Muslim Unity and Arab Unity

Sāti Al-Husrī

in Islam in Transition: Muslim Perspectives

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9780195174304
Published online November 2007 |
Muslim Unity and Arab Unity

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Born in North Yemen of Syrian parents, he was educated as an official in the Ottoman Empire. After the Arab Revolt, he was Minister of Education for Faysal's brief reign in Syria. The leading proponent of Arab unity and Arabism between the two world wars, he became Director General of Cultural Affairs for the Arab League and then Dean of the Institute of Higher Arab Studies in Cairo.

Written in 1944 toward the end of World War II, as the French were about to leave Syria and Lebanon, this essay defends the authors long-standing commitment to Arab unity. He does not reject the idea of Muslim unity but notes that in the current circumstances it would be considerably harder to achieve than Arab unity and indeed presupposes it. He also carefully distinguishes between fraternal feelings and unity. Mere advocacy of further cooperation among the Muslims does not mean that Muslim unity is either possible or necessary. Beyond this, he maintains that religious unity has been a historical chimera, even in the Islamic world itself after the first generations of the ummah (Islamic community). Finally, he rejects the thesis that advocacy of Arab unity is a British plot to divide the Muslim world. He does so empirically by noting cases in which the British frustrated national ambitions and thereby rescued the leaders of Islamic societies, as when they defended the Ottoman Empire from the Russians, or from the Egyptians in the late 1830s and the 1840s.

Chapter.  2704 words. 

Subjects: Society and Culture ; Islam

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