Khayr Al-din al-Tunusi

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Khayr Al-din al-Tunusi


Born 1826; died 1889 in Istanbul. Tunisian educational reformer and state figure; author of the Tunisian constitution of 1861. A Circassian by origin.

Khayr al-Din was taken prisoner by the Tunisian bey Ahmed in 1840. He was educated in Istanbul and Tunis and lived in France from 1853 to 1857, when he returned to Tunisia. He served as minister of the navy from 1857 to 1862 and as chairman of Parliament in 1861 and 1862. From 1867 to 1873, Khayr al-Din was chairman of the International Financial Commission in Tunis.

Khayr al-Din headed the Tunisian government from 1873 to 1877. His economic reforms included the encouragement of national trade and the distribution of state lands among landowners with small and medium-sized holdings; in the field of education, he founded a national college in 1875 and reorganized al-Zaytu-nah (Zitouna) University, a theological institution. Khayr al-Din insisted that the countries of the East needed to assimilate European achievements in science and technology. He defended constitutional government and individual freedom, which, he maintained, were consonant with the fundamental principles of Islamic law. Khayr al-Din expressed his views in a work on European political structures, Aqwam al-Masalik (The Truest Path; 1867), whose foreword has been translated into French, Turkish, and several other languages.


Petrosian, Iu. A. “Iz istorii obshchestvenno-politicheskoi mysli v Turtsii v XIX v.” In the collection Kratkie soobshcheniia Instituía narodov Azii AN SSSR, vol. 71. Moscow, 1964.
Levin, A. I, Razvitie osnovnykh techenii obshchestvenno-politicheskoi mysli v Sirii i Egipte. Moscow, 1972. (Contains bibliography.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.