Images from the pages of al-Funun

al-Husayn al-Awwal’s pictorial appearance in al-Funun represented a significant event within the Arab-American community. Previously, al-Funun had confined itself to promoting among its readership a sense of regional—i.e., Syrian identity. Lebanon prior to the end of WWI had not become an independent state and many from Lebanon, even Gibran himself, considered themselves Syrian. However, with the appearance of al-Husayn al-Awwal a new orientation towards the Arab World began to evolve, one in which the Arab-American literati contributing to al-Funun saw themselves as a part of the greater Arab World and equal participants in it.

The article that accompanied Gibran’s drawing of al-Husayn presented a positive image of him, both as a person and as a leader, and a negative one of the Ottoman Empire. Its main point was the depiction of the Arab Revolt as a noble endeavor. One in which Christian Arabs could participate in order to create a new reality in the Arab World.

al-Husayn al-Awwal, al-Funun 3, no. 7 (July 1918)

al-Husayn al-Awwal (1853?-1931)

Islam as expressed in the article on al-Husayn was tolerant and shared points of commonality with Christianity.1

Al-Husayn’s picture and article appeared in the same issue that articles about the “Modern Arab Renaissance,” the “Arab Golden Age of al-Andalus” and “Arab Genius,” in addition to Nasib’s short story “Qissat al-Samsamah” and pieces about Arab history, Caliphal sayings and Arab flags did.

Select other images from the pages of al-Funun here:   

1 Unknown, “al-Husayn al-Awwal, Malik al-Hijaz,” al-Funun 3, no. 7 (July 1918): 508-512.

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