Salomé CohenBlock DJanuary 24, 2018How Muhammad Ali Changed EgyptMuhammad Ali was a Muslim born in 1769 in what is now Greece. After battling the French, led by Napoleon, out of Egypt, he became the absolute ruler of Egypt from 1805 to 1848. You might want to include something about his role in the Ottoman Empire. He died in 1849, but not without forever impacting the country. Muhammad Ali had a mostly positive influence on Egypt in the areas of the government, agriculture, the military, industries, and education. However, his attempts in these areas were not always flawless. To start off, the government was altered to move more toward a democracy. Ali did this by establishing the Cabinet and Advisory council. The Cabinet was in charge of 7 departments; trade, diplomacy, education, industry, finance, internal affairs, and the army and navy. They were supervised by the vice-governor. The advisory council was mostly made up of officials, religious scholars, and noblemen and they met once a year to discuss proposals of all kinds. This system, inspired by European and American political systems, kept order within the country. The Cabinet assisted Muhammad Ali and since their work was checked by the vice-governor, it wasn’t as easy to do things that would only benefit the officials. Muhammad Ali also created new councils for law. In 1805 in Cairo, a new council, called Diwan al-Wali, was established and given judicial responsibilities. There was also a supreme legal body, called al-Majlis al-Ali al-Mulki. All of the verdicts had to be approved by them. In 1837, the Siyasetname Law was passed, which restructured the bureaucracy and extended the legal procedures that had to be followed and commercial courts were established to increase efficiency and prioritizing. The developments in the judicial system created an organized and fair system. The reorganization of the bureaucracy also enforced this. This meant that common people couldn’t be discriminated against as easily and tried for something they didn’t do. However, Ali still kept a lot of power for himself. He chose the ministers himself, and decided when they came and went. Major decisions were still made by Ali himself, often with little consultation, and the fact that he did this, contradicted the idea of a democracy. However, compared to Louis 16th’s greed and his choices that only benefitted himself, Muhammad Ali still did this to improve the lives of his people. Muhammad Ali also bettered the agricultural system. He did this by making the irrigation system more efficient. The egyptians previously relied on the yearly flood of the Nile river to provide them with water. However, he constructed new and deeper canals, which were maintained and renovated frequently, that made 18% more land fit for use and allowed for all year farming. This provided the country with more crops, meaning more work, which in turn earned them more money. Additionally, Muhammad Ali gained capital for the country through cash crops. The climate (heavy rain, humidity, and consistent temperature) created the ultimate place to grow cotton and flax. A special kind of cotton, staple cotton, was discovered. The climate caused the cotton to have especially long fibres, also known as staples. These long fibres made for stronger and more equal yarns. This meant that the fabric was smooth and a lot more durable. The workers, however, were not completely satisfied with the new system. The farmers experienced a drastic change in their daily lives. Before, the farmers were able to grow whatever crop they wanted whenever they wanted. Their work was tough and they were treated almost like slaves, however just for 150 days out of the year. Now, farmers were told what to plant and when. The crops were then sold at fixed prices, but even though these were higher, farmers had to work 250 days now. This disrupted family life in the sense that if farmers had to go dig canals or work on fields somewhere else, the family had to follow. Maintaining the canals and ditches was a tough job as well. Silt built up in large amounts and had to be removed. This was a dangerous and exhausting task for farmers.Along with that, Muhammad Ali began using European methods to modernize Egypt’s army. New military tactics were introduced by foreign experts. French military officers who needed to find new work after Napoleon’s empire collapsed, came to Egypt. These french officers trained the egyptian peasants and were able to teach the egyptian army modern ways of battling. This allowed Egypt to fight more and modernized countries. Ali also strived for a unified army. Previously, the army was made up of ethnic groups, north africans, bosniaks, mingrelians, circassians, and albanians. There was little order and discipline and people came to and left the army whenever they pleased. Inspired by Napoleon, Muhammad Ali changed this and instead recruited egyptian peasants to the army. Also, there was no common language amongst the people. Ali restored order and there was now a common language, arabic. The army was able to successfully fight more battles. Due to the wealth gained from cash crops, Muhammad Ali was able to create a fleet and expand the army. The navy was made up of about 18,000 men and nearly thirty ships and the army enlarged to 200,000 men, of which 130,000 were egyptian.The expansion of the army and creation of the fleet made it possible to attack countries in different ways. Egypt became a force to be reckoned with and its abilities were feared.Moreover, Muhammad Ali wanted to catch up with Europe’s industrial revolution. He started off by manufacturing its own military hardware, previously they used less modern weapons from Egypt or weapons had to be imported from other countries. Needing to rely on foreign imports for weaponry meant that other countries had power over Egypt. Muhammad Ali was all about becoming as independent as possible, and this was a step in the process. So, he opened factories to make weaponry, such as rifles, muskets, cannon, gunpowder, and small arms. Already existing factories, like textile factories, were expanded beyond cotton. Cashmere goats, from india, implemented wool, silkworms and mulberry trees from syria and lebanon provided silk, and flax and linen was grown locally. Cotton was a big source of income for Egypt, but working with other textiles available to Egyptians allowed for a wider range of products to be able to be produced. This increased Egypt’s trade options and sales. Nonetheless, Muhammad Ali got caught up in starting as many factories as possible. He did too much too fast and there weren’t enough sources of power to support this. This resulted in high taxation, which didn’t please the people. Though Ali’s industrial experiments had the best intentions, many workers were exploited and the country couldn’t handle the rapid production for long.Finally, the educational system was changed to ensure a brighter future. Muhammad Ali sent students to Europe to learn new languages and techniques. Learning french was extremely beneficial. A lot of the military experts came from france, so the students who learned french could later translate what these experts were saying. In addition, they could translate texts into turkish and arabic and teach others in Egypt. Teaching foreign languages and translating became valued jobs, which started off a society in which people did not just do rural work. Schools specialized in certain fields were brought to people’s’ attention as well. An old military hospital reopened in 1837 as a medical school. 420 students were trained there and lots of them later went to France to become experts. Muhammad Ali was a huge fan of this idea once French physician Clot proposed it to him in 1825. Opening a new medical school would eventually lead to a healthier population, resulting in more people to work. In addition, the hospital for civilians, also opened in 1837, and the free clinics located in main cities would have more workers. Thus, more sick people could be attended to and saved from death. A school for midwives, which opened in 1837, also helped a lot of people with birth. The reason why these reforms were possible is because Muhammad Ali was very passionate about education. Muhammad Ali himself was illiterate until the age of 47. He believed that “education was the key to success and would open the door to the future”, so he made sure all of his children were always studying hard. The fact that the ruler of Egypt was so enthusiastic about education, made sure that the rest of the population was also being educated. Since Ali’s children were in school he was motivated to improve the primary and secondary school systems to make sure the young students were being taught in the best and most efficient way. Also, schools specialized in specific fields, like veterinary science, agriculture, mineralogy and engineering created specialists. The schools were run on military lines, and whipping sometimes happened, but the students did get a good education.To summarise, despite some faults, Muhammad Ali’s reforms in the fields of government, agriculture, the military, industries, and education improved the quality of life in Egypt. This topic matters because many of these reforms shaped modern day Egypt and raised it’s status in the world.Works Cited:Reimer, Michael J. “Egypt.” World Book Student, World Book, 2018, www.worldbookonline.com/student/article?id=ar175040. 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Cambridge, UK ; Cambridge University Press, 2007.Guang, P. (2013). Revelations of Muhammad Ali’s Reform for Egyptian National Governance. 4th ed. Shanghai: Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences, pp.19-22.