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Full text of "Middle Eastern Affairs Number Three"

111800 



MIDDLE 

EASTERN 

AFFAIRS 



Number Three 




i Arab Radical Nations of Democracy 

by MALCOLM K 



& Persian Political Societies 190611 

by AXN K. S. LAMBTOX 

3 The Salafiyya "Movement in -Morocco: 
the Religious Bases of the -Moroccan 
Nationalist ^Movement 

by JAMIL ABUX-XASR 

4. Midhat Pasha and the Land System of 
Lower Iraq 

by ALBERTIKH J\VAIUEH 

5 The American Missionaries in Beirut 
and Butrus Al-Bustanl 

by A. L. TIBAWI 



ST ANTONY'S PAPERS 



NO. i SOVIET AFFAIRS: ONE 

NO. 2 FAR EASTERN AFFAIRS: ONE 

NO. 3 THE ITALIAN LOCAL ELECTIONS 1956 

NO. 4 MIDDLE EASTERN AFFAIRS! ONE 

NO. 5 THE DECLINE OF THE THIRD REPUBLIC 

NO. 6 SOVIET AFFAIRS: TWO 
NO. 7 FAR EASTERN AFFAIRS^ TWO 
NO. 8 SOUTH ASIAN AFFAIRS: ONE 
NO. 9 INTERNATIONAL COMMUNISM 
NO. IO AFRICAN AFFAIRS: ONE 

NO. II MIDDLE EASTERN AFFAIRS: TWO 

NO. 1 2, SOVIET AFFAIRS: THREE 

NO. 13 THE RIGHT IN FRANCE 1890-1919 

NO. 14 FAR EASTERN AFFAIRS: THREE 

NO. 15 AFRICAN AFFAIRS: TWO 




ST ANTONY'S PAPERS NUMBER 16 

MIDDLE EASTERN 
AFFAIRS 

Number Three 



EDITED BY 

ALBERT HOURANI 



1963 
CHATTO & WINDUS 

LONDON 



TV 

-*- 



CO 
TOROISTXO 



ORE AT BRIT-A.Il<r BY 
SUTLER A.3STI> TAIvTl^EIt I.TI> 



CONTENTS 

1 Arab Radical Notions of Democracy 9 

by MALCOLM KERR 

2 Persian Political Societies 1906-11 41 

by ANN K. S. LAMBTON 

3 The Salafiyya Movement in Morocco: the 90 

Religious Bases of the Moroccan Nationalist 
Movement 

by JAMIL ABUN-NASR 

4 Midhat Pasha and the Land System of 106 

Lower Iraq 

by ALBERTINE JWAIDEH 

5 The American Missionaries in Beirut and 137 

Butxus Al-BustanI 
by A. L. TIBAWI 



The main emphasis of the work of St Antony's College, 
Oxford, since its foundation in 1950 has been in the fields 
of modern history and international affairs. The College 
organizes a number of regular Seminars at which are read 
papers produced by its members in the course of their 
research or by visiting experts from other institutions. 
The College further sponsors the delivery of lectures in 
Oxford by scholars of international reputation in their 
respective fields. 

An appreciable volume of contribution to scholarship 
is thus being produced under the auspices of St Antony's 
and the present series was started in order to preserve and 
present a selection of this work. The series is not, how- 
ever, confined to this material alone and includes contri- 
butions from other places. 

Three numbers a year are issued and each number is 
devoted to a particular topic or a particular part of the 
world. 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS 
OF DEMOCRACY 



By Malcolm Kerr 

SINCE THE PALESTINE war, and more particularly since the Egyptian 
revolution, it has been increasingly remarked that Arab nationalist 
political and social ideas were entering a new radical phase and that the 
age of liberalism was at an end. The stream of western social and political 
values that had begun to trickle into the East at the time of Napoleon 
and had reached flood tide by the 1920*5 seems by now to have been 
somehow diverted, or dried up. The ideas themselves - notions of 
constitutionalism, individual civil rights, the electoral competition of 
political parties, and so forth - are as familiar as ever to educated Arabs; 
but they no longer strike an enthusiastic response. Often Arabs are now 
heard to say that these ideas are irrelevant to their needs; that they are of 
superficial value unless preceded by a social and economic revolution; 
that democracy is a fraud without social justice; that the West no longer 
has a monopoly of ideas, any more than a monopoly of arms for sale; 
that they, the Arabs, will shop in the open market-place of the world at 
large for political, social and economic ideas, buying only what suits 
their taste wherever they find it; and finally that they have no need or 
wish to import artificial ideologies, but will develop their own indi- 
genous product out of their own experience. 

The simplest explanation given for this new radicalism is that the 
brief experience of several Arab states since 1920 with western-style 
constitutional systems was an unliappy one, and therefore the experi- 
ment was abandoned on pragmatic grounds. A few years of rigged 
elections, musical-chair cabinets, suspended constitutions, arbitrary 
arrests, playboy monarchs, and absence of reform legislation should 
have been quite enough to convince the Arabs that they should give all 
this up and try something else anything else. This was particularly die 
case after 1948, when it suddenly became dear that their governments 
were not only corrupt but, what was worse, that they were weak. 

But this explanation does not take us very far. On the one hand it 
unjustly implies an extraordinary naivete on the part of Arabs as to the 



IO ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

cultural and moral basis of western institutions. In actual fact there has 
been no lack of Arab thinkers and statesmen who have told their people 
that to have constitutional democracy it was necessary to develop cer- 
tain qualities of citizenship, a certain attitude toward science, a spirit of 
tolerance, a concept of secularism, and so forth. These preachings can 
be traced well back into the nineteenth century. On the other hand, the 
above explanation tells us nothing of the nature or background of the 
particular new ideas that have now begun to take hold. Not only has 
constitutional liberalism receded into the background, but another more 
radical concept of democracy has risen in its place. This concept has 
taken its most extreme form in Egypt, where it has been forcefully 
promoted by the government. But in a subtler fashion it has influenced 
the mentality of a growing class of Arabs elsewhere who are anxious for 
reform. The idea is not - as is sometimes supposed - simply to streng- 
then the economic and social foundations for constitutional democracy, 
if necessary even by temporary authoritarian means. For not only is 
social and economic reform an extremely long-term and revolutionary 
proposition, but already in the course of organizing these reforms new 
political ideals have begun to take shape. It is not a question of a transi- 
tion period by which Arab society would be led through a detour back 
again in the end to some western model of constitutional liberalism. It 
is irrelevant to argue that the longer the detour the less likely it is to 
lead back to the main road. For the so-called transition period creates 
its own goals appropriate to itself. The detour has become the main 
road, not by miscalculation but quite deliberately, leading straight to a 
newly accepted destination, on tie assumption that its surface will be- 
come smoother as one follows it along. Revolutionary government 
is looked upon by its enthusiasts not as a path back to liberalism but on 
to a radically different form of democracy. 

The radical conception of democracy is not really new, either in the 
west or in the Arab world. But it has re-emerged in recent years in a 
new form and amid new conditions. Essentially the conception is that 
described by J. L. Talmon as "totalitarian democracy" and typified for 
him in the excesses of the French Revolution and in the ideological 
tradition of Rousseau and Marx as opposed to Montesquieu, Locke and 
Bentham. It is characterized by a moral preference - not just a tactical 
preference - for maintaining the maximum degree of unity of purpose 
and action at all political and social levels; by an emphasis upon the 
virtues of group solidarity and the evils of individual self-absorption 
and self-seeking; by a mistrust of competition, bargaining, and the 
promotion of special interests; and by a vision Q strong government a& 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY II 

a liberator rather than a danger to liberty. The free individual is not 
primarily a man who is left alone to do as he sees fit, but one whose use- 
fulness and security in society are assured. Therefore it is not privacy 
but sociability that must be promoted. The role of government is not 
to maintain respect for a disparate mass of private individual purposes, 
but to take the lead in formulating and pursuing great national ideals 
which all can enthusiastically share. Individualism is criticized as a nar- 
row, constricting, negative concept with which the western world is 
obsessed and by which it is blinded to the problems of African and 
Asian countries, if not indeed to some of the ills of its own society. 

Thus the Arab radical rejects the familiar western assumption that 
the division of power and initiative in society among competing 
groups is inherently desirable, and that too much concentration of 
power in the hands of the state is a natural threat to private right. For 
him, the essence of democracy is found not in the existence of a parlia- 
mentary opposition but in the creation of a socialist programme and 
the enlistment of mass support in implementing it. 

What are the forces which press the Arab radical to reject ideas of 
pluralism and decentralization of power? Are there historical roots or 
precedents for this rejection? Is it legitimate to consider the history of 
Arab thought at all, or is the Arab radical so completely cut off from his 
Islamic intellectual heritage that the conceptions of the latter are irre- 
levant? 

A case can be made that certain forms of traditional Islamic thought, 
though not others, do provide some significant points of similarity to 
present-day radicalism. The link between the two is found in those 
Islamic modernists of the early twentieth century who took as their 
ideological starting point a doctrine of the Caliphate that had been 
ekborated in the later centuries of the Abbasid Empire. They inter- 
preted it in a manner suitable to their own concerns and purposes, 
which were in some ways closer to those of today's radicals than to 
those of their medieval forbears. Indeed the modernists were, in their 
own odd way, among the radicals of their time. Yet the Abbasid doc- 
trine was a well-chosen model which naturally led itself to the parti- 
cular adaptations of the modernists, for it was based on similar assump- 
tions about the organization of power in a morally purposeful society. 
And on the question of the organization of power, the radicalism of 
the 1950*5 represents a revival of those assumptions and a break with the 
liberal constitutional philosophy of the West. 

Abbasid Islam presents the paradoxical spectacle of a society that in 



12 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

practice was decentralized and pluralistic, with only a limited role 
assigned to the state, but whose predominant political theory was 
monistic and even totalitarian. In practice, society had already begun 
to be split into a series of entities, geographical, religious, and pro- 
fessional, each enjoying a measure of 'de facto autonomy and each absorb- 
ing a proportion of its members' loyalty. The state - i.e. the ruler and 
his ministers, the bureaucracy, and the army - not only lost its own 
internal cohesion of authority but was not always able to control the 
great class of judges and religious teachers, so that an implicit duality of 
church and state emerged. Thus not only religious doctrine and dis- 
cipline, but also education, jurisprudence, and the administration of 
social services established by waqf endowments were insulated from 
state authority. On the other hand the non-existence of an organized 
church in Islam, the inherent conservatism of religious spokesmen, and 
the right of the ruler to appoint judges and other officials and define 
their sphere of competence, prevented these functions from being 
systematically used in a positive way to promote political power in the 
hands of the religious establishment rivalling that of the state. The 
weapons of the c ulama were therefore defensive ones. The ekborate 
rules of legal interpretation, for instance, helped prevent the ruler from 
fully developing an arbitrary legislative power at the expense of the 
jurists, and yet they did not enable the jurists themselves to evolve into 
a conscious and self-willed body of legislators. The gulf between 
ruler and scholar was recognized in the saying that the best ruler was the 
one who consulted the *ulama, and the best *alim was the one who 
avoided the company of rulers. 

But these divisions and tensions, however much they might exist in 
practice and whatever limited benefits they might provide, were 
tolerated by Abbasid political theorists only on grounds of distasteful 
necessity. While Baghdad was dominated by Seljuq and Buyid usurpers, 
such orthodox writers as Baghdadi and Mawardi were holding up a 
very different image of the structure of authority : that of the monolithic 
community, united in pious loyalty to the ideal of an Islamic brother- 
hood and virtuously led by an heroic or saintly figure, whose power 
was saved from abuse not by institutional checks - as in actual practice - 
but by his own conscience and by the friendly moral pressure of the 
community. The image was patterned on the model of the semi- 
mythical age of the four caliphs of Medina, wherein all necessary prece- 
dents were found: the ruler as a combination of Imam and Amir al- 
nufminini his duty to consult with the nebulous ahl al-$unna wa-l- 
janfa, or guardians of the conscience of the community; the rules of 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 13 

succession; the idea of an administrative hierarchy derived exclusively 
from the caliph by individual delegations of authority; and above all, 
that exclusive and pervading social bond and moral criterion provided 
by religion, which distinguished neither between public and private 
spheres of activity nor between state, society, and church. It has often 
been noted that medieval Arabic offered no word for "state". The true 
Islamic society modelled on Medina, like the modern-day communist 
Utopia, needed none, for it had no politics: conflicts of interest and com- 
peting ideologies could have no pkce in a classless community of true 
believers. (Even when the word siyasa was introduced by post-Abbasid 
scholars like Ibn Taimiya, it denoted only a special, non-political kind 
of politics, the siyasa shar'iya, or canonical statecraft.) There must be 
government, but only to administer the divinely inspired, non-contro- 
versial General Will. There might be differences of opinion within the 
community, but only of a non-political kind: variations of judgment 
and interpretation which would either be resolved through consulta- 
tion and persuasion or, in minor matters, tolerated within whatever 
limits were necessary. Underlying this whole conception was the as- 
sumption that the interests of all members of the community were in 
common, that these common interests were fully provided for in a 
single body of revealed kw, and that therefore the moral and political 
solidarity of all true believers would be assured. 

The obvious fact that such a virtuous society did not exist (after the 
period of the Rashidun at any rate) did not suggest to the theorists that 
it was an illusion beyond practical reach, but only that the key condi- 
tion was lacking: religious conviction. Either the caliph or his subjects, 
or both, had strayed from the path. Ultimately the task must be to 
bring them back to it; but in the meanwhile another set of principles 
was implicitly recognized under the heading of "necessity", somewhat 
as in modern international law the condition of war makes applicable 
the Laws of War in pkce of the Laws of Peace. In the condition of 
"necessity", the object was to make the most of a bad job, and the re- 
commended means for achieving this were to take cover, keep out of 
trouble, and endure what came with patience and fortitude. "Happiness 
and authority do not mix", advised one proverb. "Forty years of 
tyranny are better than a single day of anarchy", declared another. 
Meanwhile the moral fabric of private social life and the principles of 
religious teaching were salvaged by the process described above of 
withdrawing them from the competence of the government. 

Force majeure scarcely seems a firm foundation for a system of poli- 
tical theory, and yet given the moralistic approach of Islamic teaching 



14 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

to the problem of power, it could scarcely do otherwise. Apart from 
Ibn Khaldun there are no Islamic writers of note who conceive the 
problem of abuse of power in terms of harnessing the tensions of con- 
flicting interests and directing them into constructive channels. As Pro- 
fessor Lambton has remarked, there was no place in traditional Islamic 
thought for either "fruitful tensions" between church and state (or 
anywhere else in society, it might be added) or for notions of balance 
of power. 1 Power is good or bad according to the righteousness of its 
possessor. It is true that there were efforts to bridge the gap, but these 
tended to take the form of exhorting the ruler to improve himself by 
consulting the e ulama, lowering taxes, and enforcing justice: in other 
words, efforts to put the train back on the rails by appealing to con- 
science, which was the only recognized corrective to tyranny. 

With this background of idealism, writers of the modernist Salafiya - 
school early in the twentieth century anxious to revive what they con- 
sidered to be "true" Islamic political principles looked back on the 
whole of Islamic history since the death of Ali as irregular and pro- 
visional and resting on die principle of necessity. One such writer, the 
Egyptian jurist Abdel Razzaq Sanhoury, in the course of a lengthy 
treatise on the "irregular" caliphate, argued for example that even the 
pious Umayyad caliph f Umar ibn Abdel Aziz was "irregular" because, 
among other things, his authority was restricted by the influence of his 
entourage. 2 In a manner characteristic of his medieval predecessors, 
Sanhoury did not brand the "irregular" caliphate as illegal, but instead 
decided, as Ghazali, Ibn Jama'a, and others had done centuries before 
him, that in the interests of the welfare and stability of Muslim society, 
it had been necessary to recognize the fait accompli. What was new with 
Sanhoury and other modernists was their eagerness to re-create a poli- 
tical system that was not only "legitimate" but "regular" - that is, 
ideal, on the model of Medina - by taking prompt political action 
which they planned and described in detail. The implication was that 
when this was done, the millennium would be at hand. Whereas medie- 
val writers had described the ideal conditions of the caliphate as an 
apologia for existing regimes and as polemics against Shfites and other 
opponents, the modern Salafiya reformists drew up blueprints which 
they intended to implement. 

This difference was of great significance because it caused the mod- 

1 Ann K. S. Lambton, "Quis Custodiet Custodes? Some Reflections on the 
Persian Theory of Government", Stadia Islamica, V (1946), p. 126 

2 Le Cdifat: son Evolution vers me Sotiett des Nations Orientates (Paris, 1926), 
p. 218 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 15 

ernists to bring to the surface, more clearly than their predecessors had 
had to do, some of their fundamental assumptions about how political 
power should be organized and how human nature could be expected 
to respond to the conditions of such an organization. On the other 
hand, there were important points on which they failed to be so specific, 
despite the apparent practical need for them to be; and here the reasons 
for their vagueness are equally instructive. 

One of the leading examples to consider in this connection is the 
study of the caliphate made by Muhammad Rashid Rida in 1923 , 3 
from which Sanhoury drew much of his inspiration. Rida's ideas are 
confusing and ambiguous, and give rise to widely divergent interpre- 
tations, because he was influenced both by western notions of secular 
constitutionalism and by traditional Islamic doctrines of the caliphate. 
Thus one recent writer finds it possible to compare his view of national 
sovereignty to that of Rousseau 4 while another describes his book as 
"the scrupulously faithful reproduction of the [traditional] doctrine, 
with the same formulas that had been taught for more than eight cen- 
turies 5 '. 5 Perhaps this is because Rousseau has more in common with 
traditional Islamic doctrine than either writer would recognize. A 
third critic is closer to the mark in saying that Rida's ideas "appear less 
as a simple working out of Muslim assumptions than as the Muslim 
re-casting of Western assumptions" 6 ; but in Rida's mind it is the 
Muslim assumptions that remain fundamental. 

Rida shows his western constitutionalist influence by proposing the 
formation of a sort of parliamentary body which would combine the 
functions of a number of vaguely identified groups traditionally men- 
tioned in medieval treatises: die ahl al-hall wa-l-laqd ("those who loose 
and bind", or electors of the caliph); ulu-l-amr ("those in authority" 
who, according to Quran IV:58, must be obeyed along with God and 
the Prophet); ahl al-shura (counsellors of the ruler); ahl al-ijma (jurists 
whose consensus on legal questions is authoritative); and fazjamaa or 
umma (the group or community of believers as a whole). None of 
these entities is specifically identified, nor is any means of identifying 
them proposed. They are "the leaders whom the Community follows 

3 Al-Khilafa aw al-imama al-uzma ("The Caliphate, or the Greater Imarnate") 
[Cairo, 1923]; French translation by Henri Laoust, Le Califat dans la doctrine de 
Rasid Rida (Beirut, 1938) 

4 Hazem Zaki Nuseibeh, The Ideas of Arab Nationalism (Ithaca, N.Y., 1956), 
p. 126 

5 Emile Tyan, Institutions du droit public musulman, Vol. II: Sultanat et califat 
(Paris, 1956), p. 264 

e Louis Gardet, La Cite* musulmane: vie sociale et politiaue (Paris, 1954), p. 352 



16 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OP DEMOCRACY 

in its general affairs", 7 "the most important rulers and those whom the 
Imam consults", 8 "those who represent the Community by virtue of 
their positions of rank and prominence". 9 As if to compound the con- 
fusion, Rida adds that in the time of the Prophets these were "neither 
the jurists, nor the generals, nor the governors: they were the principal 
Muslims whom the Prophet consulted". 10 

Such vagueness was possible for Rida for the simple reason that in 
the homogeneous community of believers, all motivated by the same 
spirit of piety and solidarity, it did not matter precisely who these in- 
dividuals were or how they might be chosen. No distinction was ac- 
cepted in principle between the society as a whole and the select body 
of its respresentatives, and Rida took pains to establish that the terms 
jamcfa and umma could be applied to the latter as well as to the former. 11 
The important thing was to uphold the indivisible organic unity and 
solidarity of the community, in which the presence of factions was 
impossible; thus the hadith which Rida quotes from Tabari: "When 
the people no longer have an Imam and are divided into factions, one 
must then avoid taking part and remain aloof if possible, for fear of 
falling into harm." 12 There is no suggestion that the representatives are 
bound to the community as a whole by some form of contract: they 
are the community, and it is they who (under divine authority) are 
sovereign. "True obedience is due only to God, and worldly authority 
belongs to the jamcfa of the community. The chief [al-ra*is 9 i.e. the 
caliph] is only a representative of its unity." 1S 

Among these leaders the caliph is reduced by Rida to being the first 
among equals, and it is his duty of consultation with them, together 
with the citizens' duty to accept their collective judgment, that binds 
the caliph to the people and constitutes the basis of his responsibility to 
public opinion. The limits to power are primarily moral rather than 
institutional, in keeping with the traditional spirit. "The Imam is not an 
absolute ruler as many people suppose", wrote Rida. "He is limited by 
the prescriptions of the Quran and the Sunna, by the general example 
set by the Rashidun caliphs, and by consultation." w 

Rida's distaste for factionalism and private ambitions is exemplified 
in his attacks on the Umayyads and on Ibn Khaldun's view of *asabiya 
or group spirit. The Umayyads are held responsible for the "corrup- 

7 Khilafa, p. 17 * Ibid., p. 14 

9 Ibid., p. 15, quoting the seventeenth-century jurist Sa e d al-Din al-Taftazani 

10 Ibid. Ibid., pp. 14-15 
12 Ibid., p. 14 13 Ibid., p. 129 

u Ibid., p. 30 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY IJ 

tion" of ' 'causing the caliphate to deviate from the path traced for it by 
Islam and making it dependent upon the force o e asabiya and conquest. 
This corruption is the source of all others and of all evils that struck the 
Muslims in their spiritual and temporal interests." 15 Ibn Khaldun is held 
mistaken in considering f asabiya an aid to prophetic missions and to the 
caliphate, whose true social purpose was rather to supplant 'asabiya by 
the rule of divine law. 16 Islam, to Rida's mind, demands that human 
ambitions be not merely channelled but actually laid aside in the inter- 
ests of an institution whose functions are temporal but whose founda- 
tions are purely moral. Islam, with its just and salutary principles of 
government, came to put an end to the miserable historical cycle of 
"royal sovereignty with its tyranny, selfishness, and arrogance". 17 

Implicit throughout these and other passages of Rashid Rida's 
writings was the vision of a community of good citizens who not only 
were induced by their faith to set private interests aside, but who could 
be expected to hold a common view of how the principles of that faith 
ought to be applied to particular public problems. There need be no 
lasting intellectual basis for partisanship, then, any more than a basis 
of selfishness. This assumption finds its most explicit expression in a 
discussion on the subject of how Rida's proposed quasi-parliamentary 
body would arrive at legislative decisions on contemporary problems 
in the light of the principles of the Religious Law. If all members agree, 
of course, no problem arises; but if not, there is still no problem, for 
they would simply refer their disagreement to the two basic textual 
sources, the Quran and the Sunna, and act according to what is found 
there. Rida explains that 

"this is better and sounder than other procedures, such as acting on 
the opinion of a majority of the nation's delegates in enacting the 
statutes of Europe and her imitators, for our kw is opposed to them 
in this matter. It is one of the advantages of our kw that a dispute 
within the Community ceases with the giving of judgment by the 
Quran and the Sunna, and that all the delegates of the Community 
are satisfied with what appears to be the most likely indication in 
these sources, so that no room is left for rancour and dispute." 18 

This appears to be a circukr argument, begging the question of what 
happens when there is some really serious and deep-seated disagreement 
over interpretation of the Quran and the Sunna. But it was not Rida's 
nature to consider such a situation, any more than medieval writers 

15 Khiltfa, p. 47 1C Ibid., p. 134 

17 Ibid., p. 129 18 JWdL, p. 93 

S.A.P. XVI B 



IS ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

schooled in the faith that all vital questions of legal interpretation were 
resoluble by ijma*. Rick's ijnuf is different from the traditional one, 
being institutionalized and therefore explicit and in a way legislative. 
But the mystical assumption of unity persists: one God, one Revela- 
tion, one Islamic community, one loyalty, one universal caliphate, and 
one common view of the truth on all important public questions. 

Such modernists as Rashid Rida are in some ways typical of the 
general political consciousness of the eastern Arab countries early in the 
twentieth century. In other ways they stand in marked contrast to other 
groups. Their implacable hostility to secularism of course sets them 
apart from much of the nationalist and liberal opinion of the time, 
though by no means all of such opinion. It certainly sets them in con- 
trast to the post-war radical current of nationalism represented by 
Nasser. But secularism is a question that does not concern us here, how- 
ever much importance it might have in other contexts. What is relevant 
here is a comparison on the one hand between Salafiya revivalism and 
the European-inspired liberalism that was so widespread among the 
educated Arab classes before and just after the first world war, exem- 
plified in Egypt by the likes of Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid; and on the 
other hand between the Salafiya and the leftist radicals of the period 
after the second war. The question of secularism, although an important 
one in some respects, has often overshadowed other points of compari- 
son or contrast which are important for other reasons. Ali Abd al- 
Raziq, the well-known opponent of the caliphate, for example, was the 
object of some of Rashid Rida's most bitter and intemperate attacks, 
and yet each in his own way was a modernist and could ky some claim 
to be carrying on the work of Muhammad Abduh, as could also Lutfi 
al-Sayyid, who was not particularly concerned with the question of 
religious government. All three were advocates of progress, reform, 
social reconstruction and reintegration; all inveighed against the dead 
hand of the past, of blind traditionalism and obscurantism. Even 
though Rida might appear to be bound by old formulas (as in some 
respects he was), he could nevertheless express his disgust for a tradi- 
tion of endless submission to tyranny in the name of necessity. Tyranny 
maybe 

"better than anarchy, but it requires a constant readiness to put an end 
to it as soon as possible. People should not accustom themselves to its 
perpetuation, nor should it become like a ball to be tossed back and 
forth by usurpers, as is the case with nations that are oppressed, or 
content with oppression, because of their ignorance of their own 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY ly 

latent power or because of the strength of their overlords. Those, on 
the other hand, who are enlightened by political awareness rise up 
to overthrow their tyrannical governments and rulers." 19 

Compare this passage to the following by Lutfi al-Sayyid: 

"We cannot at present have all the liberties of Americans or English- 
men or Frenchmen, but if we cannot attain what we want it is 
reasonable to want what we can attain. We must get away from per- 
sonal rule, which leads to sloth of mind and body/' 20 

Salafis and secular liberals were at one in wishing to replace a society 
that was static, complacent, indifferently administered, respectfully 
obedient, and stratified with one that would be progressive, construc- 
tive, efficiently and responsibly governed, aspiring, idealistic, and mo- 
bile. The beginnings of this new attitude go back to the mid-nineteenth 
century, and as time has passed it has steadily grown. Since the eclipse 
in 1954 of the Muslim Brethren secularism has ceased to be a pressing 
issue, but perhaps it can be said that religious revivalism was less im- 
portant as a principle of government in itself than as a language, a 
medium of expression, in which was conveyed a general spirit of ideal- 
ism and activism that was (and still is) held by those who have spoken 
in the language of secularism. On this level the line from Jamal al-Din 
al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh runs unbroken through both 
Rashid Rida and Ahmad Lutfi al-Sayyid, as well as Saad Zagblul and 
such secularists as Ali Abd al-Raziq and Muhammad Husain Haikal, to 
both Hasan al-Banna and Jamal Abdel Nasser. 

But this element of continuity becomes so all-embracing when fol- 
lowed through to this conclusion that its significance becomes ob- 
viously limited, and one is driven to look again for the differences, if 
not in the secular-religious issue, then elsewhere. Here we come back 
to the essential point of totalitarian monism, on which the Salafiya 
diverged sharply from constitutional liberalism, as well as from pre- 
modern Islamic quietism. The society envisaged by Rashid Rida was 
not only dynamic and idealistic; it was militant, heroic, dominated by 
a common faith. It was not only purposeful, but enrolled in a great 
moral cause. By contrast, Arab liberals, like western liberals, did not 
attach primary importance to these things. They upheld the virtues of 

19 Khilafa, p. 38 

20 Quoted in Jamal Mohammed Ahmed, The Intellectual Origins of Egyptian 
Nationalism (London, 1960), p. 109, from the Cairo newspaper Al-Jarida, 
i January 1914 



ZU ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

diversity, voluntary private association, individual freedom from re- 
straints, tolerance of disagreement, and a type of good citizenship and 
social responsibility derived from rational self-cultivation rather than 
from the mobilization of mass enthusiasms. They were nationalists, but 
to them nationalism was only a pre-condition for the effective appli- 
cation of more important principles: constitutionalism, parliamentary 
representation through political parties, above all the spread of educa- 
tion and the gradual improvement of individual moral character in 
society. For this programme they saw no institutional focal point in 
the state or elsewhere. Lutfi al-Sayyid, for example, though much 
interested in the spread of education, was sceptical of state-organized 
education, for the same reasons that he was opposed to socialism: 21 it 
dampened the spirit of private initiative, creativity, and self-culti- 
vation. 

Without going into any detail on ideas and movements of the 
1930*5 and 1940'$ it may briefly be remarked that during these years in 
a number of Arab countries, while western-style constitutional sys- 
tems were in force (though frequently suspended), and while parlia- 
ments were dominated by parties which at least nominally subscribed 
to secular liberal ideas, a growing disenchantment gnawed continu- 
ously at their foundations. Large numbers of angry young men grasped 
in desperation at a variety of militant ideologies, from the Muslim 
Brethren to fascism and communism, or merely strident expressions 
of nationalism. Like many present-day Arab radicals, they were, as 
Jamal Ahmed aptly puts it, "barely educated but emotionally exalted 
and heroic in an uncalculating way". 22 Even in the early 1930'$, in an 
Iraq that had barely gained its independence, such groupings as the 
super-nationalist al-Ikha 9 al-watani gave evidence of disillusion with 
constitutional liberalism, as did such leaders as Antun Saadeh in 
Lebanon and Ahmed Husain in Egypt, out of impatience with its 
emphasis on moderation and tolerance. 

It is also notable that the Muslim Brethren, quite apart from the re- 
ligious question which they reintroduced into Arab politics, offered 
a political doctrine which (though hazy on many points) shared the 
militant and revolutionary spirit of the secular radicals, and in fact far 
outdid them by spelling out so frankly the totalitarian nature of its pro- 
gramme, from "eliminating political parties and orienting the political 

21 Ahmed, pp. 103, 108-9 

22 Ibid., p. 123 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 21 

forces of the nation in a single direction and in a single bloc" to "organ- 
izing the summer resorts in such a way as to eliminate the disorder and 
license which negate the fundamental purpose of summer vacation- 

99 90 
^ ' 

But it should not be supposed that religious puritanism is the only 
basis of the totalitarian mentality. For one thing, after the abrupt dis- 
appearance of the Brethren from the political stage in 1954 there were 
other symbols to which "emotional exaltation" and "uncalculating 
heroism" could readily attach themselves. For another, one may very 
well ask whether, in the Arab world of the 1950*5, any reform-minded 
thinker determined to get to the bottom of existing social and econo- 
mic problems and put them right by prompt and energetic political 
action, was not prone, wittingly or not, to encourage totalitarian 
methods and ideas. There is, then, potentially a double entree to 
totalitarianism: first the emotional excesses of the nationalist mystique, 
and secondly the relentless logic of a socialist programme, unimpeded 
by any lasting social barriers from reforming and reorganizing 
society down to the smallest detail. Nationalism without any social 
content, if it tries to compensate for the lack by still more nationalism, 
presents the danger of an irrational tyranny; socialism (or any other 
systematic principle of social reconstruction) may lead to a rational 
one. 

It is true, of course, that many Arab socialists are moderate men who 
believe not only in parliamentary democracy but in the encourage- 
ment of diversity, voluntary social organizations, free individual ex- 
pression of opinion, and so forth, and that their only aim is to establish 
economic and social justice in order to make these things possible on a 
wider scale. A case in point is the widely popular book by the Jordanian 
Baath writer Munif al-Razzaz, Maalim al-hayat al-arabiya al-jadida 
("Outlines of the New Arab Life"). 24 Written on the eve of the 
Egyptian Revolution in 1952 and now in its fourth printing, the book 
presents a comprehensive statement of political, economic, and social 
principles and proposals, which for the most part seem like a combina- 
tion of English utilitarian and Fabian ideas. On the political plane the 
keynote is respect for free individual self-expression and for the diver- 
sity of individual tastes and interests. Tracing his ideas deductively from 
axioms reminiscent of the Declaration of the Rights of Man, Razzaz 
insists without qualification on freedom of speech, of political activity 

28 Hasan al-Banna, Al-Rasa*il al-thalath ("The Three Articles") [Cairo, n.d.], 
pp. 113-20; French translation by J. Marel, Orient, 1957, No. 4, pp. $9-62 
24 Cairo, 1953; Beirut, 1960 



22 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

and party life, parliamentary elections, and so forth. He dwells at 
length on the need for more modern political parties based on pro- 
grammes rather than personalities, and is sharply critical of the existing 
(1952) party systems in the Arab world, but rejects appeals for the 
establishment of dictatorial reform governments to suspend party life 
or for the establishment of a single-party system, on the grounds that 
there can be no progress without a continuous process of conflicting 
interests, whose free expression dictatorships suppress. Dictatorship 
"tries to dye all the thoughts of the people in a single colour . . . and to 
produce individuals who are really only copies of one another and who 
lack the spirit of innovation and creativity and independent thought, 
and are no more than cogs in this great complicated apparatus of the 
state". Furthermore, "as Nehru has said [sic], 'Power tends to corrupt, 
and absolute power tends to corrupt absolutely* ". 25 

In economics, while accepting a general Marxist criticism of the evils 
of capitalism (e.g. that as the machine age progresses, the middle class 
is squeezed out, and only the very rich and the growing class of the 
poor remain), 26 he finds dangers and excesses in Marxist solutions. 
Excessive nationalization would cast too heavy an administrative bur- 
den on the state and turn the whole population into a government 
bureaucracy; it would create "an atmosphere of dreary and monotonous 
routine in which there was no pleasure, no novelty, no satisfaction of 
the appetites and no room for change". People should not all live in 
identical bouses with identical furniture all manufactured by the same 
state company, and wear identical clothing. 27 

A number of Razzaz's specific economic proposals closely anticipate 
the programme of the Nasser regime up to 1959, such as the creation of 
corporations jointly owned by private and government capital but 
under government direction, the encouragement of producers' and 
consumers' cooperatives, and the construction of the Aswan High 
Dam, But despite his constant defense of diversity and individualism, 
and his general tone of moderation and good sense, very different im- 
plications creep in at other points of his programme. Razzaz is sickened 
by the material greed of Arab society: "The primary characteristic of 
the present system is that of exploitation. Its ideal is that of acquisition, 
which is the sole controlling element in the present society." 28 No real 
reform is possible until lust for money is removed as the basis of the 
economy. Money today buys power and prestige; it creates hatreds and 
resentments; it spoils the spirit of public service; it is wasted on luxuries. 

25 Razzaz, pp. 175-6 2e Ibid., p. 112 

27 Ibid., pp. 200-2 28 Ibid., p. 193 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS UF 

"Whatever system we propose must aim at making money the means 
of serving all society, not just certain individuals, and making the right 
of any individual to own property conditional on this wealth being 
used for the benefit of all." The government must "supervise produc- 
tion and consumption"; it must assume complete control of foreign 
trade, ensuring that "not one piastre" is spent on imported luxuries as 
long as mass-consumption commodities and capital equipment are 
needed. 29 All "heavy and medium" industry, if not fully nationalized, 
must be "fully supervised" by the government. Private enterprise may 
be left free to produce "jewelry, children's toys, and sweets" subject to 
government supervision of the use of capital and profits and prevention 
of "exploitation" by the owner; this measure of private enterprise 
(such as it is) should be preserved as a means of allowing the individual 
to "assert his own personality and inclinations, and develop himself in 
the way he desires". 30 The poor cannot afford the means of raising 
their children properly, and the state should therefore assume the task of 
rearing them, "since it is these children who in the near future will be- 
come the men of the sound society we wish to create". 31 

Razzaz's concern is to eliminate the social tyrannies and injustices 
practised by privileged against deprived individuals. The state in Arab 
countries has been a political tyrant as well, but only as a reflection of 
the economic and social interests of the classes controlling it; and no 
constitutional provision for political liberty will be of any use to the 
masses until their economic misery is alleviated. 32 On these points one 
could scarcely disagree with Razzaz, given the facts of social and econo- 
mic life in the Arab world in 1952 or, for that matter, today. But in 
reading Razzaz's economic and social chapters one suspects that his 
liberal political ideals have become irrelevant even for Razzaz himself. 
He writes that his economic proposals are not ends in themselves but 
only prerequisite conditions for the development of individual initia- 
tive and liberal democracy. 33 But is this really so, or has he become so 
absorbed with the need for radical economic solutions that they are no 
longer judged in the light of the political conditions they are likely to 
produce? One might wonder what measure of latitude for personal 
taste and enterprise, for the competing interests of private associations, 
for the right of political dissent, and for a multi-party parliamentary 
system could be expected to thrive under a regime which organizes all 
economic enterprise above the level of the manufacture of sweets, pro- 
hibits all importation of luxuries, "supervises and directs a centralized 

29 Razzaz, pp. 198-9 so Ibid., pp. 201-2 sl Ibid., p. 243 

32 Ibid,, p f 120 33 Ibid., p. 190 



24 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

national organization of cooperatives", 34 and "undertakes the exploita- 
tion" of the funds of the rich, as "this money is the property of society, 
not theirs". 35 Razzaz does not argue the point; he simply ignores it. 
There is of course a case to be made for his programme on purely 
economic and social-welfare grounds, and he appears satisfied with that. 
Unconsciously, he has made his choice between pluralist politics and 
collectivist economics. Other thinkers were to make the same choice 
more consciously and consistently, introducing collectivist political 
ideas as well. 

The springboard for such ideas on the political level has been the 
question of the class struggle, of which Razzaz made no specific men- 
tion, but which other writers, including Razzaz's fellow-Baathists, have 
treated with increasing emphasis. Thus Abdullah Abd al-Da'im, a pro- 
fessor in the University of Damascus, while making general statements 
about the democratic virtues of individualism and tolerance of diver- 
sity rather similar to those of Razzaz, is more explicit in defining their 
limits. We cannot speak of democracy in a given society, he writes, 
without considering the social conditions peculiar to it. Freedom can- 
not exist in the abstract (mujarrad) but must be "embodied" (mttshakh- 
khas) in concrete forms. 

"Democracy, in essence, is an attempt to reconcile the demands of 
the individual with those of society. It is a type of accommodation 
between individual liberty and social compulsion. The concrete 
expression of this is found in the line we draw in making this ac- 
commodation. Consequently we cannot accuse a society of being 
undemocratic except after determining, by a study of its conditions, 
that it could have been brought to a greater degree of harmony be- 
tween the freedoms of society and those of individuals. . . . The 
liberty of the individual, as it is often said, ends where the liberty of 
the group begins. . . . This means that for every society there is a 
limit to the liberty it can permit to its individuals, but that the least 
restrictive possible interpretation of that limit, and the effort to push 
the line ever forward, are the criteria of the democratic character of 
that society." 36 

What, then, are the limits he recognizes? In principle, the "funda- 
mental limit which may not be exceeded, is the prohibition of those 

34 Razzaz, pp. 205-6 

35 Ibid., p. 199 

36 Abdullah Abd al-Da 9 im, Al-Jil d-ardbi d-jadid ("The New Arab Genera- 
tion") [Beirut, 1961], p. 167 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 25 

creeds which, call for change by means of violent armed revolution 5 '. 37 
But in practice he is prepared to go far beyond this. Despite the need to 
preserve a united national front in the face of imperialism, and to "sub- 
stitute national cooperation for the class struggle and to try progress- 
ively to dissolve this struggle in pursuit of the greater national goals", 
this should not lead us to 

"make a truce with the exploiters and to make undue concessions in 
our socialist approach ... To be a truly revolutionary truce [sic] 
it must constantly carry within itself the features and form of 
the socialist society which is progressively achieved. Everyone 
must realize that this truce is only a transitional policy aiming at 
the piecemeal absorption of capitalist life, always assuring the pro- 
gressive gains of socialism and the ultimate achievement of a socialist 
society." 

The truce, then, must rest on the clear understanding that it is really an 
arrangement under which the reactionaries and capitalists will quietly 
be done in. 

"For the capitalists can only accept a gradual surrender in favour of 
the national interest by virtue of two combined factors: first, belief 
in the national objective . . ., and second, awareness of the existence 
of a tremendous popular current, and of popular forces of production 
[i.e. means of economic pressure] to which they are compelled to 
yield, as otherwise they would be forced to make an even greater 
surrender. This second factor is important. For it is this which makes 
the capitalist class fear that its gains may be entirely lost, and con- 
sequently feel impelled to accept gradual surrenders. These two com- 
plementary prerequisites will be achieved when a popular regime 
representing the popular class is established, in which the people are 
the moving force behind the regime." 38 

In these passages the transition in Abd al-Da'im's thoughts emerges. 
From signifying individual liberties and the tolerance of all dissent 
short of armed violence, democracy has come to denote the supre- 
macy of that mystical and featureless entity called the "popular 
class", whose only common identity lies in their kck of identity, but 
whose organic unity of will is nevertheless so readily assumed by 
radical nationalist writers in the Arab world and elsewhere. Abd 

37 Abd al-Da'im, p. 175 

38 Ibid., pp. 137-9 



26 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

al-Da'im makes this transition explicit by proceeding directly from 
the above-quoted remarks to a fulsome account of the principles of 
Sukarno's "guided democracy", in which "leadership is qualified by 
the process of consultation, but this consultation is guided by wisdom, 
not by debates and manoeuvres which end in trials of strength and 
the counting of votes", and in which freedom of speech is assured 
"within certain limits" to protect "the safety of the state" and public 
welfare. 39 

Whether it is more important to preserve a front of national unity, 
comprising all social groups, against presumed outside dangers, or to 
promote "popular" solidarity against domestic "reactionaries" in the 
name of future progress and a more lasting form of social cohesion, is a 
dilemma that has concerned a number of writers (although in either 
case, of course, in the end it is "unity" that is considered to be at stake). 
But it is the second alternative which tends to have the last word. Thus 
Michel Aflaq, while rejecting the pure Marxian view of the class 
struggle for its exaggerated internationalism and for its disregard of 
nationalism as a focal point of loyalty for the working-class in a given 
country, recognizes that within national boundaries the economic class 
factor is fundamental. The Arabs, he argues, cannot afford a national 
partnership between exploiters and exploited, because that would 
remove all positive significance from nationalism itself: "Nationalism 
is nothing more than words and phrases if coupled with oppression, 
poverty, and deprivation." 40 Arabs must beware of those exploiters 
who, in order to save their own skins, claim that they too are nation- 
alists. "We are not afraid to use force against all those who prevent this 
progress and growth. The people must conduct a violent and deter- 
mined struggle against those rulers and others who with their material 
and moral interests are obstructing the unity of the nation." 41 

Arab unity assumes the proportions of an apocalyptic vision in the 
mind of Aflaq. Within, the Baath's almost theological trinity of 
"liberty, socialism, and unity" it holds first place, on the grounds (as 
Aflaq explains) that socialism and liberty cannot be truly achieved 
except on its basis. And in contrast to the superficial unity of the Arab 
League, the Baath version of unity is "fundamental, living, having 
its own theory as liberty and socialism have theirs, and, like them, 

89 Abd al-Da'im, pp. 182-3 

40 Article entitled "Our View of Capitalism and the Class Struggle" in Dirasat 
fi al-ishtirdkiya ("Studies in Socialism"), by various contributors (Beirut, 1960), 
p. 27 

41 Ibid., p. 29 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 27 

having its own daily organized and continuous struggle of principle". 42 
The cause of unity is bound up with that of socialism, for, although 
unity is the primary goal, "it cannot be achieved by governments, nor 
foreign states, nor politicians, nor thinkers, but only by the people 
alone"; but "the people" wiU play this part only if assured of social and 
economic justice. Socialism is the "body", unity the "spirit". Socialism 
is "only a means and a step toward a greater goal, namely the unifica- 
tion of the Arab homeland; and this unification is not the final goal, but 
is in its turn a means whereby the Arab nation may play its part in life. 
This mixture of the two goals, this incarnation of an idea in a body, is 
something fundamental which we always insist on." 43 

Unity - whether between the Arab states or within the ranks of the 
nation alist movement or of Arab society as a whole - is the symbol of 
militancy, of the mobilization of energy, enthusiasm and purpose. The 
Baathist writer and politician Abdullah al-Rimawi, asking whether 
"revolutionary Arab Nationalism" has progressed with the speed 
demanded of it by the "new logic" of the "battle" in which it is en- 
gaged, poses the following criterion of success: 

"That in the Arab homeland the modern Arab nationalist move- 
ment become the one revolutionary movement with the one clear 
doctrine, relying on the oneness and clarity of its doctrine to provide 
the Arab nation with unity in its organization and unity in its strug- 
gle, and to provide it in its battle with unity of leadership and unity 
of revolutionary practical planning and tactics, so as to mobilize the 
nation's masses and harness its energies in a rising, conscious his- 
toric tide, on which this nation can proceed with the requisite speed 
toward the realization of its goals and the performance of its mis- 
sion." 44 

Similar ideas were expressed in simpler and more coherent language 
by Fayez Sayegh, who in 1955 criticized the divisive effect of political 
party life on Arab politics. Partisanship, he wrote, 

"splits the nation into blocs, when it is in dire need of the cooper- 
ation of all its sons to the utmost limit. Partisanship puts party in- 
terests in pkce of public interests, and substitutes short-sighted con- 
ceptions for far-sighted ones. Partisanship means a predisposition to 

42 Michel Aflaq, Mdrdkat al-masir al-wahid ("The Battle for a Common 
Future") [Beirut, 1958], PP- 18-21 

JttML, pp. 37-9 

44 Abdullah al-Rimawi, Al-Mantiq d-thawri ("Revolutionary Logic") [Cairo, 
1961], pp. 166-7 



28 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

enmity not because of differences in final aims or discrepancies in 
degrees of sincerity but because of differences in party membership 
and enrollment. Finally, partisanship destroys objectivity in judging 
movements and individuals, intentions and ideas and actions. The 
partisan judges matters not according to the extent of their affinity or 
usefulness to the national interest, but according to the extent of 
their affinity to the interest of the party." 45 

Similarly the Lebanese socialist writer Clovis Maqsud laments the fact 
that many of the left-wing Arab nationalist parties have tended to 
devote more energy and attention to their own organizational strength 
than to the development - in common with one other - of a coherent 
ideology, and even to be jealous and critical of one another's ideolo- 
gical achievements. The result is that Arab socialism kcks the "oneness 
and clarity of doctrine" which Maqsud, like Rimawi, desires: 

"Socialism has come to have various connotations, and is no longer 
a radical revolutionary doctrine, but rather is characterized in many 
cases by the middle or opportune solution between reaction and 
communism. As a consequence of losing the theoretical outlines of 
socialism, these party groupings which arose in the Arab nation 
within the ranks of the Arab elite designated themselves as socialist, 
without being prepared to achieve socialism - that is, to achieve the 
ideal society - because of their lack of serious, sound, conscious com- 
mitment to socialism and their lack of an intellectual apparatus 
capable of embracing its content. And this in turn causes the Arab 
elite to lack a plan for the Arab struggle by which to progress con- 
stantly toward the socialist society to which they aspire." 46 

But despite Sayegh's and Maqsud's common distaste for factionalism 
and their common desire for ideological coherence, they are poles 
apart on a more fundamental issue. Maqsud, like Rimawi, Aflaq, and 
some others, is consumed with devotion to the cause of transforming 
Arab society. If the precise outlines of the cause are not entirely clear 
that is not said to reflect on its validity but only on the present degree of 
understanding on the part of its adherents. Not only must they or- 
ganize their ranks, unify their leadership, mobilize their energies, and 
draw up their plan of battle, but they must clarify and elaborate their 

45 Fayez Sayegh, Risalat al-mufakkir al-ara\>i ("The Mission of the Arab 
Thinker") [Beirut, 1955], P- 97 

46 Clovis Maqsud, Azmat al-yasar al-arabi ("The Crisis of the Arab Left") 
[Beirut, 1960], pp. 57-8 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 2p 

vision of the great transformation lying just over the horizon. What 
is its nature? It cannot be the ideal Islamic society imagined by the 
Rashid Ridas and Hasan al-Bannas only a few years earlier in Egypt, 
nor is it communism. It must take the form either of nationalism or 
socialism, or both, for these are now the only effective rallying 
points. But it must carry within itself some all-embracing principle of 
social morality comparable to that of the Islamic and the communist 
Utopias. 

It is this implicitly totalitarian tendency against which Sayegh very 
sharply reacts. In a pair of short articles in 1959 he discussed the ques- 
tion of the "limits" of the nationalist ideology he wished to see devel- 
oped. There is a danger (he wrote) that to counteract the challenge of 
communism, Arabs will be tempted to create against it an ideology of 
equally comprehensive proportions. Communism "passes judgment . . . 
on all human activities, including creative activities in the fields of 
science, art and philosophy, and on such human values as freedom and 
morality. It is a system which anchors the bases of all these things in 
itself, and no part of human life, individual or collective, escapes its 
judgment." Some Arabs think they must have a nationalist answer to 
communism on every one of these points. But this is a mistake. 
Nationalism, if it presumes to judge all aspects of human life, will be- 
come tyrannical. Nationalism should therefore aim at evolving an 
ideology which is not "totalitarian" (kulli) but only "adequate" 

(fWIjfl). 

Sayegh's concern is to preserve what he defines as "secularism" 
( f ilmaniya), by which he means the distinction between personal and 
social affairs. Secularism is destroyed either when a religious or philo- 
sophical creed, dealing with personal and private matters as well as 
social questions, asserts its control over the state and thus establishes a 
theocracy, or when a social doctrine such as communism, socialism, or 
for that matter nationalism, asserts its sovereignty in personal affairs. 
Secularism means not only keeping the religious establishment out of 
politics but, conversely, isolating the social authority from personal and 
spiritual life. Totalitarian social ideologies tend to make religion, 
philosophy, art, etc. the servants of their own desired social system, on 
the assumption that the whole existence of man is of purely social sig- 
nificance. 47 

To these points Maqsud replies with two arguments. In the first 
pkce, he says, nationalism itself should not be allowed to become an 
ideology. Nationalism is only a loyalty to a certain concept of identity, 
47 At-Witm magazine (Beirut), July and September 1959 



30 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

and should be no more than a prerequisite to domestic social and poli- 
tical action. Those who attempt to make an ideology out of nation- 
alism alone are likely to end in an irrational totalitarianism. 

In the second pkce, Maqsud distinguishes between what he calls 
"total" (kulli) and "totalitarian" (jamai) ideology, inserting the English 
terms in his text to make his meaning clear. His own socialist ideology, 
which is "total", does not rest on common ground with communism, 
nor is it a response to the communist challenge, but is simply a com- 
prehensive and systematically integrated view of life. 

Therefore 

"Dr Sayegh is correct in concluding that the nationalist ideology, if 
it becomes total, will become tyrannical and will strip the nationalist 
movement of its positive values. But this does not apply to the 
'totalness' of the socialist ideology. The chief difference between us is 
that Dr Sayegh insists upon a nationalist ideology, and in order to 
lighten its inevitable tyranny, takes refuge in making it 'adequate' 
(wafi). The mistake lies in his commitment to the ideological charac- 
ter of nationalism, instead of being satisfied with the nationalist 
movement as a preliminary stage . . . This major difficulty confronts 
many of our Arab thinkers who hesitate to commit themselves to 
socialism as a programme and as an image of the society they want 
to create . . . The appeal to an 'adequate* ideology, in my view, 
does not stem from a conviction of its soundness, but from the desire 
to reconcile one's hesitation to commit oneself to socialism as an 
ideology on the one hand, with a deep consciousness and fear of the 
danger of nationalism as an ideology on the other . . . 

"The political position of socialism toward non-socialist ideologies 
might cause it for tactical reasons to welcome their being 'adequate', 
but this does not at all mean that it agrees that an adequate ideology 
of socialism would be sound by virtue of being adequate; on the 
contrary, making socialism adequate would mean making it in- 
determinate, incomplete, and incapable of shouldering the compre- 
hensive revolutionary responsibility that is thrust upon it. Hence the 
necessity of defining the total quality of socialism . . . " 48 

Those who share Sayegh's apprehensions may well ask why social- 
ism, if it purports to be a comprehensive doctrine of life as Maqsud 
says, is any freer than other ideologies of the danger of totalitarianism. 
What guarantees of individual liberty does "total" socialism provide? 

48 Maqsud, pp. 167-8 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 31 

On these points Maqsud offers a characteristically verbose and vague, 
yet revealing, explanation. True socialism holds that 

"man's freedom consists in his ability to expand the scope and hori- 
zons of his active participation in life so that he may give to life and 
to society something of value from his own being, and take in 
return something that will help him achieve his own happiness. It is 
the 'total' nature of socialism that organizes thesocial framework in a 
form that embraces individual initiative, and assures a system of pub- 
lic relationships that will not alienate sections of the people from 
actively exercising their initiative under guise of preserving liberty. 
In practice, liberty is exercised only as the result of liberating oneself, 
and will only be complete if the liberation has been complete. If we 
decide that man's problem is a totality, and that socialism is the doc- 
trine capable of solving the problem in a manner compatible with 
the needs of evolution and equality, then socialism must be total . . . 
Socialism is not socialism at all unless it is total: that is, unless it 
comprises the totality of human experience and takes a stand on 
all issues in conformity with the assumptions in which it believes 
and the values stemming from them. If on the other hand we 
content ourselves with an 'adequate' doctrine of socialism, we will 
have condemned Arab thought to a dissipation of its potentialities 
and to reliance on what is fragmentary and only immediately neces- 
sary, and we will have exposed it to the frightful contradictions and 
the distorted and false positions into which many of the right- 
wing socialist leaderships in Europe have fallen." 49 

Perhaps the key phrase in the above passage is "If we decide that 
man's problem is a totality", from which it follows that "socialism . . . 
[must] take a stand on all issues ..." Maqsud nimbly sidesteps 
Sayegh's point by making kulli mean "total" as opposed to jama i or 
"totalitarian" (though "collective" would be a more natural trans- 
lation of the latter term). But by kulli Sayegh clearly meant "totali- 
tarian", and it is difficult to see that Maqsud's ideas, as he himself des- 
cribes them, escape the substance of Sayegh's argument. 

Recent political writing in Egypt is of a very different quality from 
that of radicals in the Fertile Crescent countries. The latter are critics of 
existingregimes; they are individuals, not committed to any established 
line, and they carry on a genuine debate among themselves. They have 
not deliberately turned their backs on western liberal thought, but 

49 Maqsud, pp. 170-1 



32 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

have gradually drifted away from it. Hence their critique of liberalism 
has generally been an indirect and implied one, and many of them 
would no doubt protest against some of the conclusions drawn in the 
foregoing discussion. 

In Egypt, on the other hand, while there is no real debate, the trend 
of ideology is more explicit, under the stimulus of an authoritarian 
regime that has made a point of scrapping western constitutional forms 
and erecting new experimental institutions in their place. It is natural, 
therefore, that it should be in Egypt that the frontal attack on liberal 
traditions has been made, in a manner that substitutes bluntness for 
sophistication. 

In Egypt, where a government dedicated to sweeping reform has 
been in power for a decade, a curiously ambiguous attitude to ideo- 
logical questions has developed. On the one hand the men in power 
have continued over the years to insist on their aversion to theoretical 
speculation and their preference for an empirical and ad hoc approach 
to individual problems. At the same time the very pace of government 
action, its determination to reach the masses effectively and to cut 
through the fog of their tradition-bound mentality, its enthusiasm for 
large-scale construction and reorganization, has increased the need for 
a systematic framework of explanations and exhortations to the public. 
Demagoguery might be sufficient to communicate a spirit of nationalist 
emotion, but not to justify and guide a calculated social revolution. 
President Nasser himself showed some signs in 1961 of recognizing that 
such a need might exist. His speeches on the occasion of the sweeping 
socialist decrees of July 1961 referred to the class struggle and to the 
exploitive nature of capitalism; in October he spoke of the incompat- 
ibility of the people's interests with those of their enemies, and the need 
to establish a criterion for "isolating" the latter from public affairs. 
Still he was reluctant to set himself up as an official ideologist. In an 
address to the Preparatory Committee of the National Congress of 
Popular Forces, he reproved Egypt's intellectuals: 

"At the Law College you teach political economy - Adam Smith's 
theory of supply and demand - and you say that such talk is the best 
in the world, and that such theories are ideal. People would then look 
at us in surprise and say: What we have learned at the Law Faculty 
differs from what is being applied here. I say: No, the process is not 
one of supply and demand. We are forging a new system. To achieve 
a social revolution we should write books. Some authors have writ- 
ten books on economics which were simply copied from other 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 33 

countries. Who has written a book on the economy we are now 
dealing with? When we have written such a book we can say we 
have written a theory. 

"But we cannot say that we have produced a theory when werefer 
to books on well-known economic systems . . . There are thousands 
of such books available. We cannot say: O Jamal Abd al-Nasser, 
produce a theory for us! I shall not be able to produce a theory; you 
must produce the theory. The intellectuals must produce the theory. 
When I find a suitable book on the nature of our economy, on our 
experience, then I will feel that this book constitutes a large part of 
the theory, and that we have actually begun to lay the foundations. 
But when I realize that these economics books are merely a repeti- 
tion of what we were taught at the Law Faculty in 1936, then I am 
filled with endless disappointment.'* 50 

The difficulty is that the atmosphere in Egypt in the past decade has 
scarcely been conducive to the publication of very original, creative, or 
sober books, even if Nasser himself might welcome them. Each new 
step the government has taken has produced in its wake a rash of 
hastily written popular justifications. The creation of the National 
Union led to attacks on political parties; the nationalization of the Press 
in 1960 led to attacks on private publishers who distort or suppress the 
news; the socialist decrees of 1961 led to attacks on capitalism and to 
cheap versions of the theory of surplus value. An ideology had begun 
to emerge, but whether Nasser intended it or not it was inevitably his 
own creation. 

In the deluge of second-rate books and articles inspired by each new 
action taken by the regime, a sort of Gresham's Law takes effect 
whereby sycophantic propaganda drives serious discussion out of 
sight. Even on those occasions when notice is taken of the isolated and 
demoralized condition of Egyptian intellectuals, such notice takes a 
form likely to discourage creativity and independence even more. 
Thus the editor oal-Ahram, while drawing attention to "The Crisis of 
the Intellectuals" in a series of feature articles, identified the crisis as a 
long-standing conflict "between the force of revolutionary impetus 
and the intellectuals", as if to brand the latter as a group of reaction- 
aries. He went on to contrast "experts" (as a category of intellectuals) 
with "trustworthy people" (i.e. army officers) and to explain why it 
was the latter to whom political power must be confided. 51 Another 

50 Speech of 25 November 1961 

51 Muhammad Hasanain HaikaJ in al-AJwam, June 2, 16 and 30, 1961 
S.A.P. xvi c 



34 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

journalist attributed the crisis to the fact that "every word that an in- 
tellectual says, every phrase or idea he expresses, makes him, according 
to the interpretations of certain groups, an outlaw". 62 

In these circumstances one cannot judge from recent Egyptian poli- 
tical literature what the mood of educated opinion really is. One might 
therefore be tempted to dismiss what is written as unworthy of atten- 
tion, were it not for the fact that however tedious much of it might be, 
it does indicate what sort of ideological pattern Egyptian publicists find 
it advisable to conform to, and what sort of arguments are open to 
elaboration. The gradual development of an official political ideology, 
while it may have closed the door to controversy on certain questions, 
has certainly not cut down the flow of publications: quite the contrary. 

Within established limits there has been room for a certain variety of 
emphasis and degree in ideas. Thus since the promulgation of the 1956 
Constitution it has been understood that a multi-party system was un- 
acceptable, and that the National Union, as a nationwide popular 
organization, was above the level of parties and a more truly demo- 
cratic means of representation. Yet it was possible, in the autumn of 
1961, for a prominent journalist to criticize the loose organization and 
ideological open-endedness of the National Union and to demand the 
creation of a single tightly-knit political party in its place, not repre- 
senting all classes but only those elements of the population having a 
vested interest in socialism. 53 

Likewise, although by the end of 1961 there had been no particular 
tendency in the Egyptian President's speeches to suggest that western 
democracy in the west itself rested on false principles (it being said only 
that western institutions were inappropriate to lie Arab countries), it 
was open to individual writers to apply the full range of Marxist and 
other criticisms to western practice and to denounce it as a fraud 
perpetrated by the exploiting capitalist classes. Thus one writer, for 
example, asserts that American politics, as well as those of Britain and 
France, have fallen under the domination of capital, and affairs of state 
have come to be directed by "monopolists and the owners of factories 
and oil companies". The two American parties, which are instruments 
of the moneyed interests, have "taken over" die Congress and local 
government, "interfering in the elections and working with capital to 
falsify them, and - after succeeding in the elections - controlling the 
Congress, the municipal councils, the police, and the local courts with- 

52 Lutfi al-Khawli in a panel discussion on "The Crisis of the Intellectuals", 
al-Ahram, 14 June 1961 

53 Ihsan Abd al-Quddus in Rose al-Yusuf, 4 and II December 1961 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 35 

out any reference to the people". This perversion of the true purposes 
of democracy is due to the historical circumstances in which western 
democracy first arose, namely, the intrusion of the capitalist middle 
class into affairs of state to protect themselves against the feudal 
nobility, but without reference to the great majority of the people. 
"Thus the present domination of capital over the western democracies 
is only the expression of a status quo that has existed from die rime 
when this democracy first arose until the present." 54 

Elections are rigged (the same writer continues) by local officials and 
police who are bribed by the capitalist-dominated parries. The govern- 
ment works only for the interest of the party rather than the people; 
appointments to public office are made on the basis of the spoils system 
without regard to competence. "And this is not all, for monopoly 
capitalism has set itself up as the ultimate authority in supervising 
government officials, by means of a special law called the Hatch Act, 
whereby it gets rid of any official whose loyalty to the party which 
finances him is in doubt, through special committees which fix the 
accusation of communism on such officials." S5 

The National Union system, by contrast, reflects "the will of the 
whole people, which is of the will of God . . . The people are not 
limited by partisan principles but are gathered together around their 
national goals to achieve the mission of Arab nationalism and to stimu- 
late their efforts for the sound political, social, and economic construc- 
tion of the nation." 56 

This writer's interpretation of American politics is a crude and some- 
what extreme, but by no means untypical, example of recent Egyptian 
literature. Such an attitude is, after all, a logical extension of the very 
widespread Arab view that the essence of democracy consists in the 
triumph of the will of the masses over the selfishness and privilege of a 
small group of individuals, and that a system that perpetuates and in- 
stitutionalizes conflicts of interest is obstructing the emergence of the 
true popular consensus and is therefore not fully democratic. Democ- 
racy is a process of uniting the people rather than dividing them, of 
emphasizing their points of agreement rather than their disagreements. 

One is reminded of the notion, familiar in a long series of social 
philosophers in Europe, of "rational self-realization" according to 
which individuals (or whole societies) must be liberated from their 

54 Muhammad Hamid al-Gamal, Adwa* f ala d-ditmtqratiya al-arabiya ("Light 
on Arab Democracy") [Cairo, 1960], p. 83 
65 Ibid., pp. 95-6 
Ibid., p. 159 



36 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

own blindness, selfishness, or passion by those who possess true insight 
into the dictates of objective reason. The interests of all citizens, when 
properly understood, can only be harmonious because they are 
rational. "To compel men to adopt the right form of government, to 
impose Right on them by force, is not only the right, but the sacred 
duty of every man who has both the insight and the power to do so." 57 
Thus it was explained that the reason Nasser had simply issued the 
July 1961 social legislation by presidential decree, without submitting 
it to the National Assembly as required by the Constitution, 58 was that 
"it could not have obtained the Assembly's consent, despite the neces- 
sity [for such legislation] in order to begin the social revolution". 59 It 
scarcely seemed necessary for anyone to argue the point farther than 
this, for clearly the promotion of socialism could not yield precedence 
to parliamentary procedure. This was not a sacrifice of democracy for 
the sake of welfare, but an affirmation of democracy. Being in the 
rational interest of the masses, the socialist programme must be as- 
sumed to have their implicit support, which would be made explicit 
once they were enlightened. 

"The [local] committees of the National Union must make their 
members apostles to spread the gospel of socialism while explaining 
the obstacles and pointing out the difficulties as every true apostle 
must do, and drawing a picture of the glorious future", wrote a 
journalist. "Within these committees the scope of the discussion and 
debate must be widened, until the whole people sense their role in 
the construction of their future. And when all the people are en- 
gaged in this work, they will all feel it spontaneously and enthusi- 
astically, and they will look to the future with pleasant anticipa- 
tions." 60 

From such assumptions it was but a short step to the adoption of a 
doctrine of class conflict and to the view that those who did not share in 
what was identified as the general will, or who at a given stage of his- 

57 Auguste Comte, quoted by Isaiah Berlin in Two Concepts of Liberty (Oxford, 
1958), p. 36 

58 Article 53 of the UAR Provisional Constitution provides that "While the 
National Assembly is not in session, the President of the Republic may issue any 
legislation or decisions originally within the competence of die Assembly, should 
the necessity arise. Suchlegislation and decisions must be submitted to the Assembly 
at its following meeting." But before the Assembly could meet to consider the 
July decrees it was dissolved by the President. 

69 Haikal in al-Ahram, 6 November 1961 

ee Salah Abd al-Sabur in Rose al-Yu$uf, 16 October 1961 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 37 

tory did not fully support what was presumed to be the national cause, 
simply did not belong to "the people". As Nasser deckred on Novem- 
ber 25, 1961, 

"The word 'people', of course, varies according to circumstances and 
ideologies ... In the current stage of socialist construction, the 
people are all the groups and classes who support and contribute to 
it. So these are the ones to whom we have given full freedom and 
democracy. The rest, those who are against social justice and the 
social revolution, those who are against liberation from political, 
economic, and social exploitation, those who want to rule, or who 
in the past represented the influential class and the minority - are 
these the people? In my view they do not represent the people, but 
represent something else." 

A Press commentator added that there is a vital difference between 
conflicts between the people and their enemies, on the one hand, and 
among different elements of the people on the other. The first is "a 
conflict of enmity which may not be susceptible of resolution by peace- 
ful means, so that the people may be compelled to resort to other means 
to break the power of their enemies, such as arrests, sequestration of 
property, and deprivation of political rights". The second class of con- 
flicts are "natural, non-antagonistic" ones that can be resolved by 
"debate, exchange of views, and persuasion". 61 

Freedom, then, could only exist when the enemies had been over- 
come and only the non-antagonistic conflicts remained, and when the 
harmony of true interests could rise to the surface unimpeded by the 
unnatural selfishness and hostility of an earlier, lower stage of history. 
"The enemies of the social revolution must be swept aside so that the 
masses thereafter can exercise their full and unconditional freedom. 
The uncongenial mixture of the minority who do not desire the social 
revolution with the great majority who desire it was the main ob- 
stacle which impeded the course of freedom." 62 

The westerner who sits comfortably amidst his own liberal axioms 
is apt to look aghast at much of this radical ideology, and at the mono- 
lithic shape that one or two Arab regimes have been taking, and con- 
clude either that Arab radicals are blind and naive, or that some evil 
genius has taken them by the hand and is deliberately leading them 
down the path to totalitarianism. 

81 Muhammad Khafif in al-Ahram, 27 November 1961 
62 Haikal in dl-Ahratn, 7 November 1961 



38 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

It would be more to the point to bear in mind that many recent Arab 
thinkers, though well schooled in western liberal teachings and by no 
means attracted in any conscious way by totalitarianism as such, chafe 
at the exclusive pretensions of the liberal system, just as an earlier 
generation, faced with the claims of traditional Islamic doctrine, felt 
suffocated and anxious to break out of its closed circle. Western liber- 
alism in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries was a breath of 
firesh air to those Arabs who wished to introduce a principle of move- 
ment and creativity into their society. It was a challenge to the mono- 
polistic pretensions of Islamic traditions, and a means of facing new 
problems that had begun to arise. Today liberalism is believed to 
be similarly outmoded. The communist system is not particularly 
attractive to Arabs in certain respects, but Marxism is at least relevant 
to their concerns in many ways. Separated from the example set by the 
particular countries in which they have been applied, and freed from 
the irritating dogmatism and arrogance of orthodox communists, 
many aspects of Marxism have a natural and powerful appeal, par- 
ticularly when disguised by another name such as "Arab socialism". 

It might be argued that die new radicalism is not so much a rejection 
of liberalism as the extension of a certain form of it. To a great extent 
the liberalism in which many Arabs were schooled one and two 
generations ago, particularly in Egypt and Syria, was of a rather 
idyllic type. Arab liberals owed more to the universalism of the French 
Enlightenment and to nineteenth-century French Romanticism than to 
the English constitutionalists or utilitarians, and far more to the inspir- 
ation of the French Revolution than to the English Revolution of 
1689. The scepticism and sense of limits of a writer like Burke, which 
might usefully have tempered some of the euphoric exaggerations of 
liberal mythology, never made a strong impression. Thus the Egyptian 
writer Khalid Muhammad Khalid, who in recent years has stood out in 
his country as a continuing and fervent believer in parliamentary 
democracy and civil liberties, is typical not only of many past and 
present Arab liberals, but of radicals too, in reacting with disgust and 
incomprehension to Disraeli's statement: "I prefer the liberty that we 
now enjoy to the principles that the Liberals promise us; and I prefer 
the rights of Englishmen to the Rights of Man." 63 

Nevertheless even Khalid himself, despite his interest in social reform, 
was shown to be out of step with the new radicalism by the debates in 
the Preparatory Committee for the Congress of Popular Forces, which 

63 Khalid Muhammad Khalid, Al-Dimuqratiya abadan ("Democracy Forever'*) 
[Cairo, 1953; third printing, 1958], p. 24 



ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 39 

met in Cairo in the autumn of 1961; and it would be wrong to 
suppose that this radicalism in Cairo and elsewhere is something less 
thin radical, and that it does not signify a departure from previous 
ideological conventions. It is, perhaps, tie Arab radical's conception 
of the nature of his society's problems that has changed, rather than 
his understanding of what liberal ideas mean, or his esteem for the 
liberal virtues in themselves. These have simply ceased to have prac- 
tical meaning to him. But while the virtues seem irrelevant in the 
abstract, in practice they often appear as outright vices, for they con- 
flict with what is considered relevant: the need to pull together the 
scattered fragments of Arab society and to instil in its members an 
awareness of common moral bonds and a sense of citizenship; to hasten 
the end of an outdated stratification, immobility, and quiescent spirit in 
what remains of traditional society, which foster resigned acceptance of 
weakness and injustice; and to overcome the alienation and roodessness 
of the new classes, which alternately promote opportunism and despair. 
And overlaid on the radical's preoccupation with all these problems is 
the humiliating sense of national impotence that continues to fester 
after several generations. 

In these circumstances the desire for a government that is strong and 
determined (whatever else it might be) is overwhelming. John Stuart 
Mill would find widespread agreement with his view that "many a 
people has gradually emerged from this condition [of passiveness and 
submissiveness] by the aid of a central authority, whose position has 
made it the rival, and had ended by making it the master, of the local 
despots, and which, above all, has been single". 64 

No Arab writer has yet produced a comprehensive, relevant, and 
sophisticated theory of social, economic, and political development 
that can effectively compete with the great world ideologies of com- 
munism and democratic liberalism. Nor has anyone made a satisfactory 
attempt to make liberal principles applicable in any systematic way to 
contemporary Arab problems. The radical ideas described in this 
article indicate that the search for principles is on, but that often it takes 
the form either of a fragmentary rejection of outmoded or inappro- 
priate doctrines, or an unattributed but uncritical borrowing of other 
ones. There are a great many unanswered and even unrecognized 

64 Considerations on Representative Government (Forum Books, New York, 
1958), p. 60 (Chapter 4: "Under What Social Conditions Representative Govern- 
ment is Inapplicable"). Cf. the application of Mill's ideas to Arab problems by 
Manfred Halpern in Chapter n of Tlie Politics ofSodal Change in the Middle East 
and North Africa (Princeton University Press, 1963), to which I am indebted* 



40 ARAB RADICAL NOTIONS OF DEMOCRACY 

questions about the political implications of economic development. A 
great gap exists between ideologues and economists: where are the 
Arab Fabians? If ideas are not available to shape events, then by default 
events will shape ideas, in keeping with their own unplanned and, per- 
haps, grotesque course. 

MALCOLM KERR 1963 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 
1906-n 1 



By Ann K. S. Lambton 

SECRET AND SEMI-SECRET societies, which had spread the "new 
learning" derived from the West and the desire for government 
founded on "the law", interpreting both in terms of Islam, had pre- 
pared the way for the Constitutional Revolution of 1905-6. 2 With the 
grant of the constitution on 5 August 1906 these societies were suc- 
ceeded by "political associations" (known by the general term of 
anjuman, society, association, club, or council), which had strong local, 
craft, or professional affiliations. The early secret or semi-secret soci- 
eties had assumed that with the spread of education victory would 
automatically come. Consequently they had seen their function to be 
the dissemination of knowledge. There is little to show that they 
thought in terms of a revolution or even in terms of political activity 
other than the spread of enlightenment. The measure of the success of 
their efforts is to be seen in the large numbers oanjumans which sprang 
up almost immediately in the capital and the provinces in defence of the 
constitution and the National Consultative Assembly; and of their 
failure in the small number of the members of the anjumans and the 
Assembly who had anything more than the most elementary idea of 
what the functions of a parliament were, or how a code of kws could 
be regularly applied, and who would have turned the Assembly into 
something "between a Debating Society, a Court of Justice, and a 
Council of State". 3 It was to the anjumans 9 rather than to die deputies, 
that the preservation of the constitution and the Assembly was due; it 
was they who rallied to the defence of the Assembly and defended 
it when it was attacked by Muhammad "All Shah. They were not 

1 Unpublished Crown Copyright material in the Public Record Office has been 
reproduced in this article by permission of the Controller of H.M. Stationery 
Office, to whom I wish to express my thanks 

2 See my article, "Secret Societies and the Persian Revolution of 1905-6" in 
St Antonyms Papers, number 4, Middle Eastern Affairs, number I (London, 1958) 

a Cf. Cd. 4581. Persia No. i (1909)* Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, 
October 10, 1907, No. 54, p. 59 

41 



42 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

concerned, as had been the earlier societies, with the spread of modern- 
ism and "the new learning"; they were concerned with action rather 
than enlightenment. So far as they thought of "freedom" it was 
freedom from the tyranny and extortion of the government of the 
shah, whom the strictly orthodox had in any case always regarded 
as a usurper. The terms fidai (devotee) and mujahid (warrior) were 
applied to those members of the anjumans and others who were 
rniljtsmt in the defence of the constitution and the Assembly. In Azar- 
bayjan and Gilan, where the ranks of the/u&Tis were swelled by Cauca- 
sian revolutionaries, they developed in some cases their own organiza- 
tions, which were influenced by revolutionary organizations in South 
Russia and Transcaucasia and eventually developed along rather dif- 
ferent lines to the anjumans elsewhere. The latter with their strong 
local, professional, and craft associations were typical manifestations of 
the traditional corporate tendency of Persian society. This paper is con- 
cerned only with the role of the anjumans in the years 1906-11 and not 
with the details of the struggle between the nationalists and Muham- 
mad e Ali, the intervention of Russia in his support, the part pkyed by 
Great Britain, or the interaction of Anglo-Russian relations and Per- 
sian internal politics, though some of these matters will be touched 
upon in the course of the narrative. 

The constitutional revolution unfolded against the background of 
Anglo-Russian relations. The presence of both powers had long been 
felt in Persia; but their primary concern there had been not their rela- 
tions with Persia but rather with each other. Great Britain's interest in 
Persian internal affairs in the early twentieth century arose mainly from 
the fact that a change in the status quo would affect Anglo-Russian 
relations. Great Britain had always wanted a common policy with 
Russia in Persia and hoped that the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907 
would, at least, limit the area of conflict. The aims of the two powers 
were, however, different. British interests lay in an independent Persia, 
a prerequisite to which, by the early twentieth century, was a reform of 
the administration. British policy was, thus, to prevent the disintegra- 
tion of Persia through internal disorder, but to avoid, as far as was com- 
patible with this aim, intervention in Persian internal affairs; and to 
counsel moderation on Russia. But Persian internal weakness and 
Russian pressure on Persia and opposition to the nationalist movement 
involved Great Britain also in a degree of intervention which was in- 
compatible with Persia's status as an independent state. Further, the 
constitutional movement developed against the background of finan- 
cial crisis. The population had no security against the irresponsible 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES IpOd-II 43 

exactions of the shah's ministers. The treasury, nevertheless, was usually 
empty and unable to pay or maintain a force for the preservation of 
order. This fact also drew the two powers into the arena of internal 
conflict because of Persia's difficulty in servicing earlier loans made by 
the Powers and her demand for new ones. In this connection also there 
was a difference in aim between the two Powers. British policy felt it 
incumbent to meet the demand for funds in order to prevent the dis- 
integration of the Persian state, provided proper safeguards could be 
given that the money would not be used against the nationalist move- 
ment, whereas Russian policy was inclined to provide loans with a 
view to bolstering up the existing regime against the nationalists. 4 

In these circumstances it was not surprising that the nationalist move- 
ment should be a dual movement, against both internal misgovernment 
and foreign intervention. There was already by the beginning of 1907 a 
noticeable growth of an anti-foreign feeling in the National Assembly, 
which took the form of a strongly developed fear of both England and 

4 For example Sir Edward Grey telegraphed to Sir A. Nicolson on 13 January 
1909, as follows: 

"In reply to your telegram of the 9th instant, His Majesty's Government are 
opposed to any kind of intervention respecting the position in Tabreez or Ispahan. 

"We have not ceased to regard the granting of a Constitution as a factor of much 
importance in the restoration of order, and it may be that wholesome influence 
may be produced on the Shah by the disturbances in those two places towards 
the granting of such a measure. 

"So long as there is no reform in the Shah's Government there will be no 
improvement of a permanent character; and while any proposals emanating from 
the Russian Government will be most carefully considered by His Majesty's 
Government, they hold that to give the Shah money would, in the present 
circumstances, be worse than futile, and would amount to intervention in Persia's 
internal aflfairs. For it is probable that such money would be employed in the 
suppression of the national movement on behalf of a Constitution; moreover, 
when once the money had been spent, the situation would be as bad as ever, even 
if not worse." Of. 4733. Foreign Office, January 13, 1909, No. 52, p. 22. 

On 17 February 1909 Sir Edward Grey in another telegram to Sir A. Nicolson 
stated: 

"In my opinion the Shah will take no notice of any advice unaccompanied by 
a threat. We wish to avoid active intervention, and thus such a threat would have 
to be of a negative character, and to the effect that neither Government will 
afford him support of a financial or other nature until he redeems his promise to 
his people by proclaiming a Constitution, and so pacifies the country. It seems to 
me that the only means of saving the country from internal disaster is to make it 
clear to the Shah that he will be left to his own devices, but we desire to do nothing 
to which the Russian Government do not entirely agree." Ibid. Foreign Office, 
February 17, 1909, No. 86, p. 52. Cf. also ibid. Sir A. Nicolson to Sir Edward 
Grey, St Petersburgh, February 23, 1909, No. 95, pp. 54-5 



44 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 

Russia, and especially of the two combined. Any overt sign of co- 
operation was regarded as aimed directly at the independence of 
Persia. 5 The anjumans, however, on the whole were scrupulously care- 
ful not to endanger foreign lives or foreign interests, knowing that 
Russia would seize the slightest pretext to bring in military forces, 
ostensibly to defend Russian subjects. Throughout the siege of Tabriz 
(1908-9) the foreign communities in the town seem to have been in 
little danger, although in October 1908 Sattar Khan apparently refused 
to guarantee the safety of the Russians in Tabriz. 6 One observer stated 
on 1 8 November 1908 that "Foreigners generally speak with gratitude 
of the attitude towards them of the Nationalists throughout the 
troubles, and, with the exception of the Russians, show no apprehen- 
sion for their personal safety." 7 Only at the very end of the siege, when 
food supplies had become critical, was the situation of the foreign com- 
munities dangerous. 8 The Russian government, however, took a 
different view from the beginning and held that there was serious dan- 
ger to the Russian community in Tabriz; 9 and eventually they brought 
troops into Persia in 1909 on the pretext of protecting Russian and 
foreign legations and nationals. 10 When the nationalists finally marched 
on Tehran to restore the constitution in 1909 they denied the allega- 
tions made in some quarters that their intention was to molest for- 
eigners and stated categorically that foreign subjects would in no way 

5 Cd. 4581. Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, January 30, 1907, 
No. 17, p. 16 

6 Ibid. Sir A* Nicolson to Sir Edward Grey, St Petersburgh, October 18, 1908, 
No. 268, p. 193 

7 Cd. 4733. Consul-General Wratiskw to Sir G. Barclay, Tabreez, November 
18, 1908. Inclosure I in No. 58, Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, 
December 30, 1908, p. 32 

8 On 20 April 1909, title British and Russian representatives at a joint audience 
read a note to the shah which stated: 

"The situation of our fellow-subjects in Tabreez is serious in the extreme. It 
seems that the food in the town is so scarce that the people are desperate, and there 
is reason to apprehend that an attack on the British and Russian Consulates- 
General is in contemplation in order to secure provisions. 

"In these circumstances, the Representatives of Great Britain and Russia are 
compelled to point out to your Majesty that the two Governments will hold him 
personally responsible for any harm which may come to their fellow-subjects and 
to the Consulates-General in Tabreez." P.O. 416/40. Inclosure in No. 395, Sir 
G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, April 20, 1909, p. 170 

9 Cd. 4581. Sir A. Nicolson to Sir Edward Grey, St Petersburgh, October 18, 
1908, No. 268, p. 193 

10 Cf. Memorandum communicated by Count BenckendorfF to Sir Edward 
Grey on July 5, 1909, No. 66, p. 55 in P.O. 416/41 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 45 

be exposed to danger from the nationalists and that their persons and 
property would be safe and whenever necessary protected by the con- 
stitutionalists. 11 When they entered the city they kept their word and 
foreign nationals were in no way molested or subjected to danger. Mr 
G. Churchill, Oriental Secretary to the British Legation, in a memor- 
andum dated 16 July 1909 wrote: "I venture, however, to state my 
absolute conviction that at no time have any foreigners been in any 
danger, excepting, of course, from stray bullets, provided they took 
normal precautions. The Yedai' and the Bakhtiaris show remarkable 
respect towards foreigners . . . " 12 

Muzaffar ud-DIn Shah finally signed the constitution on his death- 
bed on i January 1907. He was succeeded by his son, Muhammad 
"All, on 8 January. Traditionally the power of the shah had been 
arbitrary, subject only to seizure by another despot more powerful 
than he. The people had had no responsible share in the government 
prior to the constitution. Muhammad c Ali and his ministers from the 
first hated the constitution, which threatened them with the loss of 
their privileges; and were determined to overthrow it. They pro- 
foundly distrusted and despised the people. This distrust was especially 
strong with regard to the anjumans, who were the main organs through 
which the new cry of freedom and liberty was expressed, and who 
were the focal point of the long-dekyed reaction against tyranny and 
misgovernment. The distrust between the shah and his ministers on the 
one hand and the people on the other was, in part, the result of the cen- 
turies-old gulfbetween the "go vernment* * and "the go verned", which so 
far as it had been bridged in the past, had been bridged by the religious 
classes, certain sections of whom had, in some measure, been the defen- 
ders, or, at least, the refuge of the people. But there had always been 
also the religious leaders who had been on "the government side". In the 
constitutional revolution this was also the case: there were the re- 
actionary mulks who worked with the shah and the court party, and 
the "nationalist** mullas who supported the constitutionalmovement and 
had, with the secret and semi-secret societies, helped to prepare the 
way for it. There were also those among the religious classes, as among 
other cksses, who, once the constitutional movement looked like 
being successful, joined it in the hope of retaining their power. This 
pattern was not new, and the threat it offered to the established order 
serious but not unduly alarming. The spontaneous growth of anjumans 

11 Ibid. Sir G. Barday to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, July 5, 1909, No. 69, 
p. 5<5 
18 Ibid. Inclosure i in No. 427, same to same, Gulahek, July 23, 1909, p. 255 



46 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

with local, professional, and craft affiliations on the other hand was 
something different; and it was this which the shah and the court party 
feared - and with reason, since it was mainly from the anjumans that 
active opposition to their arbitrary and tyrannical use of power and 
subservience to foreigners came; and among whom there developed 
* 'the sentiment of independence in the widest sense, of nationality, of the 
right to resist oppression and to manage their own affairs". 

When the National Assembly eventually met it forced the shah to 
accept the formation of local assemblies or anjumans, which were to be 
elected in every province to oversee the administration, which was no 
longer to be in the hands of arbitrary governors. 13 Finally, when the 
Supplementary Fundamental Laws were promulgated on 7 October 
1907, article 90 made provision for provincial councils (anjuman-i 
vilayatl and anjuman-i ayalaff), which were to be elected by the people 
(Art. 91); and were to be free to exercise supervision over all reforms 
connected with the public interest (Art. 92). 14 "Popular" anjumans, as 
distinct from the provincial anjumans, were permitted by Article 21 of 
the Supplementary Fundamental Laws in the following words: 

"Societies (anjumans) and associations (ijtimaaf) which are not pro- 
ductive of mischief to religion or to the state and are not injurious to 
good order, are free throughout the whole empire, but members of 
such associations must not carry arms, and must obey the regulations 
laid down by the law on this matter ..." 

There were, thus, two types of anjuman, "official" anjumans and 
"popular" anjumans. The former were elected bodies, the latter politi- 
cal clubs or associations. The Tehran anjumans were all "popular" 
anjumans. Tehran was the seat of the National Assembly and there was 
therefore no reason for the setting up of "official" anjumans in the 
capital. In the provinces, on the other hand, the intention appears to 
have been that provincial anjumans - local or provincial councils or 
assemblies - should be set up, and just as the function of the National 
Assembly was considered by many to be mainly that of an advisory 
body, so the function of the provincial anjumans was seen to be super- 
vision of the administration of the local governor. The dividing line 
between the provincial anjumans, or the "official" anjumans, and the 
"popular" anjumans is, however, sometimes difficult to draw, notably 
in the case of Tabriz. In that town the provincial anjuman became in 

13 E. G. Browne, The Persian Revolution 0/10,05-1900,, p. 143 

14 See also Kasravl, Tankh-i mashrutiyyeh-i Iran (Tehran, 4th edition, n.d.), 
pp. 466 flf. 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES Ipo6-II 47 

effect a "popular" anjuman, acting as a central body to which the 
various "popular" anjumans of the town reported; and when govern- 
ment forces were expelled from the town in 1908 it took over the 
administration of the town. 

In Tehran within a short space of time after the grant of the consti- 
tution over one hundred "popular" anjumans were formed; the largest 
are said to have had over a thousand members. 15 The purpose of these 
anjumans was to strengthen the constitution, advocate reforms, and to 
watch over the actions of the government and its officials and to de- 
mand redress for citizens in cases of real or alleged injustice. A central 
anjuman was set up in Tehran composed of representatives of the 
various anjumans.^ Similarly in Tabriz numerous anjumans were 
formed when news of the grant of the constitution was received; many 
had local affiliations, each quarter or street having its own anjuman. 
An Anjuman-i Ayalati or Provincial Council was also set up for the 
purpose of electing deputies to the National Consultative Assembly; 
but when the deputies had been chosen, Muhammad 'All, who was 
then governor-general of Azarbayjan, ordered it to be dissolved. It 
reformed itself almost immediately as the Anjuman-i Milll, though 
subsequently it appears to have been known by its original name. The 
local Tabriz anjumans, which held regular meetings to investigate the 
complaints of the people, reported to the Anjuman-i Milli. 

As a result of the assembly's decision that provincial anjumans should 
be set up to oversee the administration, councils or assemblies were 
formed in many of the provincial towns. Their nature varied from 
province to province; most were hostile to the government; some arro- 
gated to themselves the functions of government; 17 and some were 

15 Sayyid Hasan Taqizadeh states their numbers at one time reached one 
hundred and forty-four. Tarikh-i ava*il-i inqilab va mashmtiyyat-i Iran (Tehran, 
1959-60), p. 44. According to a list of over one hundred wjumcws furnished to the 
British Legation c. February 1908 the Anjuman-i Azarbayjan (the president of 
which was Sayyid Hasan Taqizadeh) was the largest with 2,962 members. 
Ctf. 4581. Extract from the Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 105 
from Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, February 28, 1908, p. 107 

16 Malikzadeh, Tdnkh-i inqilab-i tnashrutiyyat-i Iran (Tehran, n.d.), ii, 207-8 

17 A curious instance of this was the action of the Mashhad council, which held 
a special sitting in November 1907 after various Turkoman raids had taken pkce 
on different places in Khurasan. The chiefs of the Timuri and Hazareh tribes and 
the lashkamivTs-bashi of the Khurasan army were summoned to attend. The 
council finally resolved that the government should be called upon to furnish 
these chiefs with the necessary funds and that the latter should give an under- 
taking to produce fully equipped horsemen. A letter was then sent to the governor- 
general instructing him to find the money required. Cd. 4581. Extract from the 



48 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES Ipo6-II 

parochial in their outlook in the extreme, showing litde or no com- 
prehension of constitutional government, and used much of their time 
and energy to indulge in local factional strife. One of the earliest pro- 
vincial anjumans to be formed was the Anjuman-i Muqaddas-i Mill! of 
Isfahan (also known kter as the Anjuman-i Ayalati), which was 
opened on 22 December 1906. It was run by the leading 'ulama, mer- 
chants, and citizens of the town. It heard plaints and demands for re- 
dress, issued decrees concerning local affairs, and fixed the price of cer- 
tain commodities. Shordy after its formation Zill us-Sultan, the gover- 
nor of the province, wrote to it informing it of his support and stating 
that the mu lid basin was duly authorized to represent him at its meetings 
and to support and execute its decrees; and that soldiers zndfarrashes 
had been placed at his disposal for the furtherance of the affairs of the 
Anjuman, Shordy after its formation regulations laying down the 
scope of its authority were transmitted to it from the National Assem- 
bly in Tehran. These laid down that: (i) The Anjuman was to be under 
Zfll us-Sultan, who was to execute its decrees; (ii) its decrees, which 
were to be in accordance with the sharfa, were to be executed equally 
and without prejudice with regard to all classes; (iii) all plaints were to 
be submitted in writing; (iv) its deliberations were to be concerned 
with general matters affecting the public welfare and not the investiga- 
tion of personal matters or the discussion of matters of detail; (v) it 
had no right to interfere in military affairs, but could investigate com- 
plaints which affected such matters and give a ruling in accordance 
with the sharfa; (vi) it was not to interfere in financial affairs but it 
could investigate complaints of extortion and demand redress from 
the governor; (vii) it was to have not more than twenty-four and 
not less than eighteen members, two-thirds of whom would form 
a quorum; (viii) in the event of its being considered necessary the 
Anjuman had the right to send two of its members to theroyal presence 
to ask for directions; and (ix) the formation of public companies 
and other public matters required the approval of die Anjuman. The 
Anjuman, which met twice a week under the presidency of Shaykh 
Nurullab, virtually arrogated to itself the government of die province, 
producing thereby a certain degree of administrative confusion. 18 It 
seems that the Anjuman-i Muqaddas-i Mill! did not inspire the local 

Diary of His Majesty's Consul-General at Meshed, Inclosure in No. 83, Mr 
Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, November 25, 1907, pp. 81-2 

18 Cf. Cd. 4581. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in 
No, 1 8 from. Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, February i, 1907, 
No. 18, p. 17 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES IpOtf-II 49 

public with complete confidence in its integrity; in any case about July 
1907 an Anjuman-i 'Adliyya (also termed the Anjuman-i r Adalati), 
composed of two f ulama, two merchants, and two persons chosen 
from the craft guilds (asnaf) was set up. It was outside and separate 
from the Anjuman-i Muqaddas-i Milll (Ayalati), and presumably 
charged with the investigation and settlement of trade disputes. 
Various "popular" anjumans were also set up in Isfahan, such as the 
Anjuman-i Tijarat, the Anjuman-i Taraqqi, the Anjuman-i Ittiha- 
diyya, which was formed by the students of the religious schools in 
Isfahan, and the Anjuman-i Ittihad va Ittifaq, composed exclusively 
of sayyids, non-sayyids being admitted only as associate members; 
the last-named anjuman was formed expressly to support the National 
Assembly, which was alleged, at its opening meeting, to be under 
pressure from Great Britain and Russia, and to uphold Islam against 
foreigners. 19 

Provincial assemblies were also set up in many other towns, includ- 
ing Shiraz (c. January 1907), Enzeli, Rasht, and Kinnan. Numerous 
"popular" anjumans were also formed in the provinces. In Shiraz an 
Anjuman-i Islam was founded about March 1907 by some two hun- 
dred members of the religious, mercantile and other classes, who took 
an oath to support the constitutional assembly with their lives. 20 These 
popular anjumans from time to time found themselves in opposition to 
the provincial anjuman. On 17 May 1908, for example, representatives of 
various popular anjumans of Isfahan assembled at the meeting place of 
the provincial anjuman refusing to leave it unless reforms in the election 
of that body were promised; they also demanded security of the high- 
ways, the punishment of those who spoke against the constitution, the 
establishment of a Court of Justice, and the abolition of the custom of 
taking sanctuary at mosques and the houses of religious leaders. The 
Governor and the anjuman after some discussion agreed to their re- 
quests. The agitation appears to have been aimed primarily against 
Aqa Najafi, one of the leading figures of the provincial anjuman and a 
reactionary. 21 Often the provincial anjumans were torn by local dis- 
sensions; elections were in some cases accompanied by violence and 

19 See the weekly paper published by the Anjuman-i Muqaddas-i Milli-i 
Isfahan, 1907-8, and especially the issue dated I Rajab 1325/10 August 1907; and 
also Muhammad Sadr Hashimi, Tarikh-ijara'id va majallat-i Iran (Isfahan, n.d.), 
i, 390 

20 Cd. 4581. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 23, 
Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, March 28, 1907, p. 25 

21 Ibid. Monthly Summary, Inclosure in No. 177, Mr Marling to Sir Edward 
Grey, Gulahek, June 19, 1908, p. 164 

S.A.P. XVI D 



50 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

bloodshed. 22 In others the local population showed little interest in the 
proceedings of the provincial anjuman. Thus, the provincial anjuman 
of Rinnan was reported in May 1907 to meet periodically but in the 
absence of any regulations not to know what to do and therefore to do 
nothing. 23 This is somewhat odd because Kinnan had been one of the 
early centres of the "popular movement' 5 . 

The membership of the * 'popular" anjumans varied from place to 
place. Whereas that of the secret and semi-secret societies in Tehran up 
to the grant of the constitution had been mainly drawn from the reli- 
gious classes and the intellectuals, in the second phase after the grant of 
die constitution the Tehran "popular" anjumans had a close connection 
with the craft guilds and strong local affiliations. The inhabitants of the 
different quarters formed anjumans, such for example as the Anjuman-i 
Baradaran-i Darvazeh-i Qazvin; and the people of different districts 
and provinces domiciled in Tehran also formed anjumans. One of the 
largest and most powerful of these was the Anjuman-i Azarbayjan. It is 
alleged to have had 2,962 members in February I908. 24 In Azarbayjan 
from the first the "popular" anjumans and the Anjuman-i Mill! 
(Ayakti) were opposed to the large landowners and had a strong 
"middle class" bias. In February 1907 Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, the British 
Minister at Tehran, reported of the Anjuman-i Milli as follows: 

"its position hardly seems so secure as it was, nor its popularity so 
general. The members have had several violent quarrels among them- 
selves, while the senior clergy of the town are adopting an attitude 
of sullen hostility towards an institution which deprives them of 
much of their importance and emoluments. The landed proprietors, 
too, find their interests directly menaced by the action of the 'enju- 

22 Thus, for example, the local assembly at Enzeli was torn by local dissensions, 
a disturbance taking place there on 7 May 1907. Ibid. Extract from Monthly 
Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 29, Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, 
Gulahek, June 21, 1907, p. 35 

23 Ibid* Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 26, same 
to same, Gulahek, May 23, 1907, p. 30. However, later in the year elections to the 
Kerman assembly led to disturbances. Ibid. Extract from Monthly Summary of 
Events, Inclosure in No. 55, Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, October 10, 
1907, p. 6"i. These continued for some time and the government eventually 
seized and deported the popular leader, Nazim ut-Tujjar; and five or six persons 
were killed when the troops were ordered to fire upon the mob. Extract from 
Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 61, same to same, Tehran, 
November 8, 1907, p. 71 

24 Ibid, Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 105, same 
to same, Tehran, February 28, 1908, p. 107 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 5! 

men' in causing the price of grain and wheat to be reduced, and the 
mercantile and lower classes can alone be considered as whole-hearted 
supporters of the committee which was at one time so popular." 25 

In Isfahan, on the other hand, where, perhaps, as a legacy of Safavid 
times, the religious classes held a more than usually influential position, 
the Anjuman-i Muqaddas-i Mill! and the "popular" anjumans were 
largely dominated by the local religious leaders. In Mashhad also the 
religious classes played a prominent part in the anjumans and there seems 
to have been considerable opposition between them and the merchant 
classes. The religious leaders in Mashhad are alleged to have been for 
the most part "reactionary to the core" and to have taken part in the 
deliberations of the provincial anjuman, "not out of sympathy for 
reform but in order to try and control the popular movement which 
they realized they could not check and feared would otherwise develop 
independently of them and possibly end in the destruction of their 
power". 2S This was to some extent true of certain of the religious 
leaders in Isfahan also, such as Shaykh Nurullah and Aqa Najafi. In 
Rasht some of the members of the Anjuman-i Milli, which developed 
close relations with the Anjuman-i Miffi of Tabriz, are said to have been 
connected with the Social Democrat party of Baku. 27 Apparently the 
jidfts in Rasht had two types of association, one public and one secret; 
and were under the authority of directing bodies in the Caucasus; and 
their attitude was distinctly revolutionary. 28 

So far as the members of the anjumans had political experience it 
was transmitted to them through Persians who had had experience 
of Russian revolutionary organizations in Transcaucasia, Caucasians 
and Russian emigres. 29 But for the most part the members of the 
anjumans had had no political experience; and many perhaps joined 

25 Cd. 4581. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 
21, Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, February 27, 1907, 
p. 20 

26 Ibid. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Liclosure in No. 23, same 
to same, Tehran, March 28, 1907, p. 24 

27 Malikzadeh, Tarikh-i inqilab-i mashrutiyyat-i Iran, ii, 264 

28 Cd. 4581. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 18, 
Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, February i, 1907, p. 17; and 
Cd. 4733, Memorandum by Mr Churchill, Tehran, March 18, 1909, Inclosure in 
No. 169, Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, March 23, 1909, p. 79. 
Already in 1906 Persian subjects in the Caucasus, to show their adherence to the 
popular cause, had formed a secret society and called themselves jidavis (F.O. 
416/30, General report oti Persia for tlie year 1906, p. 6) 

29 By October 1908 there were according to the Russian minister for foreign 



53 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

them without any very clear notion of the nature of the issues between 
the nationalists on the one hand and the shah and the court party on the 
other. Some, perhaps, merely saw in the anjumans a means through 
which they could carry out the duty incumbent upon all Muslims, 
namely to enjoin what is good and to forbid what is evil; 30 while 
others joined them simply out of a kind of intuitive clinging to Shi'ism, 
because they conceived of "the law'* which the constitutional move- 
ment would establish to be the sharfa and associated, in some obscure 
way, the triumph of the nationalist movement with the return of the 
Hidden Imam, whom they regarded as their true king. The anjumans 
had, in fact, a semi-political and semi-religious or messianic charac- 
ter. 31 At times their activities were accompanied by outbreaks of 
fanaticism against the religious minorities. 32 Thus, in Isfahan the Jews 
were subjected to disabilities by the provincial anjuman. At the begin- 
ning of February 1907 the representatives of the Jewish community 
were summoned before the anjuman and forced to sign an ordinance 
that in future no Jew would (i) sell wine or spirits to a Muslim, or (ii) 
hawk goods for sale within a radius of eight miles of Isfahan. 33 An 

affairs 300-500 Caucasian revolutionaries with Sattar Khan in Tabriz. Cd. 4581. 
Sir A. Nicolson to Sir Edward Grey, St Petersburgh, October 18, 1908, No. 268, 
p. 193. See "The Borderlands of Soviet Central Asia", Persia, in Central Asian 
Review, iv, 3, pp. 289 f, for a discussion of Soviet writing on this subject; and 
*Abd ul-Husayn Zarrinkub's review of Amir Khlzfs book, Qiyam-i Azarbayjan 
va Sattar Khan (Tabriz, 1960-1), in Rahnama-yi kitab, year 3, No. 5, Dei 1339, 
pp. 623 fT. 

30 Cf. Kasravi, Tarikh-i mashnitiyyeh-i Iran, p. 265 

31 Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, writing to Sir Edward Grey from Tehran on 27 
February 1907, noted that the national movement as a whole had a dual nature. 
He wrote: 

"It is clear that a national movement of a semi-political and semi-religious 
character does exist and is spreading. The great Mujteheds of Kerbela are now 
entering on the scene, and delegates are being sent out from the capital to the 
provinces to preach the principles of liberty. 

"Patriotism, of a distinctive Persian type, has always been the characteristic of 
the Shiite believers. The present Shah of Persia, has no religious status, and, in the 
view of the religious leaders, no fundamental right to the allegiance of the Persians, 
whose real chief is no living king, but the twelfth Imam, the coming Messiah, 
even now present on earth, though unseen. The patriotism of the Persian Shiite 
... is, or can be, of a highly revolutionary character'* Cd. 4581. No. 20, p. 19. 

32 Thus, a sayyid in Shiraz, passing along a street, on a certain occasion, shouted 
"Long live freedom" and punctuated his patriotic cry by sticking a knife into one 
of the pupils of a Jewish school passing near him. Ibid. Extract from Monthly 
Summary of Events, Ihclosure in No. 23, Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, 
Tehran, March 28, 1907, p. 25 

33 Ibid. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 21, same 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES IpOd-II 53 

attempt appears to have been made to couple this hostility towards 
non-Muslims with anti-foreign feeling. Shaykh Nurullah issued a 
decree ordering the local merchants to close their accounts with Euro- 
peans (though Aqa Najaf i denied this to the British Consul-General); 
but this attempt proved abortive and by January 1908 opposition to 
foreign trade had ceased, 34 In general, however, where the anjumans 
were controlled by the mullas it was not uncommon for them to have 
a tendency towards fanaticism and hostility towards foreign interests. 
This was, for example, the case in Sultanabad, which was an important 
centre of the carpet trade. The British vice-consul in that town reported 
on 6 June 1908: 

"that there were six Political Societies each trying to govern the dis- 
trict, that the Governor was powerless, that the leaders of the Soci- 
eties were intolerant priests who were trying to create an anti- 
European feeling, and that Messrs. Ziegler and Company, who had 
advanced money and wool to the value of 30,000?. to weavers, were 
finding it daily more difficult to collect outstandings." 35 

Some writers are critical of the anjumans and charge them with in- 
dulging in idle talk, 36 but the general consensus of opinion is that the 
anjumans played an important part in creating a public opinion in 
favour of constitutional reform and in defending the National Assem- 
bly. 37 They were in fact the main channel for the expression of that 
intense feeling of patriotism which was abroad in Persia at the time. 38 
Further, through the contact, tenuous though it often was, which the 

to same, Tehran, February 27, 1907, p. 20. A large number of the small travelling 
merchants in the Isfahan neighbourhood were Jews 

34 Cd. 4581. Extract from Summary of Events in Persia for the last four weeks, 
Inclosure in No. 91, Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, December 31, 
1907. P- 89; and Extract from Summary of Events for the month ending January 
30, 1908, Inclosure in No. 99, same to same, Tehran, January 30, 1908, which 
states that active opposition by the Aqas to foreign trade seemed to have ceased 
(p. 102). Rumours towards the end of 1907 were spread in Kirman that British 
troops had landed and were coming to Kirman to force Christianity upon the 
people. Ibid. Inclosure in No. 91, p. 89 

35 Ibid. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events in Persia, Inclosure in 
No. 226, same to same, Gulahek, August 12, 1908, p* 174 

36 Cf. Kasravi, Tarikh-i mashrutiyyeh-i Iran; and "Abdullah Mustawfi, Sharh-i 
zindqgi-i man (Tehran, 1945), ii, 245 

37 Cf. E. G. Browne, The Persian Revolution; and E, Aubin, La Perse d*aujourd- 
hui (Paris, 1908), p. 212 

38 Cd. 4581. Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, May 23, 1907, 
No. 26, p. 27; and same to same, Gulahek, September 13, 1907, No. 42, p. 50 



54 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 

anjumans established with each other, they fostered a certain sense of 
solidarity among those who were seeking to assert themselves against 
the arbitrary, and often tyrannical, rule of the provincial governors. 
Prior to this time any attempt by the people to assert themselves 
against the local authorities was isolated, or, as in the case of the oppo- 
sition to the Tobacco Regie, led by the mujtahids. The anjumans 
created a sense of community of interest and this gave the people in 
widely separated districts courage to act; though admittedly when the 
constitution was suspended in 1907 and Tabriz carried on the fight the 
anjumans in other provinces were unable to send effective help in men or 
money to Tabriz, but eventually they rallied their forces and were 
largely instrumental in bringing about a restoration of the constitution. 
Muhammad * All on his accession immediately showed his deter- 
mination to work against the nationalists and especially the anjumans. 
Provincial anjumans had by this time been organized in many of the 
provincial cities, and appeared to aim at a kind of local autonomy. The 
governors were showing themselves powerless to deal with them. 
Nizam ul-Mulk, who took over the governorship of Tabriz early in 
January 1907, found the Anjuman-i Ayalati so hostile that he com- 
plained to the shah. The matter was brought up at the National 
Assembly but the deputies upheld the Anjuman. 39 In Shiraz the provin- 
cial anjuman showed a similar spirit; and the British consul was told on 
23 March 1907 that the government authorities could no longer res- 
train the populace whose feelings were being worked upon by letters 
from the women of Tabriz reproaching them for inaction. 40 In May of 
the same year Sir Cecil Spring-Rice described the growth of the 
anjumans in the following words: 

"In every town there is an independent Assembly, which acts with- 
out consulting the Governor or the Central Assembly at Tehran. 
One after another, unpopular Governors have been expelled, and 
the Central Government and the Tehran Assembly have found them- 
selves powerless to resist. The danger of universal disorganization 
seems a real one. A spirit of resistance to oppression and even to all 
authority is spreading throughout the country. The leaders are un- 
known. The inspiration seems to come from the north, perhaps from 
the Caucasus . . . The sentiment of independence in the widest sense, 
of nationality, of the right to resist oppression and to manage their 

3 * Gf. 4581. Extract from Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 18, same to 
same, Tehran, February i, 1907, pp. 16-17 

40 Ibid. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 25, same 
to same, Tehran, April 24, 1907, p. 26 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 1906-11 55 

own affairs is rapidly growing among the people. It is strongest in 
Azerbaijan. It is very strong in the capital . . . " 41 

The tendency to disorganization and lawlessness was also found in 
the "popular" anjumans; and at times there was a tendency by the un- 
scrupulous to abuse them. Thus, in the spring of 1907 an anjuman ap- 
pears to have been formed in Tehran with the object of robbing the 
public systematically in the name of Islamic law. The National Assem- 
bly, upon whom the discredit was thrown, asked the Minister of the 
Interior to put a stop to this state of affairs and to suppress the offending 
anjuman. The government thereupon took steps to suppress all anju- 
mans. The Assembly again intervened, insisting upon the suppression of 
only the offending society, and eventually got their way. 42 

With the appointment of Mirza e Ali Asghar Khan Amin us-Sultan, 
the Atabak-i A'zam, as prime minister on 2 May 1907 the struggle be- 
tween the nationalists and the shah was intensified. The anjumans re- 
garded the appointment of Ammus -Sultan with grave misgivings; 43 
and after his assumption of office there was a great increase in the num- 
ber of "popular" anjumans, secret and otherwise, formed for the pur- 
pose of defending the constitution. 44 On 13 May the populace of Tab- 
riz, having expelled one of the principal mujtahids, closed the bazaars 
and the provincial anjuman went to the local telegraph office and in- 
formed die National Assembly that the country was tired of waiting 
for a constitutional government, and that the bazaars would remain 
closed until the Fundamental Law was promulgated. They did not 
receive a satisfactory reply and so they threatened to make a special 
law locally for Azarbayjan unless the Fundamental Law was promul- 
gated within ten days. On 16 May armed demonstrators paraded the 
streets clamouring to be led to Tehran. 45 This marked the opening of a 
new phase in the activities of the anjumans, a phase which was pro- 
voked by the shah's unwillingness to work the constitution. The 
nationalists began actively to prepare themselves to take up arms, not 
only in Tabriz but in other cities also. Meanwhile allegations reached 

41 Cd. 4581. Same to same, Gulahek, May 23, 1907, No. 26, p. 28 

42 Ibid. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Indosure in No. 25, same 
to same, Tehran, April 24, 1907, p. 25 

43 E. G. Browne, Tlie Persian Revolution, pp. 139-40 

44 Mustawfi, Sharh-i zindagi-i man, ii, 244-6; and Cd. 4581, memorandum by 
Mr Churchill, Indosure in No. 26, Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, 
May 23, 1907, p. 27 

45 Cd. 4581. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Indosure in No. 26, 
Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, May 23, 1907, p. 29 



56 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

Tehran that certain persons had been paid by the shah's agents to mur- 
der some members of the Tabriz Anjuman. Demonstrations in its sup- 
port were thereupon held in Tehran and Rasht. In Tabriz the streets 
were patrolled nightly by bodies of armed men in its service. Patrols 
held die entrances to the town, challenging and searching all persons 
leaving or entering the town. 46 In Isfahan disorders spread and the 
support for the provincial anjuman tended to be associated with social 
discontent. The followers of the leading religious dignitaries, who were 
the most influential figures in the provincial anjuman, began to parade 
twice a week in the maydan, most of them carrying firearms, their num- 
bers increasing as men from the villages owned by the large landlords 
enlisted as fidffis in order to obtain the protection of the religious 
leaders and escape the payment of rent or other debts. They were 
drilled by former members of Zill us-Sultan's army, who were sought 
out for the purpose. 47 

Little was done at Tehran to implement the constitution and disor- 
ders were fomented by the shah and the court party in the provinces. 
Turkey meanwhile invaded north-west Persia in August; and Russia 
was suspected, and not without reason, of aiding and encouraging the 
shah against the National Assembly. The belief grew that there was 
secret collusion between the shah and Amin us-Sultan for the over- 
throw of the National Assembly and the sale of the country to Russia. 
On 31 August Amin us-Sultan was assassinated by a certain e Abbas 
Aqa, who immediately afterwards shot himself. On the assassin's body 
a paper was found stating that he was national devotee (fidfi-i milti) 
number 41 of the Anjuman. Which of the various anjumans this was has 
never, as far as I know, been established. Be that as it may, the murder 
heightened the morale of the nationalists. Popular sentiment approved 
the murder and regarded c Abbas Aqa as the saviour of the country. 
The streets of Tabriz, of which he was a native, were illuminated and 
there was general rejoicing. 48 The assassination put fear into the court 

46 Cd. 4581. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 29, 
same to same, Gulahek, June 21, 1907, p. 34 

47 Ibid. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 44, same 
to same, Gulahek, September 13, 1907, p. 53 

48 Kasravi, Tartkh-i mashrutiyyeh-i Iran, pp. 447 ff.; IL G. Browne, The Persian 
Revolution, pp. 150 f Sayyid/Ali Azar alleges that 'Abbas Aqa was connected with 
the Tehran Ijtima C iyyun4 'Ammiyyun party, which had branches also in Tabriz, 
Baku, and Tiflis. Qiyam-i Kulunil Muhammad Taqi Khan Pisyan dor Khurasan 
CTehran 1950/1), pp. 52 & See also Malikzadeh, who alleges another plot had been 
made to assassinate Amin us-Sultan by the revolutionary committee originally set 
up in 1904. Tankh-i inailab~i mashriittiyyat-i Iran, iii, 22 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES ipod-ll $7 

party, and gave rise to a belief that the membership of the "popular" 
anjumans, secret and otherwise, whose members would not stop at poli- 
tical assassination to gain their ends, was spreading. So much so, shortly 
after the murder of Amin us-Sultan the shah was informed by a com- 
mittee composed of Qajar princes, high military and civil officials, 
large landlords, and all the reactionaries of prominence, that unless he 
maintained the constitution and worked with the National Assembly 
their support would be withdrawn from the throne. 49 

On 27 September the reactionary party attended the Assembly, and 
beaded by Jalal ud-Dawleh, the eldest son of Zill us-Sultan, took an 
oath of loyalty to the constitution. 50 This group, conforming to the 
prevailing tendency to form associations, appears to have reformed it- 
self into an association called the Anjuman-i Akabir. It was composed 
chiefly of high functionaries, with a fair number of military officers, 
and its president and vice-president were the Amir-i A'zam and 
Husayn Quli Khan Nawwab respectively. It had no official standing 
but arrogated to itself the right of giving advice to the responsible 
ministers in the conduct of the business of the departments of state. It 
was irresponsible, but the influence of its members was such that its 
advice could not be wholly disregarded. 51 Support for die nationalist 
cause meanwhile grew both in Tehran and the provinces, largely 
through the activities of the "popular" anjumans and the provincial 
anjumans; though sometimes this support was mainly an expression of 
local factional strife. Thus on 13 October a certain Sayyid c Abd ul- 
Husayn Larl arrived in Shiraz with seventy followers to support the 
Majlis-i Milfi, as the provincial anjuman was sometimes called, which 
was agitating against the return of Qavam ul-Mulk and his sons. 
Sayyid c Abd ul-Husayn, whose avowed intention was to break the 
power of the Qavamis, was alleged to have been invited and paid by 
Mu'tamid-i Divan, the leader of a rival faction. Nevertheless Sayyid 
e Abd ul-Husayn appears to have been welcomed by the bulk of the 
population of Shiraz. 52 

Meanwhile the internal situation became serious: the authority of 
the Central Government had been reduced to almost nothing and could 

49 Cd. 4581. Sir C. Spring-Rice to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, October 2, 1907, 
No. 46, p. 55 

50 Ibid. Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, October 10, 1907, No. 53, 
p. 58 

51 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, October 10, 1907, No. 54, p. 59 

52 Ibid. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Indosure in No. 61, same 
to same, Tehran, November 8, 1907, p. 72 



58 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 

only be exercised through the provincial anjumans; and its influence 
with, these bodies could not always be counted on. The treasury, more- 
over, was empty; and there was no public force to maintain order and 
enforce the law. The moral authority of the old regime in the provinces 
had been destroyed by the provincial anjumans', and the framework of 
such elementary administration as had once existed had almost dis- 
appeared. 53 In these circumstances the shah promulgated the Supple- 
mentary Fundamental Laws on 7 October 1907. Encouraged by the 
Russian Legation, he was, however, still determined to overthrow 
the nationalists. On 12 November he paid a state visit to the Assembly 
and for the fourth time swore to be faithful to the constitution, in 
spite of the fact that he was preparing means for its overthrow. Public 
opinion, represented by the numerous anjumans y rightly had little faith 
in his protestations and was profoundly disquieted. Fear of foreign in- 
tervention limited the actions of the anjumans. According to some ob- 
servers the shah owed his life to the mere fact that the anjumans dreaded 
the aftermath of a royal assassination in the troubled conditions which 
prevailed at the time. 54 The signature of the Anglo-Russian conven- 
tion on 31 August 1907 had greatly contributed to their misgivings, 
and may also have encouraged Muhammad e All in his designs against 
the nationalist movement, since he may well have assumed that the 
existence of the convention was likely to make it more difficult for 
Great Britain to oppose Russian attempts to work against or over- 
throw the nationalist movement. 

According to the narrative of Nasir ul-Mulk, shortly after the shah 
had pawned his jewels at the Russian Loan Bank in Tehran, money 
was distributed among the disorderly elements in Tehran, the shah's 
farrashes and muleteers, by Amir Bahadur Jang, one of the shah's 
favourites. A conflict was provoked on 21 November between the 
Sflakhwur Regiment, which was under Amir Bahadur Jang, and the 
Cossacks, in tie course of which there was much firing in the air. 
Nasir ul-Mulk, who at the time was prime minister, complained to 
Amir Bahadur Jang and the Cossack colonel, who each replied that 
it was none of his business, and that he was responsible to the shah 
alone. The National Assembly protested against the disorders and 
there were meetings of the anjumans in the mosques. The shah then pre- 
pared a rescript to the Assembly, which was read to them on 28 
November. He insisted on the necessity of entirely separating the 
executive duties of the government from the legislative powers of the 

53 Cd. 4581. Same to same, Tehran, October 10, 1907, No. 54, pp. 53-4 

54 E. G. Browne, The Persian Revolution, p. 161 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 1906-! I 59 

Assembly, and urged the suppression of the anjumans, which, he claimed, 
unduly interfered in government affairs, and announced that his mini- 
sters had been given orders to effect their suppression. The Assembly 
reminded the shah of Article 21 of the Supplementary Fundamental 
Laws, which allowed the formation of anjwnans, and promised to 
draw up regulations for their governance. 55 

It was alleged that the rescript was prepared by Sa c d ud-Dawleh, 
who, with the shah's Russian secretary, Shapsal (who had formerly 
been the shah's tutor), acted as intermediary between the palace and the 
Russian Legation. Nasir ul-Mulk then called on the Russian Minister, 
M. Hartwig, and warned him that unless the shah changed his attitude 
there would be trouble. The ministers after consultation decided that 
as both they and the shah had sworn allegiance to the constitution, 
which included a clause guaranteeing freedom of public meeting and 
debate, they could not undertake to convey to the Assembly a message 
from the shah condemnatory of these rights. Accordingly they decided 
to tender their resignations in the event of the shah insisting. In the 
meantime a krge number of people had assembled in the Artillery 
Square, where their proceedings were most disorderly. A reactionary 
mulla, Shaykh Farajtdlah, who was in the shah's pay, encouraged dem- 
onstrations against the Assembly and the nationalist movement. The 
Cossack colonel, with Shapsal at his side, appeared in the square with his 
soldiers, and his attitude toward the mob was encouraging. Meanwhile 
a large number of people, largely from the anjumans, had collected in 
the mosques, where the mullas on the nationalist side were haranguing 
them. The ministers, however, induced the crowds in the mosque to 
disperse, apart from a certain number who were detailed to the Assembly 
to protect it. A demonstration of the shah* sfarr ashes and muleteers was 
then made against the Assembly but they were driven off. The mob 
in the Artillery Square was reinforced by Amir Bahadur's soldiers and 
persons brought in from the neighbouring villages, who were believed 
to receive so much a day from the shah. The ministers meanwhile 
received encouraging telegrams from the provinces and assurances from 
the people of Tehran. They nevertheless discouraged a proposal for an 
armed demonstration and for the closing of the bazaars. On 15 Decem- 
ber the ministers received an order to wait on the shah at the palace. 56 

55 Cd. 4581. Memorandum by Mr Churchill on Proceedings of Persian National 
Assembly from November 9 to December 2, 1907, Liclosure 2 in No. 84, Mr 
Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, December 4, 1907, pp. 84-5 

56 Narrative of the Nasr ul-Mulk [sic], late Prime Minister of Persia, com- 
municated by Sir C. Spring-Rice, February 25, 1908, in P.O. 416/35 



60 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

Nask ul-Mulk, was the first to arrive, and was immediately arrested. 57 
The Assembly learning of this dispersed. The anjumans, either from 
lack of experience or unwillingness to provoke an armed conflict, or 
both, at first also remained inactive. On the following day they re- 
gained their courage and began to collect in armed groups round the 
Assembly, occupying the Baharistan Square and the Sipahsalar mosque, 
which adjoins the Assembly; by the evening some 3,000 armed mem- 
bers of the anjttmans had assembled. The Assembly meanwhile met and 
on 17 December formulated their demands of the shah, which were 
that (i) Sa'd ud-Dawleh be exiled; (ii) Amir Bahadur Jang be placed 
under the orders of the Minister of War; (iii) the Cossacks also be 
placed under that department; (iv) the shah take an oath before the 
Assembly to observe the constitution; (v) the men who had fired on 
the Assembly be punished; and (vi) a national guard of two hundred 
men be formed for the protection of the Assembly. The shah tempor- 
ized, and by evening some 6,000-7,000 armed men had assembled to 
defend the Assembly. On 19 December telegrams of support for the 
nationalist cause were received from Rasht, Qazvin, and Tabriz; and 
the anjumans of the latter town announced that the shah should be 
deposed. On 20 December more telegrams came in from the provin- 
cial anjumans demanding the deposition, and, in some cases, the death of 
the shah. 58 In Isfahan the bazaars were closed and volunteers began to 

57 Mr Marling reported to Sir Edward Grey that the news of the coup d'etat was 
brought to him about 6.30 on the same day by the Iftikhar ut-Tujjar, a relative 
of Nasjr ul-Mulk, and a servant, who had accompanied Nasir ul-Mulk to the 
palace, and who asserted that as the latter was led away he had whispered, "Let 
the British Legation know I am to be killed by 10 o'clock." 

Marling reported: "I at once sent Mr Churchill to the Palace On reaching 
the palace . . . after some delay he was conducted to the Shah, whom he found 
walking up and down one of the courts of the palace. His Majesty was in the 
highest spirits. He declared, of course, that he had no intention of injuring 
Nasr ul-Mulk ... or any of the Ministers and kept repeating 'They are frightened, 
they are frightened.' " Cd. 4581. Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, 
December 31, 1907, No. 92, p. 90. Nasir ul-Mulk was eventually permitted to 
leave the country and was accompanied to the frontier by two ghulatns from the 
British Legation. He was met en route by crowds at Qazvin, Rasht, and Enzeli, 
and the anjumans at Qazvin and Rasht urged him to return to Tehran. At Baku 
a crowd of upwards of 2,000 persons met him, among them many Russians and 
Caucasians. He was much impressed by the strength of the popular organization 
in Southern Russia, which seemed to be closely connected with the movement in 
Persia. Narrative of the Nasr ul-Mulk; and Cd* 4581, Mr Marling to Sir Edward 
Grey, Tehran, December 31, 1907, No. 92, pp. 90 fil 

58 Cd. 4581. Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, December 31, 1907, No. 
92, pp. 91-2 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 1906-11 6l 

drill. 39 The shah, meanwhile, became alarmed; bis anxiety was further 
increased by the fact that Zill us-Sultan appeared to be aiding the 
nationalists, furnishing arms and possibly money to the anjumans, 
while his sons had shown themselves armed at the Baharistan. 60 On 22 
December the British and Russian representatives had a joint audience 
with the shah and asked him to give assurances that he had no hostile 
designs towards the constitution. In reply he said he had no hostility to 
the constitution and merely desired to suppress those anjumans which 
abused and vilified himself and his family and were only seditious. 61 
The Tabriz anjuman meanwhile had succeeded in circulating through- 
out Persia the threat of deposing the shah, and the larger cities were 
greatly excited. Telegrams promising armed support were received 
from Shiraz, Isfahan, Rasht, Qazvin, Kirman, and Mashhad. In the 
evening the shah yielded and accepted the demands formulated by the 
majlis. 62 

The peace thus made was little more than a truce; no confidence 
existed between the two sides. In the first instance it had been the in- 
transigence of the shah and the court party which had forced the 
"popular" anjumans to take up arms: and after their defeat of the shah's 
abortive attack on the Assembly, they tended, partly because of their 
distrust of the shah, to extend their activities beyond mere supervision of 
the actions of the government and to interfere in the day-to-day conduct 
of affairs. They had, however, had no experience of administration; 
and by their irresponsible interference in the affairs of the executive 
and the National Assembly, they made orderly government difficult. 

59 Cd. 4581. Extract from Summary of Events for the Month ending January 
30, 1908, Inclosure in No. 99, same to same, p. 102 

60 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, December 31, 1907, No. 92, pp. 91-3 

01 Ibid. p. 92. On January 14, 1908, the shah again told Mr Marling that the 
members of the anjumans were "common revolutionaries". Ibid. Extract from 
Summary of Events ending January 30, 1908, Inclosure in No. 99, same to same, 
Tehran, January 30, 1908. On a subsequent occasion, in September 1908, the 
shah also spoke to Mr Marling against the anjumans y saying that the majlis had 
been composed of ignorant and designing men whose aim had been to create 
trouble against himself; and that they had been supported by equally evil and 
interested anjumans; that they had interfered in all kinds of questions quite out- 
side their competence. Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, September 30, 1908, No. 278, 
p. 196. The shah's view of the anjumans was similar to that of M. Isvolsky, who 
refused "to consider the enjumens of Tehran or the provincial towns as anything 
but associations of noisy agitators and fanatics whose proceedings have nothing 
common with a genuine national movement". P.O. 416/41. Mr. O'Beirne to 
Sir Edward Grey, St Petersburgh, July 8, 1909, No. 427, Confidential, p. 140 

62 Cd. 4581. Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, December 31, 1908, No. 
93, p. 93 



62 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 1906-! I 

Moreover, the effectiveness of the Assembly, which itself had no 
experience and litde knowledge of what its proper functions should be, 
was thereby decreased; while the executive hesitated to act because it 
was fearful of offending both the Assembly and the anjumans. 93 This 
was, perhaps, the inevitable result of the attempt to pass without any 
intermediate experience from an arbitrary irresponsible form of gov- 
ernment to a representative responsible system. The absence of any 
clear demarcation of authority and responsibility between the execu- 
tive, the National Assembly, and the anjumans, "popular" and "pro- 
vincial", was a contributory factor in tie administrative breakdown 
which began to threaten and was, in part, occasioned by the perennial 
financial difficulties. 

Meanwhile the success of the anjumans in providing a focal point for 
public opinion in support of the constitution was such that their oppo- 
nents sought to counter this by forming anjumans themselves, hoping to 
confuse the issue by working secretly against the constitution under 
cover of supposedly nationalist anjumans. Among these was the An- 
juman-i Futuwat 64 and the Anjuman-i Islamiyyeh in Tabriz. 65 
Attempts were also made to gain control of existing anjumans, as is 
alleged to have happened in the case with the Anjuman-i Isfahan in 
Tehran in ipoS. 66 

Anti-dynastic articles continued to appear in the Press and circum- 
stantial rumours that the shah was preparing another coup d'etat were 
current. Popular dissatisfaction with the National Assembly was also 
mounting; and conditions in the provinces were disturbed. 67 Any hope 
of reconciliation between the shah and the nationalists was finally 
dashed when an attempt was made on 28 February 1908 on the life of 
the shah. The governor of Tehran and the chief of police caused the 
alleged authors of the plot to be arrested without warrant from the 
Ministry of Justice. The ministers tendered their resignations but with- 
drew them within forty-eight hours; and the National Assembly seems 
to have been prepared to acquiesce in the irregularity of the arrests. The 
anjumans 9 however, naturally anxious to prevent any infringement by 

63 Cf. Cd. 4581. Same to same, Tehran, January 2, 1908, No. 93, p. 96 

84 Kasravi, Tankh-i mashrutiyyeh-i Iran, p. 480 

* 5 Karim 'phiraadeh Bihzad, Qiyatn-i Azarbayjan dor inqilab-i mashrutiyyat-i 
Iran (Tehran, n.d.), pp. 235, 255; and also Amir KhM, Qfyam-i Azarbayjan va 
Sattar Khan, pp. 39-30 

M Yahya Dawlatabadi, Hayat-i Yahya (Tehran, n.d.), ii, 217, 298; and see also 
p. 270 

7 Gi 4581. Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, February 26, 1908, No. 
106, pp. 109-10 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES IpOd-II 63 

the shah of the new-won liberties, insisted on pushing the matter to an 
issue and again worsted the shah. 68 This strained their relations still 
further. Towards the end of May the shah demanded that the news- 
papers and. popular orators should cease to speak against him; while the 
National Assembly demanded the dismissal of six of the most reaction- 
ary of the shah's entourage, who were regarded as chiefly responsible 
for his constant intrigues against the constitution. 69 The shah at first 
refused to dismiss them but finally the anjumans pressed the point so 
strongly that the shah agreed on 2 June to their demand. 70 
Marling reporting to Sir Edward Grey on 18 June stated: 

"... There is in Tehran a considerable number of men who expect 
they know not what benefits from the constitution, and who are 
firmly convinced that under Muhammad Ali their hopes can never 
be realized. These men, ignorant as they are, are sincere enough, and 
among them are found the leaders of the more important Anjumans. 
And it is the Anjumans who dominate the situation; the larger are 
honest enough, but very many of the smaller ones have been formed 
simply to forward their own private interests. Unfortunately all the 
Anjumans suffer from the vice of meddlesomeness, and as their inter- 
ference is usually accompanied by threats - which, it is true, a little 
courage would enable their victims to disregard - Government has 
become practically impossible. But Persian Ministers, at least those 
who have been in office in the last eight months, have, to their 
country's misfortune, lacked even the small dose of courage neces- 
sary, with the results that the arrogance of the Anjumans has been 
encouraged to such a point that they have practically usurped the 
representative character of the MedjHss. In feet, Persia was fast drift- 
ing into a state of government by the semi-secret and wholly irre- 
sponsible political Societies of Tehran. It is not that the influence of 
the Anjumans is wholly bad; on the contrary, they have been, and 
still are, the one support of the Parliament against the reactionaries, 
but having realized their power they have too often abused it; some- 
times, but not often in important matters, wittingly but most fre- 
quently out of sheer ignorance." 71 

68 Cd. 4581. Same to same, Tehran, April 24, 1908, No. 112, p. 117. Malik- 
zadeh, Tarikh-i inqilab-i mashrutiyyat-i Iran, iii, 213-14 

69 Cd. 4581. Same to same, Tehran, June 3, 1908, No. 114, p. 119 

70 Ibid. Same to same, Gulahek, June 17, 1908, No. 175, p. 139. The following 
day Amir Bahadur Jang took bast (refuge) at the Russian legation; shortly after- 
wards, however, he was appointed Minister of War 

71 Ibid. Gulahek, June 18, 1908, No. 176, p. 143 



64 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 1906-! I 

Meanwhile some of the anjumans in Tehran had begun to raise 
volunteers for a kind of national militia. The Azarbayjan, Baradaran-i 
Darvazeh-i Qazvin, Shahabad, and Mujahidin Anjumans, the last- 
named composed mainly of tradesmen, were especially active in this 
respect and before long some 2,000 men were drilling.* 2 Similar move- 
ments began in some of the provinces. On 3 June the Russian minister, 
M. Hartwig, expressed his anxiety to Mr Marling about the safety of the 
shah, who, he alleged, regarded himself "as practically a doomed man". 
Accordingly the two representatives called on the Persian Minister for 
Foreign Affairs and expressed the grave consequences which might 
ensue to Persia should anything happen to the shah. 73 Fear of foreign 
intervention was very real, and various of the deputies decided all 
thought of armed opposition to the shah must be abandoned. The same 
day the shah left the city precipitately. A period of uneasiness followed. 
The anjumans appeared to be in doubt as to the wisdom of continuing 
the struggle; and the National Assembly and the ministers were anxious 
to avoid bringing matter to a climax. With the arrest of various mem- 
bers of the nationalist movement feeling began to rise among the an- 
jumans. Martial kw was declared. On i June the anjumans began to 
rally to their old meeting place at the Sipahsalar mosque and picketed 
the Artillery Square. On 12 June the shah sent an officer with thirty 
soldiers to the Assembly with an ultimatum to the effect that unless 
those who had assembled in the mosque dispersed within two hours he 
would disperse them with force. The president of the Assembly and 
Sayyid Hasan Taqizadeh went to the mosque where some 10,000 men 
had by this time assembled. At first they refused to disperse but even- 
tually* after each of the anjumans had appointed one or two representa- 
tives to discuss the matter, they agreed. Their dispersal, however, 
caused deep dejection in the nationalist movement, which thought that 
the Assembly had betrayed the cause. The shah made further demands, 
including the expulsion from Tehran of a number of the nationalist 
leaders. 

A telegraphic report by Mr Marling made shortly after this illus- 
trates the fundamental difference in British and Russian policy towards 
Persia and their respective appraisals of the situation. This stated: 

"A rapid development in the situation here has taken place and the 
excitement against the Shah is becoming very serious. M. de Hart- 

72 DawlatabadI, Hayat-i Yahya, ii, 202-3 

78 CL 4581. Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, June 17, 1908, No. 175, 
PP- 139-40 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I9O6-II 65 

wig, who feels great alarm for His Majesty's safety, has suggested to 
M. Isvolsky at Reval by telegraph that the Russian and British 
Legations be instructed to make an official representation to the 
Persian Minister for Foreign Affairs to the effect that the two 
Powers are pledged to maintain the present dynasty, and that in the 
event of its becoming necessary to protect the Shah by force they are 
prepared to do so. 

"The view of the Russian minister is that the present agitation is 
being engineered by Zil-es-Sultan, and is really fictitious; that Zil is 
aiming at the Regency and eventually the throne. Further, he thinks 
that the Ministers and Parliament are quite ready to believe that the 
Shah will work honestly on constitutional lines and have no real feel- 
ing against His Majesty. 

"Personally, I am of opinion that the conviction of the Shah's innate 
hostility to the Constitution is ineradicable in the popular mind. The 
people are anxious to be rid of him, and the Zil-es-Sultan is accepted 
by diem as offering the best hope for a restoration of order. I must, 
however, admit that the Zil-es-Sultan is taking every advantage of 
the opportunity to further his own ends. 

"That such a declaration as that proposed by the Russian Minister 
would stop the agitation in Tehran is, I think, quite possible, but it 
would be for a time only, and its effect would probably be merely 
exasperating in the provinces, and I have no faith whatever in the 
possibility of a permanent reconciliation between the Shah and the 
people being brought about by it ... 

"After explaining my views to the Russian Minister, I told him 
that, in my opinion, His Majesty's Government would not hold 
themselves pledged to support the dynasty, much less an individual 
Sovereign, by their action in recognizing the successive heirs to the 
Persian throne." 74 

On receipt of this telegram Sir Edward Grey telegraphed to Mr 
O'Beirne as follows: 

"With reference to the telegram of today's date from Tehran Mr 
Marling's views have my entire concurrence. 

"In discussing the situation with the Russian Minister for Foreign 
Affairs you should inform his Excellency that His Majesty's Govern- 
ment consider it of the greatest importance that the policy of the 
Governments should be in perfect accord, but that any action is 
strongly deprecated by us which might have the appearance of 

74 Cd. 4581. Same to same, Tehran, June 12, 1908, No. 123, pp. 124-5 
S.A.P. xvi E 



66 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 1906-! I 

intervening in the internal affairs of Persia. His Majesty's Govern- 
ment are therefore unable to agree to make the communication 
which the Russian Minister has suggested. 

"His Majesty's Government ardently desire to witness the restor- 
ation of order in Persia, but the only way in which this can be accom- 
plished is by the formation of a Go vernment to which the Persian 
people will give their full confidence and support. This consum- 
mation can only be attained if the situation is allowed to develop 
without external interference. We are of opinion that, though the 
situation might be momentarily relieved by a joint declaration that 
the two Powers intend to maintain the present dynasty or Govern- 
ment, serious difficulties in the future would be thereby created 
both for ourselves and Russia, and that no solution would be 
afforded of the problem of Persian government. Any attempt to im- 
pose on them any particular form of government will undoubtedly 
endanger those interests." 75 

On 14 June the bazaars and shops again closed; and on 15 June the 
head of the Baradaran-i Darvazeh-i Qazvin Anjuman was arrested. 
Telegrams from the provinces meanwhile came in denouncing the 
shah. 76 On or about the same date the various anjumans sent a deputa- 
tion to the Assembly asking that a rallying point should be assigned to 
them and were ultimately permitted to use the Sipahsalar mosque on 
condition they brought no arms with them. Accordingly in the day- 
time large numbers of persons gathered in the precincts of the Bahari- 
stan and the mosque. At night some hundred armed men, provided by 
the Anjuman-i Muzaffari, kept watch. On 22 June the Russian Mini- 
ster advised die shah to adopt a conciliatory attitude towards the 
nationalist movement. The shah in reply said "he entertained no hos- 
tile feeling towards the Parliament . . . and that he only desired security 
for himself against the attacks of the press and the threats of the 
Enjumens, which were instigated by the ZU-es-Sultan". 77 On the fol- 
lowing day a party of Cossacks was sent by the shah to arrest eight 
persons who were in the mosque. Their surrender was refused by the 
anjumans. Fighting broke out. 78 Among the anjumans which took part 

75 Cd. 4581. Sir Edward Grey to Mr O'Beime, Foreign Office, June 12, 1908, 
No. 124, p. 125 

76 The dates in E. G. Browne's account in The Persian Revolution do not coincide 
exactly with those given in Mr Mailing's reports to Sir Edward Grey. 

77 Cd. 4581. Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, June 22, 1908, No. 131, 
p. 127 

78 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, June 23, 1908, No. 132, p. 127 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES IpOd-II 67 

were the Shahabad, Fatimiyya, Tashakkur, Hamiyyat, Imamzadeh 
Yahya,Vafa 3 iyyeh,Miyahidin, Azarbayjan, Muzafiari, and Baradaran-i 
Darvazeh-i Qazvra Anjumans and the Majma c -i Insaniyyat. 79 

The nationalists were unable to carry the day on this occasion. Their 
lack of success compared with the previous winter was probably due in 
part to divided councils and infiltration into their ranks by their oppo- 
nents; 80 and in part to the conviction that the death of any Russian 
officers of the Cossack Brigade in the fighting would bring about 
Russian intervention, and consequently there was a reluctance to 
attack these officers. 81 The Assembly and the Sipahsalar mosque were 
cleared by the shah's forces, the meeting place of the Anjuman-i 
Azarbayjan destroyed, and a state of siege declared. Some thirty of the 
nationalist leaders, mainly members of the anjumans, were arrested; 
two were strangled without trial the following morning, 24 June. 82 On 
that day also the house of Zahir ud-Dawleh, which had served as the 
headquarters of an anjuman, generally known by the same name, was 
destroyed. 83 This was apparently one of the earliest anjumans to have 
been formed. It was founded with the tide Majma'i Ukbuvvat by 'Ali 
Khan Zahir ud-Dawleh b. Muhammad Nasir Khan, the Ishlqaqasl- 
bashi, who had succeeded Safi c All Shah as the leader of a group of 
Ni e matuUahi darvishes who had gathered round Safi 'All Shah as 
their pir. Although the Majma'-i Ukhuwat was originally something 
in the nature of a Sufi fraternity rather than a political society, it 
appears to have been regarded by Muhammad c Ali Shah as the first of 
the "political" anjumans, and its premises were destroyed on these 
grounds. 84 

With the closure of the National Assembly and the proclamation of 
martial kw throughout the country the organization of the nationalist 
resistance, which culminated in the deposition of Muhammad e All and 
the restoration of the constitution in July, 1909, devolved upon the 
anjumans. They were helped in this by anjumans formed by Persian 

79 Dawlatabadi, Hayat-i Ydkya, ii, 31? 

80 Ibid., 270 ff. 

81 Cf. Cd. 4581. Mr Marling to Sk Edward Grey, Gulahek, July 15, 1908, No. 
2", p. 155 

82 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, June 13, 1908, No. 125, p. 125; same to same, 
June 23, 1908, No. 133, p. 127; same to same, June 24, 1908, No. 136, p. 128; 
same to same, June 25, 1908, No. 138, p. 128; and same to same, Gulahek, July 15, 
1908, No. 212, p. 160 

83 Ibid. Same to same, Gulahek, July 15, 1908, No. 211, p. 156 

84 Mu'ayyir al-Mamilik, "RijaH *Asr-i Nasjri" in Yaghma, vol. 9, No. 7 
(1956), pp. 326 ff. The society appears to have been subsequently reformed 



68 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 

communities abroad, especially the Anjuman-i Sa c adat in Constanti- 
nople, which was the channel through which the Anjuman-i Ayalati 
of Tabriz established contact with the outside world - so far as it 
succeeded in doing so - during the siege of Tabriz. 85 

A proclamation was issued after the closure of the Assembly an- 
nouncing that new elections would be held in three months and a 
Senate formed. 86 It very soon became clear, however, that the shah had 
no intention of respecting his promises. Mr Marling had, in fact, 
already expressed the view to the Persian Minister for Foreign Affairs, 
in answer to an enquiry from the latter, that if elections for the new 
Assembly were postponed for three months, "His Majesty's Govern- 
ment would not consider the pledges to respect the Constitution given 
me by the shah had been fulfilled." 87 On 8 September a joint memor- 
andum was handed to the shah by the British and Russian Oriental 
Secretaries. It read as follows: 

"As His Imperial Majesty the Shah has made known his intention of 
shortly publishing the new Regulations concerning the approaching 
elections, the British Charge d' Affaires has the honour, in conformity 
with the instructions from his Government, and without in any way 
wishing to intervene in the internal affairs of Persia, to point out that 
it would be very desirable and opportune, in the interests of the 
definite pacification of the country, and of trade and general prosper- 
ity, that His Imperial Majesty the Shah would be pleased to an- 
nounce that his decision to maintain the Constitution which he has 
granted to his Empire is irrevocable, and that the Assembly for 
which the election of Deputies is now about to proceed will meet at 
Tehran on the ist [i4th] November [equivalent to the ipth Shawal] 
of this year. His Majesty's Charge d* Affaires is further instructed to 
draw the serious attention of His Majesty the Shah to the gravity of 
the situation at Tabriz, and to warn His Majesty that the whole 
Responsibility for the security of British subjects in that town will 
be laid on the Persian Government. Under these circumstances he 

85 E. G. Browne, The Persian Revolution, p. 245, Karim Tahirzadeh Bihzad, 
Qiyam-i Azarbayan dor inqjlab-i ntashrutiyyat-i Iran, pp. 361, 394; and Kasravi, 
Tankh-i mashrutiyyeh-i Iran, pp. 724, 730, 796. An anjuman formed by members of 
the Persian colony in Ashkabad is alleged to have been in contact with the anju- 
mans of Rasht and Mashhad. See A. M. Matveyev, "Materialy k Istorii Iranskogo 
Endzhumena v Ashkhabade (1907-11 gg)", in Trudy Sredneaziatskogo Gosu- 
darstvennogo Universiteta inn. V.L Lenina. Vypusk Ixxvii (Tashkent, 1956) 

8e Cd. 4581. Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, June 26, 1908, No. 144, 

p. 131 
87 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, June 27, 1908, No. 147, p. 132 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES IpOd-II 6p 

considers it advisable that His Imperial Majesty's decision to proceed 
to the elections and to open Parliament on the ist [i4th] November 
should be communicated to and made public at Tabreez," 88 

On 24 September 1908 the shah issued a rescript to the prime minister 
announcing the convocation of a new majlis. Tabriz was, however, to 
be excluded from the effects of this decree until order had been restored 
there. This document was probably intentionally obscurely worded. It 
opened with the following words: 

"AFTER the dissolution of the Medjliss, which step the Govern- 
ment took in order to preserve order in the realm and check mischief- 
makers, Anjumans, and irreligious persons, who were the cause of 
disturbance among the people, we promised that, on the restoration 
of order, the suppression of the revolutionary disorders and Anju- 
mans, the establishment of security, and the tranquillizing of the 
people, to summon a Medjliss, the laws of which shall be in accord- 
ance with the nature of the country and the Holy Law of the Prophet, 
and which shall protect and spread justice, in order that we may pre- 
serve in peace the whole people and all classes of our subjects, who 
are intrusted by God to our care, suppress the evildoers, and defend 
the holy truth of Islam, which is the first of our duties and beliefs . . . 
and we decree that a Medjliss, as defined above, composed of reli- 
gious and proper persons, will, by the help of God and the favour of 
the I2th Imam, be convoked by us for the ipth Shawal [14 Novem- 
ber]. By means of this Medjliss, conform to the Sher 9 and justice, the 
people will be preserved in peace, the laws of Islam will be protected 
and put into execution, all traces of disorder, insecurity, Anjumans, 
shall disappear . . ." * 9 

This rescript was regarded generally as a mockery. 90 The British and 
Russian representatives made an identical verbal communication to the 
Persian Minister for Foreign Affairs to the following effect: 

"The recent Rescript having given rise to erroneous interpretations, 
it is much to be desired, in the Shah's own interest, that he should 
publish a separate Decree clearly showing that it was in no way his 
intention to exclude one province from the rights which His Majesty 

88 Cd. 4581. Indosure in No. 250, same to same, Tehran, September 10, 
1908, pp. 185-6 

89 Ibid. Inclosure in No. 281, Sir Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, October 
8, 1908, p. 200 

80 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, October 9, 1908, No. 258, p. 190 



70 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

has accorded to his people, but that he had hoped that the persons 
fighting under Sattar Khan would ky down their arms so as to 
facilitate the re-establishment of the constitutional regime. 

"It would, moreover, be useful, in view of the near approach of 
the 2yth October, to publish the electoral kws mentioned in the 
Rescript as early as possible, in order to enable the elections to be 
held for the date fixed [the I4th November]. 

"It would also be desirable, inasmuch as many of those in arms are 
desperate, that the shah should announce his intention to amnesty 
those now fighting provided they submit." 91 

The shah remained intransigent; and on n and 12 November re- 
spectively the Russian and British representatives again urged on the 
shah in private audience to carry out the promises he had given to the 
Persian people. 92 On 19 November, however, the shah, on the pretext 
of a demonstration against the constitution which, organized by his 
entourage, had taken pkce on 7 November, issued a rescript, which was 
published on 22 November. It stated uncompromisingly that the shah 
had abandoned any idea of convoking a tnajlis as the f ulama had de- 
clared such an institution was contrary to Islam. 93 The two representa- 
tives immediately presented a joint memorandum expressing their sur- 
prise and regret that the shah, in violation of his pledges, should have 
come to such a regrettable decision, and that he followed the advice of 
evil councillors. 9 * 

As a result of these representations the shah ordered the suppression 
of the rescript. He nevertheless continued to be evasive of his promises 

91 Cd. 4581. Same to same, Tehran, October n, 1908, No. 262, p. 191 

92 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, November 12, 1908, No. 304, p. 206; and 
Cd. 4733, same to same, Tehran, November 15, 1908, No. 9, pp. 3-5. At the dose 
of his description of his audience with the shah, Sir George Barday stated: 

"The idea which the Shah wished me to carry away with me, viz., that his 
position was that of a Sovereign desirous to rule as a constitutional Monarch, and 
that he was only deterred from doing so by the reluctance of the bulk of his people 
to accept him in that capacity, is of course grotesque. The greater part of the 
population outside of the capital and a few of the larger towns are probably 
indifferent, but the large majority of the more or less educated classes are certainly 
in favour of a constitutional Government. The merchants particularly and those 
with an honest stake in the country see in it their only chance of security from the 
extortions to which they are now exposed at the hands of the Shah's irresponsible 
advisers" 

98 Ctf. 4581. Same to same, Tehran, November 22, 1908, No. 314, p. 209; and 
Of. 4733, Inclosure I in No. 17, same to same, Tehran, November 25, 1908, p. 8 

** Cd. 4581. Same to same, Tehran, November 22, 1908, No. 313, pp. 208-9; 
and Cd. 4733, Indosure 2 in No. 17, same to same, Tehran, November 25, 1908, p. 9 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES Ipo6-II 7! 

and merely announced the institution of a Council of State. This was 
composed of his own nominees, who were for the most part of reac- 
tionary views, and they were to be entrusted with the framing of an 
electoral kw. On 14 December the representatives of Great Britain and 
Russia communicated to the shah a joint memorandum in which they 
pointed out that the institution of the Council of Notables could not in 
any way be regarded as a fulfilment of his promises and asking when 
he proposed to convoke the promised Assembly. The memorandum 
concluded with these words: 

"In making this inquiry of His Imperial Majesty, the two Repre- 
sentatives beg to repeat their conviction that the convocation of an 
elective Assembly and the Proclamation of an amnesty offer the only 
hope of a termination of the present deplorable situation in the 
country." 95 

This and other representations failed to have any satisfactory result. The 
situation in Tehran deteriorated; and frequent arrests towards the end of 
the month gave rise to a feeling of panic among the nationalists. The 
bazaars were closed as a demonstration. Sir George Barclay reporting 
these events to Sir Edward Grey closed his despatch as follows: 

"The interests of public order thus make it highly desirable that the 
Shah should yield without deky, but, apart from this, there is another 
possibly imminent development which it seems to me very desirable 
to forestall. I am inclined to tfiinlc that the agitation in the past few 
days has served to crystallize the aspirations of the Nationalist party, 
and that at no distant date we may find ourselves face to face with a 
definite demand for the restoration of the old constitutional regime 
without modification. So far-reaching a demand would add to the 
difficulties of reconciliation between the Shah and his people/' 96 

As soon as Muhammad f All had closed the National Assembly in 
June 1908 he sent instructions to the provinces to close all the anjumans 
in the provinces also. 97 Immediate and effective resistance came from 
Tabriz only. Fighting broke out almost as soon as the news of the 
coup d'etat arrived. In Tabriz the Anjuman-i Ayalati was dissolved by 
thegovernmentanditspremiseslooted. It was subsequently reformed; 98 

95 Cd. 4733. Same to same, Tehran, December 4, 1908, No. 20, p. 12; and same 
to same, Tehran, December 15, 1908, No. 55, pp. 23-5 
90 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, December 29, 1908, No. 56, p. 27 

97 Kasravi, Tarikh-i mashriitiyyeh-i Iran, p. 672 

98 Ibid., pp. 709-10 



72 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

and during the suspension of the National Assembly in Tehran it as- 
sumed the leadership of the national movement and was recognized by 
the nationalists as representing the National Assembly." It presented on 
23 August to the newly arrived governor-general a petition and for- 
mulated its demands, which were briefly that, while remaining loyal 
subjects of the shah as long as he maintained the constitution, they 
would not disarm until the Assembly was opened and its members re- 
called; that the leaders of the Royalist quarter should be arrested and 
punished after trial; and that the affairs of the province of Azarbayjan 
should be under the supervision of the Tabriz local assembly until the 
National Assembly reassembled. 100 The government was not prepared 
to accept their demands. Eventually the Anjuman and its supporters 
succeeded in expelling the government troops from the greater part of 
the town; the latter thereafter blockaded the roads into Tabriz. The 
siege of Tabriz was eventually raised by Russian troops, who opened 
the Julfa road in April 1909 to let through food supplies to relieve the 
shortage in the city, which by then had become critical. Throughout 
the siege the British and Russian Consuls-General dealt with the Anju- 
man which took over the administration of the city. When the Julfa 
road was opened they were authorized to give assurances to the An- 
juman that when tranquillity and security had been re-established the 
Russian forces would leave Persian territory without delay or condi- 
tion* 101 During the latter part of the siege the conduct of the Anjuman, 
which had at the beginning been competent and effective, appears to 
have deteriorated. Both Sattar Khan and Baqir Khan, the leaders of the 
nationalist resistance in Tabriz, lost much of their early popularity and 
reputation for integrity. 102 

99 Thus in February 1909 the mujtahids of Karbala protesting against the 
rumour that Great Britain and Russia had given the shah a loan stated "the Shah 
has no right to receive a loan, authority for which rested with the National 
Assembly, which was now represented by the National Assembly at Tabriz". 
Cd. 4733. Monthly Summary, Indosure in No. no, Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward 
Grey, Tehran, February 25, 1909, p. 61 

100 Cd. 4581. Mr Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, September 10, 1908, 
No. 251, p. 186 

101 P.O. 416/41. Consul-General Wratislaw and ML Miller to Tabreez Anju- 
man, April 25, 1909, Indosure No. 7 in No. 45, Sir G. Barday to Sir Edward 
Grey, Gulahek, May 24, 1909, pp. 23-4 

102 See ibid. Consul-General Wratislaw to Sir G. Barday, Tabriz, May 2, 1909, 
Indosure in No. 45, Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, May 24, 1909, 
p. 21. He wrote: 

", . . The Tabreez nationalists, who behaved well in prosperity have certainly not 
shone in adversity, and their conduct during the last month or two has been of a 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES IpOd-II 73 

On May 5, 1909, the shah, after repeated representations and advice 
from the British and Russian ministers to come to terms with the 
nationalists and implement the constitution, finally issued a rescript 
promising a limited constitution (see below). The proclamation of this 
was well received by the nationalists in Tabriz, who though they at 
first professed themselves anxious to receive guarantees for the execu- 
tion of these promises, on being told by the British and Russian Con- 
suls-Generalt hat it was incumbent upon them to work for a reconcilia- 
tion, were reassured. They promised to send delegates to quieten 
"Western Azarbayjan and subsequently telegraphed to Rasht and Isfahan 
counselling a conciliatory attitude. 103 The Anjuman-i Ayalati con- 
tinued to carry on the administration; but its authority had been 
weakened by the siege of the preceding ten months, and it no longer 
commanded the spontaneous and united support of the people as it had 
in 1908 when Muhammad c Ali suspended the constitution. Its task was, 
no doubt, greatly complicated by the presence of the Russian military 
authorities, who treated Tabriz as a conquered city and interfered in 
local affairs. They arrested several Russian subjects and one of the active 
members of the Anjuman. The British Consul-General reporting this 
stated: 

"The Russian general, in reply to my questions as to the reason 
of the arrest of the member of the Anjuman, stated that it was on 
account of disparaging remarks which he had made regarding the 
Czar and his Government but it seems to me rather to be ascribed to 
the active part he had pkyed in nationalist politics. The Persian 
leaders of this party consequently feel a rather natural anxiety as to 
their own security/* 104 

Sattlr Khan, Baqir Khan, and others subsequently took refuge in the 
Turkish Consulate-General 105 On 14 July 1909 the Anjuman-i Ayalati 
protested to the House of Commons against Russian intervention in 
Persia, the bringing of troops to Tabriz, and Russian supportin Mashhad 

nature to cause deep disappointment to their warmest admirers. The Anjuman 
completely lost their heads, were seldom of the same mind for two days together, 
and being themselves always sufficiently fed, showed complete callousness towards 
the sufferings of their poorer fellow-citizens . . ." 

103 Cd. 5120. Extract from Monthly Summary of Events, Inclosure in No. 41, 
Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, 20 May, 1909, p. 17 

104 P.O. 416/40. Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, June i, 1909, 
No. 563, p. 250 

105 See further Amir KhM, Qiyam-i Azarbayjan va Sattar Khan for an account 
of subsequent events in Azarbayjan 



74 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

of reactionaries in order to prevent the movement to Tehran of the 
nationalists. 106 On 11 September they sent a telegram to Sir Edward 
Grey protesting at the illegal actions of the Russian military forces in 
Tabriz in spite of the assurances given by the Russian Legation to the 
Persian Government and the British and Russian Consuls-General to 
the Anjuman, alleging that the Russians had sent a Cossack expedition 
to Qaraja Dagh and that the Russian consul in Qazvin interfered in 
local affairs, and asking for assistance. 107 There were meanwhile con- 
siderable numbers officials roaming the province, over whom the An- 
juman-i Ayakti no longer exercised control. In these circumstances, 
the Anjuman, which had been the focal point of the popular move- 
ment after the closure of the National Assembly, was no longer able 
to maintain its position and the initiative passed to the anjumans of 
Isfahan and Rasht; and from them to the jidfis under die Sipah- 
dar-i A f zam, Muhammad Vali Khan and the Bakhtiaris under Sardar 
As'ad. 

Somewhat tenuous links had meanwhile been maintained between 
the anjumans in Tehran and the provincial cities and with anjumans 
abroad, especially the Anjuman-i Sa ff adat in Constantinople. After the 
Russian occupation of Tabriz these connections were strengthened; and 
the fact that Muhammad c All was to an increasing extent believed to be 
supported by Russia meant that the opposition of the nationalist 
movement and the anjumans to the misgovernment and tyranny of the 
shah and the court party tended to express itself more and more in 
terms of a nationalist or patriotic movement. The conviction that the 
shah was a Russian puppet counted for much in the almost universal 
hatred felt for him. 108 There had always been resentment at Russian 
influence over the shah; but it was heightened by the Russian presence 
in Azarbayjan, so that the nationalist movement in its next phase be- 
came largely an anti-Russian movement in defence of Persia against 
Russian intervention and embraced a wider section of the population 
than that represented by the anjumans, though they still formed the core 
of the movement. 

On the bombardment of the National Assembly in 1908 and the 
seizure of the nationalist leaders, meetings of protest were held in Isfa- 
han outside the Chihil Sutun, where the Anjuman-i Ayakti and the 
Ittihadiyya-i * Ulama held their meetings. Among the new governors 

loe RO. 416/41. No. 173, p. 87 

107 ML No. 599, P. 353 

108 Cf. ibid., Sir G. Barday to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, August 10, 1909, 
No. 519, p- 304 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 75 

sent to the various provinces after the suspension of the constitution 
with orders to destroy the nationalist movement was Iqbil ud-Dawleh 
Kashi, who was sent to Isfahan accompanied by some two hundred 
soldiers. The activities of the nationalists were restricted; the number 
of the anjumans, however, increased, and they began to meet in secret 
in various quarters of the city and a central anjuman was set up to co- 
ordinate their activities. The latter decided to summon the leaders of the 
neighbouring districts of Sedeh, Gaz, and Burkhwar to join them in the 
defence of the constitution. Contact was also established with Sardar 
As'ad, the Bakhtiari leader, who had recently returned to Persia from 
Europe. The government meanwhile determined to seize the leaders of 
the central anjuman, who were therefore obliged to scatter. They then 
formed a secret committee and made preparations to attack the govern- 
ment forces. Some four hundred men from the town and surrounding 
countryside were collected and armed; but the leaders of the cmjuman, 
considering their number insufficient, sent some of their members to 
the Chahar Mahall to appeal to the Bakhtiari khans for help. The latter, 
although they were at first prepared to join the struggle against the 
government, hesitated to commit themselves to open opposition to the 
shah because, split as they were by internal factions, they apparently 
feared dissension in their midst should fighting actually break out. 
However, after further negotiations with the secret committee they 
finally agreed to come to the aid of the people of Isfahan; and as- 
sembled their forces at Shalamzar. Meanwhile, the religious leaders in 
Najaf and Karbala had issued zfatwa to the effect that the National 
Assembly ought to be convened. Hostility continued to rise against 
Muhammad c Ali. 

The promulgation of the rescript of 24 September 1908 had caused 
the Bakhtiaris to reconsider their decision to march against the govern- 
ment. The secret committee, more realistically, considered the re- 
script to be merely a pretext to enable Muhammad * All to proceed with 
his plans to crush the nationalist movement. The c ulama of Najaf) 
when the shah procrastinated and finally issued a rescript stating that he 
would not convene a majlis (see above p. 70), sent a telegram to the 
shah to the effect that his * 'conduct wounds the heart of the believer, and 
is an offence against the absent Imam" and that they would leave "no 
stone unturned to obtain a representative government'*. The message 
ended "God has cursed the tyrants; you are victorious for the moment, 
but you may not remain so". 109 

10 * P.O. 416/41. Monthly Summary of Events in Persia, Inclosure in No. 315, 
same to same, Tehran, November 4, 1908, p. 210 



76 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

Contact had by this rime been established between the secret com- 
mittee and the nationalists in Tehran. The Bakhtiaris under Samsam 
us-Saltaneh and Zargham us-Saltaneh, who had composed their differ- 
ences; agreed to attack Isfahan provided that (i) the members of the 
secret committee and the notables of the town would undertake to 
give at all times whatever help was necessary to the Bakhtiari horse, (ii) 
funds would be allocated for the rations and pay of the BafchtSri horse, 
and (iii) a number of the notables of Isfahan would join the Bakhtiari 
outside the town and enter the town with them. A fortnight later 
Samsam us-Saltaneh with a few horse came to Chahar Burji, some ten 
miles from Isfahan, where some members of the secret committee met 
him and made an agreement. Some days later a Bakhtiari force under 
Zargham us-Saltaneh entered Bagh-i Abrishum; and the mujahidin in 
the city armed themselves on the orders of the secret committee. Gov- 
ernment forces had meanwhile taken up strategic positions in the town. 
The Bakhtiaris advanced to Dastgird. The bazaars closed and the shop- 
keepers and members of the guilds assembled in the mosques and 
urged Iqbal ud-Dawleh to march out to meet the Bakhtiaris so that 
bloodshed might be avoided in the town. This he refused to do, and 
government forces instead sought to install themselves in the minarets 
of the Masjid-i Shah but were forestalled by a group of mujahidin. The 
following day (i January 1909) a number of the secret committee went 
out to the Bakhtiari camp and drew up a plan of campaign with the 
Bakhtiari leaders. On 2 January part of the Bakhtiari force entered the 
town from various points, the mujahidin having secretly taken up their 
positions in different parts of the town. Fighting broke out between 
the government forces on the one side and the mujahidin and the 
advance guard of the BakhtSris on die other. The government forces 
were put to flight; and Iqbal ud-Dawleh took refuge in the British 
Consulate. The remainder of the Bafchtiari forces subsequently entered 
the town. 110 

Rumours that an agreement for an Anglo-Russian loan to Persia was 
about to be concluded were in circulation about this time and drew 
protests from the provincial anjumans of Azarbayjan and Isfahan, and 
from nationalists in the capital. A declaration dated February 7, 1909, 
submitted to Sir George Barclay by the nationalist party in Tehran, 
pointed out that the nation would not consider itself liable and would 
not assume the smallest responsibility for any loan or financial subsidy, 
direct or indirect, granted by a foreign government, by financial or 

110 Nurullah Danishvar *Akvi, Tarikh-i mashruteh-i Iran (Tehian, i95<5-7), 
pp. 14 f 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 77 

commercial houses, or individuals to the Imperial government, and 
would not recognize its obligation to fulfil the conditions agreed upon 
of any concession granted during the dissolution of the National As- 
sembly. 111 

News meanwhile reached Isfahan that the Sipahdar-i A f zam, Mu- 
hammad Vali Khan, who had been in command of the government 
troops outside Tabriz and had gone over to the nationalists, had as- 
sembled a force omujahidln in Gilan and Tunakabun, and in February 
had organized a provisional government in Rasht. 112 On 20 February 
the Rasht provincial anjuman addressed to the five principal foreign re- 
presentatives in Tehran a telegram protesting that they had no quarrel 
with the shah, and declaring their determination to put an end to the 
existing situation, which they attributed to the evil policy of the shah's 
entourage, and to recover their national rights. 113 In Isfahan resentment 
against the government continued to rise. 

The resistance of Tabriz had meanwhile enabled the popular move- 
ment to reorganize itself in other districts as well as Isfahan. Various of 
the provincial anjumans as well as the "popular" anjumans were in due 
course reformed. The conviction that the country was being handed 
over to the Russians had gained strength especially in the south, and 
consequently the anjumans were hostile to both the shah and Russia. In 
Bushire the provincial anjuman and the "popular" anjumans, which had 
been quietly dissolved by the governor after the coup fitat in ipo8, 114 
kter reformed. The British Consul-General reported on 5 July 1909 
that he had received a communication from the local anjuman, signed by 

111 Cd. 4733. Declaration by Nationalist Party of Tehran, Inclosure in No. 109, 
Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, February 23, 1909, pp. 58-9 

112 Some doubt seems to have existed as to the motives of the Sipahdar in 
joining the nationalist movement. Mr Churchill in a memorandum wrote: 
". . . Sipahdar is no nationalist ... he, however, detested Mohamed AH personally 
in the want of confidence displayed towards him . . . He is a man of quite ex- 
ceptional qualities and means for a Persian. He is outspoken and sometimes quite 
embarassingly frank. But he of course has characteristic Persian duplicity, and 
throughout his stay at Kazvin he was secretly in treaty with Mohamed Ali, 
through the Russian Legation, with a view to the possibility of being obliged to 
abandon his following and throw himself at Mohamed Alfs mercy tinder 
Russian protection." P.O. 416/41. Inclosure in No. 673, Sir G. Barclay to Sir 
Edward Grey, Gulahek, August 31, 1909, p. 398. Formerly in 1906 the Sipahdar 
had apparently openly expressed his contempt for the reform movement (P.O. 
416/30, p. 32) 

118 Cd. 4733. Same to same, Tehran, February 23, 1909, No. 109, p. 57 
114 Cd. 4581. Extract from Monthly Summary, Inclosure in No. 213, Mr 
Marling to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, July 15, 1908, p. 163 



78 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

five leading members of the religious classes and five of the principal 
merchants, to the following effect: 

"Having regard to untoward incidents elsewhere it has become neces- 
sary that anjumans should forthwith assume control over Govern- 
ment Departments, including customs, whose receipts should be 
deposited into the Imperial Bank in the name of the nation, with the 
cognisance of selected members of anjuman. Anjuman undertakes to 
recognize British Government's claim on customs [for the servicing 
of the 1901 loan] on production of documents and arranges for pay- 
ment to consul-general of such share of interest and principal as falls 
ratably to Bushire and Bunder Abbas. No mention is made of Lin- 
gah, but I presume it will be included. They also undertake all obli- 
gations towards British, such as honourable treatment of British con- 
sulate and officials, and protection of lives and properties of British 
subjects will be scrupulously observed. In conclusion they ask gener- 
ally for co-operation of British authority in preservation of rights of 
Persian nation, and particularly for concurrence in proposed arrange- 
ments. 115 

The provincial anjuman of Kirmanshah, which had been elected 
before the coup d'etat of 1908 resumed its sittings about June ipop. 116 
In Hamadan a provincial assembly was established in January ipop. 117 
The Mashhad provincial anjuman was reconstituted on 8 April of 
the same year. The Deputy-Governor was imprisoned by it but 
released two days later on taking the oath of fidelity to it. The nationa- 
lists in Mashhad were meanwhile reinforced by, among others, a 
number of Caucasians; and as in Azarbayjan the fidtfis began to act 
independently of the anjuman 9 which was unable to control them. 118 
In Shiraz the provincial anjuman was reconstituted towards the end 
of March 1909; Shiraz again went a slightly different way from 
other cities and although die alleged object of the body set up was 
the attainment of the national rights as provided in the constitution it 
was hopelessly split by tribal, local, and religious factions, and had no 

115 RO. 416/41 Sir G. Barcky to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, July 8, 1909, No. 
96, p. <53 

116 Ibid. Monthly Summary, Indosure in No. 57, same to same, Gulahek, June 
18, 1909, No. 5% p- 39 

117 Cd. 4733. Sir G. Barcky to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, January 27, 1909, 
No. 80, p. 48 

118 P.O. 416/40. Monthly Summary, Ihdosure No. 4 in No. 397, Sir G. 
Barcky to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, April 21, 1909, p. 173; and same to same, 
Gulahek, June 24, 1909, No. 745, p. 374 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES Ip06-II 79 

"middle class" or "popular" bias as the Tabriz provincial anjuman had 
had. 119 

On 22 April 1909 the British and Russian envoys with their drago- 
mans had an audience with the shah at which a note was read to him. 
This stated: 

"It is now nearly four months since the Representatives of His Bri- 
tannic Majesty and His Imperial Majesty the Czar last advised your 
Majesty jointly to fulfil the pledges so repeatedly given to your 
people and to the two Representatives to re-establish constitutional 
government in Persia." 

The note then recalled the persistent violation of the pledges given by 
the shah and the disastrous situation to him and Persia and injurious to 
the nationals of the two neighbouring Powers "whose sole desire is to 
see Persia emerge from the present deplorable crisis an independent, 
well-governed and prosperous nation", and made the following re- 
commendations: (i) the prime minister, Mushir us-Saltaneh, and Amir 
Bahadur Jang should be removed from their offices and the latter also 
from any office in the palace; (ii) the constitutional regime should be re- 
established; (iii) a cabinet of persons worthy of confidence should be 
appointed with the addition of a Council of Empire formed by en- 
lightened persons belonging to different parties, the latter to promul- 
gate a new electoral kw; and if the shah chose persons not inspiring 
confidence no money advances [by the two Powers] would be made; 
(iv) a general amnesty for political offences should be granted; (v) a 
date for elections and the convocation of the National Assembly should 
be announced; and (vi) after these steps had been taken the Russian 
Government would make an advance to the Persian Government of 
.100,000 for the expenses necessitated by the introduction of reforms 
and the British Government would make a similar advance as soon as 
the elected Assembly had adopted this advance. A larger loan would if 
necessary form the object of a subsequent exchange of views between 
the two governments and the Persian Government. 120 On 29 April the 

119 P.O. 416/40. Monthly Summary, Indosure No. 4 in No. 397, same to same, 
Tehran, April 21, 1909, pp. 176-7; RO. 416/41. Monthly Summary, Inclosure 
No. 8 in No. 524, same to same, Gulahek, August 13, 1909, p. 317; and Cd*si20, 
extract from Monthly Summary, Inclosure in No. 41, same to same, Tehran, 
May 20, p. 19 

120 P.O. 416/40. Inclosure in No. 399, same to same, Tehran, April 22, 1909, 
pp. 179-81. Subsequently there was a good deal of negotiation and disagreement 
between Great Britain and Russia over the amount of the loan and the way in 
which it should be paid 



80 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 1906-! I 

two legations learnt that the shah had dismissed the prime minister and 
Amir Bahadur Jang from their posts in the cabinet and appointed his 
uncle and father-in-law, the Na'ib us-Saltaneh, prime minister with the 
portfolio of war. Sir George Barclay reporting this stated: 

"the Na*ib as -Saltaneh is a reactionary of the most stubborn type . . . 
after consultation with my Russian colleague we agreed to inform 
the shah in writing, through Saad-ed-Dawleh, that Naib-es-Sul- 
taneh's presence in the cabinet was altogether unacceptable." 

On 30 April Sa'd ud-Dawleh, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, was 
dismissed. On 5 May Muhammad c Ali issued a rescript promising a 
limited constitution. This was well received in Tabriz, but fell flat at 
Isfahan and other places, whence it elicited the declaration that the 
nationalists would be satisfied with nothing less than the old constitu- 
tion. At Qazvin, which by this time had been taken by thcjidifis from 
Rasht, it also failed to have an effect. The reason for the issue of the re- 
script at this point was mainly the shah's fear that thefidfis would ad- 
vance on the capital from Qazvin and the Bakhtiaris from Isfahan. 
There were further discussions on 7 May between the British and 
Russian representatives and delegates from the shah on points of detail 
concerning the programme of reform of 22 April. The shah prevari- 
cated over the question of the general amnesty and the terms of the 
financial assistance; and attempted to avoid reinstating Sa e d ud-Dawleh. 
The two foreign representatives threatened to report to their govern- 
ments that the shah had rejected "the advice of the two powers". 121 
Eventually on 9 May Sa*d ud-Dawleh was asked to form a cabinet. On 
the loth a decree re-establishing constitutional government and restor- 
ing the old constitution and a decree granting a general amnesty were 
published. 122 

The Bakhtiari forces had planned to march on Tehran on 21 April. 
However, Sardar As r ad had not reached Isfahan by that date; and the 
inability of the khans to agree among themselves, coupled with their 
unsuccessful attempt to raise funds, prevented any move being made. 
Sardar As*ad reached Isfahan on 6 May and "with the assistance of 
7,000 tumans plundered from a royal caravan and 9,000 tumans, the 
proceeds of a forced loan from three leading merchants of Isfahan", 

181 Cd. 5120. Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, May 5, 1909, No. 25, 
P-7 

m Ibid, Same to same, Tehran, May it, 1909, No. 40, pp. 13-14. This was 
amplified by a fuller "rescript" dated 20 May 1909. Ibid. Enclosure in No. 86, same 
to same, Gulahek, May 23, 1909, p. 37 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II Si 

the khans set out on nth with 3,000 men to a camp two miles outside 
Isfahan. 123 Meanwhile on 4 May a party of nationalists from Rasht had 
entered Qazvin, and on n May the Sipahdar arrived from Rasht, by 
which time reinforcements from Rasht had also arrived. Pressure was 
put upon the Sipahdar by an official of the Russian Legation to abandon 
his intention to march on Tehran. 124 The Sipahdar was accompanied 
by a number of Russian revolutionaries from the Caucasus and he 
replied to the communication made to him that the revolutionaries who 
were requested to lay down their arms were beyond his control; and 
that he did not wish to be assassinated and suggested that, as they were 
Russian subjects, the Russian Charge d' Affaires might like to talk to 
them. 125 Difficulties of communication between the different centres of 
revolt and the lack of unity between the nationalist leaders in Tehran 
meanwhile prevented the emergence of a unified control of the 
nationalist movement and to some extent accounted for the slowness of 
the advance of the nationalist forces on Tehran. About this time, how- 
ever, a committee was formed in Tehran, and they presented a list of 
desiderata supplementary to what the shah had promised to grant on 
the advice of Britain and Russia; this list had the imprimatur of the 
Sipahdar and Tabriz. 126 

On 30 May the Isfahan provincial anjuman requested the Bakhtiari 
khans to recall their forces, owing to a report that the royalist force at 
Kashan was to march on Isfahan. Two hundred Bakhtiari horsemen 
were accordingly recalled and between 31 May and 5 June 200-300 
men of the royalist force under Amir Mufakhkham straggled into 
Isfahan. On 9 June, a report having been received from Tabriz that the 
shah had accepted European control of his country, the anjuman tele- 
graphed the diplomatic corps in Tehran protesting against any agree- 
ment made by Persia with the Powers while the majlis was not sitting. 127 
On the same day some 200 Bakhtiari horse reached Qumm. On 16 
Sardar As e ad called on Mr Grahame, the British Consul-General in 

123 P.O. 416/40. Sir G. Barcky to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, May 20, 1909, 
No. 609, p. 283 

124 Cd. 5120. Sir G. Barcky to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, May n, 1909, No. 2, 
p. i; and same to same, May 20, 1909, No. 45, p. 6 

125 P.O. 416/40. Sir G. Barcky to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, May 17, 1909, 
No. 465, pp. 204-5 

126 Cd. 5120. Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Tehran, May 20, 1909, 
No. 45, PP- 24-6 

127 P.O. 416/41. Memorandum by Major Stokes respecting the Bakhtiaris and 
the Constitution, Inclosure in No. 345, Sir G. Barcky to Sir Edward Grey, 
Gulahek, July 16, 1909, pp. 199 ff. 

S.A.P. xvi F 



82 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I9O6-II 

Isfahan, to announce his intention of leaving for Tehran, ostensibly 
with a view to insisting on the constitution being properly put into 
force by a cabinet composed of ministers of liberal views. 128 He then 
set out for Qumm with some seven hundred men, five hundred 
Bakhtiaris being already in Qumm. 

The British and Russian envoys, having as they thought obtained the 
agreement of die shah to a programme of reforms, meanwhile exerted 
the most strenuous efforts to induce the nationalists to abandon their 
advance on the capital. The latter had less faith in the goodwill of the 
shah and eventually persisted in their course. Sir George Barclay on 
receiving the news that Sardar A/ad had set out for Qumm sent a 
telegram to Mr Grahamc as follows: 

"I am amazed to hear that Sardar Assad proposes to advance on the 
capital in order to exact that the constitution be put into force, and I 
request you to inform him, of the above. 

"The report appears to me to be almost incredible as so far no one 
has offered any obstruction to the carrying out of the measures 
recommended by the Two Powers with a view to the restoration of 
parliamentary government. 

"At the present moment any demonstration such as is reported . . . 
would be most ill-timed 

"I am requesting M Sabline to send similar instruction to your 
Russian colleague." 129 

Sir Edward Grey telegraphed instructions to Sir George Barclay on 
23 June that: 

"Anything in the nature of intervention in the internal affairs of 
Persia must be avoided, but, short of this, efforts should be made to 
persuade Sardar to abandon his advance on Tehran, and you should 
endeavour to explain to him the real nature of the programme of 
reforms proposed by the two Governments. 130 

The British and Russian Consuls^General accordingly set out severally 
from Isfahan for Qumm, Grahame reached Qumm. on 25 June; Sardar 
As'ad arrived the following day. The two consuls-general had a long 
interview with him, urging that the two legations regarded his inarch 

m P.O. 416/40. Sir G. Barcky to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, June 17, 1909, 

No. 690, p. 353 

12d Ibui Same to same, Gulabek, June 17, 1909, No. 691, p. 354 
130 C& 5120. Sir Edward Grey to Sir G. Barcky, Foreign Office, June 23, 1909, 

No. 64, p. 31 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES Ipo6-II 83 

on Qumm as ill-timed and as complicating the situation. They pointed 
out that if he disregarded their advice they would consider it was with 
the deliberate intention of increasing existing difficulties, and that they 
would hold him personally responsible for the consequences. The con- 
stitution they pointed out had been restored and preliminary work for 
the convocation of the Assembly was proceeding on the lines recom- 
mended by the two Powers. They made it plain that the programme of 
the two Powers involved no curtailment of Persian independence. The 
gist of Sardar As'ad's reply was: 

"that the legations were grossly deceived, and that all that was 
being done was a sham. He said, however, but not in a very con- 
vincing manner, that he would not advance beyond Kum, but would 
remain at or near there until the Assembly met ... He was about to 
formulate certain demands, which were not his but those of Tabriz, 
Rasht, Meshed, and other places, and which he hoped we would 
obtain for him." 1S1 

On 28 June Mr Grahame received a visit from the Sardar who said that 
he could never expect forgiveness from the shah and that fear of inter- 
vention by Russia alone prevented him from deposing the shah, and 
that in any case he proposed to cripple him. He also said that he was in 
communication with the Sipahdar and had received a telegram from 
die latter reporting that he Was advancing on the capital. The demands 
which Sardar As e ad had said he was formulating were not forthcoming 
by 29 June and so the two consuls-general set out from Qumm for 
Isfahan; but on that morning Grahame was approached by an inter- 
mediary, who said he would give Sardar Assad's demands to him pro- 
vided he would not communicate them to the Russians. Grahame, 
however, refused to be party to this. 132 

Meanwhile in Tehran both the shah and the reactionaries on the one 
hand and the nationalists on the other were in a state of panic, the former 
in terror of the arrival of the revolutionaries from Qazvinand theBakh- 
tiaris and the latter in fear of some desperate stroke directed against them 
from the palace. On 30 June Murtaza Quli Khan and 300 Bakhtiaris, 
the advance guard of Sardar As'ad's force, left for Tehran. On I July 
Sardar As c ad set out himself for Tehran with 600 horse; and 300 Bakhti- 
aris also left Isfahan for Tehran. The shah's troops meanwhile left Kashan 
for Tehran. Dissensions broke out between Samsam us-Saltaneh and 

181 P.O. 416/40. Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, telegraphic, Tehran, 
June 27, 1909, No. 775, pp. 384-5 

132 Ibid. Same to same, Gulahek, June 29, 1909, No. 790, p. 391 



84 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

Zargham us-Saltaneh, who were still in the neighbourhood of Isfahan. 
Zargham us-Saltaneh accordingly withdrew to some five miles from 
Isfahan but kter started for Tehran. When it was learnt that a party 
ofgoofidals from Qazvin had reached within forty miles of the capital, 
panic seized the cabinet. Sir George Barclay, reporting this, stated: 

"[they] now expect us to advance money and save them from their 
quandary. I think Mr. Sabline realizes that the terms of our pro- 
gramme preclude him from giving money until after the promul- 
gation of the electoral law, and then only in accordance with some 

financial programme to be agreed upon Should His Majesty call 

on us for further help, our reply will be to the effect that things would 
never have reached this crisis if he had paid attention to our advice at 
the end of last year, and that we had left nothing undone either at 
Kum or Kasvin in our efforts to induce the fedai not to advance on 
the capital." m 

On i July Sir George Barclay reported that the foreign legations had 
received a telegram from the "constitutionalists" of Qazvin, the gist of 
which was that they were marching on the capital with a view to 
settling accounts with certain members of the cabinet, who had in their 
opinion been guilty of inviting foreign Powers to intervene. They pro- 
tested their loyalty to the shah, and denied that their object was blood- 
shed. They said: 

"that although a foreign Power has intervened in Tabreez and 
Meshed, and has its officers at the capital and at Kenedj [sic], the con- 
stitutionalists have from the very beginning of the revolution cared 
for the security of foreign interests. If complications should arise the 
responsibility must rest with the Power that intervenes." 134 

Meanwhile the Sipahdar transmitted to the British and Russian re- 
presentatives the demands of the nationalists. These were (i) that he and 
Sardar As c ad, each accompanied by 150 men, should be allowed to 
enter Tehran to debate the points mentioned below, viz.: (ii) the 
neighbouring Powers should withdraw their forces from Persian soil; 
(iii) the cabinet should be selected by the local assemblies until the 
National Assembly met; (iv) such persons as the people distrusted or 
regarded as traitors should be expelled; (v) such persons as without 
having formerly been in the army had lately been carrying arms should 
be deprived of them; (vi) the army should be under the command and 

m F.O. 416/40. Same to same, Gulahek, June 28, 1909, No. 789, p. 390 
184 P.O. 416/41. Same to same, Gulahek, July i, 1909, No. 7, p. 4 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 85 

at the orders of the Minister for War; (vii) the Minister of Telegraphs 
should be dismissed (he had interfered with the transmission of tele- 
graphs from one nationalist centre to another); and (viii) provincial 
governors should not be elected unless the local assemblies approved 
their nomination. The two representatives brought his demands to the 
notice of their governments, and informed him that unless he told them 
that he would be content with the acceptance of Nos. iv and vii it 
would be useless for them to present them to the shah, as the two above- 
mentioned were the only ones they could urge the shah to accept 135 A 
telegram was subsequently received by foreign legations in Tehran 
from the Sipahdar stating that: 

"if the court, on the advice of the [British and Russian] representa- 
tives, accepts the people's demands for constitutional government, 
and takes steps to carry them into effect, his followers will remain 
loyal to the shah but that if the nation is forced to take strong action 
owing to the delay in taking the measures indicated, it will be justi- 
fied before the world/' 136 

The nationalist leaders were meanwhile in close touch with the An- 
juman-i Sa*adat in Constantinople; and were receiving urgent advice 
to bring matters to a speedy conclusion and to prevent foreign inter- 
vention. 137 

On 9 July the forces of the Sipahdar, about 1,000 strong, left Karaj, 
marching in a south-easterly direction towards Rubat Karim, where 
Sardar As e ad was by this time encamped with about 1,200 Bakhtiaris. 
On 10 and n July there was some fighting about fourteen miles to the 
west of the town in which the Sipahdar and Sardar Assad's forces were 
engaged with the royalist forces. 138 On 12 July the combined nationalist 
force marched between the opposing Cossacks and irregulars, who 
were posted at Shahabad, Ahmadabad, Yaftabad and Tehran. They 
succeeded in getting through unnoticed, and at 6 a.m. on 13 July the 
whole nationalist force entered Tehran by the Yusufabad gate, which 
was not held against them, and was apparently opened to them by the 
mujahidm inside the city. 139 On the following day the royalist forces 

135 P.O. 416/41. Same to same, Gulahek, July 5, 1909, No. 71, pp. 56-7 
188 Ibid. Same to same, Gulahek, July 8, 1909, No. 99, p. 64 
137 C ibid. Same to same, Gulahek, July 10, 1909, No. 120, p. 69, and same to 
same, Gulahek, July 12, 1909, No. 341, p. 188 
188 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, July 12, 1909, No. 131, p. 73 
139 Ibid. Memorandum by Mr Churchill, July 16, 1909, Inclosure i in No. 427, 
Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, July 23, 1909, pp. 253-5. See also 
Nurullah Danishvar 'Alavl, Tarikh-i mashruteh-i Iran, pp. 14 ff. 



86 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

began to bombard the town. 140 The British and Russian representatives 
represented jointly to the shah the desirability of ceasing the bombard- 
ment and an armistice to open negotiations. The shah refused. 141 On 
15 July royalist resistance was practically at an end and negotiations 
began between Liakhov, the commander of the Cossack Brigade, and 
the nationalists for the surrender of the Cossacks. 142 On the 16 July the 
shah took refuge in the Russian Legation and all fighting ceased. 143 

An extraordinary Grand Council, composed of the leaders of the 
fidd'is, the religious classes, princes, notables, and a number of deputies 
of the former National Assembly, was convoked. On the same day, it 
decided, by a majority vote, upon the deposition of Muhammad *Ali 
and appointed his son, Ahmad Mirza, in his stead, the regency to be 
given temporarily to f Azud ul-Mulk, the head of the Qajar tribe. A 
proclamation to this effect was issued on 17 July by the Sipahdar, as 
Minister of "War, and Sardar As'ad, as Minister of the Interior. 144 
After negotiations over the question of a pension for Muhammad 
e All, he eventually left Persia for Russia on 29 September. 145 Pending 
elections for the new National Assembly, government was virtually in 
the hands of a committee of twenty-five, elected for the guidance of the 
ministers by the extraordinary Grand Council. This was superseded 
towards the middle of September by a commission of forty members. 
At the end of the month the Sipahdar assumed the office of president of 
the council of ministers, which had been kept vacant in the hope Nasir 
ul-Mulk would agree to return from Europe and accept it. 146 Elections 
were meanwhile held and on 15 November the new Assembly was 
opened. 147 Thus, largely as a result of the efforts of the anjumans, who 
had kept the forces of resistance alive during the suspension of the con- 
stitution, the nationalists succeeded in obtaining the restoration of 
the constitution. And in the final instance they accomplished their 
aims in the face of Russian and British policy which sought to restrain 

140 P.O. 416/41. Sir G. Barday to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, July 14, 1909, 
No. 151, p. 79 

141 Same to same, Gulahek, July 14, 1909, No. 152, p. 79 

142 Ibid. Same to same, Gulahek, July 15, 1909, No. 174, p. 88 
145 Ibid. Same to same, Gulahek, July 16, 1909, No. 190, p. 91 

144 Cd. $120. Inclosures 2 and 3 in No. 199, Sir G. Barclay to Sir Edward Grey, 
Gulahek, July 23, 1909, pp. 104-5 

145 Ibid. Sir G. Barday to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, July 18, 1909, No. 139, 
p. 64; and Memorandum by Acting Vice-Consul Cowan, Indosure in No. 262, 
same to same, Tehran, October 15, 1909, p. 151 

146 Ibid. Same to same, Gulahek, September 13, 1909, No. 228, p. 126; and 
same to same, Tehran, October 7, 1909, No. 248, p. 141 

147 Ibid. Same to same, Tehran, November 17, 1909, No. 256, p. 152 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 87 

them from pushing matters to a conclusion. Britain's inclination had, at 
an earlier period, been to refrain from all interference and leave the 
stronger side to make its will prevail, 148 but in the end she had hoped, 
with Russia, to impose a programme of reform on Muhammad 'All, 
and thereby to avoid the disintegration of the Persian state, ignoring 
the fact that the shah and the court party, whatever their protestations, 
had no intention of implementing such a programme. Sir George 
Barclay, in a revealing despatch to Sir Edward Grey, shows that he was 
aware of the weakness of British policy, a policy imposed to some ex- 
tent, no doubt, by the same limitations which had led Grey to conclude 
the Anglo-Russian Convention of 1907. He wrote: 
". . . The country has thus succeeded in ridding the throne of 
Muhammad AlL Although, for reasons of armour-propre, some slight 
feeling of regret is natural that our programme of reforms failed of its 
object, one cannot but recognize that a constitutional regime based 
independently of the Two Powers, and inaugurated by the de- 
thronement of a detested and worthless Sovereign, stands a very 
different chance from one obtained for the country by outside pres- 
sure which stopped short of demanding the thing most needed, a 
change of sovereign. The resolution shown by the nationalist forces, 
who persisted to the end, notwithstanding the fear of foreign inter- 
vention, as well as the moderation of which they have given proof by 
refraining from all unnecessary bloodshed, and by merely transfer- 
ing the throne to the next in succession, have surprised many with 
long experience of Persia and were it not that the chaotic condition 
of most of the provinces forbids one to hope, one might even say that 
they are of good augury for the future. 

"On the whole, then, putting aside considerations of armour-propre, 
I am disposed to rejoice at the failure of our programme. There was a 
time when it seemed assured of such measure of success as would have 
been involved by the meeting of an assembly under Muhammad Ali, 
but there was never but a very faint hope that, with so false and in- 
triguing Sovereign a constitutional regime could have worked 
more satisfactorily than that upset by the coup d'etat of last year. All 
that could reasonably be hoped of it was that it would be better than 
Muhammad Ali's unfettered rule. Muhammad Ali is now deposed, 
and the field is open for a second and more promising experiment in 
parliamentary government." 149 

148 C Cd. 4581. No. 323; and Cd. 4733. Nos. 86 and 286 

149 P.O. 416/41. Sir G. Barcky to Sir Edward Grey, Gulahek, July 23, 1909, 
No. 427, pp. 



88 PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES 

With the restoration of the constitution the activities of the "popular" 
anjumans declined. The intellectuals, who were the only group among 
their members who could, perhaps, have given them a political ideo- 
logy or programme, were drawn off into political parties, many of 
those who had formerly been active members of the anjumans joining 
either the Ftidaliyyun or the Democrat party. The majority of the 
members of the anjumans, however, had belonged to the religious 
classes, the small merchants, and craft guilds; and once the cause for 
which the anjumans had come into existence was achieved - at least 
temporarily - there was no common social, intellectual, or political 
activity to give meaning or purpose to a continuance of their associa- 
tion. Thus, like many of the quasi-messianic movements of the past, 
they proved a transitory phenomenon. The complicated pattern of 
intrigue, counter-intrigue, and foreign intervention, which had been 
the order of the day for many years was accentuated after 1909; 
Russian activities were openly directed against the constitutional move- 
ment and the independence of the country. Moreover, the contending 
parties inside Persia were no longer clearly divided; and the issues be- 
tween them were sometimes obscured. Already on the morrow of the 
nationalist victory in 1909 groups ofjidais were spreading disorder 
throughout northern Persia and Tehran, and even when the govern- 
ment succeeded in disarming these in August 1910 there was still a 
complete lack of confidence in the government on the part of the popu- 
lation; the nationalist victory had failed to resolve the tensions in 
Persian society. Further, the anjumans already before the victory of 1909 
had been weakened by infiltration. Muhammad liusayn Na'ini made a 
plea in March or April 1909, Le. before the restoration of the constitu- 
tion, for their reform in his work entitled Hukumat. 150 He alleged in- 
filtration by the supporters of the despotism into the anjumans. He 
pleaded for anjumans whose function would be to prevent the promo- 
tion of selfish and personal aims; and also for co-operation for the fur- 
therance of the cause of Islam, the defence of humanity, and the 
achievement of progress. 151 In 1911 when renewed attempts to strangle 
the constitution became open and the belief spread that a campaign 
was on foot to restore the rule of Muhammad f All and sell the country 
to Russia, the anjumans again became sporadically active. Various acts 
of violence, including the attempted assassination of Mushir us-Salta- 
neh, who had once been prime minister to Muhammad *AH, were 
attributed to their activities. 152 At this time there were apparently also 

150 Ed. Sayyid Mafemud Taliqam (Tehran, n.d.) 151 Pp. 134-5 

152 Morgan Shuster, T7ie Strangling of Persia (London, 1912), pp. 172-3, 280 



PERSIAN POLITICAL SOCIETIES I906-II 8p 

women's secret societies. 153 Acute financial difficulties, frequent internal 
disorders, in some cases fomented by Russia, the intrigues of elements 
hostile to the constitution, often openly encouraged by Russia, active 
intervention by Russia in North Persia and the presence of considerable 
numbers of Russian troops in the country, and apparent British ac- 
quiescence in Russian behaviour, had by this time greatly weakened the 
position of the nationalists. The patriotic fervour and the will to resist 
oppression, which had been a marked feature of the early history of the 
nationalist movement, and of which the anjumans had been the centre, 
was lacking. When the constitution was again suspended in 1911 on 
account of the opposition of the National Assembly to the Russian 
ultimatum demanding the dismissal of Mr Morgan Shuster, the 
treasurer-general, the cumulative effect of internal disorders, the infil- 
tration of hostile elements into the nationalist movement, and, above 
all, Russian pressure, discouraged, if it did not make virtually impos- 
sible, the emergence of a popular and united movement of protest. 
Militant action was, therefore, virtually precluded. On the other hand 
the "popular" anjumans were not organized, nor were their members 
competent, to provide a theory of political conduct within the frame- 
work of which their relations with the government on the one side 
and the people on the other could be regulated in peace-time circum- 
stances. Thus, the "popular" anjumans, having no longer a function to 
perform, disappeared from the political scene. 

ANN K. S. LAMBTON 1963 
153 Ibid. p. 1 86. See also Malikzadeh, Tarikh-i Inqilab-i mashrutiyyat, vii, 93-4 



THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN 

MOROCCO: THE RELIGIOUS BASES OF 

THE MOROCCAN NATIONALIST 

MOVEMENT 



By Jamil Abun-Nasr 

SHORTLY AFTER the Erst World War the Salafiyya group in Morocco 
became active in the political life of the country; and when in the 1930*5 
a Moroccan nationalism along European lines appeared, it had as its 
leaders men who had been active members of the Salafiyya circle and 
retained their allegiance to the Salafi ideas which had formed the start- 
ing points of their social and political attitudes. The Moroccan national- 
ist movement and its struggle against the French until independence 
was achieved in 1956 have been studied and commented upon by 
European and American scholars working in the field. 1 Though aware 
of the importance of the religious foundations of Moroccan nationalism, 
these scholars have not given the Salafiyya religious movement before 
its appearance in the limelight of political life its due importance. The 
present paper deals with some aspects of the original Salafiyya religious 
movement. 

The political and social attitudes of the Moroccan nationalists which 
crystallized in the period between 1930 (the date of the Berber dahir or 
kw) and 1956, were superstructures based on the ideas of the Salafiyya 
group* The Moroccan Salafis, like their counterparts in Egypt at the end 
of the nineteenth century, upheld the religious tradition of al-Salafal- 
Salih (the good or pious ancestors), and recognized the Qur'an and the 
Sunna of the Prophet as the only acceptable bases of religious and social 
legislation. That the Salafiyya group in Morocco could develop into a 
politico-social movement might be explained in terms of the nature of 

1 The history of Moroccan political life after the Protectorate has been studied 
by several non-Moroccan scholars. Some of the better-known books on the 
subject are: R. Landau, The Moroccan drama 1900-19$$ {London, i956),F.Taillard, 
Le nationalism marocain (Paris, 1947), and D. E. Ashford, Political change in 
Morocco (Princeton, 1961) 

90 



THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO pi 

Islam itself, as well as of the following facts about the Moroccan scene 
at the beginning of the twentieth century: in Morocco at this time poli- 
tical questions were still reducible into religious ones: the French army 
of invasion, which imposed the Protectorate on the country in 1912, 
was viewed as a Christian army aiming to suppress Islam and replace it 
by Christianity, and not merely a colonizing one seeking material 
profit and glory for France. The co-operation of Muslims with the 
French was therefore judged equivalent to apostasy (ridda) and not 
merely political treason. 2 The French policy of introducing the culture 
and way of life of France on a wide scale into those countries of which 
the French took political control increased the susceptibilities of the 
Muslims in Morocco (as in other parts of the Maghrib), and added to 
their concern about their traditional way of life which they identified 
with their religion, in the same way that they associated French culture 
with Christian and not secular Europe. Furthermore, the co-operation 
of the Sufi orders with the French during the nineteenth and twentieth 
centuries in the three countries of the Maghrib, especially the Tijaniyya, 
Darqawiyya and Tayyibiyya (also known as Wazzaniyya or Tuhamiy- 
ya), compromised these orders in the eyes of the Muslim population. 
When the Moroccan Sultanate was divested of real political power 
by the French after 1912, and as the Sufi orders' subservience to 
the French cause became well known, the Salafis - who had already 
emerged as an important religious group in Morocco and had attacked 
the Sufi orders on theological grounds - became the natural champions 
of the rights and the cultural heritage of the Muslims in Morocco 
against the encroachments of the "infidels'*. 

Islam in the Maghrib became tinged with Sufi influences in the 
eleventh century A.D., when the ideas of the leading Sufis in the eastern 
parts of the Muslim lands started to percolate into the Maghrib. The 
Sufi orders, some of which originated in the area itself, came to play 
important social and political roles in the life of its inhabitants. They 
became accepted by the Muslims in the area to such a degree that the 
distinction which had traditionally been drawn between Orthodox 
Islam and Sufism seems to have been blurred to the bulk of the Magh- 
ribi Muslims. The Sufi orders in North West Africa did not discard 

2 'Allal al-Fasi, when speaking of the subservience of the chiefs of the Kittaniyya 
and Darqawiyya orders in Morocco to the French cause fAbdul-Hayy al-Kittani 
and Habib al-Elali respectively), refers to them as murtoMs (those who lapsed 
from the faith) and not khtfins, as the Arabic political vocabulary would describe 
traitors. "Whenever he uses the latter word, he invariably uses with it the former. 
See for example Had&h al-mashriqfi 9 l-maghrib (Cairo, 1956), p. 20 



92 THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 

those elements in their beliefs and rituals which were incompatible 
with Orthodox Islam, but the majority of the Muslims in the area be- 
came oblivious of the discordant elements in the two systems. They 
came in fact to consider it religiously commendable to submit to the 
discipline of a Sufi order besides being conversant with the traditional 
Islamic subjects of learning; and it became customary to start eulogies 
on men of religion by describing them as having combined knowledge 
of the Sharfa with what they called the haqiqa (the esoteric truth of the 
Sufis). There also appeared die aphorism that "he who does not have a 
shaikh (miming a Sufi shaikh) the devil becomes his shaikh", which also 
points to the co-existence between the Sufi way and the orthodox form 
of official Islam. 

Besides the spread of the influence of the Sufi orders, an important 
aspect of Islam in the Maghrib during the past four centuries has been 
the deterioration of religious scholarship. A period of decline in reli- 
gious studies in the Maghrib set in as from the fourteenth century, 
which coincided with the extension of the influence of the Sufi orders. 
Two instances of this decline interest us here, namely that Muslim juris- 
prudence came to be taught only in summaries in the leading mosque- 
universities in the area, and to/sir (the exegesis of the Qur'an) disap- 
peared as a subject of study from the curriculum of the Qarawiyin 
University, the most important centre of Islamic studies in the Magh- 
rib. Throughout North and Equatorial Africa, al-Mukhtasar, a manual 
of Muslim jurisprudence according to the Malikite rite prepared by the 
fourteenth-century Egyptian canon lawyer Khalilb. Ishaq al-Jundi, be- 
came the standard textbook for teaching jurisprudence in the Maghrib, 
thus replacing the more detailed books composed by the founders of 
the four rites of jurisprudence and the six canonical collections of 
Muslim traditions compiled during the eighth and ninth centuries. 

The fundamentalism of the Salafis led them to condemn those beliefs 
and practices of the Sufi orders for which they could not find textual 
bases in the Qur'an or the prophetic traditions; and their desire to re- 
organize society according to the sacred law made them concerned 
about the stagnant state of religious studies. In consequence of this, the 
Salafi reformers in Morocco paid special attention to expurgating the 
Faith from Sufi influences, and to tie revival of religious studies. 

The first instance of what might be considered a Salafi tendency in 
Morocco dealt with the problem of the poverty of religious learning, as 
exemplified by the widespread use of al-Mukhtasar as a textbook of 
jurisprudence. The Alawite Sultan Muhammad b. 'Abdullah (1757- 
1790)* whom tie leaders of the Salafiyya movement in Morocco at the 



THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 93 

beginning of the present century considered the main precursor of their 
movement in the country, tried to replace al-Mukhtasar by more ade- 
quate books for teaching jurisprudence. He himself was an accom- 
plished religious scholar, and spent a great part of this time studying the 
books of Prophetic traditions. It was through his great influence that 
interest in these books was revived in Morocco. He brought to Moroc- 
co from the eastern parts of the Arab Muslim countries copies of the 
Musnads of the great imams of the schools of Muslim jurisprudence and 
the major books of Muslim traditions and devoted a part of his time to 
their study, summoning to him every Friday after the evening prayer 
the leading traditionists in the country to discuss with them questions 
arising from his studies. 3 

Muhammad b. e Abdullah's desire to revive interest in the original 
sources of Muslim jurisprudence, and his anxiety to have Muslims 
accept as the basis of the kw only authentic Prophetic traditions, led 
him to undertake the task of collating the traditions in the six canonical 
books of Prophetic traditions in one volume which he finished in 1784 
entitled al-Futuhut al-ilahiyyafi ahadith Khair al-bariyya al-lati tushfa bi ha 
al-qulub al-Sadiyya. He arranged these traditions according to the ex- 
tent of the agreement among these authorities about their authenticity, 
giving first those traditions on which the six agreed, then those upon 
which five of them agreed, and so on. As an added precaution he 
rejected those traditions which were not connected in sound sana&st 
to one of the Prophet's companions. 5 Muhammad b. 'Abdullah's 
method may not constitute an infallible means of securing the authen- 
ticity of the traditions, but it shows his concern about establishing the 
beliefs of Muslims firmly upon the sunna of the Prophet. 

Out of the four schools of Muslim jurisprudence, Sultan Muham- 
mad b. c Abdullah preferred the strictest, the Hanbali, which is the only 
rite recognized by the puritanical fourteenth-century theologian Ibn 
Taimiyyah and by the Wahhabis. In the preamble (khutba) of his book 
al-Futuhat he says, in the accepted fashion of introducing books in the 
Muslim world at the time: "Muhammad b. 'Abdullah, the Maliki by 
rite and the Hanbali by faith says. ..." In a special section at the end of 
the book he explains what he meant by this statement, showing clearly 
his predilection for Ahmad b. Hanbal. He says that the latter's rite 
enables the Muslims to avoid submitting to the allurement of such 

3 Abdul-Rahman b. Zaidan, Itiiaf dlam an-nas bijamal akhbar hadirat Maknas 
(Rabat, I923), vol. HI, pp. 183-4 

4 Authorities relating the traditions of the Prophet 
6 Ibn Zaidan, op. dt., DI, p. 358 



94 THE SALAHYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 

illegal innovations in the faith as scholasticism ( f ilm al-kalam). He says 
also in this section: 

"The way of the Hanbalis in their belief is easy to attain, is above 
false imagination and superstition, [and] is consistent with the beliefs 
of the doctors of the kw in the time of al-Salaf al-Salih. May God 
help us live as they [the Hanbalis] live firm in belief, and enable us 
die as they do in faith." 6 

Muhammad b. * Abdullah also discouraged the use of d-Mukhtasar in 
the teaching of jurisprudence, and preferred the older and more de- 
tailed books on the subject. In a decree dealing with the reform of in- 
struction in the Qarawiyin, he ordered that al-Mukhtasar should not be 
used in teaching jurisprudence without detailed commentaries on it 
which he himself specified. 7 

Mawky Sukiman (1792-1822), Muhammad b. c Abdullah's son who 
succeeded to the throne after the short reign of his brother Sidi al- 
Yazid, reversed his father's policy with regard to al-Mukhtasar and 
extolled its merits. 8 But at the same time he attacked the Sufi orders 
and their excesses, an. action which made the kter Sakfis in Morocco 
look upon Kim also as one of the forerunners of their movement. One 
of Ibn Sa c ud's letters after his conquest of the Muslim holy pkces in 
1806 containing an exposition of the theological bases of the Wahhabi 
movement reached Morocco about the year 1810. The Sultan seems to 
have looked with favour upon the Wahhabiyya; and in 1812 he sent his 
son Ibrahim to Mecca with a group of Moroccan scholars to perform 
the pilgrimage and discuss theological questions with the Sa'udis. The 
exchanges of opinion seem to have taken pkce in a friendly atmosphere, 
and agreement was reached between the Wahhabis and the Moroccan 
delegation on the main points raised. The Moroccans accepted the 
Wahhabi attitude regarding the interpretation of the Qur'anic passages 
dealing with Almighty God's qualities, which emphasized the necessity 
of accepting their obvious and literal mining (al-zahir). If it is stated 
in the Qur'an that God "sat Himself upon the Throne", 9 a good 
Muslim, the Wahhabis like the kter Sakfis asserted, should not ask such 
questions as to what is the essence of the Divine Being who sits on the 

8 Ibn Zaidan, op. cit., TR, pp. 358-9 

7 f Abdul-Rahman b. Zaidan, d-Durar al-fakhira bi ma*a thir muluk al-Alawiyin 
bi Fas al-Zakira (Rabat, 1937), pp. 60-1 

9 Alunad b. Khalid al-Nasiri, Kitob al-istqsa* H akhbar duwd al-maghrib al-aqsa 
(Casablanca, 1954-6), voL Vm, p. 67 

* The Qur* an, X-3, XHI-2, XXV-59, XXXE-4 and LVH-4 



THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 95 

throne, and why and how He sat. He should only believe in the occur- 
rence of the act of sitting without discussing the implications of this 
belief. This attitude was to form the cornerstone of the theological 
approach of the Salafiyya movement in Egypt as elsewhere. The 
Moroccan delegation also pronounced itself satisfied with the Sa c udi 
explanation regarding their attitude on the question of visiting the 
tombs of walis. The Moroccans had understood that the Sa e udis pro- 
hibited Muslims from visiting the shrines of all saints and of the 
Prophet's tomb without condition, and when it was explained to them 
that they forbade from visiting the shrines of saints only Muslims who 
did not perform the visit in accordance with the rules which they pre- 
scribed, and which were designed to prevent it from becoming an act 
of worship, the Moroccans concurred with them on the desirability of 
this precaution. 10 Mawlay Sulaiman himself kter forbade the Moroccan 
populace to visit the tombs of saints. He also wrote a treatise in which 
he criticized the Sufi orders, warned the Muslims against the illegal 
innovations which they introduced and stated the rules which should 
govern visits to the shrines of saints. 11 The Sultan also delivered a speech 
in which he denounced the practice which some of the Sufi orders had 
of holding festivals (mawasim) on the birthdays of the founders. 12 

Sultan Muhammad b. 'Abdullah's endeavours to revive interest in 
the original sources of Muslim jurisprudence, and therefore his advo- 
cacy of a return to the early formative periods of Islamic history - 
which is the characteristic point of emphasis in the Salafiyya movement 
- and Mawky Snkiman's attack on the Sufi orders - which is another 
important part of the reformist programme of the kter Sakfis - re- 
mained isokted from the development of the Salafiyya movement in 
Morocco during the second half of the nineteenth century and the first 
half of the twentieth. They are important only in as much as they en- 
couraged the kter Sakfis in the way of life to which they became con- 
verted through other means, and since the example of these two highly 
esteemed sultans served as a useful supplementary argument which 
the Sakfis could use in their polemics with the advocates of mediaeval 
Islam in Morocco. The intellectual position of the neo-Sakfiyya, as 

10 Ahmad b. Khalid al~Nasiri, op. dt. 9 VUL, pp. 120-1 

11 Ibid., Vm, p. 124 

12 This speech was printed in 1933 by one of the active spokesmen of the 
Salafiyya in Morocco, Muhammad Ibrahim al-Kittani. It was distributed in the 
country so as to rally support to the petition which had just been submitted to 
Sultan Muhammad b. Yusuf by the professors and students of the Qarawiyin 
University in Fez railing upon him to interdict the festivals of the Tsawiyya and 
Hamadsha orders. 



96 THE SALAHYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 

the movement which appeared at the beginning of the twentieth 
century has been conveniently called by its leaders, was formed by the 
influence of the reformers of the eastern parts of the Arab Muslim 
world, especially Muhammad 'Abduh. 

At the end of the nineteenth century the ideas of the advocates of 
Salafiyya in Egypt started to spread in Morocco. A learned Moroccan 
called f Abdullah b. Idris al-Sanusi (from the Berber tribe of Banu 
Sanus), who was a lecturer at the Qarawiyin University, was one of the 
earliest persons to introduce these ideas into Morocco. In the iSyo's he 
went on the pilgrimage to Mecca, and on his return he was appointed 
by the Sultan, Mawky al-Hasan (1873-94), as a member of the royal 
learned council 13 to attend the sessions on al-Bukhari's Sahih. In the 
meetings of the council al-Sanusi expressed the ideas which he carried 
with bim from Egypt, advocating especially the acceptance of the 
literal and most obvious meanings of the scriptures and the strict ob- 
servance of the sunna of the Prophet. He also argued in favour of the 
rejection of taml 14 especially in the Qur'anic passages and Prophetic 
traditions dealing with the qualities of Almighty God. Al-Sanusi's 
views, especially his criticism oftdwil, did not meet with the approval 
of the other scholars in the council among whom were two influential 
personalities of learning: Ahmad b. al-Talib b. Sudah, author of several 
books on the Prophetic traditions and Sufism and several times a judge, 
and e Abdullah al-Kamil al- 9 Amrani al-Hasani, who enjoyed] great 
prestige through being the maternal grandson of the Sultan Mawky 
Sulaiman and the son-in-law of another Sultan, f Abdullah b. c Abdul- 
Rahman. Both these scholars were members of Sufi orders and up- 
holders of Sufi practices and beliefs. 15 Al-Sanusi's critics accused him of 
subscribing to the views of the Mu'tazilites and of introducing illegal 
innovations (Hdtf) and of denying the existence of sainthood (wilaya). 
Their attacks were very vehement, and the Sultan did not interfere to 
restrain them, although he seems to have been rather sympathetic to- 
wards al-Sanusi since he did not persecute him as he would have done 
had the defenders of mediaeval Islam been able to win hi over to 
their point of view. Al-Sanusi soon found the atmosphere of Fez dis- 

13 The Sultans of Morocco held in the royal palace a council of the prominent 
scholars in the country to discuss important religions and legal questions, or merely 
to study the Prophetic traditions and Muslim jurisprudence. The Sultan himself 
attended the council and often conducted its proceedings. 

14 Meaning the material interpretation of the Qur'an which deals with its 
content, as distinct from tafsir which means the external philological exegesis. 

16 'Abdul-Hafiz al-Fasi, Riyad al-Janna aw al-mudhish al-mutrib (Fez, A.H. 

1350), n, pp. 77-80 



THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 97 

agreeable and emigrated. He travelled to Syria and Turkey, lectured in 
Damascus and Istanbul and returned to Morocco only after the death of 
Mawlay al-Hasan and the accession of Mawlay c Abdul-* Aziz. The 
new sultan treated him well, and helped him settle in Tangier. Al- 
Sanusi travelled with Sultan e Abdul-' Aziz after his abdication to Egypt 
and Syria; and when in 1910 al-Sanusi returned from this trip he re- 
mained in Tangier until his death on 7 October 193 1. 16 

Not long after the setback which the Salafiyya in Morocco suffered 
in the defeat of al-Sanusi's attempt to propagate the ideas which he had 
imported from the east, the country had another champion of these 
ideas in the person of Abu Shu e aib al-Dukkali (1878-1937). Born at al- 
Sadiqat, a locality about fifty miles from Casablanca, al-Dukkali came 
from a family which belonged to the strong Moroccan Sufi order, the 
Darqawiyya. In A.H. 1314 (A.D. 1896-7) he emigrated to Egypt to 
study at the Azhar. At this time the curriculum of this university had 
already been revised by Muhammad c Abduh, and the latter's religious 
discourses were being published in the Manar and were the subject of 
commentary and discussion in Cairo. Whether or not al-Dukkali had 
any personal contacts with * Abdut is not known; but his sojourn in 
Cairo brought him into touch with the intellectual atmosphere created 
by the Egyptian reformer. As a student Abu Shu'aib was outstanding, 
and when tie Amir of Mecca, Sharif c Awn al-Rafiq (d. 1905) - who 
himself was favourably disposed towards Salafiyya - asked the Rector 
of the Azhar to choose a student to conduct religious instruction and 
preaching in the Muslim holy town, al-Dukkali was chosen for the job. 
He remained in Mecca until A.H. 1325 (A.D. 1907-8), visiting Morocco 
twice in the meantime. On his return to Morocco in A.H. 1325 he was 
treated well by Sultan r Abdul-Hafiz (1908-11), and remained the 
Sultan's guest in Fez for three years. He went once more to Mecca to 
bring his family back to Morocco, and on his return in 1911 he was 
appointed qadi in the town of Marrakesh; a year later he became Minis- 
ter of Justice. 17 

Muhammad e Abduh himself never visited Morocco although he 
visited both Tunisia and Algeria; but he seems to have corresponded 
with several Moroccans and his ideas were well known in the country 
independently of Abu Shu'aib's influence. When he wanted to select 
for publication by the Salafiyya press books written by earlier authors 

16 e Abdul-Hafiz al-Fasi, Rfyad al-Janna aw al-mitdhi$h al-mutrib (Fez, A.H. 1350), 
H, pp. 81-5 and 94-5 

17 Muhammad Ibrahim al-Kittani, Takfi* al-yaqza al-maghribiyya aw Abu 
Sku'aib wa 9 l-salafiyya, MS., the author's personal copy, fF. 12-14 

S.A.P, XVI G 



98 THE SALAHYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 

along lines acceptable to the Salafis, he wrote to the Sultan Mawlay 
*Abdul-Hafiz and to Shaikh Idris b. e Abdul-Hadi, who is reputed to 
have been the owner of the largest private library in Morocco, asking 
advice on the books which he should publish. "When a great contro- 
versy flared up in 1903 concerning f Abduh's^tfuxz which dealt with the 
question of whether the consumption of the meat of animals slaughtered 
by Christians was permissible to Muslims, known as the Transvaal 
fatwa, a Moroccan jurist called Muhammad al-Mahdi al-Wazzani 
(1850-1923), the MaMkite mufti of Fez, wrote a treatise on the problem. 
He supported e Abduh's attitude regarding the consumption of meat 
although he denounced him in the same treatise because of his attack on 
the custom of supplicating God through the intercession of the pro- 
phets and saints. 18 

Abu Shu c aib al-Dukkali's influence as propagator of Salafi ideas in 
Morocco was much greater than any remote influence which Abduh 
might have had. Through him Sultan c Abdul-Hafiz was won over to 
the ideas of the Salafis and wrote a book in which he inveighed against 
the Sufi orders, condemning several of their practices and beliefs as 
being incompatible with the true Islam, and singling out the Tijaniyya 
order for a special criticism. 19 His impatience with the Sufi orders be- 
came evident when he had the chief of the Kittaniyya order, Muham- 
mad b. 'Abdul-Kabir al-Kittani, tortured to death after the latter had 
undertaken serious seditious activity during the rule of c Abdul-Hafiz's 
predecessor - who had pardoned him - and kter during r Abdul-Hafiz's 
own reign. 20 Through f Abdul-Ha.fi 7,'s help, Abu Shu'aib succeeded in 
adding to the curriculum of the Qarawiyin University the teaching of 
tqfsir, this was indispensable if the Salafis were to have resort to ijtihad 
(individual interpretation), the door of which, they believed, contrary 
to the widely accepted attitude, was not shut. During the three years 
which al-Dukkali spent in Fez, he himself taught the subject in the 
Qarawiyin, and while there a group of enthusiastic disciples formed 
itself around him. It was to one of these disciples, Mawlay al- e Arabi 
al-'Alawi, that he handed on the torch of die Salafiyya in Morocco. 21 

Mawky al- ? Arabi al- P Alawi is now retired from public life although 
he is still in good health. He is a former member of die Tijaniyya order, 

^'AJlal al-Faa, al-Harakat d-istiq!aliyya j?l-maghrib d- f arabi (Cairo, 1948); 
'Abdut-Hafiz al-Fasi, op. at., n, pp. 48-50; and Muhammad Rashid Rida, 
Tarikh al*ustodh a\-4mam (Cairo, 1931), I, p. 716 

18 Tfcis book is entitled Ketshj 'al-qitu? f an i f tiqad tawd ifal-ibtidtf, published in 
Fez in AJI. i$27/AJX 1909. 

* f Abdu^Hafiz al-Fasi, op. dt. 9 1, pp. 44-8 

21 Al-Kittani, op. cit. 9 C 16-17; and 'Abdul-Hafiz al-Fasi, op. cit. 9 H, pp. 141-3 



THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 99 

whose beliefs he now vehemently criticizes. He was converted to the 
Salafi point of view through the influence of his master, Abu Shu'aib 
al-Dukkali, as well as through the influence of his ownreading, in which 
the writings of Ibn Taimiyyah and the articles of the Manor left the 
greatest impact on his mind. During the First World War he was intro- 
duced to the writings of Ibn Taimiyyah through Kitab al-Furganizt this 
time the books of Ibn Taimiyyah were rarely sold or read in Morocco 
because of his invectives against the Sufi orders which were strongly 
entrenched in the academic circles of the country. This introduction to 
Ibn Taimiyyah's ideas induced him to search for other books by him, 
and on investigation in Fez he discovered that shortly before the war a 
parcel of books sent firom the Salafiyya press in Cairo to a merchant in 
Fez called Ahmad al-* Amrani, remained undistributed since very few 
people showed interest in them. Mawlay al- e Arabi al- c Alawi procured 
these books at a nominal price and found among them Mahmud 
Shukri al-'Alusi's Ghayat al-aman fi *l-radd f ala al-Nabhani and Ibn 
Taimiyyah's al-Tawassul wa *l-wasila. He distributed these books in 
Morocco, and through him many in that country came to know the 
ideas of the fourteenth-century Hanbali theologian. At this time al- 
Manar and a\-Urwat al-wutkqa were starting to have some circulation 
in Fez. 22 

Mawlay al-*Arabi al-* Alawi continues to hold his Salafi views with 
unswerving conviction, and is still highly venerated by his disciples who 
are prominent in the politics of Morocco. This pleasant and dignified 
old gentleman, who is at once a religious scholar and an able political 
agitator, forms in his life and public career a bridge joining the Salafiyya 
movement which started with the work of the two religious reformers 
al-Sanusi and al-Dukkali, on the one hand, with the politico-religious 
and nationalist Salafi movement which emerged after the First World 
War, on the other. The task of leading the neo-Salafiyya movement 
after the First World War fell to a former student of his, c Allal al-Fasi. 

The neo-Salafiyya differs from the old one in that whereas the aims 
of the old one were primarily religious - to improve the understanding 
of the precepts of Islam and their application - the neo-Salafiyya aimed 
at the establishment of a liberal political organization of society with a 
view to enabling Muslims to lead the good life, part of which was the 
correct exercise of their religion. The presence of the French in Morocco 
as rulers since 1912 explains this difference of emphasis. Before the 

22 This information was given to the author by Mawky al- c Arabi al- c Akwi 
himself during two working sessions he had with him in Fez in the month of 
November 1960. 



100 THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 

Protectorate, religions and social reform had to come from the ruling 
class comprising the Sultan and his retinue of scholars and adminis- 
trators, and had to be in harmony with the established framework of 
the society. This meant that the reformers had a very limited scope with- 
in which to operate: the absolute authority of the Sultan could not be 
challenged and consequently the establishment of democratic institu- 
tions was not conceivable, even if it was claimed that they were based 
on the Muslim law, as some of the leaders of the neo-Salafiyya claimed 
for their political programme. The organization of the regime of the 
Protectorate in such a way as to centralize all power in the hands of the 
French administrators enabled the neo-Salafis to demand political 
freedom without forsaking their allegiance to the Muslim head of 
their community. To a Muslim reformist movement like the neo-Sala- 
fiyya it was a welcome situation to be able to attribute the political ills 
of the country to the detested "infidel"; and although some of the 
leaders of the Salafiyya in Morocco (especially e Allal al-Fasi, as seen 
from his book al-Naqd al-dhati) could see that the responsibility for a 
great part of the ills of the Moroccan society rested with the Moroccans 
themselves, this was not the prevalent attitude. 

f Allal a-Fasi himself defines the politico-religious aims of the neo- 
Salafiyya movement in the following way: the movement, he says, 
aims at expurgating the Faith from all superstition, having for its pur- 
pose to educate the individual in the true Islamic principles, whose 
acceptance conduces to the welfare of the community in this life and in 
the one to come. It aims, therefore, at the reformation of society 
through the correct Islamic education of the individuals in it. Individual 
liberty is essential since only through it can communities choose their 
proper way of life; and organization in political parties and trade 
unions is also indispensable as a means of expression through which the 
community can attain its goals by legal and pacific means. According 
to c Allal al-Fasi, it would be essential for the success of the Salafiyya 
movement that the Muslim countries should associate together in one 
political entity. The Salafis, he says, wavered for some time between 
trying to revive the caliphate along modern lines and attempting to 
create an Eastern league of nations; and finally they decided to work for 
a form of nationalism which should derive its spirit not from material- 
ism but from religion. The Arabic language should become the com- 
mon language of all the Muslim countries; through it the Muslim men- 
tality would be unified, and its diverse elements brought together. The 
Sharia, al-Fasi adds, should become the source of all modern legisla- 
tion in Muslim states, and a modern form of ijtihad should be devised 



THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 101 

to make this possible. But ijtihad, he suggests, should be the preroga- 
tive of qualified deputies that the nation would elect and not, therefore, 
that of the 'ulama. But all this, he concludes, cannot be achieved if 
foreign domination in the country is not brought to an end. 28 

The Sufi orders, which had been attacked by the old Salafiyya move- 
ment in Morocco on religious grounds, were attacked by the new one 
on both the religious and political levels. These orders had been com- 
promised in the eyes of the Muslims in the Maghrib through the co- 
operation of some of them with the French in Algeria and Tunisia dur- 
ing the nineteenth century. This fact enabled the Salafis to combine 
their religious and political objectives; it also made it possible for them 
to attack the French with impunity by directing their diatribes against 
the Sufi orders, the recognized allies of the French. 

During the Rif War (1923-6), the Salafis in Morocco became or- 
ganized in two main circles: one around Abu Shu'aib al-Dukkali in 
Rabat, and the other around Mawlay al- e Arabi al- f Alawi in Fez. The 
two groups co-operated with each other and endeavoured through lec- 
tures and articles which they published in Algerian and Tunisian news- 
papers to make their views heard. The group in Fez was more voci- 
ferous and active in its attempt to revive concern about Islamic culture 
and to counter French influence. The lessons of Mawky al-* Arabi al- 
r Alawi in the Qarawiyin attracted a big audience, and were attended by 
several persons who were later to play important parts in opposing the 
French: 'Allal al-Fasi, al-Faqih Ghazi, Ibrahim al-Kittani and al-Mukh- 
tar al-Susi, and others. In his lessons he attacked abuses of diverse 
natures: to show his discontent with the state of religious learning he 
criticized the use of al-Mukhtasar as a textbook for teaching Muslim 
jurisprudence. At the same time he and his disciples tried to give cir- 
culation to some of the books of Salafi tendencies which had reached 
Morocco from Egypt. Abu Ishaq Ibrahim b. Musa al-Shatibi's: Kitab 
al-itisam bi al-kitab wa 9 l-sunna which had been published by the Sala- 
fiyya press in three volumes during the years 1913-14, reached Morocco 
at this time and became the object of commentary and discussion 
started by the advocates of Salafiyya. 'Allal al-Fasi launched at the same 
time a severe attack on the Sufi orders through the newspaper Izhar al- 
Haqq which was published in Tangier. 24 

The Salafiyya group directed at the end of the Rif War an attack on 
the Tijaniyya order, which was most clearly in the service of the 
French in Algeria, and whose leaders were accused of working for the 

23 'Allal al-Fasi, Al-Harakat al-IstiqMiyya, pp. 156-8 

24 Muhammad Ibrahim al-Kittani, op. cit. t f 4 and 5 



102 THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 

French during die Rif War. 25 The attack at first took the form of a 
criticism of the doctrines of the Tijaniyya. Mawlay al-*Arabi al- e Alawi 
was the centre of the group which started this attack, and he had as a 
temporary ally the chief of the Kittaniyya order, 'Abdul-Hayy al- 
Kittani, who could not be described either as a Salafi or a Moroccan 
nationalist, but who sought to destroy the position of the Tijaniyya in 
the country because of the competition between the latter and his 
order. A chief of the Tijaniyya in the town of Marrakesh, called Mu- 
hammad al-Nazifi, in a small book entitled al-Tib al-faih written to 
explain the Tijani litany Salat al-Fatih, stated that this prayer was a part 
of God's eternal speech, thus equating it in its origins with the Qur'an. 26 
The book had long been printed and it circulated widely in Morocco, 
but it was chosen for the occasion merely as the target of the attack on 
the Tijaniyya and as a part of the Salafi campaign against the Sufi or- 
ders in general. The Moroccan Minister of Justice, 'Abdul-Rahman al- 
Qarashi, was persuaded to submit to the council of f ulama* of the 
Qarawiyin University in Fez a request that the council examine the 
statement made by al-Nazifi regarding Salat al-Fatih and express an 
authoritative opinion as to whether it offended against the religion of 
Islam or not, and if it did what punishment would be commensurate 
with the offence. Mawky al-* Arabi al-* Akwi took an active part in the 
deliberations of the council, and it was through him that the extreme 
attitude of e Abdul-Hayy al-Kittani and others who wanted al-Nazifi 
hanged was curbed. Realizing that a death sentence against al-Nazifi 
had Ktde chance of being sanctioned by the French authorities, the 
council decided to produce a more lenient verdict which had a better 

25 'Abdul-Karim, the leader of the Rif uprising, accused the heads of the Sufi 
orders, after the collapse of his movement in 1926, of being themselves greatly 
responsible for the failure because they refused to co-operate. (See al-Manar, 
vol. 27, 1926, pp. 630-3.) A Tijani adventurer from Tunis called Muhammad 
al-Manubi al-Qitt carried in 1923 apocryphal letters to Lyautey in Morocco, 
claiming that he was given them by e Abdul-Karim. In 1924 he was asked to 
deliver a message from the department of Native Afiairs in French Morocco to 
e Abdul-Karim, which suggests that the message which he carried to the French 
authorities in Morocco was taken seriously by the latter. Lyautey discovered 
the fraud around November 1924, when al-Manubi had already left. (See the 
documents on Muhammad al-Manubi in the Tunisian Archives, dossiers 0.156.2 
and D.I 56.21.) Muhammad al-Manubi was denounced by the leaders of the 
Tijaniyya in the mother zawiya of the order in e Ain Madi (Algeria); and in 
the absence of any documentary evidence it is not possible to ascertain the ex- 
tent of the latter's involvement in the politics of the Rif. 

26 See Muhammad b. 'Abdul-Wahid al-Nazifi, d-Ttb d-fd ih wa *l-wird 
al-s<mihfi salat al-fatih (Cairo, n.d), p. n. 



THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 103 

chance of being executed. In a document dated 2pth Rajab A.H. 1344 
(nth February 1926) they recommended to the Minister of Justice, 
and through him to the Sultan, that al-Nazifi be strongly reprimanded 
and his books burnt. 27 No action was taken against al-Nazifi because of 
the protection of the influential Pasha of Marrakesh, Thami al-Glawi, 
who himself was a member of the Tijaniyya order. But the Salafis 
gained support in Morocco as well as in the neighbouring Muslim 
countries as a result of this fatwa. Salafi groups in Algeria and Egypt 
took up the attack against the Tijaniyya at once, a fact which serves to 
show die sympathy of the Salafi groups in North Africa for, and the 
connections which they had with, each other. Immediately after the 
learned council of the Qarawiyin passed its verdict, al-Najah news- 
paper which appeared in Constantine in Algeria published its text with 
a laudatory account of the attitude of the council of the Qarawiyin, 
calling its article: "The zeal of the learned men of Fez for the Faith." 28 
Al-Manar periodical, the mouthpiece of the Salafiyya group in Egypt, 
also took up the attack against the Tijaniyya in its number for the 
2pth Sha f ban A.H. 1344 (zyth March 1926). In Algeria the "Association 
of Algerian Muslim men" (Jam *iyyat d-ulama al-Muslimin) rever- 
berated with the echo of dus fatwa a few years later. This association 
was founded in 1930 by 'Abdul-Hamid b. Badis (1889-1940) who had 
close contacts with the leaders of the Salafiyya circle in Morocco. The 
fifth congress of the Association, which was held in the town of Algiers 
in March 1935 was attended by a deputy of the Salafiyya circle in 
Morocco, Muhammad Ibrahim al-Kittani; and in the sessions of the 
congress the speakers, especially the vice-president of the Association, 
Muhammad al-Bashir al-Ibrahimi, attacked bitterly the Tijaniyya. 29 

The proclamation of the Berber dahir on the idth May 1930 was 
decisive in the transformation of the Salafiyya movement from an intel- 
lectual circle composed mostly of scholars into a popular political 
movement. In the midst of die agitation which resulted from the 

27 I have searched in Fez and among the paper of 'Abdul-Hayy al-Kittani, now 
in the Bibliotheque G&ierale in Rabat, but felled to find it. Mawlay al-'Arabi 
al-'Alawi, who supplied me with most of the information on the circumstances 
which led to the issue of the fatwa, believes that no copy of its text has been pre- 
served anywhere. There is a mention of the fatwa in Mahmud Manashu's book 
which was written to rebut it: Majmu* qam al-ta*assub wa ahwa* a*da* al-Tijaniji* 
-Imashriq wa f l-maghrib (Tunis, 1926), pp. 3-4 

28 Mahmud Manashu, op. at., p. 3 

29 See Sijil Mu* tamarjam 9 iyyat al-Ulama f *al-MitsUmin al-Jaz? iriyyin (Record 
of the Congress of the Association of the Muslim learned men of Algeria), pub- 
lished in Contantine, A.H. I354/A.D. 1935., p. 25, 



IO4 THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 

proclamation of the dahir * Allal al-Fasi formed a secret society called 
"al-Zawiyya", which became the nucleus of the National Party and 
later the Istiqlal Party. 30 The Berber dahir placed the administration of 
justice in Berber areas in the hands of the Jama* a or customary courts, 
and provided for the application of the French criminal law among the 
Berber tribes. This meant that the Berbers were not to be subject to the 
system ofjustice as administered in Morocco in the name of the Muslim 
head of die community. The Pashas (governors) of the towns and 
tribal qaids in the country-side had dealt with penal and civil justice, 
and the qadis administered the Shan 9 a in matters of personal status and 
inheritance. The Salafiyya group, with their eyes firmly focused on the 
early periods of Muslim history, considered the promulgation of the 
law the first practical step towards the conversion of the Berbers back 
to Christianity. The ethnic and linguistic differences between the Ber- 
bers and the other elements of the Moroccan population were not con- 
sidered by the Salafiyya circle sufficient to justify the promulgation of 
the dahir. This law constituted, according to their point of view, an 
attempt on the part of the French to resuscitate the period ofjahiliyya 
(the time of ignorance) which Islam is believed by its followers to have 
abrogated and superseded. To an orthodox Muslim the Berber dahir 
seemed to strike at the foundations of the Muslim society; consequently 
the reaction of the Salafis was immediate, violent and uncompromising. 
Immediately after its promulgation they aroused the feelings of the 
Muslim population by the recitation of the Ldrif prayer, one which is 
usually reserved for moments of national catastrophe. 31 The reaction 
of the Muslims outside Morocco was not less virulent. Shakib Arsakn, 
who opened an office in Geneva in 1930 to defend the cause of Muslims 
on an international level, visited Tetuan in that year and made con- 
tacts with the leaders of the Salafiyya group in the French zone of 
Morocco. Muslim religious circles in Egypt and elsewhere expressed 
sympathy with the Moroccans, and referred to the dahir as an act of 

religious imperialism, 

The reaction of the Muslims of Morocco to the promulgation of the 
dahir showed the extent to which they still thought in religious terms, 
and how little they were prepared to tolerate any encroachment on 
their religion and culture in the name of the protection of minorities. 
Neither the French authorities, nor the Salafiyya group, was at this 
stage prepared to see the other party's point of view. But the promul- 

30 r AUal al-Easi, *Aqiila wa jihad (Rabat, 1960,) pp. 9-10 

31 Muhammad Ibrahim al-Kittani, Mn mudkakkarati e an al-yaqza al-maghribiyya, 
MS., the author's private copy, f 8-9 



THE SALAFIYYA MOVEMENT IN MOROCCO 105 

gation of the dahir and the opposition to it were the beginning of the 
crystallization of the nationalist movement. Until 1930 the social and 
political programme of the Salafis was based on traditionally Muslim 
arguments; the nationalist movement which appeared after this date 
was a modern nationalist movement in its objectives and tactics, al- 
though its leaders presented their political programme inside a religious 
framework. 

JAMIL ABUN-NASR 1963 



MIDHAT PASHA AND THE LAND SYSTEM 
OF LOWER IRAQ 



By Albertine Jwaideh 

(i) 

PROBLEMS CONCERNING the tenure of land have lain at the heart of 
Iraq's disturbed political life for the last hundred years. First the 
British, then the Iraqi government which they established, and then 
the revolutionary regime of to-day found themselves the heirs of the 
land policy of the last Ottoman rulers of the country; but they did not 
always know, nor was it easy to discover, what exactly that policy had 
been, and as a result the reforms they introduced were piecemeal and 
inappropriate. On occasions indeed they even invoked, as a basis for 
their reforms, supposed Ottoman measures which research in the 
Turkish archives now shows never to have been taken. The Ottoman 
land policy which kter rulers followed, or thought they were follow- 
ing, itself went back to 1869, when Midhat Pasha, an able and liberal- 
minded administrator, first applied the Ottoman Land Code in Iraq, 
with results he did not and could not have foreseen. This essay is a first 
attempt to analyse his policy and its results. 

The land policy of Midhat Pasha was inspired by the spirit of the 
Tanzimat, of those reforms which the Ottoman Sultans had been trying 
to carry out in their Empire for a generation, largely under pressure 
from the European Powers. When Sultan e Abd al-Majid promulgated 
the great reform decree of Giilhane on November 3, 1839, he set in 
motion forces which were to have far-reaching effects throughout the 
Empire during the remainder of the century. The work of a small group 
within the entourage of the young Sultan, led by the Grand Vezir 
Rashid Pasha, the decree envisaged a thorough transformation of the 
legal and political structure of die Empire. Its aim was to change out- 
moded kws and regulations, to bring equality to all citizens regardless 
of race or creed, to improve the administration of justice, to create a 
regular and fixed system of taxation, and to eliminate corruption in the 
government service. Laws embodying these and other reforms were to 

106 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ IOy 

be framed by the Council of Justice, which was not to be subject to in- 
terference by the Sultan. 

But it is not enough to decree great changes: the real difficulties begin 
when one tries to carry them out. Conditions within the Empire were 
not conducive to an energetic fulfilment of the promises contained in 
the Giilhane decree, and external events also worked against it. First of 
all, there was a weakness in the nature of the reforms themselves. They 
had no firm roots in the Ottoman past, but represented an over-am- 
bitious attempt on the part of a few to engraft on to the structure of 
the Empire something which was essentially alien and inspired by the 
ideas of European liberalism. The reforms were liberal, while effective 
government remained authoritarian: there were no constitutional 
limits or guarantees, nor could there be in the circumstances. Next, 
there were difficulties of administering them: the new laws and regu- 
lations were difficult to interpret and to apply, and the officials who had 
to carry them out were poorly paid and poorly equipped to understand 
them. Moreover, the promulgation of the reforming measures brought 
together reactionary forces which actively sought to defeat their pur- 
poses. This opposition consisted largely of two influential groups: 
those with vested interests in the old order of things, and those who, 
owing to ignorance, prejudice, or religious conviction, feared any in- 
novation which might represent a departure from the laws of Islam. In 
addition, the uniformity of practice postdated by the framers of the 
Tanzimat could not be enforced upon the diverse peoples of the Empire, 
who belonged to different races, spoke different languages and adhered 
to different faiths. Finally, the exigencies of international relations did 
not always conduce to the success of the reforms. As the nineteenth 
century grew older, the rivalries of the Powers came to play an in- 
creasing part in the affairs of the Empire, and gravely to restrict the 
freedom of action of its rulers. Active interference on the part of 
foreign ambassadors at times furthered and at others hindered the 
work of reform; what was perhaps more important, the government 
became ever more concerned with external affairs and the defence of 
the Empire and of Islam against the encroachments of Europe. 

Nevertheless, some reforms were gradually carried out. The struc- 
ture of the central and local administration was changed, and the first 
step taken towards representative government by the establishment of 
provincial councils in 1851. New legal codes were promulgated, and as 
a consequence of the Crimean War the clause in the Guthane decree 
dealing with equal treatment for minorities was made effective by a 
new decree issued in 1856; gradually non-Muslims gained rights 



108 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

previously denied them. Perhaps the most effective measures were those 
dealing with the ownership and tenure of land. 1 Before 1839 most cul- 
tivated land had been considered by Ottoman law to be State land 
(win), but in fact the rights and functions of the State as owner had 
been largely taken over by private individuals: in earlier Ottoman days 
by the so-called "feudatories'* who were allowed to collect and keep the 
tax from a specific area in return for giving military service with a cer- 
tain number of men; and later by tax-farmers, who had bought the 
right (often virtually hereditary) to collect the land-tax on behalf of the 
State, and who derived from this right of collection not only financial 
profit but also virtual rights of ownership. The decree of 1839 an- 
nounced that "feudal" tenures would be abolished, and that tax- 
farmers would be replaced by regular officials to collect the taxes. In 
1846 a further step was taken: under a new system known as the 
Nizam Tapu, grants of mm land to private individuals could be made by 
specially appointed agents of the government. In 1858, a Ministry of 
Land Registration (Nizarat al-Daftar al-Kliaqani) was set up in Istanbul, 
with branches in the various provinces of the Empire. It was authorized 
to issue tide-deeds (tapu sanaf) to those who acquired possession of 
tniri land in return for a fee to be paid immediately (mifajjala). The 
same year saw the promulgation of the Ottoman Land Code which 
was henceforth to govern all transactions regarding tniri land. 

When f Abd al-Majid died in 1861, some of the changes made in his 
reign were beginning to bear fruit, but the first impulse to reform had 
subsided. The succession of a new Sultan, c Abd al- c Aziz, kindled hopes 
that there would be a new wave of reform; but, although some further 
measures were carried out, to a great extent the hopes proved vain. 
The morbidly jealous nature of the new Sultan led hjrn to cling to the 
capricious exercise of autocratic power, while his undisciplined self- 
indulgence and love of luxury led to unbridled corruption in the 
government. Nevertheless, there were those, both in the central gov- 
ernment and in the provincial administration, who fought heroically 
for reform; among them was Midhat Pasha, whose brief tenure of 
office as governor of Baghdad was to have lasting consequences in the 
history of Iraq. 

(") 

Muhammad Shafiq, more generally known as Midhat Pasha, was 
born in Istanbul in AJHL 1238 (1822); he came of a middle-class family. 
1 C Shakir Nasir Haidar Nask, Ahkam d-aradi wa Atnwal d Ghair al Manqula 
(Baghdad, 1941-2), pp. 13, 258; Stanley fisher, Ottoman Land Laws (Oxford, 
. PP- 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ I0p 

and received the education which children of his class usually ob- 
tained in the local schools. 2 He entered the government service at an 
early age and was rapidly promoted in recognition of his talents. By 
1851 he had reached the rank of mutamayyiz, and held the office of 
First Secretary to the Grand Council. Soon afterwards he was sent on a 
special mission to investigate certain irregularities in the administration 
of the province of Damascus, where a Druze insurrection had broken 
out: his report placed the responsibility on the head of the local army 
commander, who was recalled, and the courage and ability which 
Midhat had shown attracted the attention of the Grand Vezir, Rashid 
Pasha. He was given a confidential post in the Council of State, and 
continued to occupy it even when Rashid was replaced by another 
Grand Vezir. In 1854 he was first given a post which brought out all his 
abilities. He was sent to pacify the disturbed provinces of Adrianople 
and the Balkans; he proved quite equal to the task, and in fact planned 
a complete re-organization of the area, but a change of ministry under- 
mined his position to such an extent that he decided to resign. This event 
coincided with the death of Rashid Pasha in 1858; the liberal cause 
suffered a temporary eclipse, but Midhat made use of it to travel in 
Europe and study certain features of European administration which 
interested him. His reputation as an administrator was by now so high 
that he was soon recalled and given high office once again. In 1861 he 
was appointed governor of the important province of Nish (Servia), 
where trouble had been brewing for some time and emigration had 
reached alarming proportions. He embarked on his task in a character- 
istic way, calling together the notables of the province and striking a 
bargain with them that, if they would exert themselves for two years to 
secure the pacification of the district and the end of emigration, he 
would seek to redress some of their grievances. He fulfilled his side of 
the bargain with vigour, restoring order, improving roads, making the 
tax-system more equitable and improving relations between landlords 
and tenants, and in a short time confidence was restored and the emi- 
grants began to return. 

The administrative ingenuity he displayed impressed Fu'ad and *Ali 
Pasha, the disciples of Rashid Pasha who were by now in power. In 
1864 they summoned him to Istanbul to help in drafting a general law 
to regulate the government of the provinces (the Law of the Vilayets). 
The plan involved, among much else, the creation of a new Province 

2 For the life of Midhat, c e AH Haydar, Tabsirat wa f lbrat (Istanbul, 1325); 
AH Haydar Midhat, Life of Midhat Pasha (London, 1903); M. Z. Pakalin, Midhat 
Pa$a (Istanbul, 1940); S. Damluji, Midhat Pasha (Baghdad, 1952-3) 



110 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

(vilayet, wilaya) of the Danube, to consist of the former provinces of 
Silistria, Widdin and Nish. Midhat was appointed governor (wait), in 
spite of bitter opposition by the enemies of reform in the capital. In 
1865 he embarked on the difficult task of making this new province the 
first in the Empire to be organized under the new system of local 
government. The wilaya was to be divided into smaller administrative 
units - liwas under mutasarrifs, qadas under yfimmtqms, and nahiyas 
under mudhirs; each unit was to have an elected council to assist in the 
administration of civil and financial matters. The system worked so well 
in Midhat's province that it was decided to extend it to other provinces 
of the Empire. 

But Midhat tried to do far more than to set up a new administrative 
machine. He attempted to improve agriculture and communications, 
and to reform the tax-structure. There were other, more difficult prob- 
lems to be faced if the Ottoman authority was to be restored. He 
noticed the flow of young Christian students from his province to the 
schools and universities of Russia, where they were indoctrinated with 
pan-Slav ideas, and he saw that this was a potential threat to Ottoman 
rule. In order to counter it he devised plans for education and for the 
greater participation of the Christian subjects in the government. His 
proposals came to nothing, however; the Sultan turned them down, 
not so much because of opposition from inside the government as 
because of foreign intervention. The Russian Ambassador, aware that 
what Midhat was trying to do was to counter Russia's policy of pene- 
tration in the Balkans, convinced the Sultan that the creation of local 
councils would be contrary to the absolute authority of the ruler, and 
would lead in the end to a claim to independence similar to that being 
made by the ruler of Egypt. The Ambassador's arguments, and the use 
of the dangerous word "deputies" to describe the members of the pro- 
posed council of the wilaya, were enough to convince the Sultan; and at 
the same time the pan-Slav element in the province embarrassed Mid- 
hat by staging a revolt. He put it down with the almost brutal firmness 
which he could show on occasion. 

In 1868, those who were opposed to his reforms succeeded in having 
him recalled to Istanbul, where he was put at the head of the newly 
formed Council of State. In this new position he began to repkce out- 
of-date laws by others more suited to the times, but here also his re- 
forms alarmed the conservatives in the Sultan's entourage. It soon 
became dear to him that his authority in important matters was being 
overruled by the Grand Vezir, acting on orders from the Sultan, and 
rather than allow a rift to appear between f Ali Pasha and himself he 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ III 

resigned. It happened that at this time the governorship of Baghdad, 
generally considered a place of exile, fell vacant, and Midhat being out 
of favour immediately obtained the position. In this way he came to the 
country where his most lasting work was to be done. 



In 1869, the bulk of the population of lower Iraq consisted, as it does 
to-day, of tribesmen belonging to one or other of the Arab tribes 
which had come originally from the Peninsula. 3 Most of them were 
settled or half-settled cultivators or marshmen who in the course of 
time had adopted the Shfi faith, under the influence of the tradition of 
Mesopotamia, and had lost their effective links with the Arabian desert. 
But in spite of these changes the tribal bond was still strong: members 
of the tribe were bound together both by ties of blood and by the un- 
written code of law and morality which was the product of long- 
established custom and tradition. At the head of each tribe was a 
prominent member of the ruling house who was acknowledged by all 
members of the tribe, and was the mediator between them and the 
government. 

The government did not play more than a limited part in the life of 
the region. When the Ottomans first conquered Iraq, it was important 
for them mainly as a buffer province on the frontier of the Empire with 
ShTi Persia; the first role of the governors who were sent there was to 
defend the frontier. For this purpose and for purposes of administra- 
tion they were expected to raise money from the province; but they 
were also expected to contribute a certain sum to the central treasury in 
Istanbul. Since Baghdad was considered a pkce of exile, the governors 
were usually men who were out of favour, and whose tenure of office 
was deliberately kept short, so that they would not consolidate their 
power and seek independence. Their influence hardly extended beyond 
the walls of the towns, and the authority of the government was 
scarcely felt in the tribal areas. In these circumstances, the influence of 
the Arab tribes was supreme; rather than look to the government for 
protection, they built their own fortifications to defend themselves 
against each other as well as against the government. When weak they 
had to pay taxes and other revenues, and in order to avoid this they 



3 On the nature of tribal society in lower Iraq, cf. R M. Al-Er'awn, 
al-ashd in (Baghdad, 1941); C A. al- c Azzawi, *AA ird-Iraq, vol. i (Baghdad, 
1937); Reports on the Muntafiq Division, 1917-1921 (Baghdad) 



112 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

tended to form themselves into larger groups or confederations. The 
most important of these were the Khaza'il who, together with the 
* Afaj and Daghghara groups, held the Middle Euphrates, the Muntafik 
who occupied the south, and the Albu Muhammad and Bani Lam on 
the Tigris. 

Throughout the greater part of the eighteenth century, such Otto- 
man authority as existed was in the hands of a group of Mamluks or 
Georgian freedmen, constantly renewed by new immigration from the 
Caucasus, and from among whom the Ottoman governors were drawn. 
In 1831, the central government, now embarked on military and ad- 
ministrative reform, felt strong enough to challenge the power of the 
Mamluks; Baghdad was occupied, the last of the Mamluk governors, 
Da'ud Pasha, removed, and there began a new period during which the 
central government assumed direct control of the administration in 
Baghdad. Thereafter the governor was sent direcdy from Istanbul; he 
was granted his office in return for the payment of an agreed amount to 
the Treasury as a substitute (badal) for the revenue he was expected to 
raise from the province. In order to secure the greatest profit, those in 
power in Istanbul changed governors frequently, and the governors in 
their turn tried to recover their outlay as quickly and efficiently as pos- 
sible, and to acquire the greatest possible profit for themselves. Each of 
them had his own methods of raising revenue from his subjects, and as 
a result the structure of taxation grew ever more complex. But their 
extortions were held in check by the power of the leaders of the con- 
federations in the tribal areas; every attempt to extend direct Turkish 
control beyond the towns met with the solid resistance of the tribes. 

In the second half of the nineteenth century, however, the balance of 
power shifted. The disbanding of the Janissaries and destruction of the 
Mamluks removed the main obstacle in the way of military reform; 
the Kurdish principalities in the north of Iraq were destroyed and the 
semi-autonomous, hereditary governors of Mosul deposed. The crea- 
tion of a telegraph system and the introduction of steamships on the 
Tigris and Euphrates had a great effect on the minds of the population; 
and the opening of the Suez Canal, by bringing the Persian Gulf nearer 
the Mediterranean, led to a great increase in trade with the outside 
world. Because of such changes the tribal areas lost much of their seclu- 
sion, and for the first time it became possible for the government of 
Baghdad to think of breaking the tribal power and imposing its own 
authority. But the Turks had no consistent policy for dealing with this 
problem. All they did was to divide and rule, setting various tribes 
within a confederation against one another and creating dissension 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 113 

within the tribes themselves. Their policy met with only a limited 
success, and created a wall of hostile and defiant tribesmen to the south 
of Baghdad. 

This was the general situation, but the relations between govern- 
ment and tribes were not uniform; they were influenced by the nature 
of the country and of the confederation concerned. There are three 
major areas to be considered: *Amara, Hilla and Diwaniyya, and the 
Muntafik. Conditions of land-tenure differed from one to another of 
these three, and land was the key factor determining relations between 
tribes and government. As we shall see, Midhat was the first governor 
of Baghdad fully to understand this and make it the basis of his policy; 
the period of his predecessors, from the fall of the Mamluks in 183 1 to 
his own arrival in 1869, illustrates by its anarchy the failure of the 
Turks properly to appraise the problems of the province of Baghdad. 

The chief characteristic of the Hilk-Diwaniyya district was its strong 
tribal organization. The western half of the district faced the desert and 
its tribal inhabitants were therefore forced to band together to resist 
pressure from the fully nomadic desert tribes, the beduin. In the eastern 
half, richly watered by the Daghghara river, a no-less-powerful cohesion 
grew up in order to defend its wealth against the government. The 
leaders of the structure were the Khaza'il shaykhs, the virtual rulers of 
the Middle Euphrates. The government made more than one attempt 
to break their power, and twice in the generation before Midhat's rule 
the Shi f i sacred city of Eerbek, lying at the heart of this region, was 
sacked by Turkish waits; but on both occasions the result was to set the 
Euphrates on fire and bring about the recall of the walL 

South of this district, and stretching from Samawa to Fao at the 
mouth of the Persian Gulf, lay die area of the Muntafik confederation. 
This vast triangle of land, whose apex was Kut on the Tigris, was best 
known for the fighting qualities of its inhabitants - marsh-Arabs in the 
Jaza'ir swamps, nomads along the western bank of the Euphrates, and 
peasant cultivators in southern Mesopotamia. The unifying force here 
was the Sa e dun family who, by the ability and force of character of its 
members over several generations, had formed the tribes into a con- 
federation under its own paramount rule. Its domination was recog- 
nized not only by all the tribes but by the Ottoman government, which 
relied on the Sa c duns in the eighteenth century to defend Basra against 
the Persians and to patrol the west bank of the Euphrates against 
Wahhabi incursions from central Arabia. By the middle of the nine- 
teenth century, however, Persia had dropped her claim to Basra and the 
danger from the Wahhabis had receded. The Turks were therefore 

S.A.P. XVI H 



114 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

able to change their policy towards the confederation, but with un- 
fortunate results. They tried to destroy the unity of the Sa'dun family 
by promoting the claims of rival contestants to the headship, and at the 
same tune they aimed at destroying the link between the Sa'duns and 
their dependent tribes by making die former collect the land-tax and 
act in other ways virtually as officials of the government. Thus the 
Sa c duns ceased to be regarded by the tribes as their defenders against 
the Ottoman government, and came to be thought of as oppressors. A 
further attempt to limit their authority was made in 1861 by the wali 
Namiq Pasha, who divided their territory into administrative units 
(qadas) and appointed members of the family as governors of them 
(qtfimmagams) - in other words, as subordinate officials of the govern- 
ment with strictly defined and limited powers in place of their old 
virtually unrestrained paramountcy. The current Amir or head of the 
family, Mansur Pasha, was coerced into accepting this policy and was 
appointed a qaimmaqam, but his brother Nasir rallied the tribes and 
forced Namiq to abolish the post of yfimmaqam and restore the para- 
mountcy (mashyakha) of the family. Namiq had to do this, but he 
retaliated by nominating not Nasir but his cousin and rival, Fahad, to 
the mashyakha. 

The third main area, c Amara, was a long tract of rich land lying 
along the Tigris bordering Persia and inhabited principally by the two 
tribes of Beni Lam and Albu Muhammad. Here too Namiq tried to 
break the power of the shaykhs by destroying the traditional system of 
land-holding. In pkce of it he introduced annual auctions of leases, in 
order to create jealousy and rivalry among the shaykhs and so weaken 
their unity. But the result was near-anarchy, the tribes refused to pay 
the new land rents, raids and interference with the river traffic in- 
creased. Namiq was forced to send in troops and establish a string of 
garrison towns along the river, of which * Amara was the first and be- 
came the most important. 

(iv) 

With the possible exception of the brief rule of Godiiki Pasha 
(1852-7), Iraq before the coming of Midhat had scarcely been touched 
by the reforms which were beginning to have such a profound effect 
elsewhere in the Empire. The appointment of Midhat made a break 
with the past in more than one way: unlike his predecessors, he was not 
required to give a badal or advance payment when appointed; what was 
more important, unlike them he tried during his three years in Iraq to 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 115 

formulate and carry out a constructive programme, and one which was 
to have profound effects on the whole social system of the country - 
but effects different from, and in some ways the very opposite of, what 
he had himself intended. 

Midhat entered Baghdad in April 1869, invested with a two-fold 
power, both civil and military; in an address delivered to the people 
soon after his arrival, he made what was perhaps a veiled threat by 
speaking of the wonders of modern invention, in such a way as to 
remind them of the new resources at the disposal of a government 
which wished to impose its will. 4 To his task as embodiment of that 
will he brought formidable qualifications. Apart from his proved 
ability as an administrator, he had great force of personality and was 
fearless of any opposition, whether from Istanbul or from the tribes, 
and was generally known to be of an integrity which was proof against 
all corruption. As a reformer he was not doctrinaire. He did not come 
to his task with pre-conceived notions about what should be done, 
but - as his correspondence with the central government shows - 
sought first to acquaint himself with the situation and its needs. He 
showed great resource in adapting the conditions which he found to 
serve his ends, and in persuading those he ruled to work for him; but, 
like so many reformers in a hurry, he tended to be autocratic in his 
methods. But, if he was the best equipped of those appointed to be 
wa\h of Baghdad, the task which confronted him was no less formid- 
able. The province was in a state of chaos, the administration corrupt, 
the government unable to maintain order, the tribes in rebellion, trade 
at its lowest ebb and roads and communications almost non-existent. 

His first step was to introduce the new provincial system laid down 
in the Law of the Vilayets of 1864. The province was divided into smal- 
ler units, liwas, qadas, and nahiyas. At the centre, he himself retained 
effective power, but he created two councils to help him: an Admini- 
strative Council to deal with administrative, judicial and civil affairs, 
and a General Council to deal with matters of finance. He appointed a 
number of officials responsible for specific tasks, the most important for 
our purpose being die mudir al-daftar al-khaqani in charge of land-regis- 
tration; in each of the sub-divisions of the province too there were to be 
appointed officials and an elected administrative council, with Jewish 
and Christian as well as Muslim members where necessary. In theory at 
least it would be possible for local grievances to pass from one level of 
the administration to the next higher one and eventually to reach the 
Administrative Council of the province and even the Council of State 
4 P.O. 195/949, no. 7, Baghdad, 26 May, 1869 



Il6 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

in Istanbul. Midhat did not stay long enough in Baghdad to make the 
system operate fully, but he did take a step which was of great im- 
portance for the future: he came to an agreement with the Muntafik 
Amir whereby the Muntafik. district was converted into a liwa of the 
province. 5 This brought to an end the long-standing independence of 
the Sa'dun family: he did indeed appoint the Amir, Nasir Pasha, to be 
tmttasamfofthe liwa, but his real intention was not simply to bind the 
family more closely to the government, but, when the time should be 
ripe, to exclude them from all power. 

At the same time as he created this new administrative structure, he 
tried to introduce conscription. This had existed in the Empire as a 
whole since the Giilhane decree of 1839, but had not so far been intro- 
duced into lower Iraq. Attempts to enforce it had led to violent rebellion 
and the recall of a previous wali\ but Midhat believed that it could now 
be enforced in the city of Baghdad at least, and he hoped to use the new 
conscript force to impose his power over the tribal areas. 6 But he had 
calculated wrongly: the public announcement that conscription was to 
be imposed caused a rising in the city the day before it was to begin. 
Although by prompt action he was able to quell the riot and restore 
order, he had unwittingly started a chain of events which was to deter- 
mine in large measure the course of his future actions. 

No sooner had calm returned to Baghdad than the Arab tribes were 
disturbed by the news that soldiers were to be raised throughout the 
country. The first rumours of an intended rising began to circulate in 
the HiUa-Diwaniyya district, which was already near to revolt against 
the rule of its local governor, Shibli Pasha. Shibli's ruthless measures 
had succeeded in weakening the power and authority of the Khaza'il 
shaykhs and in enforcing the payment of taxes to the government, 
almost for the first time, but he had done nothing to check the corrup- 
tion of the tax-collectors or to improve the condition of the irrigation 
canals. The tribes were unable to meet the demands of the government 
and were deeply in debt to it. So they were already near revolt when 
Midhat came as wall. He took immediate steps to remedy their griev- 
ances: he appointed his nephew as qa'immaqm of Hilla with instruc- 

* For the conversion of the Muntafik district into a liwa, cf. S. Fa 9 iq, TV rikh 
al-Muntefy (MS., Iraqi Antiquities Library, Baghdad). The author, a government 
official, himself pkyed an important part in the process. C also P.O. 195/949, no. 
II, Baghdad, 15 September, 1869; OA. Dakhiliyya 452, 22 Jumada Akhir, 1286 

f For the earlier history of conscription in Iraq, cf. O.A. Dakhiliyya 510, no. 39, 
8 Rajab, 1286. For the attempt to impose conscription in Baghdad, c F.O. 
195/949, no. 10, Baghdad, i September, 1869; *Ali Haydar, Tdsinit, pp. 68-70; 
Zawra, no. 318. 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

dons to check corruption, to dredge the canals and reinforce their 
banks, and to collect the revenue due from the country. 7 As was usual 
when collecting taxes, the qaimmaqam was accompanied by a battalion 
of soldiers, and this brought local feeling to boiling point. Hearingpthat 
the government intended to impose its will by force, disaffected shaykhs 
of the area assembled their tribesmen at r Afaj and there surrounded and 
destroyed the government troops in what came to be known as "the 
battle of the murder of the mutasarrif". Tribesmen flocked to the rebel 
forces from almost all parts of the region, and Midhat was faced with 
the danger that all the reforms he wished to introduce would be im- 
possible. He therefore gathered almost the entire military force available 
in the province, reinforced by tribesmen who were faithful to the 
government, and marched against the rebels in their fastness among 
marshes which, being too shallow for the use of gunboats and river 
craft, afforded them a strong position. He decided to dam the Dagh- 
ghara river, and by so doing to drain the marsh and expose the tribes- 
men to the full power of his army. The tribesmen attacked to prevent 
this, but were completely defeated and their leaders tracked down. 

This battle was of crucial importance. It broke the power of the 
tribesmen of the Middle Euphrates to such an extent that they were 
never again able to face the full strength of the army, and it freed Mid- 
hat of danger from other tribes. On returning to Baghdad he found the 
Shammar tribes from the north, led by their great shaykh e Abd al- 
Karim, encamped outside the city, and had things gone differently at 
Daghghara they would no doubt have been emboldened to plunder 
Baghdad. As it was, the firmness with which Midhat had put down the 
revolt and the magnanimity of the peace terms which he offered 
gready strengthened his hand in dealing with tribal problems for the 
rest of his term of office in Baghdad. 

His success in imposing the authority of the government now made 
it possible for him to introduce more sweeping changes in the admini- 
stration and the system of land-tenure. From his arrival in Baghdad he 
had been studying conditions in the tribal areas, to discover why pay- 
ment of taxes was always in arrears and revolts were so frequent, and 
as a result he had become convinced that the existing practices and 
methods of land-tenure urgently needed changing. The reports he sent 
to Istanbul showed indeed that he was almost entirely preoccupied 
with the agrarian problem. It would be wrong to doubt his genuine 
interest in the welfare of the tribal peoples, but of course he looked at 
the situation first of all from the point of view of an Ottoman official, 
7 O.A. Majlis Khass 1591, 21 Jornada Awwal, 1286 



Il8 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

desiring to consolidate Ottoman rule over the area. He recognized that 
law and order and the carrying out of schemes for the improvement of 
agriculture would not only make the local peoples prosper but would 
also produce greater revenues for the government, and he believed that 
the way to begin was to apply the new Ottoman land code in Iraq. 
Under the provisions of the code, it would be possible to allocate miri 
land to the actual cultivators of it, and thus to give them a vested in- 
terest in it. This would tie them more closely to the land, make for 
more effective cultivation, induce the semi-nomadic tribes to settle per- 
manently, and make the population of the tribal area more amenable to 
government control. He was able to convince Istanbul of the wisdom of 
his policy and was authorized to proceed with it. 8 

(v) 

Before 1869 the possession of tribal land in Iraq had not been based 
on grants or written documents but had been held by tribes from time 
immemorial, either through conquest or as a result of their settling and 
cultivating it when it was still unoccupied. In practice therefore owner- 
ship was a corporate affair, resting on the ability of the tribe as a whole 
to hold and defend its lands. The individual fallah held such land as he 
cultivated by virtue of his membership of the tribe. The method and 
conditions of tenure were defined by tribal tradition, which varied from 
one tribe to another, and disputes were settled by the tribal leaders, 
also in accordance with custom. This was the situation in feet, but not 
in the view of the Ottoman government and its courts. In their view, 
tribal land like other land fell within the categories of Islamic legal 
theory: at the time of the Islamic conquest they had mostly been re- 
garded as privately owned or mulk (whether tribute-paying - khara- 
jiyya - or tithe-paying - f ushriyya), but for one reason or another had 
nearly all passed into the category of miri or state-owned land. But the 
government, although claiming ownership, was not able to make its 
claim effective. It could, in favourable circumstances, hope to obtain 
its legal share in rent or tax (mm), but it was not able to determine the 
choice of tenants, to control the regime of cultivation, or to weaken the 
domination of tribal custom. In its directives to the governors of the 
province of Baghdad and in the regulations it formulated for governing 
the area, the government gave tacit acknowledgment to the realities of 
tribal custom and practice, but at no time were these customs codified 

* CXA. Dakhiliyya 318, no. II, 9 Rabi* H, 1286; Mqlis Khass 1531, 14 Safer, 
1286 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ Up 

into written law or explicitly recognized as the law of the land; it was 
as if the government were jealously preserving the prerogatives of own- 
ership until such time as it might be able to make its claim effective. 

Even the government's right to a share of the produce, as rent or tax, 
was not enjoyed by the government directly. The practice of farming 
out the right to collect the taxes had resulted in the creation of a 
privileged group who could enjoy considerable wealth while the actual 
cultivators of the land were impoverished. One of the advantages 
Midhat hoped for from his policy of allocating the land directly to the 
peasants was that the government would thereby come to deal with 
them directly and would become independent of the class of wealthy 
intermediaries on whom it had relied. Moreover, the change in the 
system of land-tenure would make it possible to alter the assessment of 
taxation. Previously, the government had claimed a share of the pro- 
duce equivalent to that which it had claimed in earlier times when the 
land was mulk. This was unreasonable, and was not applied uniformly, 
so that some lands paid as little as one-tenth whereas others paid one- 
half or more. Midhat proposed to assess the government's share anew 
on the basis of the means by which the land was watered: lands watered 
by rivers and canals would pay one-fifth of their produce, while those 
watered by waterwheels or natural rainfall would be required to pay 
one-tenth. 9 In Basra, where the whole pattern of agriculture was differ- 
ent because of the predominance of date groves, and where methods 
of tax assessment had therefore been different, he suggested another 
system, a revival of tkejarib system which had been in use in earlier 
times: 10 the groves should be classified into three categories according 
to their estimated productivity, and should then be assessed mjaribs, a 
unit of land measurement of little less than an acre. The government's 
share of the produce would be based on the classification of the grove 
concerned and the number ofjaribs it contained. 11 

Midhat's policy thus involved both a more equitable method of 
taxation and a change in the conditions of tenancy. He began with the 
first: almost immediately after the suppression of the Daghghara rising 
he reduced the government's share to one-half what it had been, and 
made promises of a further reduction if the people would fulfil certain 
conditions. If they would refrain from further uprisings, pay all 
revenues without disturbance, forsake their nomadic life, build houses 
in which to live and settle on plots of land, he would reduce the miri 
share to one-third of the yield; and if those who had built houses and 

* O.A. Ddkhiliyya 318, no. II 10 Zawra, no. 175 
11 Q.A. Maliyya 55, 14 Muharram, 1325 



120 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

cultivated the land were prepared to take tenancies on their land under 
the new Land Code, he would reduce the miri share on such lands to 
one-fifth of the yield* This policy had an immediate effect: tribesmen 
began to plant trees, cultivate lands and construct villages, and the 
yield of their lands began to show a marked increase. The peaceful be- 
haviour of the tribesmen astonished those who had known their former 
state; and after two more years, during which progress was maintained 
and Midhat made further concessions, he decided the time had come 
for the government to fulfil its side of the bargain, and to grant tenan- 
cies to die farmers. 12 

Under the Ottoman Land Code of 1858, it will be recalled, title 
deeds (tapu sanads) would be granted to those acquiring possession of 
lands in return for a fee (mu'ajjala) to be paid in advance. The Code 
defined the rights of the tapu holder and die conditions under which 
they could devolve by inheritance or sale, and provided for proper 
registration of land holdings. So far, it protected the rights of the tenant 
or cultivator, but it also protected those of the government; for the 
tapu holder (mallak) acquired legal possession of the land only, while 
tie final ownership or servitude (raqaba) remained vested in the govern- 
ment. Moreover, the right of possessors to plant trees or erect per- 
manent buildings was limited, since in these ways they might acquire a 
more definite stake in the land. The Law stipulated further that the 
tenure of miri lands was conditional on their cultivation, and that 
should they be left uncultivated for three or more years all claim to 
them would be lost. 

The Land Code had established an office of land registration for the 
issue of tapu sanads, with an ekborate organization, and had set out in 
detail the way in which it should function. Midhat secured the appoint- 
ment of a Land Commission to sit in Iraq for this purpose, and with 
some modification of the general provisions for the Empire as a whole. 
For example, he obtained permission from Istanbul to disregard the 
clause in tie Code which prohibited the construction of buildings on 
miri land, since his purpose was to induce the semi-nomadic cultivators 
to settle, and this involved their building houses to live in. Unfortu- 
nately however he had neither the trained staff nor the funds which 
would have been necessary to make a satisfactory survey and admini- 
ster the kw properly. 

He decided to begin his policy of granting tenancies in the Hindiyya 
district, and in the region of Hilla-Diwaniyya in general. The pro- 
cedure followed, so far as it can be traced from reports sent to Istanbul 
12 Zawra, nos. 191, 341, 338 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 121 

and from articles in the official newspaper, A-Zaivra^ was for a com- 
mittee of the Land Commission to be sent through the area concerned 
to act as a mobile land office; with its headquarters at Hilla, it went 
round from village to village, making cursory surveys of the neighbour- 
hood and issuing tapu sanads on the spot without requiring payment of 
the mu f ajjala. When the benefits the people of Hindiyya were receiving 
became known, a delegation was sent from Samawa to request that 
they should be extended to them as well, and Samawa then became the 
next district in which mri land was alienated, but here a small miiajjala 
was required. 

Most writers on the subject have asserted that Midhat's policy in the 
Muntafik district was different from this: that while in other districts he 
caused miri land to be granted to the cultivators, in Muntafik he was 
responsible for large tracts being granted to the Sa'dun family, in order 
to break their moral link with their tribal followers and in the belief 
that Turkish interests would best be served by creating a class of large 
landowners. 13 But the evidence to be found in official documents of the 
time proves that this was not so: that his policy in Muntafik reflected 
the same general ideas as motivated his policy in Hilk-Diwaniyya. 
Here as there, he tried to use the grant of tapu sanads to accomplish 
other desired ends. He approached die paramount ruler of the Munta- 
fik, Nasir Pasha, with the offer that, if the tribesmen would supply the 
labour force and part of the capital for the construction of a levee (bund) 
across the Jaza'ir marshes in order to restrain the flow of the river to its 
channel, the hundreds of fertile acres that would thereby be reclaimed 
should be given gratuitously by tapu to the tribes assisting in the pro- 
ject. Midhat did not remain long enough in Iraq for this project to be 
completed during his administration, but there is evidence that some 
tapu grants were made in Muntafik, during his time. 14 

In another district, that of Basra, a difficult problem was posed by the 
great capital outlay needed to transform undeveloped land into date 
groves. Here Midhat offered very liberal terms in order to encourage 
alienation. Persons taking tapu sanads (carrying with them the under- 
taking to cultivate the land) were to pay only a small sum to the 

13 E.g. A- W. Basha e yan, Zubdat al-tawarikhji Ahwd Ahl AT Basra (MS., Basha 
e yan Library, Basra), vol. xv, pp. 177 f; LA. 30/23; iWi, 33/M/7, reg. no. 7, re 
no. 16460, 9 November, 1927; ibid., 33/J/3, re no. 16824, 31 July, 1943; &&, 
34/13, reg. no. 9, ref. no. 8167, 14 July, 1925; Administrative Report on the Mm- 
tafiq, ipip, p. i 

14 Zawra, no. 486; O. A. Majlis Khass 2032, 20 December, 1289; Dakhiliyya 794, 
II Shawwal, 1290 



122 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

government during the first ten years, after which they would be 
charged at the normal rate, according to which of the three categories 
their land was assigned to. 15 In the district of e Amara Midhat did not 
attempt to change the existing order of things, since he was too busy 
with the problems of the other districts. 

A further reform relating to land, and one which was to have lasting 
consequences, concerned e uqr lands. These were lands which had ori- 
ginally been mulk, but which owners had not been able to keep in cul- 
tivation, for one reason or another, and on which they had not been 
able to pay the required tax (kharaj}. In order to encourage the culti- 
vation of such lands, the government had, before the period with 
which we are dealing, worked out a system whereby it would itself 
take over the ownership of these lands and give possession of them to 
others able to bring them into cultivation; but the former owners, in 
return for relinquishing their rights, were granted a certain share of the 
produce. When both government and former owners had taken their 
share, however, little was left to the actual possessors, and this systemhad 
therefore led to difficulties. On Midhat's recommendation, the central 
government appointed a commission to deal with the problem, and 
finally issued a decree (fartnan) in 1871 on the basis of the commission's 
findings, to govern the ownership and administration of f uqr lands. 16 

(vi) 

Midhat had other plans as well for economic and social reform. He 
was particularly concerned with improvements in transport. He estab- 
lished the River Administrative Company which took over the three 
river steamers already acquired in the time of Namiq Pasha and added 
to them a number of others: river traffic was extended on the Euphrates, 
and protected by forts at strategic points on the river and by police 
boats. At the port of Basra, facilities for ships were improved by the 
construction of a basin and dockyard, and regular services between 
Iraq and European ports by way of the newly opened Suez Canal were 
started. Plans for industrial development were not so successful: a 
modern water plant was installed for Baghdad and machinery was 
bought for textile and flour mills, but these projects were not completed 
during his time. A refinery was planned for the oil of the Khanaqin 
district, but this too came to nothing. His educational and social re- 

16 O.A. Maliyya 55, Basha *yan, Zubdaf, vol. xii, pp. 192 f 
CXA. DakhtKyya 318; Majlis Khass 1531; LA. 33/5, reg. no. 44; Nasir, 
Ahkam al-mali, pp. 28 ff. 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 123 

forms were more effective: a hospital was opened, several elementary, 
two secondary, and two technical schools were established, and a 
government printing press was founded, which brought out the first 
newspaper to appear in Iraq, the official Zawra. 

It is ironical that, while Midhat was attempting with vigour and not 
without success to improve the economy of Iraq, his enemies in Istanbul 
were accusing him of wasting the resources of the province. While 
c Ali Pasha was Grand Vezir such accusations were ignored, but when 
he died and was succeeded by Mahmud Nadim Pasha they began to be 
taken seriously. Although, as a result of Midhat's vigorous policy, 
Istanbul received a larger revenue from Baghdad than ever before, the 
new Grand Vezir cut the allocation for agricultural development in the 
province, and suggested that the amount deducted should be made up 
by cutting the salaries of government officials and army officers. 
Realizing that this measure would ruin his administrative reforms, 
Midhat urged Istanbul to reconsider it, but to no avail; he then ten- 
dered his resignation which was accepted. 17 

Midhat had no further connection with Iraq, and his later career is 
part of the history of the Ottoman Empire. In 1872 he became Grand 
Vezir for a short period; four years later he was one of the group of 
reforming officials who set on foot a movement against the conserva- 
tive ministers of f Abd al-'Aziz. The Sultan dismissed the ministers and 
appointed a new government of which Midhat was a member. He took 
a leading part in the deposition by that government first of e Abd 
al- c Aziz and then of his successor, Murad, who proved to be mentally 
unbalanced. In December 1876 the successor of Murad, "Abd al-Hamid 
II, made Midhat Grand Vezir, and promulgated a constitution drawn 
up by him and his associates. But the new Sultan's sympathy with 
liberalism was only a show put on to disarm pressure from the re- 
formers and the European Powers. He soon felt strong enough to dis- 
miss and exile Midhat in 1877, and next year to dissolve the Parliament 
elected under the terms of the constitution. In 1881 Midhat, who had 
returned to Turkey, was arrested, falsely accused of having murdered 
f Abd al- e Aziz (who in fact had committed suicide), tried and sentenced 
to death. Under pressure from Europe the sentence was commuted, 
and Midhat was banished to the Hejaz, where he was killed by order of 
die Sultan in 1883. 

In some respects, his tenure of office in Baghdad was no more than a 
brief interlude in Turkish rule there, and government policy returned to 

17 P.O. 195/949, no. 57, Baghdad, 27 November, 1871; Zawra, nos. 227, 228, 
241; 'AB Haydar, jfirfwvtf, pp. 126 ff. 



124 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

what it had been before he came. Many of the gains won during his 
three years of rule were quickly dissipated. Without his driving force, 
the industrial projects and schemes for the improvement of agriculture 
fell by the wayside. The sea-going services were discontinued and the 
ships sold; the river service on the upper Euphrates was not properly 
maintained and in time it too was discontinued. But two of his inn ova- 
tions had lasting results. His new system of local administration re- 
mained; it did not work effectively during the next forty years or so of 
Ottoman rule, but it has remained substantially the same ever since, 
under British rule and then in the independent State of Iraq. The intro- 
duction of the Ottoman Land Code also had permanent consequences 
for the tribal society of the countryside. Unfortunately those conse- 
quences were disastrous, and have deeply affected the subsequent his- 
tory of Iraq. 



(vii) 

The Ottoman Land Code was the only legal basis on which Midhat 
could rest in trying to reform the system of land-tenure; but, apart from 
its own inherent anomalies and contradictions, it did not fit the condi- 
tions existing in lower Iraq, having been framed in order to meet con- 
ditions in Anatolia and elsewhere. The Code took no cognizance of 
practices actually obtaining in the Iraqi countryside and of the rights 
and privileges which the tribal cultivators had enjoyed since before the 
Ottoman conquest - rights and privileges in which the Turks had ac- 
quiesced even though they had never formally acknowledged them, in 
order to retain the rather tenuous rights which they claimed for them- 
selves. Tribal customs and traditions were thus at variance with enacted 
kw; and the successful application of the kw would have required an 
almost complete revolution in tribal practice - something which the 
Turks were powerless to effect. 18 

Thus the Land Code was in itself defective, but in addition to this, 
the minimal requirements for just and effective application of it were 
never met* This is clearly revealed by the documents in the Ottoman 
archives rekting to the work of the Iraqi Land Commission between 
the time of Midhat's departure and its discontinuance in 1297 (1880). 
At no time was provision made for an adequate or technically com- 
petent staff to administer the kw: the records show wide fluctuations in 

18 C note by Sir Henry Dobbs commenting on Mr Longrigg's note on 
revenue policy, in LA. 34/13, reg. no. 29, re no. 8330, 17 July, 1926. 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 125 

the salaries, numbers and distribution of officials, conditions not con- 
ducive to security of employment and continuity of administration. 
Apart from being underpaid, tapu officials were lacking in administra- 
tive experience, were responsible for administering vast areas about 
which they had litde knowledge, and were frequently changed. More- 
over, proper surveys of the land were not made, nor was a reliable land 
register kept. It is not surprising therefore that bribes were often taken 
and faulty sanads issued. 

Sanads were sometimes issued for lands which overlapped, sometimes 
duplicated in respect of identical properties, and sometimes issued for 
great areas of land for which the government had neither the right nor 
the intention to grant tenancies. This resulted in considerable loss of 
revenue, and was contrary to the government's policy, laid down both 
in the law and in directives to tapu officials, that lands should be allo- 
cated to the actual cultivators. The giving and receiving ofsanacls were 
in any case alien to the tribesmen; they were not interested in the pur- 
chase of rights they already possessed and fully expected to continue to 
enjoy. They were naturally suspicious that, by accepting tides to lands 
and by settling on them, they would find themselves subject to con- 
scription and no longer able to evade taxation. Their reluctance to 
obtain sanads left the way open for city merchants and others, who 
could understand the advantages conferred by possession of slips of 
paper, and who had sufficient funds to acquire them; they tended 
therefore to buy up the tapu rights to vast tracts of land cultivated since 
time immemorial by the tribes. This development was quite contrary 
to Midhat's original intent and purpose. 19 

In 1296 (1879) the Ministry of Finance issued a manual of instruction 
for the guidance of the Iraqi Land Commission about the procedure to 
be followed in the grant of mm land. It was intended to check abuses 
and corruption in the application of the kw, but its conservative nature 
represented a retreat from the liberal policies of Midhat. 20 It proved in- 
adequate, and the Land Commission showed itself ineffective; accord- 
ingly in 1298 (1881) the government issued revised and greatly 
extended regulations. 21 Since these new regulations terminated the 

19 O.A. Shura-i Dawla, 1472, 29 Rabi' I, 1293, 20 Rabi* E, 1293, 18 Dhu' 
1-Hijja, 1292; ibuL, 1673, under year 1294; YildizRasmi 1069, 28 Ramadan, 1298, 
21 Jumada E, 1298; ibid., 101, 2 Safer, 1299; ibid., 373, *7 Jumada 1, 1300; Majlis 
Khass 2188, letter from Nasir Pasha dated 26 Sha c ban, 1291; ibid., 2387, Dhu* 
1-Hijja, 1292, document dated 27 Muharram, 1293; Dakhiliyya 221, 7 Rajab, 
1302; ibid., 614, 20 Jumada E, 1304 

20 O.A. Yildiz Rasmi 1069 

21 Ibid., 1069; ibid., 373 



126 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

power of the Land Commission to grant lands without authorization 
from Istanbul, it has been wrongly assumed that there was an Imperial 
irada (decree) prohibiting the continued grant of land in Iraq. 23 What 
happened in fact was that the new regulations laid it down that no land 
could be granted without an irada specifically authorizing it. 23 This 
meant almost interminable delays and complications in the legal pro- 
ceedings involved in obtaining tapu rights, and therefore the practice 
stopped almost entirely. Nevertheless, there is indisputable proof in the 
Ottoman archives that some lands were granted in Iraq until at least 
1309 (1891-2) or even later. 24 

In regard to *uqr lands, although the Commission appointed by Mid- 
hat never completed its work, \usfarman remained the regulation 
governing the administration of such lands. In practice it made matters 
more complicated and worked to the disadvantage of all concerned. 
The fallah was required to pay from the produce of his labours the 
shares of the government, of the original owners and of the actual 
tenants. The holder of *wf who had enough capital for the develop- 
ment of the land was prevented from using it. Because of the added 
burden it imposed, this measure, which had been designed to keep land 
under cultivation, in fact had the opposite effect, with consequent losses 
in revenue to the government. 25 Nothing more was done about this 
thorny problem until 1932, when the government of Iraq enacted a law 
which aimed at the gradual liquidation of ^r; 26 by law no. 60 of 
February 1960 the revolutionary government completed what the 
previous government had begun and abolished *uqr completely. 27 



(viii) 

To understand the full effect on the tribes of Midhat's land policy, as 
applied by his successors, we must examine the subsequent history of 
each of the major divisions of lower Iraq in turn, for conditions varied 

" E.g. E. Dowson, Enquiry into Land Tenure (Letchworth, 1931), p. 21; Nasir, 
Ahkam al-aradi, p. 261 ru 

2S O.A. Yildiz Rasmi 1069; JHdL, 373; ibid., 614, 20 Jumada E, 1304 

** O.A. Yildiz Rasmi 812, 7Rajab, 1298; ibid., <5o<5, 21 Jumada 1, 1298; ibid., 407, 
27 Jumada 1, 1300; DakMiyya 726, 30 Rabf I, 1312; LA. 33/N/4, reg. no. 24. 
C also A. Mual, The Mddle Euphrates (New York, 1927), p. 100. 

Nasir, Ahkam al-aradi, p. 37; S. Haider, Land Problems of Iraq (PhJD. thesis, 
London University, 1942, unpublished), p. 191; LA. 33/7 

2e d-Waqd f a^iraaiyya, no. 1142, 14 June, 1932 

** Sawt al-ahrar, no. 356, 18 February, 1960 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 127 

in each district, and the Turkish reaction to them varied too. f Amara 
will not be included in this study. Although many important changes 
took place there between the departure of Midhat and the end of Otto- 
man rule, the most notable being the conversion of the greater part of 
these rich lands into crown lands, in order to swell the private fortunes 
of Sultan e Abd al-Hamid, 28 nevertheless Midhat cannot be held re- 
sponsible for these changes, as in this region he made no attempt to 
introduce anything new.) 

In HiUa-Diwaniyya the most important development was the con- 
tinued decline of the Hilla branch of the Euphrates with its canal 
system, and the increased flow in the Hindiyya branch. The damming 
of the Daghghara by Midhat, in his military campaign against the 
tribes, greatly accelerated this process, and nothing was done to correct 
it. 29 Moreover, in order to facilitate his ambitious schemes of irriga- 
tion, Midhat had constructed a canal (the Kan'aniyya) connecting the 
Tigris and Euphrates at the level of Baghdad, and this, being neither 
properly engineered nor maintained, diverted a considerable amount of 
the Euphrates water into the Tigris; as a consequence, large pestilential 
marshes were created on the Tigris below Baghdad, while great tracts 
of productive land on the lower Euphrates went out of cultivation for 
kck of water. 30 Owing to these unsettled conditions the tribes of the 
Middle Euphrates were on the move throughout the last quarter of the 
nineteenth century: whole tribes abandoned their lands and moved to 
new land where water was available. 31 This led to violent conflict be- 
tween the tribes, and, far from seeking a peaceful solution of this 
serious problem, the Turkish administration exploited it for their own 
ends. 32 



28 O.A. Yildiz Khususi 530, 9 Jumada 1, 1294, for list of Sanniya lands acquired 
in 1294; Dakhiliyya, 86, 22 Rajab, 1304; ibid., 155, 6 Sha c ban, 1305; ibid., 725, 
i Rabf, 1312; ibid., 1706, n Rajab, 1325; LA. 30/31/19, reg. no. 34, ref. no. 18058, 
13 May, 1944 

29 The only mention of any repair by Midhat to the water-system in the area 
is in O.A. Majlis Khass 1591, but it would appear that the project was aban- 
doned after the troubles at Daghghara. 

80 For a comment on the Kan 'aniyya canal, c F.0. 195/1243, report on the 
trade of Baghdad for 1878/79. 

81 LA. 3O/N/4, part n, reg. no. 16", 30 May, 1945; {bid., reg. no. 86, ref. no. 
9294, 13 March, 1937; ibid., reg. no. 127, 21 February, 1951; ibid., reg. no. 128, 
22 February, 1951; ibid., reg. no. 182, i March, 1953; Reports of Administration 
of Divisions and Districts, 1918 (Calcutta, n.d.), vol. i, pp. 55-6 200 f 

32 O.A. Dakhiliyya, 758, 26 Jumada I, 1308; ibid., 231, 5 Safar, 1312; Yildiz 
Rasmi 3048, 23 Dhu* l-Htjja, 1308 



128 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

To accomplish its aids the government made use of the tapti 
machinery in the new circumstances created by the movement and 
conflict of tribes. In so doing, it set out deliberately to undo Midhat's 
work. His successor, Ra'uf Pasha, began this by withdrawing the tapu 
sanads granted on the rice lands of Hindiyya. 33 Shibli Pasha, during his 
second term of office as mutasarrifof HiUa, carried the process further 
by taking lands forcibly and arbitrarily from some tribes and giving 
them to others. For example, when the Daghghara tribe, whose lands 
had suffered terribly from the diversion of the Euphrates waters, were 
unable to pay their taxes, not only were they punished and the 
revenues taken by force, but also the tapu sanads granted them in the 
time of Midhat were declared invalid and the land offered for sale on 
much stiffer terms. 34 Shibli's policy, which was followed by his suc- 
cessors, was to ally himself with certain tribes against others in order to 
exact taxes, confiscating the lands of those who resisted him and 
granting them as a reward to those who helped him. 

This policy paid litde heed to the long-term consequences, both for 
the tribesmen and for the government. It lit a fire which enveloped the 
whole area and which the Turks were powerless to extinguish. The 
tribes began a long series of bloody wars which had their roots in the 
land problem. Each time land was taken from one of the tribes and 
given to another there followed a period of war and recrimination 
between the tribes concerned, the ejected tribe trying desperately to 
retake its former land and the new possessors seeking no less tenaciously 
to retain their hold over it. From the available information it appears 
that the fighting was almost continuous and general throughout the 
area. It was not even confined to conflicts between different tribal 
groups but broke out also inside them, notably among the Daghghara 
tribes. 35 The Turks were quite unable to cope with diese tribal wars, 
and the general situation deteriorated until law and order ceased to 
exist, except perhaps in the immediate neighbourhood of the town of 
Diwaniyya. On one occasion, when tribal fighting broke out near Abu 
Sukhair in 1910, the government itself had to be moved away so that 
the officials would be safe from it alL 36 

The confusion created by tribal movements and wars makes it im- 
possible to give a precise picture of the changing modes of land-tenure 
in this region, nor are there adequate records for a continuous and 

** OJL DakhiUyya 614, 20 Jumack 1, 1304 ** Zwra, no. 536 

85 Zwra* nos, 1030, 1051; W. al- Atiyya, <tt-Diwaniyya (NajaC 1954), p. 88; 
LA. 33/M/2I, reg. no. 3, re no. 350, 13 January, 1934 
3e 'Atiyya, al-Diwaniyya, p, 89 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ I2p 

complete account. But such records as exist reveal confusion and almost 
every form of abuse. There is evidence that the arbitrary disposition of 
lands resulted in a decline both in the number of cultivators and in the 
yield of the land. The practice, which Midhat had abolished, whereby 
tax-farmers were expected to pay the salaries of officials, was resumed 
and lent itself to many abuses. It goes without saying that corruption 
became pervasive. Istanbul became alarmed at all this and sent missions 
of investigation, but neither the will nor the means to cure the state of 
affairs was present. Unable to control or police the area, the govern- 
ment concentrated its efforts on extorting whatever it could obtain as 
its miri share. 37 

By 1914, the tapu rights granted in the time of Midhat had practi- 
cally disappeared in this area. Some grants, as we have seen in the case 
of Hindiyya, were simply confiscated; others were absorbed into the 
crown domains carved out during this period; where tapu still existed, 
the holders of it were no longer, as Midhat had intended, the actual 
holders of the soil, but mostly city merchants and government officials 
and sanads were acquired by bribes, and readily mortgaged or sold. 38 
But the tribesmen, the actual possessors of the land thus granted away, 
did not regard the grant of a sanad as conferring rights on the owner or 
depriving them of theirs; in the anarchic conditions prevailing in the 
Hflla-Diwaniyya district, the holders of sanads had die greatest diffi- 
culty therefore in collecting their share, and were almost entirely 
dependent on the government or the use offeree to obtain what they 
could from the tribesmen. 

The net result of these unsettled conditions was the break-up of the 
tribal confederations of the Middle Euphrates; there was, it is true, 
some tendency for new ones to be formed, but the actions of the 
government stunted their growth. 89 Nevertheless, among the indi- 
vidual tribes, tribal organization stayed firm, and the power of the 
shaykhs of tribes appears to have grown stronger as the influence of 
the paramount shaykhs of confederations declined. Even though t-Ms 
influence had been loose and crude, the Turks were quite unable to find 
anything to take its pkce, and in these conditions it was only by means 
of their collective strength as members of a tribe that the cultivators 

87 Zawra> no. 1012; O.A. Yildiz Rasmi 42, 25 Muharram, 1304; Dakhiliyya 
1371, 23 Muharram, 1306; ibid., 2051, 12 Sha'ban, 1323; ibid., 395, 30 Safar, 1316; 
'Atiyya, al-Diwaniyya, p. 92 

38 Reports of Administration . . ., igi8> voL i, p. 121 

39 Arab Bureau, Arab Tribes of the Baghdad W(layet t july 1918 (Calcutta, 1919), 
p. 84 

S.A.P. XVI I 



130 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

were able to protect themselves against government officials and tapu 
holders alike. In consequence, both cultivator and government came 
more and more to be dependent on the good offices of the tribal 
shaykhs as the wielders of the only effective authority which remained: 
the tribesmen grew more than ever conscious of the tribe as a unity, 
and of their lands as a tribal home or dira, held collectively by the 
whole tribe. 40 



(ix) 

In the Muntafik region, Ottoman rule after the departure of Midhat 
falls into two sharply defined periods, divided by an important event in 
1 88 1. The earlier period was characterized by the grant of mm land, the 
continued domination of the Sa r dun family, and the efforts of the 
government to undermine and supplant their authority. 41 The kter 
period saw the formation and development of new practices of land- 
tenure, and the rapid rise in the importance and power of a new ckss, 
the sarkals. 

In the first period, Midhat's plan to reclaim the rich marshlands of 
Jaza'ir by the building of embankments was completed with tribal 
labour and the wealth of the Sa r duns. The government however failed 
to make good Midhat's promise that land so reclaimed would be 
allocated gratuitously. In consequence, the embankments were not 
properly maintained and were soon breached, so that nothing was 
gained by all the effort. 42 Nevertheless, the grant of tenancies on 
Muntafik land remained part of the government's policy, perhaps 
because it offered a new source of revenue for die Treasury: for whereas 
Midhat had offered tapu sanads to the cultivators on favourable terms, 
the government kter directed that tapu rights should be sold by auction. 
The Turks were unable to carry out this policy on their own authority, 
and were therefore forced to rely on the power of the Sa'duns: they 
appointed Nasir Pasha to be governor of Basra (turned into a separate 

40 Rjsports of Administration . . , ipi, vol. i, p. 121 

41 CXA. Majlis Khass 2812; ibid., 2897, 9 Jumada 1, 1296; ibid., 3118, 13 Jumada 
I, 1297; Yildte Rasmi 348, 13 Jumada H, 1297; ibid., 127, 13 Safar, 1300; Yildiz 
Kkususi 1070, 20 Shawwal, 1298; ibid. 9 236, 3 Ramadan, 1298; P.O. 78/2846, 
no. 95, Basra, 15 October, 1878; F.O. 195/1244, no. 259, Basra, 8 September, 
1879 

**Zawa, no. 151, 21 Rabf I, 1288; no. 375, 25 Jumada E, 1290; no. 388, 
15 Sha*ban, 1290; no. 483, 28 September, 1290; no. 486, 5 October, 1290; 
no. 542, 12 Jumada 1, 1292; O.A. Majlis Khass 2188; Oft, 2032; DakhiUyya 741, 
9 Ramadan, 1290; ibid., 794; F.O. 195/949* no. 7, Baghdad, 7 May, 1869 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 131 

wilaya for this purpose) specifically to carry out this policy. 43 A man of 
rare ability and foresight, Nasir Pasha accepted the office because he 
realized that the balance of power was shifting in favour of the Otto- 
man government, on account of the increased strength of the Army 
and the advantages conferred by modern inventions. He therefore 
sought to conserve and consolidate the authority of the Sa'duns by 
adapting it to the exigencies of the new age. Realizing that those who 
held the land controlled the destiny of the peoples of Muntafik, he saw 
in the tapu system a means to this end. 44 All the evidence of the Turkish 
documents is that the greater part of the grant of Muntafik lands took 
pkce during the time he was governor of Basra, not (as modern 
authorities have surmised) in the time of Midhat. 45 But it would be 
wrong to say that he deliberately set out to steal valuable rights or to 
exploit the cultivators; from his point of view, his policy was one of 
preserving the ancient position of the Muntafik confederation under 
their traditional leaders. There is evidence that he sought a wider dis- 
tribution of tapu ownership, among others besides the Sa c duns, but the 
resistance to settlement and to die taking otapu sanads was such that he 
had to resort to force to oblige even members of his family to take 
them. 46 

As wall of Basra, this remarkable man brought a peace and order 
which was perhaps never equalled at any time during Ottoman rule. 
But his success was a cause of fear to the authorities in Istanbul. They 
summoned him to the capital for consultations, and, by promoting him, 
to membership of the Council of State where they knew he would be 
powerless to effect anything, they terminated his hold over Muntafik. 
The peace and order of the region quickly dissolved, and the deter- 
mination of the Turks to eliminate the authority of the Sa'duns became 
so obvious that in 1 88 1 the family rallied the tribes of the confederation 
and came out in open rebellion against Ottoman rule. 47 

43 O.A. Dakkiliyya 219, 21 Jumada n, 1292; ibid., 228, 25 Jumada n, 1292; 
Zawa, no. 558; P.O. 78/2518, no. 9, Baghdad, 20 March, 1876 

44 Y. Sarkis, Mabahith *iraqiyya (Baghdad, 1948), pp. 79 & For another view, 
cf. S. H. Longrigg, Four Centuries of Modem Iraq (Oxford, 1925), p. 308 

45 O.A. Majlis Khass 2812, September 1294; Yildiz Rasmi 470, 29 Jumada I, 
1296; Yildiz Khususi 1013, 7 Dhu 9 1-Qa'da, 1297; P.O. 78/3015, no. 6, Baghdad, 
25 January, 1879; LA. 33/M/7, reg. no. 7, ref. no. 16460, 9 November, 1927; 
&id., 33/J/3, re no. 16824, 31 July, *943i ibid., 34/13, reg. no. 9, ref. no. 8167, 
14 July, 1926 

4fl LA.33/J/3, ref. 16824 

47 O.A. Yildiz Rasmi 948, 14 Sha*ban, 1298; &&, 1053, 22 Ramadan, 1299; 
ibid., 1042, 1 8 Ramadan, 1298; ibid., 1044, 19 Ramadan, 1298; Zawra, nos. 
987-990 



132 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

The massed forces of the Muntafik tribes and the Ottoman army 
clashed in the battle of Ra'is in that year. The outcome of the battle 
was by no means a foregone conclusion. The first waves of the tribal 
onslaught nearly overpowered the army, but the advantage of fighting 
with artillery from a prepared position, and the skill of the Turkish 
commander, secured victory for the Turks in the end. The decisive 
defeat of the Sa e duns ended their long domination of the Muntafik. 
They were banished from the area and it was several years before they 
were allowed to return. In the last years of their rule they had become 
oppressive, and after their return the tribes were no longer willing to 
accept their leadership. Sa*dun authority had gone; but the Turks were 
unable to repkce it by their own, and the situation in Muntafik 
deteriorated until it was as anarchic as that in Hilk-Diwaniyya. 48 

These developments produced what amounted to a social and 
economic revolution during the period from between 1881 and 1914. 
The Sa'dun family continued to hold the tapu sanads on vast tracts of 
Muntafik land, but, because of the bad state of public security and the 
hostile attitude of the tribesmen toward them, they no longer had the 
effective means to enforce their claims as mallaks. They were thus 
reduced from the status of accepted and responsible tribal leaders to 
that of mere landlords. Since they were accustomed to think of them- 
selves as possessing a divine right to the allegiance of the tribes, they 
resented their humiliation and the insubordination of the cultivators, 
and developed into typical absentee landowners. Moreover, their long 
period of banishment and their altered circumstances led many of them 
to sell their tapu rights to city merchants who, if anything, were more 
ruthless in the methods they used to obtain a return on their invest- 
ment. 49 In order to obtain their share as mallaks (mallakiyya), they took 
to engaging intermediaries similar to the tax-farmers whom the Otto- 
man government had employed. The intermediaries whom they used 
were not the tribal chiefs, since it was not in the interest of the Sa'duns 
to rely on them too much and so build up their power; they were the 
class known as sarkals, or chiefs of sections of tribes. These had ori- 
ginated as spokesmen or representatives from among the fallahs, and, 
although their office became semi-hereditary in the same way as that of 

48 So bad did the position become that at one point in 1907 the government 
seriously considered reviving the Sa'dun Amirate: cf. O.A. Dakhiliyya 245, 
10 Safer, 1325; Report on the Muntafifc 1917, pp. 14 rT. 

49 This process has continued down to recent times: for the indebtedness of 
peasants to town merchants, cf. LA. 33/8, reg. no. 42, ref. no. 1273, 6 October, 
1928; sft&, 34/N, reg. no, 63 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 133 

the tribal shaykhs, their status was lower and their functions, which 
consisted largely of supervising cultivation, were economic rather than 
political Their importance had increased when in the mid-nineteenth 
century the Sa'duns had accepted the tax-farm for the Muntafik area, 
but whereas at that time they had been the last link in the chain of 
extraction, after 1881 they became increasingly the only agents avail- 
able to tapu holder and government alike. If anything their rise to 
power made life more difficult for the fallahs, since they were more 
efficient in extracting the mallakiyya and miri shares. But they also 
created grave difficulties for government and landlords on account of 
their greed and numbers. As they increased in power, the influence of 
the tribal shaykhs diminished until, in some instances, shaykhs ceased to 
exercise any real authority and were reduced to poverty. The rise of the 
sarkals therefore hastened the process of disintegration and detribaliz- 
ation. 50 



Concerning Basra little need be said. At first the Jdrii system intro- 
duced by Midhat proved easy to administer and profitable to the 
Treasury, since, under its liberal terms, cultivation was rapidly ex- 
tended. 51 Midhat's system remained substantially unaltered until the 
time of the British occupation, but, because of neglect by later gover- 
nors, it proved in the end to be disadvantageous to the government and 
to many of the cultivators. Neither the fixed rate of taxation nor the 
classification of land was ever revised. Where productivity had in- 
creased the date groves were undertaxed, while those where, for one 
reason or another, the yield had declined, were taxed too heavily, and 
as a result the area under cultivation decreased. Moreover, the tapu 
system in this district proved open to the same abuses as appeared in 
other regions. 52 

In all districts then the Ottoman Land Code as introduced by Midhat 
led to changes, some of them unforeseen and most of them harmful; 
but one change intended by Midhat did not come about. The dear 
intention of Midhat and the Ottoman government was to replace 

80 For information about sarkals, see LA. 33/J/6, reg. no. 7, re no. 9554, 
30 June, 1927 ("Note on the System of Tribal Occupancy Right", by J. B. 
Glubb); ibid., 33/J/23, reg. no. 189, ref. no. 8/322, 17 February, 1936, and reg. no. 
245, rc no. 23334, 25-8 February, 1940 

61 O .A. Maliyya 55; e Ali Haidar, Tabsirat, p. 100 

52 Reports of Administration , . . , 1918, vol. i, p. 241 



134 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

tribal laws and customs in regard to the use of land by others believed 
to be more conducive to agricultural development. In fact, however, 
occupancy rights and other rights connected with the land continued to 
be dictated by tribal custom. Whatever happened in other parts of the 
Empire, in lower Iraq the Land Code neither supplanted tribal custom 
nor became the effective kw of the land. If it had recognized and 
stabilized existing customary rights, it might gradually have succeeded 
in changing them, but in fact it did the opposite of this. There was no 
inducement for tribesmen to acquire by purchase rights which, in their 
own view, they had always possessed and exercised freely; thus tapu 
satiads were bought not, as Midhat had intended, by tribesmen, but by 
such families as the Sa'duns or the inhabitants of tike cities. There was 
created a new class of landowners, claiming rights which the tribes 
regarded as theirs, and having little or no previous connection either 
with the land they claimed or with its cultivators. 53 But neither they 
nor the government could enforce their rights through the machinery 
of Ottoman administration and judiciary, 54 and if they were to make 
good their claim they had to turn to tribal authorities like the sarkals, 
having an authority completely alien to the Land Code. The enforce- 
ment of land kw therefore became dependent on the tribal customs 
which it had been intended to repkce. The sub-structure of tribal land 
practices without legal sanction had to bear an elaborate and econom- 
ically superfluous superstructure of absentee landlordism which enjoyed 
the sanction of the kw but whose claims the fallahs did not recognize 
and would not concede except under pressure. The result was con- 
fusion, the imposition of yet heavier burdens on the fallahs, and the 
creation of one of the most complicated systems of land-tenure to be 
found in the Middle East. 



W) 

Our study must end with the end of Ottoman rule in lower Iraq. No 
thorough study has yet been made of the problems of land and the 
tribes since 1914, and a final judgment cannot yet be passed on the 
policy followed during die British occupation and afterwards. But 
two suggestions may be put forward tentatively as worthy of a more 
extended examination. 

53 LA. 33/1/3, reg. no. 261, ref. nos. 4, 14, 61, 319, 484; iWi, 33/JA, part HI, 
reg. no. 51, re no. 13/12237, n September, 1934 

M LA. 33/M/7, reg. no. 7, re no. 16460; Report on Muntefiq, 1917* p. 6; 
Report on Muntofa, zgig, p. I 



THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 135 

When the British administration took over responsibility for Iraq, it 
made a genuine attempt to ascertain what was the established practice 
in regard to land-tenure, and tried to standardize and stabilize it by 
giving it the force of law. But in consequence of this, customs of only 
recent and rather dubious origin, like that of the share claimed by the 
sarkals (sarkala), became entrenched in law; and even customs of older 
and firmer origin changed their nature. Shaykhs holding leases became 
virtual landlords of tribal lands by law, as they had previously been by 
tribal custom; but whereas, so long as their position was based on tribal 
custom, they had been responsible to the tribesmen, now their position 
was guaranteed by the government and they could appeal to it in any 
dispute with the cultivators. The balance of power was therefore tilted 
still further against the fallahs, and the landlords (many of whom now 
moved into the towns and cities and became absentees) amassed great 
wealth. 

The political consequences of this were even more important than 
the economic. The British to some extent reversed the policy of the 
Turks by strengthening the hand of the tribal shaykhs, whom they used 
to exercise control over the area. This led to a concentration of power 
in the hands of the shaykhs, but meanwhile their relation with their 
tribesmen had radically changed. Whereas formerly it had been tribal 
in the fullest sense, now it became mainly economic, a relationship of 
landlord and tenant. A government which relied on tribal shaykhs 
became in effect a government which supported the claims of the land- 
lords. This made for conservatism in social policy, and alienated the 
mass of the people from its rulers. In these circumstances, the over- 
throw of the government by violence became almost inevitable. 

NOTE ON SOURCES 

Apart from published reports, historical works, etc., the main sources 
of this essay are the following: 

(i) The Ottoman Archives in Istanbul. These are referred to in the footnotes 
under the heading "O.A/*, followed by the name of the ministry or depart- 
ment concerned (Dakhiliyya, Mdliyya, Shura-i Dawla, Yildiz Rasmi, Yildlz 
Khttsusi, Majlis IGiass) and then by the number of the file, with more de- 
tailed references where necessary. 

(ii) The archives of the Land Settlement Department of the Iraqi Ministry of the 
Interior. These are referred to under die heading "LA.", followed by the file 
number and, where necessary, the register number and the reference number 
of the individual document. 

(!ii) Consular reports from the Foreign Office documents in the Public Record 



136 THE LAND SYSTEM OF LOWER IRAQ 

Office. These are referred to in the usual way tinder the heading "F.O." 
followed by the file number and more detailed indications. 
(iv) Al~Zawra, the official newspaper of the Ottoman province of Baghdad. 
Inaugurated by Midhat Pasha and published in both Arabic and Turkish, it 
contained not only the text of government decrees, statements and reports, 
but also items of news. For the greater part of the period dealt with it was 
the only newspaper published in Baghdad. It is referred to under the heading 
", followed by the number of the issue. 

ALBERTINE JWAIDEH 1963 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN 
BEIRUT AND BUTRUS AL-BUSTANI 1 



By A. L. Tibawi 

(0 

AMERICAN INTEREST in foreign missions is a complex historical 
phenomenon with its roots deep in the religious or evangelical revivals 
both in old and New England. It is a curious fact that independent mis- 
sionary societies in both countries embarked on ambitious schemes of 
foreign missions in distant lands while the home fields were not yet fully 
cultivated. Thus the major English society sent its missionaries to Africa 
while the general and religious education of the English lower classes 
was neither universal nor adequate. Likewise, American missionaries 
were sent to India while native American Indians as well as large sec- 
tions of the American people were in real need of more enlightenment. 

But such was the missionary zeal in Protestant countries and such was 
the ecclesiastical set-up that independent missionary societies, and not 
the Churches themselves, assumed the herculean task of attempting to 
evangelize the whole world. Any cause, missionary or otherwise, that 
is born of great enthusiasm is bound to be too ambitious in design and 
experimental in execution. The Anglo-Saxon missionary societies that 
came into being during the kst decade of the eighteenth and the first 
decade of the nineteenth centuries found out by trial and error, by the 
limited financial support of their subscribers and by the political, reli- 
gious and social realities in the various fields of their operations that 
theirs was indeed "the day of small things". 

In spiritual and educational fields, however, small things often begot 
great things. This is particularly true of the "Palestine Mission" of the 
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions. This Board, 

1 This essay is an advance notice of a research begun in the autumn of 1960 in 
Harvard University with a view to producing a history of American religious and 
educational work in Syria in the nineteenth century, parallel to the writer's history 
of British religious and educational work in Palestine in the nineteenth century, 
published by the Oxford University Press in 1961. He wishes to express deep 
gratitude to Sir Hamilton Gibb who made the research possible, 

137 



138 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

largely Congregational in membership with Presbyterian and Dutch 
Reformed Churches participation, was established in 1810 with head- 
quarters in Boston, Massachusetts. Their first missionaries to foreign 
lands were sent to India, and it was only in 1818 that they thought of 
the Holy Land and the shores of the Mediterranean. 2 However, one of 
their missionaries to India wrote from Colombo in December 1813 
recommending a mission to Western Asia, to the Arabs, Turks and 
Persians near the Persian Gulf, in Mesopotamia, Egypt, Syria and 
Palestine. The recommendation definitely included the "Eastern 
Christians"- The writer concludes: "When I think of these things, I long 
to be on my way towards Jerusalem." 3 

The Church Missionary Society, however, was the first to act. In 
1815 it sent a missionary to reside in Malta with jurisdiction extending 
all over the shores of the Eastern Mediterranean. The presence of such 
an influential English society in the area was no doubt an encourage- 
ment, but the American Board was also urged by the chaplain of the 
English consulate in Smyrna to send a mission to Western Asia. This 
fitted in very well with the mood of the time. A feature of the religious 
awakening in America, like that in Britain, was an interest in the fulfil- 
ment of prophecy. Hence the American Board's attention was not 
unnaturally directed to the Holy Land. The relevant resolution of the 
Prudential Committee adopted in the meeting held on September 23, 
1818, is worthwhile quoting in full: "Resolved: that the Rev. Messrs. 
Levi Parsons and Pliny Fisk be designated for Jerusalem and such other 
parts of Western Ask as shall be judged most eligible - that they be 
sent out as soon as shall be found convenient, and that in the meantime 
they be engaged as agents for the Board at home." * 

This resolution is the origin of the statement published more than a 
year kter for the information of subscribers of the Board's mission. Hsk 
and Parsons were touring the country preaching and lecturing to arouse 
interest and enlist support. 5 The statement in question reads as follows: 
"If the countries of Southern Asia are highly interesting to Christian 

* The Missionary Herald, XV (1819), 546 

3 American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions (henceforth 
ABCFM), First Ten Reports, 1810-20. Letter dated December 20, 1813, from 
Newell to Worcester, p. 112. (The actual number of reports covered here is 
obviously eleven.) 

4 Records of the Prudential Committee (ABCFM, Congregational House, Boston), 
I (1810-25), p. 92. These minutes are among the valuable records which the Board 
retained at their headquarters when they deposited the bulk of their records in 
Harvard University Library 

5 ABCFM Archives (Houghton Library, Harvard Universiy), Scries ABC: 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 139 

benevolence, and have strong claims upon Cliristian commiseration, on 
account of the hundreds of millions of human beings immersed in the 
deepest corruption and wretchedness, the countries of Western Asia, 
though less populous, are in other respects not less interesting, nor do 
they present less powerful claims. These were the scenes of those great 
transactions and events which involved the destinies of mankind of all 
ages and all nations for time and eternity/ 5 6 

In the autumn of 1819 the Board decided it was time to send the two 
young missionaries to the Near East. Unlike missionaries from Imperial 
nations such as Spain and England, the American missionaries followed 
in the paths of American commercial traffic, not in the wake of con- 
quering armies. The Instructions of the Prudential Committee of the 
Board are couched in the rhetorical style of the Secretary, Samuel 
Worcester. They were publicly delivered on October 31, 1819, in the 
Old South Church in Boston. The Committee directed that the mis- 
sionaries establish themselves in Jerusalem or Bethlehem, or failing 
either, in another centre within or without the limits of Palestine. They 
were aware of the difficulties in respect of Jerusalem, but were persuaded 
that "the importance of the station will outweigh many difficulties". 

The comprehensive scope of the proposed mission in the territorial, 
racial and religious sense is forcefully expressed. "The two grand in- 
quiries ever present in your minds", wrote Worcester, "will be, what 
good can be done, and by what means'? What can be done for the Jews? 
What for the Pagans? What for Mohammedans? What for Christians? 
What for the people of Palestine? What for those in Egypt, in Syria, in 
Persia, in Armenia, and in other countries to which your inquiries may 
be extended?" That the mission was for the Pagans and Jews may be 
readily appreciated; but that it was also for the Christians and Muslims 
may require some elucidation. 7 There is no reason to suppose that the 
Board was not aware that Islam was the State religion in the Ottoman 
Empire and that the authorities would not tolerate foreigners attempt- 
ing to subvert it, even supposing the people were willing to listen to 
argument. But the aim was not to make a direct assault The mission 
was instructed to seek first to convert those who were "Christian in 

i.oi, vol. n (Book of Letters, 1818-19). See letter dated February 17, 1819, to 
Parsons, and letter dated March 4, 1819, to Fisk 

6 ABCFM, First Ten Reports, 229 (under the year 1819) 

7 On the same day, October 31, 1819, Fisk preached a sermon entitled The Holy 
Land, An Interesting Field of Missionary Enterprise, in which he hoped for "the 
revival of pure Christianity there". Parsons preached another entitled The 
Dereliction and Restoration of the Jews in -which he stressed their "claims upon the 
Gentile Church". Both sermons were published as pamphlets in Boston in 1819 



140 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

name" who, when thoroughly reformed, would endeavour to evan- 
gelize not only the Muslims but also the Jews and Pagans. 8 

But the Prudential Committee was not over-sanguine regarding the 
reception awaiting their missionaries. They knew well enough that 
missionary work among Muslims in the Ottoman Empire was not a 
practical proposition. Except for monks and guardians of holy places, 
the Ottoman authorities had hitherto permitted no "Frank", not even 
a diplomatic representative, to reside in Jerusalem, the third holy city 
in Islam. The utmost the missionaries could expect was to be allowed 
to visit the city as foreign tourists or pilgrims. The missionaries also 
knew that the Jews were a closed community with strict religious 
discipline that admitted of no innovation within the community, still 
less of intrusion of foreign ideas from outside, and that as a millet in 
the Ottoman administrative system they were guaranteed internal re- 
ligious autonomy under their rabbis. The various Christian denomina- 
tions were likewise organized or recognized, and this fact was well 
known in Europe and America. With such considerations in mind, 
Worcester's instructions contain sensible advice to his two mission- 
aries. "You will not think it strange if they (i.e. 'the abetters of those 
different religions') regard you with something more than suspicion." 
Accordingly he cautioned them to take all prudent care not to offend 
against the prevailing laws, opinions, customs and ceremonies, but to 
do everything to gain them "civility, confidence, favour and respect". 

Fisk and Parsons sailed from Boston harbour on November 3, 1819, 
and landed in Smyrna the following January. There were many con- 
siderations that rendered this detour necessary. In the first place, the 
American merchant ship which carried them eastward was bound for 
Smyrna where at least one Boston trading concern, the Perkins house, 
had an agency under American management. 9 Smyrna, in the second 
place, was the commercial port in the Ottoman Empire with the great- 
est number of European residents and the seat of their consuls. In 1820 
there were English, Russian and Dutch resident consuls in the port. 
American trade with Smyrna and the hinterland was already consider- 
able. About this time an average of thirteen merchant vessels called 
every year with cargo valued at about one million dollars. 10 But 

8 The Missionary Herald, XV (No. II for November, 1819), pp. 545-6 
* A loyalist member of this family took Smyrna as his residence since the "War 
of Independence, and traded in dried figs and opium with his relatives who 
remained in Boston. C The Missionary Herald* XVH (1821), pp. 76-7 

10 C CX Paullin, Diplomatic Negotiations of American Naval Officers, 1773-1883 
(Johns Hopkins Press, 1912), p. 123 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 14! 

American merchants conducted their business largely through the 
(English) Levant Company and its consuls. This is the origin of the 
practice, which continued even after the establishment of American 
consulates, of placing American merchants, travellers and missionaries 
under informal English consular protection. The chaplain of the Eng- 
lish consulate at Smyrna was himself an enthusiastic supporter of the 
American mission. Indeed Americans in general are often referred to in 
the sources as "English", or members of the English millet. 

But there were other practical considerations which compelled the 
two missionaries though "bound in spirit unto Jerusalem" n to settle in 
Smyrna, at least temporarily. First, there were the Ottoman restrictions 
imposed on all "Franks" who were permitted to visit, but not to reside, 
in Jerusalem. Secondly, there is no evidence that the two young 
missionaries knew any language other than English, and received any 
instruction in the history of the Near East other than they gathered 
from their theological studies. They came with a message, and they 
were faced with the practical problem of delivering it in the native 
tongues of the Near East. Thus they were definitely instructed to pro- 
ceed first to Smyrna "where greater freedom is enjoyed [by foreigners] 
than in almost any other place within the Ottoman dominions". 12 

The two missionaries lodged with a Swiss family where French, 
Italian and Greek, and some Turkish, but no English, was spoken. 
Italian was still very much used in the Near East, but French was 
gradually taking its place or at least sharing the ground with it. Apart 
from these two European languages, the missionaries needed some 
facility in at least three Near Eastern languages, Arabic, Greek and 
Turkish. There is no evidence that Andover Theological Seminary at 
the time taught any biblical, classical or modern European languages. 
So Fisk and Parsons came to the Near East knowing only English and 
began their struggle, not with evangelizing the people, but with learn- 
ing to speak their tongues. 

In addition they started, in accordance with their instructions, to ac- 
quaint themselves with the land and its peoples. They visited, among 
other places, the sites of the Seven Churches in Asia Minor and spent 
nearly half a year in the Island of Scio to learn Greek. 13 While travelling 

11 An allusion to Acts xx. 22, the text used for Fisk's sermon in Boston on 
October 31, 1810, on the eve of his departure 

12 Cf. Fisk's and Parsons' joint report **We feel [in Smyrna] as safe as we should 
be in Boston": The Missionary Herald, XVII (1821), p. 265 

13 R. Anderson, History of the Missions of the ABCFM to the Oriental Churches 
(Boston, 1872), vol. I, p. n 



142 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

they distributed Bibles and Psalters supplied in the vernacular by English 
Bible and missionary societies in London and Malta. In December 
1820 Parsons alone set off to Jerusalem, 14 armed with a travel permit 
from the Ottoman authorities and an introduction to the Procopius of 
the Greek Orthodox convent in Jerusalem, both procured through 
English diplomatic or missionary offices. 15 Parsons arrived in Jerusalem 
on February 17, 1821, and was hailed, without justification, by some 
missionary sources as "the first Protestant missionary who ever entered 
that city". 16 

As principal of the Greek Orthodox convent and representative of 
the Patriarch 17 in Jerusalem, the Procopius received Parsons with 
kindness and reserved quarters for him in the convent. It is important 
for a proper appreciation of the kter history of Protestant missions in 
general, and the American mission in particular, to note this friendly 
first contact with the leading Oriental Church. Parsons' testimony is a 
clear evidence of this friendly spirit. When he left Jerusalem less than 
three months after his arrival, he wrote in his diary: 18 "May 8 [1821] . 
Visited the Bishops and took leave of them. They said, and I believe 
with sincerity, 19 'We wish to see you soon again in this city/ " An 
entry in his joint journal with Hsk under November 29, 1820 clearly 
states that the purpose was merely "a visit" to the city, not extended or 
permanent residence. Accordingly there is no basis for the kter mis- 
sionary statement that he was "forced to leave". No authority, civil or 
ecclesiastical, seems to have influenced his own decision to leave. 

The Greek revolthad just broken out, and when Parsons rejoined his 

u Samuel Worcester had already made discreet hints to the two missionaries 
to move towards Jerusalem. In a letter dated April 22, 1820 he asked "what 
provisions [for distribution of Bibles and tracts] before leaving Asia Minor for 
Palestine would be of importance or convenience? How will you probably go 
from Smyrna to Jerusalem? Inform me of everything as fully and particularly as 
you can." ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: i.oi, vol. IV (Book of Letters, 1818-20). 

15 James Connor, the C.M.S. missionary, who had been to Jerusalem before 
Parsons, ruled out the city as a practical missionary station. However, he pro- 
cured for Parsons a letter of introduction to the Procopius. See TheMissionary 
Register (1820), p. 525, and (1821), p. 33. (This is a C.M.S. publication.) 

ie j. Tracy, History of American Missions to the Heathen (Worcester, U.S.A., 
1840), p. 98 

17 The seat of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem was still in Con- 
stantinople 

18 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: *5.6, voL I (Letters and Papers received 
before 1824), under date 

19 Hie words "and I believe with sincerity" are cut out from the published 
version of this entry in the diary. Cf. The Missionary Herald, XVIH (1822), p. 19 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 143 

colleague in Smyrna they had to adapt themselves to the changed 
conditions especially the hazards of travel. 20 Nevertheless they both 
went to Alexandria where early in 1822 Parsons died. Fisk himself paid 
three visits to Jerusalem before he too died in 1825. Both of them, like 
the English missionaries, notably those working for the Society for 
Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews, were sentimentally com- 
mitted to a station in Jerusalem. But Fisk's and Parsons' first reports, 
written obviously under the influence of the chaplain of the English 
consulate, and before either of them had visited the Holy City, recom- 
mended Smyrna as a permanent centre of the mission. Worcester was 
not impressed. He wrote back urging reconsideration. "Perhaps", he 
said, "your first impressions may [not] have been altogether correct. . . . 
After some months in the Levant, a more extended acquaintance, and 
more mature reflection, your opinions and suggestions may afford us 
stronger and more satisfactory ground of judging and acting." 21 



But the Prudential Committee of the Board accepted other impor- 
tant recommendations. Almost immediately they were settled in 
Smyrna, Fisk and Parsons recommended the "re-inforcement" of the 
mission in personnel and equipment. The Board responded in 1822 by 
appointing Jonas King, then studying Oriental languages in Paris, to 
repkce Parsons, and Daniel Temple to establish a press in Malta in the 
service of the mission. The reports from the Mediterranean, were so 
encouraging that the Board did not wait for tangible results. In 1823 
they appointed two additional missionaries, Isaac Bird and William 
Gooddl. Like the first two missionaries they were also young, but the 
design for firm settlement in the missionary field was such this time that 
they were sent out with their wives. The instructions issued to the two 
new missionaries directed them to stop at Malta to learn languages 
spoken on the shores of the Mediterranean, but they were left in no 
doubt that their ultimate destination was Palestine, and that their "par- 
ticular pkce of residence" was Jerusalem. 22 

Once more practical consideration on the spot dictated a change of 

80 The task of the missionaries was not served by the outburst of philhellenic 
feeling in America. For example Edward Everett of Harvard College wrote, 
inter alia, in the North American Review, XVII (1823), p. 420, that the Greek revolt 
against Ottoman rule was "emphatically a war of the crescent against the cross*'. 

21 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: i.oi, vol. V (Book of Letters, 1818-20). See 
letter dated June 16", 1820, from Worcester to Fisk and Parsons, pp. 155-8 

22 Tracts (collection of Sermons) deposited in the Congregational Library, 
Boston (No. 1652.10), pp. 455 fF. 



144 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

plan. Bird and Goodell arrived in Beirut in November, 1823, and their 
colleagues Fisk and King advised them to stay there. Like Smyrna, 
Beirut was a commercial port with some "Frank" residents. The 
English consul, Peter Abbott, was from the beginning a staunch sup- 
porter of all Protestant missionaries. 23 The Americans were quickly 
taken under his protection* This consular protection was indispensable 
on account of the tension occasioned by the Greek revolt. Beirut was 
preferred to Jerusalem for yet another reason. Protestant missions found 
themselves in 1823-4 faced with the hostility of important sections of 
the Eastern Churches, and with administrative measures adopted by the 
Ottoman authorities. In the circumstances it was safer to be in a sea port 
than in an inland town. 

Much has been written kte in the nineteenth century and in the 
twentieth about the squalid, desokte and dangerous life outside the 
walls of Beirut which die missionaries had to endure. This is not borne 
out by the reports of the first missionaries written only three months 
after arrival. To be sure they complain of insanitary conditions inside 
the old city, but they have pleasant things to say about their own 
residence and its surroundings outside the city walls. The plain to the 
south of Beirut "was covered with olive, palm, orange, lemon, pine 
and mulberry trees, enriched with vines and enlivened by numerous 
cottages". In a spacious house 24 on the fringe of this plain outside the 
walls, Bird and Goodell with their wives made their first home. 
"From the terrace of the house", wrote Goodell, "we can count, with- 
out the walls of the city, no less than two hundred of these cottages, 
scattered here and there in the fields of mulberry trees." 25 

Like the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions, 
the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst the Jews was 
trying to establish a mission in Jerusalem. In the autumn of 1823 a con- 
ference of the missionaries of the two societies, together with the repre- 
sentative of the Church Missionary Society in Malta, was held in An- 
toura fAin Turah) on Mount Lebanon in premises formerly occupied 
by a Jesuit school. The conference considered, among other subjects, 
the possibility of a joint station in Jerusalem, using Antoura as a sum- 

23 Cf. William Goodell (edited by D. G. Prime), Forty Years in the Turkish 
Empire, Boston, 1891, p. 85 

24 The rent of this house for six months was $18.50. ABCFM Archives, Series 
ABC: 16.8.2, voL I (Syrian and Nestorian Mission: Treasury Department, 
1822-46). See letter dated Beirut January 14, 1824, from [Mrs Ann] Bird to 
H.HJ11 

25 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, vol. H. See letter dated January 24, 
1824, to Evarts 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 145 

mer resort and a training centre. The one English society was solely 
interested in the conversion of the Jews, and the other had similar aims 
to those of the American society, in that they were interested in the 
evangelization of all those who were not Protestant Christians. The 
missionaries of these societies, handicapped as they initially were by the 
language barrier, did little more than distribute copies of the Bible and 
tracts in Arabic and Hebrew and other languages. 26 

It was this apparently innocent activity that started a conflict with 
some Eastern Churches of far-reaching consequences. Hitherto the 
source of Bibles in Arabic had been the version printed in Rome in 
1671. The copies distributed by Protestant missionaries were reprints of 
this edition, less the Apocrypha, and this was of course unacceptable to 
the Maronites. In an encyclical letter 27 issued soon after the conference 
at Antoura, the Maronite Patriarch banned the use of these Bibles on 
two counts: (a) that seven books, beginning with The Book of ToUt, 
accepted as holy by the Council of Trent are omitted; (b) that the text 
of the published books is "replete with mistakes". 28 The circular refers 
to the missionaries once as belonging to the English sect, 29 and once as 
heretics and atheists, 30 and accuses them of buying up the copies 
printed in Rome, and circulating their own copies instead. Members of 
the Maronite Church were strictly forbidden to own these copies, or to 
attend any religious service conducted by the missionaries. 31 

26 The chief sources of supply of Bibles in Arabic and Hebrew were the British 
and Foreign Bible Society and the Society for Promoting Christianity amongst 
the Jews, The American Mission in 1822, and the Church Missionary Society in 
1825, each established a small hand press in Malta for the issue of tracts in the 
languages of the Mediterranean 

27 Quotation in this paper is from a copy bearing no date, found among the 
unsorted and uncatalogued papers of Eli Smith, American Board missionary in 
Beirut from 1827 to 1857, preserved at the Houghton Library, Harvard Univer- 
sity. From internal evidence the circular was issued in the autumn of 1823 

28 mashhuna ghalatan 

29 English-speaking missionaries, whether British subjects or American citizens, 
continued for a long time to be known in the Levant as belonging to the English 
millet. The Arabic word used for "sect" in the circular is, however, ta*ifah. 

30 In the circular the arabicized form of heretics (aratiqah) is used; for atheist 
the word (mulhid) is used 

31 Three letters each dated January 31, 1824, were sent by Cardinal Somaglia, 
dean of the sacred college of the Propaganda Fide, addressed to the Maronite 
Patriarch, the Maronite Bishop at Antoura and the Papal Vicar for Syria and 
Palestine, denounce the Protestant missionaries as bandittori dett'errore e detta 
comtzione, and the copies of the Bible they distributed as "corrupted and vitiated". 
English translations are preserved in ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, ID, 
filed after a letter dated April 22, 1825 

S.A.P. XVI K 



146 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

The conflict with the Maronite hierarchy was such that the civil 
authorities feared it might lead to a breach of the peace. The Amir 
Bashir promptly ordered the Protestant missionaries to abandon the 
premises at Antoura and to retire to Beirut On higher levels both 
Rome and Constantinople took action for different reasons. Leo X3I 
issued a Bull confirming the contents of the circulars from the Propa- 
ganda Fide. A Turkish decree forbade the circulation in the Ottoman 
Empire of Bibles printed in Europe on the ground that they had caused 
among the people "apprehension, disputation and disturbance". De- 
spite repeated allegations in missionary literature, there is no evidence 
that the Catholic and Ottoman moves were connected or that Otto- 
man action was influenced by Catholic pressure. 32 Indeed, the records 
of the American Board contain a contemporary document which 
clearly states that "no molestation whatever is given to Christian 
teachers in propagating their sentiments . . . [and] no effectual ex- 
pedient exists to die diffusion of books and tracts". 33 All of which 
seems to confirm the conclusion that the Ottoman action was as sudden 
and occasioned by circumstances as the missionary reaction was sudden 
and occasioned by disappointment. Furthermore, the term "printed in 
Europe" in the Ottoman decree clearly covers Bibles coming from 
Rome as well as those coming from Protestant sources. 34 

This was an inauspicious start for the American mission in Beirut, 
with a tenuous hold on the Holy Land maintained by occasional visits 
to Jerusalem. In February 1824 Fisk and Bird were arrested in Jeru- 
salem for causing a tumult while distributing Bibles among Armenian 
pilgrims. They were saved by a liberal qadl and the English vice-consul 
in Jaffa. After a quick look at one copy, the former expressed horror at 
reading "and the spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters", 35 
but ruled that so long as the circulation of this kind of literature re- 
mained confined to the "infidels" he would not punish the accused. 
The vice-consul was a member of the Arabic-speaking Damiani family 
and could effectively plead with the authorities that the two mission- 
aries were under English consular protection. 

82 C The Missionary Herald, XXI (1825), pp. 92, 108. See further A. L. 
Tibawi, British Interests in Palestine iBoa-igoi (Oxford, 1961), pp. 10-12 

** ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, 1 (Palestine Mission: Letters and Papers 
of the Board received before September I, 1824). See Memorandum signed by 
**Wm. Jenks on behalf of the Committee", undated and placed second but last 
document in the volume. From circumstantial evidence the date is about January 
1821. 

84 C ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: i<5.6, H. Letter dated Beirut January n, 
1825 from Bird and Goodell to Evarts 85 Getiesis i, 2 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 147 

Back in Beirut, the American missionaries joined their colleagues and 
reconsidered their position. Jerusalem was still not a safe centre, and 
expediency dictated that they do what they could from the bases of 
Malta and Beirut. A hand press was brought by Daniel Temple, but so 
much credit has been claimed for it in promoting Arabic literary re- 
vival that it is necessary to state here briefly, what it is proposed to 
examine in detail in a forthcoming study, that this press was wholly 
preoccupied with strictly religious tracts, that it printed no literature 
in Arabic before it was moved to Beirut in 1934, 36 and that for three 
decades in Beirut its character remained substantially unchanged. 
Furthermore, the Malta tracts were all in Greek, Italian and Armeno- 
Turkish, We shall refer in another context below to the first Arabic 
books printed at Beirut. 

Distribution of tracts was one of the rnajn occupations of the mission; 
kck of facility in languages still precluded effective preaching. It seems 
that one of the first attempts of the mission to pkce some of the youth 
of Beirut under their influence was to establish a school where Italian 
was taught by Bird, who had studied the language for only a few 
months in Malta on his way to Beirut. Most of the pupils were young 
men who engaged in commerce or served as interpreters. 37 But the 
mission started in July 1824 what they call the first missionary school in 
Syria. 38 

It is important to establish the nature of this first venture in the realms 
of education. At first seven "Arab children" were gathered in the joint 
residence of the two married missionaries, fed and clothed and taught 
by the wives of the missionaries. Considering the language difficulty 
alone, this arrangement could hardly have been more than nursing 
neglected children, or children coming from impoverished homes, or 

36 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, vol. HI: See undated printed page, 
after document No. 217, which gives a list of "publications of the American press 
at Malta from the commencement of its operations, July 1822 to December 31, 
1828". The lists are of Greek, Italian and Armeno-Turkish books; no Arabic books 
of any kind are listed. C Series ABC: 8.6, vol. L See lists entitled "Printing done 
at mission presses during ist half century 1810-6*0" where Arabic appears only 
under "printing at Beirut". C further R. Anderson, History of the Missions of the 
ABCFM to the Oriental Churches, I, p. 73. Cf. also A. J. Brown, A History of 
the Foreign Missions of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. (New York, n.d., 
but probably 1937), p. 992 

37 Cf. Letter from Assaad Jacob [ Later Dr. As'ad Ya'qub Khayyat, British 
consul in Jaffa] dated July 1826 (the day is not given) addressed to Evarts: "I tell 
you I am with Mr. Goodell in his house ... I learn Italian and English with 
Mr. Goodell and Mr. Bird." ABCFM Archives, Series 16.6, vol. HI 

38 Anderson, op. cit., voL I, p. 44 



148 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

homes of those employed by the mission as domestic servants and 
orderlies. Later in the year, however, the number of children rose to 
about fifty, and thus an Arab teacher was engaged to teach them in a 
hired room dose to the missionary residence. 

It was the Greek Orthodox hierarchy who this time took offence. 
In a report to the Board dated January n, 1825 Bird and Goodell 
announce that the opening of the school provoked the issue of a circular 
by the Patriarch of Antioch against the school and the schemes of the 
mission. Although the missionaries were careful to let the children con- 
tinue to worship in their own church, the hierarchy were suspicious of 
foreigners of a different sect undertaking to teach children gratuitously. 
"Many parents", says the report, "were sufficiently intimidated [by the 
Patriarch's circular] to remove their children." The school survived this 
crisis, but it was completely destroyed by another in 1826 when Greek 
corsairs attacked Beirut and wrought havoc in the city and the suburbs. 

Other techniques employed by the mission at this stage were the 
reception of young men at the missionary residence for exploratory 
"softening", and the employment of language instructors, William 
Goodell, who was learning Armenian, established relations with two 
Armenian bishops who were in trouble with their Church because they 
had married contrary to its statutes. He employed one of them as a 
teacher and interpreter and kept the other about the mission. Jonas King 
met a young Maronite, As'ad Shidyaq, and engaged him as private 
teacher of Arabic. The relationship proved very tragic. King had con- 
tracted to serve for three years, and before he left Syria in 1825 he wrote 
a polemic 59 against the Latin Church which Shidyaq was asked to 
translate into Arabic, with the result, so the story goes, that he became a 
Protestant. Shidyaq was called to order by the Maronite Patriarch, and 
in the end was imprisoned by him and died in prison. 40 King's polemic 
started a bitter controversy, 41 and thus, contrary to Worcester's advice 
to Parsons and Ksk, the mission had to discharge its task in an atmo- 

39 Wad^ Yunus Kin ild Ahbabihifi Filastm wa Suriyya (? Malta, 1825); the 
English original was printed as "Farewell Letter of Jonas King" in The Oriental 
Church and the Latin (New York, 1865), Pp- 5-33 

40 The story of As'ad Shidyaq the 'Syrian Protestant martyr' is a favourite 
theme in missionary literature. See for example The Missionary Herald, XXIII 
(1827), pp. 71-6, 97-101, 129-36; 169-77. In Arabic the earliest is Khabariyyat 
As *ad Shidyaq (Malta, 1833) 

41 The Maronite Archbishop of Beirut, Bitrus Abu Karam, wrote Risalah 
'A'iliyyah in reply to King's epistle. The Archbishop's reply was published by the 
Propaganda Fide, in Rome, 1830. The American mission replied with ThalSthatu 
'Ashrata Risalah (Malta, 1834} 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 149 

sphere of animosity and strife. Already the mission was speaking in their 
reports of "our enemies". 42 

The departure of King and the death of Fisk in 1825, together with 
encouraging reports from Malta and Beirut, prompted the American 
Board to send in the following year an assistant to help with the press, 
and Eh Smith to strengthen the mission at Beirut. Smith proved to be 
one of the shining stars of the mission. His influence on its thought and 
action for nearly three decades was profound. With a sound educational 
training at Yale and Andover Theological Seminary he was able to 
master the spoken and written Arabic to a remarkable degree. He 
established and maintained personal relations, or regular correspon- 
dence, with many of the Christian Arab literary figures of his time. His 
relationship with, and influence over the early life of Butrus Al-Bustani, 
will form one of the main subjects of the second part of this paper. 
However, it is necessary before we concentrate on this theme to trace 
the history of the mission up to the date when that relationship was 
established about the end of the Egyptian occupation. 



Weathering the storm of ecclesiastical opposition and recovering 
from the disruption of the short Greek incursion, the mission quietly 
rallied its forces. The school in Beirut was reopened. An experiment 
of aiding native schools and thus bringing them under the influence of 
the mission was quietly begun. 43 A few Armenians and native Arab 
Christians continued to hover round the mission. Nor were the Jews of 
Beirut forgotten. At first they refused to have any contact with the 
mission. But gradually they were induced to accept copies of the Bible 
in Hebrew, only to preserve the Old Testament and cut out the New 
Testament and sell it "in the bazaar for waste paper". However, the 
mission succeeded, amidst opposition, in opening a school for Jewish 
children. 44 "A wide and effectual door", wrote Goodell triumphantly 

42 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, vol. II. See report dated Beirut January 
n, 1825, from Bird and Goodell to secretary Jeremiah Evarts, Boston 

43 Document No. 217, "Schedule of Schools in Syria 1826", appears with no 
covering letter in ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, m, and lists nine "aided" 
schools in Beirut and on the mountains with just over 300 pupils in attendance. 
The total aid for six months from January to June 1826 was $167.76. "In all the 
schools" the schedule reads "there have occasionally attended about 30 girls for 
whom teachers received double, and in two cases, quadruple price" 

44 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, IL See letter dated May 15, 1826, from 
Goodell to Anderson 



150 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

in 1826, "does indeed seem to be opening to us, and work more than 
we can do to be ready prepared for our hands." 4S In that year indeed 
converts from other Churches were duly received "to our communion 
and fellowship" in the mission church, largely through his efforts. 

As f ad Shidyaq may be considered the earliest convert of some sig- 
nificance. But GoodelTs report adds the names of new converts: the 
two Armenians Gregory Wortabet and Dionysius Carabet with their 
wives, and the Roman Catholic wife of the English consul, Peter 
Abbott. Other candidates for conversion mentioned by Goodell were 
an Anglican kdy on a temporary visit to Beirut from England, the 
Greek Orthodox teacher of the mission school, Tannus Al-Haddad, 
the Maronite Paris Shidyaq (brother of As'ad) who was however moved 
to Malta for safety, and the Greek Catholic superintendent of schools in 
connection with the mission, Yusuf Laflufah. 46 "This admission of 
converts", wrote a high official of the Board, "into a church, without 
regard to their previous ecclesiastical relations was a practical ignoring 
of the old church organisation in the region. It was so understood, and 
the spirit of oppression and persecution was roused to the utmost." 47 

It is in this context that we should interpret subsequent correspon- 
dence in which the mission bitterly complained of the reaction of the 
ecclesiastical authorities and of the attitude of the Ottoman local 
government. Speaking of the former, Goodell wrote, "Our enemies 
continue to devise all evil devices against us." By "enemies" he meant 
the Eastern Churches, or at least their ecclesiastical authorities. The feud 
must have become so dangerous that the missionaries had to appeal to 
the civil governor of Beirut. He is reported to have angrily told them 
that if they compromised themselves by aggressive action and were in 
consequence exposed to violence he would not protect them. The 
missionaries were still new to the ways of a Turkish pasha. He was in 
effect giving advice, not denying protection to which the Americans 
were entitled as members of the English millet.** The second half of 
1826 and the first half of 1827 must have been very difficult. "I now 
venture", wrote Goodell, "to sit by a window in the evening, a thing 

45 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, n. Letter dated September 29, 1826, to 
Evarts 

4 * ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6", in (Letters and Reports of the Board - 
Palestine Mission 1827-31). See letter dated Beirut, January 2, 1827, from Bird 
and Goodell to Evarts. Goodell also established a dose relationship with an 
Armenian Bishop, Ya'qub Agba (Abcarius) 

47 R. Anderson, History, voL I, p. 47 

48 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, E. See letter dated March 6, 1827, 
from Goodell to Evarts 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 151 

which for a considerable time I did not deem it prudent to do. I have at 
times during the last ten months suffered exceedingly/' 49 

In the midst of such difficulties a more crippling blow struck the 
mission as a whole. Following the destruction of the Turco-Egyptian 
fleet at Navarino in October 1827, M the relations between England and 
Turkey, already cool because of the former's sympathy with the Greek 
rebels, became very strained. For months afterwards there were 
rumours of impending war between Turkey and Britain. This situation 
had caused a stagnation in trade, and the mission could obtain no 
money for its bills. The Amir Bashir, moreover, made it clear to the 
missionaries that in the event of war he would protect no "Franks". 
In April, 1828, Russia declared war on Turkey. And when the English 
consul himself 51 left Beirut all the mission removed on May 2, 1828, 
to the safety of Malta. With them they took the two Armenian con- 
verts and their wives. The mission was thus "suspended". 

At Malta the three missionaries from Beirut joined their two col- 
leagues in Malta in an effort to improve the work of the press. Goodell 
with his two Armenian converts worked on producing a translation of 
the New Testament into Armeno-Turkish. Smith, whose studies of 
Arabic on Mount Lebanon had been interrupted by the scramble out 
of Beirut, was asked to supervise the press which hitherto had concen- 
trated on Italian, Greek and Armenian. He had acquired very little 
knowledge of Italian, but had "no knowledge at all" of the other two 
languages. And yet he began to study the important problem of pre- 
paring Greek and Armenian textbooks for reading and arithmetic, 
apart from the conventional religious and missionary tracts. His re- 
marks concerning Arabic books, however, are of particular significance, 
coming as they do at the beginning of American interest in the Arabic 
language as a missionary instrument. The Arabs had their own schools 
and possessed a learning of their own. This fact was, in Smith's judg- 
ment, "a foundation to build upon". 52 Fans Shidyaq was marked for 

40 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, H See letter dated May 3, 1827, to 
Evarts 

50 For the circumstances see W. Miller, The Ottoman Empire and Its Successors 
(Cambridge, 1936), pp. 97 

51 This was still Peter Abbott, the friend of the missionaries. He witnessed while 
in office the passing of the control of English consulates in the Ottoman Empire 
from the Levant Company, which was liquidated in 1825, to the British govern- 
ment 

M ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.6, IE. See letter dated Malta October 8, 
1829, stated to be written by Smith, but signed also by Goodell and Bird and 
addressed to the Prudential Committee 



152 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

use under the direction of Smith. In 1830 the press received an Arabic 
fount from London. 

Meanwhile the Prudential Committee had had the whole field of 
their mission to the Eastern Mediterranean under re-consideration since 
the withdrawal from Beirut. With the possibility of missionary work in 
Greece in mind, assistant secretary Rufus Anderson was sent to the Near 
East to investigate. Anderson's visit made him a strong supporter of 
American missions to the Eastern Churches in the Ottoman Empire 
and Greece. In the Empire the centres marked for "occupation" were 
Constantinople, Smyrna, Malta, Beirut and Jerusalem. Political events 
which he naturally did not foresee when he was in Malta in 1829 were 
such that, far from relinquishing Beirut, and with it Jerusalem, the 
American Board decided to resume as well as to strengthen its work. 
Not only had the danger of war become remote, but also the relations 
between Turkey and Britain had been improved, and the English 
consul returned to Beirut. The United States, which had been since the 
turn of the century anxious to conclude a commercial treaty with 
Turkey, succeeded in doing so in May i8so. 53 In the autumn of the 
following year Muhammad c Ali invaded Syria and established an ad- 
ministration that stamped out lawlessness and adopted a policy of indul- 
gence towards foreign enterprise, commercial and missionary included. 

Not that missionary work was restricted by the Turkish administra- 
tion. So long as no Muslims were involved, and so long as missionary 
work did not create sectarian disorder among the non-Muslims, the 
authorities were indifferent This is indeed the collective opinion of the 
mission expressed in 1829 in a memorandum drawn up by Eli Smith at 
Anderson's request and subscribed to by the other missionaries while 
all were in Malta. "The Muslim authorities", reads the memorandum 
in part, "[are] professedly and actually indifferent to jealousies, contro- 
versies and proselytism of their Christian subjects except as instigated 
by the latter themselves to interfere . . ." S4 

53 W. M. Malloy (ed.), Treaties, Conventions, International Acts, Protocols and 
Agreements between the U.S.A. and Oilier Powers, 1776-1909 (Washington, 1910), 
vol. n, pp. 1318-48, "Treaty of Commerce and Navigation concluded May 7, 
1830"; see also H. Miller (ed.), Treaties and Other International Acts of the U.S^i. 
(Washington, 1933), vol. IE, pp. 541-98, where the original Turkish is reproduced 
in facsimile, with English and French translations 

54 Much has been made by all Protestant missionaries working among Eastern 
Christians and the Jews of a fatwa issued by the Hanafi Shaikh, Sulaiman Al- 
Mansuri, following a riot in 1175/1762 in Aleppo. The occasion was a dispute 
between the Greek Orthodox and tie Roman Catholics over the secession of 
some members of the former communion who joined the latter, an event which 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 153 

Two years' absence from a field cultivated with much difficulty is a 
long time. The results of more than five years' effort were practically 
obliterated. The work had to be done all over again, except perhaps 
with those few individuals, Armenians and Arabs, whose livelihood 
had become dependent upon the mission. In May 1830 Bird with a new 
missionary, George Whiting, arrived in Beirut (Goodell was trans- 
ferred to Constantinople, and Smith with another member of the 
American mission in that city were sent to survey missionary prospects 
in Armenia). Prompdy the Maronite and Greek Catholic hierarchy 
renewed their threats to excommunicate any member of their churches 
who might be tempted to come near the mission. The Greek Orthodox 
were, by comparison, friendly and the mission was at this stage virtu- 
ally restricted to them. Nothing is said about the Jews. A report 
written at the end of the year states that the school for Arab children in 
Beirut had been re-opened, but no other. The chief obstacles were two: 
the "almost universal opposition by the ecclesiastic" and the "want of 
suitable teachers". 55 

Exile and adversity had mellowed the mission. Its polemics against 
the Maronite Church, though still in circulation, were not pursued in 
the early pugnacious way. Indeed, wiser counsels seem to have pre- 
vailed with the authorities in Boston and the missionaries in the field. 
The Board's monthly describes the suggestions to their missionaries in 
the Ottoman Empire, drawn up by Goodell and enjoining caution and 
restraint in controversy, as judicious, and cites the tragic case of As'ad 
Shidyaq as a warning against a premature offensive upon entrenched 
doctrines and practices. 56 Goodell had obviously learnt the lesson of his 
experience in Beirut. "Our temptation", he wrote, "to engage early in 
controversy is in these countries very great, and it requires strength, 
wisdom and much grace to resist it." 57 

required the intervention of the Ottoman governor to restore order. The gist of 
tbefatwais that in Islamic law there is no distinction between one type of "infidels" 
and another, so that a Christian may turn Jewish or vice versa, or an Eastern 
Christian embrace the religion of the "Franks", without infringing thereby the 
Sultan's recognition of the head of the aggrieved millet. A copy of tbfcfatwa was 
found among EH Smith's unsorted and uncatalogued papers. Thtfatwa is pub- 
lished in Haidar Ahmad Shihabi, Al-Ghurar Al-Hisanfi Akhbar Abna* Az-Zaman 
(edited by A. J. Rustum and F. A. Bustani, Beirut, 1933), part I, pp. 57-9 

**ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.8.1, vol. .01 "Syria 1831-1837". See 
letter dated May 31, 1830, from Whiting to Evarts 

The Missionary Herald XXVI (1830), p. 18 

57 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.5, vol. H, "Hints and Cautions to Mission- 
aries Destined to the Mediterranean". See note dated Constantinople December 
2, 1834 



154 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

The Egyptian occupation of Syria during the fourth decade of the 
nineteenth century has often been represented as favourable to the 
cause of foreign missions. This must not be understood to mean that the 
Egyptian authorities were directly promoting missionary work. In this 
matter their attitude differed very little from that of the Ottoman 
authorities. Both viewed with indifference thejealousies and conversions 
of their Christian (and Jewish) subjects. The difference was in the suc- 
cess of the Egyptians in maintaining effective security. This opened the 
country to more traders and travellers than ever before. The mission- 
aries, both American and English, took advantage of this situation. The 
Americans re-established themselves in Beirut, and attempted to oc- 
cupy Jerusalem as a missionary station, simultaneously with a similar 
attempt by the London Society for Promoting Christianity amongst 
the Jews. Both at last succeeded in establishing precarious footholds in 
the Holy City. 

Reinforcements to meet this development were quite adequate. 
Between 1830 and 1839 at least seven recruits were sent out to man the 
Beirut and Jerusalem stations, including one qualified physician, Asa 
Dodge, two women teachers, Betsey Tilden and Rebecca Williams, 
and a missionary, William Thomson, who was to exercise a great 
influence on the development of the missions. The experiment with 
schools was resumed immediately the mission returned to Beirut. Six 
"aided" schools were revived, and members of the missions them- 
selves opened two schools. One was the "English School", so-called 
because it taught through the medium of English. It was opened in 
the autumn of 1833, with ten young men to train as teachers for the 
mission schools. The other was the "Female School", opened also 
about the same time with an average attendance of 8 pupils who were 
taught reading, sewing and knitting. 58 The six aided "Native Schools" 
were under native teachers, and with a total of over a hundred pupils 
taught principally reading through the use of Bible stories, the Psalter 
and the New Testament. This time it was the Orthodox Church that 
took offence; most of the pupils came from homes under the pastoral 

68 E. W* Hooker, Memoir of Mrs Sarah L. Huntington Smith (New York, 1840), 
PP 373-4- A note by Eli Smith states that the school was started by Mrs Thomson 
and Mrs Dodge largely as a morning sewing class. They were assisted by Mrs 
Smith when she arrived early in 1834, and when they were transferred to Jeru- 
salem, Mrs Smith took charge assisted by other members of the mission until 
Miss Rebecca "Williams took over in 1835. Thus Mrs Smith was not, according 
to the contemporary evidence of her husband, the founder of the school as is 
stated by G. Antonius, The Arab Awakening (London, 1938), p. 37, and by S. 
Penrose, That They May Have Life (New York, 1941), 6 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 155 

care of that Church. "Last Sabbath", wrote the mission, "an excom- 
munication was threatened by the Greek Bishop against all those who 
should send their children to our schools." 69 

The mission was not deterred, 60 In 1835 Rebecca Williams took 
charge of the "Female School" assisted by the wives of the missionaries, 
and William Thomson was put in charge of what the annual report of 
the mission calls the"Boarding School"; this was no more than board- 
ing facilities at the mission house for six boys of the "English School". 
A few girls were similarly selected from the "Female School" and ad- 
mitted into missionary families where they received a "solid Christian 
education" and training in domestic management. The experimental 
nature of these ventures is apparent from the fact that teaching through 
the sole medium of English was abandoned. "The studies", according 
to a resolution by the mission, "shall be so ordered as to give to any 
schollar [sic] a good Arabic education and knowledge of the elementary 
sciences, and an acquaintance with the English, and if possible some 
other languages." 61 These two schools are the origin of what was 
kter to become the "Male Seminary" and the "Female Seminary". 

The mission had from its inception constituted itself as a Church into 
which converts were admitted. By 1839 a chapel for preaching in 
Arabic was opened in Beirut Hitherto the mission had had to struggle 
with difficulties in the field of its operation. But its expanding schemes 
of educational work now had to fit in with a philosophy propounded by 
Secretary Anderson, and accepted by the Prudential Committee as a 
guide for policy. Its essential point is that the missionary's primary task 
was preaching the Word through the living voice. While education 
was recognized as a convenient method of inculcating a knowledge of 
the Gospel, preaching must have the first place in the order of priori- 
ties. 62 The missionaries on the spot had found it virtually impossible, in 
the teeth of ecclesiastical opposition, to preach in public. Their only 
convenient and safe method was to bring under their direct influence 

* g ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.8.1, voL .01 (Syria, 1831-7). See letter 
dated Bhamdun August 14, 1834, ^ow. Whiting and Dodge to Anderson 

60 About this time the American mission started its first of several flirtations 
with the Druzes. Annoyed by Ibrahim Pasha's measures to conscript their young 
men into the army, they tried to adhere to the English millet, represented as they 
thought by the Americans who took the Druze overtures quite seriously. There 
is, however, no space in this paper to go into this matter 

61 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.8.1, vol. .01. See the Annual Report dated 
December 3 1, 183 5 signed by Smith and Thomson and addressed to the Secretaries 
of the Board at Boston 

62 R. Anderson, Missionary Schools (ABCFM Pamphlet, 1838), pp. 19-21 



156 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

adults and children, who could be taught patiently and effectively the 
Protestant faith. But they had to please their employers who supplied 
the funds that made missionary work possible. Thus a compromise was 
necessary, and the Beirut Boarding Male School or Seminary was re- 
garded as a future theological school with the aim of producing native 
ministers, preachers and teachers. The Female School or Seminary was, 
to a lesser extent, regarded at least as a suitable ground for providing 
the former with pious wives. 63 

But the missionary's path was not always covered with obstacles. 
The establishment of an American legation in Constantinople in 1831 
was followed by the appointment of consuls in various pkces. In 1834 
the entire mission signed a petition to their head office urging their 
intervention to secure the appointment of an American consul in 
Jerusalem who should be "prudent and pious' 9 and who would be 
prepared to aid "the missionary cause'*. 64 A few months after the 
appointment of the first American consul in Beirut in 1836, the entire 
mission again submitted a petition urging the "necessity of consular 
protection for Americans residing or trading in Syria and Egypt". 85 
Consular agents, who were native friends of the missionaries, were 
accordingly appointed in various centres, and the missionaries could if 
they felt inclined dispense with their dependence on English consular 
protection. 66 

(iv) 

Such were the fortunes of the mission in the autumn of 1840 when, 
through the intervention of the major Powers, Ibrahim Pasha was 
driven out of Syria. Through their schools and the printing press the 

63 Since this paper is concerned primarily with Beirut, suffice it to say that the 
Jerusalem station was held precariously for some ten years from roughly 1834 to 
1844. Among those who occupied the station for short or long periods mention 
may be made here of William Thomson, Asa Dodge, George Whiting and Betsey 
Tilden. Here too schools were found to be the most effective method. Such 
schools were in fact established in Jerusalem, Bethlehem and Ar-Ramlah. The 
station was relinquished after the establishment of an Anglican Bishop in the Holy 
City and at a time when the Americans were having another flirtation, on Mount 
Lebanon, with the Druzes 

64 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.8.1, voL .01. See letter dated Beirut 
December 22, 1834, from Bird, Smith, Thomson, Whiting and Dodge to 
Anderson 

66 National Archives (Washington), Department of State, Record Group No. 59, 
Beirut, voL I. See petition dated November 30, 1836, from Whiting and others 

w Hi Smith who maintained extensive correspondence with such agents used 
his influence in their behalf when the Minister found their number in excess of 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 157 

mission were able to establish some influence over a number of teachers, 
copyists, translators, colporteurs, and, with hopes for the future, a 
larger number of pupils and a few young men and women. Among 
these were men who acquired fame in the literary history of Syria. 
Apart from the two Shidyaq brothers mention may be made here of 
Nasif Al-YazijI, Mikha'il Mishaqah, 67 and Butrus Al-Bustani. Every 
one of them was, in one way or the other, influenced by the mission, 
and had close connections with it. The one member of the mission who 
seems to have foreseen more clearly perhaps than his colleagues the use- 
fulness of literary connections was Eli Smith. It is no part of the pur- 
pose of this paper to discuss his relations with all of these personalities; 
it is proposed to study Smith's relations with Butrus Al-Bustani only. 

Butrus, son of Bulus, son of 'Abdullah, Al-Bustani was born in 1819 
in the village of Dubbiyah and was educated in the Maronite Seminary 
at * Ain Warqah where he studied theology, logic, philosophy, Arabic, 
Syriac, Latin and Italian. It is often stated that he was employed by the 
British army as an interpreter in the autumn of i840. 68 But there is no 
evidence that he had begun to learn English before that time. There is 
good evidence, however, that in November 1840 he was employed as 
teacher in the Male Seminary in Beirut. 69 Simultaneously he taught 
Arabic to, and learnt English from, Eli Smith and other members of 
the American mission. 70 Bustanl's religious, educational and literary 
development, as influenced by the mission in general and by Eli Smith 
in particular, will now be studied largely on the basis of unpublished 
Arabic letters he wrote to Smith, and partly on the basis of the un- 
published English records of the American Board and the American 
consulate. 

The earliest mention of his conversion to Protestantism is to his credit. 

American needs and ordered their dismissal. See Minutes of the Prudential Committee, 
V, p. 305 

67 This is the current transliteration; strictly it should be 'Mushaqah*, derived 
from the profession of the family which was carding silk; cf. Muhit Al-Muhit, 
vol. n, p. 1980; Extraits des Memoires de Mihail Misaqah, edited by A. J. Rustum 
and S. Abou Chacra (Beirut, 1955), page "Jim" 

68 Cf. Jurji Zaidan, Tarajim Mashahir Ash-Sharq (Cairo, 1922), vol. E, p. 27. 
This work is rather vague, and even misleading, on the first contact between 
Bustani and the American mission 

69 A Brief Chronicle of the Syria Mission (1819-1901), p. 7- (Mimeograph copy 
in the private possession of Mrs Bayard Dodge, Princeton, New Jersey, U.S. A, 
whose kindness it is a pleasant duty to acknowledge.) 

70 Cf. the statement Bustani made in a public lecture some twenty years later, 
Khutbahfi Adah Al-Lughah Al-Arabiyya (Beirut, 1859), pp. 36-7, that he spent ten 
years at 'Ain Warqah "learning and teaching*' 



158 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

In a critical review of the work of the mission after two decades of 
labour, a member of the mission, a graduate of Yale and Andover 
Theological Seminary, thus wrote of him: "The young man from c Ain 
Warqah whom we are now training as a translator . . . has become 
gradually, and from his own reflections, a firm Protestant, and mani- 
fests a tender conscience." 71 Less than four years after his first contact 
with the mission he so impressed Anderson during his second visit to 
Syria in 1844 that he recommended the mission to prepare him to enter 
the ministry. Anderson states that Bustani told him that he was anxious 
"to be preaching to the people". 72 

But Smith had anticipated Anderson; for four years he had already 
been carefully instructing Butras in the Protestant faith. Their earliest 
joint literary cooperation on these lines is very interesting. Smith wrote 
a treatise in English delineating the Protestant beliefs which Bustani 
translated into Arabic, and which was published in Beirut in i843. 73 
This seems to have been the first of Bustard's varied and numerous 
literary works. The treatise is obviously written for the very few in- 
telligent and educated native Protestants, like Bustani, and not for the 
general public or even to pupils in the mission schools. 74 

Thus Bustani was led on the way of writing while teaching. Indeed 
he learnt to tackle several tasks successfully at the same time. He must 
have perceived that the ministry was too limited a scope for his 
talents. Furthermore "material" considerations seem to have discour- 
aged him. A preacher, and a native preacher at that, earned much less 
than, for example, a translator or even a copyist. Bustani managed 
easily to be a teacher in a school, a private tutor in Arabic, a translator, 
and an occasional preacher, and worker in connection with the printing 
press. A few years kter, EH Smith confessed to Anderson of his dis- 
appointment that Bustani after all did not wish to become a minister. "I 
long ago cherished the hope", he wrote, "that Butrus Bistany 75 would 

71 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.5, voL m (loose papers kept in an 
envelope). See letter marked 'confidential' dated June i, 1842, from Wolcott to 
Anderson 

72 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 2.1.1, vol. m (Letters-Foreign). See letter 
dated April 23, 1844, to the "Syrian Mission". In another letter Anderson writes: 
"My affectionate remembrance, if you please, to Butrus." 

78 Kitflb Al-Bab Al-Mafiuhfi A'mal Ar-Ruh (Beirut, 1843) 

74 Bustani also translated or improved existing missionary translations of 
Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress under the Arabic tide ofSiyahat Masiki, D'AuHgne's 
History of Redemption under the Arabic tide of Tankh Al-Fidtf, and other works. 

75 This is not a slip on the part of Smith. Butrus himself thus wrote his name in 
latin characters, and many missionary records spell his name after this fashion. 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 159 

enter the ministry. Before your visit I had begun to give him instruction 
in theology, and when immediately after that ... he refused to be 
considered as a candidate, I still urged him to continue the study, hoping 
he might change his mind." 76 

But Bustard was still useful to the mission. When in 1844 a consider- 
able number of the Greek Orthodox inhabitants of Hasbayya decided, 
not entirely on spiritual grounds, to secede from their Church and 
applied to the American mission for religious instruction in the Pro- 
testant faith, Bustani, together with another native convert, flyas 
Fawwaz, was sent to the village to prepare for a visit by Smith and 
Whiting. 77 The local disorder that ensued, and the larger Druze- 
Maronite disturbance in Mount Lebanon, figure prominently in the 
Arabic letters which Bustani wrote to Smith who had in the meantime 
gone to the United States on leave. In a letter covering two pages Bus- 
tani perceives in the civil strife a providential "opening for the propaga- 
tion of the gospel and a hastening of the approach of the day of the dis- 
comfiture of false worships". He informs his teacher that he preached 
twiceaweek to a few listeners and expounded a chapter of St John every 
Sunday afternoon. 78 As to Hasbayya, "I am prepared", he wrote, "to 
go there, and preach to the people on the first possible opportunity." 

The new Protestants in Hasbayya had sent several distress messages to 
the mission in Beirut, but none of the Americans or of their native 
assistants was prepared to run the risk of going there. Bustani makes 
this clear in a covering letter, enclosing five others from Hasbayya, 
addressed to Smith. "The best course", he writes, "is for Paris Ad- 
Dabaghi to open the school and instruct the children, and for the adults 
to meet for prayer as hitherto, till an opportunity presents itself for one 
of us to go to them." 79 Bustani, who was now married to one of the first 
girls educated in missionary family and in the Female School in 
Beirut, 80 , was virtually acting for Smith and keeping Mm informed of 

76 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.8.1, vol. V. See letter dated June 17, 1851 
to Anderson 

77 The Missionary Herald, XLI (1845), pp. 14-15 

78 Letter dated Bhamdun July 9, 1845. This and the other letters quoted below 
are disfigured with grammatical mistakes and colloquialisms. (As Bustanfs Arabic 
letters to Eli Smith were found by the writer in uncatalogued and unsorted bundles 
kept in cardboard boxes in the Houghton Library, Harvard University, they are 
simply referred to by their dates without further identification.) 

79 Letter dated Bhamdun, August 9, 1845 

8a BustanFs wife, Rachel, received most of her domestic training at the hands 
of Mrs Eli Smith. A missionary source described her, with obvious exaggeration, 
as "the first girl taught to read in Syria*'. See The Foreign Missionary (Presby- 
terian), XLin (1884-5), p. 290 



160 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

the native affairs of the mission and the conditions in the country in 
general. 

Meanwhile the mission decided in 1842 to "suspend*' the Male 
Seminary in Beirut. Those boys who had acquired some knowledge of 
English at it were enticed away as interpreters by the British forces and 
became "demoralized and denationalized". Foreign speech and habits, 
imperfectly acquired, had disastrous consequences on the character and 
tastes of the boys. The mission's expectations, in this matter, were 
completely disappointed. During Anderson's visit to Beirut in 1844 
it was decided, however, to reopen the Seminary, not in Beirut but 
in the new missionary station on the mountains at e Abieh, away 
from the corruptive influence of a city. The aim was now more than 
ever to train native ministers. Civil war, however, dekyed the opening 
of the seminary till the autumn of 1846. Cornelius Van Dyck, a 
medical missionary recruited in 1840 was put in charge, and Bustani was 
chosen for his assistant. They had eight boys to start with who were 
required to board, dress and live according to the native style. 81 How- 
ever, teaching did not prevent Bustani from continuing to engage in 
other activities. Indeed, it was an opportunity for him to embark on 
the production of textbooks, and his first attempt was an elementary 
arithmetic book. Smith, who himself had written an elementary arith- 
metic for the mission schools, unselfishly helped Bustani to utilize his 
material, to adapt it and prepare it for the press. 82 

Another textbook produced by Bustani was an elementary Arabic 
grammar. This book, too, was an adaptation of another author's pro- 
duct The Propaganda Fide had in 1836 published such a book written by 
the Maronite prelate, Jibril Farhat Al-Halabi. 83 Bustanfs work was 
professedly a revised issue of Farhat's book, allegedly based on defective 
manuscript copies, but no mention whatsoever is made of the printed 
book. With a short preface and explanatory notes, Bustard's edition 
contains less than ten additional pages on prosody by Nasif Al-Yaziji. 84 
The preface is interesting in one particular. A book intended for use in 

81 The Missionary Herald, XLIE (1847), pp. 83-4; Zaidan, Mashahir, vol. H, 
p. 26 is not correct in saying that Van Dyck "decided to found the seminary at 
'Abieh.**. He was no more than an agent of the mission carrying out its policy 

82 Kitab KashfAl-Hifabfi f Hm Al-Hisab (Beirut, 1848); an offshoot of this work 
was on book-keeping entitled Kitab Raudat At-Tajirfi Mask Ad-Dafatir (Beirut, 
1851) 

83 Kitab Bahth Al-Matalib wa Hath Al-Talib (Malta, 1836) 

84 Kitab Misbah At-Jalibfl Bahth Al-Mafalib (Beirut, 1854); an adaptation of 
this work under the title of Buliigh Al-ArabfiNahwAT-Arabwats never published; 
it was simply Bustanfs teaching notes 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT l6l 

missionary schools would be expected to quote the Bible, not the 
Qur'an. After a sentence praising God, the preface opens with two 
verses from the latter. "Praise be to God, the high, the most gracious! 
Who taught by the Pen; taught Man what he knew not." 

But that is only a beginning of Bustani's widening horizons. He 
embraced the Protestant faith, but he never allowed the Protestant 
missionaries to have complete control over his sympathies which grew 
wider with increased knowledge and experience. He was already on the 
way to literary fame. At the age of twenty-six he was a principal in- 
strument in forming an Arabic literary society which he called majma* 
at-tahdhib. Its fourteen members included the native Protestant con- 
verts, only two American missionaries, Dr. Cornelius Van Dyck and 
Dr. Henry De Forest, and Nasif Al-Yaziji who was employed by the 
mission but never became a Protestant. The secretary of the society 
himself and the most active of its members was Bustani. It held its first 
meeting either late in December 1845 or early in January 1846, when 
the subject discussed was "whether it was lawful to hold slaves?" The 
first article of its constitution declares the aim to be "the cultivation of 
the mind and the acquisition of useful knowledge". Bustani's letter 85 
announcing the formation of the society, listing the names of its mem- 
bers and detailing its rules and regulations, expresses the hope that it 
would serve the evangelical cause. 86 This society deserves more careful 
study than it has so far received. 87 

The society was not a creation of the mission, but in so far as it 
brought together American missionaries and intelligent native elements 

85 Letter dated January 10, 1846, to Smith, then in the U.S.A. 

86 In a report entitled Malta Protestant College (London, 1854) drawn up by the 
lay member of an English committee which in 1849 visited, among other places, 
Beirut, it is stated erroneously (vol. I, p. 229) that "this society was established by 
the American missionaries". Members of the English committee were invited to 
attend a meeting of the society on June 2, 1849, during which the subject of dis- 
cussion was "patriotism", a subject which was to occupy much of Bustani's 
time 

87 George Antonius, The Arab Awakening (London, 1938), p. 51, is very 
muddled about the name, date, aims and membership of this society. For the 
revised constitution see Zeitschrift der deutschen morgenla'ndischen Gesellschaft, II, 
(1848), pp. 379 flf. It begins with these words: "This gathering (mahfal) shall be 
called a Syrian society for the acquisition of arts and sciences" = (Ifktisab al- f ulum 
wd l-funun). The second article states that the society has "nothing to do with 
politics or religious controversy". Its members, according to the third article, 
were native, corresponding and honorary, in this order. The constitution was 
transmitted to the Z.D.M.G. by EH Smith who wrote that the initiative came 
from native youth and that the mission "promised what assistance we could 
render" 

S.A.P. xvi L 



162 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

it was a useful point of contact. If Bustanl's cooperation with the mis- 
sion was not always as close as they desired, his collaboration with 
Smith was for life. From 1848 to Smith's death it embraced a most 
important task. For a long time, Protestant missions in the Mediter- 
ranean region were experimenting with various issues of the Bible in 
Arabic. At last the American mission took the ambitious decision to 
produce their own translation from the original Hebrew and Greek. 
The task was entrusted to Smith who not unnaturally turned to his 
pupil and friend for assistance. Accordingly Bustani was transferred to 
Beirut. 88 

Both had to acquire a working knowledge of Hebrew and Greek. 
But it is no detraction from the value of their work to say that any 
examination of random parts of the American translation, and its com- 
parison with the then existing or previous translations, will not fail to 
reveal that the task was not all that difficult. Often enough, mere verbal 
changes were all that was necessary. Indeed, Smith himself laid it down, 
in a progress report written in 1854, as one of the principles governing 
his work "not to depart without sufficient cause from the phraseology 
consecrated by long usage in the current translations". In 1848 a 
beginning was made on Genesis. But Smith made it a labour of love, 
and he spared no effort to produce a superior version. His system was as 
follows: Bustani would produce a first draft which Smith would check 
and revise with him. Then with Nasif Al-Yaziji, who knew only 
Arabic, Smith without Bustani would go over the revised draft, largely 
to eliminate words or idioms inadmissible by classical standards, 
without diminishing the meaning as Smith understood it. The draft 
would then be printed and circulated to scholars, ecclesiastics and 
friends in Syria and all over the Christian world. The first printed draft 
was circulated in 1851. 

There are among Smith's papers letters from the priest of the Samar- 
itans in Nabulus 89 and from a Druze notable, 90 both Baling with the 
translation of the Book of Genesis. While the former says very briefly he 
had "compared'* (with what he does not say), and expresses no opinion 
at afl, the latter, with commendable sense, shaky grammar and erratic 
orthography, pleaded he knew neither Hebrew nor Greek, and could 

88 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.8.1, voL IV. See document No. 21, a letter 
dated March 20, 1848, from Smith and six others to Anderson 

89 See joint letter dated July 29, 1853, from Tmran (the Samaritan priest) and 
'Audah 'Azzam (the native Protestant and honorary British consular agent in 
Nabulus) 

*> Letter dated Dhul Qa'dah 3, 1267, from YusuP Abdul-Malik 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 163 

not therefore say whether the translation was faithful to the original or 
not. But he compared Smith's draft with the Rome edition and found 
verbal variations but no change in meaning. On closer examination, 
however, and with the aid of the lexicon As-Sahah 9 he was of the 
opinion that the American was an improvement over the Roman trans- 
lation. This is clearly a linguistic verdict, from one moreover whose 
linguistic attainments as revealed in his polite letter were not consider- 
abL 



le. 



91 



(v) 

Hard on his playing a major role in launching the literary society, 
Bustani turned to an equally important matter, the organization of an 
independent native church in Beirut. It was Anderson's policy 92 that 
the mission should, as soon as possible, establish native churches under 
the pastoral care of native ministers. Theory, however, often does not 
work easily in practice. The American missionaries in Beirut had from 
the beginning constituted themselves as a church to which native con- 
verts were admitted. They were not yet prepared to grant indepen- 
dence to their "immature" native brethren. Apart from lack of com- 
petent native pastors, the small native Protestant community was 
dependent for its material existence on the mission. It was not self- 
supporting, and the idea of raising money from local sources for an 
independent church was still alien to their thinking. 93 

But news of the successful organization of native Protestant churches 
of seceding Armenians and their recognition by the Ottoman author- 
ities through British diplomatic offices must have prompted Bustani to 
act. He himself was already restless and dissatisfied with his conditions 
of service and pay. When the handful of native Protestants held their 
meeting at e Abeih in July 1847, he was their chairman, and moving 
spirit. The outcome of the meeting was a lengthy letter addressed to the 

91 It is not proposed to follow the history of the translation here. After the 
death of Smith in 1857, Van Dyck assisted by Shaikh Yusuf Al-Asir completed the 
task in 1865. Neither Bustani nor Yaziji seem to have been employed to work on 
this stage of the project. (BustanTs total fees for his part in the translation amounted 
to 50,000 Piastres (= $1,923), according to an entry in one of Anderson's note- 
books. ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 30, voL XVI, p. 5) 

92 R. Anderson, History of the Missions of the ABCFM to the Oriental Churches, 
voL I, 260 

83 In 1850 the twelve male members of the native church were all employed by 
the mission, and the four female members "resided in die families of the mission- 
aries". Cf. The Missionary Herald, XLVI (1850), pp. 256-7 



164 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

American missionaries from "y our children in the Lord". Not only a 
recognition of the principle of separate and independent church was 
sought, but as if anticipating an affirmative response, rules and regu- 
lations of "The Evangelical Church of Beirut" were appended to the 
letter. 04 Bustani was by far the most intelligent and highly educated of 
the signatories, and it may be safely assumed that the letter and the 
rules and regulations were all the product of his own mind. The peti- 
tion was successful and a church with nineteen members was organized 
in the spring of 1848 under two native deacons, Tannus Al-Haddad and 
Ilyas Fawwaz, two of the earliest converts. 95 Bustani himself was not 
interested in holding any clerical office. 

Thus within about seven years of his first connection with the mis- 
sion, Bustani had established himself as the chief Native Protestant 
spokesman. His work with Smith on the translation of the Bible neces- 
sitated his giving up teaching for the time being, but he continued his 
occasional work with the press, and through Smith's influence secured 
the post of dragoman at the American consulate. According to Smith, 
Bustanl's income from his various jobs had now been doubled. 96 
Nevertheless he continued to describe himself as al-mtfaltim, a term 
which at the time did not simply mean "teacher", but also an expert in 
his craft whether it was teaching or otherwise. Bustani was no doubt 
acquiring a variety of skills that befitted him for the role of an expert. 
But his development was painfully slow as the following account will 
show. 

Not the least of his acquired accomplishments was a taste for public 
lecturing, translating and editing. One of the lectures of this period was 
on the education of women. No doubt Bustard's experience of family 
life among members of the American mission and his marriage to a 
girl who was educated in an American family and in the Female 
Seminary of the mission played their part in shaping his ideas on the 

94 ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.8.1, vol. IV. See document No. 23, an 
undated letter, but written shortly after the meeting held on July 10, 1847, which 
adopted the resolution contained therein 

95 Anderson poured cold water on BustanTs plan to raise funds in America in 
support of the native church. In a letter dated May 27, 1848, addressed to the 
"Syria Mission" he says: "If our brother Butrus has ever had the thought of 
getting an independent support from this country, he should relinquish it alto- 
gether. None [in America] who regard the true welfare of religion in Syria will 
countenance any cause that tends to divide die strength and impair the peace of the 
mission and its operations." See ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 2.1.1, voL XI 

^ ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.8.1, vol. IV. See document No. 199, 
a letter dated June 17, 1851 from Smith to Anderson 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 165 

subject. After some rational argument and a historical introduction, the 
lecture advocates that females should receive education in religious 
knowledge, domestic science, mothercraft, arithmetic, history, geog- 
raphy, the mother tongue and possibly also foreign languages. 97 

As a helper of the mission church and as a member of the native 
church he was still preaching in Beirut and elsewhere. But his letters to 
Smith began to reveal an increasing tendency towards more "lay" 
activities. Couched in most respectful terms in the early days, some of 
these letters tended later on to be no more than formally correct. In one 
such letter, 98 Bustani bluntly serves notice of his wish to give up res- 
ponsibility for the minbar 9 * and Sunday preaching at Beirut and Kafir 
Shima "since we have some business which prevents us from continuing 
this service". The same letter gives a clue as to the reason for his vexa- 
tion. "If you have the time", he asks, "we would like to know in clear 
language and in details the reasons which compelled the mission to 
return a negative answer to the [native] church." 

The nature of the matter in dispute may be deduced from the circum- 
stances. It would appear to have been connected with the desire for 
more independence on the part of the native church, a desire which was 
probably not backed with tangible offers of native material support. 
Be that as it may, Bustani was sincere in saying he had other business. 
His work on the translation of the Bible was a leisurely business spread 
over many years. It occupied no more than a fraction of his time, and 
demanded much less effort than he was capable of applying to any 
work. Simultaneously, therefore, with the task of translation, he began 
literary production, not necessarily restricted as it had so far been to 
textbooks. 

But he was still far from being original. Taken in chronological 
order the first work was a simple edition of the history of Lebanon by a 
native historian. 100 The second was a lecture on Arabic literature, 
ancient and modern, which is remarkable for its genuine spirit of 
patriotism. 101 Bustani expresses surprise that the Arabs did not translate 
Homer and Virgil, and dwells on the glory of the past history, and 
suggests means to promote revival He saw salvation in more schools, 

97 Arabic text was published in F. A. Bustani, Rawai', No. 22, pp. 1-24. The 
style of the lecture shows Bustani struggling to achieve clarity and smoothness. 
In pkces, the Arabic is clumsy and betrays traces of possible translation from an 
original in a foreign language 

98 Letter dated October 5, 1854 

M Note the use of an Islamic term for the Christian "pulpit" 

100 Tannus Shidyaq, K&ab Akhbar Al-A'yanfiJabal Lubnan (Beirut, 1859) 

181 Khutbahfi Adah Al-Lughah Al-Ardbiyyah (Beirut, 1859) 



166 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

libraries, journals and printing presses. The lecture which covers some 
forty printed pages concludes with praise of Sultan c Abdul-Majid for 
"granting liberty and establishing schools". From now on Bustani's 
books are prefaced or concluded with flattering terms to the ruling 
sultan, the governor of the province or the Pasha of Egypt. He was 
obviously seeking official favour and patronage. 

Another work of this experimental period was a new edition of the 
collected poems of a leading poet of the Abbasid age with simple short 
notes but without introduction. 102 The edition begins with the 
Koranic "In the name of the Merciful and Compassionate God" and 
ends with a note giving the date of preparing the transcript for the press 
first in A.H. and then in A.D. Such small matters are indicative of the 
working of Bustani's mind. He had by now become independent of the 
mission, and showed ample evidence of his disapproval of their neces- 
sarily sectarian approach. Indeed, there is evidence in the next produc- 
tion that he was, in half veiled terms, challenging the missionary view 
of their pet subject, "The Martyr of Syria". In issuing a new version of 
the story, 103 he claims he derived his facts from the victim's own 
writing or the writings of members of his original community. How- 
ever, his version differs very little from the outline of the story already 
published by the mission. But there is a material difference in the spirit 
with which the facts were presented. 

The purpose of Bustani's book, according to its introduction, was 
not to condemn those who maltreated As e ad Shidyaq, or to pass 
judgment in any way. Those who wrote before, says Bustani, derived 
their information from "interested" sources. His aim was to establish 
the true facts without bias, and to discount certain unfounded asser- 
tions which ascribed to Shidyaq's persecutors "actions which they did 
not commit, and aims which they never conceived", and to him 
"characteristics, action and aims which ill accord with truth". Without 
actually saying so, these words amount to an indictment of the mission 
and the version of the story which they had circulated for more than 
thirty years. Here is further evidence of Bustani's growing intellectual 
independence and standing apart from the mission. 

The death of Smith in January 1857 put an end to Bustani's major 

102 Diwah Al-Mutandbbi (Beirut, 1860); this was among the first-fruits of the 
association, noted below (pp. 168-9) 

103 Qissat As'ad Shidyaq Bakurat Suriyya (Beirut, 1860). Perhaps the earliest 
missionary version of the story in Arabic was the one printed anonymously at 
Malta in 1833 under the title of Khdbariyyat As* ad Ash-Shidyaq (some fifty pages 
of small size) 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 167 

connection with the mission. His work on the translation of the Bible 
was discontinued. 104 Such occasional work as he did for the press was 
no longer attractive to him, for he was now engaged in literary pro- 
duction on his own account while holding the office of dragoman at 
the American consulate. But the above account of his connection with 
the mission leaves little doubt of his great debt to the mission in general 
and to Eli Smith in particular. It was through them that he discovered 
his metier, and it was they who launched him on his early adaptation 
and editing of other works before he was emboldened by success to try 
his hand at more original works. Moreover, it was the mission's pat- 
ronage that secured him the influential post of dragoman. 

Bustani filled the post of dragoman with such distinction that in 1857 
he came to be the effective consul. The circumstances are of special 
interest as further evidence of the influence of the mission. In the spring 
of 1857 the American consul in Beirut went on long leave. Before his 
departure he received a petition signed by all the American mission- 
aries urging him not to deposit the seals of his office "with any subject 
of the Sultan". They specifically recommended Noel Moore, the 
British consul, to act as American consul ad interim 

That ruled out Bustani. It is a matter of conjecture whether the 
mission's action was directed against him, since he was no doubt the 
only eligible Ottoman subject, and one who had patriotic propensities 
and local interests not wholly in agreement with the policy and methods 
of the mission. 106 But Moore's oversight of the consulate was so 
nominal that Bustani was left in virtual control for over a year, from 
April 4, 1857, to July 22, 1858. According to the new consul "the 
official correspondence of this consulate" was conducted during this 

104 The statement in Yusuf Sarkis, Mu'jam Al-Matbifat d 'Arabiyya wal-Mu- 
*arrabah (Cairo 1346/1928), p. 557, and in Georg Graf, Geschichte der christlichen 
arabischen Literatur (Rome, 1951), vol. IV, p. 326 that Bustani helped Van Dyck 
with the translation is inaccurate. Cf. p. 163 , note 91 above. Cf. further the obituary 
notice of Bustani written by members of his family, D^irat Al-Ma f arif, voL VII, 
(1883), p. 590 where it is stated that Van Dyck completed the translation but no 
mention is made of his receiving assistance from Bustani 

105 National Archives (Washington), Department of State, Record Group 
No. 59, Beirut, vol. HI. See letter dated Janizary 6, 1858, from Noel Moore, act- 
ing American consul, to Lewis Cass, U.S.A. Minister in Constantinople with 
enclosures 

108 Although he owed his position in the consulate to the mission, he was on 
occasion reluctant to fulfil their wishes. In a letter dated October 25, 1855, to Eli 
Smith he politely rejects a recommendation from a junior member of the mission 
for the employment of a native applicant, and asks for supporting recommenda- 
tions from native notables 



168 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

period in Arabic only. 107 By custom Moore expected to be paid by the 
Americans for his services. Bustani, who was of course on the regular 
payroll, carried out the business of the consulate and paid all the ex- 
penses out of bis own pocket. When claims were made by Moore and 
Bustani, it transpired that the ktter had borrowed money "at a high 
rate of interest" to pay salaries and to defray expenses. AJS usual with 
such claims, the papers went forward and backward between Beirut, 
Constantinople and Washington, where the State Department and the 
Treasury each contributed its share to increase the muddle and delay. 
Bustani's claim, which amounted to $967.52 (= Piastres 23,222.2), 
was thus still outstanding in the spring of i859. 108 In any case, three 
years later he relinquished the post of dragoman in favour of his son, 
Salim. 

It is doubtful that Bustani was informed of the mission's representa- 
tions to the departing consul. Since the death of Smith his relations 
with the mission were friendly but not intimate. The period of active 
collaboration with the mission came to an end about 1860. Common 
spiritual interest in the native church, however, helped to maintain 
some relationship and sympathy. When on the eve of the civil war in 
Syria, the American Board decided to introduce economies in the ex- 
penditure of the Syria mission, the native Church Council at the insti- 
gation of Bustani arranged for a token contribution of 1,000 Piastres 
(== $40) to be sent to Anderson from the members. In addition, 
Bustani, who owed much of his prosperity to the mission, showed his 
gratitude by a personal contribution of $2O0. 109 

Bustanl's increased prosperity was matched by marked activity in the 
literary sphere. In the opening months of 1860 there was established in 
Beirut an association (sharikah) composed among others of Husain 
Bayhum as president, Butrus Bustani as managing secretary, Khalid 
Abu Anr-Nasr, Salim Bustrus, Sa* d Himadah, Khalil Khuri and others. 
The association was called Al-Umdah Al-Adabiyyah li Ishhar Al-Kutub 
Al-Arabiyyah. It is clearly a literary society for the publication of 

la7 National Archives (Washington), Department of State, Record Group 59, 
Beirut, voL m. See despatch dated August i, 1858 from Augustus Johnson to 
Secretary of State 

108 Ibid. See despatch dated March 29, 1859 from Johnson to Lewis Cass, 
enclosing a letter in English from Bustani 

109 English letter dated January 25, 1860 from Bustani to Anderson, and Arabic 
letter dated April 13, 1860 from members of the Evangelical church in Beirut to 
Anderson. These two letters are better appreciated if read in conjunction with 
Anderson's letter to the Syria mission dated February 17, 1860. ABCFM Archives, 
Series ABC: 2.1.1, voL XXVI (Letters - Foreign) 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT l6p 

Arabic books, which in the words of a contemporary source symbolized 
union among members of various communities. 110 

(vi) 

"Civil war has actually commenced in all its fury." Thus wrote 
Henry Jessup to the American Board at the beginning of June 1860. 
One of the most versatile missionaries in Syria, Jessup never concealed 
his contempt of the "nominal" Christians of die country and of the 
Ottoman authorities. Winding uphisreport of the course of the war he 
wrote: "In view of the fact that the Greek and the Papal ecclesiastics 
have been stirring their people to a war of extermination against the 
Druzes, it would seem as though the reverses and defeats are a just 
punishment." xl1 

Reverses and defeats, however, were not confined to either side in 
the combat. The whole political and social order in the country was 
rudely upset. Nor did the American mission escape damage. Not only 
had the missionaries to withdraw from their mountain stations, one of 
which at Dair Al-Qamar was almost completely destroyed, but their 
main, occupation of preaching and teaching, and even printing, had to 
be suspended. The Americans sustained losses estimated in an official 
despatch at $6o,ooo, 112 but all the members of the mission were safely 
evacuated to Beirut where most of them took part in assisting the 
Anglo-American committee set up for relief. The missionary com- 
pound in Beirut was overcrowded with American families and with 
many more native Protestant refugees. Civil war in Syria and financial 
difficulties in Boston played havoc with the operation of the mission. 

In the midst of this colossal disaster, Bustani was torn between con- 
flicting loyalties. There is no question of the sincerity of his conversion 
to the Protestant faith; but he could scarcely help feeling sympathy in 
his heart for the suffering of his former community or of his compat- 
riots in general. While holding office in a foreign consulate he could not 
openly take sides. He seems to have confined himself to doing what 
he could through the relief committee. 113 But neither the national 

110 Hadiqat Al-Akhbar No. 112, 11/23 February 1860, p. 3 

111 The Missionary Herald, LVI (1860), pp. 241, 243 

112 National Archives (Washington), Department of State, Record Group 
No. 59 (Beirut), vol. IV. See despatch dated March 9, 1861 from Johnson to the 
Secretary of State 

113 A printed circular dated August 23, 1860, and signed by Noel Moore, 
President of the Anglo-American Committee, states that "the basis of the 
committee [was] wholly unsectarian". A copy of this circular (document No. 102) 
is preserved in the ABCFM Archives, Series ABC: 16.8.1, vol. VI, pt. i (i8<5cH7o) 

S.A.P. XVI L* 



170 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

calamity, nor his assistance with relief seem to have interfered with his 
literary interests. Thus he was able soon after the restoration of order to 
publish an illustrated translation of the first part of The Life and Adven- 
tures of Robinson Crwsoe, 114 and another elementary textbook on Arabic 
grammar, 115 a simplification of his earlier book noted above. 

Bustani did not, however, while away his time, amidst the wreckage, 
merely translating Defoe and restating the elements of grammar for 
beginners. The events of 1860 introduced an upheaval in his thinking 
matched only by that caused by his conversion to Protestantism. He 
had already shown his capacity to rise above sectarian loyalties. Now he 
had gone a step farther and decided that allegiance to the watan (father- 
land) must supersede all other allegiances. As it unfolded itself in his 
writings, the doctrine of the "love of the fatherland" embraced two 
elements: (a) support of Ottoman legitimacy, (b) spread of literary 
enlightenment. And he practised what he preached. The publication of 
his grammar book just mentioned was the occasion for expressing his 
loyalty to the Ottoman rulers of the country. The book was completed, 
Bustani writes, "in the Caliphate 116 of His Majesty our greatest King, 
the Sultan of the two lands and the Khaqan of the two seas, Sultan 
* Abdul-* Aziz . . . May God establish his state with glory and prosperity, 
and perpetuate his power and victory." It is dedicated, in equally 
flattering terms, to the grand vizier, Fuad Pasha, who had a hand in the 
pacification of Lebanon and Syria after the civil war. Nor did the 
author forget the Pasha of the province of Saida or the governor of 
Lebanon, for each received compliments suitable to his station in life. 117 

All this must not be mistaken for an empty effusion of an oppor- 
tunist. The next two moves prove Sustain sincere in his sentiments. At 
the height of the communal bitterness following the events of 1860, he 
launched an occasional sheet 118 in which he preached the gospel of 

114 Kitab At-Tuhfah Al-Bustaniyyah fil Asfar Al-Karuziyyah (Beirut, i8<5i). 
Here again Bustani was not a pioneer. Robinson Crusoe had already been 
translated into Arabic and printed anonymously in Malta in 1835 

115 Kitab MJtah Al-Misb3h (Beirut, 1862) 

116 The use of this term by a Christian Arab should be of interest to certain 
contemporary writers who often assert that the idea of the Ottoman Caliphate was 
largely developed under 'Abdul-Hamid H 

117 Subjoined to this loyal page is a note from Simeon Calhoun, Principal of 
'Abeih Seminary, and Cornelius Van Dyck, Manager of the American Press, 
recommending the book to both teachers and pupils 

118 Naffr Suriyya. The first number was published on September 29, 1860, 
addressed to "fellow compatriots" from "a lover of the fatherland" who does not 
print his name. He reminds the Syrians that despite the recent internecine strife 
they were bound together by common fatherland, language, customs and interests. 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT iyi 

reconciliation and concord among the communities and of general en- 
lightenment through schools, books, libraries. BustanI was now forty- 
one, but even at the age of twenty-six he had showed similar restraint 
and sense in reporting on the earlier Druze-Maronite war. In a letter 
dated July 9, 1845, addressed to Eli Smith, he definitely states that "the 
Christians were this time the aggressors, since the Druzes had from the 
beginning no design to fight". The Christians, he adds, were bent on 
exterminating the Druzes and "took no account of the [Ottoman] 
Government". Bustanf s estimate of the events of 1845 is strikingly 
similar to Jessup's of the events of 1860. But while Jessup had little or 
no sympathy with the Ottoman authorities, Bustani was for law and 
order under the legitimate government. He saw clearly that the welfare 
of the fatherland (Al-watari) demanded enlightenment within the 
framework of Ottoman rule. 

The boys* boarding school 119 which he established in 1863 in Beirut 
was another logical step in this direction, and also a step away from the 
system of the mission. 120 As its name, Al-Madrasah Al-Wataniyyah, 
implies it was based on general patriotic as opposed to sectarian lines. 121 
It was an immediate success, so that within two years of its opening it 
had 150 pupils on roll. 122 According to its founder, it was established 

He hopes that they will forget the past in their own interest and that of the 
country, and that he will address them on the subject again. He did so in a dozen 
issues. From the fourth number a subtitle was added Al-Wataniyya Ar-Rabi f a = 
the fourth patriotic (circular). The interval between one issue and another varied 
from one week at first to two months towards the end. Thus No. 10 came out on 
February 22, 1861 and No. n on April 22, 1861. In the second number the editor 
supported Fuad Pasha's mission 

119 There was already a native girls school established in Beirut in 1862 by 
Michel 'Araman, Bustanf s successor at 'Abeih and one of the shining stars of the 
first products of missionary labour. 'Araman with his wife, who like Bustard's wife 
was educated in missionary families and in the Female Seminary, were running the 
schooL The Female Seminary, after an experimental period in Beirut, was moved 
in 1861 to Suq Al-Gharb, under the direction of Daniel Bliss and his wife 

180 Indeed there is evidence that, through his presidency of the Beirut Bible 
Society (Janfiyyat Bairut Al-bijiliyyah) established in 1862, he managed native 
missionary work independent of die American. See First Annual Report of the 
Society, Beirut, 1863, pp. 6-8 

121 The word "national" for wataniyyah has been deliberately avoided. The 
school was not "national" in the full sense of the word. It was actually an inter- 
denominational Christian institution which, in contrast to the mission schools, 
stressed no particular creed or dogma. It attracted pupils not only from Syria but 
also from Egypt, Iraq and even Turkey and Greece 

122 Butrus Al-BustSni, Kitab Da*irat Al-Ma*mf (Beirut, 1881), voL V, p. 751; 
cf. The Missionary Herald, LXI (1865), p. 5 



172 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

on "national" principles (ussisat 'ala mabadf wataniyyah); it was non- 
sectarian; it fostered the language of the fatherland; it cultivated the 
love of the fatherland; it promoted among its pupils patriotic relations; 
and finally it won the favour of the Ottoman government. 123 

When he made these statements in 1870, BustanI struck a character- 
istic note. The period of originality in his thought and practice had 
already begun some ten years earlier. To this period belong his more 
enduring literary productions. In 1862 he announced that he was com- 
piling an Arab c&ctionary "the like of which has never been con- 
ceived", 124 But he actually first thought of it in 1855 when he was still 
working with Smith on the translation of the Bible. In a letter to Smith 
he enquired whether he could come to an agreement with the Ameri- 
can Press for the publication of "a short Arabic dictionary for the 
benefit of schools and the public in Egypt, modelled on the European 
system in the order of its vocabulary". 125 In the same letter, BustanI 
was preparing the tools to start work on the dictionary "this summer". 
It took some fifteen years to see the light. 126 

The dictionary deserves more than ordinary notice. At least in its 
system it forged a new footpath in the forest of Arabic lexicography. 
Based largely on the Qamus of Al-FIruzabadl, 127 it introduced numer- 
ous scientific terms, neologisms, foreign terms, and colloquialisms. 128 
Aware that he was departing from a practice consecrated by more 
authoritative lexicographers, Bustanihad to apologize for the innova- 
tion. He says while he "condescended" to include such vocabulary he 
was careful to call attention to its nature in every case. 129 

The single page introduction offers the dictionary "as a small service 

123 Al-Jinan (Beirut, 1870), vol. I, pp. 70-1. This was on the occasion of the 
annual visit to the school of the mutasarrif of Beirut 

124 On the final page of his Kitab Mftah Al-Misbak (Beirut, 1862), p. 144; here 
again BustanI is not strictly original. Once more his model seems to be another 
work by Jihiil (Germanus) Farhat, Ihkam Bab at-Frab f an Lughat al-A f rab (Mar- 
seilles, 1849). The French title is more explicitly Dictionndre Arabe. The intro- 
duction clearly states that Farhat's work was a simplification and abridgement of 
Al-FMzabadl 

125 Letter dated July 18, 1855, from BustanI to Smith 

128 Kitab Muhit Al-Muhit, 2 vols. (Beirut, 1869-70). These two dates are 
mentioned at the end of the second volume 
127 An advertisement issued in 1870 adds the Sahah of Al-Jauhari (see cover of 



128 Of those who questioned some of his judgments see R. Dozy, Supplement 
aux dictionnaires arabes (Leiden, 1881), p. xi 

129 Muhit Al-Muhit, vol. I, p. 847. This occurs in a note dated July 31, 1866, 
printed at the end of the letter Ra* 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 173 

from a lover of the fatherland (muhibb Ul-ivatan) l3Q whose highest 
ambitions and aims are to witness the progress of his compatriots in 
learning and civilization through the medium of their noble language". 
This reveals very clearly the two elements we have already detected in 
Bustanl's patriotism. The first is promotion of enlightenment through 
the medium of Arabic; the second, acceptance of Ottoman legitimacy. 
Both are underlined in the same introduction. The dictionary is dedi- 
cated to Sultan f Abdul-' Aziz in terms similar to those quoted above. 131 
The author was amply rewarded. He was granted a monetary prize of 
T 250 and awarded the Majidi Order, third ckss, a decoration which 
BustanI must have been proud to earn. All his extant photographs 
show him with this decoration on his breast. 132 

To this period belongs a significant lecture published in forty-two 
pages. 133 Its central theme is the need for more schools, journals, print- 
ing presses and more improvements in Syria in general and Beirut in 
particular, with a digression to compare Arab with European social 
habits and customs. It makes an interesting assessment of the efforts of 
Al-Jamiyyah Al-flmiyyah As-Suriyyah iu still as "inadequate to meet 
the demands of the situation". The significance of this society is perhaps 
merely symbolic. Its members were prominent Muslims, Druzes and 
Christians who forgot their sectarian connection in pursuit of their 
"liberal" interests. Butrus Al-Bustani is mentioned among its early 
members, and so far as could be discovered the only non-Arab member 
was Eli Smith. 135 

Also to this period belongs another general work such as Bustani had 
produced in the experimental period. It must have had its inspiration in 
the French expeditionary force which came to Lebanon in 1860, too 
late to perform anything of a military nature. The book in question 

180 Cf. Muhit Al-Muhit t vol. I, p. 848: fi sabtl khidmat al-watan (= in the 
service of the fatherland) 

131 An offshoot of this dictionary was the simultaneous publication of what 
purports to be an abridgement under the title ofKitab Qatr Al-Muhit also in two 
volumes, for use "by students". This dictionary is dedicated to Sa'Id Pasha, the 
Khedive of Egypt 

182 C J. Zaidan, Mashahtr Ash-Sharq, vol. n, p. 27; Al-Mashriq, vol. XH 
(1909), p. 929 

188 Khitabfil Hafa Al-IjtimFiyyah (Beirut, 1869) 

184 This is the society of which George Antonius, The Arab Awakening, 53-4, 
says that it was established in 1857 and which he describes as "the first outward 
manifestation of a collective [Arab] national consciousness". 

185 Cf. L. Cheikho, La Litterature arabe an XIXe Siecle (Beirut, 1908), vol. I, 
p. 71. Further research is required to establish the connection with the majnuf 
(1846) and 'itmdah (1860) mentioned above, pp. 161, 168 



174 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

was the story of Napoleon. 136 Bustam's production of books was greatly 
facilitated at this stage by his establishment, in partnership with 
Khalil Sarkis, ofMatbaat Al-Mcfarifm 1867, a partnership which lasted 
till 1874 when Sarkis on his own established Al-Maiba f ah Al-Adabiyya. 
Many of Bustani's works were printed at the former press. 

Meanwhile the American mission was facing a crisis affecting not 
only its school system but its very existence. The Syrian disorders did 
only minor damage compared with the effects of the American civil 
war. Contributions to the funds of the Board in Boston became 
irregular and less generous, and the depreciation in the American 
currency increased greatly all expenses on salaries and equipment. 
Missions of the Board all over the world were required to cut down 
their expenses and concentrate on essential services. 137 

136 Tankh Nabulyun Al-Awwal (Beirut, 1868). This is the only work ascribed 
to Bustani which is not authenticated. No copy could be found in the British 
Museum, or in the school of Oriental Studies in London, or in Oxford. While in 
Beirut early in 1962 a search was made in the National library, the American 
University and the Universite St Joseph. Nothing could be found in the first two 
institutions, but in the library of the third there is a work entitled Kitab Tankh 
Nabulyun Bonbarta Al-Awwal, the second edition of which was printed at 
Al-Matba'a Al-Wataniya in Beirut in 1868. Bustani's name does not appear on it, 
but it may be safely assumed that this is the work listed uncritically by most 
bibliographers under his name. The genesis of this work is not without interest. 
In 1839 lists of Arabic books ordered by various centres in Syria and Palestine 
were sent to Cairo (see enclosures to Sharif Pasha's letter dated 24 Jumada I, 
1255, document No. 204inMafrfazah No. 257, National Historical Archives, Abdin 
Palace, Cairo), and among the books ordered by more than one centre is one 
called Tankh Bonbarta. This probably refers to a book by Nikola At-Turk printed 
in Paris in 1839 (with a French version) under the title ofDhikr Tamallukjumhur 
Al-Faransauriyya Al-Aatar Al-Misriyya wal-Bilad Ash-Shamiyya. Another book 
by Colonel Chevalier Louis CaUigaris was published in Paris in 1856 in French 
as Histoire de L'Empereur Napoleon ler and in Arabic as Kitab Sirat Napulyun 
Al-Awwal Imbratur Al~Faransawiyya. The introduction of the book ascribed to 
Bustani admits ambiguously that additional material for it was culled from "an 
Arabic history written by a learned man", who lived at the time of the French 
invasion of Egypt and Syria. It also admits in a roundabout manner that the 
Arabic translation, of Calligaris was also utilized. If Bustani's "authorship" of the 
book published in Beirut is accepted, as it is indeed asserted not only by later 
bibliographers like Sarkis, Brockelmann, Graf and Daghir, but also by earlier 
writers like Edward Van Dyck (Kitab Ikitfa 9 Al-Qunff bima fatwa Matff, Cairo, 
1896, pp. 410-11), it is safe to assume that Bustanf s contribution was no more 
than an adaptation and simplification of Nikola At-Turk and Louis Calligaris 

187 C The Missionary Herald, LVEL (1862), p. 143 ; c further the appeal by the 
Treasurer printed at the end of the January number (1863) asking for contributions 
towards expenses amounting to not less than $450,000 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 175 

(vii) 

Anderson's philosophy has always been that preaching should take 
precedence over teaching. Missionary schools were simply "a con- 
venient method of inculcating a knowledge of the gospel", 138 and 
their ultimate object was the training of native preachers. Therefore 
any venture in post-primary education by the American mission, such 
as the two seminaries for boys and girls, was not for general education. 
"The Board has been obliged," wrote Anderson, "in the progress of its 
work, to decline connection with expensive institutions for general 
education, to prepare young men for secular and worldly pursuits." 139 
This being the general policy, schools tended to be the first service to 
suffer stagnation or curtailment in a financial crisis. But despite the 
known policy of the American Board in regard to secular education, 
despite civil wars in Syria and America, and despite financial stringency, 
the American mission in Beirut had to consider the educational situ- 
ation around them and its bearing on the future of their work. 

The Roman Catholic missions in Syria antedate the American mis- 
sion by two centuries. In the first half of the nineteenth century they 
renewed their efforts with increased vigour and ample financial sup- 
port, largely from France. Post-primary schools for boys were thus 
started at, among other centres, Antoura and Ghazir and similar schools 
for girls were simultaneously started by sisters of charity and the nuns of 
St Joseph. 140 The Maronites of course had their native schools, at the 
apex of which stood f Ain Warqah. The other communities were per- 
haps not as fortunate, but each community had its own traditional 
system. 

Bustanl's "national" school was unique in such a sectarian surround- 
ing. Two years after its establishment, die Greek Orthodox community 
and the Greek Catholic community each established a "modern" 
school adopting Bustanl's system but not his ideals. The traditional 
Muslim system of education based on the kuttab and the madrasah was 
similarly communal, attended almost entirely by Muslim children. 

The American mission contributed its share to this communal educa- 
tional set-up. In fact they aggravated it, by creating a new sect and 
schools to cater for its needs. It is true that their schools were open to 
children from all the communities, but the primary object of these 

138 R. Anderson, Missionary Schools (ABCFM Pamphlet, Boston, 1838), p. 21 

139 Missionary Schools (another ABCFM Pamphlet different from the first, 
Boston, 1861), pp. 17-18 

140 Cf. L. Cheikho, La Literature arabc, vol. I, p. 45 



176 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

schools was always to bring up the children in the Protestant faith. In 
the course of time, the American mission schools were, to a great 
extent, attended by children of converts to Protestantism. What were 
the missionaries to do when after the disturbances of 1860 they found 
their seminaries inadequate to absorb the product of their own primary 
schools? What attitude were they to adopt to the new Roman Catholic 
schools, the new schools of the other Christian communities, to the 
native private schools, to the Lebanon Schools Committee in connec- 
tion with the Free Church in Scotland, 141 and to the schools of a new 
English mission initiated in 1860 by a dedicated woman. 142 

All die new schools, foreign and native, taught languages such as 
French and English besides Arabic. The American seminary, after its 
reconstitution at e Abeih, taught a litde English only to those of its 
students who were prepared for the ministry. That was no longer 
adequate. The shrewd Lebanese saw litde chance of advancement for 
his son in die growing commercial prosperity of Beirut if he only knew 
Arabic. 143 The mission was obviously in an embarrassing situation. 
Some native Protestants, converts through American labour, were con- 
strained, in the absence of American institutions catering for the 
demand for foreign languages, to send their offsprings to other schools. 
Indeed the Jesuits, who had been multiplying their institutions in 
various parts of die country, were actually attracting "the children and 
youdi of the Protestants", and one prominent Protestant did in fact 
send his son to a Jesuit college. 144 

Thus die inadequacy of e Abeih, competition with the Roman 
Catholic missions, rivalry between the American mission schools and 
the schools initiated by die British Syrian mission, private and ecclesi- 
astical native initiative in establishing "modern" schools, the resdess- 
ness of die native Protestant community, die growing need of mercan- 

141 The schools owe their origin to local initiative, but in 1856 following a visit 
by a Scottish school inspector connection with the Free Church was established. 
See Colonial Committee Minutes (1856-6*0), pp. n fF. (These minutes are deposited 
with the Church of Scotland, Edinburgh.) 

142 This refers to the "British Syrian Mission" begun in 1860 by Elizabeth 
Lloyd, -widow of Dr. James Bowen Thompson. See Sunrise in Syria, a history 
of tie mission, (London, 1930), pp. 19 f 

148 As contemporary evidence of die demand for foreign languages even in 
girls schools see Hafiqat Al-Akhbar 9 No. 41, October, 4/16, 1858, p. 4. A native 
female teacher announces the opening of a private girls school and cites Butnis 
Bustani as a referee. For pupils taking the general course the fees were 90 Piastres 
per term, but those wishing instruction in English an additional fee of 30 Piastres 
was charged 

144 The Missionary Herald, LDC (1863), p. 38 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 177 

tile Beirut 145 for a "liberal" and "business" training of its youth, and 
other factors, all influenced the members of the American mission in 
Beirut to think that the time had come for a departure from the "nar- 
row" aims of purely missionary schools. In January i862 146 they 
decided to seek the Board's approval for the establishment of a col- 
legiate literary institution. This was the first step towards the opening 
in 1866 of the Syrian Protestant College, now renowned as the Amer- 
ican University of Beirut. 

Since a study of the genesis of the college is reserved for another 
occasion, 147 the purpose of this essay would be served with a brief 
clarification of the connection between the college and the mission on 
the one hand, and between it and Bustanl's school on the other. While 
the college was missionary in conception, aims and proceedings, it was 
started as an independent institution with its own funds and board of 
managers. It was opened on December 3, 1866, with sixteen students in 
a small hired building, the property of Bustani. 148 His school next door 
had already been a going concern as a boarding establishment for some 
three years, and even before the opening of the college an agreement 
was reached to associate it with the school. "The Board of Managers", 
wrote Daniel Bliss, the first principal of the college, "has adopted Mr 
Bistany*s school as a preparatory department." 149 This arrangement 
was continued for three years and then the college moved to another 
hired building, terminating the agreement with Bustani. 

The application of "different rules and regulations" is blamed for 
"slowly developing friction". 150 That was perhaps inevitable, even 
with smooth discipline maintained. Bustani was already committed to 
a patriotic support of the Ottoman regime on the one hand, and to a 
scheme of education without proselytism on the other. Perhaps it was 

i "Beirut became the centre of trade for Syria and Palestine." Thus declares 
a most informative article, with particular details of imports and exports, in 
Hadtqat Al-Akhbar, No. 34, 12/28 August 1858, p. 4 

146 A Brief Chronicle of the Syria Mission (Mrs Bayard Dodge's copy), p. 19 

147 A monograph on the "origin and character of the Syrian Protestant College, 
1860-1875" is being prepared for publication on the first centenary of the found- 
ing of the college, based largely on manuscripts not utilized in the histories of the 
institution written by its first and two other presidents, namely The Reminiscences 
of Daniel Bliss (New York, 1920); Stephen B. L. Penrose, That Tliey May Have 
Life - the story of the American University of Beirut 1866-10,41 (New York, 1941); 
Bayard Dodge, The American University of Beirut- a brief history (Beirut, 1958} 

148 Daniel Bliss, Reminiscences, 187; Stephen Penrose, The Story of the American 
University ofBeirut t 24 

149 Confidential letter dated i<5 December, 1865 to Anderson 

150 Stephen Penrose, op. d&, p. 29 



178 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

031 the second score that the arrangement with the college broke down. 
Bustanl had skilfully overcome the problem of religious service for 
pupils belonging to different denominations by arranging for pupils in 
his school to go to the church of their parents' choice, escorted by a 
teacher in each case. As a missionary institution, the college could not 
tolerate such an arrangement. It actually sought to unite all its pupils, 
including those under Bustani's roof) in the American Protestant form 
of worship. Perhaps this episode represents the last intimate cooperation 
between die mission and Bustani. 151 For, although an independent in- 
stitution, the college was a child of the mission, presided over by a 
former member of the mission, and staffed, to begin with, by active 
members of the mission. Henceforth Bustard's activities were in no 
way connected with the mission. The object of discussing them below 
is simply to complete the story, not to indicate missionary influence. 
That influence is implicit in the development of a courageous and inde- 
fatigable writer. Having given up his post at the consulate in favour of 
his son, and having gradually entrusted him with the management of 
the school, Bustani devoted the rest of his life to literary production. 
His remaining output to be noted here falls into two categories: 
(a) three journals bearing horticultural names, (6) an encyclopedia of 
general knowledge. 

In January 1870 a biweekly journal called Al-Jinan was launched, 
professedly for the diffusion of general knowledge on scientific, 
literary, historical, industrial, commercial and civil subjects, and with 
the double aim of "reviving the [Arabic] language and its improve- 
ment" and "encouragement of native (wafaniyyah) elements in these 
branches'*. It adopted as its motto "Love of die fatherland is part of 
belief [in God]". 152 Before the end of die year, a weekly journal called 
Al-Jannah was issued and a share in editing it was assigned to Salim 
Bustani who was by now collaborating with his fadier in all his pro- 
jects. In the following year a third journal Al-Junainah was established. 158 

151 The "Syria Mission" of the ABCFM was transferred in 1870 to the Board of 
Foreign Mission of the Presbyterian Church, and their records examined by the 
writer contain no mention of Bustani, not even his death in 1883. His personal 
relations with Daniel Bliss, however, remained cordial to the end. See Remini- 
scences, p. 234 

158 Al-Jinan, I (1870) - see both sides of the ride page. Cf. an article bearing the 
motto of die journal as its tide, pp. 302-3. The same motto had ahready been 
adopted by Hurriyet, die organ of die Young Ottomans, launched in 1868 

163 The order of the appearance of these journals is reversed, and the appearance 
of die third is advanced by one year in the Encyclopedia of Islam, I, 805. The new 
edition defers the subject of Bustani to a forthcoming supplement 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 179 

None of these journals was political in the strict meaning of the term, 
though they carried some items of political news or history. 154 The 
first two survived the editor by one year, when they ceased publication 
in 1884, while the third was published only till 1875. 

Here again Bustanfs significance seems to be not so much in being a 
pioneer as in the spirit in which he put forward his work. For journals 
similar to his existed in Syria, not only before his horticultural trio but 
even before the earlier and shortlived Naftr Suriyya" 155 On the other 
hand, the three publications provide ample evidence of their editor's 
pursuance of the aim of serving the fatherland by the diffusion of know- 
ledge through the medium of Arabic. Whether as a teacher, or as a 
translator, or as an adaptor and writer of textbooks, or as an active 
member of literary societies, or as a promoter of publication, or as a 
lexicographer, or finally as a journalist and an encyclopedist, he had 
been the true patriot and the lover of his mother-tongue. 158 

His final effort was a project which he did not live to complete. It 
grew out of his work on the Arabic dictionary and was intended as a 
biographical dictionary of similar size. 157 But the plan was radically 
revised, and Bustani embarked in 1875 on a very ambitious scheme of 
writing an encyclopedia of general knowledge which he called "Kitab 
Dairat Al-Maarif- Encyclopedic arabe". Experience had taught him 
that apart from laborious research the project required public financial 
backing. He accordingly drafted a sample section of the proposed work 
and submitted it to, among others, a former grand vizier, a former 
governor of Syria and the Khedive Isma'iL The first urged Bustani to 
proceed with it and assured him of official financial support which in 
Ottoman practice usually came after, not in advance, of publication. 

The Khedive's patronage was generous and decisive. Not only did he 
order the Egyptian government to subscribe for a thousand copies of 
the encyclopedia, but also to provide Bustani with a library of refer- 
ences, some of them printed in Bulaq, to facilitate his work. Bustani 

154 Contrary to the editor's own statement quoted above, some writers assert 
that these journals were political (siyasiyyah). See for example Fuad Afram Al- 
Bustani, Al-Mu*allim Butrus Al-Bustani (Rawaf Series No. 22, Beirut, 1920), 
pp. *K* and 'I/; George Antonius, The Arab Awakening, p. 50 

155 Hadiqat Al-Akhbar, established in 1858, must be reckoned first. One of the 
earliest projects for an Arabic newspaper was outlined by Salim Naufal in an 
Arabic letter to Eli Smith dated London, August i, 1851 

156 Cf. Al-Muqtataf, I (1883), p. 6; "He was fanatic only in [his love] of the 
fctherland." 

157 As envisaged in a 14-page advertisement published under the title of 
Al-Kauthar in 1874 



180 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

pays glowing tribute to his patron in the introduction to the first 
volume, 158 and expresses the hope that the Ottoman government, who 
had rewarded Kim for the dictionary after publication, would do like- 
wise with the encyclopedia. He further expresses, in flowery prose and 
in seven lines of indifferent verse, his loyalty to Sultan Murad, during 
whose "caliphate" the first volume was completed. 159 From 1876 to 
1883, when Bustani died suddenly, six volumes, each in about 800 
pages, were issued, and the seventh was left unfinished. 160 

Bustani characteristically states that he intended the encyclopedia for 
"all communities and creeds". He was careful therefore to make it as 
comprehensive as the sources at his disposal permitted. These were, in 
his words, "Arabic and Western books, used with reconciliation". His 
range, for the times, was remarkably wide, if not always deep. Nothing 
of legitimate intellectual interest was considered unworthy of inclusion, 
"except what is contrary to public morals which we were constrained 
in some places either to revise or omit altogether". For a single man to 
undertake a work of such magnitude required not simply wide liberal 
interests, but power of assimilation, facility of expression, and capacity 
for simplification. As the volumes of his work clearly show, Bustanf s 
industry must have been extraordinary. Some of the material has of 
course been rendered, through the advance in science, out-of-date, but 
much still remains as a monument of the author's erudition and useful 
for reference purpose. 161 

(viii) 

"A pioneer inmany branches of literary activity." 162 Thus succinctly 
wrote an acute scholar estimating Bustani's place in the history of 
Arabic literature in Syria in the nineteenth century. One of the objects 
of the analysis of Bustani's intellectual development and literary pro- 
duction in the foregoing pages has been to show precisely in what sense 

158 Kitab Dairat ^-Wari/ (Beirut, 1876), pp. 2-3. This tribute contrasts very 
sharply with the half-hearted mention of the patronage by Bustani's family in 
1883 (see ibid., voL VII, p. 591) 

159 See notice of the first and second volumes by Fleischer in Zeitschrift der 
deutschen morgenlandischen Gesellschaft, XXXIV (1880), pp. 579-82 

160 This volume was completed by Salim Bustani. Vol. 8 was issued in 1884; 
voL 9 in 1887, voL 10 (in Cairo) in 1898 and vol. n (also in Cairo) in 1900, by 
members of the Bustani family. No further volumes were published 

161 C for example vol. V, pp. 744-52 under "Beirut". The list of schools, 
presses, journals and hospitals (8.751 ) is still very useful 

18t H. A. R. Gibb, "Studies in Contemporary Arabic literature", Bulletin of the 
School of Oriental Studies, IV (1926-8), p. 750 



THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT l8l 

he was a pioneer. Long after he gave up teaching he continued to 
describe himself as the mtfallim. Indeed he did so to the end of his life. 
Hence almost all his works up to 1870 were intended for use by pupils 
and teachers, and the works of the kst ten years of his career were 
primarily useful for schools, and for the limited number of literates 
who passed through them with a cultivated taste for reading. 

Bustard's originality was perhaps not so much in the subject matter 
of his works as in his method of presentation and in the principles that 
inspired him. Care has been taken to give above as clear an estimate of 
every literary production according to the standards of his times and to 
relate it to the proper stage in his career. There is as yet no study of the 
man or of his works, and such cursory notice as is made of him and of 
his works in general literary histories or reference books often does him 
less than justice. Thus the fact of his conversion to Protestantism is men- 
tioned by some as if it was a shameful episode, 163 and by others as if it 
did not cause any influence on his literary career. His other, not less 
significant, conversion to patriotism, within the framework of the 
Ottoman system, has not even been sufficiently noticed. Nor are the 
few biographical facts about his early life presented in a systematic 
way, 164 or his works arranged by bibliographers in a chronological 
order. 165 A well-known authority even ascribed to him books which 
were written by a namesake in this century. 166 

163 Cf. L. Cheikho, La Littlrature arabe, vol. II, p. 112, who refers to members 
o the Bustani family "whose religious faith, remained untarnished, unlike that 
of the mu'allim Butrus" 

164 Consider for example the statement that he learnt English while at e Ain 
Warqah (J. Zaidan, Mashakir Ask-Sharq, vol. H, p. 24; F. A. Bustani, JtapoT, 
No. 22, p. 'Jim'). This would mean that English was taught at this school, or at 
least that some members of the staff could teach it. There is no evidence to support 
either. Cf. Da'irat Al-Ma*arif 9 vol. VII (1883), P- 589, where English is not men- 
tioned by Bustanf s family among his attainments. Cf. p. 593 where Van Dyck 
says that Bustani came to Beirut in 1840 "knowing Arabic, Syriac, Latin and 
Italian, but before long learned English' 1 

166 SarHs, Mu*jom, p. 558 (who lists Kashf Al-Hijab published in 1848 after 
Qatr al-Muhit published in 1870); c DtfiratAl-Mtfarif, vol. VH, p. 591, where the 
pamphlets translated for the American mission in the 1840*5 are listed after books 
published in the 1870*5 

168 C. Brockelmann, Geschichte der arabischen Litteratur, SuppL IE (Leiden, 
1938), p. 768, kst item, Udaba* Al-Arab, in three volumes of which the first was 
published in Beirut in 1937. The eminent German scholar would have seen this 
himself had he read the one page introduction. Tanbthat AI-Y8ziji f ala Muhit 
Al-Muhit (ed. by Salim Sham'un and Jubran Nahhas, Alexandria, 1933), though 
clearly stated in the introduction to be by Ibrahim Al-Yaziji is wrongly ascribed 
by Brockelmann to Nasif Al-Yaaji 



182 THE AMERICAN MISSIONARIES IN BEIRUT 

Similar confusion is shown in general literary works hazarding 
summary estimates of the writer. The verdict quoted at the beginning 
of this section can easily be substantiated. But the sweeping general- 
izations of, for example, Jurji Zaidan are very difficult to sustain. He 
asserts that Bustani was "the leader of the literary movement of his age 
in regard to schools, societies, newspapers, journals, language, science 
and literature". 167 More recent writers are equally extravagant. Thus 
according to a well-known bibliographer, Bustani was "the leading 
Arab educator in modern times . , . the first to engage in journalism and 
[the diffusion of] culture". 168 

No doubt Bustanfs contribution was, by the standards of his times, 
outstanding, but it was not unique. His knowledge of foreign lan- 
guages opened for him horizons which were practically closed to, for 
example, his contemporary and senior, Nasif Al-Yaziji. Experience in 
translation trained his mind to assimilate and adapt heterogeneous 
material. His early writings betray traces, in phraseology and style, 
which sometimes border on the colloquial. But gradually he acquired 
simplicity and smoothness which contrast with the style of the purists 
in his days. 

His daim to fame does not, however, rest on his literary style, nor on 
the content of his works. It rests perhaps more legitimately on the ideas 
that inspired his work in the literary and educational fields. While still 
limited to writing school textbooks, he introduced his Arabic grammar 
in 1854 as "intended for the benefit of the children of the Christians." 
His Arabic dictionary was offered in 1870 as a small patriotic service to 
all "the children of the fatherland". Finally he began publishing his 
Arabic encyclopedia in 1876 for the benefit of "all religious commun- 
ities and all denominations" not only in his native Lebanon or Syria, 
but throughout the Arabic-speaking countries. This is a remarkable 
transformation. Bustanl's story, in sum, is one of literary development 
that went hand in hand with spiritual and patriotic development. It is an 
excellent example of the outcome of a successful and balanced inter- 
action of Western ideas and methods with Arabic ideas and methods. 

A. L. TIBAWI 1963 

187 Ta'rikh Adah Al-Lughdi Al- f Arabiyyah (Cairo, 1914), vol. IV, p. 299 

168 Yusuf As r ad Daghir, Masadir Ad-Dirasah AI-Adabiyya, (Beirut, 1955), 

vol. n, p. i so 



AUTHORS OF PAPERS 



MALCOLM KERR studied at Princeton, the American University of 
Beirut, Harvard, and the School of Advanced International Studies, 
Washington. After teaching in the Department of Political Studies at 
the University of Beirut, he was attached to St Antony's College as a 
Rockefeller Foundation fellow during the academic year 1961-2. He 
is at present Assistant Professor at the University of California, Los 
Angeles. He is the author of Lebanon in the Last Years of Feudalism, 
1840-1868. 

ANN K. S. LAMBTON was Press Attache at the British Embassy in 
Persia throughout the Second World War and is now Professor of 
Persian at the University of London. She is the author of Landlord 
and Peasant in Persia, Persian Grammar, and other works. She is at pre- 
sent engaged on a study of the effects of Western influence on Iran. 

JAMIL ABUN-NASR studied history at the American University of 
Beirut, and then at St Antony's College, where he obtained in 1961 the 
degree of D.Phil. with a thesis on the Tijaniyya movement in North 
and West Africa. At present he holds a post-doctoral fellowship at the 
Harvard Center for Middle Eastern Studies, and is engaged in further 
researches on North African history. 

ALBERTINE JWAIDEH studied at the American University of 
Beirut and then at Somerville College, Oxford, where she obtained the 
degree of BXitt. in 1954 with a thesis on municipal government in 
Baghdad and Basrah, 1869-1914, and the degree of D.Phil. in 1958 
with a thesis on land and tribal administration in Southern Iraq, 
1869-1914. She held a Rockefeller fellowship from 1951-53. She has 
subsequently taught at the University of Baghdad and the Inter- 
American University at St Germain, Puerto Rico. 

A, L. TEBAWI has been a Research Fellow in Harvard University 
Center for Middle Eastern Studies since 1960. He obtained his first 
degree in history at the American University of Beirut, and after 
serving as Education Officer in mandatory Palestine he studied at the 

183 



184 AUTHORS OF PAPERS 

University of London Institute of Education and obtained the degree 
of Ph.D. He is the author of British Interests in Palestine, 1800-1901, and 
other works in English and Arabic. In 1962 he was awarded the degree 
of DXitt. by the University of London for his works on Middle 
Eastern history and education. 



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