Arabic symbol

 

 

 

 

Philosophers of  the Arabs

 Kassem Amin
 
Custom Search

 

Kassem Amin (1863-1908), one of the leaders of modern Arab renaissance, known as the liberator of the Arabic Woman and one of the founders of the first modern Arabic University in the whole region, Cairo University.

His Life

Kassem Amin was born in Alexandria from a Turkish father and an Egyptian mother. His father, Mohammad Amin "beck" was a ruler of Kurdistan region before coming and staying in Egypt.  His elementary study was in "Ras Alteen" elementary school, which included the sons of the aristocratic class, then he moved with his family to settle in Cairo. He finished his secondary school and joined the high school of law and management from which he got his "License" certificate on 1881.

After his graduation he worked for a short period as a Lawyer before traveling to France to continue his studies in Law. He studied in Montpellier and finished his law studies in four years on 1885. During his period of study in France he strengthed his relations with the two well known eminent reformists Gamal Eldin Alafghany and Muhammad Abduh and served as the personal translator for the laer in Paris.

His intellectual life and Thought   

   Kassem Amin returned from France after four years. During which he was open to the French society, philosophy and the modern system of life. Specifically, he admired the political and societal freedom in which the French citizen lives. As a result he based his views of reform and advancement on the free person, in general, albeit within the realm of Islamic culture. He was one of the supporters of Muhammad Abduh in his reformist views. From this position he wrote, for four years in the newspaper 'Almoayed' (المؤيد) analyzing the social problems which preclude the Egyptian society from achieving advancement and modernity. At the end he formulated his central theme, or first priority, for advancement of Egypt, for which he became a symbol in modern Arabic thought. That is defending the natural as well the Islamic wrights of women against the unjust and un-Islamic pre-modern traditions.

   Apart from his central theme, he was a judge and an eloquent writer, and a reformist. He participated actively in the early call for the foundation of the first Arabic university, Cairo University, which was opened in the very year that witnessed his sudden death, 1908. 

  His Call for Liberation of Women

   Kassem's vision was that raising the status of women, through education as well as participation in undertaking her responsibility toward society is the correct starting point toward reform and advancement. For, women represent half of the society, from one side, and they bear the burden of raising the children, and shaping their values from the other. Then if we seek enlightened positive members of the society, we should first guarantee positive participation of women in the society.

   Hence, as a culmination of his social analysis of the Egyptian society, he published his extremely controversial book, at that early time, 1899, "liberation of the woman". In this book, courageously and knowing the hardships he is going to face, he addressed several issues concerning the status of women in Islam in an Islamic scientific manner. Amongst such issues, the right of divorce, complete and head veil, social relations between man and woman, and the woman right of work and participation in the society. He based his call on the natural freedom and equality of both sexes (genders), for which he was inspired by his study in France, and on the idea that these values coincide with the Islamic religious laws 'Alshari'a' (الشريعة). And he supported his position by a deep and informed scientific analysis of the religious texts related to theses issues.

   As expected the book caused a huge controversy and a series of intellectual as well as common people's rejection. Many articles and several books written by several major thinkers were written against his call. Surprisingly he did not retreat and replied by publishing another book, on 1901, recording his scientific and religious replies to his critics, and requesting full political wrights for women titled "the new woman".

 

His Books

         "The Egyptians".

         "The Liberation of the Woman".

         "The New Woman".