chapter  16
9 Pages

The Society of the Arab Association

The Arab societies that arose within and outside the Ottoman Empire after the Young Turk revolution were divided among those whose goals were particularistic (for instance, the Society of the Lebanese Revival) and those imbued with Arab consciousness (such as the Literary Club), although this consciousness was not defined and the activists did not know how to fulfil their Arab identity. Societies of this latter type had no aspirations, at least at the beginning, to cut the Arabs off from the Ottoman Empire and establish an independent Arab state. They were established to protect the rights of the Arabs; only after this failed did they begin to think about breaking away from the Empire (in the main on the eve of the outbreak of World War I). Even then they had not clearly formulated, even for themselves, what alternative existed to being Arabs in the Ottoman Empire. The first society, perhaps the only one in the pre-war period with a clear and definite aim of establishing a single large, although decentralized, independent Arab state in the Arab countries under Ottoman rule, was the ephemeral society established in Cairo by the Muslim thinker, Muhammad Rashid Rida.1