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Urwa al-Wuthqa, al-


Anti-British Muslim newspaper.

Edited from Paris by Jamal al-Din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh, al-Urwa al-Wuthqa was published between March and October 1884. The title, meaning "the firmest bond," alludes to the Qurʾan; it had been used by Afghani in 1883 to refer to the pan-Islamic caliphate of the Ottoman sultan. After eighteen issues had appeared in 1884, the paper suddenly ceased publication, probably owing to lack of funds. (The closing is usually atributed to the British banning the paper from entering India and Egypt, but since it was distributed free throughout the Muslim world, this measure should not have stopped it.) The financing of al-Urwa al-Wuthqa is unclear, although documents suggest that a Tunisian general, probably Wilfrid Blunt, and possibly the former Egyptian Khedive Ismaʿil were involved. Subsidization afforded wide distribution, which helped to enhance the reputation of the paper and its editors.

Most of the political articles in the paper championed the struggle against British imperialism in Muslim lands. The more theoretical articles were mainly devoted to an activist reinterpretation of Islamic ideas and to a call for unity among Muslims. Al-Urwa al-Wuthqa, which contributed to the fame of its editors in the Muslim world, was the first forum in which Afghani stressed Muslim unity, or pan-Islam, the ideology with which he is most associated.

see also abduh, muhammad; afghani, jamal al-din al-.

nikki keddie

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