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Photograph of Tripoli, Lebanon


Photograph of Tripoli, Lebanon

Popular Documents

May 12, 1949

Untitled report on Freemasonry and the Muslim Brotherhood

Short document on the attempts of a member of the Muslim Brotherhood to use Freemasonry to promote the Brotherhood.

November 1930

Shakib Arslan, 'Why Muslims Lagged Behind and Others Progressed' (Excerpts)

The author of the text from which the below excerpts are taken, Amir Shakib Arslan (1869-1946), was born into a high-standing Druze family in the Ottoman (now Lebanese) village of Shoueifat, near Beirut. He was a prolific writer known as Amir al-Bayan, Prince of Eloquence, as well as a political activist, who “brought to the age of emerging national states the organizing principle of universal Islamic empire,” as William Cleveland put it in Islam against the West: Shakib Arslan and the Campaign for Islamic Nationalism (1985). As long as the Ottoman Empire existed, Arslan believed in, politically worked for, and even fought for that polity, e.g. in the 1914 wartime campaign to capture the Suez Canal in British-occupied Egypt. He supported the pan-Islamic policies, also outside the empire, of the government of Sultan Abdul Hamid II (r. 1876-1909). That is, he believed that strengthening the empire vis-à-vis European powers was crucial for its own survival and for the defense of Islam as a religion and a political force. Vice versa, he believed that a defense of Islam—or, to be more precise, an Islam reformed along the lines outlined by Jamal al-Din al-Afghani (1838-1897) and Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905), whom he knew—would strengthen the Ottoman Empire.After World War I, Arslan made Geneva his base of operations, leading the Syro-Palestinian delegation, which inter alia lobbied the League of Nations. More broadly, he reacted to the shock of the Ottoman Empire’s demise and of the Caliphate’s abolition by becoming, until his death, the world’s perhaps most central post-Ottoman Muslim nationalist activist.

A point in case is the book from which the below excerpts are taken, Li-madha ta’akhkhara al-Muslimun wa-li-madha taqaddama ghairuhum, which he published in Arabic in 1930. Moreover, Arslan not only published prolifically and edited the French-language journal La Nation Arabe. He also corresponded with scores of people and got involved in anti-colonial thinking and activities in many Muslim countries, from Morocco via Syria to Indonesia; thus, he wrote the below text as a long response to a question sent to him by a Muslim living in the Dutch East Indies, present-day Indonesia. To this anti-colonial end, he also worked with Fascist Italy in the 1930s and with Nazi Germany in World War II, causing leftist Arabs like Salim Khayyata—excerpts from whose Al-Habasha al-mazluma [Oppressed Ethiopia] are included in this collection—to bitterly condemn him.

Nadeem M. Qureshi is thanked for permitting us to use excerpts from his English translation of Shakib Arslan’s Arabic book Li-madha ta’akhkhara al-Muslimun wa-li-madha taqaddama ghairuhum (Cairo, 1930), titled Why Muslims Lagged Behind and Others Progressed, published in 2021 by Austin Macauley Publishers (London).

Used by permission of Austin Macauley Publishers Ltd (

August 23, 1958

Memoir by Wu Lengxi, 'Inside Story of the Decision Making during the Shelling of Jinmen'

Wu Lengxi, a member of the CCP Central Committee, recalls events in August 1958 when Chinese Communist forces along the Fujian coast began an intensive artillery bombardment of the Nationalist-controlled Jinmen Island. He recalls a Politburo Standing Committee meeting in which Mao states that the bombardment was in part motivated by events in the Middle East.

February 14, 1974

Minutes of Conversation between Nicolae Ceaușescu, the General Secretary of the Romanian Communist Party, and the Delegation of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, led by Yasser Arafat

Yasir Arafat and Nicolae Ceaușescu discuss policy for Palestine and the diplomatic relationship between the two entities.

August 1, 1989

National Intelligence Daily for Tuesday, 1 August 1989

The CIA’s National Intelligence Daily for 1 August 1989 describes the latest developments in Lebanon, Cuba, Poland, the Soviet Union, Iran, China, Kuwait, and Afghanistan.