90 pages, paperback,
14,8 x 21,0 cm, 2023
This annotated Dialogue provides a rare glimpse into political discourse during the reign of Sultan Abdülhamid II and an introduction to the little-known genre of Arabic political fiction. The anonymous political pamphlet was written by supporters of the Husayni family in Gaza in the mid-1890s and sent to the imperial government in Istanbul. The bitter political struggle taking place between the Husayni camp and its opponents reached Istanbul at a time when Gaza’s factionalist struggle and political unrest were coming to a head, and coincided with Ottoman-British tensions over neighboring Egypt. As a result, high-ranking officials in Jerusalem, Cairo, and Istanbul became enmeshed in Gaza’s affairs. The text takes the form of a fictional dialogue between three Muslims: Waʿiz ibn Nasuh, the narrator, a respected scholar from Gaza, and two young men from Gaza and Egypt he meets by chance on the beach outside the city. As shown in the analysis, most of the arguments presented in the text had been formulated in a petition sent earlier from Gaza to Istanbul. Through its fictional form and quotes from Arabic poetry, the anonymous Dialogue integrates individual complaints into an overarching narrative that reframes the local political conflict as a threat to the Empire at large and turns Gaza, in many respects a peripheral city, into a vital component of the Ottoman commonwealth.
Yuval Ben-Bassat is Associate Professor at the Department of Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies at the University of Haifa where he has taught since 2007. His research focuses on Ottoman petitions, Ottoman maps, Greater Syria in the 19th century, the rural population of Palestine, the early Jewish-Arab conflict, Gaza during the late Ottoman period, and the Young Turk Revolution of 1908. Ben-Bassat is the author of Petitioning the Sultan: Protests and Justice in Late Ottoman Palestine (I.B.Tauris, 2013).
Johann Buessow is Professor of Islamic Studies at Ruhr Universität Bochum, where he has taught since 2018. His research focuses on the cultural and social history of West Asian and North African societies in early modern and modern times. He is the author of Hamidian Palestine: Politics and Society in the District of Jerusalem 1872–1908 (Brill, 2011) and co-author with Khaled Safi of Damascus Affairs: Egyptian Rule in Syria through the Eyes of an Anonymous Damascene Chronicler, 1831–1841 (Ergon, 2013).