One of the most complex questions in the study of the history of Arab nationalism is that of the relationship between Islam and nationalism in collective political identity. This complexity shows itself clearly in the specific case of the Palestinian national movement during the early Mandatory period, when the Islamic political sensibilities that historically had been central to the Ottoman Empire were thoroughly intertwined with Palestinian territorial nationalism and Pan-Arabism.1 It is not difficult to identify individual Palestinian activists who expressed their political identities at various times through any or all of these categories.2 Clearly, religious and nationalist bases of social and political identity are neither mutually exclusive nor unchanging over time. Concepts of identity, whether expressed through kinship relations, citizenship, or religious and national identity, are generated, chosen, and manipulated in specific historical circumstances. As Dale Eickelman explains, “These forms do not exist as objects that can be torn from social and cultural contexts by anthropologists for recording and classification into typologies.”3 One can therefore ask, Under what circumstances did Palestinian activists choose to express their political identity in terms of nationalism?
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