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Portrait of Prince Shakib Arslan

Shakib Arslan (Arabic: شكيب أرسلان‎, 1869–1946) was a Druze prince (amir) from Lebanon who was known as Amir al-Bayān (Arabic for "Prince of Eloquence") because in addition to being a politician, he was also an influential writer, poet and historian, among other things. Influenced by the ideas of al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh, Arslan became a strong supporter of the Pan-Islamic policies of Abdul Hamid. He also advocated the proposition that the survival of the Ottoman Empire was the only guarantee against the division of the ummah and its occupation by the European imperial powers. To Arslan, Ottomanism and Islam were closely bound together and the reform of Islam would naturally lead to the revival of the Ottoman Empire.

Exiled from his homeland by the French Mandate authorities, Arslan passed most of the interwar years in Geneva serving as the unofficial representative of Syria and Palestine at the League of Nations and writing a constant stream of articles for the periodical press of the Arab countries.

Prince Shakib (second from the right) in a visit to Saudi Arabia in the early 1930s wearing a Bedouin garb. To his right are Mohammad Amin al-Husayni, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Hashim al-Atassi, who later became president of Syria

L'emir Shakib advocated a militant version of Islam, charged with political and moral assertiveness. He sought to reconstruct the bonds of Islamic solidarity by reminding Muslims from Morocco to Iraq that despite their diversity, they were united by virtue of their common adherence to Islam; if they would but recognize this bond and act on it, he believed they would achieve liberation from their current oppression and the restoration of what he saw as their splendid past. Arslan's work inspired anti-imperialistic propaganda campaigns, much to the irritation of British and French authorities in the Arab world. In the 1930's he introduced Si Ahmed Belbachir Haskouri, right-hand man of the caliph of Spanish Morocco to Mohammad Amin Al-Husayni to create a fund-raising campaign in Spanish Morocco for the humanitarian Palestinian social cause. The purpose was fulfilled and Haskouri was sending funds to Husayni.

His Highness defended Islam as an essential component of social morality. His message, with its call to action and its defense of traditional values at a time of great uncertainty, was well received and attracted widespread attention during the 1920s and 1930s. It was during this time that he wrote his most famous work, Our Decline: Its Causes and Remedies, which described what Aslan believed to be the reasons for the weakness of existing Muslim governments. Although over seventy years old, Our Decline is still relevant today.

His daughter, May, married Lebanese politician Kamal Jumblatt and he is the grandfather through her of Lebanese politician Walid Jumblatt.

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