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Author Topic: "Arab civilization - that sounds like a good idea"  (Read 2319 times)
politicus
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« on: September 25, 2014, 05:27:21 pm »
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To paraphrase Gandhi Wink

Most of the Arabic world looks pretty fycked up at the moment, and while its easy to write of arguments like the ones presented in this article as shallow generalisations and hyperbole, it still left me with an afterthought of "this has a core of truth to it".

So read it (if you want to..) and share your thoughts.

"Arab civilization, such as we knew it, is all but gone. The Arab world today is more violent, unstable, fragmented and driven by extremism—the extremism of the rulers and those in opposition—than at any time since the collapse of the Ottoman Empire a century ago. Every hope of modern Arab history has been betrayed."


http://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2014/09/the-barbarians-within-our-gates-111116.html?ml=po_r#.VCSUoxalrlc

« Last Edit: September 25, 2014, 06:12:52 pm by politicus »Logged

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« Reply #1 on: September 25, 2014, 05:59:16 pm »
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I thought this was going to be a thread about whether or not an "Arab civilisation" existed in the first place.

I've said before, the solution is to accept it seems most people- from Morocco to Turkey (I obviously know, etc) and most places in between- desire some form of political Islam. The question is whether "liberals" and elites can accept and accommodate it, and act as a moderating force or will oppose it all costs, as we have seen in Egypt, Libya, and Algeria. Only Morocco and Tunisia seem to be moving in that direction.

Usual caveats on massive generalisations apply.
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politicus
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« Reply #2 on: September 25, 2014, 06:20:08 pm »
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I thought this was going to be a thread about whether or not an "Arab civilisation" existed in the first place.

That seems to be accepted as a given in the entire Arabic speaking world, the controversies begin when you start speaking of an Arab people or nation.

How would you accomodate non-Muslim minorities (both religious and atheist) within political islam?
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« Reply #3 on: September 25, 2014, 06:41:43 pm »
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Can Islamism make the jump that Christian Democracy did in Europe to accommodate its minorities?

I'm not going to lie, the Shia-Sunni division really confuses me. I know it all started over bickering over Muhammed's successor for caliph, a position which now hasn't existed for several years. Do they have any serious disagreements in ideology that justifies this stupid proxy war?
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« Reply #4 on: September 25, 2014, 08:15:15 pm »
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Can Islamism make the jump that Christian Democracy did in Europe to accommodate its minorities?

I'm not going to lie, the Shia-Sunni division really confuses me. I know it all started over bickering over Muhammed's successor for caliph, a position which now hasn't existed for several years. Do they have any serious disagreements in ideology that justifies this stupid proxy war?

It's even weirder considering how decentralized and non-hierarchical Islam is anyway. The Catholic-Protestant split made far more sense because you had a very powerful pope who was a threat to the authority of Protestant kings and heads of state.

But yeah, any Forum Mohammedans or other informed parties care to explain this divide to we Infidels?
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« Reply #5 on: September 25, 2014, 09:23:57 pm »
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Can Islamism make the jump that Christian Democracy did in Europe to accommodate its minorities?

I'm not going to lie, the Shia-Sunni division really confuses me. I know it all started over bickering over Muhammed's successor for caliph, a position which now hasn't existed for several years. Do they have any serious disagreements in ideology that justifies this stupid proxy war?

It's even weirder considering how decentralized and non-hierarchical Islam is anyway. The Catholic-Protestant split made far more sense because you had a very powerful pope who was a threat to the authority of Protestant kings and heads of state.

But yeah, any Forum Mohammedans or other informed parties care to explain this divide to we Infidels?

My admittedly very limited understanding of this is that it could be compared to the division between the Catholic and Eastern Orthodox - it wasn't really so much about whether the Spirit proceeds from both the Father and the Son, that is just one issue that became a neat dividing line between people who had a complicated set of religious and political differences.
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« Reply #6 on: September 25, 2014, 11:52:37 pm »
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So long as there are cultures in these places, and those cultures share some common threads that make them distinct from the cultures of other peoples in other parts of the world, there will continue to be a civilization than spans across Africa in the Sahel north to the Mediterranean Sea, the southwest quarter of Asia, and the numerous islands southeast of Asia where the predominant religion practiced is Islam. Conflicts in parts of the aforementioned regions do not make their inhabitants inferior, merely beset by a myriad of complicated problems that have yet to be resolved.

When presented with this subject so many things come to mind:

  • European imperialism up through the 1970s
  • Tyranny of the map, creating countries whose borders divide nations
  • Soviet and American imperialism throughout the Cold War
  • The tendency for most revolutions to swap out authoritarian regimes
  • Globalization's diffusion of Western culture - which not everyone likes
  • Local concerns about loss of self-determination to foreigners
  • Regional rivalries boiling down to competitions for power
  • Growing pains felt by many countries during industrialization
  • Some countries get split down the middle by two civilizations
  • Human progress is not a steady, linear path forwards
  • It can be hard to settle for peace if one feels wronged
  • Government corruption is often a major drag on human development

Furthermore, there have been plenty of times in history when Westerners have seemed savage by today's standards. In the U.S. long ago, for example, social mores were profoundly affected by Christian fundamentalism. Women were expected to stay almost entirely covered, social expectations included blatant double standards based on sex, people were routinely subjected to violence for what would seem like trivial infractions today, and mainstream culture was much more authoritarian in character than today - in many respects as recently as the first half of the 20th century.
 
This is the 21st century now, granted, but not every society develops at the same pace. Not every one of them travels down the same path. Different peoples get subjected to different environments, different experiences, and scheme up their own ways of dealing with problems as they emerge. It does not matter that a lot of the people in question here are Arabs or that they are Muslim. They are not "barbarians" or "savages" and, moreover, most adherents to Islam abroad are not extremists. Circumstances have simply seen to it that some folks will suffer through hard times for awhile.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 12:01:05 am by Redalgo »Logged
Blue3
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« Reply #7 on: September 26, 2014, 12:16:23 am »
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There are real differences between Sunni and Shia today. If we are going to compare it to the Christian divisions: the Sunni are theologically and organizationally more like the Orthodox or Protestant, while the Shia are more like the Catholic. Despite the Sunni coming before the Shia in chronology, while it was the other way around in Christianity. Sunni also believe in the sunnah, which are traditions about Mohammed which are not in the Quran, which the Sunni observe but Shia reject. Shia are also much more into fate and destiny, and more emphasis on prophecies and Mohammed's bloodline. I'm doing a really poor job of this, it's been a while since I spoke to my Egyptian friend about this, but the point I'm trying to make us that there are still a bunch if medium and small sized differences but no single huge monumental difference. They split a while ago, so they have different cultures and evolved differently.
« Last Edit: September 26, 2014, 12:18:50 am by Blue3 »Logged
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« Reply #8 on: September 26, 2014, 04:42:37 pm »
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Something I find kind of weird is even though Islam is fairly friendly to converts, converts between different branches of Islam are quite rare. Even in countries that have significant populations of both Shia and Sunni. Even Muslims in Western countries don't seem to. There are probably far more cases of non-Muslims converting to Islam than a Muslim converting between branches.
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politicus
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« Reply #9 on: September 26, 2014, 05:59:46 pm »
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Something I find kind of weird is even though Islam is fairly friendly to converts, converts between different branches of Islam are quite rare. Even in countries that have significant populations of both Shia and Sunni. Even Muslims in Western countries don't seem to. There are probably far more cases of non-Muslims converting to Islam than a Muslim converting between branches.

It would be rare for an Orthodox to become a Roman Catholic (or vice versa) as well. Those things are very basic to ones identity + you run the risk of ostracism if you convert to the "wrong" kind of Islam.
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« Reply #10 on: September 26, 2014, 06:40:21 pm »
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Conversion between different types of Christianity is actually extremely common. Like even just amongst American political figures you can name a ton of Catholic turned Protestant and Protestant turned Catholic. Not many involving Orthodox but they aren't as common in the US.
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« Reply #11 on: September 26, 2014, 08:44:59 pm »
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Does BRTD honestly not understand the connection between religious identification and ethnic identification that exists in many countries outside America?
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« Reply #12 on: September 27, 2014, 08:57:06 am »
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Does BRTD honestly not understand the connection between religious identification and ethnic identification that exists in many countries outside America?

Either not do that or get called a "liberal racist" for suggesting that religious intolerance has a racial element.
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« Reply #13 on: September 27, 2014, 11:14:27 am »
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So what about the many Western converts to Islam? Clearly any branch of Islam doesn't coincide with their "ethnic identity". Hell look at my Congressman for a textbook example, I think he's Sunni, but he was raised Catholic, so he clearly isn't from a "Sunni family" or "Shia family".
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« Reply #14 on: September 27, 2014, 01:27:22 pm »
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So what about the many Western converts to Islam? Clearly any branch of Islam doesn't coincide with their "ethnic identity". Hell look at my Congressman for a textbook example, I think he's Sunni, but he was raised Catholic, so he clearly isn't from a "Sunni family" or "Shia family".

I'm sure the Middle East is just teaming with African- and European-descended people who converted to Islam from other faiths.
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« Reply #15 on: September 27, 2014, 02:12:14 pm »
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So what about the many Western converts to Islam? Clearly any branch of Islam doesn't coincide with their "ethnic identity". Hell look at my Congressman for a textbook example, I think he's Sunni, but he was raised Catholic, so he clearly isn't from a "Sunni family" or "Shia family".

I'm sure the Middle East is just teaming with African- and European-descended people who converted to Islam from other faiths.

These are both two good points. There are plenty of people that change faiths but it does seem that those who always identified are quite different from those who actively sought their faith. It also seems that the identities of those who always identified with their faith are more likely to be labeled beyond their religion. But maybe this really isn't a thing.
« Last Edit: September 27, 2014, 02:18:31 pm by MooMooMoo »Logged

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« Reply #16 on: September 30, 2014, 11:51:39 pm »
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BRTD vs ethnoreligious identities is always a fun topic.
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« Reply #17 on: October 02, 2014, 08:19:11 am »
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There is so much whining in this article that it makes it annoying to read, even if it is true that the Arab world (and the Muslim world) has been in trouble since 1979 and the author is unlucky to be born in that place and time.
« Last Edit: October 02, 2014, 08:21:50 am by swl »Logged
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« Reply #18 on: October 10, 2014, 02:01:55 pm »
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There is so much whining in this article that it makes it annoying to read, even if it is true that the Arab world (and the Muslim world) has been in trouble since 1979 and the author is unlucky to be born in that place and time.

1979? Try 1919. As long as we don't have a constructive way of separating ethno-religious identities, illiberalism and the wars and crimes in the region and unless there is a way to have it "both ways", the abolition of the Mandate Treaty, there will be trouble.

At this point, its a question of containing the trouble or getting everyone together for an end to the trouble. The neocons might of had good ideas, but as long as they can't come to a strong convincing Middle East strategy that gets the broadest coalition on board for the largest plan possible, containment and hoping that over the decades (if not centuries) that there is some sort of cultural change in the Arab (and to less extent Persian and Turk world) world and the Islamic world that allows a path towards stability.
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« Reply #19 on: October 31, 2014, 02:42:43 pm »
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BRTD vs ethnoreligious identities is always a fun topic.

Really I'm always curling my toes, when ever he bring it up, it's incredible embarrasing to see his complete inability to understand such simple concepts (and yes religion as a ethnoreligious identity is quite simple, the vast majority of the world's population get it including Americans at least on a emotional plan).
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« Reply #20 on: November 01, 2014, 10:30:26 am »
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The Sunni-Shia split wasn't just about bickering over a successor to Muhammad, but also battles, in which Muhammad's grandson, whose family line Shias considered the rightful heirs to succession, was killed by the Sunni Umayyads. This event led to the formation of different collections and interpretations of the Hadith, the body of literature about Muhammad's religious practices, by Sunnis and Shias.  Subsequent battles between the factions ensued and have been intermittent in different regions in the history of Islam since, but there has also been social and political alliances between them.  I generally think the contemporary heated battles between the two factions have their roots in the threat that the Iranian revolution posed to the House of Saud, and the recent persecution of Sunnis by the predominantly Shia government in Iraq, where Shias themselves had been repressed for many decades before 2003, has only made things that much worse.  The common catchphrase about religious conflicts is that they go back "thousands of years" and such, but most modern friction between religious communities in the world is relatively historically new.
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« Reply #21 on: November 01, 2014, 12:24:56 pm »
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The Sunni-Shia split wasn't just about bickering over a successor to Muhammad, but also battles, in which Muhammad's grandson, whose family line Shias considered the rightful heirs to succession, was killed by the Sunni Umayyads. This event led to the formation of different collections and interpretations of the Hadith, the body of literature about Muhammad's religious practices, by Sunnis and Shias.  Subsequent battles between the factions ensued and have been intermittent in different regions in the history of Islam since, but there has also been social and political alliances between them.  I generally think the contemporary heated battles between the two factions have their roots in the threat that the Iranian revolution posed to the House of Saud, and the recent persecution of Sunnis by the predominantly Shia government in Iraq, where Shias themselves had been repressed for many decades before 2003, has only made things that much worse.  The common catchphrase about religious conflicts is that they go back "thousands of years" and such, but most modern friction between religious communities in the world is relatively historically new.

While there are some truth in the whole most religious conflicts being new, it's more complex than that they have usual existed on off for centuries, sometimes the persecution is passive sometimes it's active. Also many of the conflict are also based on social groups who use use religion as a excuse to seek conflict with each other.

As for the whole Sunni and Shia, I think we sometimes put to much in the whole caliph things, Shia seem more a ad hoc collection of heterodox heresies among Islam, who band together under a common banner in opposition to the Sunni orthodoxy. As such conflict with Sunni Islam is unavoidable.
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