Salama Moussa - Wikipedia
Salama Moussa
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Salama Moussa Masri (or Musa; 1887 – 4 August 1958) (Arabic: سلامه موسى‎‎  pronounced [sæˈlæːmæ ˈmuːsæ], Coptic: ⲥⲁⲗⲁⲙⲁ ⲙⲱⲩⲥⲏⲥ) was an Egyptian journalist, writer and political theorist known for advocating and popularising the idea of socialism in the Islamic world. Moussa was born into a wealthy, land-owning Coptic family in the town of Zagazig located in the Nile delta, Egypt.[1] He wrote or translated 45 published books. His writings still influence Arab thought and are frequently cited. Salama Moussa campaigned against traditional religion and urged Egyptian society to embrace European culture.[2] He looked for political and economic independence of Egypt from the British colonization. To this end he corresponded with Gandhi who provided him with his tools of economic struggle against the British hegemony over the Indian textile industry. Moussa made use of his contact with Gandhi in helping out the national Egyptian industrialist Tala'at Harb (1867-1941) to set up independent outlets for the Egyptian textile industry nationwide in Egypt - an attempt that was vehemently resisted by the British colonial powers of the time. Moussa pleaded, for instance, in his book Ha'ula'i 'allamuni (Those inspired me, Cairo, 1953) for the independence of thought and indigenous creativity of the contemporary Egyptians and Arabs. Moussa went in his youth to England and adhered there to Bernard Shaw's Fabian Society.
Salama Moussa
Zagazig, Egypt
Died4 August 1958 (aged 70–71)
Cairo, Egypt
Notable worksMan at the Top of Evolution
Early life
Musa's father died when Salama Musa was still a young child, leaving the family an inheritance that allowed them to live comfortably. Salama Musa received his elementary education in a Coptic school, but in 1903 he moved to Cairo to receive a secondary education. The Khedivial College where Musa attended was run like a military camp with harsh punishment for misbehavior dished out by the British instructors.[3] In Cairo during the early 20th century there was rising anti-British sentiment rooted in the nationalist movement, and Qasim Amin's movement for the liberation of women was creating a stir. While in Cairo, Musa was exposed to writers such as Farah Antun, Jurji Zaydan, and Ahmad Lutfi Al-Sayyid that discussed modern and at the time radical ideas such as Social Darwinism, women's rights, and nationalism. Growing up as a religious minority in Muslim dominated Egypt he was attracted to these ideas. After secondary school Musa was interested in studying European literature and science, but was unable to receive a postsecondary education in Egypt, because this advanced education was monopolized by Al Azhar and Dar al-‘Ulum, both of which required students to be Muslim.[4]
In 1907, Musa traveled to France to continue his education and he was exposed to a modern, secularized Europe rampant with socialist ideologies. Musa also experienced a new and empowered woman[who?] with social freedoms. In Montlhéry, a small village near Paris, he started studying socialism and evolution, and the French language.[5]
Musa studied Egyptian civilization upon his return to Egypt in 1908.[6] In 1909 he moved to England to improve his knowledge of the English language, and briefly studied law at Lincoln's Inn. In England, socialism was on the rise as well as ideas of Social Darwinism, Musa had a lot of interactions with members of the Fabian Society and became a member in July 1909. Musa embraced Fabian ideas of getting rid of the landed classes and empowering the peasant the ideas, and wanted to realize them in Egypt.[6]
In 1910, he wrote his first book, Muqaddimat al-superman, comparing European life with the lives of the Egyptians and the social injustices they faced on a daily basis. In 1914, Salama Musa returned to Egypt and started his first weekly magazine, Al-Mustaqbal, with Farah Antun and Yaqub Sarruf on topics such as evolution, national unity, and socialism. The British-controlled government responded to these radical ideas by shutting down the magazine after 16 issues.[2]
The 1920s were an active time for Musa as well as Egypt and were considered a revolutionary period in culture and literature; Musa formed a socialist party, which was promptly dissolved under pressure and intimidation by the government.[7] In the same year, he proceeded to establish the Egyptian Academy for Scientific Education, which was, after only 10 years of operation, shut down by the government as well.
Musa wanted Egypt to shift to a Europeanized thought and abandon old traditions and customs regarding the role of women in Egyptian life and secularism and so was criticized and attacked. In 1936, he proclaimed that socialism would sweep Egypt before he turned 100 years old. He spent a brief stint as editor for the social affairs ministry and, in 1942, Musa was jailed on charges of sabotage, which were trumped up charges for criticizing the ruling family.[3]
The 1952 revolution was a turning point in Egyptian history where Nasserism was taking hold and nationalization of Egypt had begun. Salama Musa remained an important figure during this period and was appointed supervisor of the science section in Akhbar el-Yom, a position that he held until his death in 1958.[1]
Salama Musa believed that the minority Copts were descended from the Pharaohs and therefore the true Egyptians. He fought to try to get the Egyptian dialect taught as the official language.[3]
In the 1930s Musa affirmed his belief in a shared humanity and was an advocate of secularism, democracy, and the liberation of women. Salama Musa at this time supported workers' and peasants' rights, an improved working environment, and reforms in public education. Seminars led by Musa discussing social issues drew large crowds of young intellectuals. However, Musa abandoned these ideas in the mid 1940s and retreeted to Coptic communalism.
Salama Moussa became seriously ill and died on 4 August 1958, a few months after turning 71.[1]
See also
  1. ^ a b c Goldschmidt Jr., A Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt. 2000 Ed. Pg 139
  2. ^ a b Meisami, S. Julie, Starkey, Paul. Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, Volume 2. Routledge, New York, NY 1998 pp. 554-555
  3. ^ a b c Musa, Salama. The Education of Salama Musa. E.J. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands. 1961
  4. ^ Ibrahim, A. Ibrahim "Salama Musa: An Essay on Cultural Alienation". Middle Eastern Studies. Vol. 15, No. 3 (October 1979), pp. 346-357
  5. ^ Egger, Vernon. "A Fabian in Egypt: Salamah Musa and the Rise of the Professional Classes in Egypt, 1909-1939." International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 20, No. 1 (February 1988), pp. 123-126
  6. ^ a b Egger, Vernon. "A Fabian in Egypt: Salamah Musa and the Rise of the Professional Classes in Egypt, 1909-1939.", Lanham, MD 1986 University Press of America, Inc
  7. ^ Sami, A. Hanna., George, H. Gardner. Arab Socialism: A Documentary Survey. E.J. Brill, Leiden, Netherlands 1969, pp. 49-57
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Last edited on 6 April 2021, at 15:53
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