Culture is not texts, nor writings, nor archives, nor narrations, nor drawings, nor songs, nor arrangements, nor prose, nor narratives. Culture is a vision of society, economy, politics, governance, administration, the spirit of the people, their conscience, their deep mood, their identity, their nature, their passion for life, their acceptance of it, their rush in its flow, and their struggle. Because of the ease and hardship he finds in it.
Culture, in this sense, is the matter of the group of people who participate in one society at one time. It is not only the matter of those who hold the titles and badges of intellectuals, but rather it is a general matter in which everyone is a partner. Culture is a social, economic, spiritual and political structure that elevates and encompasses individuals, regardless of their destinies and regardless of their positions. In short, the culture of a nation is produced by all of its people, in which they are partners in solidarity, generation after generation, and culture changes – gradually – to the extent that a new vision prevails at the expense of a vision that previously had dominance.
The power of money and power
The revolution is not uprisings, nor outbursts, nor moments of public anger that erupt and then fade away with either victory or defeat. The revolution is an instinctive and persistent pursuit by individuals and the collective towards improving their livelihood matters. The livelihood matters revolve around the individual’s share of the two forces: the power of money and the power of authority. Did people realize this or not? They did not realize that they instinctively seek wealth and power, just as they instinctively repel poverty and weakness.
Ibn Khaldun was right – on page 150 of his introduction – when he said: “Man is a leader by nature by virtue of the succession for which he was created, and if a leader is overcome in his leadership and is held back from the ultimate goal of his glory, he will be lazy even to fill his stomach and irrigate his liver.” He says: “Imrah is about the newness of hope, and the activity that it brings about in the animal powers.”
Revolution, in this sense, is a structural movement that absorbs society just as society absorbs individuals with their ambitions, contradictions, ambitions, conflicts, the strength of their competition, and the strength of their drive – instinctive or animal – towards the two great goals: the goal of money or wealth, and the goal of power or power.
The revolution, in this sense, is a non-stop struggle around the clock, and from it the transformations of wealth and power resulted. How many classes were removed from the hands of the classes that were in control of it, and how many classes that were far away from it and deprived of it were traded for it, and the circle continues as the clock turns, in the darkness of the night or in the broad daylight.
Culture and revolution, vision and change, the struggle of everyone with everyone for the sources of wealth and the sources of power, are human nature, the absolute nature of man, and it is the direction of his movement and endeavor based on animal instinct, or rational intent, and therefore it is the entirety of his history, and its details at the same time.
A person who has been completely defeated, reassured of his share of defeat, and surrendered to the will of those who oppressed and oppressed him, is described by Ibn Khaldun as: “By enslavement, he has become a tool for others and a dependency on others. His lifespan decreases, his gains and endeavors disappear, and he is unable to defend himself, due to the strength of his defeat, so he becomes He is defeated by every conqueror, just as he becomes bait for every eater.” Then he says: “If a person is defeated in his affairs and becomes a tool in the hands of someone else, his survival will only be short, and then he disappears – that is, becomes extinct – as if he had never existed.”
For such a vision, Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406 AD), despite the passage of more than six centuries since his death, was – and still is – an integral part of contemporary global culture. The founder of contemporary Egyptian culture, Abd al-Rahman al-Jabarti (1753-1825 AD), realized this fact when he described Ibn Khaldun’s introduction by saying: “Whoever reads it will see a sea turbulent with sciences, charged with the precious gems of the spoken and understood.”
Just as Burrington Moore (1913 – 2005 AD) traced the origins of Western capitalist society back to the fourteenth century AD in his book: “The Social Origins of Dictatorship and Democracy,” likewise, enlightenment is required in reading contemporary Egyptian society by shedding light on its historical experience that produced it and made it what it is.
The seeds of modernity in Egyptian society preceded the modernity of Muhammad Ali Pasha. That is, it preceded the modernity that came with European colonialism. The modernity of the Egyptians began from within, from internal developments, from their pursuit of the two great goals: wealth and then power, from the gradual weakness of the two ruling authorities: the weakness of the supremely sovereign Ottoman authority since the second half of the seventeenth century, and this is referred to as The year 1658 AD, which is the date of implementation of the commitment system, was the essence of the struggle for wealth and power in Egypt.
Before him, the Ottoman authority was so strong that it had an efficient bureaucracy to collect taxes in a country with an agricultural economy, but it became corrupt and then this bureaucracy sagged with the gradual weakness of the center of government in Istanbul, so it invented the commitment system, whereby auctions were held on the taxes of several villages, and whoever won the auction paid in advance. The financial decisions due from these villages, then he collects them from the tenants, and he gets the difference between what he paid and what he received.
Then the “wasiyya” system was introduced, whereby the obligor has one tenth or half a tenth of the lands of the master, and he is exempt from taxes, and the farmers of the master are employed in his cultivation with forced labour. That is, for free.
This system – over time – allowed the Egyptians, who were neither dual-rulers – that is, neither Turks nor Mamluks – to compete to win the bids of commitment, and this was the broadest path through which the waters of the social mobility of Egyptians and their quests for wealth and power flowed.
Just as the roots of European modernity go back to the emergence of cities, and the formation of the commercial, industrial, craftsman and professional class, whose members are not noble feudal landowners, nor serf peasants and farmers, but rather a new, third class that has made its way with difficulty from the heart of the Middle Ages to today, and it has led The transformations of Europe and the West, and then they led Europe and the West to colonize the world.
Likewise, the situation was in Egypt, from the end of the seventeenth century, and throughout the eighteenth century, a new Egyptian urban class was forming, a third class, neither of the Turks nor of the Mamluks, but it benefited from the weakness of the Ottoman authority, and then benefited from the divisions And the struggles of the local government elites from the Mamluk Leagues, where the Egyptians lived half of the seventeenth century, and the entire eighteenth century, without a strong central authority holding their breath.
Legitimate paths to wealth
In this political climate, and without the grip of central rule, the Egyptians found clear paths to wealth and power, whether through competition over the territories of the land or monopolizing the Red Sea trade, where Asia exports to Europe and Europe exports to Asia, so a rich urban Egyptian class was formed, whose word was heard and taken into account – This is the true root of the meaning of culture and revolution – to have a vision of reality, and then to strive for your share of wealth and power.
This class, whether in Cairo, the cities of the provinces, or in the countryside, was in its entirety made up of scholars and merchants. The scholars did not derive their strength only from jurisprudence, religious sciences, the majesty of Sharia law, and the prestige of the Al-Azhar Mosque, but primarily they derived their prestige from their social and economic status as an independent force in its livelihood and not… She receives her salaries from the sultans and does not get her loaf from the Mamluks.
The scholars of the eighteenth century were not in the misery, poverty, and unhappiness of the intellectuals of the modern state, either working under the wing of the rulers and eating, drinking, and feeling safe from their oppression, or poverty, hunger, oppression, and oppression. The scholars of the eighteenth century, in addition to their jurisprudential positions, academic positions, and religious status, were committed, investors, and owners of large estates and profitable properties. That is, they were the seeds of a promising capitalist class.
According to Dr. Abdel Azim Ramadan 1925 – 2007 AD, in his book: “The Colonial Conquest of the Arab World and the Resistance Movements,” he says on page 46: “As for the scholars, they have entered the system of commitment since its implementation, and the number of those committed among them has increased significantly, until, prior to the French campaign, they reached 307 jurists.” Committed Azharists. The number of committed Egyptian merchants before the French campaign was 57 committed Egyptian merchants.” It is mentioned that the Sheikh of the Al-Azhar Mosque, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sharqawi 1737 – 1812 AD, was committed, and so was the historian Sheikh Abdul Rahman Al-Jabarti.
This urban class – of a financial and commercial nature and aspiring to a political role in a climate in which the authority of the sovereign state was lax and in which the Mamluk elites with actual authority were divided – was, and still is, redefining culture, just as it is redefining the revolution, culture as a search for justice, freedom, equality, and the preservation of rights and duties. The revolution is a wall of defense for the rights of Egyptians to their country’s wealth and the reins of command and prohibition therein.
An exceptional historical moment
Since the seeds of this class crystallized, it has known stages of rise when central authority weakens, then decline when the grip of power tightens and it seizes both wealth and rule, and this equation still governs its development. It flourished in the last half of the eighteenth century, then weakened during the rule of Muhammad Ali Pasha. It did not catch its breath until it began to dismantle its project and loosen its grip on the country's economy.
Then it flourished during the weakness of the Khedives, then it benefited from the British approaching it out of spite towards people of Turkish and Circassian origins, just as it had benefited from Napoleon Bonaparte approaching it out of spite against the Mamluks, and it flourished in the nineties of the twentieth century and the first decade of the twenty-first century. Then, its breath was held back and the paths of development were blocked for it in the ten years 2013 – 2023 AD.
At an exceptional moment in history, this class seemed as if it were on a date with history. It gathered in the squares in January and February 2011 AD, redefining culture and revolution in four words: livelihood, freedom, social justice, and human dignity.
These four definitions were first known to modern Egyptians in the summer of 1795 AD, that is, seven years after the French Revolution, and three years before the French invasion of Egypt.
On page 387 of the second part of the history of Al-Jabarti: “The Wonders of Athars in Biographies and News,” and in his chronicle of the year 1209 AH, corresponding to 1795 AD, he says about this year: “No incidents occurred in it except the injustice of the princes, and the continuation of their injustices, and Murad Bey took the year 1750.” – 1801 AD He populated Giza, increased its architecture, and seized most of the country of Giza, some of which he obtained for a small price, some of which he obtained by force, and some of which he obtained as compensation.
Then, after talking about the Egyptians’ revolution in that year 1795 AD – 1209 AH, Abdel Azim Ramadan mentioned on page 41 of his aforementioned book that “some people place it in the position of the Magna Carta.” Historian Dr. Imad al-Din Abu Ghazi combined it with the revolution of July 23, 1952 AD, on the basis that both revolutions occurred in the month of July and each of them had a major impact on Egypt’s modern history.
Abdul Rahman Al-Jabarti established – in his history – a culture of confrontation on two fronts: the front of internal tyranny, and the front of external invasion.