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MUHAMMAD `ALLAL AL FASI (19o6-1973), Moroccan intellectual, historian, legal scholar, teacher, poet, and political leader, a founder of the Is-tiqlal Party. Son of the mufti of Fez, al-Fasi was born into a prominent religious and literary family claiming descent from Arabia through Andalusian Spain. He studied Islamic law at al-Qarawiyin University. In the late 1920s al-Fasi criticized the French Protectorate from a perspective of Islamic modernism and reform. In 1927 he was a founder of the Moroccan Action Committee, a loose coalition of intellectuals in Fez and Rabat. In 1930 the Committee criticized the French authorities for the Berber Decree, which          they saw as an attempt to divide Arabs and Berbers.

Al-Fasi received his diploma in Islamic law in 1930, remaining at al-Qarawiyin to teach Islamic history. In 1934 al-Fasi and his activist compatriots publicly issued a Moroccan Reform Plan. When there were no reforms, despite the coming to power of the Popular Front in France in 1936, they turned to organizing public protests, and al-Fasi and others were arrested. Under al-Fasi’s presidency the group split over tactical questions in 1937, with al-Fasi remaining as the leader of its largest contingent. His group was banned in March 1937 but recoganized as the national Reform Party. Following new demonstrations, al-Fasi and other leaders of the party were arrested.

AI-Fasi was exiled by the French to Gabon until 1946, although he remained a continuing influence on Morocco. The National Reform Party was reorganized as the Istiqlal (Independence) Party in 1943. In January 1944 the Istiqlal issued a manifesto for Moroccan independence under the sultan. Al-Fasi returned from Gabon as head of the Istiqlal Party in 1946; in April 1947 the sultan gave a speech that reflected the growing influence of al-Fasi and the Istiqlal.

Al-Fasi again fled Morocco in May 1947, this time to Cairo, where he remained in exile until Moroccan independence in 1956. From Cairo he traveled and lectured in the Middle East, South Asia, Europe, and North America. His most important writings date from this period, including The Independence Movements in Arab North Africa (1947), Self-Criticism (1951), and two collections-From the Occident to the Orient (1956) and The Call of Cairo (1959).

The independence movement grew steadily during alFasi’s exile. Upon Morocco’s independence in 1956 alFasi returned as president for life of the Istiqlal and professor of law at the new University of Rabat. He joined the government only in June 1961, after the death of King Muhammad V and the accession of King Hasan II. He resigned as Minister of Islamic Affairs in January 1963 because of policy differences with the king. The Istiqlal became the major opposition party under the leadership of al-Fasi, who wrote and taught until his death in 1973.

Al-Fasi was above all an Islamic modernist and reformer, advocating Islamic renewal, a return to original sources, Arabic language reform, and avoidance of imitating the West. He was an early critic of the protectorate and an early advocate of Moroccan includes the Wetern Sahara,Mauritania, and territories that had been included in wetern and southern Algeria by the French. Al-Fasi consistently supported the “Alawi Monarchy and sought to influence successive monarchs, but he was also a constitutionalist who did not hesitate to criticize royal policies when he felt they compromised Moroccan independence or social justice.

[See also Istiqlall; Morocco.]


Cohen, Amnon. ”’Allal al-Fasi: His Ideas and His contributions  towards Morocco’s Independence. “Asian and African Studies 3 (1967): 121-164.

Fasi, ‘Allal al-. the Independence Movements in Arab North Africa (1947). Translated by Hazem Zaki Nuseibeh. Washington, 195 4.

Fasi, ‘Allal al-. “Mission of the Islamic ‘Ulema.” : ranslated from ar-abic by Hassan Abdin Mohammed. In Man, State, and Society in the Contemporary Maghrib, edited by I. William Zartman, pp. 151158. New York, 1973. Short speech by al-Fasi delivered in 1959 to a conference of Islamic clergy.

Gaudio, Attilio. Allal El Fassi, ou, l’histoire de l’Istiqlal. Paris, 1972. Laudatory biography with a short preface by Jacques Berque and a useful 122-page appendix of statements, letters, articles, and interviews of al-Fasi, in French translation.

Gellner, Ernest. “The Struggle for Morocco’s Past.” In Man, State, and Society in the Contemporary Maghrib, edited by I. William Zartman, pp. 37-49. New York, 1973


Azhar Niaz Article's Source: http://islamicus.org/fasi-muhammad-allal-al/

  • writerPosted On: November 26, 2012
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