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Source: International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 14, No. 2 (May, 1982), pp. 185-201 Published by: Cambridge University Press Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/163203 . Accessed: 04/10/2011 11:20
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Int. With minor territorial recessions and recoveries of variable duration. more active terms are suggested to convey the dynamic purposes to which that void has been put. the Ottoman variety of Turkish suzerainty continued for nearly four centuries. 185-201 Printed in the United States of America Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj THE SOCIAL USES OF THE PAST: RECENT OF OTTOMAN RULE HISTORIOGRAPHY ARAB This study examines the structures of thought behind a representativeselection of recent Arab historical and social scientific works on the Ottoman era of Arab history to elicit their historically bound social uses.3 The three periods are: to 1918. each bearing a distinct relationship to specific and distinct historical moments. later malikane) to the most indirect tribute of paying or receiving in kind. After a short transitional period in which the previous models were retained. Western Arabia) dates from about the second decade of the sixteenth century and was later in the same and early in the subsequent century extended to include most of North Africa (short of Morocco) and Iraq. timar and ziamet. Furthermore the term "ignored" hardly explains the existence of so wide a gap in scientific knowledge. As a consequence.2 This statement is neither accurate as description nor conceptually appropriate for the purpose of understanding the dearth of Arab scholarly writing on the Ottoman period. in Anatolia and southeast Europe. ranging from merchants to the clergy (Muslim ulama among others). The first two have been studied with a certain degree of accuracy and thoroughness.' Ottoman rule in the predominantly Arabic-speaking regions of the Near East (Syria. the Ottoman dynasty and ruling elites were able to justify through Islam their conquests. 1950 to the present. control. 1918-1950. Enough scholarly materials have been produced over the last eighty years to warrant dividing the production into three self-contained chronological periods. and exploitation of the lands of the Near East and North Africa. Egypt. the land and natural and commercial resources were subjected to exploitation by different forms of fiscal administration ranging from direct and semidirect "feudal" arrangements (Turk. The most frequently quoted observation about this four hundred years of Arab history is that its study has been for all practical purposes ignored by Arab scholars. The main beneficiaries of Ottoman suzerainty were the administrators of the fiscal systems and their local allies. As heirs to the Muslim caliphate. 14 (1982). the following observations summarize and abstract the main ? 1982 CambridgeUniversityPress 0020-7438/82/020185-17 $2.50 . Middle East Stud. it is as Muslims that the sultans identified themselves and it was to this ideological pole that the identity and loyalty of their mostly Muslim Arabic-speaking subjects were bound. Later in this study. J.
because it recruited a fairly large number of Arabs to fill some of the more critical positions in the central administration. This was not the case. where warranted. Iraqi." or "Syrian" nationals who visited the Ottoman court. The short-lived call for a unified Arab state-the political goal of the period immediately preceding the outbreak of the war which grew in strength in its course-was superceded by regional nationalism. which ends with World War I. Turkification policies-a nationalist hallmark of the essentially conservative Young Turks4-occasioned the final disassociation of the Arab from the Ottoman-Islamic identity.186 Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj assessments made by others of Arab scholarly production and. To say that the colonial regimes had to turn to local cadres to implement their policies in their newly carved-out bailiwicks would be stating the obvious. Part of the problem in this task is that the local elites have been portrayed as caught in the dilemma of being damned if they did cooperate with the colonial power and damned if they did not (the country would fall to direct foreign rule). it in turn inspired scholarly production that presumed the existence of an Arab nation and a commensurate new historical identity to go with it. The comparatively broad-based Arab independence movement of this period appeared to be. Even the era of the arch-reactionary sultan AbdulHamid is received with favor. for Palestine.or seventeenth-century "Tunisian. Thus one finds articles written about sixteenth. as evidenced by their service in the colonial administrations. It is only toward the end of the period. in part. It called for the total independence of Arabs from the Ottomans. Tunisian." "Egyptian. the recently carved-out states are anachronistically identified with the previously undifferentiated regional identities and projected back into earlier centuries. An explanation can be discovered by analyzing the qutrT (provincial nationalist) scholarly production which . analyze the continuities and discontinuities with scholarly production from 1950. willy nilly. since the purpose of the British mandate was. except in North Africa. among others. The feeling that one was an "Iraqi" first and an Arab second was nourished in new schools and taught through textbooks freshly created to foster the new identity. that a decided shift in Arab attitudes and (therefore also) in scholarly production can be discerned. is characterized by a positive attitude toward the Ottoman state as upholder of the Islamic caliphate-sultanate. and Egyptian. where latter-day Turkish support against the French and the Italians was favorably received. In monographs published in the interwar period. mainly the first decade and a half of the twentieth century. the exclusion of a Palestinian identity for the Arabs. No suggestions have been offered to explain that cooperate they nevertheless did.5 With the division of Ottoman provinces among the European victors of "the Great War. The evaluation and the assessment of the role and importance of this sector of local society have yet to be carried out." a new pattern of Arab scholarship appears. however. The fragmentation that this pattern of identification and scholarship displays is a reflection of the school of historiography which was sponsored by the dominant colonial powers at the newly set-up modern universities and which filtered down through an officially sponsored public education system to primary and secondary levels of schooling. the response to a specific historical moment in Arab history. Arab scholarship of the first period. nor for Algeria.
this group found itself caught in a historical dilemma. tastes. and grounds which were not of its own making or choice. purely Arab-Islamic past. preOttoman. contexts. Clues to this newfound identity are evident in the immediate history of this social sector. Before World War I. What need not detain us here is the wellknown explanation that the training and expertise possessed by this social group qualified it to serve in the "modern" colonial administrations.) Nevertheless by virtue of its training.Recent Arab Historiography of Ottoman Rule 187 became the social scientific hallmark of the interwar period. At all times. In a bid to revive the Islamic caliphal connection as the ideological justification for the much eroded Ottoman legitimacy and the Muslim faith as a new national identity. the cadre managed to portray itself in the "vanguard" of resistance against outside domination-in some instances even taking on a revolutionary posture. whom it had recently "betrayed. it turned to a ready-made. the scholarship helped this group gloss over its role as part of the Ottoman elite while it helped it shed both the identity associated with the Ottoman regime which formed its actual. some of these recruits had actually become full-fledged members of the Ottoman ruling class as manifested by their service in the higher ranks of the Ottoman army and in the central administration. as it began actually to collaborate with the new ruling powers. this sector of local society . For elements out of which to reforge a new identity. It is mainly from this provincial nationalist sector that the newly established colonial regimes found local recruits to run their colonial territories and those mandated by the League of Nations. the elite had to abandon. (For examples. By negating the Ottoman identity. however." to yet another outside power. Lest it be accused of having merely switched from one foreign master to another. Abdul-Hamid's regime had turned by the second half of that century to the recruitment of Arabs (they were both the first to enter Islam and quite numerous) into the Ottoman central elite. At the end of the war. Thus for an arena in which to test the authenticity and fidelity of a newfound identity. In condemning the Ottoman regime and all things Turkish. it occasionally chose confrontation with the colonial regimes. reject. having recently shifted its loyalties from the Ottoman regime. The other role it adopted for itself was that of realistpragmatist mediator with which it defended its compatriots against the direct and therefore presumed odious rule of the foreigner. It is in light of this historical background and the ambivalent role that this social group had played in its recent past that the tone and the thrust of the scholarship of the interwar period can be understood. By the turn of the twentieth century. there was an unreality to this social sector's revolutionary and nationalist posture-it had to act within terms. This production provided an ideological justification for the territorial divisions which the colonial powers carried out and for forging a new identity for the local elites. and deny its actual history. with which it could not afford to be associated. even proclivities. training of the local elites was carried out in newly instituted educational systems modeled after Europe and dating in Egypt and in Istanbul from the first half of the nineteenth century. immediate history and the tainted image associated with it. as represented by the political compromises with the British made by Nuri al-Said for Iraq and by Sa'd Zaghlul for Egypt.
this elite stood in the vanguard as the protector against direct foreign control and rule. in full contrast with the modern nationstate. What obscures the significance of the new trends in scholarship. It was only in the nineteenth century that these social arrangements began to break down. do not extend much beyond the last two centuries. Dating from the 1950s. indeed even that of the facilitator who interpreted as it enforced colonial policies. The third and most recent trend in scholarly production (dating from 1950) appears to be fueled by Arab nationalism and therefore assumes the existence of a common identity." "imitative. at least one major strand of the scholarship continues to betray regional commitments. instead of taking a truly revolutionary stance it preferred to forge for itself a niche in the running of the newly created states. when it came to a choice. however. In the Western model. "Derivative." and "unoriginal. As a methodology. As a consequence. Western research is carried out to the virtual exclusion of the earlier history which was characterized by complex socioeconomic systems and pluralistic societal arrangements. the dynastic history of the SafaviQajars and of the Ottomans represents the center of attention of this type of research. it was tested in each case by a separatist struggle with realistic and immediate goals-eventual expulsion of the foreigner. The scholarly production that backed the latter provided an ideology that defined.188 Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj had more in common with the new colonial regimes than with the great majority of its own compatriots. Concentrating on the period of the failure of these pluralistic societies implies the inevitable rise of the modern nation-state. the subject is almost exclusively the rise and consolidation of the modern nationstate and the period of research the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Contradictory tendencies coexist in the work of individual scholars and appear in the genre of historiography and social science as separate and parallel schools. now. since its role in these societies was ultimately at stake. for purposes of defining a modern Arab historical identity. In the end. most of these studies start with the successor nation-states of Ataturk's Turkey and Reza Shah's Iran as their main point of departure. Such as it is. although its conceptual guides and ideologies coincide with political independence. is in and of itself a form of preselection of . however." are some terms used to describe this recent genre of Arab historiography and social science. the focus on the study of the failed pluralism which serves as a prelude to the necessary triumph of the nation-state. As a beginning. The chronological parameters of this research program into the history of these Near Eastern empires. These two focuses coincide-not entirely by accident-with the same areas and chronological periods of Near Eastern history which are best researched in the West and which have come to serve as the primary social scientific model for the most recent Arab scholars. For the colonial regime this social sector served the task of mediator. Qutri nationalism was the product of two factors: an external one which lent indirect support to colonial regimes and a local one of forging an identity for the local elite. the new identity. and to its own compatriots. as it justified. Such terms conceal the principles of selection which guide the work of these scholars. is how Arab and Western scholars have treated the genre. with the promise of eventual independence as an ultimate target binding them together.
these concepts serve as shortcuts which allow one to cross over from one branch of knowledge to another. for example. Persian. and Turkish sources. The last part of this study analyzes in detail two examples taken from recent Arab scholarship. resources. and in their turn specialists in culture and literature ignore historical and social science scholarship.. continuously causative attribute and to the explanation of disruption as the eternal and ever present potential of the tribal mode (biddwa). Indeed. the history of society. To compound this historical fallacy. without examining the historical context that occasioned its production. The Development of Secularism in Turkey [Montreal. respectively. And although resorting to these devices as a shorthand serves the same structural and heuristic purposes as do code words in mythology. in the first place. are devoted to the delineation of the failure of the Ottoman system as a prelude to the triumph of the modern state. scholars tend to react with direct and frontal interpretations to these static concepts without regard to the dynamic forces to which they were. 1964]. and science remains either undeveloped or unintegrated in both Western and Arab scholarship. to the way in which Arab or Islamic civilization or culture (haddra) is given a primary.7 but the scholarly effort that goes into these scientific productions remains untapped by historians and social scientists. archaeology). culture.Recent Arab Historiography of Ottoman Rule 189 period and evidence to validate the modernization paradigm.) With this explanation for the preoccupation with the rise of the nation-state. recently published in Arabic are journals and monographs devoted to the study of society and culture in the form of folkloric literature. it becomes clear why the periods of the triumph and success of Ottoman and Persian pluralism are rarely the subject of scholarship in the West. namely. anthropology. The Emergence of Modern Turkey [Oxford.g. sociology. By the same token. the concepts in and of themselves are made into dynamic forces of the first order. At this juncture we need only note that in the field of Near Eastern studies in the West. and artifacts (e. This fragmentation in knowledge8 and the resulting vacuum in historical writings that are created by the focus on political history are compensated by resorting to an ahistorically and analogically evolved system of abstractions. this utility is negated when instead of retaining a perspective on the historically specific and dynamic forces which are now abstracted in the form of these concepts. to fill the gaps in information and knowledge. this exercise is not sufficient to meet our need for scientific knowledge.9 I refer here. 1961] and Niyazi Berkes. and therefore tend to be too closely tied to the direct and immediate meaning and interpretation of the text. one from history and the other from sociology: (1) the treatment of secondary dynamics as primary and (2) the ideological utility of scholarly shortcuts. economic conditions.6 With the focus primarily on the political dimension in the Western model. (For the Ottoman case two books serve to illustrate this point both in terms of their titles and basic arguments and contents: Bernard Lewis.'1 . most professionals still approach their subjects through the mediation of texts. One-half and four-fifths of the contents of these works. especially given recently evolved methods of extracting information from the available and untapped written and unwritten Arabic. mere labels. Obviously.
Since a historian. were sponsored by the newly founded Union of Arab Historians in Baghdad (UAH). and culture. in the third period of Arab scholarly production from the 1950s on. Without either differentiation or specification. of the scholarly production of the historians and social scientists who directly or indirectly addressed themselves to this period should help us in pinpointing the ideological uses of this neglect. like the social scientist." As suggested. notwithstanding the obstacles for unity. historical moment. As with previous attempts at linking together all Arab history. But a pattern is discernible alongside this new trend showing the continuity of a concealed qutri nationalism attached to a provincial identity. Within this framework of thinking. Some examples of the scholarship of this least studied period are analyzed in search of answers to the questions raised. the consistent tendency is to turn to the first centuries of Islamic. mirroring the philosophy of history of the social and economic forces that shaped him and in turn for whom he is a witting or unwitting. In a similar vein. Here as in the state-sponsored journals. dedicated to the exploration of the historical roots of the unity of the Arab umma (here read nation). the Ottomans are assured a positive role in Arab-Islamic history. Saudi Arabia. Other writers have noted this trend and some have even spelled out its continuity.16 At no point in these official and semiofficial written sources is the inspiration for the idea of the common identity of the Arab peoples and their common heritage rooted in the preceding four centuries of Ottoman rule. the scholarship seems to be guided by the assumption of the unity of Arab history. Whereas these two journals are sponsored by the ministries of national guidance of Iraq and Libya. history. he reflects the dynamic forces of that moment. al-Mustaqbal al-'Arabi (The Arab Future)14 is sponsored by a center devoted to the study of Arab unity. nearly four hundred years are lumped together quite indiscriminately as a period of inhitat (decay) and therefore not worthy of serious historical consideration. although it is only a theoretical one. at the 1979 Arab umma conference in Bengazi sponsored by the UAH equated Arab with Islamic history. two international conferences. This tendency . no matter how partial. two journals have recently started publication. The study. which does not differentiate Muslim from Arab. conscious or unconscious advocate.1s are demonstrated the commonalities of historical experiences of modern Arab states and societies with the clear anticipation of eventual unification. In opposition to that trend. is the product of a specific. As evidence of the literary and scientific production which assumes the unity of an Arab historical identity and reflects on its continuity through the ages. The contents of 'Afaq 'Arabiyya (Arab Horizons)12and al-Thaqdfa al-'ArabTyya (Arab Culture)3 demonstrate the commonalities of Arab historical experiences through the study of literature. science.190 Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj Hardly anyone has studied the ideological reasons for neglecting the Ottoman period of Arab history and for concentrating on the later period that witnessed the rise of the nation-state. but few have studied its various political and ideological uses. "purely Arab" history to provide a basis for unity and serve as the foundation of a common Arab identity. a professor from 'Abdul-Aziz University.
especially in Tunis and Libya. serves only to legitimize the Saudi royal family authority in the peninsula. An unintended historical irony is present in the Saudi professor's observation: the Wahhabi movement began in Arabia as a revolutionary movement and challenged Ottoman sovereignty early in the eighteenth century with its own universal appeal. the Muslim prophet's cousin and son-in-law. provincial history. a different trend has evolved in practice. accentuates the . At this level of theorizing. And although it would be logical. the identification of Saudi with Ottoman history has a general and common inspiration through Islam. qutri "national. based on a legitimizing role for Islam. These programs harked back to the authentic Islam of the earliest era and were bent on freeing the Muslim heritage of the encrustations that had accrued over the centuries. which is delimited by qutri nationalism through Islam. albeit based in theoretical and logical positive connections between Ottoman and Arab history. encrustations that had obscured the original simplicity of Islam as the faith of the believers. it hoped to accomplish its mission through the puritanical program of the early Wahhabi sheikhs. Ankara." experience. and particularizes the Saudi historical. with the ostensible aim of cultivating scholarly cooperation between Turkish and Arab universities.Recent Arab Historiography of Ottoman Rule 191 to include Ottoman with Islamic and by extension therefore with Arab history is not historically based. as exemplified in the maghreb. The contradiction between the eighteenth-century stance and the twentieth-century interpretation is resolved when it is realized that the recent Saudi identification with the Ottoman era. is not unique. the recent scholarship produced in the maghreb (North Africa).'7 A benign view of the Ottomans in recent Arab scholarship. credit for championing the independence of these North African provinces is given first to Abdul-Hamid and later to the Young Turks up to and through World War I. although Islam is the broad base of identification with the Ottomans. Thus the twentieth-century version of this once revolutionary and global challenge to Ottoman suzerainty has been adapted to serve as the ideological underpinning for a provincial nationalism confined to the territories of Najd and the Hijaz. one that specifies. This modern bid for dynastic legitimacy. especially during the Ottoman era. on freeing it from the intercessions of saints and their cults (in the form of dervish and sufi orders). starting from this premise. unadulterated authentic Islamic heritage. to anticipate the development of a broadbased scholarship guided by an Islamic nationalist political philosophy. can be illustrated in nondynastic instances in certain strands of liberal and progressive North African circles outside Morocco. with its emphasis on the particular. (Similar ideas have recently been echoed by some modern Turkish historians. The identification of the Muslim Turk with the Arab has taken on a scholarly dimension with the convening of a conference in 1979 at Haceteppe University. where the Moroccan royal house bases its legitimacy on its charismatic descent from Ali. that is. that is. differentiates. With the early encroachment of European powers in this region. the motive for Ottoman support against French and Italian colonial ambition is based on the religious affinity of the Ottomans with the North African Muslims.)18 As with the Saudi example. At that historical point it had insisted on its role as the protector of the original. in practice. According to this scholarship.
192 Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj uniqueness of the qutri (provincial) identity. In Toynbee's works. that which appeals the most to modern and recent Arab scholars is his hostility to Western colonialism.20 and by extension his view of Israel as an agent of European territorial expansionism. and the later expansion of the structure of understanding to comprehend religion and specifically Islam. and heritage. In the remaining volumes. what is reflected in the scholarship is not the parallel development of historical scholarship and evaluation of Toynbee's thinking from dependence on civilization to religion as the intelligible field of historical research. is discussed as a creative and generative force in history and is made the primary vehicle for understanding the unity of Near Eastern history (Arab among other). published jointly by the Union of Arab Historians and the ministry of culture and information in Iraq. but the mere fact that Toynbee had singled out first Arab civilization and then Islam as valid units for historical scholarship. In place of the nation-state. especially those expressed in his ten-volume A Study of History. Toynbee selected. characteristically. The most recent example of this direct Arab appreciation is a Presentation Volume in honor of Toynbee with articles in English and Arabic. as one of the privileged seven. the foundation for the structure of argument in Toynbee's scheme shifts from civilization to universal religions as the most meaningful unit of historical study. The structure of Toynbee's thought is thus used as a given.19The influence of this model permeates a good part of recent Arab historical and social scientific publications and circles. this approach denies the historical validity of the separate regional nation-states (and the qutrTnationalism) which had been created after World War I. culture. In practice. that is. This secular emphasis differentiates Islam's use from the strictly religious one discussed earlier. Toynbee dismissed the nation-state.21Islam. Toynbee's ideas. a particular. in and of itself. which were written after World War II. A similar contemporary use. It becomes a premise validating the natural unity and common identity of the Arabs. Quite early in his History. provincial nationalist one.23In this volume. for Arab history. as the irreducible unit in understanding Near Eastern history. the concept of "civilization" as the intelligible and irreducible unit of historical research and study.22 The initial focus on Arab civilization. Nevertheless it is the structures in his argument that I adopt as ideas pointing to the common identity and the essential unity of Arab history. In the first volumes (I-VI). was made of Islam by Khomeini's Islamic revolution in Iran. . early in his study. J. Paralleling early Islamic inspiration on the one hand and Ottoman on the other for the essential unity of Arab identity and history is a secular model which draws for inspiration on A. he acknowledges that in the Near East such a unit already existed in the form of Arab civilization as an intelligible field of historical study. have come to serve as a major inspiration for those who advocate Arab unity and as a vehicle for understanding their own history. These and the qutri (provincial) nationalism that supports them are viewed as modern colonial creations. The emphasis is placed not on Islam as a religion as much as on the fact that it is an Arab phenomenon. which had been considered up to that point in Western scholarship as the irreducible and intelligible field of historical study and understanding.
Anis assigns major significance to the European circumvention (by traders) of Egypt as the main way station for trade between East and West. p. singling out the oddities of each entity in justification of its separate qutrTnational identity. with one gesture.Recent Arab Historiography of Ottoman Rule 193 In contrast with the trend in scholarship which draws on Islam and early Arab history for inspiration for its unity and integrity is a parallel and selfcontradictory trend which looks to the uniqueness of each of the respective nation-states in the Arab world. Having reduced Ottoman influence to naught. 14). the qutri nationalist trend had been encouraged by the controlling European powers in justification of their political division of the Arab provinces. we need not study the history of the Ottomans in Egypt! The justification for this unusual chronological leap is explained by the fact that our author does not regard the Ottoman conquest as critical. suffered from the consequent loss of trade and revenues. Not only Egypt. Thus. starts his short monograph The Egyptian School of History in the Ottoman Period24 with a useful description of the genres and types of history of the period. Anis explains this observation by pointing out that the retention of a weak feudalism by the Ottomans and of previous administrative policies and practices left the social formation (al-tarkTbahal'ijtimdaivya) (p. Whereas in its earlier appearance. following it with a brief annotation and commentary on the actual "style" and contents of each sample examined. Anis gives us the clues to his approach in the introduction to each historical work. the recent variant manifests at least one novel though highly significant feature. institutions. At this point he derives a secondary. Anis generously exonerates them of all "blame" when he assures us that the Ottomans did not introduce any significant change in Egypt. Europe had been exposed to and therefore benefited from these currents since the Italian renaissance. Although it would be stating the obvious to point out that this scholarship displays a continuity from preindependence colonialist trends. One of the results was "stagnation. Here we are told that under the Ottomans historical production by Egyptians had undergone a deterioration from previous eras. read conservative). 14) practically intact." In contrast. Having thus eliminated Ottoman influence from historical consideration Anis arrives at the logical conclusion that it becomes unnecessary therefore to study "the political and economic deterioration" (his words. As proof." a stagnation that made Egypt miss contemporary "civilizational currents. the coup de grace: "the Ottomans had no 'civilizational capital' [rasid hadarT] which they could convey to and invest in the intellectual life of Egypt" (p. the post-World War II version has been sponsored by the successor regimes which are Arab. and classes of the era that preceded the arrival of the Ottomans. he makes the following blanket statement without citation of evidence: . 13) which Egypt experienced during this period to be able to arrive at an understanding of Egyptian intellectual and "scientific" life. I analyze two variations on this theme: one from history and the other from sociology. the poor intellectual climate in Egypt is viewed as a continuation of conditions. Instead. curious conclusion: in order to understand Ottoman Egypt. Lest we the readers fall into the trap of blaming the Ottomans for this sad state of historical scholarship (given the nature of Ottoman rule. The historian. Anis finally administers. Anis. but the whole Arab world.
Bowen. these historians. Since the publication of Anis's short work. He was a keen observer of the coming of the Ottomans. Yet to assess his place in "Egyptian" historiography. Al-Jabarti is regarded by Anis and others as the historian par excellence. Anis resorts therefore to the Mamluke period. Given the limitation of their approach. however. This is. this scholar had read . (In this he concurs uncritically with the mistaken impressions of Westerners such as. Anis turns to the eighteenth century to al-Jabarti to exemplify "Egyptian historiography" in this period. Anis turns for guidance to H. ajnad (military histories). Ayalon. contrary to Anis's contention about the education of Egyptian intellectuals in this period. since his life and work are not subject to explanation either in terms of his historical era or in terms of the specific literary and intellectual life of Ottoman Egypt. as in this instance) of the Egyptian genres of history in three Ottoman centuries. According to his autobiography. conveniently enough. and ulama histories. Those are the premises from which Anis launches his study. Shaw. a prolific writer who died around 1650. and to D. Ibn lyas could not be counted as belonging to that period. From these observations. the only way one could explain alJabarti historically is to explain him ahistorically. A brief summary of one consequence of the development of Anis's argument is presented. after all. 14). Stanford Shaw. since he was born in the Mamluke period and witnessed only the first fifteen years of Ottoman rule owing to his demise. have no historical way of explaining al-Jabarti. In Islamic Roots of Capitalism the reader can turn to Gran's study of Hasan al-'Attar who was not only a product of training in Cairo. with the Ottoman occupation of Egypt. Anis concurs with the observation of his secondary sources that there was no way to describe al-Jabarti other than as a genius. in turn. al-KhafajT. M. one who sought knowledge and training in Istanbul as well. R. among others. we can cite from an earlier era the life and career of another "Egyptian.) When it comes to the actual framework for understanding the development of the historical sciences in Egypt. but what is important is that this "historian" comes at the end of the Ottoman period and therefore closes it. P. Gibb and H. one need not look beyond Egypt and Egyptian (Arab) sources." Like al-'Attar in the eighteenth century. In further disproof of Anis's blanket denigration of the importance of Ottoman culture and education for Egyptian scholars. a logical conclusion which follows from Anis's premise that the three hundred years of Ottoman rule represented deterioration and decline. Put in other words. the one immediately preceding the arrival of the Ottomans.194 Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj "Egyptians did not learn the Turkish langauge and Turkish did not enter their writing" (p. I single out the ulama school. In his discussion of the schools of historical writing prevalent in this period Anis studies the tardjem (biographies). To illustrate my point. but. Ibn Iyas serves as the first example. and the argument is then subjected to historical analysis by citing specific evidence to contradict it.25 In the end. the work of Peter Gran has shown that al-Jabarti's was but one of quite a few "great" minds of the eighteenth century. Anis wants the reader to arrive at the conclusion that in order to understand the development (or lack thereof. This school starts. Holt and S. traveled to Istanbul in search of learning and to further his career. A.
and laid the foundation for a qutri nationalism which separates Iraq from all others in the region. The uniqueness of the Arab case is attributed. The training he received qualified him to enter the Ottoman capital's 'ilmiye (religious bureaucracy) corps. . to dwell on the uniqueness of Egypt's history through the particularization and differentiation of that country's historical experience (viz. alWardi is faced with an epistemological problem. boldly. al-Wardi concludes with the following non sequitur: ". he turns for his framework of study to Ibn Khaldun. According to al-Wardi. for that matter.29 Furthermore. And they were not unique by virtue of their great literary productions. with some of the imperial capital's outstanding scholars. And although other Arab societies share in the same experience as Iraq in this constant exposure to the badiya. Iraqi society and history become intelligible only when we focus on the determining oscillation between the triumph of biddwa (tribal dominance) in one period and that of hadara (settled/urban mode) in another.28 Instead of delineating the social history of the previous four hundred years of Iraqi society. prove the Egyptianness of Egyptian history)?27 A variation on Anis's theme can be found more systematically.Recent Arab Historiography of Ottoman Rule 195 and studied. Why did Anis choose to focus on the genius of al-Jabarti as the sole reason for the latter's literary and intellectual output? Was not Anis trying. Once he had established this contrast. He starts by stating that all other societies (including the Chinese. it will be hard for us to appreciate the unique features by which Arab society can be differentiated from others if we view al-bidawa as a manifestation which it shares with other human societies" (p. al-Khafaji was appointed as kadi to four districts in Rumeli and Anatolia. by our author. a close study of the guiding concepts which he finds useful in Ibn Khaldun are taken over in the main from Western analyses of this social thinker. Iraq had been constantly exposed to the badiya (desert raids and bedouin domination) and thus persistently subjected to its raids and dominance. From this summary of his main argument. There were quite a few others. what makes Iraq's case unique is the intensity of the exposure and the swiftness of the oscillation. Cairo. 18). as its chief judge. . namely. with great benefit. an Iraqi sociologist. very much like the North African and Saudi Wahhabi examples cited earlier. it should be quite obvious by now that al-Wardi's attempt at . and logically developed in A Study of the Nature of Iraqi Society by Ali al-Wardi. others of their Arab neighbors) ignored Ottoman culture and civilization. Now that he had retained a place for Iraq in the larger Arab identity. how to differentiate among all other societies that had experienced the same phenomenon and the Arab-Iraqi variety. before assignment to his native city. to the continuity of exposure to the conflict between hadara and bidawa which took place in oases. his example) had experienced the same phenomenon intermittently. And yet Iraq is not deprived of its legitimate place in the larger Arab society.26 Al-KhafajT and al-'Attar are two examples that contradict Anis's sweeping generalization that contemporary "Egyptian"scholars (or. al-Wardi had very quickly established the essential separateness of Iraq's historical and social experience. His scientific solution takes the form of founding an Arab sociology. Once he graduated.30 Through this comparison with other Arab societies.
Thereafter he makes out of this a pattern. sufficient historical evidence exists for the formation of political understandings. he would have been dismissed as someone who had succumbed to a qutrTideology. They would have supplied a concrete and specific background for a better understanding of Iraqi society in the twentieth century. The degree of intensity of this exposure experienced by Arab society at large is so much greater than that experienced by all other societies that in the end it contributes to the formation of a different society. of Iraqi society as a unique and distinct society with unique social and historical experiences that separate it from the larger Arab one. he would have had to account for the secondary social formations that existed at the time of the creation of the modern Iraqi state and account for the changes in these same formations. that is. To forestall this possible "misunderstanding. Al-Wardi's troubles begin when he converts essentially secondary forces (bidawa and hadara) into primary ones. that is. With this conclusion. what was achieved by his logical. though circular.196 Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj specification and differentiation led him to opt for the unique first in Iraqi and then Arab society. yes. and perhaps even the Iraqi nation. having shared in the same historical and continuous interplay between al-bidawa and al-hadara. argument? He had succeeded in maintaining a political premise with which he must have started. Finally. although al-Wardi has abandoned science by focusing on the secondary dynamic. whereas al-Wardi sees only conflict between the urban and the tribal. the secondary forces. For his own argument this emphasis and the consequent analysis provide a major advantage. absolves himself of the necessity of having to study the immediate and specific historical context for the development of "Iraqi" society. Furthermore. This pattern is made to serve as a premise for the next logical step: the clarification and explanation of the unique phenomenon which in its own turn requires the invention of a commensurately unique and especially designed science. namely. Since he focuses on the symptoms. between these two secondary formations at various important junctures of Ottoman provincial history in Iraq. Although the author may have thought that this manner of reasoning was the only one open to him. he is nevertheless caught in a circular argument. even actual alliances. the Ottoman and late Ottoman periods. al-Wardi could not so easily be dismissed as an Iraqi . Had he done that." the Iraqi state. it is this common experience which allows for the common Arab identity. Although experiencing it at a different degree of intensity.31This specialness helps to explain the differentiated "identity."he patches up his argument with what appears to be at most an istidrak (afterthought). This displacement blocks from the discourse the forces that actually contribute toward the process of bidawa as opposed to those which in turn favor the return to al-hadara. Now Iraqi society is placed back into the larger Arab one. as elsewhere in Ottoman domains. Al-Wardi. like Anis. al-Wardi is forced into examining first the ever more peculiar oddities (what I earlier called unique) in Iraqi society as distinct from Arab ones and then the peculiarities and oddities of those latter societies in order to further differentiate them from all others. Had the author left off at this point of argumentation.
at least. though general. here specifically of a system of explanation. the internal dynamics for its acquisition are at best obscured. It has been described as derivative and imitative. Since the goal in both cases is to uphold the contemporary nation-state. In conclusion. This is. In other words.32Certain kinds of modern Arab social science. then. in defining their identity. Furthermore. the similar scholarship serves a similar ideology: it defines its identity and justifies the commanding position a particular class had attained across national lines. the way modernization theory would have it.Recent Arab Historiography of Ottoman Rule 197 provincial nationalist. One main premise of this theory assigns to the outside model a primary role for change. on local roots and having its own internal dynamics. It assigns a primary and generative force to ideas and then requires that these take hold without regard to either their historical origins and purposes or their local suitability. based. Modernization theory reflects a further mystification. This approach would emphasize less the phenomenon of importation and imitation and more the imminent appropriateness of the role of the same social class in two nearly comparable societies. hypothesis on the dynamics for the expropriation of the particular scholarship studied. two of which I have sampled for close analysis. since he has asserted his loyalty to the essential unity of the larger Arab one. but projected. does not advance our understanding of why this scholarship is produced. I suggest that instead of one being derivative of the other. means for understanding their society and by extension themselves. even as they do on their own primary research. If these analytical observations are correct. when it comes to evaluating the transfer of scholarship what we are witness to is a creative expropriation. we are bound to alter a standard. which should provide insights into the contemporary social context of its production. for Near Eastern . however. that we view them as complementary of each other. Accordingly. the two are products of one and the same social dynamic. Surely no one would want to argue absurdly that the denigration of the importance for Egyptian history and historiography of the Ottoman period is attributable to an inherent inability of a modern native Egyptian or Iraqi to master the Ottoman Turkish language in explanation of the neglect of Ottoman and Turkish sources in favor of Western secondary works as a guide to the study of Arab provincial history. the justification of the existing order. that is. exhibiting all the features of a dependency. the choice by Anis and al-Wardi of a historiography and social science that are liberal and Western is neither accidental nor capricious. A more useful approach would perhaps be to view the dependent scholarship less as one of importation and more as one that meets local needs. to call Anis's and al-Wardi's work derivative because they depend on imported secondary and tertiary scholarship. thereby becoming for some Arab social scientists and historians a creative. what can at best be called the idealist distortion. In this process of attaching so great a significance to the external inspiration. share the same social and political purposes as those of their model. the scholarship itself serves as a historical source. To each in its own context. In these senses then.
no. Simply put. Long Beach. 1979). Elsewhere I have critically assessed for Libyan history of the Ottoman period some of the existing recent scholarship in Arabic and suggested in outline an alternative program of research ("An Agenda for Rewriting Libyan History of the Ottoman Period. 1974]. and expose their motives. Some of the ideas developed here were presented to a social science colloquium at the University of California. Hobsbawm (among others. 'The assessment of the scientific value. 1977]. 65-83).198 Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj societies in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries." Past and Present [Oxford. and others) will immediately recognize my indebtedness to these authors and to their scholarship. When completed it will reflect the assessment of the whole range of the scholarship and the exploration step by step of alternative and practical models for . David C. recent Arab scholarship provides us with a clue to its sponsors and their motives. I am especially grateful to Barbara F. utility. Suleyman Khalaf. III. as part of the ideology. In "The Future Arab Personality between Communalism and Individualism. Gordon (Self-Determination and History in the Third World [Princeton. change is attributed ahistorically to the passive adoption of "modern" knowledge. Talal Asad. and Frej Stambuli. is limited to French and English as his research tools. The work is limited not only by its lack of reference to any scholarhip in Arabic. The ideological uses of recent Arab history and social science of the Ottoman period are not specifically treated. Berkeley. 1. Here it is proposed that the scholarship has to be understood as forming part of the literary and cultural production that supports the ideology of a beneficiary class. 79-87. 1980. 1979]. 1971]) purports to include the scholarship of the Arab world in his assessment of the uses of history. "The Social Function of the Past. who is an American trained in the main as a European historian. Given the general nature of this utility it becomes obvious that its usage is neither uniquely peculiar to nor is it especially particular to recent Arab scholarship. Heath Lowry. Without diminishing the importance of the external origins of the model. Andreas Tietze." Man and Society in the Arab Gulf (Basra. Readers who are familiar with the work of Eric J. 55) and that of Abdullah Laroui (The Crisis of the Arab Intellectual [Berkeley. and attainment of this scholarship are not the main focus of this study. With its main emphasis on the inevitable ascendance of the nation-state. among others in Turkey and Iran. The History of the Maghrib [Princeton." Majallat al-Buhuth alTarTkhiyya [Tripoli. then seeks to identify its sponsors. As a consequence his treatment is confined to secondary works in these two languages along with a limited amount of oral interviews with historians in Lebanon and Algeria. I assessed some of the ahistorical work done in Arabic in the social sciences (especially psychology and sociology of the "Arab personality"). Raymond Lindgren. Abou-El-Haj. it can be seen in recent social scientific and historical scholarship produced. in April. The author. For their critical reading and valuable suggestions at various stages of the development of this study.2. Yves Schemeil. Peter Gran. Afaf Lutfi al-Sayyid-Marsot. CALIFORNIA NOTES Author's note: My work on this project has been supported by a Summer Fellowship from The California State University Foundation. 1972]. CALIFORNIA STATE UNIVERSITY LONG BEACH. the scholarship justifies the class's claims to hold and exercise power through the modern nation-state. . and research leave in the form of partial released time from teaching assignments from The University since 1978. the approach proposed in this study first reassigns significance to the local dynamics for the scholarship's expropriation. but also by the fact that it is outdated.Work on this study is still in progress. In the region.
August. 1977. Quataert's work was reported at the Fall 1978 meeting of the Middle East Studies Association in Ann Arbor. Dirdsat 'Arabiyya (Beirut). Berlin).g.2 (1972). with comments by R. Their removal of Abdul-Hamid could thus be interpreted as a defensive gesture to stem the tide of social revolution which could have threatened their status as members of the ruling elite. He does not treat the internal dynamics for the adoption by Near Eastern scholars of the Orientalist approach. above) I have written an alternative model for a research program for rewriting the history of one of the Arab Ottoman provinces. 1963). and other sources in both Arabic and Ottoman Turkish among other languages. published in Baghdad since 1970. new research is beginning to force us to revise these interpretations. Donald Quataert showed that the Young Turks came into power in the midst of an economic and social upheaval especially in Anatolia.. Anouar. 14 (1980). Libya. Those who wished to be trained in that period had to fend for themselves. pointing out that there is a dearth of"new ideas. Sadik Jalal al-'Azm singles out for description the phenomenon of adoption by Near Eastern Arab intellectuals (e. "Ittijahat al-Ra'! al-'Am al-'Arabi nahwa 'Aqabat al-Wihda . 22-29. 81rmingard Staeuble (Free University. 1978) is mainly concerned with Western internal (even psychological) reasons for the adoption of the Orientalist and modernization paradigms.e. 2My first encounter with the attitude that the study of Ottoman history was of little consequence to early modern and modern Arab history occurred when I was a graduate student in the mid-1950s. '4Started publication in 1978 by the Centre for Arab Unity Studies. Precluded was study of the history of the Ottoman Arab provinces. The author does point out that Said himself at some points in his study actually resorts to these so-called essentialist Orientalist categories of thinking. Orientalism (New York. al-Turdth al-Sha'bi (Folkloric Heritage). Edinburgh. 9. 4Although until recently the Young Turks had been viewed as a progressive movement. 6In the West. '2Started publication in 1975.. pp. Zeine." (Tendencies in the General Arab Attitudes toward the Obstacles for (Arab) Unity . among others) of what he calls Ontological Orientalism in Reverse (i. Beirut. "On the role of the historical moment in the shaping of the historian and his writings. l5Sa'd ad-DTn Ibrahim. . Abdul-Malek. primary. with disastrous results in most instances.. A. In a recent. Zeine N. What Is History? (New York. e. 1962).. or by some scholars even as a revolutionary one. Moral exhortation in and of itself. .) al-Mustaqbal al'ArabT. 3This chronological approach was offered by Professor Abdul-'Aziz al-Diri in a public lecture which he gave at the University of Jordan (the text was published in the progressive journal. then dean of Arab historians at The American University. see E. essentialist view) as a means by which to understand their own societies." Khamsin. most of the centers for the study of the Middle East had focused in the decades of the 1950s and 1960s on either the classical Islamic period or on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Adonis. 1. does not explain why inferior and derivative scholarship continues to be produced. concluding that the way for Arab historians to shed the mantle of imitation and repetition of imported ideas is to mandate and support research at the universities. For example. 6-21 and subsequent issues. questioned the usefulness for someone of Arab descent devoting his graduate education to the study of Ottoman history. 3Started publication in 1973 at Tripoli.D. ]?Elsewhere (see n. 5For a handy and compact study see Ibrahim Abu-Lughod. The Arab Rediscovery of Europe (Princeton." He attributes the gap in part to a lack of opportunity for research at the university level. social dynamics. For leaving this phenomenon out of his study Said is faulted. Abou-El-Haj (notice in MESA Bulletin (July. 9Edward Said. nor delineates its specific ideological purposes ("Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse. Nabih Faris. at Baghdad. He draws a fairly accurate picture of the status of research and historical scholarship on the Arab world by Arabs. Michigan.g. 1979). H. 7On folklore.Recent Arab Historiography of Ottoman Rule 199 research with examples illustrating the multifaceted uses of the heretofore unused archival. 5-26. Al-'Azm himself. neither ties the expropriation of the Orientalist paradigm for understanding of history and self to Near Eastern internal. an American-trained Ph. Beirut." paper delivered at the XV International Congress of the History of Science. Carr. however. wide-ranging critique of Said's study. however. "Some Consideration on the Formation of Psychology. 1966). in history and visiting professor at Princeton... specific. 4 (1981). The Emergence of Arab Nationalism (Beirut.
1951-1955). Riihanatal-'Albdb wa-Zahrat al-Hayatul-Dunyd. 22 (1980). J. 2Toynbee. where he has a chart of the seven religions and their derivatives. Sadat. ed. and A. 36-37.14 (1980). both present their studies as historical analysis of the uniqueness of Egyptian history. after p. championing a united Arab nation and identity. 126. which sets the tone for the rest. 82-98. "Tatawur al-Haraka al-Siyasiyya fi Mintaqat al-Maghreb al-'Arabi" (Development of the Political Movement in the Arab Maghreb. Brockelmann. 27Themost recent of the consequences of this type of thinking can be found in the quasi popular and pseudohistorical works of H. which has some significant variants from the Cairo edition. 26For al-'Attar see Peter Gran. and in a major unpublished one. A Study of History. . Fawzi. 221-244. 1962). pp. 1978). eds. In Search of an Identity (New York. Osterreichische Nationalbibliothek. G. Browne (idem." subsequently published in The Jerusalem Quarterly (1980). the author resorts to ad hoc and commonsensical explanations. I. 95. '8E. Shaykhi.. Tornbee Presentation Volume (Baghdad. In the introductory volume. This lecture.) Incidentally. An unpublished version of the "Rihanat" is in the Manuscripts Collection of the University of California.. His name can be found in two Ottoman biographical dictionaries: in printed version in Mehmed Suireyya.D. Madrast al-Tarikh al-MisrTfil-cAsr al-'Uthmana (Cairo." The introduction seems to be based on late nineteenth. III. 772. Lamahat I/tima'iyyah min Tarrkh al-'lraq al-Hadith [Baghdad. Again no historical explanations are given for the persistence of "tribal practices. 23A. J. Kasem explains that Toynbee's hostility to nationalism is attributable to "his humanism [and] comes out quite clearly in his attack on nationalism" (p. 10 ff. (Cairo. al-Hilu. and the implied revival of separatism and the revival of a qutri nationalism and identity have come as a logical expression of the unilateral trends that the Camp David Agreements represent. some with supplementary volumes) al-Wardi tries to give a panoramic view through a synopsis of mainly historical episodes illustrating the differentiation of Iraqi society from others. 1962). Dirasat fi tabiCatal-Mujtama' al-'Iraqi (A Study of the Nature of Iraqi Society: A Preliminary Attempt at the Study of the Larger Arab Society in Light of Modern Sociology) (Baghdad. Al-Khafaji's full name is Shihab ad-Din Ahmad b. This is but one of twenty known "publications" by Khafaji. In a different context. In a monumental series (six volumes." Vienna. but along somewhat parallel lines. H. The long title reflects al-Wardi's purposes. 140a-b. Creasy. see the work of the Tunisian historian.O. 22). Anouar Abdul-Malik treats Egyptian history mainly in terms of the continuities it displays rather than the dynamics of the historical moment for the continuity. Birge. K.. 239. Longrigg. Fawzi visited Jerusalem recently and delivered a lecture on "The Continuity of the Egyptian Personality. dissertation on Ibn Khaldun in 1950 for the University of Texas. Kasem.and twentieth-century hearsay. esp. C. The new departure which this trend has started is the more drastic when it is recalled that Egypt had been in recent history in the vanguard. "Vekay' ul-fuzela. Abdul-Jalil al-Tamimi. E. Toynbee. Abdul-Fattah M. 25Ibid.Sijil-i Osmani (Istanbul 1308/1890-91). n. vol. 29Al-Wardi wrote his Ph. Although neither author would claim his study to be a work of scholarship. 135-139. Los Angeles. A. Omar al-Khafaji. 1979). Vol.. 9 (1978). H. "Arnuld Toynbi wa nuqadihi. 1980. Tikrit. 28Alial-Wardi. Muhammad b. 176-177. 2Muhammad Anis. 8. table iv.g. MS 177. Volume I is based on S. See al-Mustaqbal al-'Arabl. pp. p. esp. His autobiography can be found in his work. Sousa and H." At one point he differentiates between people in terms of how well they had mastered the Arabic language. VII (1954). al-Sindibdd al-MisrT(Cairo. The most recent rendition of this view was expressed in December. Collection 898. at no point does al-Khafaji identify himself as an "Egyptian. 1961). 1972-1979]).200 Rifaat Ali Abou-El-Haj '6The UAH has published the journal al-Mu'arikh al-'ArabT in Baghdad since 1973. (I am grateful to Andreas Tietze for having drawn my attention to this manuscript. 1965). S. and are meant to be a justification of Egypt's separate identity and nationality." al-Mustaqbal al-'ArabT. A Study of History (Oxford. '9A. 1979). its place of publication. 2?Thereis a general survey of critics of Toynbee in Arabic by Jamal Z." Majallatal-Buhuth wal-DirJsat al-'Arabiyya. ff. and E. T7Nabiyyaal-Isfahani. J. 1967). Islamic Roots of Capitalism (Austin. Later he published Mantiq ibn Khaldun fi Dawn Hadaratih wa-Shakhsiyyatih (Ibn Khaldun's Logic in Light of His Culture and His Personality) (Cairo. 22Ibid.
1-2 (1961). . 339-420. the incisiveness and insights of these studies come as much from the understanding of self by these scholars as from an understanding of the very limited number of their counterparts and fellow liberals in modern Arab history. His host. al-Wardi himself is not averse to using them himself. began to remonstrate with him in public about the continued relevance of Mr. In a lecture given in Los Angeles late in the 1970s. assuming that Hourani was merely being modest. Albert Hourani. 32Thecommonalities and the complementarities could perhaps best be illustrated by the focus of a whole generation of Western scholars on Muslim and Arab liberals and on the "liberal age" of Arab history. What I have in mind are Western scholars who have as their primary focus the study of such figures as Abdo and Afghani. 3Discussion of al-Wardi's treatment of Iraqi society in Ahmad Abu-Zayd. Majallat Ma'had al-Buhuth wal-Dirdsat al'Arabivyah (Cairo). Hourani's liberal focus for the understanding of modern Arab history. to his great credit. "Kabil wa Habil: Qisat al-sirac al-hadar wal-bidawa fil-'Alam al'ArabT" (Abel and Cain: The Story of the Conflict between the Settled and the Nomad in the Arab World). pp. Although he bewails the dependence of other scholars on external models and categories of thinking for their studies. has begun to disengage from the relevance and importance that his book Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age had given to liberals and the faith in liberalism. Dirasat. 1. To my mind. 18 ff.Recent Arab Historiography of Ottoman Rule 201 30Al-Wardi. expecially Toynbee and William Willcox. he voiced his growing doubts about the significance or relevance of the liberal focus in his own research. at least.
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