The world(s) of Islam as articulated by the production and reception of the Panislamic journal 'al-Manâr'
The project investigates »The World(s) of Islam as articulated by the production and reception of the Panislamic journal al-Manâr (1898-1935)«. A worldwide success story against the odds, the Cairo-based monthly surmounted, throughout its four decades, journalistic competition and censorship, chronic financial straits, the First World War , the demise of the Ottoman Empire and the advent of rival ideologies. Its »seminal influence«, while not overstated, was never clearly defined or explained and has only begun to be empirically documented. This project aims to further this documentation by focusing on the spheres/rubrics of public deliberation, culture and education. In doing so, it purposes to chart pan-Islam as a worldview in the making, being shaped by and shaping readership, authorship and studentship — showing in the process how pan-Islam was a product of that very particular »Middle Eastern public sphere«, almost at once imperial, colonial and national. Al-Manâr’s resonance also has to be related to the fact that Ridâ’s brand of »pan-Islam« was the compounded result of three incommensurate factors: the associational/educational practice of anti-colonial struggle; the generic and professional constraints under which its editor toiled as opinion-maker and intellectual of a new »public« type; the Ottoman pan-Islamic policies of Sultan ‘Abdulhamid, which countered, rather than supported, Ridâ’s own politics. Unable to circumvent the censorship in the Arab provinces of the Empire (up until 1908), Ridâ began to target an audience beyond the old Islamic core, in the Americas, Africa, South Asia and South-East Asia. Experiencing the »Empire of Islam« as lying outside the confines of the »Empire of ’Uthmân“, i.e. not only within the world itself, but within a world largely colonized, Ridâ would eventually develop a worldview into a global ideology in which the realization of the interests of the umma contended with the concerns of humanity itself.