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Ralph M. Coury. The Making of an Egyptian Arab Nationalist. The Early Years of Azzam Pasha, 1893-1936 (London: Ithaca Press, 1998).

Bashir M. Nafi. Arabism, Islamism, and the Palestine Question, 1908-1941: A Political History (London: Ithaca Press, 1998).

ONE MUST BE GRATEFUL INDEED to the work of a new generation of Arab historians and thinkers who write primarily in English on the modem political and social history of the Arab world. This new form of historiography is highly critical, engaging, analytical, and illustrative of the major political, social, and economic burdens and hopes of the modern Arab world. Furthermore, this historiography employs the most advanced form of critical theory while accurately describing the unfolding of events and the dialectical interaction between ruler and ruled, and indigenous and imperialist in the inter-war period of the Arab world. One comes away with a grim picture of the political situation of the Arab world in the inter-war period: the intrigues of French and British imperialism, the schemes of Zionism, the weaknesses of the indigenous ruling political [acute{e}]lites, the ambivalence of the intelligentsia towards issues of Arabism and Islamism, and the painful consequences the masses suffered as a result of being caught in this national and international web of intrigue. One senses, however, some hope that in spite of the failure of the political projects of both Arabism and Islamism, the inter-war period witnessed the development and maturity of a collective Arab political consciousness that transcends regional boundaries and tribal identities, which imperialists exploited and were eager to permanently reinforce. This consciousness developed concomitantly with the social, economic, and political transformations taking place in the Arab world in the first half of the twentieth century. If was faithful to and a function of the historical anguish of the Arab people and their desire to achieve political and economic independence. The development of Arab nationalism was not predicated on fictitious conditions but rather on real socio-economic and political factors. That is why Ralph Coury contends at the end of his masterpiece on Azzam Pasha that the shortcomings of many works on Arab nationalism "stem from a shared ideal ism and atomism that conceive of Arab nationalism in abstract terms and that do not meaningfully or systematically relate it to a larger social and political environment. Arab nationalism has often been perceived in terms of autonomously decisive essence that has been everywhere the same in its painful deficiencies and inadequacies." (Coury, p. 451) Instead of nurturing an idealistic, reductionist, atomistic, and essence-bound type of historiography on Arab nationalism, these two works provide a multi-dimensional theoretical framework that analyzes events in their totality and relatedness.

Although spearheaded by the bourgeoisie (the notables in Nafi's words and the governing political and educational elite in Coury's), Arab nationalism came to permeate almost every region of the Arab world while utilizing economic and political unity as a means of transcending division and foreign exploitation. In one sense, therefore, these two works document the historical role, and perhaps predicament, of the national bourgeoisie in the Arab world through the activities of its most vociferous representatives, Azzam Pasha in the case of Coury and Hajj Amin al-Hussayni in Naf's.

If recording history serves as a great boost to human memory, Nafi's and Coury's impressive historical works have rendered us the most excellent service by soberly and analytically discussing the recent history of the Arab world. These two major books on Arabism and Islamism in the inter-war period analyze the role of a distinguished generation of Arab thinkers and activists in shaping the cultural and political policies of the Arab world. Relying on a number of primary sources, immense archival research, and marshaling a great volume of analytical details, the two studies admirably succeed in painting a clear picture of Arab political history in the first half of the twentieth century. Nafi's study focuses on the evolution of Arabism and Islamism, while Coury's book is a biography of Abd al-Rahman Azzam Pasha, one of the most distinguished Arabists of this century.

Nafi's and Coury's works share a number of fundamental premises: first, one must understand the rise of modern Arabism and Islamism in the Arab world in the context of the following factors: 1) the disintegration of the Ottoman empire as a multi-glot, multi-ethnic, and multi-religious empire; [1] 2) the rise of European imperialism in the Ottoman provinces as a formidable political, economic, and cultural movement; 3) the rise of Zionism with its consistent goal of establishing a Jewish homeland in Palestine; and 4) the profound social and economic transformation in the Arab world during that time period. In a sense, nationalism is universal and inseparable from internationalism, to paraphrase the words of Benedict Anderson. [2]

Both Coury and Nafi contend that the Ottoman empire suffered a long, drawn-out process of disintegration after several centuries of domination both in the Arab world and in Eastern Europe. They further posit that this gradual process of disintegration produced fascinating results, one of which was the transition in the political philosophy of the Ottoman empire from Ottomanism to Pan-Turanism (that is, the glorification of the pre-Islamic Turkish past), which resulted in a major backlash in the political culture of the ethnic and religious communities which constituted the empire. It is this deep adjustment within the ranks of the Ottoman empire to the world outside and the pressures of the imperialist demands of the West that had disturbing ramifications within the Ottoman empire. Nafi analyzes these developments at length, especially in the first chapter of his book entitled, "Arabism, Zionism and Palestinian Nationalism." He concludes that Arabism was a natural outgrowth of the decline of Ottomanism and t he gradual, although painful, awareness on the part of the Arab and Muslim intelligentsia of the dawn of imperialism.

On the other hand, in his critique of the claims of the Zionist school of historiography [3] that Arab nationalism, in Egypt specifically, was the creation of the Palace in the 1930s and 1940s, Coury proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that the rise of Arabism in Egypt and the Arab world in the inter-war period was a response to social, political, economic, and cultural conditions of that time. That is, Arab nationalism is an historical necessity (Coury, pp. 2-3 and 436-451). Coury enumerates the following reasons that led, in his mind, to the rise of Arab nationalist consciousness in Egypt: 1) Arab unity was perceived as a solution to Egypt's growing unemployment problems; 2) the export of Egyptian goods to the larger Arab market; 3) the central political and cultural role played by Egypt in the Arab world; 4) the impact of the Palestine problem and Zionism on Egyptian intelligentsia. Both the intelligentsia and ruling elite rejected Zionist claims to Palestine, and 5) the emergence of new political forces th at helped focus Egyptian attention on Arab questions. To Coury, the combination of these factors aptly describe the inception and growth of the Arab idea in Egypt in the inter-war period. In addition, his analysis of the life of Azzam Pasha and the national and economic aspirations he represented is also a reflection of the evolution of Arabism as an historical and cultural movement.

Some key terms run throughout these two studies: Ottomanism, Pan-Turkism, Islamism, and Arabism. Both studies suggest that Ottomanism refers to the political, cultural, and religious philosophy of the Ottoman empire, at the heart of which a certain understanding of Islam exists. At the apogee of Ottoman grandeur, this cosmopolitan philosophy produced outstanding results, which can be seen today in Ottoman architecture, especially in Istanbul. The decline of this philosophy translated, in political terms, into the secession of major provinces from central Ottoman control, as was the case with Muhammad 'Ali in Egypt in the early part of the nineteenth century. Reform (that is, the Tanzimat) could not stop the process of Ottomanism decay. Pan-Turkism was a powerful Turkish nationalist movement that introduced radical change to the philosophy of Ottomanism and created a much more limited and sovereign national entity that refused to be bound with the ethic and world view of Islam. Over the years, its impact has been seen in the changes in its linguistic and cultural policies, which aimed to drive a permanent wedge between the Arab-Islamic and Turkish cultures. The extent to which this philosophy has succeeded is uncertain! But it is quite reasonable to argue that seventy years of implementing this philosophy has created powerful cultural and religious forces within Turkish society which aspire to achieve continuity with its Ottoman Islamic past. It is indisputably clear that the army is the only institution in contemporary Turkey that reinforces this policy. How long will this last? No one has an answer.

Both authors, but especially Nafi, provide a theoretical and historical background of Turkification, a process which began not after World War One, as some believe, but in the nineteenth century in the wake of the Tanzimat period (Nafi, p. 30). Regardless of whether it was invented [4] or imagined, [5] Pan-Turkism was the dominant political and cultural force in Turkey at the turn of the twentieth century, and its policies after the CUP coup in 1909 had an unprecedented impact on the Ottoman caliphate. Above all, CUP leaders saw that the economic future of Turkey was in Europe, and thus sought "to accommodate the European powers in order to secure financial loans and economic investment" (Nafi, p. 24).

In a sense, Pan-Turkism emerged as a response to the decline of Ottomanism and its philosophy of Islamism. Furthermore, Pan-Turkism was the major force behind the creation of Arabism as a cultural and political philosophy representing the aspirations of a large number of the inter-war Arab generation, which opted to free itself from Turkish control and establish an autonomous Arab political and cultural entity. To Bashir Nafi, Arabism is the critical, founding component of Arab nationalism. In its humble beginning, Arabism did not consider itself an anti-Muslim movement, but rather a movement to create an Arab entity that "was largely defined in Islamic terms" (Nafi, p. 5).

In discussing Arab political history in detail, these two studies are sensitive to both the economic and social transformations that took place in the Arab world in that period, the penetration of capitalism into every segment of Arab society, and the social consequences of capitalism.

Nafi focuses at length on the role of Arab notables and students in fomenting a national Arab consciousness. Though it is an essentially urban phenomenon consisting of the principal notables of the major Arab cities, one must not underestimate the Ottoman worldview therein. Some of these notables were educated in Istanbul while others where appointed to their political or religious posts by Istanbul. Without a doubt, the gradual break up of the Ottoman empire helped this consciousness come into being. This consciousness gradually grew as a cultural and political alternative to the fading power of the Ottomans and as a response to the oppressive policies of the Unionists, that is, the Turkish nationalists, in the Arab world.

Nafi argues that this consciousness, which started as a somewhat undefined movement, found its perfect political expression in the Hijaz and the Sharifian movements against Turkish policy. Sharif Husayn, the ruler of Mecca and a long-standing Ottomanist, was quick to grasp the winds of change within the Ottoman empire and ally himself with the British. Standard nationalist Arab historiography, which both Nafi and Coury highlight, claims that the turning point in the Arab movement was the 'iron-fist' policy initiated by Jamal Pasha, the Ottoman-Turkish ruler of Syria, against the Arabists, which led to further ruptures with Turkey. To quote Coury, Azzam Pasha, on a short visit to Germany in 1918, began to feel the shift of the Turks toward the Arabs, "The truth is that during the period we were in Berlin our anger against the Turks had grown more and more intense and we were continually discussing their bad deeds and what Jamal Pasha had done in Syria and Arabia" (Coury, p. 129). On the other hand, standard n ationalist Turkish historiography blames the Arabs for taking the side of the British and expelling the Turks from Arab provinces. Both views no doubt contain elements of truth. However, in a deeply philosophical sense, the actions of both the Arabists in the Arab world and the Unionists in Turkey were an expression of a larger problem: the decay and final disintegration of the Ottoman empire. The Unionists saw their future within Europe and began to turn a cold shoulder to the entire Ottoman cultural, political, and religious past. Thus, Arabism must be seen as a reaction to this deep process of change within the Ottoman empire.

One main conclusion can be drawn from the discussion of both authors, which is that the foremost concern of Arabism and the initial reason for its emergence were the events surrounding the decline of the Ottoman empire. In the case of Palestinian nationalism, Zionism, no doubt, was a powerful agent in the development of nationalist consciousness. Nafi does not give credence to the Zionist claim that the gestation of Palestinian nationalism was the direct result of the ascendance of Zionism or that the Palestinians were a loose group of tribes and families that formed no political or cultural coherence. [6] Nafi, following Muhammad Mislih's line of discussion, focuses on the roots of Zionism and Palestinian nationalism. [7] He does not dismiss the impact Zionism may have had on the development of Palestinian national consciousness, and, for that matter, on the whole Arab nationalist consciousness in the Arab world. Neither, however, does he attribute the rise of Palestinian or Arab nationalism to zionism. Bef ore World War Two, Zionism worked hand in glove with British imperialism in order to secure its political and economic interests in Palestine. As a matter of fact, the invention of Palestine in Zionist thought as a land for the Jews was made possible by the larger construct of the Holy Land created by European travelers and pilgrims seeking their religious and cultural origins after the sixteenth century. [8]

During its apogee in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, imperialist Britain for its part imagined a highly industrialized Jewish Palestine that owed allegiance to the British throne. Both factors were to influence, to a large extent, the Palestinian political and cultural scene in the inter-war period, after the final abolition of the Ottoman empire. Nafi argues that Arabism, in its Ottoman inception, was a movement of notables and intellectuals; it was primarily an urban phenomenon, and it continued to be so for several decades. Islamism also was an urban phenomenon. However, one must not forget that the Qassam movement against the British and Zionism was, in principle, an Islamist movement of the masses and people of peasant backgrounds. [9]

The differences between the Qassam movement and the movement led by Hajj Amin al-Hussayni are worthy of note. As the Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin became the undisputed leader of the Palestinian national movement in the inter-war period. In many ways, his career is reminiscent of that of Shaykh Muhammad 'Abduh (d.1905), who became the Mufti of Egypt and who was intent on planting the seeds of religious and educational reform within Egyptian society. Hajj Amin, perhaps, represented the aspirations and interests of a rising Palestinian bourgeoisie that was unfortunate enough to find itself in an age dominated by British imperialism and Zionism. The debacle of the Palestinian bourgeoisie and the national movement, represented by the Mufti, aborted any attempt at political integration with the larger Arab world or economic integration with the world capitalist market. The Qassam movement, on the other hand, represented the response of the Palestinian peasantry in Northern Palestine to the increasing British and Zionist hegemony over the politics and economics of Palestine. The Qassam movement, in spite of its courageous leadership, which possessed a high level of national and religious consciousness, was doomed to fail as it faced a much more powerful and sophisticated enemy.

Where Qassam mainly led a peasant revolt in Northern Palestine against the British, the Mufti led the 1936 revolt against the British and the Zionists. The impact of the 1936 revolt proved to be more lasting than that of Qassam's revolt. Both Hussayni and Qassam were disgruntled over British and Western policies in general in the Arab East and their revolts were an expression of the frustration of all segments of Palestinian society, notables, peasants, and students, with the state of affairs. In their attempt to halt British schemes in Palestine, both Qassam and Hussayni, of conspicuous religious origins, opted to create larger alliances with the Arab and Muslim world. We know that Qassam, a Syrian by origin, was driven away from his native land by French occupying forces. In his mind, all imperialists were the same; no substantial difference existed between the French and the British.

On the other hand, Hussayni was more institutionally connected to the larger Arab and Muslim world. He drew on the fact that he represented Jerusalem in convening the 1931 Islamic conference in Jerusalem. He did so "in order to deliberate the present conditions of Muslims, to secure the safety of the holy places[ldots] and [to discuss] the affairs concerning all Muslims" (Nafi, p. 109, and, also, Coury pp. 299-309). In spite of the difficulties in inter-Palestinian politics, the split between the Khalidis and the Nashashibis, and inter-Arab and Muslim politics, the conference was able to attract a large number of delegates from the Arab world and India. The Palestinian question was beginning to affect the Arab world at large, and, in the long run, it became the ideological thrust of Arab nationalism. "Arabism evolved at a time when European imperialism was reaching the zenith of its power and when imperialist expansion was calling for more expansion" (Nafi, p. 397).

However, the 1936 revolt initiated by the efforts of Hajj Amin al-Hussayni did have a more lasting impact on the politics of Palestine than did the Qassam revolt. The 1936 revolt involved all sectors of Palestinian society; it represented the unified anger of all Palestinians against the collusion between Zionism and British imperialism. A further consequence of the 1936 revolt was the Arabization of the Palestine question, which brought the reality of the Zionist danger to the Arab world and which was finally seen as an issue not confined solely to Palestine. In spite of the political impact the revolt left on all sectors of Palestinian society, it failed to dislodge the British from their plan to partition Palestine and create a Zionist state.

The 1936 revolt forced the Arabs to confront head-on the British plans for Palestine and the prestigious position Zionism held in Britain and Europe in general. Some thought that the British responded to the revolt by repealing their recommendation to partition Palestine, as enunciated in the Peel Commission's s report of 1937, and by announcing two years later an end to Jewish immigration to Palestine (The White Paper). The British were forced by the logic of events to somewhat appease the Arabs. The Second World War was fast approaching and the British, because of their precarious position in the Arab world, needed more friends. From their perspective, as Nafi shows, the question of Palestine began to hit home in the Arab world, by virtue of the Bludan conference in 1938. Ibn Saud, heretofore an ally of the British, expressed to Bullard (a British government representative), "the increasing difficulty he was facing in his attempts to restrain the ulema of Najd" (Nafi, p. 284). The end result of all of this was not just a strengthening of the Arab-Palestinian bond, but an increased awareness in the Arab world of the approaching menace of Zionism. Nafi reminds us, however, in his relaxed analytical style, that where the Arab masses and intelligentsia vehemently opposed Zionism, the Arab political elite followed a policy of appeasement. The failure of the revolt in the final sense was the first sign of the beginning of the loss of Palestine to an enemy; an enemy more organized than the Arab world and the Palestinians.

Nafi draws on a plethora of literature in illustrating the importance of the 1931 Jerusalem Islamic Congress and describing the different personalities in attendance, such as Arab exiles in Egypt and delegates from India. The 1931 Congress represented Muslim and Arab notables' effort to come to terms with important post-World War One political and economic events in the Arab world and, most particularly, in Palestine. As expected, Zionism and the Zionist danger to Palestine and Muslim holy places represented a major concern of the participants. Nafi explicitly shows that people like 'Awni 'Abd al-Hadi, a Palestinian Arabist lawyer, "provided the most substantial input to the debate on the holy places. He explained the religious ambitions of the Zionist[s] in Jerusalem and described the mandate system as the principal source of the increasing Zionist strength in Palestine" (p. 120). Zionism and the dangers it represented loomed very large in the imagination and speeches of those in attendance.

The Jerusalem Islamic Congress and the role of Azzam Pasha and others highlighted the political demands and concerns of Arab notables in the inter-war period. These demands did not necessarily represent concerns of the ruling classes in the Arab world at the time or their imperialist supporters, French or British. Nafi's book provides a solid background to the anomaly in approaches of the notables and the ruling elite to the political realities of the Arab world. It is clear that besides failing to represent the political and social aspirations of the masses, the political elite, especially that allied to the Palace in Egypt or to the British in Iraq or the French in Syria, did not represent the political aspirations of the Arabist, who fervently sought to create an Arab nationalist state in the Middle East.

In addition, Nafi highlights the role of Arab cultural clubs and foundations, such as the Young Men's Muslim Association, the Jami'yat al-Rabitah al-Sharqiyyah, whose goal was the progress of the Eastern nations regardless of race or religion. The most impressive society established at the time was the Muslim Brotherhood Movement, founded by the Sufi/activist Shaykh Hassan al-Banna. Although several major studies were written on Hassan al-Banna and the Ikhwan, no study highlights Banna's indebtedness to Arabist ideas as Nafi does in his book. [10] Nafi contends that Banna's Pan Islamic and Arabist ideas developed from his serious intellectual and political contact with several Syrian [acute{e}]migr[acute{e}]s in Egypt, especially Rashid Rida and Muhib al-Din al-Khatib. Banna was then able to express Arabism in 'an Islamic framework' (p. 161).

Chapter seven, "A Defeat in Iraq: the Decline of Arab-Islamists," is perhaps the most useful of Nafi's study. Here the author examines the Iraqi dimension of the Arab problem in the inter-war period and the reaction of both the Iraqi intelligentsia and the political elite to events in Palestine and the rest of the Arab world. Nafi again draws attention to the importance of Pan-Arabism in the history of modem Iraq and the need of the Iraqi intelligentsia of the time to express their feelings in Pan-Arabist terms. The most interesting section of this chapter, to my mind, is the one that discusses the Arabs and the Axis powers (beginning on page 357) during World War Two. Nafi theorizes that the Arabs' relationship with the Axis developed in reaction to the British and French policies in the Arab world rather than to an existing ideological compatibility between the Arabs and the Axis powers. Among those in contact with the Axis were Hassan al-Banna of Egypt and Mufti Amin al-Husayni of Palestine. It is interes ting to note that at the time, the Germans were either disinterested in the Arab and Palestinian question or had no time to develop a consistent policy towards those issues. Nafi notes that in 1933, the Germans signed the Haavara (transfer) treaty with the Zionists, whereby Jewish immigration to Palestine was facilitated (p. 360). However, any change in the German policy towards Palestine was more likely the result of political necessity and propaganda rather than a real policy to support the Palestinian side.

Coury's book is a biography of one man and his nationalist and bourgeois aspirations. Abd al-Rahman Azzam Pasha was born in the small village of Shubak al-Gharbi in the province of Giza in 1893. He came from a traditional landowning family. However, like Taha Hussain, Ahmad Amin, Shaykh Mustafa 'Abd al-Raziq, and other men of prominence in modern Egyptian life, Azzam Pasha originated from the countryside and not from the city. His personal dynamism and the political and social conditions surrounding Egypt at the turn of the century combined to make him a highly visible person in Egyptian and Arab national life. Coury intricately portrays Azzam's early life and his dispatch to the village kuttab at a young age. Azzam did not learn religion in the official schools; he learned from listening to and conversing with older men. Azzam tried his hand at a formal education when he was sent to England in 1912 to study medicine. However, his education was abruptly cut short upon the eruption of World War One and the Ba lkan war. Coury provides interesting details about these years in Azzam's life and his preoccupation with things Ottoman and political. The picture one gets is that the young Azzam was Ottomanist in orientation and that his Arab/Muslim/Egyptian roots helped crystallize this predilection in his thought early in his life.

Azzam visited Albania and other Eastern European countries and was concerned about Ottoman losses in East Europe. His trip took him to Istanbul where he met Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Jawish, who opposed the British occupation of Egypt and who took Istanbul "as a base to make propaganda against Britain and its influence in the Islamic world" (Coury, p. 73). At that time, there was still a cohesive group of Arab Ottomanists whose loyalty was with the Ottoman state. In Coury's words, the First World War Azzam "thought would never come was to transform him into a maker of events and not just a spectator" (p. 87). Azzam decided to take the Ottoman position in the war.

On his return to Egypt from England via Istanbul, Azzam was determined to pursue his career in helping the Ottomans defeat their enemies, that is, the British. By contacting an Ottoman prot[acute{e}]g[acute{e}]e in Cairo, he was able to travel to Libya to fight with the Ottomans against the Italians and the British. Coury dedicates two major chapters to Azzam's exploits in Libya (chapters three and four), which illuminate not only the development of Arab nationalism in Azzam's thinking, but also the important history of World War One Libya and the inter-politics of the different tribes there. In spite of his young age, Azzam became an advisor to the Ottoman officer, Nuri, who was in charge of Libya. He learned much about the Sanusiyya order, its Sufi origins in the nineteenth century and its role in fighting the Italians and British. After the collapse and final defeat of the Ottomans in the War, Azzam remained in Libya for five years. "During this period the Ottoman empire collapsed and he and his fellow Ar abs found themselves facing the Italians alone" (p. 132).

Azzam's evolution as an Arab nationalist was a reaction to the pan-Turanist policies of the rulers in Istanbul, the weakness of the Arab side, and the schemes of Western imperialists. In his words, Azzam turned to Arabism, "because there was nothing left, nothing strong. Islamism would not work" (Coury, p. 173). This does not mean that Azzam stopped being a Muslim. Actually, as Coury points out, he wrote a very impressive work on the Prophet in 1943, al-Risalah alKhalidah, after becoming a man of fame in Egypt and the Arab world. He wrote this treatise from his position as a strong representative of the nascent Egyptian bourgeoisie that was in contact with the Arab and Muslim world.

Developing an Arab consciousness meant that Azzam began to express his political ideas in the framework of Arabism and the Arab nation, instead of that of Islamism and the Islamic nation. Perhaps this ultimately represents the major difference between his thought and that of Hassan Banna, the founder of the Ikhwan movement in the inter-war period. Azzam and Banna had many things in common. Both possessed pan-Arab and pan-Islamic dimensions in their thought and ideology. [11] However, Banna, as seen above, did not despise Arabism, but took it as the first step in expressing his Islamist woridview. Azzam was perhaps more content with seeking unity within the Arab world rather than the larger Muslim world. [Coury actually alludes to the possibility that Azzam may have lost his faith in the divine inspiration of Islam at one point in his career (p. 418)]. Hence, his years in Libya proved to be an asset to his future career as an Arabist.

Upon his return to Egypt, Azzam was twice elected to the Parliament as a Wafdist, once in 1926 and the other in 1929. He served well the cause of Saad Zaghloul [12] and his Wafd party for several years. He mingled freely with Syrian [acute{e}]migr[acute{e}]s in Cairo and was intent on strengthening his nationalist profile. As a member of the Wafd, however, Coury maintains that Azzam represented the upper bourgeoisie in Egyptian society. He found himself caught between the desires of Western capitalism and the aspirations of his own people for economic and political independence (p. 327). In spite of this political position, Coury notes that Azzam was "a truly humble figure compared with other representatives of the upper bourgeoisie" (p. 382). Although he rose to prominence in the Palace circles of the 1940s and became the first secretary-general of the Arab League (1945-52), his figure, as Coury notes, "grew more distinct, but its shape would remain the same" (p. 394). It is important to note, however, that though Azzam Pasha came to represent the interests of the ruling class in Egypt in the 1930s and 1940s, his elite affiliation did not prevent him from building bridges to other groups and people in Egyptian society, including the humble.

Coury's study is a detailed history of an important figure in the modern Arab world; it is also an examination of the development of an indigenous bourgeoisie and its role as mediator between world capitalism and the Egyptian people. Although Coury remains sympathetic to Azzam and the type of Arab nationalism and bourgeoisie he represented, Coury is nevertheless very critical of the final position this class took. Coury argues that "Azzam's Arabism can be seen[ldots]as an effort to promote a self-exalting image for the Egyptian ruling class" (Coury, p. 420). In many of Azzam's speeches and writings, he speaks about the moral and spiritual excellence of the Arab and Muslim people. Only a few times does he refer to the social and economic inequalities rampant in Egyptian and Arab societies. Perhaps Azzam belonged to a national bourgeoisie that simply was not interested in radically transforming the class structure of Egyptian society. Even its successor, Nasserism, was not able to radically transform the socia l structure of Egyptian society. It is true that Nasserism made important headway with regard to agrarian and social reform. But the resurgence of the national bourgeoisie in the garb of the Infitah (Open-Door) policy under Sadat (1970-1981) is an indication that Nasserism was not able to overcome the stronghold the national bourgeoisie had on Egyptian society during the years of Nasserism.

Ibrahim Abu-Rabi' is Co-Editor of Muslim World and Professor of Islamic and Christian-Muslim Relations at Hartford Seminary, Connecticut.


(1.) For an interesting recent study see Nadiyah Mustafa Mahmoud, ed., Al-'Alaqat al-duwaliyyah fi al- tarikh al-islami: a!- 'Asr al- 'Uthmani mina al-quwwa wa al-haymanah ila bidayat al-mas 'alah al-sharqiyyah (Cairo: International Institute of Islamic Thought, 1996).

(2.) Benedict Anderson, The Spectre of Comparisons: Nationalism, Southeast Asia and the World (London: Verso, 1998), p. 2.

(3.) See Israel Gershoni, "Rethinking the Formation of Arab Nationalism in the Middle East, 1920-1945: Old and New Narratives." In James Jankowski and Israel Gershoni, eds., Rethinking Nationalism in the Arab Middle East (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), pp. 3-25.

(4.) Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Cornell: Cornell University Press, 1983).

(5.) Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities and The Spectre of Comparisons; ibid.

(6.) See the brilliant analysis provided by Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi in Original Sins: Reflections on the History of Zionism and Israel (New York: Olive Branch Press, 1993).

(7.) Muhammad Muslih, The Origins of Palestinian Nationalism (Washington, Institute of Palestine Studies, 1989).

(8.) See Henry Laurens, L 'Invention de la Terre sainte, 1799-1922 (Paris: Fayard, 1999).

(9.) Bashir Nafi, "Shaykh 'Izz al-Din al-Qassam: A Reformist and a Rebel Leader." Journal of islamic Studies, 8,2, (1997): 185-215.

(10.) See Ishak Musa Husaini, The Moslem Brothers. The Greatest of Modern Islamic Movements (Beirut: Khayat, 1956); Richard Mitchell, The Society of the Muslim Brothers (London: Oxford University Press, 1969); and Ibrahim M. Abu-Rabi', intellectual Origins of islamic Resurgence in the Modern Arab World (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1996).

(11.) Coury maintains that the British hated the Ikhwan because of these two dimensions of their ideology (p. 367).

(12.) See Sa'ad Zaghloul, Mudhakarat Sa'ad Zaghloul, ed. by 'Abd al-'Azim Ramadan, 9 volumes (Cairo: al-Hay'ah al-Misriyyah al-'Ammah li'l Kitab, 1990-1998).
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Title Annotation:Review
Author:Abu-Rabi', Ibrahim
Publication:Arab Studies Quarterly (ASQ)
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jan 1, 2000
Next Article:Dialogues in Arab Politics: Negotiations in Regional Order.

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