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The iraqi afghanis and ʿAbduhs: Debate over reform among ShiʿIte and Sunni ʿUlamaʾ in interwar Iraq

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Chapter Summary

This chapter analyzes the writings of two Iraqi reformers, the Shiʿi Hibat al-Din al-Shahrastani (1883-1967) and the Sunni Muhammad al-Hashimi (1898-1973). Their views about science, modernity and religiosity, mirrors the vitality of the Iraqi intellectual milieu during the first decades of the twentieth century. The Arabic renditions of the views of Ludwig Büchner and Jacob Moleschoot circulated in the Arab press mainly through the journal al-Muqtataf. The critique of the Hashemite nahda, moreover, relates to al-Shahrastani's very skeptical approach to nationalism as the sole principle organizing the relationships between individuals in their community. To illustrate the connections between Sunni and Shiʿi reformers and their activities in the public sphere, this chapter compares the works al-Shahrastani with those of his Sunni peer, Muhammad al-Hashimi. Al-Hashimi was a writer and a poet, a graduate of al-Azhar, where he became familiar with the teachings of Muhammad ʿAbduh.

Keywords: ʿAbduh in Baghdad; al-Muqtataf in Najaf; Iraqi Afghanis; Shiʿi Hibat al-Din al-Shahrastani; Sunni Muhammad al-Hashimi



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