(The journal “al-Muqtaṭaf” and the Great War in an evolutionary perspective)
in La rivista di Arablit, a. IX, n. 17-18, dicembre 2019, pp. 25-50.
The Arabic journal “al-Muqtaṭaf” was founded in 1876 by the Arabic Christians Ya‘qūb Ṣarrūf (1852-1927) and Fāris Nimr (1856-1951). It was an encyclopaedic journal and the publishers’ aim was to inform the reader in the Arab world about the Western scientific progress of that time. They spread Evolutionary theory and Darwinism, together with the thought of English philosopher Herbert Spencer. Ṣarrūf and Nimr always maintained good relations with Egypt’s British rulers who had occupied Egypt since 1882. The aim of this article is to analyse the position of the publishers of “al-Muqtaṭaf” before the World War I (1914-1918), which was unleashed by the colonial and hegemonic ambitions of various European powers. However, the publishers of “al-Muqtaṭaf” presented it as a conflict between Democracy and Authoritarianism. Democratic states, and first of all Great Britain, fought against autocratic states (Germany and the Austro-Hungarian Empire) that were trying to impose their hegemony on weaker nations, applying a Darwinist conception founded on a cynical view of human relationships and history.
Read the article