16 Facts About Nahda


Nahda, referred to as the Arab Awakening or Enlightenment, was a cultural movement that flourished in Arabic-speaking regions of the Ottoman Empire, notably in Egypt, Lebanon and Syria, during the second half of the 19th century and the early 20th century.

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In traditional scholarship, the Nahda is seen as connected to the cultural shock brought on by Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798, and the reformist drive of subsequent rulers such as Muhammad Ali of Egypt.

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Nahda was sent to Paris in 1826 by Muhammad Ali's government to study Western sciences and educational methods, although originally to serve as Imam for the Egyptian cadets training at the Paris military academy.

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Nahda came to hold a very positive view of French society, although not without criticisms.

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Nahda witnessed the July Revolution of 1830, against Charles X, but was careful in commenting on the matter in his reports to Muhammad Ali.

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Nahda converted to Protestantism during the nearly two decades that he lived and worked in Cairo, present-day Egypt, from 1825 to 1848.

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Nahda next moved to Paris, France, for two years in the early 1850s, where he wrote and published some of his most important work.

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Nahda soon was made responsible for diplomatic missions to the Ottoman Empire and the countries of Europe, bringing him into contact with Western ideals, as well as with the Tanzimat reforms of the Ottoman Empire.

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Nahda served as Prime Minister of Tunisia from 1859 until 1882.

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Nahda's modernizing theories have had an enormous influence on Tunisian and Ottoman thought.

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Nahda expressed ideas of political and social reforms in Ghabat al-haqq, highlighting the need of the Arabs for two things above all: modern schools and patriotism "free from religious considerations".

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Nahda tried to introduce "a revolution in diction, themes, metaphor and imagery in modern Arabic poetry".

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The main other example of the late al-Nahda era is the emerging Palestinian nationalism, which was set apart from Syrian nationalism by Jewish immigration to Mandatory Palestine and the resulting sense of Palestinian particularism.

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Nahda favored the replacement of authoritarian monarchies with representative rule, and denounced what he perceived as the dogmatism, stagnation and corruption of the Islam of his age.

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Nahda claimed that tradition had stifled Islamic debate and repressed the correct practices of the faith.

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Nahda therefore advocated that Muslims should return to the "true" Islam practiced by the ancient Caliphs, which he held had been both rational and divinely inspired.

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