The Intellectual Origins of Egyptian Nationalism

By Jamal Mohammed Ahmed | Go to book overview

VI
Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid

THE death of Mustafa Kamil, the retirement of Ali Yusuf, Shawish's violence, the preoccupation of the Khedive with accumulating wealth, and Kitchener's administration between them changed the tempo of Egyptian public life. Kitchener's policy was not provocative enough to invite severe criticism, and there ensued a sort of despondent and uncertain calm. The Italo-Turkish war, and the failure of the Turks to hold their own in Tripoli, made people feel more than ever powerless in the face of European diplomacy and might. Of all the thinkers of the time Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid was the one who was most conscious of this gloom and tried hardest to dispel it. Exactly two years after Kitchener's arrival he pointed out that: 'The nation's political consciousness has been numbed for the last two years. Some say that our political parties are no more, and that our interest in public affairs has waned.'1

He believed this to be false, however. In his opinion the lull was a natural pause on the road of progress. The country had been stirred up emotionally in the past few years, but in a way which did not take account of its limited possibilities. Since 1906 politicians, publicists, and poets had tried to arouse the national consciousness of the country; it was natural that after a time Egyptians should pause and try to think out clearly what they wanted and how they could get it. They should not give way to gloom; despair, the refuge of the lazy, was easier than hope, but there was no reason for it. The Egyptian awakening after all was only thirty years old, and could not be expected to attain maturity in one generation.

It was, he believed, no more than an expression of this despair that some thinkers argued that the foreigner was not amenable to argument; he had entered Egypt by force of arms

____________________
1
al-Jarida, 25 Sept. 1913.

-85-

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The Intellectual Origins of Egyptian Nationalism
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknoledgments vi
  • Preface vii
  • Contents xiii
  • I - Introduction 1
  • II - Islamic Liberalism 35
  • III - The Girondists of Egypt 44
  • IV - Political Parties 58
  • VI - Ahmad Lutfi Al-Sayyid 85
  • Postscript 113
  • Select Bibliography 128
  • Index 133
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