The Surest Path

Khayr al-Din

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 The Surest Path

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Khayr al-Din al-Tunisi (Tunisia, 18221890) was a prominent reformer and effective statesman. Khayr al-Din was a Circassian who was enslaved and sold to a notable in Turkey, where he spent seventeen years before being brought to the court of the Tunisian ruler. Still a teenager, he studied in the ruler's palace and then joined the Bardo Military School, where he received Arabic and Islamic education and learned modern military sciences. Khayr al-Din's remarkable talents facilitated his ascendance to the premiership of Tunisia (18731877) and of the Ottoman Empire (18781879). He was the main inspiration behind the promulgation of a constitution and the establishment of a parliament in Tunisia in 1860, which he headed. As Tunisia's prime minister, he introduced influential financial, administrative, agricultural, and educational reforms. He founded the Sadiqiyya School in 1875, whose combination of Islamic and modern education produced much of the elite that later struggled for Tunisian independence from the French. His tenure as Grand Vizier of the Ottoman Empire was brief, lasting only eight months, and constrained by the autocratic tendencies of the sultan. After his dismissal, Khayr al-Din went into retirement in Istanbul. His major written work, the book excerpted here, contained Khayr al-Din's political visions and his program of reform. He advanced strong arguments for the acquisition of Western institutions, values, and practices that he considered compatible with the Islamic sharia, prime among them the concept of liberty. Khayr al-Din argued that liberty, both personal and political, is crucial for peace and prosperity.1

Chapter.  8225 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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