Syrian Scientific Society (al-Jam'iya al-Ilmiya al-Suriya) (1857)

 From The Arab Awakening, George Antonius, G P Putnam's Sons, 1946.

An early literary society, al-Jam'iya al-Ilmiya al-Suriya came into being in 1857.  Its mission was to promote the spread of knowledge, science and arts. Its membership rose to 150 individuals of all creeds and included the leading Arab personalities.  On its board were the erudite Druze Amir Muhammad Arslan who was for several years its president; Husain Bayhum, head of an influential Muslim family; and Christians of all sects amongst whom was one of Butros Bustani's sons..

It was reconstituted on a wider basis and obtained official recognition in 1868 and extended its membership to include a large number of personalities living outside the country, notably in Constantinople and Cairo. For the first time in the 350 years of Ottoman domination, a common ideal brought together warring creeds and united them in an active partnership for a common end. The foundation of the Society was the first outward manifestation of a collective national consciousness, and its importance in history is that it was the cradle of a new political movement.

The club convened thirteen times in its first two years before the minutes stopped and it may have been discontinued for financial reasons. Until then, the meeting topics varied form Syrian archaeology and Greek philosophy to translations of the works of Francois Guizot, author of Histoires des origines du gouvernement representatif en Europe (kalam ala al-tamaddun). Ibrahim al-Yazigigave a presentation on the classical medicine of the Arabs, in which he advocated respect for classical scholars like Ibn Sina.