Niqūlā al-Ḥaddād’s Contribution to “al-Hilāl” during World War I and its Aftermath

in La rivista di Arablit, a. IX, n. 17-18, dicembre 2019, pp. 51-68.

In this paper I will be analysing a number of articles by the Syro-Lebanese thinker and man of letters Niqūlā al-Ḥaddād (1872-1954) for the magazine “al-Hilāl”. He published articles in which he managed to discuss a good number of his favourite topics against the background of the ongoing First World War. He did not always deal directly with the conflict and its events, but rather preferred to reflect on “war” as an historical and sociological phenomenon or on the development of Nations from a scientific point of view, while revealing the links between his words and the particular context in which he was writing them. In a similar way, he would focus on its economic consequences, which obviously had a tremendous impact on the lives of people (usually the weakest), as History teaches us.


In this paper, I will be introducing some aspects of the considerations on war as a phenomenon and on World War I as specifically expressed by Nahdawist Christian Syro-Lebanese intellectual Niqūlā al-Ḥaddād, or Ḥaddād (Ǧūn, Sidon, 1872-Cairo, 1954)1 in a number of articles published in the well-known magazine “al-Hilāl”, created by another equally famous Syro-Lebanese thinker, Ǧurǧī Zaydān (1861-1914)2. In particular, I will focus primarily on the series of articles entitled Taṭawwur al-umam ḥasab al-nawāmīs al-ṭabī‘iyyah al-‘āmmah wa mā yakūn min hāḏā al-taṭawwur ba‘d al-ḥarb (The Development of Nations according to General Natural Laws and its Outcomes after the 1914-1915 War)3, which may be considered as the cornerstone of the construct successfully established by Niqūlā al-Ḥaddād during these fundamental years in human history. Like other writings, these ones reveal much of their author’s personality. 


  1. On his life and work, see, for instance: Matti Moosa, Modern Arabic Fiction, A Three Continents Book, Lynee Rienner Publishers, Boulder & London 1997 (second edition), pp. 241 ff.; D.M. Reid, The Syrian Christians and Early Socialism in the Arab World, in “International Journal of Middle East Studies”, 5, 2 (April 1974), pp. 177-193; Salmà Miršāq Salīm, Niqūlā al-Ḥaddād, al-adīb al-ālim, Dār al-Ǧadīd, Bayrūt 2013; P. Viviani, Un maestro del Novecento arabo. Fara Anūn, Presentazione di I. Camera dAfflitto, Jouvence, Roma 2004, passim; Ead., «La scuola del mondo sul Ponte di Brooklyn»: uno scritto dellintellettuale siro-libanese Niqùlà al-Haddàd (1872-1954), in Itinerari di culture, a cura di M. Cariello; E. Falivene; C. Saggiomo; P. Viviani; S. Obad; Prefazione di R. Verde, Loffredo Editore, Napoli 2011, pp. 261-275; F. Zachs; Sh. Halevi, Gendering Culture in Greater Syria. Intellectuals and Ideology in the Late Ottoman Period, I.B. Tauris, London-New York 2015, pp. 132 ff.; F. Zemmin, Modernity in Islamic Tradition: The Concept of Society in the Journal al-Manar (Cairo, 1898-1940), De Gruyter, Berlin/Boston 2018, pp. 272-274.
  2. Much has been written on the life and activity of Ǧurǧī Zaydān, whose works have turned out to be seminal in many fields, as is notorious. Considerable bibliographic references on him and his magazine “al-Hilāl” were authored by Anne-Laure Dupont and Thomas Philipp. Among them, the former’s impressive book Ǧurǧî Zaydân (1861-1914), écrivain réformiste et témoin de la Renaissance arabe, Institut français du Proche-Orient, Damas 2006; and the latter’s Jurji Zaidan and the Foundations of Arab Nationalism, with Selected Writings by Jurji Zaidan translated by Hilary Kilpatrick and Paul Starkey, Syracuse Press in Cooperation with the Zaidan Foundation, Syracuse NY 2010. More information is available online at the Zaidan Foundation’s website ( In the Italian language, see also M. Avino, LOccidente nella cultura araba dal 1876 al 1935, Presentazione di I. Camera dAfflitto, Jouvence, Roma 2002, passim.
  3. Niqūlā al-Ḥaddād, Taṭawwur al-umam…, in “al-Hilāl”, 23, 2 (I nūfimbir 1914), pp. 103-109; 23, 3 (I dīsimbir 1914), pp. 205-209; 23, 4 (I yanāyir 1915), pp. 301-305.

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Paola Viviani | Assistant Professor in Arabic Language and Literature at Seconda Università di Napoli, Dipartimento di Scienze Politiche “Jean Monnet”.