Thomas Edward Lawrence

Thomas Edward Lawrence

(byname Lawrence Of Arabia, British archaeological scholar, military strategist, and author best known for his legendary war activities in the Middle East during World War I. He was attached to the Hejaz Expeditionary Force and became a friend to many of the Arab allies. Lawrence gave an account of these activities in several books, e.g. Seven Pillars of Wisdom)

Nationality As Creed

The feeling of the Syrians and Mesopotamians in these Arab armies was indirect. They believed that by fighting in the local ranks, even here in Hejaz, they were vindicating the general rights of all Arabs to national existence; and without envisaging one State, or even a confederation of States, they were definitely looking northward, wishing to add an autonomous Damascus and Bagdad to the Arab family.

They were weak in material resources, and even after success would be, since their world was agricultural and pastoral, without minerals, and could never be strong in modern armaments. Were it otherwise, we should have had to pause before evoking in the strategic centre of the Middle East new national movements of such abounding vigour.

Of religious fanaticism there was little trace. The Sherif refused in round terms to give a religious twist to his rebellion. His fighting creed was nationality. The tribes knew that the Turks were Moslems, and thought that the Germans were probably true friends of Islam. They knew that the British were Christians, and that the British were their allies. In the circumstances, their religion would not have been of much help to them, and they had put it aside. 'Christian fights Christian, so why should not Mohammedans do the same? What we want is a Government which speaks our own language of Arabic and will let us live in peace. Also we hate those Turks.'

(Taken from Seven Pillars of Wisdom, 1926 edition)