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ABD AL-`AZIZ AL-DURI, ( 1919-Nov. 19, 2010), Iraqi educator and Arabist social historian. Born in Baghdad, he was educated there and at London University. He taught history at the Higher Teachers’ College and the Faculty of Arts, was translation and publications director at the ministry of education, and was dean of Arts and then rector of Baghdad University, ending his working career as professor of history at the University of Jordan in Amman. Al-Duri’s publications include two studies on the political and financial history of the `Abbasid era, a study of the economic history of Mesopotamia in the tenth century, a study on the origins of Arab historiography, and studies on the history of Arab nationalism, anti-Arab national-ism (shu’ubiyah) and Arab Socialism.

In addition to his valuable studies on Iraqi history, al-Duri has contributed significantly in the field of the socioeconomic history of the Arab world. His suggestion that the emergence of an “Arab Nation,” although closely tied to the unity of language, was in many ways molded by a unified, or at least similar, socioeconomic historical pattern, is particularly pioneering. As do most influential Arab nationalists, al-Duri regards language as the major factor in forming an Arab identity, thus making Arabism a cultural, rather than an ethnic or regional or religious, matter. Like many Arab nationalists and some cultural Islamists, he tends to subsume Islam into Arabism: Islam unified the Arabs, giving them an intellectual and ideological basis by means of which they formed a state; through the latter they were to spread Islam even further afield, to the extent that to non-Arabs Islam and Arabism became virtually indistinguishable.

Unlike the most influential Arabist, Abu Khaldun Sati` al-Husri, who refused to consider economic interests among the main components in forming a nation, al-Duri always has implied that one of the bases of the Arab nation was the emergence of one path in the development of the Arab economy. For example, historically there has been a unified Islamic position toward the ownership (mainly public) of national resources such as land, water, and minerals and a comprehensive system of taxation and tribute with similar features, coinciding with distinct urban development, some improvement of agriculture, and great expansion in trade. This pattern gradually led to the emergence of a semi feudal system of a distinct bureaucratic nature (iqta` `askari) and the state’s crucial role in the economic affairs of the society.

Al-Duri emphasizes the social and economic processes through which the various peoples conquered by the Arabian Muslims were arabized in language and culture (as the conquerors and the conquered mingled in various activities in town and country) and how, following the consequent decline in tribalism, one nation, which he defines as an Arab (rather than an Islamic) nation, then emerged. He pays special attention to the “popular classes” and to various social movements (for example, al-`ammah, al-`ayyarun, al -futuwah) often overlooked in conventional historical studies.

Al-Duri sees the reemergence of Arabist ideas in the nineteenth century as an attempt to revive an earlier cultural heritage that had been abused by non-Arab rulers. The emphasis on Arabic (the language and the culture) as a nationalist link “had its roots in the Arab heritage and historical conscience, and was now being developed as part of the Arabs’ self-consciousness vis-a-vis the West,” and increasingly expressed in a more comprehensive (Pan-)Arabist fashion. Unlike some other authors, al-Duri contends that there is no observable influence or frequent reference to Western national theories in Arabic writings on the subject. Arabist concepts on nationalism are, he believes, authentic but still incomplete: they have not reached the level of forming “a general theory of Arab nationalism”; they have not linked their idea of the Arab nation to any distinct concept of the state; nor have they clarified the groups or classes that “embody the Arabist idea” and, hence, the socioeconomic orientation that the Arabist movement is bound to follow.

[See also Arab Nationalism.]


Duri, `Abd al-`Aziz al-. Tarikh al-`Iraq al-iqtisadi ft al-qarn al-rabi` al-Hijri. 2d ed. Beirut, 1974. Scholarly study of trade, crafts, agriculture, urban life, and taxation systems in the earlier `Abbasid period.

Duri, `Abd al-`Aziz al-. Muqaddimah fi al-tankh al-iqtisadi al-`Arabi. Beirut, 1982. Brief introductory study of the economic and social history of the Arab East, from the emergence of Islam to the nineteenth century.

Duri, `Abd al-`Aziz al-. Al-takwin al-tarikhi lil-ummah al-`Arabiyah. Beirut, 1984. English translation by Lawrence I. Conrad, The Historical Formation of the Arab Nation. London, 1987. Pioneering study of the socioeconomic history of the Arab world (East and West), suggesting that common (or similar) economic patterns have resulted in the development of a shared Arab consciousness.



BAGHDAD / IraqiNews.com: Baghdad’s Al-Mada Culture & Arts House held a wake on Friday for the late outstanding Iraqi Historian, Abdul-Aziz al-Douri, who passed away in Jordan at the age of 91. The procession, led by the Iraqi Critic Ali Hassan al-Fawaz, witnessed speeches commemorating the late Iraqi Historian by a number of well known Iraqi intellectuals. Among the names were Archaeological Researcher, Salem al-Alousi, the former Baghdad University Rector, Dr. Usama al-Souri, the politician Muadh Abdul-Rahim, Dr. Tareq al-Hamdani, Dr. Imad Abdul-Raouf, Dr. Hikmat Rahmani and Dr. Muhab Darwish. Writer Ali Hussein told Iraqi News news agency that the “wake for the Leading Arab Historian, Abdul-Aziz al-Douri, has taken place at the Al-Mada House to pay tribute to the symbols of the Iraqi culture, with Douri having been one of their leading elements in Iraq over the past 40 years.” “Al-Mada House shall try to print the cultural works of Abdul-Aziz al-Douri, being one of the most outstanding symbols of the Iraqi culture and one of the greatest Arab historians,” he said. Abdul-Aziz al-Douri, a leading Iraqi historian and man of thought, was born in 1919. He earned his PhD in London in 1942, after which he was appointed as an Islamic History Professor in Baghdad’s High Teachers House. He was later promoted to Baghdad University’s History Department’s Chairman, the dean of Literature & Sciences from 1949 till 1958, after which he was appointed as Baghdad University Rector from 1962-1966. Dr. Douri also worked as visiting professor in London University – 1955-1956, visiting professor in the American University in Beirut – 1959-1960. Dr. Douri finally moved to Jordan to work as history professor in the Jordanian University. He authored several books, among them “The First Abbasid Era,” – 1943, “Studies about the Late Abbasid Era,” – 1945, “Interval in the Early History of Islam,” 1950, “Studies in the History Science of Arabs,” 1960, “The Historic Roots of Cosmopolitan,” 1962, “The Historic Origin of the Arab Nation – a study in identity and vigilance,” 1984, “Nassir al-Din al-Assad – Archaeology & Modernization,” 2002. Dr. Douri passed away in Amman, the capital of Jordan, on Nov. 19, 2010, at 91 years of age. SKH/SR 1

Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/abdal-aziz-duri/

  • writerPosted On: November 6, 2012
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