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The Rise of Arab Nationalism Reconsidered

  • Mahmoud Haddad (a1)
Abstract

The debate over the origins of early Arab nationalism in geographical Syria before World War I revolves around a twofold thesis presented two decades ago. Its first and most influential part advances a social explanation, maintaining that it was a traditional intra-Arab elite conflict: “those members of the Arab elite who had a vested interest in the Ottoman state were Ottomanists. Those who were without such a stake were Arabists.”

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NOTES

Author's note: I thank Columbia University Council for Research in the Social Sciences for its support in making this study possible. Equal appreciation goes to Richard Bulliet, Abdul-Karim Rafiq, Kemal Karpat, Engin Akarli, Philip Khoury, Rashid Khalidi, and Gregory Gause III for their criticisms and suggestions. Any shortcomings are the sole responsibility of the author. An early version of this study was presented at the Fifth Biennial Conference, “Nationalisms on the Periphery of the Ottoman Empire,” organized by the Southwest Asian and North African Studies and Fernand Braudel Center, State University of New York at Binghamton, on 6–7 November 1992.

1 See Dawn C. Ernest, “The Origins of Arab Nationalism,” and Rashid Khalidi, “Ottomanism and Arabism in Syria Before 1914: A Reassessment,” in The Origins of Arab Nationalism, ed. Khalidi Rashid et al. (New York, 1991), 3–30, 5069.

2 Dawn Ernest, “The Rise of Arabism in Syria” in his From Ottomanism to Arabism: Essays on the Origins of Arab Nationalism (Urbana, 111, 1973), 173.

3 Ibid., 6.

4 Ibid., 19.

5 Hourani Albert, “The Arab Awakening: Forty Years After,” The Emergence of The Modern Middle East (Berkeley, Calif., 1981), 205.

6 Khalidi Rashid, “Social Factors in the Rise of the Arab Movement in Syria” in From Nationalism to Revolutionary Islam, ed. Arjomand Said (Albany, 1986), 54.

8 ʿAli Muhammad Kūrd, al-Mudhakkirāt, 4 vols. (Damascus, 1948–1951), 3:719.

9 In Two Concepts of Nationalism: An Interview with Isaiah Berlin,” The New York Review of Books, 21 11 1991, 19.

10 al-Khatīb ʿAdnān, al-Shaykh Ṭāhir al-Jazāʾirī: Rāʾid al-nahḍal-ʿ ilmī yya fl bilād al-Shām (Cairo, 1971), 42.

11 Most recently, for example, Commins David, Islamic Reform: Politics and Social Change in Late Ottoman Syria (New York, 1990), 89103.

12 For a longer list of members, see Ibid., 92–96; al-Shihābi Mustafā, al-Qawmiyya al-ʿ Arabiyya (Cairo, 1961), 53. For al-Shahbandar's likely membership in one of those societies, see Seikkaly Samir, “ʿ Abdul-Raḥmān Shahbandar: The Beginnings of a Nationalist Career,” al-Abḥāth 34 (1986): 54.

13 Cachia Pierre, An Overview of Modern Arabic Literature (Edinburgh, 1990), 3132;Salibi Kamal, The Modern History of Lebanon (Delmar, N.Y., 1977), 126–30, 154–55.

14 Dawn, “Origins of Arab Nationalism,” 4.

15 Cachia, An Overview, 32.

16 Haddad Robert, Syrian Christians in Muslim Society: An Interpretation (Princeton, N.J., 1970), 83;al-Husri Satiʿ, Muḥaḍaratfi nushuD al-fikra al-carabiyya (Beirut, 1985), 124–27.

17 Swanson Glen W., “Enver Pasha: The Formative Years,” Middle Eastern Studies 16 (09 1980): 194.

18 See the informative and unsigned article, “Taʾrikh al-idāra al-ʿuthmānīyya fī al-bilād al-ʿArabiyya,” al-Ahrām (Cairo), 26 04 1913, 1.

19 Gross Max, “Ottoman Rule in the Province of Damascus 1860–1909” (Ph.D. diss., Georgetown University, 1979), 337.

20 Commins, Islamic Reform, 95.

21 Hourani, “Arab Awakening,” 203.

22 An Ottoman medical school was established in Damascus in 1903. See al-Ḥakīm Yūsuf, Dhikrayāt al-Ḥakīm. Vol. 1, Sūriyā wa-al-ʿahd alʿuthmānī (Beirut, 1966), 59.

23 Mushtāq Tālib, Awrāq ayyāmi, 1900–1958 (Beirut, 1968), 36; cited also in Simon Reeva, Iraq between the Two World Wars: The Creation and Implementation of a Nationalist Ideology (New York, 1986), 9.

24 Abdulhamid gave preference to the graduates of the mülkiye and specified their eligibility to a list of offices in the central and provincial administrations; see Findley Carter V., Bureaucratic Reform in the Ottoman Empire: The Sublime Porte, 1789–1922 (Princeton, N.J., 1980), 276.For a breakdown of the highest positions attained by the students who graduated from the mülkiye from 1860 to 1909, see Kazamias Andreas M., Education and the Quest for Modernity in Turkey (London, 1966), 90.

25 Szyliowicz Joseph S., “Changes in the Recruitment Patterns and Career-Lines of Ottoman Provincial Administrations during the Nineteenth Century” in Studies on Palestine during the Ottoman Period, ed. Maʿoz Moshe (Jerusalem, 1975), 261.

27 Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, 167–68.

28 Al-Ḥakīm, Dhikrayāt al-Ḥakīm, 1:5758;Tibawi A. L., A Modern History of Syria Including Lebanon and Palestine (London, 1969), 183.

29 Farhi David, “The Ṣeriat as a Political Slogan—or the ‘Incident of 31st Mart,’” Middle Eastern Studies 7 (09 1971): 281. It should be mentioned that the Albanians were more prominent than the Arabs in Abdulhamid H's palace guard. However, there was an intense rivalry between this section of the Ottoman army led by alāili officers and other sections led by mektebli officers. According to a British contemporary observer: “Amongst these troops [Yildiz palace guards] in the later years of Abdul's reign the Albanians held so favoured a position as to render plausible the statement made to me by an officer of the Genie, a corps corresponding to our Royal Engineers, that the army would like the chance of attacking the regiments around Yildiz and killing every man in them.” See Pears Sir Edwin, Forty Years in Constantinople (London, 1915), 222.

30 Akarli Engin, “Abdulhamid II's Attempt to Integrate the Arabs into the Ottoman System” in Palestine in the Late Ottoman Period: Political, Social and Economic Transformation, ed. Kushner David (Jerusalem and Leiden, 1986), 7589.

31 The Times (London), 3 11 1908, 5;Ibid., 9 March 1909, 5; Ibid., 1 April 1909, 5.

32 Numerical and minor files of the Department of State 1906–10, Turkey 10044/179. Leisham John, the American ambassador (Constantinople) to [Philander Chase Knox] secretary of state (Washington, D.C.), 15 April 1909.

33 Khadduri Majid, “ʿAziz ʿA1ī Misrī and the Arab Nationalist Movement,” in St. Antony's Papers, no. 17, Middle Eastern Affairs, no. 4, ed. Hourani Albert (Oxford, 1965), 147.

34 Cited in Egyptian Gazette, 15 09 1907, 5.

35 Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, 64.

36 Egyptian Gazette, 8 10 1908, 2.

37 Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, 296–97.

38 Ibid., 297.

40 [Daghir Asʿad], Thawrat al-ʿarab (Cairo, 1916), 52.

41 Findley, Bureaucratic Reform, 238;Shaw Stanford and Shaw Ezel Kural, History of the Ottoman Empire and Modern Turkey, 2 vols. (Cambridge, 1977), 2:275.

42 Darwaza Muhammad ʿIzzat, Nashʾat al-ḥaraka al-ʿarabiyya al-ḥaditha, 2nd ed. (Sidon, 1971), 301;[Daghir], Thawrat al-ʿarab, 52.

43 Karpat Kemal, “The Memoirs of N. Batzaria: The Young Turks and Nationalism,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 6 (06 1975): 293.

44 Godechot Jacques, The Taking of the Bastille (London, 1970), 51.

45 Al-Muqtabas (Damascus), 6 April 1911, 1. For a slightly different version of al-ʿAsalī's speech, see The Near East and the Anglo-Egyptian Mail (hereafter, Near East), 14 06 1911, 124. For a concise and insightful account of al-ʿAsalī's career, see Seikaly, “Shukri al-ʿAsali: A Case Study of a Political Activist” in Origins of Arab Nationalism, 7396.

46 Al-Muqtabas, 17 05 1911, 3.

47 Blake Corinne, “Training Arab-Ottoman Bureaucrats: Syrian Graduates of the Mulkiye Mektebi 1890–1920” (Ph.D. diss., Princeton University, 1991), 194–95.

48 Ibid., 193.

49 Ibid., 194.

50 Darwaza, Nashʾ;at al-ḥaraka al-ʿarabiyya, 301.

51 ʿIzzat Pasha al-ʿĀbid, the Damascene second secretary to Abdulhamid, was instrumental in appointing many of his proteges in the provincial civil and judicial administrations in both the provinces of Damascus and Beirut; see Gross, “Ottoman Rule in the Province of Damascus,” 471–72.

52 Darwaza, Nashʾat al-ḥaraka al-ʿarabiyya, 301.

53 Al-Muqtabas, 6 04 1911, 1.

55 Szyliowicz, “Changes in the Recruitment,” 261.

56 Al-Muqtabas, 15 04 1911, 23.

57 Ibid., 17 April 1911,3.

58 Ibid., 6 April 1911, 1.

60 Ibid., 9 September 1911, 1–2.

61 Al-Mufīd (Beirut), 14 05 1911, 1.

62 Dawn, “Origins of Arab Nationalism,” 19.

63 Saliba Najib, “The Achievements of Midhat Pasha as Governor of the Province of Syria, 1878–1880,” International Journal of Middle East Studies 9 (08 1978): 314;Kushner David, “The Place of the Ulema in the Ottoman Empire during the Age of Reform (1839–1918),” Turcica 19 (1987): 60.

64 Al-Ḥakīm, Dhikrayāt al-ḥakīm, 1:126.

65 Ibid., 112; FO 195/2342/175–76, “General Report for the March Quarter [1910]”; Consul George Devey (Damascus) to Sir G. Lowther (Constantinople), 4 04 1910.

66 Al-Ḥakīm, Dhikrayāt al-ḥakīm, 1:184–85.

67 FO 195/2342/94, “Permanent Members in the Courts of Damascus”; Consul Devey George (Damascus) to Ambassador Sir G. Lowther (Constantinople), 23 02 1910.

68 Al-Huda (New York), 19 11 1910, 4.

69 FO 195/2342/175–76, “General Report for March Quarter [1910].” Because Consul Devey had reported earlier on 23 February 1910 in his dispatch about the “Permanent members in the courts of Damascus” that the central government had appointed sixteen new permanent members for the courts of Damascus, it is probable that the unaccounted for four members were non-Damascene Syrians.

70 Dawn, “Origins of Arab Nationalism,” 20.

71 Al-Ahrām, 19 11 1909, 1.

72 FO 195/2342/94, “Permanent Members in the Courts of Damascus,”

73 Al-lqbāl (Beirut), 1 03 1909, 6.

74 Al-Muqtabas, 2 04 1910, 12.

75 Al-Ḥaqīqa (Beirut), 3 04 1913, 2.

76 Ergin Osman, Türkiye Maarif Tarihi, 5 vols. (Istanbul, 1977), 3:1273.

77 See article 10 of the amended CUP program of 1909 in Tunaya Tank Zafer, Türkiyeʾde Siyasal Partiler, 2 vols. (Istanbul, 1984), 1:82; see also, al-Shaʿb (Aleppo), 20 10 1909, 1.

78 In his al-ʿArabīyya wa-al-turkīyya,” al-Muqtabas (monthly) 4 (1909): 109–12; see also, al-Mufīd (Beirut), 8 02 1911, 3;al-Muʾayyad (Cairo), 13 09 1910, 2.

79 Landau Jacob, Pan-Turkism in Turkey: A Study of Irredentism (London, 1981), 47.

80 Duri A. A., The Formation of the Arab Nation: A Study in Identity and Consciousness (London, 1987), 229–31.

81 No Turkish was taught in the schools run by the Greek Orthodox millet, for example, until 1895 when Turkish became a required subject of study, although not the language of instruction; see Kazamias. Education and the Quest for Modernity, 95.

82 Kushner David, The Rise of Turkish Nationalism 1876–1908 (London, 1977), 91.

83 Article 17 of the Program in Tunaya, Türkiyeʾde Siyasal, 67.

84 The Ministry of Education decreed in 1910 that all foreign teachers employed in either state or millet school should be replaced by Ottoman nationals; see al-Shaʿb, 10 08 1910, 2.

85 Ergin, Türkiye Maarif, 3:1292.

86 Dawn, “Origins of Arab Nationalism,” 20.

87 Ergin, Türkiye Maarif, 3:1293.

88 Al-Hudā, 23 09 1910, 45.

89 Cited in al-Muʾayyad, 13 09 1910, 2.

90 Le Temps (Paris) 5 10 1909, 1.

91 Seikaly, “ʿAbdul Raḥmān Shahbandar,” 61.

92 Al-Muqtabas, 16 01 1910, 3.

93 Later on, the central government permitted the Ottoman graduates of foreign universities to retain their posts if they passed an examination proving their proficiency in Turkish; see Ibid., 7 July 1910, 3.

94 FO 371/1002/28562. Consul Devey George (Damascus) to Ambassador Sir G. Lowther (Constantinople), 4 04 1910; cited also in Khoury Philip, Urban Notables and Arab Nationalism: The Politics of Damascus 1860–1920 (London, 1983), 122, n. 18.

95 Lisān al-Ḥāl (Beirut), 1 09 1910, 3.

96 Ibid., 17 October 1910, 2.

97 FO 371/1491/4965, “Turkey: Annual Report, 1911”; Ambassador Lowther Sir G. (Constantinople) to Grey Sir Edward (London), received 5 02 1911.

98 Al-Ahrām, 19 01 1912, 1.

99 The Times (London), 24 03 1911, 5. On the point of a conflict between Arab and Turkish members of the CUP's Beirut branch, see also Khalidi Rashid, British Policy towards Syria and Palestine 1906–1914 (London, 1980), 228–29.

100 Records of the United States Department of State relating to the Internal Affairs of Turkey 19101929, 867.00/349. W. Stanley Hollins, American consul-general (Beirut) to [P. C. Knox] secretary of state (Washington, D.C.); it should be mentioned, however, that Hollins's explanation for the central government's behavior stemmed from what he perceived as its concern for maintaining public law and order. I do not believe that the above explanation for Istanbul's motives is credible for a number of reasons, the most important of which is that the Syrians were being ousted at that point not only from the local administration but also from the central administration.

101 Al-Muqaṭṭam (Cairo), 14 12 1912, 1.

102 Ibid.

103 Al-Ahrām, 15 02 1913, 1.

104 Birru Tawfīq, al-ʿArab wa al-turk ft al-ʿahd al-dustūrī al-ʿuthmānī 1908–1914 (Cairo, 1960), 534–35.

105 Records of the United States Department of State relating to the Internal Affaīrs of Turkey 19101929, 867.00/578. W. Stanley Hollins, consul-general (Beirut) to [William J. Bryan] secretary of state Washington, D.C.).

106 FO 195/2451/423; SirLowther Gerard (Constantinople) to Grey Sir Edward (London), 25 09 1913.

107 Mirʾāt al-Gharb (New York), 12 11 1913, 4.

108 Al-Mufīd, 6 04 1911, 3. In 1910 Sulayman al-Bustani mentioned that, according to his calculations, only 7 percent of the officials in the province of Beirut were Turks; see Lisān al-Ḥāl, 17 10 1910, 2.

109 Landau, Pan-Turkism in Turkey, 30.

110 On one of these pre-1908 polemics, see Vambéry Arminius, Western Culture in Eastern Lands: A Comparison of the Methods Adopted by England and Russia in the Middle East (New York, 1906), 275.

111 al-Khaṭīb Muḥibb al-Dīn, “Introduction” in al-Duktūr Ṣalāḥ al-Dīn al-Qāsimi 1305–1334 [1886–1916]: Āthāruhu, ed. al-Khaṭīb Muḥibb al-Dīn (Cairo, 1959), iv;Darwaza, Nastʾat al-ḥaraka alʿarabiyya, 303.

112 Qadrī Ahmad, Mudhakkirātī ʿan al-thawra al-ʿarabīyya al-kubrā (Damascus, 1956), 67. That many of the Arab societies formed in Istanbul during the Young Turk era was a reaction to the Young Turk society or the CUP is confirmed by al-Shihabī, al-Qawmiyya al-ʿarabiyya, 6768.

113 Blake, “Training Arab-Ottoman Bureaucrats,” 265–67.

114 al-Suwaydī Tawfīq, Mudhakkirātī: Niṣf qam min tārīkh al-ʿirāq wa al-qadīyya al-ʿarabiyya (Beirut, 1969), 24.

115 Qadrī, Mudhakkirātī, 11.

116 Al-Duktūr Ṣalāḥ al-Din al-Qāsimī, 7273. For the names of some Turkish professors who were members of the Turkish Association (Türk Derneği) in those educational institutions in Istanbul, see Arai Masami, Turkish Nationalism in the Young Turk Era (Leiden, 1991), 9, Table 1.

117 Al-Qāsimī published these ideas on 8 02 1909, in the Damascene newspaper al-Muqtabas; cited in al-Duktūr Ṣalāḥ, 7275.

118 Ibid., 74–75.

119 Al-Khatīb, ”Min mudhakkirāt Muḥibb al-Dīn al-Khaṭīb,” Majallat al-Awqāf al-Islāmiyya (Damascus) 1 (1945–1946): 19.

120 Ibid.

121 [Daghir], Thawrat al-ʿarab, 52. On the attitude of the CUP Turkish members toward the Arab members before 1908, see Hanioğlu M. Şükrü, “The Young Turks and the Arabs before the Revolution of 1908” in Origins of Arab Nationalism, 3149.

122 Al-Khaṭīb, Introduction, al-Duktūr Ṣalāḥ, iv;Darwaza, Nastʾat al-ḥaraka al-ʿarabiyya, 302.

123 Landau, Pan-Turkism in Turkey, 4547.

124 Dawn, “The Rise and Progress of Middle Eastern Nationalism,” Social Education, 01 1961, 22.

125 Al-Khatīb, Introduction, al-Duktūr Ṣalāḥ, iv;al-Qāsimī, al-Duktūr, 92.

126 An association called Türk talebe yurdu (homeland of the Turkish students) was the name of a separate organization of Turkish students abroad, mainly in Switzerland, France, and Germany; see Landau, Pan-Turkism in Turkey, 39.

127 Al-Suwaydī, Mudhakkirātī, 21.

128 Al-Muqtabas, 17 05 1911, 3.

129 Dawn, ”Origins of Arab Nationalism,” 13;Khalidi, “Social Factors,” 5657.

130 Saʿīd Amīn, al-thawra al-ʿarabīyya, 1:13.

131 Al-Manār (Cairo), 17 (25 04 1914), 395.

132 Khadduri Majid, ”ʿAziz ʿA1I al-Masrī,” 149;al-Saʿid Nūrī, Mudhakkirāt Nūrī al-Saʿ īdʿan alharakat al-askariyya lil-jaysh alʿarabīā fi al-hijāz wa suriyā 1916–1918, 2nd ed. (Beirut, 1978), 20.

133 Shūkri ʿAlī Aḥmad, trans., Mudhakkirāt Jamāl Pasha (Cairo, 1923), 90.

134 Qadri, Mudhakkirāti, 14; for al-ʿAhd program and the debate about it, see Birru, al-ʿArab wa al- Turk, 557–61.

135 Al-Ahrām, 16 12 1912, 1.

136 [Daghir], Thawrat al-ʿarab, 57;Saʿīd, al-Thawra al-ʿarabīyya, 1:13.

137 Saʿid, al-Thawra al-ʿarabīyya, 1:1314.

136 Records of the United States Department of State relating to the Internal Affairs of Turkey 1910–1929, 867.00/438. Hollins W. Stanley, consul-general (Beirut) to [P. C. Knox] secretary of state (Washington, D.C.).

139 Ministère des Affaires Èitrangères (Quai d'Orsay, Paris), Turquie N. S.. Syrie-Liban, No. 118 Decembre [1912], Direction Politique et Commerciale D44/1, 129.Ottavi M., French consul (Damas) to Raymond Poincaré, minister of foreign affairs (Paris), 24 12 1912.

140 Al-Muʾayyad, 24 12 1912, 4.

141 Al-Duktūr Ṣalāḥ, 57.

142 Al-Muʾayyad, 24 12 1912, 1.

143 Georgeon François, “La montée du nationalisme turc dans L'Ètat ottoman (1908–1914),” Revue du monde musulman et de la Méditerranée 50 (1988): 39.

144 Al-Mufīd, 14 05 1911, 1.

145 I[lber] Ortayli, “Ideological Structure of Syria and Lebanon in the 19th Century and Ottoman Counter-Measures,” Revue d'histoire maghrebine 12 (06 1985): 151.

146 Al-Muʾayyad, 3 05 1913, 4.

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