Antun Sa´adeh: The Teacher and Guide of the Nation


By Dr. Edmond Melhem

Sa´adeh’s orientation toward himself and his world is quite unique. He had a high level of self-esteem and self-respect. He believed that his life had a special meaning and that he was put on Earth to do some great thing that would benefit his nation and the rest of the World. He saw himself as the “teacher and guide of the nation”, articulating clearly the struggles facing people and aiming to create abundance in their lives and to foster a culture of cooperation and productivity. He devoted his entire life to a national, unifying cause and to a set of lofty virtues, which he wanted to spread into society. He affirmed his devotion to his cause in his outstanding oath, declaring:

I, Antun Sa’adeh, swear by my honour, my truth and my conviction to dedicate myself to my Syrian nation and to my country Syria; to work for the promotion of their life and progress; to be truthful to the principles I have formulated and which have become the cause of the Syrian Social Nationalist Party.

In his words, the national cause is a worthy cause because “it signifies our existence and brings us together”. It is a cause “for which we stand together or fall together”, he declared.

Sa´adeh devoted almost his entire time and energy to achieve his ‘noble’ mission. This led historians of modern Arab political thought to comment on his dedication and strong determination and energy in pursuit of his goals. Majid Khadduri is one such historian:

From the start and unlike other leaders of his time, Sa´adeh demonstrated absolute sincerity to his mission. He devoted all his energy and time to spread his principles, paying no attention to any personal advantage or benefit. He considered himself, like earlier prophets, a man with a mission whose duty is to spread it whatever the cost might be. Syria has never seen, during its modern history, a leader like him distinguished with this amount of conviction, enthusiasm, strong personality and charisma.

The well-known contemporary historian Abu Khaldun Sati’ al-Husari had the following to say:

I cannot help but declare my great admiration for the energy and devotion of Sa´adeh, and my appreciation of most of his reform principles. His political and social ideas, which he ably supports with sound and logical dogmas, deserve the greatest admiration.