A Question of Arab Unity - Mercedes-Benz Forum

LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
post #1 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
CH4S Artist
Teutone's Avatar
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
Location: Los Angeles / Hannover Germany
Posts: 33,433
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Quoted: 937 Post(s)
Lifetime Premium Member
(Thread Starter)
A Question of Arab Unity


In the land of Abraham
By Ahmad Atif Ahmad

The Middle East was the birthplace of all three Abrahamic religions [GALLO/GETTY]

The Middle East, home to some of the oldest communities in the world, is the geographic area where major religious customs have coexisted as a matter of tradition for several thousand years.

Its recorded history - ancient, medieval, and modern - has documented this coexistence of hundreds of religious groups, some atheistic or agnostic, some polytheistic, and some monotheistic.

And, despite occasional polemical and even violent encounters among Middle Eastern religions, history clearly points to undeniable tolerance and maturity among the region's communities that has gone largely unacknowledged.

Within the various Middle Eastern religious groups, monotheistic communities occupy an important position, given their large size and cultural immanence.

In simple terms, the main conditions of coexistence among Middle Eastern monotheists have been the fluidity of borders among these communities and their mixing in cultural and intellectual circles, in the government, and in the family.

Fluid borders

The religions of
the Middle East

-Sabaean (Mandaean)

One must note that Middle Eastern monotheistic communities cannot simply be reduced to three categories - Jewish, Christian and Muslim.

Monotheists of partial affiliation with these three groups have lived in the Middle East at least throughout the last three millennia. Some of these communities are known as the hunafa (those who follow the path of Abraham) and have lived in Arabia since around the time of the rise of Islam.

More importantly, the borders among these and other monotheistic communities enjoy a considerable degree of fluidity. Some old Christian communities were indistinguishable from their contemporary Jewish communities who lived in their vicinity.

Borderline communities (people who claimed both Jewish and Christian heritage, for example) survive today, such as the Nasranis and St Thomas Christians who claim a mixed Syrian Jewish Christian heritage and live mostly in India.

The differences within Jewish communities have been just as significant (or insignificant) as the differences between these and Christian communities at various points.

These groups experienced shifts of convergence and divergence - some small religious groups were unified into larger groups, and some branched into smaller ones.

Islam and monotheists

The rise of Muslim communities in the midst of Jewish, Christian, and other monotheistic communities, added another element to the picture. The early Muslim communities were inevitably influenced by the older monotheists in their beliefs and practices.

Islam has embraced monotheism in general and specific terms. Both the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad's adages praise Jewish and Christian communities, as they do non-Jewish, non-Christian monotheists.

The Quran (Surah 2: Verse 136), for example, shows that the declaration of faith for all Muslims includes belief in all the prophets:

"We believe in God, and in that which has been bestowed from on high upon us, and that which has been bestowed upon Abraham and Ishmael and Isaac and Jacob and their descendants, and that which has been vouchsafed to Moses and Jesus; and that which has been vouchsafed to all the [other] prophets by their Sustainer: we make no distinction between any of [these prophets]."

The linguistic-cultural map

Iraqi Christians attend mass at a
Baghdad church [GALLO/GETTY]
The same patterns of convergence and coexistence are also reflected in the linguistic map of the Middle East.

Syriac and Syro-Aramaic (Syrian varieties of Aramaic) represent a convergence between Jewish and Christian communities east of the Mediterranean and north of the Arabian Peninsula.

The adoption of Arabic by many Middle Eastern communities added to their ability to share a significantly unified cultural world.

Medieval Jewish communities developed Judeo-Arabic (Arabic written in Hebrew letters) to address the constant interaction between the Jewish communities and their Arab surroundings.

Aside from these hybrid linguistic formations, Middle Eastern languages have continued to borrow heavily from one another, creating a natural bridge for the exchange of ideas and cultural activities.

Middle Eastern intelligentsia

The production of knowledge in the Middle East, especially in the Middle Ages, fostered religious coexistence by defying simple affiliation with the labels "Arab" or "Muslim".

Medieval Middle Eastern philosophy, generally defined as an umbrella of the natural and human sciences, could be called Islamic or Arabic, given the role Islam played in it and given the religious diversity of those who participated in it.

In this environment, major Muslim philosophers, such as Farabi (d. 950), boasted of their education at the hands of Christian mentors.

Major Islamic philosophers, such as Kindi (d. 873) and Rhazes (d. 925), did not hold orthodox Muslim beliefs. Major medieval Jewish intellectuals, such as Sa'dia Ga'on (d. 942), Yahuda Bin Halevi (d. 1141), and Moses Maimonides (d. 1204), were conversant in Islamic philosophy and mysticism.

Scientific co-operation and path-crossing also pervaded the areas of the natural sciences and medicine, among other areas of knowledge in the medieval world.

Government and family

But coexistence could not have been fostered and secured had it not been for the roles of government and the family.

Aside from intellectual circles, the political and social spheres reveal a similar pattern of harmony and unison. Jews and Christians held positions of influence in Muslim governments, spanning the functions of political advisers, city planners, state emissaries, courtiers, secretaries, scribes and translators, technical assistants, and personal physicians for the heads of state and their families.

In the social sphere, intermarriage across religious groups was almost as common as marriage within the same religious group at different points in history.

Dietary laws observed by one spouse did not have to be observed by the other spouse who was of a different religion (a Christian wife could consume pork in the house of her Muslim husband, for example). Thus, mutual respect prevailed, and coexistence flourished.

Abrahamic communities

The Middle East is now described as the region
where coexistence is hardest [GALLO/GETTY]
Ironically, as it becomes fashionable to speak of a world-wide Abrahamic community, consisting of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities, the Middle East, with its historically privileged position as the birthplace of these faiths and the theatre of their longest interaction, is described as a troubled region - one where coexistence among these same religious communities is hardest.

This is a bit counterintuitive as well as counter-historical. Middle Eastern Jews, Christians, and Muslims are the natural nucleus of a world-wide Abrahamic community, since Abraham, the father of all monotheists, is revered by all three religions, and the Middle East is the birthplace of Abraham and all three religions.

The cross-cultural, cross-civilisational Abrahamic community could only claim to continue the tradition of coexistence among Middle Eastern monotheistic communities, with an ambitious (and laudable) goal of transcending race, economic background, and cultural sensibilities.

History can provide many lessons of coexistence and co-operation among Middle Eastern populations. These examples must be used as a bridge for contemporary Middle Eastern communities to build a more tolerant world for themselves and as an example to be followed by the rest of humanity.

Ahmad Atif Ahmad is an assistant professor of Islamic studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Source: Al Jazeera
Teutone is offline  
Sponsored Links
post #2 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 11:30 PM Thread Starter
CH4S Artist
Teutone's Avatar
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
Location: Los Angeles / Hannover Germany
Posts: 33,433
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Quoted: 937 Post(s)
Lifetime Premium Member
(Thread Starter)
What makes an Arab?

What makes an Arab?

How do Arabs identify themselves? Is it language, geographic location, or culture that defines them? Do concepts of nationalism and religion play a role?

Al Jazeera put these questions to Arabs from a number of different countries and this is what they said.

Kamel: I would have been happier
to identify myself as human

Omar Kamel, 36, musician, author and video producer - Egyptian

"Well, I speak Arabic. And as for identifying myself, it depends who I'm speaking to, and when.

Years ago, I would have been happier to just identify myself as human.

When I first came to Egypt, I didn't consider myself Egyptian, Arab or otherwise.

However, over the years, and especially with mounting anti-Arabism, it's become easier to adopt the identity."

Abdelouadoud El Omrani, 52, translation expert - Tunisian

"Yes, absolutely, I identify myself as an Arab. And the first reason is the language Arabs speak, of course: Arabic. It is the common feature among Arabs - the language which Arabs use to communicate with one another.

It cannot be stressed enough how vital communication is - to be able to communicate with one another, within our community. Arabic carries with it a set of cultural values which I happen to share with other Arabs.

Another aspect which makes me feel Arab is our contemporary socio-political situation in the Arab world. What is happening in Iraq, what is happening in Palestine - these things affect me directly. The suffering of these peoples is my suffering as well. We share a communion, a brotherhood with one another.

There is a patriotic connection Arabs feel for each other. It is pan-Arab."

Kevorkian-Papouras: 'Arabness' is only
one portion of my identity
Maro Kevorkian-Papouras, 26, project manager and writer - Palestinian Armenian

"What most defines me as an Arab are culture and traditions. As a half-Palestinian, half-Armenian, who grew up in an Israeli-Palestinian environment and currently an American environment, my identity is a construct of all of these cultures and nationalities.

Therefore, I do not necessarily identify myself as an 'Arab', because my 'Arabness' is only one portion of my identity, as I have many facets of my identity that are not necessarily considered 'Arab'.

I would rather identify myself as a Palestinian than an Arab, as I believe that 'being Arab' is too general and marginalises the uniqueness of each nation that is considered 'Arab'.

There are various religions, minority groups, political views and individualities that get sidelined when Arabs are generalised."

Khaled Bahaaeldin, 37, surgeon - Egyptian

"I believe that Arab identity is the product of a historical interaction among people sharing a geographically unpartitioned area.

This interaction comprises theological, cultural, linguistic and political components, each of which takes precedence in a particular historical era. But I have to stress that the 'intra-actions' between Arabs have never been due to a singular component.

Indeed, the Arab inhabitants of the Middle East, despite the obvious chauvinisms, could claim communality with each other."

George Khoury, 65, retired engineer - Palestinian

"I was born and raised in Jerusalem, Palestine, before Israel was established. I have been in the United States for the last 47 years. I do not feel that I am an American. I am living within the laws of the land, written and unwritten.

My feeling, however, is that I belong to a different group of people, Arabic people. If you combine traditions, heritage, culture and values in one personality-forming mechanism, that mechanism defines me as an Arab.

Language is strong, but I never felt that it is what binds me to Arabism. I appreciate the beauty of the Arabic language, prose and poetry, but I also appreciate the English language in both forms - prose and poetry. Therefore, if I were deaf and speechless, I will still be an Arab.

What my parents instilled in me of values, heritage and culture, especially at a very early age, defined my personality and, thus, my Arabism.

Arabs have a glorious history immediately after Islam that went on to the end of the first Abbasid era. After that, it is not a history that anybody wants to identify with. That is because it was, and is, filled with weakness, defeats, submissions, divisions and discrimination. Look at what is happening this very day.

The Israelis and Americans are massacring the Palestinians and the Arab governments, including the Palestinian Authority, are watching the tragedy unfold. This is the present that is going to be history tomorrow that you do not want to be identified with."

Ahmed: I tend to talk with my hands

Ahmed Ahmed, 37, comedian - Egyptian

"What defines me as an Arab? I was born in Egypt, in a 100 per cent Egyptian family. I was raised in America, but in a very traditional Arab household where the food, culture, music and language were always present.

Like most immigrant families, my family's values are strong and heritage is extremely important. What makes me an Arab? I tend to talk with my hands a lot and I also have attention deficit disorder.

I don't want to forget that my American side is just as strong if not stronger than my Arab side. Living in Hollywood, California, I am blessed to have the best of both worlds.

As a stand up comedian it enables me to draw from both cultures and experiences that provide great comedy fodder."

Ahmad Hallak, 31, investment portfolio manager - Jordanian

"Although I am a Palestinian Muslim and very proud of it, I have always felt that my cultural identity is defined by being Arabic. It's important to note that being Arabic has absolutely no racial implications; prior to the advent of Islam, the peoples of Egypt, the Levant and North Africa, among other nations, were not Arabic.

The fact that the overwhelming majority of peoples within these regions now describe themselves as Arabs is due mainly to a shared heritage.

What does it mean to me to be an Arab? As a person who believes that nationalism is a crude, shallow and valueless ideology, it means nothing more to me than as a shared and collective cultural identity which can help unite a fragmented and disillusioned region which has lost its way. Beyond that, it serves no higher purpose to dwell on.

How can one aspire to have a society where different cultural values, traditions and norms are respected and accepted in a nation where a rigid and 'artificial national identity' is imposed by the 'current' majority?

The fact is that even Arab nations may, one day, be subject to the demographic changes which are making obsolete, the old imperial national identities of European nations.

The only feasible alternative for a modern, enlightened nation is to have an unchanging set of common values and rights which are legally enshrined but which do not touch on the troubled and divisive issue of national identity."

Alhamad: We all suffer oppression
Rami Alhamad, 21, university student - Syrian

"Even though I have lived in Canada for the past eight years, I still completely identify with my Arab identity.

What defines me as an Arab is not complexion, or any other physical feature, but my belief that the shared history and common struggles across the Middle East unite us.

People tend to be cynical nowadays of being Arab and avoid identifying with that term but, regardless of the current situation we find ourselves in, we have to admit that we all suffer from very similar problems - from economic and social oppression to political oppression. I can say that because I am here in Canada now, but I guess I know it's generally felt around the Middle East.

The United States, for example, has very different states within its union. People from Texas might never get along with people from New York or LA, but they still hold the belief in American unity on one level or another. I don't see how the Arab world is any different.

From a historical perspective, our governments have mostly worked against Arab unity, regardless of what they said in their glorified rants labelled as speeches.

The West and the Cold war didn't help either. But regardless, as long as the Arabic language survives, I am confident that when the right economic and political atmosphere is present, unity will prevail, if not in concrete terms then through a similar setup to the European Union."

Farhat: There are vast differences
among each country

Nassib Farhat, 28, project manager, construction industry - Lebanese

"As a Lebanese American, I believe an Arab is a person whose native language is Arabic, and has lived or is living in an Arabic-speaking country.

I don't think culture, traditions, or values necessarily contribute to one being an Arab due to the vast difference between Arab cultures.

Compare Lebanon to Saudi Arabia, and then Morocco.

There are vast differences among each country in the way they speak, the way they govern their people and land and even the foods they eat."

Joseph Haddad, 24, business owner - Jordanian

"Although the term Arab is a cultural and linguistic definition and not a racial one, it is easy to label a person 'Arab' because they want to be labelled as an 'Arab'.

I first see myself as Jordanian American, because it is both these countries that have influenced my way of life.

There is a false perception that if all Arab countries united as a whole, they could form a mighty union. Different Arab countries have different ways of practicing their cultures. While we all speak the Arabic language, this does not unite us. Even our language differs in dialect from country to country."

Tamam: I do not allow anyone to belittle Arabs

Esmat Tamam, 20, student - Egyptian

"I identify myself as an Arab first and foremost. There are many things that can identify one as an Arab, but the most important factor is our language.

The Arabic language gives me a sense of direction - where I am from and where I am going.

I do not allow anybody to belittle Arabs whether it is in their actions or speech.

It is this position that I hold which ascertains I am an Arab."

Qais Raji, 40, cigarette seller - Iraqi

"Arabs are people who speak Arabic and the ones who keep the Arabic culture and traditions.

In Iraq, many groups don't consider themselves Arabs. Kurds and followers of Iran deem themselves from anther origin although they live in our country and speak Arabic.

I believe myself to be an Arab not only because I speak Arabic, but for the reason that I follow culture and traditions like meals from our vast cuisines, marriage in accordance with our customs, wear costumes as an Arab does."

Source: Al Jazeera
Teutone is offline  
post #3 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 11:46 PM Thread Starter
CH4S Artist
Teutone's Avatar
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
Location: Los Angeles / Hannover Germany
Posts: 33,433
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Quoted: 937 Post(s)
Lifetime Premium Member
(Thread Starter)
Time to forget the Crusades

Time to forget the Crusades
By John Tolan

A Crusader navy attacks the Muslim port of Damietta in this 15th-century painting
of the Fifth Crusade by Cornelis Claesz van Wieringen

French historian Joseph Francois Michaud (1767-1839), in his Histoire des Croisades, affirmed that the Crusades had proven the superiority of Europeans over Muslims and showed the way to the conquest and civilisation of Asia.

Shortly thereafter, Louis Philippe, the King of France from 1830 to 1848, commissioned a Salle des Croisades at Versailles, replete with monumental romanticised paintings of scenes from the Crusades. It is perhaps no accident that at the same time the French were embarked upon the conquest of Algeria.

For numerous French and British of the 19th century and the first half of the 20th, the Crusades were a precursor to their brave new colonial adventures in the Orient.

In reaction, Turkish and Arab writers denounced the European colonial enterprise as a re-enactment of the fanaticism and violence of the Crusades.

The Crusades have long stirred emotions of admiration or revulsion, from Tasso's epic Gerusalemme Liberata (1580) to Youssef Chahine's film Saladin the Victorious (1963) and beyond.

Arguing the clash

A 1490 gravure by Sebastien Mamerot showing
the Crusader siege of the Muslim city of Antioch
The legacy of crusading, simplified and distorted, is evoked to argue the inevitability of a present and future "clash of civilisations".

When Osama bin Laden speaks of countering the attacks of American and European "crusaders", he taps into a 19th-century European tradition of seeing the medieval crusades as precursors to the colonial (and subsequently post-colonial) relations between Europeans and Arabs.

But, the Crusades played little part in Arab conceptions of history from the 14th to the 19th centuries.

Until that time, the Crusades were a relatively minor phenomenon in the broad sweep of Muslim history. Of course, chroniclers such as Ibn al-Athir, Ibn Al Qalanisi or al-Maqrizi, close to rulers who fought against the Faranj (rulers like Saladin, al-Kamil, Baibars), made much of the threat posed by the Europeans and the heroic exploits of the sultans who defeated them.

Ibn al-Athir explained that the attack on the Muslim Mashreq (Middle East) was part of a movement of Faranj that included the Castilian capture of Toledo (in 1085) and the Norman conquest of Sicily (1072-91).

Yet for other Arab writers of the Middle Ages, the invasions of the Faranj were a minor inconvenience: they were simply another group of Christians who, like the Byzantines or Armenians, could seize small territories and pose threats to local Muslim rulers.

The Mongol threat

Far more troubling were the invasions of the Mongols, who captured and plundered large swaths of the Muslim heartland, sacking Baghdad in 1258 and Damascus several times.

Timeline: The Crusades
1095 A.D: Pope Urban II's speech, given in central France in 1095, was responsible for releasing a torrent of events which played out on a grand scale over the few hundred years.

1096 A.D.: Jews Massacred by Crusaders
Jewish communities in towns and cities along the Rhine River were slaughtered by crusaders.

1147–1149 A.D.: Second Crusade - French and South German armies, marched to Jerusalem in 1147 but failed to win any major victories.

1187–1192 A.D.: The Third Crusade - Saladin, Sultan of Egypt, recaptured Jerusalem, following the Battle of Hattin.

1202–1204 A.D : The Fourth Crusade was initiated by Pope Innocent III, with the intention of invading the Holy Land through Egypt.

1217–1221 A.D.: The Fifth Crusade - the Church attempted to set another crusade afoot, and the Fourth Council of the Lateran (1215) formulated a plan for the recovery of the Holy Land.

1228–1229 A.D.: The Sixth Crusade - Emperor Frederick II set sail from Brindisi, landed in Palestine, and through diplomacy he achieved unexpected success: Jerusalem, Nazareth, and Bethlehem were delivered to the crusaders for a period of ten years.

1248–1254 A.D.: The Seventh Crusade - Crusaders under Conrad of Germany and Louis VII of France besiege Damascus, giving up after Nur al-Din arrives at the request of Damascus. In 1254, Nur al-Din gets Damascus, unifying the parts of Syria that are Muslim..

1270 A.D.: The Eighth Crusade - Louis IX initially came to the aid of the remnants of the crusader states in Syria. However, the crusade was diverted to Tunis, where Louis spent only two months before dying.

1271- 1272 A.D.: The Ninth Crusade - The future Edward I of England undertook another expedition in 1271, after having accompanied Louis on the Eighth Crusade. He accomplished very little in Syria and retired the following year after a truce.

The Mamluks' victory over the Mongols at Ayn Jalut in 1260 was far more vital than their victories over the string of small and powerless crusader enclaves such as that of Acre, which the Mamluks captured in 1291, ending the Crusader presence in the region.

Ibn Khaldun, in his great works of historiography, the Muqaddima and the Kitab al-'Ibar, has little to say of Crusades and Crusaders, much more about Mongols (including Timur, whom he met) and about the Berber dynasties of the Maghreb.

Few Arab authors of the following centuries take much interest in the Crusades, which are largely seen as a footnote to the sweep of Muslim history.

In Europe, meanwhile, the Crusades, and their failure to galvanise and unify European Christendom, were an obsession to many authors. In the aftermath of the loss of Acre in 1291, various Europeans called on kings, princes and popes to organise fresh crusades against the Mamluks and increasingly against the Ottomans.

Most of the anti-Turkish "crusades", like those of Nicopolis (1396) and Varna (1443) ended in crushing defeat for the European troops. But various European Christian authors continued to use the language of the Crusades to try to fire their co-religionists into attacking the Ottomans or other enemies, including Protestants and "heathen" American Indians.

The historians and philosophers of the 18th-century Enlightenment, in contrast, vilified the notion of war in the name of God: for them, holy war represented the epitome of medieval fanaticism. Voltaire depicts the Crusaders as blood-thirsty fanatics, while portraying their opponents, particularly Saladin and al-Kamil, as wise and just monarchs.

European nationalism

Yet this negative vision of crusading is swept aside in 19th-century Europe by three powerful forces in European culture: Romanticism, nationalism, and colonialism.

The Romantics rehabilitated the Crusades which they portrayed as, at times, bloody and senseless, yet redeemed by a remarkable and admirable idealism. This idea is embodied in the novels of Walter Scott, such as Ivanhoe (1819) and the Talisman (1825).

Francois de Chateaubriand, in his Itineraire de Paris a Jerusalem (1811), takes umbrage at those who speak ill of the Crusades.

On the contrary, for him, despite their shortcomings the Crusaders were imbued with a faith and a selfless sense of mission that pushed them to abandon wives, children, lands and material riches to wrest Christ's tomb from the grasp of the Muslims.

In Jerusalem, at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, Chateaubriand was dubbed into the Order of the Holy Sepulcher by a Franciscan friar wielding what was supposed to be the sword of Godfrey of Bouillon, knight and first ruler of Crusader Jerusalem.

Chateaubriand and other Europeans dreamed of a return to the heroic age of the Crusades.

European colonialism

Algiers has developed as the capital of Algeria
since French colonists left in 1962 [EPA]
Their dream was not long in the waiting. Beginning in 1830, French troops undertook the conquest of Algeria. French Crusader historians Francois-Joseph Michaud and Jean-Joseph Poujoulat praised kings Charles X and Louis-Philippe as new incarnations of Saint Louis.

In a preface to a school textbook on the Crusades, the authors present the feats of medieval French Crusaders as models for the youth sent off to conquer Algeria: "The narration of the great events of olden times shall serve as lessons of patriotism for our youth."

When Napoleon III addressed the troops ready to set off for Lebanon in 1860, he exhorted them to be "the worthy children of those heroes who gloriously carried Christ's banner into those countries".

The British similarly painted their victories over the Ottomans in the first world war: Richard the Lionhearted, who failed to take Jerusalem from Saladin, appears in the pages of Punch in December 1917, in the aftermath of Allenby's capture of Jerusalem, saying "At last, my dream come true!"

One could multiply the examples of British and French authors of the 19th and early 20th centuries who affirmed that their colonial empires were reviving the best traditions of medieval crusading: its idealism, its mission to bear European civilisation into the heart of the Middle East.

Independence dashed

At the Versailles peace conference at the close of the first world war, when the French and British argued over the partition of the Arab lands wrested from the Ottoman empire and the Arab envoys increasingly realised their hopes for independence would be dashed, one of the French representatives tried to ground his claims on French prominence in the Crusades.

Amir Faisal, in frustration, shot back: "Would you kindly tell me just which one of us won the Crusades?"

It is through the French and British, principally, that Arabs of the 19th and 20th centuries rediscovered the Crusades. Modern Arabic terms for the Crusades, such as harb al-salib, were coined in the 19th century as translations of European terms; there had previously been no Arabic word for "crusade".

Ottoman Sultan Abdulhamid II (1876-1909) warns that "Europe is now carrying out a Crusade against us".

The first book in Arabic devoted specifically to the Crusades is Sayyid Ali al-Hariri's al-Hurub al-Ṣalibiya, published in Cairo in 1899. His work is grounded in both European scholarship and in knowledge of the medieval Arabic chroniclers.

Unify the Arabs!

Voltaire described Saladin as a wise ruler
Al-Hariri, like subsequent Arab scholars, accepted Michaud's assertion that the Crusades were a precursor for European colonialism. Arab nationalists responded by drawing their own historical lessons from this comparison: the new crusaders can be defeated just as their predecessors had been by the unification of the Arabs under leaders who, like Saladin and Baibars in the Middle Ages, will expel the intruders from Arab soil.

Since the middle of the 20th century, if Europeans or Americans compare the Crusades to colonialism, it is in order to denounce one, the other, or both. In the late 20th and 21st centuries, Westerners tend to see the Crusades as manifestations of violent fanaticism, not as expressions of admirable idealism.

It is now principally in the circles of radical Islam that the 19th-century European paradigm equating Crusades with European colonialism lives on.

Sayyid Qutb in the 1960s affirmed that "the Crusader spirit runs in the blood of all Westerners".

Similar statements have been proffered by more recent Islamists, including bin Laden or Abu Musab al-Zarqawi: Crusaders and Zionists are implacable enemies with whom one neither speaks nor compromises.

The mirror term among more extreme western writers is Jihadists: Islamists (or for some, more broadly Muslims) are seen to be inordinately hostile to non-Muslims, against whom holy war is a sacred duty.

What clash?

These Manichean world views fuel pessimistic scenarios such as Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilisations". Yet when one looks closely at the age of Crusades, one finds that the lesson to be drawn is far less simplistic than Huntington or bin Laden would have us believe.

It is a time of trade, when Egyptian merchants bought spices in India and sold them in Spain, when Venetians and Genoese traders sold English or Flemish wool cloth in Alexandria and brought back to Europe Egyptian glass, Damascene metalwork, Indian spices.

Pilgrims - Christians, Muslims and Jews - bound for Mecca and Jerusalem, travelled together on Genoese or Pisan ships, along with merchants, mercenaries and adventurers.

It is a time when storms tossed their ships and all raised their voices to God in a multilingual supplication. Conflict, as always, was endemic, but it often crossed confessional lines.

The Crusader Kingdom of Jerusalem (and the other Crusader principalities) did not, as some have claimed, comprise an "apartheid" regime of boorish European louts lording over cultured but abject Muslims.

Its inhabitants were in fact a cosmopolitan mix of Arabs, Turks, Armenians, Italians, Normans, Provencaux, etc.

In religion they were Shia and Sunni Muslim, Druze, Catholic, Monophysite, and Jewish.

The Latin rulers gradually "orientalised", marrying the daughters of prominent indigenous Christians, learning Arabic, eating and dressing like natives, making truces and alliances with neighbouring Muslim rulers and promoting commerce.

Yet one should not imagine an idyllic land of tolerance: social distinctions were real, and often followed lines of religion and ethnicity.

Seeking historical understanding

In this, as in the violence with which they imposed and enforced their rule, the Latins differed little from other contemporary interlopers in Syria/Palestine: Turks, Byzantines, Kurds, Egyptian Fatimids and Mameluks.

The historical fallacy of identifying modern struggles with those of the Middle Ages continues to be an impediment to a real historical understanding of Arab-European (and more broadly Western-Muslim) relations.

The motivations for al-Qaeda's violence have more to do with internal Saudi politics and resentment of US policy in the Middle East than with a supposedly eternal clash between "crusaders" and "jihadists".

The roots of Iranian anti-Americanism can be found in decades of American alliance with the Shah, rather than in centuries of a supposed clash of civilisations.

The solution to the conflict between Palestinians and Israelis is to be found in the righting of the wrongs of the past 60 years, not in invoking the age of the Maccabees or Saladin.

It is time to put to rest simplistic notions of the clash of civilisations based on a falsified image of a long-vanished past. Our current problems are real enough to merit being understood on their own terms.

Source: Al Jazeera
Teutone is offline  
post #4 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 11:48 PM Thread Starter
CH4S Artist
Teutone's Avatar
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
Location: Los Angeles / Hannover Germany
Posts: 33,433
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Quoted: 937 Post(s)
Lifetime Premium Member
(Thread Starter)
Arab World by command and conquest

Arab World by command and conquest Al Jazeera English - Focus - Arab World By Command And Conquest
Teutone is offline  
post #5 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-29-2008, 11:56 PM Thread Starter
CH4S Artist
Teutone's Avatar
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 1985 500SEC, 1991 190E 2.6.
Location: Los Angeles / Hannover Germany
Posts: 33,433
Mentioned: 11 Post(s)
Quoted: 937 Post(s)
Lifetime Premium Member
(Thread Starter)
Arabs seek common cause

Arabs seek common cause

The Arab world covers a vast geographic area stretching from the Atlantic coast to the Gulf

Arabs share a common language and a common history, but in their hope for unity, they have been pulled in many directions.

Years of colonialism and cultural influence in the region have split Arabs between those seeking a more traditional past and those seeking world superpower-inspired modernisation.

Political movements such as Islamism clashed with secularism while authoritarian systems of governance resisted democratic reform.

Al Jazeera's nine-part series, A Question of Arab Unity, traces the struggle to unite from the cultural renaissance of the 19th century through the turbulent 20th century which was marked by dictatorships, political ideologies, monarchies and teetering democracies.

Part one, Why Unity?, examines the historical roots of Pan-Arabism and asks what it means to be an Arab.

The Arab world covers a vast geographic landscape comprising 22 countries. Mountain ranges crisscross two continents, acting as barriers separating farmland and coastal strips from virtually uninhabited deserts in a region stretching from the Atlantic shores of Morocco to the Gulf.

Traditionally, the Bedouin of the deserts maintained a lifestyle different from the inhabitants of the great river valleys of Iraq and Egypt or the urban societies of the Mediterranean.

But, whatever differences may separate Arabs, there are three general commonalities: they all speak Arabic, 95 per cent are Muslim and most, at some point and in different ways, have sought unity.

Caliphate power base

In the first 50 years after the death of the Prophet Muhammad, Islam was an Arab religion and the caliphate an Arab kingdom. The term Arab was applied to those who were full members by descent of an Arab tribe, and who, either in person or through their ancestors, had originated in Arabia.

The Arabic language, a Semitic language akin to Hebrew, Aramaic and Amharic, bound the Arabs together providing them with the same cultural mannerisms and identity.

But after the eighth century, the role of the Arab caliphate began to decline giving way to non-Arab dynasties which gained control of the state.

As the new Muslims pushed north, east and west, the caliphate was gradually transformed from an Arab to an Islamic empire, incorporating non-Arabs such as Kurds, Persians, Berbers and Ottomans.

It was in this period that there was an explosion of ideas and innovation. New concepts in mathematics, science, agriculture, philosophy and art exemplified the new Islamic empire and in later years influenced the European renaissance.

Innovations such as toxicology, the first medical encyclopaedia, the astrolabe and the use of the numeral zero ushered in an age of Arab invention and scientific breakthrough.

But after the last Christian crusade in the 13th century and the sacking of Baghdad, the capital of the Abbasid empire, in 1258, the sun set on the new Arab empire. Gone were the philosophers and scientists as the accumulated written knowledge compiled by the Arabs was destroyed.

It was during this period that Ottoman Turkic peoples came to dominate the Islamic caliphate.

They relocated the Islamic focus of power from Mecca to Constantinople, soon renamed Istanbul.

Arab renaissance

The Arab world is comprised of peoples of
different background and religion
It would not be until the Arab renaissance of the 19th century that the concept of a single unified Arab state would emerge and embed itself into the fabric of Arab consciousness, becoming crystallised after Gamal Abdel Nasser, the iconic Egyptian president from 1956-1970, came to power.

It has been called Pan-Arabism, Arab Nationalism, or just plain Arabism and it first arose as a direct reaction to the decline of the Ottoman empire.

By the middle of the 19th century, Arabs began to resist Ottoman reforms, especially ones imposing the Turkish language in schools, and discontent spread throughout the Arabic-speaking provinces of the empire. This discontent would come to be known as the Nahda - the Arab "awakening".

One of the central principles of the Nahda was the idea of one single unified Arabic nation built on dialogue, rationality and secularism.

Politicians and intellectuals such as Butros al-Bustani, Nassif and Ibrahim Yaziji from Lebanon, the Iraqi Sati El Husri, and Abdel Rahman al-Kawakibi from Syria argued that the Arabs from the Gulf to the Atlantic were one people and ought to be united in one social and political entity.

Fawwaz Traboulsi, a political analyst, says: "I think the ideals of the Nahda still make sense in this world. They make a lot of sense in our world; freedom from all forms of oppression, the rule of law, the republic, the question of the relationship between religion and belief, the reinterpretation of religion, is religion open to individual interpretation or is it closed?"

"Finally, [there is] the question of social justice. All those are common notions of the Nahda."

They called for Arabs to educate, empower and emancipate themselves from Ottoman hegemony and demanded that the caliphate power be based in Mecca.


But the struggle for Arab unity has been plagued from the beginning by definitions and differing interpretations of identity and nationalism.

Ahmad Youssef Ahmad, the director of the Arab Institute for Research and Study, says: "There are those Arab nationalists who prefer to use the term Arab nation instead of Arab world… One could say that the reality at present is the Arab world, but our ambition is to be the Arab nation."

Arab unity has meant different things to different people at different times

For some such as Sheriff Hussein of Mecca at the beginning of the 20th century, unity was a way to defeat Ottoman colonialism. For his son, King Faisal, unity was an expression of resistance to the colonialism of Britain and France.

The region's religious and ethnic minorities sought a secular Arab unity while Islamist movements, including the Muslim Brotherhood, wanted to emulate the glories of their collective past in an Islamic caliphate.

For others, including Nasser, or the secular pan-Arab Baath party, unity was suggested as a mechanism to liberate Palestine from Israeli occupation and to create one over-arching Arab sovereign state.

Source: Al Jazeera

The Arab world covers a vast geographic area stretching from the Atlantic coast to the Gulf
Attached Thumbnails
Click image for larger version

Name:	1_238722_1_9.jpg
Views:	110
Size:	71.4 KB
ID:	160125  
Teutone is offline  
post #6 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-30-2008, 04:38 AM
BenzWorld Elite
Date registered: Sep 2004
Vehicle: 95 E300
Location: Inside my head
Posts: 36,850
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 392 Post(s)
It's kind of like Irish unity, Scottish unity, Greek unity, and Italian unity.

The biggest problems we are facing right now have to do with George Bush trying to bring more and more power into the executive branch and not go through Congress at all and thats what I intend to reverse.

~ Senator Barack H. Obama
Botnst is offline  
post #7 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-30-2008, 05:45 AM
BenzWorld Elite
Von Vorschlag's Avatar
Date registered: Apr 2006
Vehicle: A red Vimana
Location: the pale blue dot
Posts: 19,563
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Quoted: 1118 Post(s)
All my travels in North Africa and interaction with the indigenes peoples of that whole area Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans and Berbers (not the arab invaders) live as second class civilizing in their own lands and all say ' feck off empire building Arab twats go back to Arabia' under their breaths .
Attached Images
Von Vorschlag is offline  
post #8 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-30-2008, 05:55 AM
BenzWorld Elite
Punjabi's Avatar
Date registered: Mar 2005
Vehicle: Bandwidth
Location: In Virtual Reality
Posts: 3,256
Mentioned: 0 Post(s)
Quoted: 0 Post(s)
Originally Posted by Von Vorschlag View Post
All my travels in North Africa and interaction with the indigenes peoples of that whole area Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans and Berbers (not the arab invaders) live as second class civilizing in their own lands and all say ' feck off empire building Arab twats go back to Arabia' under their breaths .

heh, heh....didn't realise they do 'rehabilitation' trips to such Countries for the kids from the European Borstal Institutions! heh, heh.......
Punjabi is offline  
post #9 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-30-2008, 06:18 AM
BenzWorld Elite
Von Vorschlag's Avatar
Date registered: Apr 2006
Vehicle: A red Vimana
Location: the pale blue dot
Posts: 19,563
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Quoted: 1118 Post(s)
Originally Posted by Punjabi View Post
heh, heh....didn't realise they do 'rehabilitation' trips to such Countries for the kids from the European Borstal Institutions! heh, heh.......
WOW joined-up expletives and insults form the moronic pot bellied cock sucker ! I'm surprised your on line cunt face , we thought you had been banged up in jail with the rest of your cock sucking Islamic fanatic cell for the 'beheading of a British soldier plot'.
Von Vorschlag is offline  
post #10 of 15 (permalink) Old 01-30-2008, 06:55 AM
DP's Avatar
Date registered: Aug 2002
Vehicle: 190E, 400E, SLK350
Location: Chesapeak Bay
Posts: 64,110
Mentioned: 1 Post(s)
Quoted: 983 Post(s)
Lifetime Premium Member
Originally Posted by Von Vorschlag View Post
All my travels in North Africa and interaction with the indigenes peoples of that whole area Algerians, Tunisians and Moroccans and Berbers (not the arab invaders) live as second class civilizing in their own lands and all say ' feck off empire building Arab twats go back to Arabia' under their breaths .
That's very true, I met many Berbers that would love to see the Arabs packing their camels and hit the road back to Arabia but I don't think it's practical because many intermarried and some Berbers have forgotten their languages (Kabyl, Chawi, Chleuh etc).
I spent months in the Aures Mountains where some people don't even speak Arabic. It was fascinating to look at tribes frozen in time, the time of Al Kahina and Kuseyla. (Actually Xena the Warrior Princess had a bit about Al Kahina in her series). I will never forget waking up one morning and finding a scorpion crawling up my arm.
DP is offline  
Sponsored Links

  Mercedes-Benz Forum > General Mercedes-Benz Forums > Off-Topic

Quick Reply

Register Now

In order to be able to post messages on the Mercedes-Benz Forum forums, you must first register.
Please enter your desired user name, your email address and other required details in the form below.

User Name:
Please enter a password for your user account. Note that passwords are case-sensitive.


Confirm Password:
Email Address
Please enter a valid email address for yourself.

Email Address:


  • Currently Active Users Viewing This Thread: 1 (0 members and 1 guests)
    Thread Tools
    Show Printable Version Show Printable Version
    Email this Page Email this Page
    Display Modes
    Linear Mode Linear Mode

    Similar Threads
    Topic Author Forum Replies Last Post
    arab screws french mlfun Off-Topic 70 11-01-2007 05:09 PM
    Democrats Display Unity and Resolve Qubes Off-Topic 3 07-13-2007 10:32 AM
    So why so many arab sympatizers? maine_coon Off-Topic 97 08-09-2006 04:31 PM
    Where is the arab really? GMISBEST Off-Topic 34 12-15-2005 10:28 AM
    Arab-curtains Mohamed W126 S,SE,SEC,SEL,SD,SDL Class 10 05-12-2003 04:39 AM

    Posting Rules  
    You may post new threads
    You may post replies
    You may not post attachments
    You may not edit your posts

    BB code is On
    Smilies are On
    [IMG] code is On
    HTML code is Off
    Trackbacks are On
    Pingbacks are On
    Refbacks are On


    Title goes here

    video goes here
    description goes here. Read Full Story
    For the best viewing experience please update your browser to Google Chrome