The Invention of a Populist Islamic Leader: Badr Al-dìn Al-Hasanì, the Religious Educational Movement and The Great Syrian Revolt

in Arabica
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Abstract

Badr al-Dìn al-Hasanì (1850-1935) appears in the biographical literature of Syria as its foremost man of religion from World War I to the Great Revolt. This article examines his life and work within the context of the gradual shift of the Syrian ulema of his day from the older "politics of notables" to a new strategy of popular mobilization. It argues that Badr al-Dìn's image was "invented" during the early Mandate by disciples in search of legitimization for their populist agendas of an Islamic educational system and agitation against French rule. They accordingly presented him as a self-standing scholar who transcended all religious divisions, reprimanded "unjust" rulers and supported the Arab cause. This "romantic" image of Badr al-Dìn was to prevail over the alternative image of him as an accommodating religious notable which emerges from the French sources.

The Invention of a Populist Islamic Leader: Badr Al-dìn Al-Hasanì, the Religious Educational Movement and The Great Syrian Revolt

in Arabica

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