals who see the emergence of Beirut’s notability as a product of conflicting social interests arising from class conflict and/or the imperatives of modern state-formation (e.g., Marxist-influenced or comparative historical writers, as exemplified in Za‘rur’s work) potentially threaten the integrity of the religious–national community and its sanctioned hierarchies; and the guardians of Beirut’s Muslim identity are, by history and by right, drawn from the ranks of its established Sunni families. For Hallak’s ‘Muslim’ Beirut, read Sunni Beirut. His work offers readers a solid example of the communal-primordialist and communal-absolutist turn that some Lebanese historiography took during the war years.163 Hanan Sha‘ban is a student of Hallak’s who embraces with gusto both his and Shabaru’s theme of Beirut as a battleground between Muslims and their enemies. Hallak trained Sha‘ban at the al-Awza‘i Institute for Islamic Studies. She wrote a master’s thesis under his supervision, and in 2003 she published it under avowedly Sunni auspices.164 In her preface, Sha‘ban characterises Beirut as a fundamentally Islamic city whose long history of Islamic struggle has been effaced in modern times. She writes to remind the city’s residents (particularly its Muslims), and to warn Beirut’s enemies (unidentified), of the city’s long history of jihad.165 One of her assumptions is the historical success of mujahidin warriors, derived from God’s support.166 She intends her book as a wake-up call and as an intervention into existential



questions: Muslims today, she laments, ‘are like wastewater moving among peoples, like chaff scattered amidst nations, like foam that flecks against states [all] because of present-day Muslims’ attachment to the world and their fear of death’.167 To reverse or change their situation, Muslims need to rediscover the value of jihad and to act in the manner of revered mujahidin of yesteryear, who fought under the flag of Islam.168 Sha‘ban has entirely slipped the reins of national discourse here, since neither Arab nor Lebanese national identities are significant in her narrative. As a history writer she falls short on accuracy: Frederick II Barbarossa is described as a Byzantine emperor; Ottoman-era Cairo Governor Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha is called the Sultan of Egypt; and the medieval Ottoman Janissaries are said to have been established by Sultan Orhan in 1908 CE .169 At least one reviewer has taken issue with her reading of sources and representation of data.170 Echoing al-Wali, she admires the Mamluk sultans who battled not only against Crusaders but against refractory Shi‘i Muslims as well.171 In Sha‘ban’s rendering, Beirut’s Ottoman period offers both inspiration and warning. Inspiration comes from the Ottomans’ devotion to jihad and the successes that this brought. But later, when the Ottomans moved away from ‘pure jihad’, their position weakened and they began to rule with injustice.172 No doubt with an eye on the present day, Sha‘ban cites Beirut’s history as proof that when Muslim warriors were motivated by and fighting for Islam, they triumphed. But when ‘love of the world’ became predominant, Muslim lands became vulnerable to occupation and colonialism.173 These heady arguments were aimed at a broad audience: in 1994 Sha‘ban and her mentor Hallak contributed to a colourfully illustrated coffee-table style book on Ottoman Beirut that adumbrated similar themes. (The other essays were by Hasan Za‘rur on culture and by a professor of architecture on mosques of Beirut, highlighting the significance of the Ottoman era for Beirut’s physical heritage.)174 From the perspective of international scholarship, Hallak’s greatest contribution has been his role in drawing attention to and



publishing Ottoman-era primary sources, including selections of Beirut’s sharia law-court documents and waqf materials. The documentary aspect of Hallak’s work is probably behind his onetime membership of Lebanon’s National Committee for UNESCO’s Memory of the World programme. For the most part, though, Hallak is not widely cited in international studies of modern Lebanon.175 His approach to and presentation of history (by turns anecdotal, essentialist and conspiratorial) limit his ability to contribute. Moreover, it is not to his credit that he supervised and apparently passed the academically problematic polemic of his student Hanan Sha‘ban. The third warrior-writer in this chapter, ‘Isam Shabaru, uses his publishing platform and his authority as a Lebanese University professor to make derogatory generalisations about large numbers of his fellow countrymen solely on grounds of their membership of a particular religious community. Hallak’s ideas are worth noting, though, because he is not a marginal figure in his own communally defined setting. In addition to the UNESCO affiliation at the Lebanese national level, he has worked with some leading figures in Beirut’s Sunni clerical hierarchy to advance and develop his perspectives and the documents that support them.176 Moreover, in 2003 he headed a delegation from the Beirut Arab University Alumni Association that met with then-Prime Minister Rafik al-Hariri.177 Hallak appears, in other words, to be a kind of tribune for the historical self-image of Beirut’s Sunni communal leaders. In this sense his oeuvre represents a reworking of the Ottoman past to assert a particular present-day elite’s authority and agenda. Hallak’s use of Ottoman history to underline the historical fealty of Beirut’s Sunnis to Islam and to Arabism, and to underscore the Sunnis’ role as defenders of Beirut’s Muslim identity in the face of aggressive and oft-conspiratorial challenges, demonstrates how the Ottoman past becomes a mirror to the concerns and preoccupations of the historian’s present. The writers who are grouped here under the ‘cosmopolitan’ rubric produced better histories. Though Ziadeh has an



international reputation based on his English-language publications, his late-career contribution to the UNESCO volume appears to be something of a derivative quick take. However, one must bear in mind that he was by then in his nineties. Despite its minor position in his publication history, Ziadeh’s UNESCO contribution usefully illustrates a modernisation approach to Ottoman Beirut that gives pride of place to Beirut’s Christians, and it is comparable to Salibi’s House of Many Mansions in this respect. Neither Za‘rur nor Sa‘dun have been translated and, unlike Ziadeh, they are not known internationally. But they offer internally coherent and mostly well-documented interpretive accounts of aspects of Ottoman Beirut that do not lend themselves to confessional cheerleading or reductionism. On the evidence before the reader, Lebanese scholarship would benefit from engagement with international scholarship on the CUP, since the recurrent Turanist– Jewish–Freemasonry caricature is too easy a foil in most of the Beirut accounts considered here.178 As for the works of Shabaru, Hallak, and Hallak’s student Sha‘ban, they are not good academic histories. Their works do, though, present instructive material for the uses of history in the construction of national–religious ideology. Both sets of writings bring the reader back to Hayden White’s insight regarding history as a form of storytelling. These authors’ contentious and divisive representations of Ottoman Beirut highlight the difficulties inherent in trying to craft a ‘unified’ national historical narrative. Indeed, since 1990 Lebanon’s professional historians have been unable to develop a standardised history textbook for use in the country’s schools.179 The Ottoman Beirut literature demonstrates that modern Lebanese civic and national identities are multivalent and sharply contested.


Of the three Ottoman provincial capitals that ended up within the borders of Lebanon, Tripoli’s history has been the most extensively studied. This is due in part to Tripoli’s prominence as one of the principal Ottoman strongholds and ports of the East Mediterranean. It is also due to the relative abundance of local sources from the Ottoman era, namely Tripoli’s sharia court records, a rich trove of data for social history. The comparative plethora of writing on Ottoman Tripoli may also stem from the city’s post-1920 status as Lebanon’s Sunni Muslim stronghold par excellence. Unlike the Sunni political leaders of Beirut and Saida, those of Tripoli could draw on a rural peasant hinterland to replenish their constituencies and to bolster their strength. Reference already has been made (Chapter 1) to the OttomanArab officials Tamimi and Bahjat, who wrote about Beirut province during World War I. They offer an exceptionally detailed view of Tripoli and its place in the project of Ottoman modernity, to which the authors were strongly devoted. As reform-minded officials they were critical of low government outlays for public education in the Tripoli district,1 and they saw education as a key ingredient in the project of modernity. As modernist Muslims, they wrote about Tripoli in a way that assesses its rich cultural



legacy against the needs of their present day. They differentiated as well among religious communities and social classes in their contemporary understanding of late-Ottoman Tripoli. Indeed, Tamimi and Bahjat’s extended discussion of Tripoli offers considerable insight into the worldviews of those Arabic speakers who identified with the Ottoman state in its final years. To introduce Tripoli they describe it in glowing and poetic terms, comparing it favourably to Damascus and Beirut. Tripoli is ‘the most beautiful city in Syria’, and it also is called ‘Little Damascus’.2 They distinguish between parts of Tripoli that are built in the ‘old’ and ‘new’ ways (qadim-hadith), corresponding to the Damascene and Beiruti styles, respectively. Old, Damascus-style buildings have a similar relationship to river water, courtyards and fountains as do Damascus houses. Newer houses follow the Beirut style (multi-storeyed with red tile roofs), and the newer style has overtaken the old in terms of new constructions.3 The overall housing stock of Tripoli is said to be two-thirds older style and onethird newer. As they did in their account of Saida, the authors make critical observations about conditions in older quarters, with the difference that (unlike Saida) the river in Tripoli helps to promote cleanliness.4 Tamimi and Bahjat speak glowingly of the newer quarters, praising their salubriousness. They paint a picture of Tripoli as a city with the potential to flourish further and to become one of the premier cities in Syria.5 In detailed comments, the authors cite the number of congregational mosques ( jawami‘) in Tripoli, but they dolefully note that other Islamic institutions (masjids, madrasas and tekkes) are not nearly as flourishing, and many are ruined. They go on to note the numerous and significant Christian churches and institutions, and the sole Jewish synagogue. ‘Tripoli is rich in buildings’,6 the authors say, but they complain about the appearance and workmanship of most government buildings. Tripoli has a solid inherited infrastructure of khans and markets, but they are neglected ‘garbage dumps’ outside of central areas. Amplifying their contrast between ‘old’ and ‘new’, and similar to



their remarks on Saida, Tamimi and Bahjat observe that modern houses in Tripoli escape the humidity and putrefaction of houses in the older quarters.7 Moreover, they add that passable roads (suitable for wheeled traffic) outside the city contrast sharply with the squalid and filthy streets in the city that are used for the egress of wastewater and sewage. Tripoli’s beauty and heritage give it great potential, but at the moment (they write) it suffers from poor infrastructure and unhealthy conditions.8 Further emphasising their modernist agenda and outlook, Tamimi and Bahjat bemoan the inaccuracy of official population statistics for Tripoli and its district, comparing the Ottoman Empire unfavourably to ‘developed’ countries generally, and even to former Ottoman possessions like Bulgaria, Serbia and Greece ‘that have not been developed for long’.9 Compared to Saida, Haifa and Nablus, Tripoli’s municipality has substantial revenues, but the municipality needs better leadership to bring about necessary improvements in the city. Roads, infrastructure and clean water all are lacking.10 The authors then pivot to the positive, talking about Tripoli’s progressive improvements (including the tramway and electrification) spearheaded by government administrators and wealthy local Muslims. One of the administrators whom they praise is their patron, ‘Azmi Bey, then the governor of Beirut province but previously the district governor of Tripoli, who initiated the project to build a modern municipal hospital that bears his name.11 If the contrast between ‘old’ and ‘new’ is one way in which the Ottoman-Arab authors understand Tripoli, another is the distinction between Muslims and Christian Tarabulsis (residents of Tripoli). As seen already in Saida, the authors refer to the religious communities as ‘nations’ (sing. milla), noting that Tripoli is about one-fifth Christian and that there is no spatial segregation between the communities.12 But they contrast the social and cultural conditions of the two millas. For four or five centuries, they write, Muslim citizens have surrendered to chronic underemployment and idleness. No trace remains today of the nobility that they demonstrated in history and in the heart of Islam. We Muslims



all struggle, they continue, under the ‘heavy weight of dark ignorance’.13 The authors condemn the idleness and fatalism of today’s Muslims, move on to an extended discussion of the current war’s challenges, and end with a comment that Muslim Tarabulsis can do better.14 They then break down their discussion of Tripoli’s Muslims by identifying the community’s various economic strata. Discussing the wealthy class among Muslims, the authors note this stratum’s connection to commerce, and the noble ancestry and pedigrees that many families possess. Tripoli has not developed an absentee landowning class, as in the Syrian interior; since Tripoli as a coastal town mixes together all classes (tabaqat), one hardly finds in Tripoli the ‘sultan-like’ absentees who proliferate elsewhere in Syria.15 This class mixture produces a cultured and urbane character among Tripoli’s Muslim elites, who enjoy spending time in their gardens and orchards (as distinct from the hard-pressed villages of typical absentee landlords elsewhere in Syria). These Tripoli elites live in villas and modern (Beirut-style) houses, even though some of them prefer to stay in the old Damascus-style urban houses with all of their vexations. In sum (and this passage offers an interesting insight into the authors’ perspective): Due to Tripoli’s location on the coast, proximate to Beirut, and its heterogeneous [or mixed] society, the lives of its big families are noticeably progress oriented, even if superficially so. One sees this progressive orientation in their buildings and in the interior arrangement of their houses, and in the clothing styles of their men and women. Although most of the wealthy lack intellectual awareness based on science, and the light of this knowledge does not extend to their women, nevertheless these respectable families show a tendency toward renewal [tajaddud], and some have attained it.16 Even if most graduates of modern schools are not from this leading class, nonetheless this elite’s involvement in trade and commerce



gives them an inclination or openness toward learning. If Tripoli’s Muslim elites devote themselves to modern learning, in the way that they have mastered commerce over the past half century, then they will be able to live a truly cultured and urbane (madani) life. They are not yet there, though.17 As for the Muslim middle class, our authors continue, they are the majority of people of Tripoli, engaged in commerce and in garden agriculture. Most of their men wear the fez and traditional baggy trousers (sirwal). Although they are less refined and less knowledgeable than the upper classes, nevertheless most of the youth who are graduating from schools with modern and scientific educations hail from their ranks. The middle class is dedicated to social self-improvement.18 The lowest classes among the Muslims are craft workers and labourers, including sailors, fishermen, porters, construction workers and agricultural labourers. They live in the worst quarters and are distinctive by their humble dress (e.g., no fezzes). Theirs is a daily struggle to make ends meet. But it appears no one is starving and homeless.19 The authors’ comments on Tripoli’s different classes of Muslims offer a window into the values and assumptions of a segment of Arab opinion that even as late as World War I assumed a future for the Syrian lands in the Ottoman Empire. First, Tamimi and Bahjat evince an unabashedly modernist outlook. They acknowledge the inheritance and legacy of the past even as they complain of a long period of intellectual and social stagnation, of being rooted in a past that is no longer germane or useful for the period in which they were writing. This attitude is expressed in different ways, contrasting the enlightenment of modern education with the presumed ignorance of older forms of learning, or using modern standards of health and medicine to condemn the older urban quarters and their architectural forms as against the Italianate (Beirut-style) modern quarters of Tripoli. Second, they invoke people’s outer appearances as indicators of where they stand on the spectrum between traditional and unenlightened, on the one hand, and modern and enlightened on the other. So, for instance, take the



difference between men and women of the middle classes. Women remain unenlightened and shrouded in ignorance (according to the authors’ values), whilst men’s adoption of the fez shows some kind of a commitment to Ottoman modernity, even if their choice of baggy trousers (as opposed to the narrow-cut European-style trousers favoured by Ottoman officialdom and upper classes) demonstrates that the middle class still has one foot in each world. This situation, they imply, awaits rectification via generational change inasmuch as most of the men in modern schools come from the Muslim middle class, and the future shape of society will in large measure be in the hands of this ascendant enlightened generation. The Muslim lower classes appear to lack agency in the authors’ modernisation project, with an unspoken assumption that the lower classes must be led by an educated elite, consisting of a meritocratic modern-educated middle class and enlightened, urbane members of the upper class who (unlike some of their counterparts elsewhere) do not think and act in the manner of exploitative feudal landlords. Readers can see in these remarks the spirit that animated the modernist wing of the late-Ottoman Arab elite, some of whom (like Tamimi and Bahjat) saw the Ottoman government and framework as principal if not indispensable instruments in building a modern national society based above all on the Muslim majority population. Naturally, the tension between this outlook and the indubitably Turkist orientation of the post-1913 Ottoman government would not be reflected in their study, prepared as it was for the Ottoman Turkish governor of Beirut province. Next the authors turn to Tripoli’s Christians, approximately one-fifth of the city’s population. Of these, Orthodox Christians are two-thirds, and the remainder are Catholics, Maronites and Protestants. Tripoli’s Christians include some deeply rooted families as well as others of more recent provenance, including ethnic Greeks. The authors report as hearsay that the social and commercial position of Christians in Tripoli had declined compared to 50 years ago. Then, Christians dominated the



town’s commerce but they were badly affected by the international financial crisis of 1872. Many emigrated to Egypt, clearing the way for Muslims to dominate commerce. The authors note that in their own day, Christians’ wealth in Tripoli is linked to fortunes made elsewhere such as in Alexandria.20 As an indication of Christians’ relative economic decline, although they are one-fifth of Tripoli’s population they possess only one-tenth of Tripoli’s liquid wealth. They own just one-tenth of Tripoli’s olive trees and about one-sixtieth of its gardens and orchards (sing. bustan). However, they do own about one-fifth of Tripoli’s houses and buildings, commensurate with their share of the population.21 If one of the authors’ axes for analysing Tripoli’s population is confessional community (milla), another (as we have seen) is by social class. As they did for Tripoli’s Muslims, so too do they do for its Christians. As with Muslims, the authors divide Christians into three classes. Regarding the wealthy, upper-class Christians, the authors note that they number three or four families who live in a ‘more refined’ (arqa) way than their Muslim counterparts, and whose men and women alike are well educated. Nearly all of the rest of the Christians are middle class, and they live through commerce or craft work. They too surpass their Muslim counterparts, if not in education than in the ‘ordering of their lives’ (b’intizam al-‘aysh). They wear Western clothes but are Eastern in their nature or behaviours. Finally, poor Christians are very rare, and they are Maronites not Orthodox.22 A lengthy discussion of Tripoli residents’ worldviews follows. The authors’ comments further highlight their conviction that a modern outlook, including education, is vital for the future of Ottoman-Arab society. They note that some sons of wealthy and well-known families in Tripoli (from the context, they are speaking about Muslims) have been educated in schools of Beirut, Istanbul and elsewhere. But the older generation of this class are rooted in traditional ways that are unsuited to the present era. Most students in modern schools come from the numerically predominant middle class. There are roughly 400 graduates of



modern schools in Tripoli, nearly all of them from the middle class.23 The ranks of these ‘enlightened men’ (mutanawwarin) include 306 Muslims and 94 Christians.24 Tripoli has 15 waqffunded ‘traditional’ schools that teach Arabic and sharia, and whose graduates are employed in judicial posts in the province. But, the authors contend, their outlooks are ignorant of modern learning and are backward in the present age.25 Tripoli’s merchants are successful because of their native intelligence and inherited practices, but (the authors exhort) think how much more successful they could be with modern educations as well.26 Then the authors go on to compare rates of literacy between Muslims and Christians, and between men and women. Christians compare favourably, and Tamimi and Bahjat lament the degree of illiteracy and backwardness, especially among Muslim women.27 A few pages later the authors take up the issue of schooling and education again, an indication of how central these issues were to their understandings of Ottoman-Arab citizenship. They praise the cultural production of the great ‘alim (learned Muslim cleric) Husayn Efendi al-Jisr, and the work of their own contemporary the mufti ‘Abd al-Hamid Efendi al-Karami.28 The authors portray these two as exemplars of the Nahda among those writers with ‘traditional’ educations.29 This is noteworthy given the authors’ earlier criticisms of traditional schooling, which they associated with ignorance and intellectual immobility. Perhaps al-Jisr and al-Karami were exceptions that proved the rule, or perhaps their families’ lofty status (as ashraf and notables) made them and their networks vital to any Ottoman project of renewal and national strengthening. In any case, Tamimi and Bahjat soon return to the subject of official and modern schools, ‘designed to make up for the shortcomings of the older schools’.30 These schools are preparing the way for the creation of an environment of freedom and civilisation. Their graduates (as noted before) form a stratum of ‘enlightened men’ in Tripoli, joined also by Tarabulsi graduates of schools in Istanbul and Beirut. The enlightened stratum know the modern arts, have



knowledge of civilisation (madaniyya), are aware of reasons of progress, and are growing in number. Nonetheless they are still a small minority and a fragile social presence.31 The authors then go on to profile two Christian exemplars of Tripoli’s modern enlightenment, writers Nawfal Efendi Nawfal and Jurji Efendi Yanni.32 Tamimi and Bahjat then list and briefly review the periodicals and presses in Tripoli. ‘The civilizing renaissance that Tripoli has seen in recent years was enlivened by the publishing trade.’33 They count ten periodicals prior to World War I, probably more than the local market can sustain by itself without readers elsewhere.34 Therefore, readers see in a work written on late Ottoman Tripoli during the final years of Ottoman government that the government of the empire itself had helped to foster a modernist and national understanding of Tripoli and its role in Beirut province and the wider empire. These writers saw the majority Muslims as the bedrock of this effort at national and social renewal (tajaddud), though Christians, because of their expertise and talents, were understood to be partners in the venture. The lamentable (in the authors’ eyes) state of the Muslim population with respect to education and modern skills was something that the Ottoman government was addressing and should continue to address. The authors do not pin Muslims’ relative backwardness (takhalluf) on any one factor, save ‘tradition’. If pressed, they probably would subscribe to a view of history that saw Ottoman rule as initially glorious, then struck by crisis and sclerosis in the face of modern challenges, and finally as a force for revival and modernisation in the authors’ Syrian Arab society. The authors were products of the modern state, they believed in the modern state, and for them (and their patron, the governor of Beirut) the Ottoman Empire was the modern state that they had, and with which they should work. The trope of blaming Ottoman rule generally for symptoms of weakness or backwardness in Arab society would be taken up by some of their post-Ottoman successors who, once freed of the obligation of loyalty to a defunct



empire, sought to define it and its ills as ‘Turkish’ and the glories that they hoped to revive in the context of modernity as ‘Arab’ or ‘Lebanese’. One of the earliest studies to appear on Ottoman Tripoli during Lebanon’s post-1975 period of crisis was a monograph by Khaled Ziade [Khalid Ziyada],35 a professor of history at the Lebanese University, and years later Lebanon’s ambassador to Egypt.36 His book reflects the coincidence of Lebanon’s political crisis with the new availability of Tripoli’s sharia court archives. Ziade framed his study as a critique of earlier national historiography, one that offers an outline for further inquiry. Its tone is sober and dispassionate, reflecting the confluence of crisis and of new sources that made necessary a new outlook on the past. Ziade begins by asserting that earlier history writing in Lebanon and other Arab countries was more ideological than scholarly (or ‘scientific’).37 (Here once more, the trope of ideology vs scholarship informs an author’s understanding of historiography.) During the 1930s and 1940s, ‘most historians delved into the Ottoman past looking for one or another kind of an identity’.38 Indeed, he observes, ‘serious study of the history of Ottoman Tripoli still has not begun’.39 He calls for a non-national, nonteleological approach to the eighteenth century.40 In the eighteenth century, Ziade writes, there was no ideological alternative to Ottoman rule. The local chieftains who rose and fell should not be read anachronistically as harbingers of modern statehood or nationalism.41 Using the classic Orientalist study by Gibb and Bowen (published 1950)42 as his foil, Ziade criticises frameworks that assume a normative Eurocentric pattern of historical development, thus giving rise to a historiography that attempts to explain supposed Arab or Islamic exceptionalism.43 Ziade is aware of international (Francophone and Anglophone) historical scholarship, typically via Arabic translation. He references this literature to underscore the importance of the eighteenth century, both for contextualising later historical transformations and for better understanding the society that antedated the reformist



nineteenth century. As per the first part of his book’s title (The Traditional View of Urban Society), Ziade adopts and does not challenge the concept ‘traditional’ to characterise pre-reform Tripoli society. Yet he explicitly rejects a deterministic reading of the eighteenth century that sees it merely as prelude to natural or normative ‘modern’ outcomes that were destined to follow.44 A recurring point in Ziade’s monograph is that Tripoli’s population was divided legally and socially into groups that had different rights, duties and responsibilities. People in the eighteenth century took these distinctions – between men and women, slaves and freemen/women, Muslims and non-Muslims – for granted. No one at the time raised an ideological or normative challenge to these types of legal and social differentiation and discrimination.45 Ziade notes a degree of local self-governance within the eighteenth-century legal and social framework, but mostly it was the authority of Ottoman officials that predominated. Tripoli’s two principal Ottoman appointees were deeply involved in society’s day-to-day affairs. The governor, or wali, was responsible mainly for taxation and military matters. The judge (hakim shar‘i, or kadi), was responsible for most other civic matters. In some spheres (e.g., urban provisioning, maintenance of order) the wali and kadi had overlapping or intersecting duties. In the city, the kadi’s authority restricted that of the wali to a significant degree.46 Local leaderships – of craft corporations, urban quarters and ulama – deferred to both of them. Local institutions often depended on the kadi (especially) to confirm local leaders in their posts. Disputes within a particular craft corporation or quarter might be resolved internally, but a great many issues within and between these corporate groups were subject to the purview of the kadi and/or the wali.47 Ziade says less about the rural hinterland, except to note that the wali’s authority is what really mattered there. The wali depended on tax farmers with access to their own military forces in order to enforce his writ. This relationship, Ziade observes, lay at the root of the modern phenomenon of rural-based za‘ims or strongmen.48



Ziade’s methodological point is that the eighteenth-century sources need to be read in the context of their times. Ideological projections onto this society of a nascent Arab or Lebanese national consciousness will not help modern scholarship to understand the period. He portrays the Ottoman political and administrative presence, in and of itself, as neither a boon nor a bane. Although Tripoli’s top officials were Turks, Ziade does not depict them as representing an ethnically Turkish (as distinct from imperial Ottoman) outlook or governing method. The dismissal of one governor and the installation of a successor was an opportunity for Tarabulsis to air grievances about the misconduct of outgoing officials and to seek redress within the existing imperial system.49 Therefore Ziade abstains from taking part in a quarrel over whether the Ottomans in a generic sense were ‘good’ or ‘bad’ for Tripoli (and/or the Arabs and/or Lebanon). As seen in earlier chapters, religious distinctions and identities are recurring issues in Lebanese historiography. But here Ziade stresses similarities between communities, not their differences. He argues that Muslim and Christian Tarabulsis operated on a similar footing. Christians made up one-quarter of Tripoli’s population so their presence was numerically significant. Some local Muslim elites (principally ulama) served the local Ottoman administration at relatively high ranks, but Christian elites also were tapped for administrative and fiscal roles. Neither Muslim nor Christian local leaders could openly challenge the authority of top Ottoman officials on whom they depended.50 Though Muslims might have got a certain psychological satisfaction from knowing that they shared the rulers’ faith, in fact Muslim and Christian Tarabulsis alike were excluded from the highest ranks of power.51 Differences arising from religious affiliation were built into eighteenth-century society, but these differences did not represent fundamental ruptures or divisions. Muslims and Christians had similar religious outlooks, what Ziade calls the ‘Sufi sensibility’, which placed great store in the supernatural and in personal experience of the divine. Moreover, Christians had not



yet developed relationships with European consulates that later would crystallise into worldviews and agendas at variance with those of their Muslim neighbours.52 The society that Ziade acknowledges as ‘traditional’ was also marked, in his view, by stagnation and intellectual backwardness. (These are characteristics that nationalists often attributed to Ottoman rule as a preamble to the Nahda of the nineteenth century.) With respect to stagnation, Ziade describes the urban fabric of eighteenth-century Tripoli as static (not growing) and as suffering from neglect and deterioration.53 However, he does not attribute this phenomenon to Ottoman rule per se as much as to the tumultuous events that had weakened Tripoli in the preceding period. During the seventeenth century Tripoli had suffered depredations at the hands of Mount Lebanon-based Ma‘ni rulers as they battled and defeated Tripoli’s locally based Sayfa family. As Tripoli’s Sayfa governors grew weaker, their rivals in other administrative centres (particularly Damascus and Acre) benefited.54 Symptomatic of Tripoli’s diminished regional position was the transfer of Homs and Hama from Tripoli’s jurisdiction to that of Damascus (1725). Henceforth Tripoli – still nominally a discrete province – would usually be politically dependent on Damascus or Acre. Although Ziade does not dwell on this point, his attribution of Tripoli’s political misfortunes to the depredations of the Ma‘ni dynasty amounts to a pushback against Lebanese national historiography that identifies the Ma‘nis in general and Emir Fakhr al-Din II in particular as early embodiments of the Lebanese political idea. On the second point – intellectual backwardness – Ziade shares a once-prevalent academic consensus that saw little of interest or originality in eighteenth-century thought. Similar to both Orientalists and Arab nationalists who advocated this viewpoint, Ziade does not ground his assessment in an empirical study of that era’s cultural production. (He does, however, anchor his comments with reference to titles of manuscripts recorded in the inheritance records of two deceased ulama.55) But Ziade



breaks with the nationalist consensus in his attribution of Tripoli ulama’s intellectual stagnation and backwardness ( jumud) to their lack of contact with Turkophone scholarship. Eighteenthcentury Tarabulsis’ increased emphasis on Arabic and their lack of interest in Ottoman Turkish writing, he says, cut off Arabophone ulama from the circulation of new ideas. Though Turkish was a language of necessity for specific and limited administrative functions, literate Arabs more generally had already abandoned Turkish. (This helps to explain, Ziade adds in an aside, Arabs’ subsequent alacrity in adopting European languages as conveyers of new ideas and concepts.)56 So in Ziade’s rendering, eighteenth-century Arabophones in Tripoli (and by implication elsewhere) were too exclusively Arab in a parochial way. The ulama’s voluntary withdrawal into cultural parochialism was a cause and an explanation for this stagnation. Only later via the Nahda did Arab intellectuals rediscover the primary sources and creative impulses of their heritage. Even so, in Ziade’s account Tripoli’s apparent immobility had an upside. It led to social stability, which in the eighteenth century allowed for the emergence of urban notables. A group whose status was marked by fixed family surnames, the a‘yan represented civic continuity and local leadership in the face of frequent changes of Ottoman personnel. Notables sought access to political power in order to reduce the risks associated with insecurity of private wealth and property. And by working in the interstices created by jurisdictional conflicts between walis and kadis, this local leadership defined and defended local interests to a degree.57 As the post-1975 crisis era’s first full-length Lebanese work on Ottoman Tripoli, Ziade’s monograph offered guideposts for further research. His text reflected not only his examination of new sources but also the questions and uncertainties of his time. On the one hand, working within earlier paradigms, Ziade’s account renders the pre-reform Ottoman era as one of ‘tradition’ with an uncreative intellectual life, save for some elements of Sufism that



might have functioned as a form of sublimated social protest.58 (Ziade asserts this point about Sufism, however, more than he argues or illustrates it.) He does not, though, portray Tripoli’s society as a fragment of a slumbering nation or nation state in waiting. Tarabulsis expressed themselves in Arabic, naturally, but with respect to political identity the author does not privilege either an Arab or proto-Lebanese dimension. So for example, the Tripoli Janissary strongman Barbar Agha, who emerged at the very end of the eighteenth century (in 1800) and who has been lionised (see below) as a patriotic and proto-national figure, is to Ziade nothing more than an ambitious za‘im, a product of the Ottoman system, whose reach exceeded his grasp in Tripoli’s diminished regional circumstances.59 For Ziade, eighteenth-century Tripoli needs to be understood in its own terms because features of that era have continued to influence social and political characteristics to the present day.60 The nineteenth-century Nahda and twentieth-century nationalisms did not, in fact, sweep away older Ottoman-era patterns and concerns into the dustbin of history. The existence of strong subor non-national loyalties, and Lebanon’s perplexing and perennial confessional and sectarian tensions, have deep historical roots that necessitate dispassionate study and understanding. A second book-length study of Ottoman Tripoli that appeared during the years of Lebanon’s civil war is Anis al-Abyad’s al-Hayat al-‘ilmiyya wa-marakiz al-‘ilm fi tarabulus khilal al-qarn al-tasi‘ ‘ashar [Intellectual Life and Centres of Knowledge in Tripoli during the Nineteenth Century].61 Its overall orientation is one of local pride in recounting the contributions that Tarabulsis made to knowledge and learning in the nineteenth century, within a late Ottoman context. Like most modern-day writers on Ottoman Tripoli, alAbyad emphasises the importance of Tripoli’s sharia court records as historical sources for this era. The earliest extant, he says, go back to the year 1666; and the series goes up to 1918 and is nearly complete. Like others who have used them, he sees the sharia court registers as an essential source for Tripoli’s Ottoman-era history.62



Indeed, in the course of his work, he employs numerous full and verbatim quotations from individual court documents. Regarding intellectual life and literary production in nineteenth-century Tripoli, al-Abyad does not pay heed to popular tropes of ‘tradition’ or ‘stagnation’. He argues that knowledgeproducing ‘sons of Tripoli’ (all men) were active in and contributed to all branches of knowledge in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Interestingly, many or even most of these areas of knowledge encompass areas of learning and genres of expression that were not self-consciously modernist, although al-Abyad avoids using the word ‘traditional’ to characterise them. Nor does he unfavourably contrast these inherited modes of knowing with explicitly new forms.63 In terms of the substance of literary production in nineteenth-century Tripoli, al-Abyad cites a plethora of published and unpublished books and collections authored by Tarabulsis of this era, encompassing various literary forms and the ‘Islamic sciences’.64 He does not have a judgemental or condescending attitude towards the old forms of knowledge that flourished in Ottoman Tripoli. For example, when writing of the ‘Arabic sciences’ practised in Tripoli (sarf ¼ grammatical inflection; ‘urud ¼ prosody; nahw ¼ grammar/syntax; and language [lugha ] more generally), he says: ‘Tripoli’s masters of these sciences shared to a large extent in enlivening the scholarly life of the city.’65 As with other forms of literary and cultural production (prose, poetry and their variants and sub-genres), al-Abyad extensively quotes and summarises various works. He reports in a neutral and non-judgemental way on the predominance of religious studies among ulama of the nineteenth-century Tripoli, whom he identifies as agents of knowledge production in their mosques.66 On the issue of schools and education, he denotes the various Christian and missionary schools, whilst observing that these were largely irrelevant to the city’s Muslim majority.67 Within the overall education system, he demarcates the older Islamic kuttabs and mosques (appointments to which were subject to Ottoman authorities’ approval), and the modern government schools and



private schools.68 Whereas Christians tended to go to private missionary-linked schools, Muslims went to state schools, after their establishment, where the medium of instruction was in Turkish.69 Al-Abyad emphasises Young Turk-era demands on behalf of Arabic education, and approvingly recounts a statement attributed to Tripoli’s native son, the well-known publisher and Islamic intellectual Rashid Rida, emphasising Syrians’ high levels of achievement, culture and education even when compared to Istanbul.70 In his brief closing chapter, al-Abyad states that he has tried to bring to light nearly forgotten dimensions of intellectual life in nineteenth-century Tripoli, the better to understand and appreciate the legacy of the past (turath), and to open the doors to additional serious and scholarly historical studies of the heritage of the past. What is remarkable in al-Abyad is that he does not project the condescension of modernity onto the Ottoman past and its intellectual pursuits, and accepts implicitly if not explicitly the idea that people of Tripoli continued thinking, reading and writing throughout the Ottoman era, although in the nineteenth century they started to do so in newer formats than had previously dominated. There is no special pleading here that the Ottomans forced this or imposed that or prevented something else, and he regards the heritage of that era as part of the inherited patrimony of Tripoli and of its Arabic thought more generally. Following the cessation of the Lebanese war in 1990, the country’s historians no less than its politicians confronted challenges of reconstruction. Interest in looking anew at the Ottoman period was part of the background to a conference on ‘History of the Province of Tripoli in the Ottoman Era 1516–1918’, convened in May 1995 by the Lebanese University in Tripoli. The organisers of the conference proceedings noted participants’ agreement on the point that ‘scientific historical research is useful for promoting national memory [ta‘mim al-dhakira al-wataniyya] and for strengthening national cohesion [taqwiyat al-indimaj al-watani]’.71 One year later (1996), the Lebanese University in Beirut hosted a



conference of the newly formed Lebanese Society for Ottoman Studies, first referenced in the Introduction. The Society’s SecretaryGeneral, Munir Isma‘il, expressed optimism that a renewed interest in Lebanon’s Ottoman past would be a first step towards rewriting Lebanon’s history on a sound and scientific basis.72 So the study of Ottoman-era history in Lebanon was now made to carry significant weight on its shoulders. Patrons of the 1995 conference declared that the study of Ottoman Tripoli should be a ‘national’ project. Then-Minister of Culture and Higher Education Michel Edde´ [Mishal Iddah] delivered remarks that placed Tripoli and its district firmly within a Lebanese political and cultural context, citing Tripoli’s contribution to Arab culture and civilisation alongside its Lebanese orientation. Edde´ particularly praised the conferees’ commitment to using archives and primary sources, and he described use of these sources as part of a struggle against sectarian, sectional, and partisan narratives that undermine ‘honourable history [al-tarikh al-jalil].73 The Dean of the University’s College of Arts and Social Sciences, Nasif Nassar, acknowledged that Lebanon’s historical identity was a problem that lacked a ‘comprehensive acceptable solution’ at this time. Universities, he added, have a special responsibility to develop true knowledge including ‘true historical knowledge of the country’. Use of new sources and methods would help in overcoming differences rooted in ignorance, or in erroneous interpretations of the history of ‘this vast region of our country’ (i.e., the Tripoli administrative district or Lebanon’s North).74 Nassar was specifically critical of sectional or sectarian ideologies, specifying Sunni, Shi‘i and Maronite narratives of Lebanon and its regions.75 The antithesis of ideologically based and politically partisan history is history written on a scientific and academic basis, as the 1995 conferees promised to do.76 One of those participants, Qasim al-Samad, emphasised the importance of primary sources, including local primary sources, describing them as ‘the most valid for writing national history’.77



Underscoring Ziade’s 1983 comment that serious study of Ottoman Tripoli had barely begun, two contributions to the 1995 conference dealt with basic description: lists of Tripoli’s urban quarters at different moments78 and summaries of demographic trends.79 The former query yielded some useful reference lists, whilst the latter acknowledged that the accounts and explanations of demographic change are at a very early and tentative stage. Some of the 1995 papers worked within existing hegemonic paradigms. Their authors treated the pre-reform, pre-1830s period as an era of tradition and stagnation, whose deleterious lagging effects were still felt. (Read: one explanation for Lebanon’s problems was that the society was not yet sufficiently ‘modern’, and that this backwardness was a legacy of the Ottoman era.) Hasan Mubayyad made the most emphatic presentation of this viewpoint. He painted a descriptive picture of Ottoman Tripoli as a static and traditional society, lacking any history to speak of in the sense of meaningful change.80 Mubayyad argued that deference to social hierarchy and to patriarchal authority within the family were Ottoman legacies. These legacies contributed to a prevailing sense of stagnation ( jumud) that led to the crystallisation of social backwardness and internal divisions. Such symptoms of backwardness and division had become deeply rooted values or dogmas (i‘tiqadat rasikha). So powerful was the ‘stagnation’ paradigm in Mubayyad’s thinking that he included coffee-houses as an example of a ‘traditional’ venue.81 (Not to belabour a well-known point, but coffee was a new product in Ottoman times, the coffee-house was a new institution and Ottoman historians have argued that the spread of coffee and coffee-houses opened up new modern avenues of recreation and consumption patterns.)82 Other contributors offered more varied (if not always counterhegemonic) narratives. Qasim al-Samad wrote against an anachronistic reading of Tripoli’s Ottoman history. Thus the system of lifetime tax farms and the quasi-feudal arrangements to which they gave rise often were linked to tropes of Ottoman oppression and backwardness. Yet, he argued, in that time and



place (eighteenth-century Syria) the Ottoman Empire (like many states in Europe) did not have the administrative capacity to organise tax collection differently. Moreover, the local notable families (many of whom, he notes, endured through the twentieth century) also could not have been expected to act in ways other than they did. Their behaviour and attitudes were true to their time and place.83 Khaled Ziade, author of the 1983 monograph discussed earlier, also participated in the 1995 conference. Widening his sights from the eighteenth century to encompass the Ottoman era as a whole, Ziade now revised his 1983 assessment. In 1995 he characterised the Ottoman period as one of growth, not stagnation. In Tripoli new quarters developed, people flowed in from the countryside, new mosques and churches were established and (in the nineteenth-century reform era) new types of public and commercial architecture appeared. While not especially radical,84 Ziade’s 1995 representation was at variance with inherited nationalist discourse. He painted a picture of secular Ottoman-era growth, albeit with the post-1840 reform years characterised as an especially remarkable period of renewal, renovation and ‘opening’ (infitah).85 Sounding a similar theme, two other 1995 scholars’ accounts (written mainly on the basis of French records) speak of periods of prosperity alternating with times of hardship during the first three Ottoman centuries.86 Impediments to Tripoli’s prosperity included piracy, natural disasters, insecurity, maladministration, and foreign wars. But with the Sayfa-Ma‘n battles behind them, and helped by centrally appointed walis’ encouragement of foreign merchants from the 1680s onward, Tarabulsis during this later period were generally prosperous.87 It is, of course, difficult to square these authors’ characterisation of post-1680s prosperity with Ziade’s 1983 assessment of the stagnant eighteenth century. At the same 1995 gathering, historian Mas‘ud Dahir (already introduced in Chapter 2 as a champion of Jurayj’s study of the



province of Beirut) was another who took up the question of Tripoli’s overall fortunes in the Ottoman period. He asks why Tripoli, the Syrian coast’s major port and a centre of Ottoman provincial administration from an early date, lost ground to commercial and political rivals based in Damascus, Beirut and Acre. Dahir locates the explanatory key in French commercial policy. As France identified and cultivated allies and clients in the Lebanon mountains, Tripoli lost importance due to its residents’ pro-Ottoman proclivities. Dahir cites anti-French demonstrations in eighteenth-century Tripoli to illustrate the antagonism between French interests and those of Tarabulsis.88 Dahir’s analysis is prefaced with an excursus into the historical approach of Fernand Braudel and the Annales school,89 but his article does not develop the supposed connection between the Annales approach and Dahir’s explanation of Ottoman Tripoli’s fortunes. Dahir asks a good question (why Tripoli lost its regional standing), but his monocausal answer (French interests and priorities) seems more driven by his sources (French commercial and consular reports) than by an Annales-style consideration of the comprehensive regional environment. On the matter of Ottoman legacies, though, Dahir recounts what he considers to be Tarabulsis’ proOttoman orientation in a matter-of-fact way, without making tendentious value judgements. Tarabulsis’ collective outlook was a matter of their interests and political outlooks, not their adherence to an abstract sense of ‘tradition’ or a rejection of ‘modernity’. (Both concepts would have been meaningless in the world of the eighteenth century anyway.) Interestingly, like Khaled Ziade’s 1983 work, Dahir implies that Tripoli and Tarabulsis had collective interests that clashed with those of the putative founders of the Lebanese state, namely the mountain emirs. The emirs’ association with France – eventually Lebanon’s colonial ruler – potentially creates space for Tarabulsis’ pro-Ottoman position to be interpreted as proto-nationalist in an anti-colonial way. None of these implications are made explicit, however. The point to bear in mind, for purposes of considering modern



treatments of Ottoman legacies, is that Dahir’s account here eschews a polemical reading (whether ‘pro-’ or ‘anti-’) of the Ottoman period. At this point, it is worth a parenthetical aside to ask what Dahir’s interventions tell the reader about Marxist or marxisant contributions to the construction of Lebanon’s Ottoman-era history. In his 1995 Tripoli comments, Dahir identifies the principal social contradiction at work as being that between the patriotic masses on the one hand and local and international forces of French imperialism on the other. In other words, class analysis is displaced by a supportive depiction of instinctive popular anti-imperialism. Likewise, Dahir’s comments in Jurayj’s 2004 book (Chapter 2) de-emphasise Jurayj’s portrayal of conservative landed elites’ power, and emphasise instead Dahir’s attachment to the national-bourgeois nostrums of the Nahda. A nationalist mode of discourse is so powerful, it seems, that would-be Marxist historiography (which presumably situates itself outside of nationalist presumptions and mythologies) ends up being subsumed in it.90 Two other contributors offer relatively positive readings of Tripoli’s Ottoman experience. Hasan Yahya attributes rationality to Ottoman priorities, emphasising the annual pilgrimage caravan and the taxation revenues that were needed to support it. In Tripoli, this meant collection of the jarda tax for supporting returning pilgrims’ trek through Syria. He explains the Ottomans’ general preference for imperial appointees by arguing that locallyrooted appointees (e.g., the al-‘Azm governors of Damascus) were self-aggrandising and disorderly. Like Ziade in 1983, Yahya emphasises the importance of the centrally appointed kadi. Nevertheless, local people were important and prominent in many of Tripoli’s secondary administrative positions.91 ‘Abdallah Ibrahim Sa‘id characterises security of property as one of the distinguishing features of administration in Ottoman Tripoli, a conclusion that is based on his reading of the sharia court registers.92 The privatisation of waqf properties had a lamentable effect in terms of weakening public services that relied on their



revenues,93 but a positive aspect of this development was that privatisation and security of private property contributed mightily to Tripoli’s astonishing growth in the second half of the nineteenth century. Security of property in the city contrasted with insecurity in the countryside, a dynamic that boosted the inflow of people from country to city.94 Both Yahya and Sa‘id therefore present Ottoman rule as having a positive impact in Tripoli. But perhaps Sa‘id takes the sharia court registers too much at face value as representations of a reality. After all, chroniclers’ accounts of eighteenth-century Tripoli were replete with examples of administrative arbitrariness. It is interesting though that both Yahya and Sa‘id are prepared to award a ‘good government’ citation to the Ottoman Empire as it pertains to Tripoli’s built-up urban area, and with respect to an overall Ottoman rationality or vision. Intellectual history is a particular lens through which authors view the Ottoman period. Ziade in 1983 had staked out a conventional position (common to Orientalist and modernist thought alike) that saw nothing original in eighteenth-century intellectual life. Tarabulsis, he said, wrote in an imitative and unoriginal framework, a condition that would endure until the Nahda of the subsequent century. Picking up Ziade’s theme, two of the 1995 authors follow this line of thinking either explicitly or implicitly. Hala Sulayman gives a mostly descriptive account of the activities of missionary schools in late Ottoman Tripoli, highlighting the cultural and intellectual impact of Protestant and Orthodox institutions founded and supported by AngloAmericans and Russians, respectively. The Protestant schools were more prestigious, she writes, and they attracted pupils from the bourgeoisie and upper classes. The Orthodox schools, on the other hand, were more ‘national’ (watani) because they built on an existing Ottoman community or ta’ifa, and these schools mostly employed nationals as teachers. Moreover, basic education in the Orthodox schools was free, in contrast to the Protestant schools, which charged tuition.95 Sulayman assesses the missionary schools



from a modern national (or nationalist) framework. Both the Protestant and Orthodox schools were part of a larger colonisation project that aimed to mould people’s minds and to create clients or allies for their sponsoring states’ or organisations’ viewpoints. This colonising project divided or fragmented liberal and progressive thought, and so too did the project of cultural renewal.96 Whilst the missionary schools brought new and welcome knowledge and educational curricula, Sulayman maintains that they also left a legacy of divisiveness that continues to affect Lebanon today. This is reflected in the present-day weakness of national educational institutions compared to their private counterparts, an obstacle to the development of modern national education and consciousness.97 Among the interesting points to note in Sulayman’s narrative are: 1) she sees Tarabulsis mainly as people responding to a new environment, rather than as actors affecting the manner in which the missionary institutions took root; and 2) the Ottomans as such are almost bystanders in this account. Ottoman officialdom is said to have facilitated the missionaries’ work, and to have identified implicitly with the cultural and educational modernisation that these schools represented (though not with their sponsors’ political projects). The actors in this narrative – those whose actions brought about change and made a difference – were the missionaries. Sulayman’s fealty to older frameworks is revealed in her comment that the missionary schools lifted the cultural and intellectual gloom (dayjur) that covered Tripoli. Clearly she is neither nostalgic for nor wistful about ‘traditional’ education and learning in Ottoman Tripoli. In a wide-ranging and unfocused overview of intellectual life, Anis al-Abyad seems mainly intent on asserting that Ottoman Tripoli had an intellectual life (a point of civic pride?), and that its citizens were participants in the production and transmission of various types of knowledge whether old or new. Both the older knowledge represented by various legal documents (hujaj and sukuk) from the court records, and the newer knowledge



represented in late nineteenth-century newspapers, linked Tripoli to wellsprings and expressions of Arab-Islamic culture.98 The Ottomans, as such, are incidental bystanders who hardly figure in any of this, except when al-Abyad observes that the Ottoman authorities discouraged the development of the press, fearing infiltration of Nahda-type thought from Egypt.99 (He is not specific, but this seems to be a reference to censorship in the Abdu¨lhamid period.) The author’s moral point is to place Tripoli squarely in traditions of Arab-Islamic scholarship, old and new, without assessing the significance or meaning of either. ‘Abd al-Majid Na‘na‘i offers a critical account of ulama output in the Ottoman period, deploying neither tropes of tradition and stagnation, nor of revival and modernisation. Because Tarabulsis’ literary output in this period was meagre, Na‘na‘i focuses on Damascene writers who travelled to Tripoli in the seventeenth century and wrote accounts of their journeys. Based on these accounts, he argues that seventeenth-century Tripoli was a scene of decline and retrogression caused by years of regional political instability attendant on conflict between the Ma‘ns and Sayfas, ending with the latter’s defeat.100 Symptoms of decline included, most strikingly, a fall in the number of madrasas compared to the Mamluk and early Ottoman periods.101 Na‘na‘i oddly suggests that continuity (not expansion) of recreation areas between the seventeenth and twentieth centuries is also a symptom of the negative effect of this period of rule in Tripoli.102 His main point is that the travellers were part of a pro-Ottoman elite, found in Tripoli as well, who were close to Ottoman Turkish rulers and who paid little heed to the people’s problems or conditions. Tripoli’s intellectual life focused on sterile debates and recondite subjects that had little resonance among, or meaning for, the population at large.103 It seems that Na‘na‘i assesses these writers, and in effect condemns them, according to criteria that would have had little or no meaning in their time. They were travellers, not chroniclers; and theirs were spiritual journeys undertaken in the venerable framework of seeking knowledge (talab al-‘ilm).



Maha Kayyal discusses a different type of pro-Ottoman orientation in her 1995 conference contribution. She posits clothing as a sign of Ottoman cultural hegemony in Tripoli. Kayyal’s article (extracted from her dissertation) is written within a framework of clothing and fashion studies as a genre of social history.104 Kayyal characterises Tripoli throughout most of the period of Ottoman rule as ‘traditional’ with respect to society, culture and economy. One principal social division was confessional: Sunni Muslims were linked to governing authority whilst the Orthodox Christians were politically marginal. Economically the population was divided into wealthy, middle and working classes. In terms of gender a clear separation existed between the world of men and the world of women, corresponding to the domains of the external and internal respectively.105 Clothing reflected this gender dichotomy.106 The Ottoman sultanate’s prestige explains the popularity of clothing styles associated with Turkish (or TurkoPersian) names and origins. Even Western-style clothing in Tripoli was mediated by Ottoman adaptations.107 This is not to say that there were not other – Arab – influences, but the prestige of the Ottoman sultanate/caliphate created a model for emulation.108 There is some tension between Kayyal’s characterisation of Ottoman Tripoli as ‘traditional’ and her remarks about the introduction of new clothing styles (albeit under ruling-class auspices) in the nineteenth century.109 She closes by appealing to the importance of material culture (‘not just stones’) for writing and understanding history.110 In the scholarly material considered so far, Tripoli has typically been presented as culturally Arab with an Ottoman overlay at the elite levels. These accounts do not present Tripoli as Lebanese in a historical sense. In the aggregate, authors discussed so far do not depict Tarabulsis as makers of history; rather, Tarabulsis are usually depicted as responding to outside forces (imperial Ottoman and French, most often). The ‘state’ appears less as a bureaucratic authority than as an interaction of imperial appointees and local forces in networks of patron – client



relationships (and their attendant conflicts). As for confessional affiliations, authors cite these as fundamental features of society representing one of its principal characteristics and fault-lines. The various accounts differ, however, in their assessments of how confessional affiliation and identification related to political power. Some accounts assumed that Muslims, through their roles in local religious offices linked to Istanbul, enjoyed a favourable position. Others argue that Tripoli’s Christians and Muslims had comparable degrees of influence with (or vulnerability to) the imperial Ottoman outsiders. Images of the Ottoman Empire as an entity vary considerably. Authors depict it either as a distant authority of little immediate relevance to Tarabulsis’ lives, as a cultural and political reference point for Tarabulsis or as a reference point for nearly all dimensions of public life through local institutions’ and networks’ dependence on Ottoman-appointed officials. Interestingly, however, the Empire is rarely presented as negative. (For instance, one finds no polemical representations such as ‘yoke’ and ‘colonialism’ to describe Ottoman suzerainty.) Indeed, sometimes the Empire is even presented in a positive light (e.g., as pursuing rational policies, or as supporting institutions that enabled urban life to develop and flourish). Regarding issues of identity and heritage in Lebanon, little in the literature from the 1980s and 1990s suggests any kind of historical integration or common thread between Tripoli and the later entity of Lebanon, beyond Tripoli’s forcible incorporation into Lebanon by French fiat in 1920. This lacuna underscores a challenge facing those who try to construct a comprehensive national history for Lebanon. The scholarship under discussion implies that the country’s pre-1920 history is marked by two distinct political and social trajectories: one characterised by Ottoman provincial rule and the other by Mount Lebanon’s autonomy. The Ziade book and the papers that came out of the 1995 Tripoli conference highlight or underscore this dilemma without directly addressing it.



The issue of direct links between Ottoman Tripoli and modern Lebanon is, however, a major strand in works published in the 2000s. First is a 2002 scholarly treatment that (like Ziade’s work) also relies heavily on Tripoli’s sharia court registers written by Lebanese University professor ‘Abd al-Ghani ‘Imad.111 In it he identifies and analyses Tripoli’s main social characteristics in the later Ottoman period from the eighteenth century onward. ‘Imad’s basic hypothesis is that the family (‘a’ila) and kinship relations were the basic sources of social belonging, along with other types of solidarities (Sufi orders, craft guilds) that overlapped with kinship.112 He cites what he calls the Khaldunian concepts of family/clan solidarity and honour as the major organising principles of Tripoli’s notable families.113 The ulama religious families in particular showed a remarkable degree of continuity between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries, placing them at the heart of Tripoli’s social structure114 (cf. Ziade’s point about the emergence and stabilisation of a local elite in the eighteenth century). Descendants of two of these families (Karami and Jisr) continued to play leading roles in the society and politics of Tripoli during the late Ottoman and French Mandate periods,115 one of them (Karami) up to the author’s own day.116 A recurring theme in ‘Imad’s work is that of elite mobilisation to pressure or make demands of Ottoman rulers. The religious and military (originally local Janissary, later militarised za‘im) elites were at one and the same time part of the Ottoman system and at odds with it.117 These elites’ influence and membership extended into merchant and craft worker circles, and members of Tripoli’s elite jockeyed against each other and against official ‘outsiders’ sent from Damascus or Istanbul to advance their factional interests. This was the environment within which Barbar Agha, a Janissary adventurer of plebeian origins, emerged as the city’s principal power broker at the turn of the nineteenth century.118 ‘Imad outlines significant social and political continuities between Ottoman and Lebanese Tripoli, continuities that determined Tripoli’s twentieth-century political and social character.119 His emphasis thus appears to differ



from that of Ziade, who insisted on comprehending Ottoman-era Tripoli on its own terms rather than as an embryonic representation of twentieth-century developments. ‘Imad not only uses Ottoman history as a way to explain Tripoli’s modern political and social characteristics. He also cites Tripoli’s Ottoman experience to critique and to challenge confessional readings of modern Lebanese history. ‘Imad asserts that his study differs fundamentally from those written by historians who emphasise the presence of sectarian discord in Lebanon and the political and administrative arrangements that flowed from it.120 (The arrangements that ‘Imad appears to mean would be the Maronite– Druze Dual Qa’imaqamate of the 1840s and the post-1861 Mutasarrifiyya.) Such historiography, he avers, presents the history of modern Lebanon as if its society were merely a collection of discrete, hostile groups working to subdue or eliminate one another. ‘But it is not practically or theoretically sound to focus on only certain periods and certain regions [of Lebanon], ignoring others’, and to assume that the former are the template for or the core story of Lebanon’s history.121 ‘Imad goes on to assert that his account of Tripoli points to pluralism, openness and tolerance as characteristics of Lebanese society writ large, ‘a distinctive example of diversity and richness with wider implications for pluralistic societies’.122 Such societies are not condemned to hostility and strife, contrary to accounts of Lebanon’s origins that focus on confessional conflicts. Instead, Ottoman Tripoli demonstrates qualities of cooperation, tolerance and shared living. The evidence for this is found in residential and property ownership patterns, as well as in relationships between Muslims and Christians as reported in the sharia court records.123 Political relationships between Muslims and Christians in Tripoli and its surrounding regions were characterised by ‘national and patriotic fusion’, ‘relationships founded on principles of good-neighbourliness, cooperation, sharing and religious tolerance that formed the foundation for a shared life’.124 Taken all together, ‘Imad argues, these factors explain why the confessional violence that rocked the



mountain and Damascus in 1860 did not extend into northern regions around Tripoli.125 ‘Imad for Tripoli, like al-Majdhub for Saida, cites confession or sect to demonstrate a type of national or social fusion. Both writers emphasise practices and traditions of shared life experiences and relationships to local and imperial authority, whether cast in terms of patriotism (al-Majdhub) or integration into shared networks and institutions (al-Majdhub and ‘Imad). This approach contrasts with writers who interpret Lebanon’s Ottoman-era coastal cities as embodying the idea or ideals of an Islamic society (Sinnu, Rawwas, Hallak) in which the primary actors are Muslims, whilst Christians are tolerated but subservient dependents or clients whose main role in the narrative is to demonstrate the benevolence of Islamic rule. Ziade fits neither of these typologies exactly, inasmuch as his treatment acknowledged different communities’ status distinctions within a hierarchical system of imperial Ottoman rule. Unlike Ziade, and unlike contributors to the 1995 conference on Ottoman Tripoli, ‘Imad enlists Tripoli’s Ottoman history to express or highlight regional grievances against the modern Lebanese state. Formerly a first-rank port and administrative centre, Tripoli suffered a relative decline in the nineteenth century as Beirut aggrandised economic, political and cultural power (Rawwas [Chapter 2] noted this phenomenon’s cost for Saida as well, which he interpreted as part of the decline of the Islamic city in favour of a newer, Western model represented by Beirut.) In ‘Imad’s account, the advent of the Lebanese Republic further consecrated Tripoli’s marginalisation by annexing the city to a mountain that historically had been backward and parochial, compared to Tripoli with its historical Ottoman–Mediterranean imperial and commercial horizons. (Note here the complete reversal of Nicola Ziadeh’s understanding of the coast –mountain relationship [Chapter 2].) As a consequence of this historical injustice, Tripoli’s population and its political leadership found themselves at odds with the authorities in Beirut, whether during



the French Mandate or in post-independence years. Tarabulsis expressed their alienation through their adherence to Arabism and to Islam, loyalties for which (‘Imad says) the modern Lebanese state punished them.126 So while in Khaled Ziade’s work there was little to suggest any kind of historical integration or common thread between Ottoman Tripoli and post-Ottoman Lebanon, ‘Imad argues that Tripoli’s Ottoman era was decisive in forming the city’s social institutions and elites on the eve of its (apparently unjust and prejudicial) incorporation into the Lebanese Republic. He presents Tripoli as something of an outlier that fitted awkwardly if at all into a putative Lebanese national narrative. Not long after ‘Imad’s book appeared, journalist ‘Abd al-Latif Kurayyim directly addressed the problem of incorporating Tripoli into a Lebanese national narrative. In 2005 Kurayyim published a polemical political biography of Barbar Agha, the local Janissary and Tripoli strongman of the early nineteenth century. It is worth dwelling on Kurayyim’s work as an exemplar of nationalist and ideologically driven historical storytelling. His account was first serialised in a newspaper and then published between two covers. Though written for a popular audience, it uses primary source material and often puts this material front and centre via extended quotations from contemporary documents. Notably, venerable historian and retired professor Munir Isma‘il wrote an introduction to the book; as mentioned previously, in the mid-1990s Isma‘il (1921–2008) was the Secretary-General of the Lebanese Society for Ottoman Studies.127 He begins his introduction to Kurayyim by disparaging the major part of Lebanese history writing. He characterises its products as being partial and selective in ways that do not allow for discussion of all relevant data and the discovery of historical truth.128 Isma‘il is particularly critical of the dominance of what he calls the ‘Maronite school’ in setting the parameters of the Lebanese historical narrative. Kurayyim’s book is significant, Isma‘il says, because it uses a reliable eyewitness source (viz. the French consular archives)



to arrive at historical truth. Thus, he concludes, Kurayyim has discovered some indisputable truths about Barbar Agha, a historical personality who is otherwise known mainly through folk tales and a sensationalist television serial.129 In his capacity as a scholar, Isma‘il assures readers that Kurayyim has applied academic standards to the task.130 Like the Tripoli-based author ‘Imad, Kurayyim too writes from a position of grievance. He portrays himself as a champion of Tripoli within a Lebanon that has marginalised his hometown. In Kurayyim’s opening remarks he decries the neglect and oppression suffered by Tripoli in the twentieth century, as the city faced a hostile troika of colonial oppressors, Maronite political oppression and careerist opportunism of its traditional leaders. Thus in modern Lebanon the mountain and Beirut prospered whilst Tripoli was kept backward. The transition from the French Mandate to independent Lebanon did not end Tripoli’s continued marginalisation. This marginalisation was unjust, inasmuch as Tripoli was in the forefront of the Arab struggle against Zionism as evidenced by the career of its native son, the peripatetic nationalist military officer Fawzi al-Qawuqji. (Here Kurayyim invokes anti-Zionism as a credential to certify authentic membership in an Arab national community.) Now, as a son of the city, Kurayyim declares that he will recall a glorious chapter in its history to restore a sense of self-confidence to Tripoli, to evoke a time when Tripoli carried the banner of the Nahda, a time when Tripoli rebelled against the Turanism (sic) of the Ottomans and when Tripoli rejected the spurious Arabism of Ibrahim Pasha ‘the Albanian’ (i.e., the Egypt-based military leader of the 1830s) and stood up to the French Mandate.131 There is much to unpack here, and Kurayyim’s rhetorical flourishes offer concrete indications of his assumptions, biases and worldview. One sees in Kurayyim’s bitter words his wish for Tripoli to belong fully to the Lebanese entity, and through such membership to reframe the Lebanese idea. It would be charitable to portray Kurayyim’s text as a popular history that conforms to



scholarly standards ( pace Munir Isma‘il). In some respects it is a didactic semi-fictional work that is set in the Ottoman past. However, unlike authors of historical novels, Kurayyim uses verbatim translations of extended passages from French consular reports, as well as verbatim textual extracts of Tripoli’s sharia court records, to illustrate his narrative and (sometimes) even as substitutes for narrative. Similarly he uses extended quotes from contemporary chroniclers and from an earlier Barbar political biography written by Father Ignatius Tannus al-Khuri (1957). Most originally, he also quotes extracts from private papers held by families in Barbar’s native I‘yal village, where the strongman built a fortified residence. Kurayyim complains that earlier historians have not written the truth about Barbar Agha: The great majority of them [whom Kurayyim does not name] see [Barbar] merely as a typical feudalist [iqta‘i] of that era, or as an ordinary ruler of that period. However, the consuls of the Great Powers – especially France – recognised something special in him even if they did not fully like him.132 Barbar Agha is Kurayyim’s protagonist, and throughout he presents Barbar in terms that are heroic and apologetic. Readers are made privy to Barbar’s thoughts via Kurayyim’s reconstruction of internal monologues (even though his protagonist was illiterate and left no writings). Kurayyim characterises Barbar’s adversaries in the most pejorative terms. Yet Barbar’s patrons and allies – most notably Jazzar Pasha of Acre – escape Kurayyim’s blanket condemnation.133 When Barbar, in his capacity as an Ottoman-appointed tax collector and enforcer, robs and pillages recalcitrant villages and massacres their leaders, Kurayyim presents these actions as demonstrations of his hero’s martial prowess. (Typically the victims were Nusayris – today’s ‘Alawis – which may have been a mitigating circumstance in Kurayyim’s mind.)134 Without offering a moral judgement, he reports Barbar’s imposition of severe corporal punishment on



his enemies.135 Yet Kurayyim cites behaviour of this type, when done by others, as evidence of the injustice, cruelty and iniquity of the Ottoman era: viz., ‘the most arrogant tyranny of its era, representing injustice, subjugation, and backwardness’.136 The Ottoman state in geographic Syria was akin to ‘a society of ferocious wolves tearing into one another without mercy, where individual and tribal interests dominated all relationships’.137 Yet Kurayyim’s florid characterisation of Tripoli’s Ottoman period is inconsistent. Ahmad al-Jazzar’s cruelties and excesses are made to stand in for the entirety of Ottoman rule.138 But the author defends and justifies on grounds of realpolitik his virtuous hero Barbar’s long client relationship with al-Jazzar.139 At other times Kurayyim compares Ottoman Tripoli favourably to the city’s present-day status. Unlike governments of the Lebanese Republic, he says, the Ottomans cultivated Tripoli’s commercial interests and its maritime ties to Ottoman and non-Ottoman Mediterranean ports.140 The grim picture of a fearful city weighed under by Ottoman maladministration, greed and oppression141 is miraculously transformed when al-Jazzar makes Barbar his local deputy: As if by magic the city was transformed into a beehive of activity, a society of free citizens in a happy and free homeland. All worked hard but no one minded or objected. Every forehead glistened with sweat – the sweat of freedom, honour, dignity and contentment.142 At times Kurayyim waxes nostalgic about Tripoli in the Ottoman era, hailing the warm (male) sociability of the coffee-house and the public bath; the evenings spent listening to professional storytellers; the annual observances of the hajj and the ceremonies marking pilgrims’ departure and return; the communal rhythms associated with the silk harvest and with agriculture; and the celebrations of Ramadan.143 In his quixotic attempt to condemn the Ottoman system in general whilst lionising one of its pillars and products, the author bestows a favourable assessment on Tripoli’s local Janissaries.



His hero rose to power through their ranks, so Kurayyim identifies local Janissaries as popular tribunes. Moreover, he asserts, ‘half the population of Tripoli’ (half of the male, adult, population?) was enlisted in the local Janissary corps.144 Kurayyim summarises Barbar’s heroic qualities in the following terms. He governed Tripoli for various intervals between 1799 and 1835. He was the first native Tarabulsi to rule the city since the Crusades. His early periods of power in Tripoli were imposed on the reluctant Ottoman sultan by popular revolts. Though by origin an illiterate villager, Barbar knew the spirit of the times and perhaps even the principles of the French Revolution (liberty, equality, fraternity) through his friendships at the French consulate.145 From this highly speculative starting point, Kurayyim goes on to assert that Lebanon was ripe for these revolutionary principles, as demonstrated by later peasant uprisings in the mountains (i.e., the harakat discussed in Beydoun). Barbar (Kurayyim continues) was in the vanguard of those who understand the national-ethnic (qawmi) factor in the lives of peoples. His later alliance with Ibrahim Pasha’s Egyptian invasion of Syria grew out of this understanding, since Barbar saw Ibrahim’s arrival as heralding a new era of Arab government. Barbar was an economic visionary, an advocate of ‘what we today call national unity’ binding together Christians and Muslims in decision making and in war. He was a Muslim of strong faith and outstanding morals, with no tolerance for religious charlatans. (Indeed, Kurayyim credits Barbar with personally executing at least one such poseur.) Barbar firmly believed in order, and is depicted as a plebeian champion who was not afraid to take on the established powers – the kadi, the mufti, and the naqib al-ashraf (local head of the recognised descendants of the Prophet). Last but not least, he was a military genius who never lost a battle.146 Kurayyim repeatedly returns to the theme of Barbar as a man of the people, loved by the people, whose power was rooted in his native preternatural intelligence, his faith in God and Islam and his zeal for justice.147 A recurrent trope presents Barbar as a ‘man of destiny’, who alone could rescue Tripoli from its travails.148



Along with Barbar, Tripoli itself becomes Kurayyim’s protagonist through narrative sleight of hand and anthropomorphising. After a forced exile of five years, Barbar reached the city’s outskirts in 1831 at the head of a column of the invading Egyptian army: Barbar knew the degree of Tripoli’s affection for him, but he knew at the same time the extent of its attachment to the legitimacy of Istanbul. It is a city that scorns injustice and that revolts on behalf of what is right. Yet to an equal degree it is a city of devotion and piety.149 Barbar entered Tripoli but soon found himself spurned as Tripoli stayed loyal to his enemies, rival local warlords who by then were acting in the name of the sultan/caliph in Istanbul.150 However, the author assures us that Tripoli had been seduced and misled by hypocrites and evildoers who manipulated the symbol of the caliphate against the true values of Islam:151 Tripoli was the citadel of liberation and freedom in all of geographic Syria [Bilad al-Sham]. For over a century Tripoli had struggled against the Ottomans and tried to preserve its independence and dignity . . . If it welcomed Egyptian rule, it was in the hope of a new era that would uphold rights and dignity, and replace the Turanist era with an Arab one in terms of identity and language.152 Kurayyim’s work does not meet any serious scholarly standard. But to see it only in this light – to criticise its author’s fixation on great men, anthropomorphism, caricatures, inconsistencies and essentialist biases – is to miss the point. His fixations represent tools the author uses in an effort to inscribe Tripoli into a Lebanese national narrative that is, itself, equally fixated on great men, essentialist biases and patriarchal-political narratives. Kurayyim links his hero Barbar to Emir Bashir II of Mount Lebanon (another client of Acre,



al-Jazzar and al-Jazzar’s successors). In nationalist historiography Bashir is considered to be one of the historical founders and representatives of the Lebanese political idea. Therefore, by inscribing Barbar into the narrative of Emir Bashir, Barbar (and Tripoli) stake a claim to being part of the historical foundations of the modern Lebanese state. Through most of his career Barbar was an ally of Bashir; both men are said to have chafed under the Ottoman yoke and yearned to free themselves of it; and in the 1820s both cultivated their ties with Muhammad ‘Ali Pasha of Egypt in order to bring about this liberation.153 Their shared agenda, and their shared consciousness of Ottoman oppression, made Barbar and Bashir co-founders of modern Lebanon. Add to this Barbar’s alleged adhesion to the Arab ethnic principle and his purported interest in the ideas of the French Revolution, and we have an unlikely (not to say implausible) hero who symbolically brings Tripoli into a Lebanese Arab national narrative. Kurayyim makes a number of narrative choices: 1) Tripoli is not at all Ottoman, instead it is essentially Arab and politically Lebanese; 2) Tarabulsis do not make history; rather, they need leaders (‘great men’) to bring them into history’s narrative; 3) a state that represents a collective ethnic will and consciousness is legitimate and modern, whilst the arbitrary and personalised Ottoman state was not; 4) adherence to religious values is among the characteristics of a good or legitimate leader, and in the Lebanese case, a leader who works across confessional lines makes for a ‘national’ figure; and 5) the Ottoman Empire is viewed as a terrible government in a terrible time, yet paradoxically under Ottoman auspices Tripoli had integrity, honour and a cyclically flourishing economic life. This chapter so far has considered selected Lebanon-published iterations of Tripoli’s Ottoman-era history that were crafted during post-1975 periods of national crisis and reconstruction efforts. Historians and popularisers alike look to the past to give meaning to the present. In Lebanon’s sharply divided society, historical interpretations provide both clues to ongoing debates as



well as models for efforts at national-historical rebuilding. As a long-time Ottoman administrative and political centre on the Syrian coast, Tripoli exemplifies possibilities and problems inherent in crafting a coherent and convincing Lebanese national narrative out of Ottoman-era materials. Whether historical Tripoli can be incorporated into a national Lebanese story heretofore centred on the mountain emirate(s) is a test of the 1989 Ta’if Agreement’s call for a history that promotes national belonging. The various authors discussed so far offer little solace to those seeking to ‘Lebanise’ the pre-1920 history of Tripoli. Contrary to the hopes and expectations of both political and academic figures, dispassionate studies that: 1) are based on primary sources; and 2) avoid sectarian partisanship may not, in fact, produce a ‘true history’ that complements the needs of the modern Lebanese state. The one effort to inscribe Ottoman Tripoli into a Lebanese political framework – Kurayyim’s biography of Barbar Agha – relies so much on flights of fancy, hyperbole, special pleading and egregious inconsistencies that it proves the opposite point to that which the author wished to make. An author whose monograph appeared later in the 2000s attempts to bridge the gap between Ottoman past and Lebanese present in an explicitly non-nationalist framework. He is Faruq Hablas, Professor of Islamic History at the Lebanese University in Tripoli. Published under the auspices of the German Oriental Institute in Beirut, Hablas’s book is interested in the development of local leaderships in the Tripoli region in the later Ottoman period.154 He seeks to explain the rise of local leaderships within a framework dictated by the logic and the consequences of Ottoman policies. Hablas does not identify pre-existing ethnic, religious or regional communities as embryonic or slumbering nations on the road to an ‘awakening’. Rather, he says, these groups acquired their political character in the fulcrum of Ottoman developments, and only retrospectively did their ideologues lay claim to national, ethnic or confessional legitimacy. Towards the end of his book Hablas challenges dominant Lebanese narratives about official



Ottoman responsibility for the famine of World War I, including the acute starvation that the predominantly Christian mountain experienced particularly. One might therefore characterise Hablas’s stance as ‘Ottomanist’, inasmuch as he writes explicitly against the received wisdom of Lebanese and Arab nationalists alike. Like most others who in recent decades have written about Lebanon’s Ottoman coast, Hablas relies heavily (though not exclusively) on Tripoli’s sharia court records. He regards them as a sub-group within the larger category of official Ottoman documents (alongside land records and provincial yearbooks or salnames).155 Unlike some authors – Sinnu, Rawwas, Hallak – who use sharia court records, Hablas does not interpret them as evidence of an ‘Islamic’ society but rather of an imperial Ottoman one. He values the court records as sources, he says, because they were not written (and distorted?) retrospectively with an eye on history, but instead they were committed to paper ‘to protect people’s [legal] rights’.156 Hablas understands the Ottoman-era historian’s job to be reconstruction of past reality from Ottoman sources, ‘and to forge a deep understanding of our ancestors’ past’.157 One of Hablas’s major points is that Lebanon’s political structure grew out of Ottoman conditions and priorities. In the countryside the Ottoman authorities relied on rural strongmen (sing. za‘im) in the taxation districts (sing. muqata‘a). The strongmen’s rivalries determined the shape of local politics, and in the course of time they became identified with one or another religious sect, an identification that lent the appearance of deeprooted sectarian conflict as a perennial theme of Lebanon’s history. This appearance and the historiography growing out of it has stamped in people’s minds a ‘false picture’ of their ancestors’ past.158 To counter this, Hablas argues that none of the Syrian muqata‘as was religiously homogeneous in Ottoman times. Even al-Jibba – typically thought of as a Maronite region – had some Muslims in it. The muqata‘as themselves were neither created nor caused by sectarian conflicts. Rather, they were linked to the



Ottoman tax-farming system, and their boundaries varied depending on the qualities of local leaderships.159 Political struggles and alliances in the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries were independent of sectarian identity and reflected political, not sectarian, rivalries.160 In fact, Hablas continues, the tax-farming system helped to create and consecrate political leaderships from all of the region’s confessional communities.161 Confessional political tensions later grew out of these relationships, but did not lie at their origins.162 Here we can see that Hablas picks up on a point that ‘Imad emphasised, albeit in a different way. ‘Imad objected to histories that put confessional conflict at the heart of the modern Lebanese experience, arguing that the confessional conflicts of nineteenthcentury Mount Lebanon were wrongly attributed to the entire social space that came to define the twentieth-century country. Tripoli and the North, ‘Imad said, had very different (and more pacific) experiences of inter-confessional relationships than had the mountain. Hablas goes even further than ‘Imad, arguing that the entire political structure that came to define nineteenth-century Lebanon had its origins not in confessional conflicts or divisions, but in Ottoman political and administrative policies. Later confessional identification with politics, he says, was a secondary and contingent feature of a basically non-confessional Ottoman administrative structure. It was only afterwards that the Dual Qa’imaqamate, the Mutasarrifiyya and the French Mandate all institutionalised political sectarianism. As a result, generations of writers and historians were unable to think outside of a sectarian framework. They used the sectarian reality as a template for all of the historical turning points and military encounters in Ottoman-era Lebanon. ‘This all led to the implanting of political sectarianism in people’s minds, producing a conviction that Lebanon’s history is only the history of its sects, and that sectarianism in this country is ancient’.163 As well as challenging historiography based on sects or confessions, Hablas takes aim at popular or received wisdom regarding official Ottoman responsibility for the World War I



famine. Hablas regards this as a distorted perspective not based on documentary evidence. Moreover, the distorted memory of the famine gets in the way of people’s understanding of a long period in Lebanon’s modern history, since the entire Ottoman era is viewed through these erroneous lenses. Hablas calls for (and claims to offer) ‘an objective, neutral re-examination of the issue without emotions and biases’, whether pro- or anti-Ottoman.164 His main point is that the principal reason for the World War I famine was the Allied blockade of the Syrian/Lebanese coast, not the policies of Ottoman wartime plenipotentiary Jamal Pasha.165 On the contrary, Hablas asserts, Jamal Pasha made special efforts to get wheat supplies to the Mount Lebanon districts via the Maronite Patriarch.166 Ottoman war policies contributed to food shortages, Hablas concedes, but not to the same degree as did the Allied blockade.167 So why did postwar Arab writers blame Ottoman policies exclusively for the famine? Hablas answers that Arabs who aligned themselves with the British and the Allies in World War I found that they had opened up their countries to European colonial rule. Rather than acknowledge their error or their co-responsibility for the imposition of colonial rule, they sought to displace the blame and put it elsewhere. They blamed the Turks for losing the war, and they blamed the postwar Turkish leader Atatu¨rk for abolishing the caliphate. As part of this ideological campaign they also put responsibility for the famine on the Ottomans’ shoulders. Hablas claims that exaggerating the famine and whitewashing its causes offered an escape hatch for those who sought to distract the public from the bitter colonial reality that their leadership had facilitated. Arab intellectuals (mutathaqqafin) sought to suppress the truth of their collaboration with the Allies, and the Allies’ responsibility for the famine, in order to cover up the intellectuals’ political failings that culminated with handing over their countries to French and British rule.168 The mutathaqqafin’s version of events became widespread in a period of growing Arab nationalism and of differences with the



post-Ottoman Turks. The intellectuals’ narrative became part of nationalist consciousness and of Lebanese patriotism. The famine came to dominate World War I narratives and discourse around the famine was a leveraging point for demanding the extension of Mount Lebanon’s frontiers.169 Widely circulated untruths about the famine, Hablas argues, contradict ‘true, sincere, and useful patriotism’, which should not be built on deceptive foundations: ‘True patriotism lies in respecting the citizen, and in telling him the historical truth.’170 There is a sense here in which Hablas has left the specific issue of Ottoman Tripoli far behind, to attack the foundations of nationalist accounts of the World War I era. Lebanese and Arab nationalists are equally culpable in his view, and Hablas does not see much to choose between them. Rather than reflecting a personal idiosyncrasy, his jaundiced viewpoint might be representative of a more widespread disillusionment with ideologies in light of the recurrent failure of Lebanese and Arab nationalist dreams and projects since 1920. Hablas does not idealise the Ottoman Empire but nor does he demonise it; he does not indulge in nostalgic reveries about an Islamic society undone by modernity nor does he choose between Lebanese and Arab nationalist narratives both of which share assumptions that he rejects. However, his assertion that postwar intellectuals consciously falsified history to conceal their own responsibility for the calamities that followed is overdrawn. Hablas’s neo-Ottomanist ethos leads him to understate the emptiness of the ‘Ottoman option’ by the closing months of World War I, and hence to overlook society’s collective need to construct some kind of a coherent historical narrative to account for the Empire’s collapse and the subsequent appearance of new colonial states in the Levant. Lebanese and Arab nationalisms served that narrative purpose, even if their political agendas proved unattainable or ephemeral.


Writings on Lebanon’s Ottoman past, as reflected in locally published Arabic-language accounts of the country’s major Ottoman administrative centres, offer insights into varieties of Lebanese self-understandings during the decades that followed the outbreak of the country’s civil war in 1975. First, the Ottoman past is a kind of Rorschach test through which history writers reflect a range of perspectives on the meanings and realities of Lebanese nationhood. These perspectives are more complex than the older dichotomy between Lebaneseoriented and Arab-oriented nationalisms. None of the post-1975 works discussed here considers the era of Emir Fakhr al-Din II Ma‘n to be the decisive political watershed that it was taken to be in older nationalist accounts. Instead, the decisive moment for understanding what Lebanon is, or what Lebanon became, or what Lebanon should be, is found in other times – usually later in the Ottoman period than Fakhr al-Din’s day. For many writers the critical or formative period is the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. According to Khaled Ziade, here was a traditional society that today’s readers have to understand on its own terms, not as part of a national teleology. Moreover, a recurring theme (in contrast to, say, much of nationalist-oriented Egyptian historiography) is that the Ottoman era bequeathed a significant historical



legacy to the Lebanese nation state. This is true, for instance, of historians who otherwise deeply disagree such as Beirut-focused authors Nicola Ziadeh and Hasan Za‘rur, on the one hand, and Hassan Hallak on the other. Accounts of Ottoman-era urban growth and prosperity (Hallak for Beirut, Ziade and ‘Abdallah Ibrahim Sa‘id for Tripoli) also underscore the importance of the Ottoman era for cities’ pre-colonial urban development and their legacies in modern Lebanon. Many authors highlight the last Ottoman century as the beginning of decisive transformations understood as modernity, whether of an Islamic or cosmopolitan/ non-denominational variety. The only author who does not acknowledge a major historical imprint from the Ottoman period is Hanan Qarquti Sha‘ban. For her the Ottoman centuries, at best, merely carried on the jihadist legacy of the medieval Mamluks before later Ottoman rulers lost the requisite spirit, commitment, and direction. Second, historians’ assessments of the transition to modernity in the Ottoman era say much about writers’ aspirations for or their understandings of Lebanon. For Talal Majid al-Majdhub (Saida) the Ottoman reforms demonstrate the efficacy of a modern state. For ‘Abd al-Ghani ‘Imad (Tripoli) the Ottoman transition to modernity was incomplete, saddling Lebanon with retrograde values and institutions. For Za‘rur, Beirut’s transition to modernity in the Ottoman era unfolded in a semi-colonial context of dependent development resulting in a stunted bourgeoisie. These assessments and understandings can be paired with presumptive present-day prescriptions: respectively, in favour of an effective state, more thoroughgoing modernity and a rebalancing of global economic and political relationships. Third, most writers seek to understand the Nahda in the context of their views of the Ottomans, whether these are positive or negative. For most writers the Nahda is touted as emblematic of membership in a modern national community. Beirut’s claim to fame among the three cities is its role as a fulcrum of the Nahda, and the Ottomans are said to have promoted or hindered this



literary and cultural renaissance depending on an author’s stance. Those who understand the later Empire as being a modern state in the making, a state that promoted nineteenth-century modernity for the coastal towns of Lebanon and especially for Beirut, see the Ottomans and their policies as facilitators of the Nahda. Those writers whose stance is antipathetic to the Ottomans interpret the Nahda as a movement that emerged to promote an Arab-oriented, freedom-loving and anti-Ottoman agenda. Certain contradictions and tensions emerge even among writers who in other respects belong to the same camp. Most emblematic of this is the difference between two Islamically inflected accounts, one by Hallak and the other by his student Muhammad Hasan al-Rawwas. Hallak saw Beirut’s development in the Nahda as representing a triumph of Ottoman-Islamic modernisation. His student al-Rawwas saw the same process as part of a lamentable development that disregarded the older virtues of the Islamic city and marginalised one such Islamic city, namely Saida. Fourth, the authors discussed here hold divergent views about the emerging Lebanese entity. For some writers ‘Lebanon’ (the mountain emirate, the Mutasarrifiyya and then the Republic) was marginal to these cities; for others it was hostile to these cities; and for yet others the cities in question formed a key part of the developing Lebanese entity. So for instance the mountain emirate and the Mutasarrifiyya hardly figure in post-1975 accounts of Beirut and Saida, despite the centrality of mountain emirs in the pre-1975 works on Saida. The one post-1975 writer who gives time to Emir Fakhr al-Din, namely Sheikh Taha al-Wali, portrays the Emir as a fickle champion of Beirut’s interests whose enduring legacy was the destruction of Beirut’s port. Ziade and Mas‘ud Dahir portray Tripoli’s interests as being opposed to those of the Ma‘n emirs; the latter’s destructive wars hindered Tripoli’s development and prosperity. One writer who tries to incorporate Tripoli into the Lebanese founding myth (‘Abd al-Latif Kurayyim) can only do so by taking breathtaking leaps of logic and by employing unconvincing special pleading on behalf of local



Janissary Barbar Agha, who is an unlikely avatar for Lebanese and Arab nationalism and for the ideals of the French Revolution. While authors who write of Beirut can be understood as using their histories to advocate for a particular way of comprehending Lebanon (cosmopolitan? economically underdeveloped and dependent? fundamentally Islamic?), some authors who write of Saida and Tripoli use their histories to settle scores with the Lebanese Republic, and to complain about their subject cities’ loss of status and importance in the colonial and independence eras. Fifth, literature on the Ottoman era casts light on how religion and confessional issues are understood. All authors discussed here wrote within a present-day society and system where religious identity is inscribed in law, institutions and politics, and where religious identities were flaunted and inflamed in the 1975 –90 civil war. Seeking perhaps to find a basis for national reconciliation, some authors downplayed confessional issues in their accounts of the Ottoman era. For them, confessional identities were not central to public life (al-Majdhub on Saida and Ziade on Tripoli) or were not primordial, no matter how central they later became (‘Imad and Faruq Hablas on Tripoli). For alMajdhub, the modern state has the potential to promote patriotic values that subsume and overcome more parochial loyalties. For ‘Imad and Hablas, the Tripoli experience demonstrates the myopia of Lebanese histories that overemphasise confessional conflict. Instead, these two authors prefer to identify themes of intercommunal collaboration and the contingent emergence of confessional politics out of what was a fundamentally nondenominational Ottoman administrative system. Ziade likewise sees more similarities than differences between Muslims and Christians of Tripoli, including a shared popular culture and a common relationship of subjection to Ottoman power. Against these non-confessional representations, or representations that deemphasise confessional identity, are others that use religious identity as a meaningful analytic tool, and those whose authors advocate in a partisan way on behalf of religious identity.



Religious identity is seen to be a meaningful analytic tool in the case of Beirut especially. There, the emergence of a new elite among merchants, administrators and the liberal professions during the decades before World War I was accompanied by political polarisation along Muslim– Christian lines. The salient role played by Christian individuals and institutions in the development of Beirut’s Nahda, and the different attitudes that Christian and Muslim intellectuals and activists adopted towards the Ottoman Empire at least up until 1908, highlight the Muslim– Christian confessional tension that subsequently marked the creation of post-Ottoman Lebanon and that ran like a thread through much of Lebanon’s twentieth-century history. Confessional special pleading can be seen, subtly, in Nicola Ziadeh’s privileging the role of Christians in determining Beirut’s historical mission as a centre of freedom, liberty and modernity. Special pleading from a Muslim perspective is overt and undisguised in ‘Isam Muhammad Shabaru’s and Hallak’s treatments of Beirut, in al-Rawwas’s and Ghassan Munir Sinnu’s treatments of Saida and in Kurayyim’s semi-fictional biography of Barbar Agha of Tripoli. Islam in general and Sunni Islam in particular are said to have provided the moral bases of these societies’ (or this historical actor’s) character, rendering them legitimate. Interestingly, the Sunni– Shi‘i rivalries that have come to the fore since the 1990s are refracted only obliquely in this Ottoman literature: Kurayyim is proud of Barbar’s anti-Nusayri (‘Alawi) campaigns, and Sha‘ban lauds the Mamluks for humbling both Christians and reprobate Muslims in the course of their jihads. Because in Ottoman times the bulk of the Shi‘i population were rural, and because the authorities ordinarily did not formally distinguish between different types of Muslims and acted as though they all were Sunnis (even when they were not), Sunni– Shi‘i contestation simply was not a significant theme in Lebanon’s coastal Ottoman administrative centres. Finally, it remains to assess the quality of the historical works discussed here. Most of it is in scholarly form, that is, authors



invoke their academic credentials, and their books and articles typically feature the scholarly apparatus of footnotes and references. Sometimes, however, the apparatus is lacking (Hallak’s Bayrut al-mahrusa) or is not fully developed (Ziadeh), or a scholar is brought in to attest to a non-scholarly study (Munir Isma‘il for Kurayyim). The three books on Saida are descriptively rich but they lack anything to grab onto with respect to theorising. This impoverishment makes it harder for readers to debate or discuss the significance and provenance of the authors’ ideas. True, Sinnu’s mentor Ridwan al-Sayyid takes verbal pot shots at unnamed Orientalists, and Hallak’s student al-Rawwas criticises unnamed Arab and international writers who ‘falsify’ Ottoman history, but their remedies (the ‘Islamic city’ and a reification of Islam, respectively) are drawn from the intellectual armoury of Orientalism. These authors become part of the very discourse that they condemn. Those who write about Beirut use their studies to make broader points about Lebanese and Arab history, and they offer at least the germ of a visible debate. The works of Ziadeh, Za‘rur and Fu’ad Sa‘dun each in their own way address the questions of whether Ottoman Beirut can best be understood through the lens of modernisation or dependency, and whether the Arabs’ break with the Ottoman Empire was inevitable or highly contingent. The more polemical Islamically oriented writers (Shabaru, Hallak and Sha‘ban) are less interesting intellectually, inasmuch as their analyses mostly rely on a shrill religio-nationalist discourse that identifies and demonises enemies who include a good number of their fellow countrymen. (Women as historical actors simply do not figure in any of these accounts.) Taken as a whole, the work on Ottoman Tripoli is the most interesting and it opens up the widest range of historical topics and questions. The books and articles surveyed here demonstrate that Lebanese scholarship on Tripoli avoids many of the blind spots of nationalist historiography, attempts to portray and to



understand various aspects of people’s daily lives, and understands the Ottoman historical context to have been a complicated one at the very least, thus not lending itself to facile apologetics or denigrations. The legacy of the Ottoman era in terms of Lebanon’s social and political structures is one set of issues that Tripolifocused authors deal with. Another set of issues is what the experience of Ottoman Tripoli can tell us about the provenance and development of political sectarianism in the Lebanese national space. Yet another is the best way to understand and to evaluate Tripoli’s pre-Nahda and Nahda intellectual life. Though some Tripoli-focused writing reflects inherited nationalist views or biases about the allegedly stagnant and generally uninteresting tenor of pre-Nahda cultural production, other scholars hint at the usefulness of looking at this material with an open mind. The post-Nahda dismissal or denigration of earlier literary and cultural production in the Ottoman era is a general problem or issue in nationalist historiography, based on a priori assumptions that are not evidentially established. Most of the Arabic scholarship reviewed in this book is not available in other languages, limiting the circulation of the authors’ ideas among wider academic circles of Ottoman and comparative nationalism scholarship. Some works considered here could enrich the international literature both empirically and methodologically (especially regarding possible uses of sharia court and other indigenous records). But at the same time, the explanatory weight that Hallak and Sa‘dun give to the idea of an unverified and doubtless illusory Jewish – Freemason conspiracy driving the Committee of Union and Progress, and the intemperate language used by Shabaru, Hallak and Sha‘ban as partisans of Islamically inflected confessional nationalism, indicate that not all works would meet standards for responsible and verifiable academic historical discourse. The aggregate of this material taken as a whole does not support the proposition that the study of Ottoman-era history can help to create a new unifying national historical consensus in Lebanon.



True, histories of everyday life as championed by writers like alMajdhub for Saida and Maha Kayyal for Tripoli have the potential to highlight the common lived experience of the forebears of present-day Lebanese. And true, attempts to understand the larger political and economic processes that formed modern Lebanon can shift discussions away from divisive sectarian questions to alternative questions more focused on, say, social classes and other historical actors and historical forces. But historical writing can just as easily be – and as these materials show, often is – preoccupied with communal one-upmanship, airing of regional grievances and accusatory finger-pointing. Even basic political questions are hotly contested and unresolved, such as whether Emir Fakhr al-Din II is a ‘founding father’ of the Lebanese entity, whether the Ottomans were legitimate protectors or oppressive usurpers and whether the pre-World War I nationalist movement (s) in fact represented the awakening of a nation or (to the contrary) merely expressed the disgruntlement of a numerically small social stratum who ended up delivering their country to European colonial rule. Nearly 100 years after France first defined Lebanon’s boundaries, Lebanese face the continuing challenge of living together in a shared national space, and of making their small country somehow work in an unforgiving regional environment. The conscientious study of history offers opportunities for deeper self-understanding. But only people who work in the present day can solve the challenge of forging some kind of effective national integration or cohesion. History offers guides and warnings, but few solutions.


Introduction 1. R.F. Foster, Modern Ireland 1600– 1972 (London: Penguin, 1988), 535. 2. Evelina Kelbecheva, ‘The short history of Bulgaria for export’, in Jørgen Nielsen (ed.), Religion, Ethnicity and Contested Nationhood in the Former Ottoman Space (Leiden: Brill, 2012), 223– 47, 238. 3. Ibid., 239; Rossitsa Gradeva, ‘Conversion to Islam in Bulgarian historiography: an overview’, ibid., 187– 222, 187. 4. Umut O¨zkırımlı and Spyros A. Sofos, Tormented by History: Nationalism in Greece and Turkey (New York: Columbia University Press, 2008), 89. 5. Ibid., 6. 6. Gabriel Piterberg, ‘The tropes of stagnation and awakening in nationalist historical consciousness: the Egyptian case’, in James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni (eds), Rethinking Nationalism in the Arab Middle East (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), 42 – 61, 58 – 9; Ehud Toledano, ‘Forgetting Egypt’s Ottoman past’, in Jayne L. Warner (ed.), Cultural Horizons: A Festschrift in Honor of Talat S. Halman (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2001), 150– 67, 151– 2; Yoav Di-Capua, Gatekeepers of the Arab Past: Historians and History-Writing in Twentieth-Century Egypt (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2009), 61. 7. Murat Belge and Jale Parla, ‘Preface’, Balkan Literatures in the Era of Nationalism (Istanbul: Bilgi University Press, 2009), xvi, cited in Kelbecheva, ‘Short history’, 237. 8. Axel Havemann, al-Tarikh wa-kitabat al-tarikh fi lubnan khilal al-qarnayn al-tasi‘ ‘ashar wa’l-‘ishrin: al-fahm al-dhati li’l-tarikh, ashkaluhu wawaza’ifuhu, trans. Jurj Kattura (Beirut: German Oriental Institute and Wu¨rzburg: Ergon-Verlag, 2011), 202– 3, 205– 6.



9. Kelbecheva, ‘Short history’, 237; O¨zkırımlı and Sofos, Tormented by History, 92 – 3; Foster, Modern Ireland, 595. 10. Asher Kaufman, Reviving Phoenicia: In Search of Identity in Lebanon (London: I.B.Tauris, 2004). 11. Hayden White, ‘The fictions of factual representation’, in Angus Fletcher (ed.), The Literature of Fact (New York: Columbia University Press, 1976), 21 – 44. 12. Amy Mills, Christine Philliou and James A. Reilly, ‘The Ottoman Empire from present to past: memory and ideology in Turkey and the Arab world’, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 31 (2011), 133 – 6. 13. Kamal Salibi, A House of Many Mansions: The History of Lebanon Reconsidered (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1988), 200 – 15. 14. Havemann, al-Tarikh, 269. 15. Quoted in Munir Bashshur, ‘The deepening cleavage in the education system’, in Theodor Hanf and Nawaf Salam (eds), Lebanon in Limbo: Postwar Society and State in an Uncertain Regional Environment (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2003), 159– 79, 163. 16. May Davie, Beyrouth et ses faubourgs (1840 – 1940): une integration inacheve´e (Beirut: CERMOC, 1996), 14. 17. Lubnan fi al-qarn al-thamin ‘ashar: al-mu’tamar al-awwal li’l-jam‘iyya al-lubnaniyya li’l-dirasat al-‘uthmaniyya (Beirut: Dar al-Muntakhab al‘Arabi, 1996), 13–14. 18. Havemann, al-Tarikh, 321. 19. Ibid., 18 –19. On Isma‘il (1921– 2008), see, ‘Munir wa‘Adil Isma‘il fi mar’at mu’arrikhi lubnan’. Available at http://www.sidonia¼view&nid ¼ 8444 (accessed 27 December 2014). 20. Joseph Antun Labaki, Mutasarrifiyyat jabal lubnan: masa’il wa-qadaya (Beirut: Dar al-Karma, 1995), 2. 21. Havemann, al-Tarikh, 220. 22. Eric Davis and Nicolas Gavrielides, ‘Statecraft, historical memory, and popular culture in Iraq and Kuwait’, in Eric Davis and Nicolas Gavrielides (eds), Statecraft in the Middle East: Oil, Historical Memory, and Popular Culture (Miami, FL: Florida International University Press, 1991), 116 – 48, 127. 23. An argument made in Ussama Makdisi, The Culture of Sectarianism: Community, History and Violence in Nineteenth-Century Ottoman Lebanon (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2000). 24. Thomas Blom Hansen and Finn Stepputat, ‘Introduction: states of imagination’, in Thomas Blom Hansen and Finn Stepputat (eds), States of Imagination: Ethnographic Explorations of the Postcolonial State (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001), 1 – 38, 25.



25. Havemann, al-Tarikh, 66 – 67; Axel Havemann, ‘Lebanon’s Ottoman past as reflected in modern Lebanese historiography’, in Rainier Brunner, Monika Gronke, Jens P. Laut and Ulrich Rebstock (eds), Islamstudien Ohne Ende: Festschrift fu¨r Werner Ende zum 65 (Wu¨rzburg: Ergon, 2002), 161 – 74. 26. James McDougall, History and Culture of Nationalism in Algeria (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2006), 4. 27. David C. Gordon, Self-Determination and History in the Third World (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1971), 6. 28. Lisa Anderson, ‘Legitimacy, identity, and the writing of history in Libya’, in Eric Davis and Nicolas Gavrielides (eds), Statecraft in the Middle East: Oil, Historical Memory, and Popular Culture (Miami, FL: Florida International University Press, 1991), 71 –91, 91. 29. Ibid., 73. 30. Dror Ze’evi, ‘Kul and getting cooler: the dissolution of elite collective identity and the formation of official nationalism in the Ottoman Empire’, Mediterranean Historical Review 11/2 (1996), 177–95, 195. 31. Andrew Christie Hess, ‘Islamic civilization and the legend of political failure’, Journal of Near Eastern Studies 44/1 (1985), 27– 39, 32. 32. Donald Quataert, ‘Ottoman history writing and changing attitudes towards the notion of decline’, History Compass 1/1 (2003), 1 –9, 1– 3. 33. Jane Hathaway, ‘Rewriting eighteenth-century Ottoman history’, Mediterranean Historical Review 19/1 (2004), 29 – 53, 35. 34. Edmund Burke III, ‘Theorizing the histories of colonialism and nationalism in the Arab Maghrib’, in Ali Abdullatif Ahmida (ed.), Beyond Colonialism and Nationalism in the Maghrib: History, Culture, and Politics (New York: Palgrave, 2000), 17 – 34, 22 – 3. 35. Ibid., 23. 36. Ibid. 37. Faedah M. Totah, Preserving the Old City of Damascus (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2014), 62. 38. For an Algerian example: McDougall, History and Culture of Nationalism, 14 – 16. 39. In order of publication, these include: Ahmed Beydoun, Identite´ confessionnelle et temps social chez les historiens libanais contemporains (Beirut: Librairie Orientale, 1984), passim; Salibi, House of Many Mansions, ch. 11; Wajih Kawtharani, ‘Nationalist thought and the vision of the Ottoman period during the first half of the twentieth century: the example of Lebanon’, in Kemal H. Karpat (ed.), Ottoman Past and Today’s Turkey (Leiden: Brill, 2000), 253– 71, 256– 69; Havemann, ‘Lebanon’s Ottoman past’, 168– 72; Carol Hakim, The Origins of the Lebanese National Idea (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 2013), 1 – 11, 261– 5.



40. Youssef M. Choueiri, Modern Arab Historiography: Historical Discourse and the Nation-State (London and New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003), 200. 41. Ibid., 205– 7; Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj, ‘The social uses of the past: recent Arab historiography of Ottoman rule’, International Journal of Middle East Studies 14 (1982), 185– 201, 186– 7. 42. Fawwaz Traboulsi, A History of Modern Lebanon (London: Pluto, 2007), 3. 43. On the mountain focus of earlier Lebanese history, see Salibi, House of Many Mansions, chs 6 and 7. Tellingly, Havemann’s historical pre´cis of Lebanon’s history makes scarce mention of the coastal cities. In this he was merely following convention. Havemann, Tarikh, 37 – 48. 44. Kaufman, Reviving Phoenicia, ch. 1, passim. 45. Ahmad Beydoun, Identite´ confessionnelle. 46. Axel Havemann, Geschichte und Geschichtsschreibung im Libanon des 19. und 20. Jahrhunderts: Formen und Funktionen des historischen Selbstversta¨ndnisses (Wu¨rzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2002). I have accessed Havemann’s work through its Arabic translation, cited previously. 47. Beydoun, Identite´ confessionnelle, 34 – 40. 48. Ibid., 42 –3. 49. Ibid., 44 –50. 50. Ibid., 57 –60. 51. Ibid., 63 –6. 52. Ibid., 68 –73. 53. Ibid., 75. 54. Ibid., 76. 55. Ibid., 77 –83. 56. Ibid., 83 –96. 57. Ibid., 96. 58. Ibid., 98 –102. 59. Ibid., 102–6. 60. Ibid., 109. 61. Ibid., 111. 62. Ibid., 114. 63. Ibid. 64. Ibid., 114–15. 65. Ibid., 115. 66. Ibid., 115–17. 67. Ibid., 118–19. 68. Ibid., 120–1. 69. Ibid., 122–3. 70. Ibid., 124. 71. Ibid., 155–6. 72. Ibid., 206–7.

NOTES TO PAGES 16 –24 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88. 89. 90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96. 97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107. 108. 109. 110. 111. 112. 113.


Ibid., 210–13. Ibid., 213–17. Ibid., 217–19. Ibid., 219. Ibid., 221–3. Ibid., 224–5. Ibid., 248–9. Ibid., 269–78. Ibid., 280–4. Ibid., 286. Ibid., 306. Ibid. Ibid., 312. Ibid., 360. Ibid., 355. Ibid., 309. Ibid., 360. Ibid., 369– 70. Jouplain was the nom de plume of Bulus Nujaym, a French-educated Maronite intellectual of the early twentieth century. Ibid., 373–4. Ibid., 377. Ibid., 381–3. Ibid., 387, 389. Ibid., 391. Ibid., 428–9. Ibid., 441. Ibid., 496–501. Ibid., 504–6. Ibid., 509. Ibid., 515. Ibid., 540. Ibid., 564–5. Ibid., 568. Ibid. Ibid., 580–1. Salibi, House of Many Mansions, 3. Ibid. Ibid., 139–43. Ibid., 147. Ibid., 149. Ibid., 145. Ibid., 154–7.

168 114. 115. 116. 117. 118. 119. 120. 121. 122. 123. 124. 125. 126. 127. 128. 129. 130. 131. 132. 133. 134. 135. 136. 137. 138. 139. 140. 141. 142. 143. 144.

NOTES TO PAGES 24 – 44 Ibid., 162–3. Ibid., 163. Ibid., 163–4. Ibid., 165–6. Ibid., 183. Ibid., 200. Ibid., 201. Ibid., 202–3. Ibid., 203. Ibid., 203–4. Ibid., 204. Ibid., 205. Ibid., 231. Ibid., 232. Published in Arabic translation as al-Tarikh. Page citations are from the Arabic translation. Havemann, al-Tarikh, 66 – 7. Ibid., 143. Ibid., 203. Ibid., 205 ff. Ibid., 220. Ibid., 233. Ibid., 248. Ibid., 292–4. Ibid., 300. Ibid., 301. Ibid., 304–5. Beydoun, Identite´ confessionnelle, 509 –10. Havemann, al-Tarikh, 310. Ibid., 311–16. Ibid., 330. The interpretations offered for this summary are synthesised from the author’s reading in a variety of published sources. A recent interpretive publication that has been especially useful for establishing a chronology is William Harris, Lebanon: A History 600–2011 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012).

Chapter 1

Ottoman Saida – ‘Islamic City’, Modern State?

1. Nina Jidejian, Sidon through the Ages (Beirut: Dar el-Machreq, 1971); Sami Karkabi, Sidon, the Old Town (Beirut: Anis, 1996). 2. Maha Kayyal, Mawruthat hirafiyya: dirasa munughrafiyya-ihsa’iyya li’l-hiraf al-taqlidiyya fi sayda wa’l-jiwar (Tripoli: Majmu‘at al-Ma‘rad, 2003).



3. Fadia Kiwan, ‘Foreword’, in Maha Kayyal (ed.), Mawruthat hirafiyya: dirasa munughrafiyya-ihsa’iyya li’l-hiraf al-taqlidiyya fi sayda wa’l-jiwar (Tripoli: Majmu‘at al-Ma‘rad, 2003), 7. 4. Muna Hrawi, ‘Foreword’, ibid., 9. 5. Rafiq Tamimi and Muhammad Bahjat, Wilayat bayrut (Beirut: Matba‘at al-Iqbal, 1916), 1:152. 6. Ibid., 1:153– 4. 7. Ibid., 1:154– 5. 8. Ibid., 1:159. 9. Ibid., 1:160– 7. 10. Munir al-Khuri, Sayda ‘abra hiqab al-tarikh (Beirut: al-Maktab al-Tijari, 1966), 252– 3. 11. Ibid., 234. 12. Ibid., 239–43. 13. Ibid., 256. 14. Ibid., 281–4, 290–1. 15. Ibid., 296–7. 16. Ibid., 312–13. 17. Ibid., 315. 18. Ibid., 315–16. 19. Ibid., 317. 20. William Harris, Lebanon: A History, 600– 2011 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012), 229; Axel Havemann, al-Tarikh wa-kitabat al-tarikh fi lubnan khilal al-qarnayn al-tasi‘ ‘ashar wa’l-‘ishrin: al-fahm al-dhati li’l-tarikh, ashkaluhu wa-waza’ifuhu, trans. Jurj Kattura (Beirut: German Oriental Institute and Wu¨rzburg: Ergon-Verlag, 2011), 138. 21. ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Salim, Dirasa fi tarikh madinat sayda (Beirut: Beirut Arab University, 1970), 5 –6. 22. Ibid., 185–90. 23. Ibid., 191. 24. Antoine Abdel Nour, Tijarat sayda ma‘ al-gharb min muntasif al-qarn al-sabi‘ ‘ashar ila awakhir al-qarn al-thamin ‘ashar (Beirut: Lebanese University, 1987). It was published posthumously, as Abdel Nour’s life was violently cut short during the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982. 25. Ibid., 16, 40 – 1. 26. Ibid., 15 –16. 27. Antoine Abdel Nour, Introduction a` l’histoire urbaine de la Syrie ottomane (XVIe– XVIIe sie`cle) (Beirut: Lebanese University, 1982). 28. Abdel Nour, Tijarat sayda, 46. 29. Ibid., 82, 137– 9. 30. Ibid., 127. 31. Ibid., 140.

170 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43.

44. 45.


47. 48. 49. 50. 51. 52. 53. 54.

55. 56. 57. 58.

NOTES TO PAGES 52 –62 Ibid., 117 –18. Ibid., 119 –22. Ibid., 56 –8. Ibid., 50, 58. Walim al-Khazin, ‘Introduction’, in Abdel Nour, Tijarat sayda, 12 – 13. Talal Majid al-Majdhub, Tarikh sayda al-ijtima‘i 1840 – 1914 (Beirut: al-Maktaba al-‘Asriyya, 1983). Ibid., 7. Abdel Nour, Introduction, 185. Nicola Ziadeh [Niqula Ziyada], ‘Introduction’, in al-Majdhub, Tarikh sayda al-ijtima‘i, 6. Ibid. al-Majdhub, Tarikh sayda al-ijtima‘i, 73. Cf. James Gelvin, Divided Loyalties: Nationalism and Mass Politics in Syria at the Close of Empire (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1998), 13 – 19. Talal Majid al-Majdhub, ‘al-Hiraf fi sayda: madkhal tarikhi’, in Kayyal, Mawruthat hirafiyya, 28– 35. At one point al-Majdhub became head of the Saida Centre for Historical and Archaeological Studies., ‘Duktur Talal al-Majdhub karram a‘da’ fi markaz sayda li’l-dirasat.’ Available at http://www.saidacity. net/_NewsPaper.php?NewsPaperID¼ 98064&Action ¼ Details (accessed 27 December 2014). Ghassan Munir Sinnu, Madinat sayda 1818– 1860: dirasa fi al-‘umran al-hadari min khilal watha’iq mahkamatiha al-shar‘iyya (Beirut: Dar al‘Arabiyya li’l-‘Ulum, 1988). Ibid., 7. Ibid., 453 –8. Ibid., 7, 16. Ibid., 16 –18. Ibid., 511. Ibid., 511 –16. Ridwan al-Sayyid, ‘Introduction’, in Sinnu, Madinat sayda 1818– 1860, 4. Edhem Eldem, Daniel Goffman and Bruce Masters, The Ottoman City between East and West: Aleppo, Izmir, and Istanbul (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), 1 –2. Muhammad Hasan al-Rawwas, ‘al-Hayat al-iqtisadiyya fi sayda al‘uthmaniyya, 1840–1888’, PhD dissertation, Lebanese University, 1997. James A. Reilly, ‘Ottoman Syria: social history through an urban lens’, History Compass 10/1 (2012), 70– 80. Ibid., vi – viiii [jim-ha’]. Ibid., xi [ha’].



59. Ibid., 22. This sounds Weberian; cf. Eldem et al., Ottoman City, 1. 60. al-Rawwas, ‘al-Hayat al-iqtisadiyya’, 22 – 3. 61. Modern Beirut as an Ottoman project is explored in Jens Hanssen, Fin de Sie`cle Beirut: The Making of an Ottoman Provincial Capital (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), ch. 9. 62. ‘Duktur Talal al-Majdhub’. 63. Subhi ‘Abdallah, ‘al-‘Imara al-islamiyya fi sayda: masajid, maqamat, zawaya (Shahim: Matabi‘ al-Shuf al-Haditha, 2004). 64. Ibid., 56, 302. 65. Ibid., 99, 259, 285– 7. 66. Ibid., 7– 10. 67. Ibid., 10 –13. 68. Ibid., 3. 69. Ibid., 56, 85. 70. Ibid., 85 71. Ibid., 60 –6. 72. Ibid., 61. 73. Ibid., 89 –91. 74. Ibid., 91. 75. Ibid., 91 –2, 97. 76. Ibid., 69 –70. 77. An argument that is fully developed in Vijay Prashad, The Darker Nations: A People’s History of the Third World (New York: The New Press, 2007).

Chapter 2

Ottoman Beirut – Liberal Cosmopolis or Islamic Fortress?

1. For example, Raja Shuqayr, Tarikh bayrut bayn al-madi wa’l-hadir (Beirut: Dar al-Mahajja, 2011). 2. Rafiq Tamimi and Muhammad Bahjat, Wilayat bayrut (Beirut: Matba‘at al-Iqbal, 1916), 169. 3. ‘Abd al-Basit al-Unsi, Dalil bayrut (Beirut: Matba‘at Jaridat al-Iqbal, 1909). 4. Ibid., 2, 4. 5. Ibid., 25. 6. Ibid., 58 –61. 7. Ibid., 62 –4. 8. Ibid. 9. Ibid., 65 –6. 10. Ibid., 67 –91. 11. Ibid., 92 –7.

172 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. 26. 27. 28.

29. 30. 31. 32.

33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43.

NOTES TO PAGES 73 –84 Ibid., 98 –113. Ibid., 113–176. Ibid., 177–8. Ibid., 181. Ibid., 187–219. Ibid., 224 ff. Ilyas Jurjis Jurayj, Wilayat bayrut 1887– 1914: al-tarikh al-siyasi wa’liqtisadi (‘Akkar: Matba‘at ‘Akkar, 2004), 86 –7. Ibid., 163. Ibid., 207, 248. Ibid., 453. Ibid., 323, 340. Ibid., 19 –21. Ibid., 255. Ibid., 266–7, 299. Ibid., 289, 292– 3, 299– 301. Ibid., 50. Axel Havemann, al-Tarikh wa-kitabat al-tarikh fi lubnan khilal al-qarnayn al-tasi‘ ‘ashar wa’l-‘ishrin: al-fahm al-dhati li’l-tarikh, ashkaluhu wawaza’ifuhu, trans. Jurj Kattura (Beirut: German Oriental Institute and Wu¨rzburg: Ergon-Verlag, 2011), 301. Mas‘ud Dahir, ‘Introduction’, in Jurayj, Wilayat bayrut 1887– 1914, 5 – 8. Ibid., 8– 11. Ibid., 12. Interestingly, the Arabic translation of German scholar Havemann’s critical account of ‘ideological’ Lebanese historiography also refers to the Ottoman era as an occupation. Havemann, al-Tarikh, 3. Al-Unsi displays a photograph of his young son posed as a proconstitutional orator in Dalil bayrut, 3. Dahir, ‘Introduction’, 14 –15. Ibid., 13. Hasan Za‘rur, Bayrut al-tarikh al-ijtima‘i 1864– 1914 (Beirut: al-Markaz al-Islami li’l-i‘lam wa’l-inma’, n.d. [c.1990]). Ibid., 8– 9. Ibid., 10. Ibid., 190–3. Ibid., 194–6, 202–3. Ibid., 17 –21, 56– 7. Ibid., 90, 91 – 2. Nicola Ziadeh [Niqula Ziyada], ‘Bayrut 1860– 1920s’, in Zuhayda Darwish Jabbur (ed.), al-Mudun al-‘arabiyya al-kusmubulitiyya bayn 1870– 1930 (Beirut: UNESCO, 2004), 7 – 63.



44. AUB Bulletin Today, ‘In memoriam: Nicola Ziadeh’. September 2006. Available at, webbultn/v7n9/article36.htm (accessed 27 December 2014). 45. Salwa al-Sinyura al-Ba‘asiri, ‘Introduction’, in Zuhayda Darwish Jabbur (ed.), al-Mudun al-‘arabiyya al- kusmubulitiyya bayn 1870– 1930 (Beirut: UNESCO, 2004), v. The other two contributing historians are Sahar Hammuda and Muhammad Qujja. 46. Zuhayda Darwish Jabbur, ‘Foreword’, ibid., 5– 6. 47. Ziadeh, ‘Bayrut 1860– 1920s’, 10– 21, 51– 7. 48. Ibid., 59 –61. 49. Ibid., 23 –7. 50. Ibid., 61. 51. Ibid., 62 –3. 52. Fawwaz Sa‘dun, al-Haraka al-islahiyya fi bayrut fi awakhir al-‘asr al‘uthmani (Beirut: Dar al-Nahar, with Mu’assasat Sa’ib Salam li’l-thaqafa wa’l-ta‘lim al-‘alami, 1994). 53. Kamal Salibi [Kamal al-Salibi], ‘Introduction’, ibid., 9 – 13. 54. Sa‘dun, al-Haraka al-islahiyya, 15–22. 55. Ibid., 23. 56. Ibid., 66. 57. Ibid., 125 –6. 58. Muhammad Taha al-Wali, Tarikh al-masajid wa’l-jawami‘ al-sharifa fi bayrut (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub, 1973). 59. Salah al-Din al-Munajjid, ‘Introduction’, in Muhammad Taha al-Wali, Tarikh al-masajid wa’l-jawami‘ al-sharifa fi bayrut (Beirut: Dar alKutub, 1973), 9. For al-Munajjid and his record of scholarship see Muslim Heritage, ‘Obituary: Salah al-Din al-Munajjed’. Available at unajjed (accessed 27 December 2014). 60. al-Wali, Tarikh al-masajid, 12. 61. Ibid., 14. 62. Ibid., 17. 63. Ibid., 18. 64. Ibid., 18 –20. 65. Ibid., 83. 66. Ibid., 83 –4, n. 1. 67. Ibid., 32 –3. 68. Ibid., 36 –7. 69. Ibid., 37 –40. 70. Ibid., 133 –40. 71. Ibid., 40. 72. Ibid., 41.

174 73. 74. 75. 76. 77. 78. 79. 80. 81. 82. 83. 84. 85. 86. 87. 88.

89. 90. 91. 92. 93. 94. 95. 96. 97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107. 108.

NOTES TO PAGES 93 – 99 Ibid., 88, 100– 1. Ibid., 20. Ibid., 23. Ibid., 26. Ibid., 26 –7. Ibid., 88, 103. Ibid., 105. Ibid., 106. Ibid., 28. Ibid., 31. Ibid., 116 –18. al-Shaykh Taha al-Wali, Bayrut fi al-tarikh wa’l-hadara wa’l-‘umran (Beirut: Dar al-‘Ilm li’l-Malayin, 1993). Ibid., 24. Ibid., 25. Ibid., 25 –7. ‘Isam Muhammad Shabaru, Tarikh bayrut mundhu aqdam al-‘usur hatta alqarn al-‘ishrin (Beirut: Dar al-Misbah al-Fikr, 1987). I assessed this book earlier in ‘Past and present in local histories of the Ottoman period from Syria and Lebanon’, Middle Eastern Studies 35 (1999), 45 – 65., ‘Mashahir ‘a’ilat Al Shabaru’. Available at http://www.chebaro. net/cat_index_34.html (accessed 27 December 2014; no longer available). Shabaru, Tarikh bayrut, 5 – 7. Ibid., 262. Ibid. Ibid., 153, 156. Ibid., 162. Ibid., 200 –2. Ibid., 263. Ibid. ‘Isam Muhammad Shabaru, Jam‘iyyat al-maqasid al-khayriyya al-islamiyya fi bayrut, 1295 –1421/1878 – 2000 (Beirut: Dar al-Misbah al-Fikr, 2000). Ibid., 22. Ibid. Ibid., 23. Ibid., 26. Ibid., 23. Ibid., 46 –9. Ibid., 50 –1. Ibid., 27 –8. Ibid., 29. Ibid., 29 –31.

NOTES TO PAGES 99 –101 109. 110. 111. 112. 113.


115. 116.

117. 118. 119. 120. 121.


123. 124. 125. 126. 127. 128.


Ibid., 53 –5. Ibid., 59. Ibid., 62 –6., ‘Dr Hassan Ali Hallak’. Available at ber4.htm (accessed 27 December 2014). UNESCO, ‘Lebanon – memory of the World National Committee’. Available at flagship-project-activities/memory-of-the-world/about-the-programme/ national-memory-of-the-world-committees/arab-states/lebanon/ (accessed 27 December 2014). UNESCO, ‘Memory of the World – programme objectives’. Available at (accessed 27 December 2014)., ‘Al Imam Al Ouzai home page’. Available at http://www.wakf. org/contact_f.htm (accessed 27 December 2014). An example of the ‘Manichean and sectarian history’ described by Davie, though she does not identify Hallak as one of its practitioners. May Davie, Beyrouth et ses faubourgs (1840 – 1940): une integration inacheve´e (Beirut: CERMOC, 1996), 15. Hassan Hallak [Hassan Hallaq], Bayrut al-mahrusa fi al-‘ahd al-‘uthmani (Beirut: al-Dar al-Jami‘iyya, 1987), 78. Ibid., 109. Hassan Hallak [Hassan Hallaq], Awqaf al-muslimin fi bayrut fi al-‘ahd al‘uthmani (Beirut: al-Markaz al-Islami li’l-i‘lam wa-al-inma’, 1985), 13 – 21. Hallak, Bayrut al-mahrusa, 215. Hassan Ali Hallak [Hassan ‘Ali Hallaq], Dawr al-yahud wa’l-quwa alduwaliyya fi khal‘ al-sultan ‘Abd al-Hamid al-thani ‘an al-‘arsh (1908 – 1909) (Beirut: al-Dar al-Jami‘iyya, 1984), 13– 16, 21, 25 – 31. Hassan Hallak [Hassan Hallaq], Dirasat fi tarikh lubnan al-mu‘asir 1913– 1943: min jam‘iyyat bayrut al-islahiyya ila al-mithaq al-watani al-lubnani (Beirut: Dar al-Nahda al-‘Arabiyya, 1985), 13. The trope of a Jewish – Masonic conspiracy is taken over from right-wing and reactionary European writers, and is without scholarly merit. Margaret C. Jacob, The Origins of Freemasonry: Fact and Fictions (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2006), passim. Hallak, Dirasat fi tarikh lubnan, 26, n. 1. Hallak, Dawr al-yahud, 13– 16, 21, 25– 31 Ibid., 41, n. 1. Ibid., 25. Ibid., 25 –6. Ibid., 13 –14, 21.

176 129. 130. 131. 132. 133. 134. 135. 136. 137. 138. 139. 140. 141. 142. 143. 144. 145.

146. 147. 148. 149. 150. 151. 152. 153. 154. 155. 156. 157. 158. 159. 160. 161. 162.

NOTES TO PAGES 101 –107 Hallak, Bayrut al-mahrusa, 5. Ibid., 79. Ibid., 37. Ibid., 34. Ibid., 94. Ibid., 61. Ibid., 62. Ibid., 121–2. Ibid., 113. Ibid., 103–9. Ibid., 85 –6. Ibid., 86. Ibid. Ibid., 97 –8. Jens Hanssen, Fin de Sie`cle Beirut: The Making of an Ottoman Provincial Capital (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2005), 255, n. 69. Hallak, Bayrut al-mahrusa, 231– 5. Hassan Hallak [Hassan Hallaq], al-Tarikh al-ijtima‘i wa’l-iqtisadi wa’l-siyasi fi bayrut wa’l-wilayat al-‘uthmaniyya fi al-qarn al-tasi‘ ‘ashar, vol. 1, Sijillat almahkama al-shar‘iyya fi bayrut (Beirut: al-Dar al-Jami‘iyya, 1987), 20–1. Hallak, Awqaf al-muslimin; Bayrut al-mahrusa; al-Tarikh al-ijtima‘i wa’liqtisadi. Hallak, Bayrut al-mahrusa, 7. Hallak, al-Tarikh al-ijtima‘i wa’l-iqtisadi, 5. Hallak, Awqaf al-muslimin, 9. Ibid., 9– 10. Ibid., 10. Ibid., 34. Cf. Susan Slyomovics, The Object of Memory: Arab and Jew Narrate the Palestinian Village (Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1998), xiii–xiv. Hallak, Bayrut al-mahrusa, 29 – 34. Ibid., 37 –58. Ibid., 103–9, 139–42, 203 –7. Ibid., 139. Al-Rawwas, ‘al-Hayat al-iqtisadiyya’, 222. Davie, Beyrouth et ses faubourgs, 60 – 1; Hanssen, Fin de Sie`cle Beirut, 255 – 60. Hallak, Bayrut al-mahrusa, 113– 18. Ibid., 239 – 76. Only two Christian merchant families – Sursuq and Tuwayni – make the cut. Cf. Thomas Blom Hansen and Finn Stepputat, ‘Introduction: states of imagination’, in Thomas Blom Hansen and Finn Stepputat (eds), States of




165. 166. 167. 168. 169. 170.

171. 172. 173. 174. 175. 176. 177.




Imagination: Ethnographic Explorations of the Postcolonial State (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2001), 1 – 38, 25. Tendencies identified in Kais M. Firro, Inventing Lebanon: Nationalism and the State under the Mandate (London: I.B.Tauris, 2003), 45; and in Asher Kaufman, Reviving Phoenicia: In Search of Identity in Lebanon (London: I.B.Tauris, 2004), 238. Hanan Qarquti Sha‘ban, Bayrut wa-dawruha al-jihadi, Muhammad ‘Ali Baydun Series of Sunna and Jama‘a Books (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al‘Ilmiyya, 2003). Ibid., 5. Ibid., 73. Ibid., 188. Ibid., 189. Ibid., 127, 171, 176., ‘Hanan Qarquti Sha‘ban wa-kitabuha’. Available at http://¼3015 (accessed 27 December 2014). Sha‘ban, Bayrut wa-dawruha al-jihadi, 47. Ibid., 75 –6. Ibid., 188. Rif‘at Sidqi al-Nimr et al., Bayrut fi al-marhala al-‘uthmaniyya (Beirut: al-Mutawassit, 1994). Though Hallak’s professional web profile implies otherwise. ‘Dr Hassan Ali Hallak.’ Hallak, Awqaf al-muslimin, 10. Rafic Hariri, the official website, press release, 5 July 2003. Available at¼ 1543&Category ¼ PressReleases (accessed 27 December 2014). The thesis or assertion of a Jewish – Freemason conspiracy has no currency in standard, generally accepted works that analyse the CUP and its relationship to the Arabs. Likewise, whilst Turanists were an ideological element within the CUP, they did not drive prewar policymaking. See Feroz Ahmad, The Young Turks: The Committee of Union and Progress in Turkish Politics 1908 – 1914 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969; reprint edn, New York: Columbia University Press, 2010) and Hasan Kayalı, Arabs and Young Turks: Ottomanism, Arabism, and Islamism in the Ottoman Empire, 1908 – 1918 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1997). Munir Bashshur, ‘The deepening cleavage in the education system’, in Theodor Hanf and Nawaf Salam (eds), Lebanon in Limbo: Postwar Society and State in an Uncertain Regional Environment (Baden-Baden: Nomos, 2003), 159 – 79, 167.



Chapter 3 Ottoman Tripoli – A Fragmented Mirror 1. Rafiq Tamimi and Muhammad Bahjat, Wilayat bayrut (Beirut: Matba‘at al-Iqbal, 1916), 2:152– 3. 2. Ibid., 2:169. 3. Ibid., 2:171. 4. Ibid., 2:172. 5. Ibid., 2:172– 3. 6. Ibid., 2:173. 7. Ibid., 2:174– 5. 8. Ibid., 2:178. 9. Ibid., 2:180. 10. Ibid., 2:183– 4. 11. Ibid., 2:187. 12. Ibid., 2:175. 13. Ibid., 2:187. 14. Ibid., 2:188. 15. Ibid., 2:192. 16. Ibid., 2:193. 17. Ibid. 18. Ibid., 2:194. 19. Ibid., 2:194– 5. 20. Ibid., 2:195. 21. Ibid., 2:197. 22. Ibid., 2:196– 7. 23. Ibid., 2:205. 24. Ibid., 2:206. 25. Ibid., 2:206– 7. 26. Ibid., 2:207. 27. Ibid., 2:207– 8. 28. Ibid., 2:217– 22. 29. Ibid., 2:223– 5. 30. Ibid., 2:225. 31. Ibid., 2:226. 32. Ibid., 2:226– 8. 33. Ibid., 2:228. 34. Ibid., 2:22829. 35. Khaled Ziade [Khalid Ziyada], al-Sura al-taqlidiyya li’l-mujtama‘ almadani: qira’a manhajiyya fi sijillat mahkamat tarabulus al-shar‘iyya fi alqarn al-sabi‘ ‘ashar wa-bidayat al-qarn al-thamin ‘ashar (Tripoli: Lebanese University, 1983).



36., ‘Dr Khaled Ziade’. Available at htm (accessed 28 December 2014). 37. Ziade, al-Sura al-taqlidiyya, 11. 38. Ibid. 39. Ibid., 31. 40. Ibid., 20. 41. Ibid., 21, 33. 42. Hamilton A. Gibb and Harold Bowen, Islamic Society and the West. A Study of the Impact of Western Civilization on Moslem Culture in the Near East, Part 1 (London: Oxford University Press, 1950). 43. Ziade, al-Sura al-taqlidiyya, 52. 44. Ibid., 17–19. (Cf. Nicola Ziadeh’s account of Beirut and its historical destiny in Chapter 2.) 45. Ibid., 121, 126– 7. 46. Ibid., 80 –1, 96. 47. Ibid., 143 –4, 148, 155. 48. Ibid., 68. 49. Ibid., 76. 50. Ibid., 127 –30, 132. 51. Ibid., 131. 52. Ibid., 136 –7. 53. Ibid., 160 –1. 54. Ibid., 22 –5. 55. Ibid., 114. 56. Ibid., 110 –16. 57. Ibid., 80 –1, 137– 40. 58. Ibid., 115. 59. Ibid., 59. 60. Ibid., 165. 61. Anis al-Abyad, al-Hayat al-‘ilmiyya wa-marakiz al-‘ilm fi tarabulus khilal al-qarn al-tasi‘ ‘ashar (Tripoli: Jarrus Press, 1985). 62. Ibid., 14 –16. 63. Ibid., 291. 64. Ibid., 12. 65. Ibid., 98. 66. Ibid., 151. 67. Ibid., 32 –4. 68. Ibid., 7, 28 –9. 69. Ibid., 34. 70. Ibid., 11 –12. 71. Al-Mu’tamar al-awwal li-tarikh wilayat tarabulus ibban al-hiqba al‘uthmaniyya (Tripoli: Lebanese University, 1995), 429.



72. Ibid., 18 –19. 73. Michel Edde´ [Mishal Iddah], welcoming remarks, in al-Mu’tamar alawwal, 11 – 13. 74. Nasif Nassar, introductory remarks, ibid., 14. 75. Ibid., 15. 76. Ibid. 77. Qasim al-Samad, ‘Nizam al-iltizam fi wilayat tarabulus fi’l-qarn 18 min khilal watha’iq sijillat mahkamatiha al-shar‘iyya’, ibid., 59 –95, 61. 78. ‘Umar ‘Abd al-Salam Tadmuri, ‘Mahallat tarabulus al-qadima: mawaqi‘uha, asma’uha, sukkanuha min khilal al-watha’iq al-‘uthmaniyya’, ibid., 97 – 131. 79. ‘Isam Khalifa, ‘al-Dimughrafiyya al-tarikhiyya li-tarabulus fi’l-qarn alsadis ‘ashar’, ibid., 227– 56. 80. Hasan Mubayyad, ‘al-Tarkib al-ijtima‘i fi madinat tarabulus fi’l-nisf althani min al-qarn al-sabi‘ ‘ashar’, ibid., 257–70. 81. Ibid., 270. 82. James Grehan, Everyday Life and Consumer Culture in Eighteenth-Century Damascus (Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2007), 140– 6. 83. Al-Samad, ‘Nizam al-iltizam’, 93 – 5. 84. Andre´ Raymond, a scholar with whose work Ziade is familiar, had developed this line of argument for Arab cities more generally a decade earlier. Andre´ Raymond, Grands villes arabes a` l’e´poque ottomane (Paris: Sindbad, 1985). 85. Khaled Ziade [Khalid Ziyada], ‘Tatawwur al-‘umran fi tarabulus khilal al‘ahd al-‘uthmani’, in al-Mu’tamar al-awwal, 309– 14. 86. Hasan Yahya, ‘Ahammiyyat wilayat tarabulus al-idariyya wa’l-siyasiyya fi al-nisf al-awwal min al-qarn al-thamin ‘ashar min khilal al-watha’iq al‘uthmaniyya wa-ghayriha min al-watha’iq’, ibid., 25 –58, 33; and Ahmad Ghazi Sharmand, ‘Dawr tarabulus al-iqtisadi fi al-qarn al-thalatha al-uwla min al-‘ahd al-‘uthmani’, ibid., 185– 223, passim. 87. Yahya, ‘Ahammiyyat wilayat tarabulus’, 33. 88. Mas‘ud Dahir, ‘Tarabulus fi al-‘ahd al-‘uthmani: min markaz li’l-wilaya ila madina mahalliyya istinadan ila watha’iq min al-arshif al-faransi’, in alMu’tamar al-awwal, 135– 55, 152– 5. 89. Ibid., 136–8. 90. This is equally true, for instance, of Bulgaria and Syria. For Bulgaria, see Maria Todorova, ‘The Ottoman Legacy in the Balkans’, in L. Carl Brown (ed.), Imperial Legacy: The Ottoman Imprint on the Balkans and the Middle East (New York: Columbia University Press, 1996), 45 – 77, 71 – 2. For Syria, see the monograph on peasant uprisings in Ottoman Syria by the country’s best-known and most accomplished Marxist historian, ‘Abdallah Hanna. After many chapters where he analyses the class structure of the Syrian


91. 92.

93. 94. 95.

96. 97. 98. 99. 100. 101. 102. 103. 104. 105. 106. 107. 108. 109. 110. 111.

112. 113.


countryside and excoriates Syrian landed and urban elites’ reactionary, antipeasant collusion with the ‘feudal Ottoman state’, Hanna suddenly pivots and unreservedly celebrates the purportedly progressive 1916 anti-Ottoman Arab Revolt despite its socially reactionary, pro-British Hashemite leadership, its urban notable family allies and its urban-bourgeois ideological apologists. ‘Abdallah Hanna, al-‘Ammiyya wa’l-intifadat al-fallahiyya (1850–1918) fi jabal hawran (Damascus: al-Ahali, 1990), 253–6. Yahya, ‘Ahammiyyat wilayat tarabulus’, 52– 3. ‘Abdallah Ibrahim Sa‘id, ‘Adwa’ ‘ala al-milkiyya al-‘iqariyya li-madinat tarabulus min khilal sijillat al-mahakim al-shar‘iyya fi al-nisf al-thani min al-qarn al-tasi‘ ‘ashar’, in al-Mu’tamar al-awwal, 157 –84, 157 –79. Ibid., 180. Ibid., 181. Hala Sulayman, ‘Min tarikh al-irsaliyyat al-ajnabiyya fi tarabulus: alinjiliyyun wa’l-urthudhuks al-rum’, in al-Mu’tamar al-awwal, 381 – 404, 381 – 99. Ibid., 399. Ibid., 400. Anis al-Abyad, ‘Mazahir al-hayat al-‘ilmiyya fi tarabulus khilal al-qarn altasi‘ ‘ashar’, in al-Mu’tamar al-awwal, 339– 79, 339– 75. Ibid., 367. ‘Abd al-Majid al-Na‘na‘i, ‘Tarabulus fi al-qarn al-sabi‘ ‘ashar min khilal kitabat al-rahhala al-muslimin’, in al-Mu’tamar al-awwal, 405 – 28, 425. Ibid., 425. Ibid., 419. Ibid., 426 –8. Maha Kayyal, ‘al-Libas al-tarabulsi fi al-nisf al-thani min al-qarn al-tasi‘ ‘ashar’, in al-Mu’tamar al-awwal, 273– 305, 273–4. Ibid., 280. Ibid., 281. Ibid. Ibid., 281 –3. Ibid., 284 –5. Ibid., 287. ‘Abd al-Ghani ‘Imad, Mujtama‘ tarabulus fi zaman al-tahawwulat al‘uthmaniyya (Tripoli: Dar al-Insha’, 2002). In addition to his Ottomanperiod historical work, ‘Imad has written on Islamic movements, on Sunnism, and on Judaism and Zionism., ‘19 May2010: alDuktur ‘Abd al-Ghani ‘Imad’. Available at 05/19/page/4/ (accessed 28 December 2014). ‘Imad, Mujtama‘ tarabulus, 10. Ibid., 50.

182 114. 115. 116. 117. 118. 119. 120. 121. 122. 123. 124. 125. 126. 127. 128. 129. 130. 131. 132. 133. 134. 135. 136. 137. 138. 139. 140. 141. 142. 143. 144. 145. 146. 147. 148. 149. 150. 151. 152. 153.

NOTES TO PAGES 140 –149 Ibid., 16. Ibid., 231. Ibid., 31. Ibid., 127, 137, 139, 145– 6. Ibid., 139. Ibid., 59, 215, 230– 2. Ibid., 169. Ibid. Ibid. Ibid., 147–66. Ibid., 167–8. Ibid., 168. Ibid., 215. Al-Mu’tamar al-awwal, 18– 19. Munir Isma‘il, ‘Introduction’, in ‘Abd al-Latif Kurayyim, Barbar Agha: majd tarabulus ‘utiya lahu (Tripoli: Impress, 2004), 5 – 7, 5. Ibid., 6. Ibid., 7. Kurayyim, Barbar Agha, 11. Ibid., 37. Ibid., 76 –7. Ibid., 135, 242– 5, 247, 260– 1. Ibid., 296. Ibid., 38. Ibid., 75. Ibid., 119 ff. Ibid., 250–1. Ibid., 205. Ibid., 49 –50. Ibid., 85. Ibid., 53 –6. Ibid., 48. Ibid., 13 –14. Ibid., 13 –16, 61, 264–7. Ibid., 38. Ibid., 73. Ibid., 342. Ibid. Ibid., 396. Ibid. Ibid., 321, 324.



154. Faruq Hablas, Abhath fi tarikh wilayat tarabulus ibban al-hukm al-‘uthmani min khilal al-watha’iq al-rasmiyya al-‘uthmaniyya (Beirut: German Oriental Institute, 2007). 155. Ibid., 63 –4. 156. Ibid., 145. 157. Ibid., 16. 158. Ibid., 154. 159. Ibid., 170. 160. Ibid., 168, 172– 6. 161. Ibid., 176. 162. Ibid., 177. 163. Ibid., 178. 164. Ibid., 116. 165. Ibid., 135. 166. Ibid., 135–6. 167. Ibid., 137. 168. Ibid., 139. 169. Ibid., 137–8. 170. Ibid., 138.


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‘Abdallah, Subhi [Subhı¯ ‘Abdalla¯h], ˙ ˙ 65–8, 69 Abdel Nour, Antoine [Antu¯n ‘Abd ˙ al-Nu¯r], 50– 4, 55, 57, 60, 61, 67 Abdel Nour, Jabbour [Jabbu¯r ‘Abd al-Nu¯r], 53 Abdu¨lhamid II (Ottoman Sultan), 39, 72, 76, 77, 95, 97, 99, 100, 101, 102, 106 –7, 137 Abu Khatir, Henri [Henri Abu¯ Kha¯tir], ˙ 16 Abu Salih, ‘Abbas [‘Abba¯s Abu¯ Sa¯lih], 20 ˙ ˙ al-Abyad, Anis [Anı¯s al-Abyad], 127–9, ˙ 136–7 Acre, 36, 37, 45, 52, 67, 125, 133, 148 Adana, 88 Adham Bey, 88 ‘Alawı¯s, 13, 144, 159 Aleppo, 34, 38, 52, 84 Alexandria, 84, 119 Algeria, 93 Annales school, 51, 78, 89 Arab Revolt, 75, 89 Arabisation, 12, 16, 91 Arabs; Arab nationalism, 4, 6, 16, 23, 24, 26, 27, 28, 30, 32, 39, 49, 65–6, 69, 71, 77, 84, 85, 86, 87,

89, 91, 94, 96, 97, 99, 101, 125, 144, 149, 153 –4, 157 Armenians, 88, 94 al-Ashrafiyya (Beirut), 103 Atatu¨rk, 94, 153 al-Awza‘i, Imam [Imam al-Awza¯‘ı¯], 92, 102 al-Awza¯‘ı¯ Institute for Islamic Studies (see Islamic Centre for Education) a‘ya¯n (notables), 8, 78, 79–80, 126 al-‘Azm family, 36, 134 ˙ ‘Azmi Bey [‘Azmı¯ Bey], 115 ˙ al-Ba‘asiri, Salwa al-Sinyura [Salwa¯ Sinyu¯ra al-Ba‘a¯sirı¯], 84– 5 Bahjat, Muhammad [Muhammad ˙ Bahjat], 45 –7, 49, 113 – 21 Balkan Wars, 72 Barbar Agha, 37, 127, 140, 143 – 4, 145 – 50, 157, 159 Bashı¯r II al-Shiha¯b, 24, 27, 37, 38, 47, 93, 148 –9 Beirut, 10, 24, 25, 28, 31, 34– 41, 45, 52, 61, 64, 67, 68, 71–7, 82– 111, 113, 114, 116, 119, 133, 142, 144, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160 province of, 39, 61, 74 –5, 80, 83, 113, 118, 133



Beirut Arab University, 48, 99, 110 Beirut Reform Movement, 75, 84, 87–9, 99 Beydoun, Ahmad, 10 –23, 24, 30, 31, 32, 63, 91, 147 Bint Jubayl, 23, 32 Biqa¯‘ region, 18, 40 Bonaparte, Napoleon, 37, 52, 79 Bosnia-Herzegovina, 73 bourgeoisie, 81, 82, 83, 84, 156 Britain, 1, 20, 38, 40, 67, 75, 93, 153 Bulgaria, 2, 115 Burj (see Sa¯hat al-Shuhada¯’) ˙ Burke III, Edmund, 8, 62 al-Bustani, Butrus [Butrus al-Busta¯nı¯], 98 al-Bustani, Fu’ad Afram [Fu’a¯d Afram al-Busta¯nı¯], 26, 29– 30 Byzantines, 16, 101, 109 caliphate, 94, 97, 148, 153 capitulations, 77 Chaldean Christians, 94 Choueiri, Youssef, 9 – 10, 64 class conflict, 21 coffeehouses, 131, 146 Committee of Union and Progress, 46, 48, 76– 7, 83– 4, 86, 87, 88– 9, 99, 100 – 1, 111, 129, 161 conscription, 56 cosmopolitanism, 71, 74, 82, 84, 86, 89 crafts; craftworkers, 43 –4, 57, 66, 73, 74, 117, 140 Crete, 56 Crusades; Crusaders, 13, 17, 18, 34, 43, 45, 46, 47, 49, 66, 90 –1, 92, 93, 94, 96, 101, 103, 109, 147 Dahir, Mas‘ud [Mas‘u¯d Da¯hir], 31, ˙ 77–82, 132 – 4, 157 Damascus, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39, 40, 52, 67, 82, 84, 102, 114, 125, 133, 134, 140

Da¯r al-Ifta¯’; Da¯r al-Fatwa¯ (mufti’s offices), 66, 90 Davie, May, 5 Daw, Butrus [Butrus Daw], 17 ˙ Dayr al-Zu¯r, 73 Do¨nmes, 100 Druze; Druzes, 3, 4, 10, 12, 13, 14, 19, 20, 21, 24, 25, 26 –7, 35, 37, 38, 45, 46, 92, 141 Dual Qa¯’imaqa¯mate, 141, 152 earthquakes, 67 Edde´, Michel [Misha¯l Iddah], 130 Egypt; Egyptians, 2, 21, 37– 8, 48, 51, 54, 61, 73, 81, 93, 109, 119, 122, 137, 144, 147, 148, 149, 155 Fakhr al-Dı¯n II Ma‘n, 17, 19, 22, 24, 26, 35, 36, 45, 46, 47, 49, 50, 52, 65, 66, 95, 125, 155, 157, 162 Fatimids, 49 fiqh, 62, 64 France, 1, 35, 37, 38, 40, 50, 52, 75, 77, 93, 94, 106, 133, 134, 139, 144, 147, 149, 153, 162 Frederick II Barbarossa, 109 Freemasons, 88, 89, 100, 111, 161 French Mandate, 7, 20, 29, 75, 90, 97, 107, 143, 144, 152 German Oriental Institute, 150 Gharb region, 92 Greece; Greeks, 2, 115, 118 Greek Catholic Christians (see Melkite Christians) Greek Orthodox Christians, 4, 12, 13, 16, 26, 98, 118, 119, 135 – 6, 138 Hablas, Faruq [Fa¯ru¯q Hablas], ˙ ˙ 150 – 4, 158 Haifa, 115 Hallak, Hassan [Hassa¯n Halla¯q], 61, ˙ ˙ 99– 108, 109 – 10, 111, 142, 156, 157, 159, 160, 161

INDEX Hama, 36, 125 Hama¯da family, 35 ˙ al-Hamra¯’ (Beirut), 103 ˙ Hanna, ‘Abdallah [‘Abdalla¯h Hanna¯], ˙ 180 –1, n. 90 Hapsburgs, 35 haraka¯t (mid-nineteenth-century ˙ uprisings), 19, 20 –1, 22, 147 Hariri, Rafik [Rafı¯q al-Harı¯rı¯], 43, ˙ 44, 110 Harı¯rı¯ Foundation, 43 ˙ Havemann, Axel, 5, 10, 26, 28 –33, 79 Haydar, Hisham [Hisha¯m Haydar], ˙ 5– 6 Homs, 34, 36, 125 Hrawi, Muna [Muna¯ Hra¯wı¯], 44, 54 Husayn Na¯zim Pasha, 73 ˙ ˙ Ibn Khaldu¯n, 78, 140 Ibn Taymiyya, 13, 91 Ibra¯hı¯m Pasha (Egypt), 93, 144, 147 ‘Imad, ‘Abd al-Ghani [‘Abd al-Ghanı¯ ‘Ima¯d], 140 – 3, 144, 152, 156, 158 Industrial Revolution, 37– 8 inhita¯t (decline), 67 ˙˙ ˙ Iran, 36, 91 Ireland, 2 al-‘Irfa¯n, 46 Islamic Centre for Education, 99, 108 Islamic city, 57, 58, 60 –1, 62, 69, 106, 142, 157, 160 Islamisation, 91 Ismail, Adel [‘A¯dil Isma¯‘ı¯l], 17, 21 Isma‘il, Munir [Munı¯r Isma¯‘ı¯l], 6, 130, 143 –4, 145, 160 Israel, 32 Istanbul, 119, 140, 148 I‘ya¯l (village), 145 Jabal ‘A¯mil, 12, 18, 40, 52 Jama¯l Pasha, 40, 153 Janissaries, 109, 140, 146 – 7, 157


al-Jazzar, Ahmad [Ahmad al-Jazza¯r], ˙ 36, 37, 45, 52, 53, 67, 95, 145, 146, 149 Jerusalem, 35, 73, 100 Jews, 58, 62, 88, 89, 100 – 1, 111, 114, 161 al-Jibba district, 151 jihad, 108 – 9, 156 al-Jisr, Husayn [Husayn al-Jisr], 120 ˙ Jisr family, 120, 140 Jouplain, M., 20 Jumblatt, Walid [Walı¯d Junbula¯t], 26 ˙ Jurayj, Ilyas [Ilya¯s Jurayj], 74– 7, 80– 2, 89, 132, 134 al-Karami, ‘Abd al-Hamid [‘Abd al-Hamı¯d al-Kara¯mı¯], 120 ˙ Kara¯mı¯ family, 120, 140 Karkabi, Sami, 66 Kawtharani, Wajih [Wajı¯h Kawthara¯nı¯], 21, 29 Kayyal, Maha [Maha¯ Kayya¯l], 43, 57, 66, 138, 162 Kemal, Mustafa (see Atatu¨rk) al-Khazin, Walim [Walı¯m al-Kha¯zin], 53– 4 al-Khuri, Ignatius Tannus [Ignatius Tannu¯s al-Khu¯rı¯], 145 ˙ al-Khuri, Munir [Munı¯r al-Khu¯rı¯], 47–8, 49–50, 60 Kisrawa¯n region, 13– 16, 18 –19, 24, 91 Kiwan, Fadia [Fa¯dia Kı¯wa¯n], 44 Kurayyim, ‘Abd al-Latif [‘Abd al-Latı¯f ˙ Kurayyim], 143 – 9, 150, 157, 159, 160 Labaki, Joseph [Joseph Labakı¯], 6 Lebanese civil war (1975 – 90), 11, 31, 44, 47, 50, 82, 90, 95, 104, 127, 155, 158 Lebanese Emirate, 4, 10, 27, 37, 47, 157 Lebanese Republic, 1, 3, 4, 5, 25, 40, 45, 64, 107, 142, 143, 146, 157, 158



Lebanese Society for Ottoman Studies, 5, 130, 143 Lebanese University, 6, 50, 61, 77, 82, 96, 99, 110, 122, 129 – 30, 140, 150 Liberty and Entente Party, 88 Libya, 56, 72, 94 Maghrib, 79, 93 al-Majdhub, Talal [Tala¯l al-Majdhu¯b], ˙ 44, 54– 8, 61, 63, 64– 5, 69, 84, 142, 156, 158, 162 al-Makki, Muhammad [Muhammad ˙ al-Makkı¯], 17 Mamluks, 13– 14, 15, 24, 34, 45, 47, 49, 66, 86, 91, 92, 96, 109, 137, 156, 159 Ma‘n dynasty, 3, 10, 35, 36, 47, 65, 125, 132, 137, 157 maqa¯m (saint’s tomb), 67 Maqa¯sid, 26, 87, 97– 9 ˙ Mardaites, 14, 16, 17, 18– 19 Maronite Christians, 3, 10, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 20, 21, 22, 24, 25, 26, 28, 38, 86, 96, 98, 118, 119, 130, 141, 143, 144, 153 Martyrs’ Cemetery, 101 –2 Marxism, 21, 31, 32, 77, 108, 134 Mashriq (Arab East), 32, 79 Mecca, 102 Melkite Christians, 12, 13, 15, 26 merchants, 35, 37, 38, 51, 52, 53, 67, 74, 78, 120, 132, 140, 159 Midhat Pasha, 99 ˙ milla (‘nation’), 115, 119 al-Mina¯’ (Tripoli), 34 missionaries, 25, 28, 38, 87, 98, 127, 128, 135 –6 modernity, 27, 28, 46, 54, 56, 63, 68, 73, 74, 85, 86, 105 –6, 113, 117 –18, 120 –1, 129, 133, 156 Morocco, 94 Mount Lebanon, 3, 12, 18, 24, 25, 27, 35, 36, 39, 40, 48, 50, 51, 52, 73,

74, 75, 86, 95, 125, 139, 148, 152, 153, 154 Mubayyad, Hasan [Hasan Mubayyad], 131 ˙ ˙ Muhammad ‘Alı¯ (Egypt), 37, 81, ˙ 109, 149 al-Munajjid, Salah al-Din [Sala¯h ˙ al-Dı¯n al-Munajjid], 90 muqa¯ta‘a (taxation district), 151 –2 ˙ mura¯bitu¯n (coastal watchmen), 91 ˙ Mutasarrifiyya, 3, 4, 10, 29, 38, 141, ˙ 152, 157 Mutawallı¯, 46 Nablus, 115 Nahda (‘Renaissance’), 39, 44, 48, 50, ˙ 78, 98, 120, 125, 126, 127, 134, 135, 137, 144, 156 – 7, 159, 161 Na‘na‘i, ‘Abd al-Majid [‘Abd al-Majı¯d Na‘na‘ı¯], 137 Nassar, Nasif [Nasif Nassa¯r] ˙ ˙˙ (academician), 130 Nassar, Nasif [Nasif Nassa¯r] ˙ ˙˙ (historical figure), 52 National Heritage Association, 44, 54 Nawfal, Nawfal, 121 North Africa (see Maghrib) Nujaym, Bulus [Bu¯lus Nujaym], 167, n. 90 Nusayrı¯s (see ‘Alawı¯s) ˙ Orhan (Ottoman Sultan), 109 Orientalism, 60– 1, 62, 69, 122, 125, 135, 160 Ottoman constitution, 48, 72 Ottoman Empire, 1, 3, 4, 7– 8, 10, 20, 21, 28, 34– 40, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48, 51, 52, 54, 55, 56, 57, 59 –60, 63– 4, 66– 8, 69, 72 –4, 76– 7, 78– 81, 82, 85– 6, 87, 88, 91, 92– 3, 94, 95 –7, 98, 101, 109, 115, 118, 120 –1, 124, 135, 136, 139, 142, 146, 148 –9, 150 – 1, 152 – 3, 155 –7, 162

INDEX Palestine 1, 40, 67, 74, 84, 100 Phoenicians, 3, 4, 7, 10, 17 Protestants, Protestantism, 12, 13, 15, 16, 118, 135 – 6 Protocols of the Elders of Zion, 101 Qala¯wu¯n (Mamluk sultan), 91 al-Qawuqji, Fawzi [Fawzı¯ al-Qa¯wuqjı¯], 144 Question du Liban, La, 20 Qur’an, 62, 64, 68 Ra¯’if Bey, 99 railways, 73 al-Raml (Beirut), 103 rawa¯fid (‘rejecters’), 14 ˙ al-Rawwas, Muhammad Hasan [Muhammad Hasan al-Rawwa¯s], ˙ ˙ 61–2, 64, 68, 69, 106, 142, 157, 159, 160 Raymond, Andre´, 60 Rida, Rashid [Rashı¯d Rida¯], 129 ˙ Riya¯d al-Sulh Square (Beirut), 106 ˙ ˙ ˙ Rome, 24 Russia, 52, 135 Rustum, Asad, 16, 23, 26, 29 –30 Sa‘dun, Fawwaz [Fawwa¯z Sa‘du¯n], 86, 88– 9, 100, 101, 111, 160, 161 Sa¯hat al-Shuhada¯’ (Beirut), 103 ˙ Sa‘id, ‘Abdallah Ibrahim [‘Abdalla¯h Ibra¯hı¯m Sa‘ı¯d], 134 –5, 156 Saida, 10, 31, 34– 41, 43– 69, 71, 90, 92, 106, 113, 115, 142, 156, 157, 158, 159, 160, 162 Saladin, 92 Salam, Sa’ib [Sa¯’ib Sala¯m], 87, 97 ˙ Salam, Salim ‘Ali [Salı¯m ‘Alı¯ Sala¯m], 87, 88, 99 Salam, Tamam [Tama¯m Sala¯m], 97– 8 Salibi, Kamal [Kama¯l al-Salı¯bı¯], ˙ 5, 10, 13, 16, 23– 8, 29, 30, 32–3, 87 –8


Salim, ‘Abd al-‘Aziz [‘Abd al-‘Azı¯z Sa¯lim], 48 –50, 60 salnames (Ottoman provincial yearbooks), 151 al-Samad, Qasim [Qa¯sim al-Samad], ˙ 130, 131 Saudi Arabia, 5, 43 Sayfa¯ family, 35, 125, 132, 137 al-Sayyid, Ridwan [Ridwa¯n al-Sayyid], ˙ 58, 60– 1, 160 schools, 38, 39, 45, 48, 73, 83, 87, 98, 114, 117, 118, 119 –20, 128 – 9, 135 – 6 sectarianism, 74– 5, 76, 77, 80, 85, 141, 150, 152, 161, 162 Serbia, 115 Sha‘ban, Hanan Qarquti [Hana¯n ˙ Qarqu¯tı¯ Sha‘ba¯n], 108 –9, 110, 111, 156, 159, 160, 161 Shabaru, ‘Isam Muhammad [‘Isa¯m ˙ Muhammad Shaba¯ru¯], 96– 9, 100, ˙ 101, 105, 108, 110, 111, 159, 160, 161 Sharaf, Jean, 29 sharia courts, 50, 54, 58, 59, 60, 61, 77, 78, 99, 103, 104, 110, 113, 122, 127, 127 – 8, 134, 135, 136, 140, 141, 145, 151, 161 Sharif Husayn of Mecca, 89 ˙ Shiha¯b dynasty, 3, 10, 27, 36, 47 Shi‘ite Muslims, 12, 13, 15, 18, 22, 26– 7, 28, 35, 46, 53, 91, 95, 109, 130, 159 silk, 25 Sina¯n (Ottoman architect), 67 Sinnu, Ghassan Munir [Ghassa¯n Munı¯r Sinnu¯], 58– 60, 61, 62, 63, 64, 68, 69, 142, 159, 160 Sufism, 124, 126 – 7, 140 Sulayman, Hala [Hala¯ Sulayma¯n], 135–6 Sunni Muslims, 10, 14, 15, 17– 18, 22, 24, 26, 34, 63, 90, 91, 95, 98, 108, 110, 113, 130, 138, 159



Syria, 3, 4, 12, 16, 23, 26, 29, 34, 36, 37, 38, 40, 45, 61, 75, 78, 79, 93, 97, 116, 132, 133, 134, 146, 147, 148 Syrian Orthodox Christians, 94 Ta¯’if Agreement, 5, 31, 43, 150 ˙ takhalluf (backwardness), 79, 98, 121 Tamimi, Rafiq [Rafı¯q Tamı¯mı¯], 45–7, 49, 113 – 21 Tanu¯kh family, 92 Tanzimat reforms, 54, 57, 75, 77, 78, 80 tarı¯q sulta¯nı¯ (imperial road), 34 ˙ ˙ Temimi, Abdeljelil [‘Abd al-Jalı¯l al-Tamı¯mı¯], 79 Totah, Faedah, 9 Tripoli, 10, 31, 34– 41, 52, 90, 113 –54, 156, 157, 158, 160 –1, 162 Tunis; Tunisia, 73, 93 Turanism, 84, 88, 101, 111, 144, 148 tura¯th (heritage or legacy), 9, 43, 47, 57, 58, 104, 107, 129 Turcomans, 14 Turkey; Turks, 2, 20, 28, 49, 65, 66, 67, 69, 77, 79, 83, 85, 86, 89, 96, 97, 99, 100, 118, 122, 124, 126, 129, 137, 138, 153 – 4 Turkification, 48, 77, 87, 88 Tuscans, 66 ulama, 123, 124, 125, 126, 127, 137, 140 al-‘Umarı¯ mosque (Beirut), 92 Umayyads, 16 umma (community), 46 UNESCO, 44, 66, 84, 86, 99, 110, 111 Unionists (see Committee of Union and Progress)

University of Alexandria, 48 al-Unsi, ‘Abd al-Basit [‘Abd al-Ba¯sit ˙ al-Unsı¯], 72 –4, 76– 7, 81 al-Wali, Muhammad Taha [Muhammad ˙ Ta¯ha¯ al-Walı¯], 90–6, 97, ˙ 109, 157 waqfs, 54, 59, 61, 78, 99, 100, 102, 104, 110, 120, 134 –5 Weber, Max, 60 White, Hayden, 4, 33, 111 women, 8, 10, 11, 46, 116, 118, 120, 123, 138, 160 World War I, 17, 18, 40, 45, 54, 56, 64, 89, 94, 95, 103, 113, 117, 152 –4, 159, 162 Yahya, Hasan [Hasan Yahya¯], 134, 135 ˙ ˙ Yanni, Jurji [Jurjı¯ Yannı¯], 121 Yemen, 56 Young Turks (see Committee of Union and Progress) Za¯hir al-‘Umar, 53 ˙ za‘ı¯m (strongman), 78, 123, 127, 140, 151 Za‘rur, Hasan [Hasan Za‘ru¯r], 82 –4, 85, ˙ 86, 108, 109, 111, 156, 160 za¯wiya (Sufi lodge), 67, 73, 102 Ziade, Khaled [Kha¯lid Ziya¯da], 122 – 7, 131, 132, 133, 134, 135, 139, 140, 141, 142, 143, 155, 157, 158 Ziadeh, Nicola [Niqu¯la¯ Ziya¯da], 54, 55, 84– 6, 87, 89, 96, 105, 110 –11, 142, 156, 159, 160 Zionism, 74, 76, 91 –2, 100, 101, 144 Zureik, Constantine [Qustantı¯n ˙ ˙ Zurayq], 6, 30