Arab Nationalism

Arab Nationalism is a nationalist ideology that claim the Arabs as a nation and promotes the unity of Arab peoples. Arab Nationalism is the quest for a national identity and struggle for political power in the fertile crescent. The following are some of the important factors that cause the Arab Nationalism –

  1. Religion  :

        Religion played an important role in the awakening of Asian countries in the initial phase of history. It was religion rather than nationality. During this Islam religion became widespread in Arab country. And this eager the people in the country to a common faith and common ideal. It help them to feel as one or feeling of belongingness within themself through this very religion.

  • Role of Islam :

  In the history of Middle – East country, Arab was the country where people were united in the name of a religion called “Islam” which was based on their culture and economy.

  • After the advent of Islam, an Arab – Islamic civilization flourished that gave the Arab’s a common cultural heritage to which they could look upon for inspiration and guidance.
  • Therefore, Islam was not only an important factor in unifying the Arab country, but it was the faith of the people in the country on this new religion that has to do much with the rise of nationalism in the country.
  • Role of Ottoman Empire :

  After the closing era of the Crusades down to the world war 1, for four (4) centuries the Ottoman empire rulers of Turkey dominated the whole of the Arab – speaking world.

  • The Ottoman administration and its social and economic structures  including the heavy taxation and oppressive rule which  were shared commonly by the Arab people strengthened the cultural history, language and religion and ties it with a common interest.
  • The charisma and the leadership of the rulers played an important role for the people to come together as one unit.
  • Napoleon’s Invasion of Egypt :

Napoleon’s  Bonaparte invasion of Egypt in 1798 woke up the Arab country from deep slumber of centuries. This invasion initiated a number of events and idea including the general Arab awakening which made the development of modern Arab nationalism possible. As a result a printing press in Cairo in Egypt was introduced and many publication on resistance were given, thus this led to many positive impact and a sense of  pride  as a past heritage and hence this gave the feeling of nationalism among the people in the country.

  • Role of Egypt and Mohammad Ali :

     Napoleon’s invasion and occupation of Egypt prepared the way for western influences in the country while the rise and enlightened rule of Muhammad Ali accelerated the process.

  • His full name was Muhammad Ali pasha al – Mas’ud ibn Agha.
  •  He was an Ottoman Albanian commander in the Ottoman army He made an attempt to establish an Arab empire under his personal leadership.
  • He attempted to modernize Egypt by instituting dramatic reforms in the military, economic and cultural spheres.
  • But though he did not succeed in his attempt, Mohammad Ali endeavour aroused national consciousness among the Arabs.
  • Mohammad Ali and his son by their activities and speeches stirred the minds of the people to rise for nationalism.
  • He is known for the establishment of “Pan Islam”(only the Islamic will come together). His aim was to unite all the Pan Islamic countries with his son.
  • Wahabi Movement:

   For the purpose of purification of Islam this movement was started. As their was a great impact and influence of the west during the time.

  • This was not surprising as the influence of religion over all the classes of the Arab society was always considerable.
  • The movement did not remained confined only in Arab but it stimulated and vitalizes the Muslims in Sudan, India, Sumatra etc.
  • Literary Renaissance:

      It emerged under the influence of the western ideas and partly as a       reaction to the pressure of Turkish Nationalism.

  • Syria bordering the Mediterranean and facing Europe was the first Arab country to feel the influence of the new nationalism.
  • Hence, a literary renaissance in Syria stimulated Arab Syria nationalism which gradually spread to the neighbouring Arab countries.
  • Ibrahim Yazji :

        Butrus el Bustani and his friend Ibrahim yazji played a considerable role. In 1857, their followers founded the Syrian Scientific Society in Beirut.

  • Foreigners were not admitted to the society.
  • It became a meeting – ground of Arab intellectuals of all sects. Its all members took pride in being an Arab.
  • He said “by the sword many distant aims to be attained. Seek with it, if you mean to succeed”. This was a passionate call to rise in the name of the Arab nation.
  • Kawakebi :

          Abder– Rahman el – Kawakebi, was a Syrian publicist who is rightly regarded as the father of Arab Nationalism. He was born in 1849 in Aleppo, Syria. During his youth he was influenced by the teachings of Bustani and Jemal ed  – Din – al – Aghani.

  • Because of his outspoken tyranny an corruptness of the Ottoman administration he suffered imprisonment and other repressions.
  • Though he denounced scholastic theology and preached for the formation of a single Arab state Kawakebi, but he was been influenced by the Pan – Islamic ideology.
  • While endorsing fully to the doctrine of the unity of Islam, he pleaded for the transfer of the Caliphate to an Arab of the Qurayah tribe.
  • In his book Umm El – Qura, he narrated imaginary proceedings of a Moslem congress that solved the problem of founding an Arab caliphate and an Arab state with its centre at Mecca.
  •  Another book “Tabai El – Isridad” ( The Attributes of Tyranny), he attacked tyranny and denounced the ignorance of the masses and the conservatism of the theologians who dominated the educational field.

   Therefore, the Arab national consciousness in the modern era which arose out of the western impact and literary renaissance was however at first confined to a small elite of intellectuals and patriots and it was not a mass movement.  Hence, all this movements, events and personalities played a significant role for the rise of Arab Nationalism.