Khayr Al-Din Pasha is a pivotal reformist figure in Tunisian political history. Indeed, he is such a polymath that he contributed reformist ideas in the areas of Tunisian military, socio-politics and beyond. At a time when Tunisia was suffering the excesses of Ottoman imperialism, Khayr Al-Din galvanized the spirit of the whole nation through his reform agenda. Khayr Al-Din was a truly enlightened thinker and he aspired for the most ideal Tunisian society and polity. He viewed the established conception and orthodox methods of governance as the major hindrances to real progress.
Khayr Al-Din understood the importance of the principles outlined in Aqwam al-Masalik. The work outlined how to bring about the co-operation between statesmen and theologicians and how to make them work toward a common reform agenda. Not only did Khayr Al-Din devise ingenious ways of achieving this cooperative atmosphere, but he also worked toward creating a fresh and forward-looking post-colonial mindset/collective consciousness. Another inspiration and key ally for the reform agenda was the writer and thinker Qabadu. Qabadu articulated a romantic vision of future Tunisian society in his prose and poetry works, which Khayr Al-Din amply referenced in his own writings.
While demanding changes in the name of progress, Khayr Al-Din was not averse to limiting democracy. He tried to strike a balance between the Western ideal of democracy and the theocratic impulses in Islamic society. He cited the fragile social realities in 19th century Tunisia as legitimate grounds for preferring a single-party system of governance.
Khayr Al-Din understood the role of scientific knowledge for the cause of social progress. To this extent he planned to build grand libraries in the tradition of Europe during his reign as Premier of Tunisia between 1873 and 1877. It is a measure of his earnestly that he himself chaired the sessions that designed the programs and policies of educational reform. Though an admirer of Western scholasticism Khayr Al-Din’s focussed on adapting Western educational models to the imperatives in Tunisia. Toward this end he founded College Sadiki that set as its goal the training of civil servants required by the state bureaucracy.
In conclusion, despite his reform agenda not being fulfilled, the work and ideas of Khayr Al-Din Pasha are so full of truth and insight that they remain important to Tunisians of today.
Eickelman, Dale F. & Piscatori, James. Chapter 1: What is Muslim Politics ? Muslim Politics. New Jersey: Princeton University Press. 1996. Print.
Mohamed El-Tahir El- Mesawi. Muslim Reformist Action in Nineteenth-century Tunisia. The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences 25:2. p.49+. Print.