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Full text of "The Egyptian Problem"

96                     THE EGYPTIAN PROBLEM                CHAP.
based on immutable laws which clash at almost every point with our .modern civilisation, and at none more irreconcilably than at that of the relations between the sexes.
There were, however, fortunately, also other and more hopeful forms of Egyptian Nationalism, which in one way derived far more directly from Arabi's Nationalist movement. Not a few of his followers recognised, as he himself did, that the British had worked wonders for the fellaheen, and had secured to every Egyptian a new sense of individual freedom. They believed that our presence was still the main bulwark against the predatory ambitions of the Khedive Abbas and the revival of the old regime of despotism and corruption. They looked forward to national independence as an ultimate goal, but only to be reached when the masses, and not merely a few privileged classes, had attained to the consciousness of nationhood. What they asked was that Great Britain should gradually and cautiously relax her tutelage, give a larger number of young Egyptians a share in the administration, and afford a wider scope to representative institutions in which the. people could be taught the art of self-government. Many of them were far more devout Mahomedans than those who had associated themselves with Pan-Islamism. They belonged to a school so profoundly imbued with faith in human progress as an essential part of faith in a beneficent Providence, that they did not consider it a sin to seek to interpret the laws derived from the Koran and the Traditions in the light of human needs which did not exist in the seventh century amongst Arab tribes almost isolated from the rest of the world, but which undeniably exist in the twentieth century when isolation is no longer possible. The leader of this school was Sheikh Mohamed Abdu, who had been closely associated with Arabi in 1881-1882, and sentenced in consequence to internment. He was one of the first of Arabi's friends to see how premature and misdirected ' that makes for man's salvation in a future life, but also as a social system