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Islamic Reform : Politics and Social Change in Late Ottoman Syria - David Dean Commins

Islamic Reform

Politics and Social Change in Late Ottoman Syria

Hardcover

Published: 12th April 1990
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Religious community and nation have long been the chief poles of political and cultural identity for peoples of the modern Middle East. This work explores how men in turn-of-the-century Damascus dealt, in word and deed, with the dilemmas of identity that arose from the Ottoman Empire's 19th-century reforms. Muslim religious scholars (ulama) who advocated a return to scripture as the basis of social and political order were the pivotal group. The reformers clashed with their fellow ulama who defended the integrity of prevailing religious practices and beliefs. In addition to two conflicting interpretations of Islam, Arabism comprised a new strand of thought represented by young men with secular educations advancing Arab interests in the Ottoman Empire. Religious reformers and Arabists shared a political agenda that shifted focus from constitutionalism before 1908 to administrative decentralization shortly thereafter. Using unpublished manuscripts and correspondence, inheritance documents, and Ottoman-era periodicals, this work weaves together social, political, and intellectual aspects of a local history that represents an instance of a fundamental issue in modern history.

"Commins' book explores these tensions via a careful study of the documents of three generations of a notable Damascus family. His extensive research is a painstaking elucidation of the changing role of the ulama and the rise of a 'secular' Arabism."--Theological Book Review "Commins effectively and convincingly explains the social and political context of several generations of salafis in late Ottoman Syria. The author draws on a wide range of published sources as well as local court registers and the large library of the movement's most articluate and prolific spokesman, Jamal al-Din al Qasimi. The result is a complex and fascinating story -- Middle East Journal "A penetrating study of this important group of 19th-century Muslim intellectuals."--Choice "A fascinating study....This study represents an important contribution to the history of Muslim intellectual development in English, providing as it does formulation of key salafîs position."--British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies "David Commins has made a major contribution to scholarship, and expanded measurably our knowledge of more than one area of the history of Islamic reform in late Ottoman Syria. It is likely to remain an important resource for scholars and students for many years to come."--International Journal of Middle East Studies "Commins' study is one in which...real personalities emerge from the amorphous, faceless late-Ottoman period....Commins has concentrated on three endearing ulama....The author seems quite literally to have read everything they read, everything they wrote, and everything that was written about them....Commins' work is an intellectual historian's delight, full of direct quotes beautifully rendered into English. Here we have the thoughts, writings and pronouncements of communal leaders within the larger framework of the still poignant emergence of Arab social and political ideology."--Journal of the American Oriental Society

Introductionp. 3
Damascene Ulama and Social Change in Nineteenth-Century Syriap. 7
Sources and Agents of Religious Reformp. 21
The Social Roots of Salafismp. 34
The Emergence of Salafism in Damascus: Early Vicissitudes, 1896-1904p. 49
Salafi Interpretations of Islam: Reason and Unity in Qasimip. 65
Salafi Interpretations of Islam: Society and Social Life in Qasimip. 79
The Salafis and the Arabistsp. 89
Conservative Ulama and Antisalafi Actionp. 104
Antisalafi Ulama's Interpretations of Islamp. 116
Salafis and Arabists in Politics, 1908-1914p. 124
Conclusionp. 141
Notesp. 145
Appendixp. 179
Select Bibliographyp. 181
Indexp. 195
Table of Contents provided by Syndetics. All Rights Reserved.

ISBN: 9780195061031
ISBN-10: 0195061039
Series: Studies in Middle Eastern History
Audience: Professional
Format: Hardcover
Language: English
Number Of Pages: 224
Published: 12th April 1990
Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
Country of Publication: US
Dimensions (cm): 23.6 x 15.9  x 1.9
Weight (kg): 0.52