Chapter

Summary of the Causes of Stagnation

Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi

in Modernist Islam, 1840-1940

Published in print September 2002 | ISBN: 9780195154672
Published online November 2007 |
 Summary of the Causes of Stagnation

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Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi (Syria, 18541902) was one of the most influential Islamic reformist thinkers in the eastern Mediterranean at the end of the nineteenth century. Born into a well-established family of notables in Aleppo, al-Kawakibi received a thorough education in the Islamic sciences and in the major Islamic languages of the region: Arabic, Ottoman Turkish, and Persian. In the 1870s, he edited the official paper in Aleppo, al-Furat (The Euphrates), and established two independent newspapers, both of which were short-lived. Despite holding a number of administrative and public posts in Ottoman Syria, al-Kawakibi experienced chronic persecution by the authorities, leading him ultimately to settle in Egypt in 1898. He died suddenly in Cairo in 1902, possibly poisoned by agents of the Ottoman sultan. Al-Kawakibi's thought was influenced by his contemporaries Sayyid Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (chapter 11) and Muhammad Abduh (chapter 3), among others. His historical significance in the Islamic modernist trend of thought lay in his elaboration of an Arab pan-Islamism intended to reform the decaying Muslim world, privileging Arabs over non-Arabs and advocating the establishment of an Arab caliphate. In this process, al-Kawakibi decentered the primacy of the Ottoman Turks and transformed them into an internal, problematic other. The following selection is drawn from al-Kawakibi's famous account of a fictional series of meetings in Mecca, at which twenty-three representatives from around the Muslim worldincluding thirteen Arabs assemble to discuss pan-Islamic resurgence and criticize Ottoman tyranny.1

Chapter.  3667 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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