Egypt become “modern” when Muhammad Ali became the ruler of Egypt. Muhammed Ali was an Albanian commander in the Ottoman army, he was considered “the founder of modern Egypt”. When he became the ruler of Egypt, he started to modernize Egypt in their educational, economic, industrial and military. He built a modern army and established a military higher school, he paid foreign military experts to train his officers and soldiers. His army grew stronger, he wanted to compete for the European army. He always interested in education, he started schools and he introduced to modern literature and science to Egyptian. He hired European professionals to teach and he even sent students to Europe to study and learn the modern knowledge.
Changes that occur in the process of modernization in Egypt during Muhammad Ali’s era was one of the most important times in the modern history of Egypt as well as the Meiji era in Japan, it was the start of Modern Japan. The important change and modernization for both countries was education, also, Western technology and science were essential to Japan’s modernization. Western styles and models were first imitated in Japan, the army started to wear Western uniforms, men started to cut their hair, they began to wear Western-style hats and carry black umbrellas. In Japan, the military was the first to modernize in terms of dress, technology and the hiring of foreign advisors. Like Egypt, Japan’s government hired foreigners to teach the students science and technology. The government made education compulsory, and the Japanese students were sent to the United States and European countries to study and learn from Western knowledge such as science and language also, they hired foreign experts to help create factories and educational institutions in Japan.
The political aspect in both countries played an important role, both leaders advanced their military. It was very interesting how they wanted to strengthen their military into the highest level. They wanted to obtain their independence and receive an equal treatment in the West. Investing and maintaining their military power became the foundation of modern Egypt and Japan, they also believed it was necessary to strengthen its military even further. The Japanese military employed Western style weapons and uniforms and took steps toward new models of military education. “In 1872 French military officers arrived to become the core of teachers in the new military academy” (Tipton, EK 2002).
Muhammad Ali’s intentions were always to have a strong military based in Egypt, he even started to build ships and manufacture weapons in Egypt. “Ali’s attention was primarily fixed on Egypt, he wanted to transform it into a modern industrial society and major military power by selectively taking European models, techniques, and expertise, and applying them within an Egyptian context” (Thompson, J. 2008). Egypt was much open to the world, people came to visit Egypt’s rich culture and architecture. However, Japan was isolated from the rest of the world, the United States and European countries forced Japan to sign trade agreements that limited the Japanese government’s control over its own foreign trade.
After coming to power, the Meiji government wanted to ensure the people that the new order would be of justice and opportunity. Japan received its first European style constitution in 1889, a parliament called the Die was established while the emperor kept power, the emperor stood at the top of the army, navy, executive and legislative power. According to Tipton, the creation of a modern Western-style the military had obviously assumed top priority among the new government’s goals. Initially, it was necessary to protect Japan against Western intervention, but as this became unlikely in the 1870s, it continued to be required to reach a larger goal of equality with the major Western powers (Tipton, EK 2002).
Both Egypt and Japan’s leaders interested to learn from the West to achieve better economy and industrial, also, they hoped to strengthen their military. Japan and Egypt wanted to build a strong military to avoid Western meddling in their country. Both leaders sent their students to attend school in Western countries and learn everything they can to advance their technologies and then return to their country, so they can build their government, military, and economy and expand on their technology such as Western weapons, a navy training, and military schools. For instance, the Japanese modeled their navy after Britain’s royal navy and was based on the British naval system and the German army served as a model for the new Japanese army.
Egypt’s rulers had relations with the Western countries, on the other hand, in Japan, the leaders did not trust the Western countries and they were always concerned about the danger of colonialism and rapid change of their culture. But Western powers put pressure on Japan and convinced its political leaders to modernize. Both countries wanted independent for their countries and they wanted to build a strong army but the western saw this as a threat. “During the first decade of the Meiji period, government leaders focused on centralizing and stabilizing their power and authority, not only for securing their personal positions but also for preventing foreign intervention” (Tipton, EK 2002)
According to Tipton, Foreign advisers, especially from the United States helped to shape the new educational system, but intellectuals and educators outside government, such as members of the Meirokusha, also played a major role in advancing this aspect of the drive towards ‘civilization and enlightenment (Tipton, EK 2002). The Japanese had to adopt the Western culture and education. It helped them to industrialized Western technology, fashion, medicine, and architecture.
Japan did not face difficulties during its modernization and reforms after the Meiji restoration, however, after the death of Muhammad Ali, Egypt faced increased debts and the British gain control Egyptian government, they reduce their army size and closed school, these had a negative effect on the development and modernization of Egypt. However, during Muhammad Ali, Egypt had railways and modern schools and governmental facilities, also he established several factories which produced textiles, metals products, and paper and most of these factories were managed and operated by foreigners. “Muhammed Ali was now truly master of Egypt. He could move ahead with ambitious programs at home and abroad” (Thompson, J. 2008).
Western countries had a great influence on the modernization of Japan and Egypt, Western architecture was widely promoted in Japan, western-style buildings were constructed, streets were expanded. Both countries invited foreign experts to advice modern technology and Western knowledge also hire Western experts to teach their students science and language. The European’s influence in Egypt toward the education and technology were positive, Egypt started creating Western-style schools and introducing modern science during Muhammad Ali’s era and his successors during the first half of the 19th century. During Muhammad Ali’s time, there were several higher educational schools and many students were sent to Europe to study modern science and language arts.