The Intellectual Origins of Egyptian Nationalism

By Jamal Mohammed Ahmed | Go to book overview

II
Islamic Liberalism

MUHAMMAD ABDU returned to Egypt in 1888, and was soon appointed a judge in the Courts of First Instance. Though he was the only shaikh among the European judges he would have chosen to be a teacher if he had his way. Until the end of his life his career was to be passed in the judicial service to which he brought all his initiative and drive, and the spirit of the rebel he was. He often ignored points of law in favour of equity and justice; they were of less importance to him than the welfare of society. Soon after he had gained some experience in the courts of personal status he instructed his subordinates to guide the litigants and not to judge them. Any chance of reconciliation was not to be abandoned in favour of a verdict. 'Disturbed hearts and wounded souls drift apart once a verdict is passed. Reconciliation, on the other hand, opens the door for amicable settling of differences within the family.'1 In 1900 he became the highest state authority on the interpretation of Muslim law-- Mufti of Egypt; and his unorthodox rulings interested the whole Muslim world. In the fetwas he gave he took into account the practical needs of the Muslims in the modern world as well as the accepted tradition of Islamic law. His judgments were accepted by the people, but conservatives were not wholly satisfied with his attitude.

Egged on by the Khedive, the shaikhs of al-Azhar and the Ulema of the country attacked him from time to time but he did not budge. He realized that a compromise was not possible with the Khedive, who was not likely to forgive Abdu's partiality for the British authority which pursued similar lines of reform and gave him support. Abdu had also the support of the group of young men who had been disciples of al-Afghani. He became the leader of this group in time, and his influence

____________________
1
Uthman Amin, Muhammad Abdu ( 1934), p. 11.

-35-

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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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