Nahda ("Awakening," in Arabic)

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NAHDA ("awakening," in Arabic)

Word used to designate the Arab cultural renaissance, from about 1830 on. This was a period of cultural and intellectual development that arose in response to the economic reforms of Muhammad Ali, the Ottoman governor of Egypt from 1805 to 1849 and coincided with the development of Arab nationalist ideas and feelings. Muhammad Ali's reforms represented an effort to revive the declining empire after the short-lived but traumatic Napoleonic invasion of Egypt of 1798 to 1801. Palestinians, like other Arabs in the Mashriq, participated in the nahda by renewing their interest in Arabic literature and poetry, creating new forms of literature and theater, creating an Arab and then Palestinian (as distinct from an Ottoman or Muslim) identity, and pursuing political self-representation.

SEE ALSO Mashriq.