ARBC2031 Georgia Institute Attributes of Arabia Civilization and Islam

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Many scholars would argue that Islam was a byproduct of the “Axial Age,” the millennium or so before the rise of Islam in the seventh century C.E. What attributes of civilization (if any) existed in Arabia before the arrival of Islam and how did these attributes influence Islam during the period of revelation (610-632).

Read: Jonathan A.C. Brown, Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy, 1-40 [Available Online at GT Library]

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Review Reviewed Work(s): Layla M. by Mijke de Jong, Frans van Gestel, Arnold Heslenfeld and Laurette Schillings Review by: Mervat Youssef Source: Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies , Vol. 3, No. 1 (May 2018), pp. 99-104 Published by: Indiana University Press Stable URL: JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new forms of scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at Indiana University Press is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 19:34:54 UTC All use subject to Youssef / Film Reviews   99 Diab’s tack is different. He involves us in the lives of the ensnared Egyptians, twenty-two in the back of his van, but also secondary characters on the outside, all of whom we come to know, and empathize with to one degree or another. Then, in a furious finale of jolting, blurred, upended images, he strips away their faces, calling only a few faintly by name, leaving us to wonder if any will survive. Joel Gordon Professor of history at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, AR. He is the author of Revolutionary Melodrama, (The University of Chicago MEDOC, 2002), and writes on Egyptian and Middle East film and pop-culture. The following are among his recent publications: “Three Tales of Obsession: Crosscutting Boundaries in Middle Eastern Film,” in History Compass, 2016; “Hasan and Marika: Screen Shots of a Vanishing Egypt,” in Journal of Levantine Studies, 2017; and “Viewing Backwards: Egyptian Historical Television Dramas in the 1990s,” in Review of Middle East Studies, 2018. doi:10.2979/jims.3.1.08 Endnotes 1. The most famous serious treatment is Atif al-Tayeb’s Sawaq al-autobis (The Bus Driver 1982). The classic eccentric is the elderly commuter encountered daily by Adil Imam in Sharif Arafa’s comic classic al-Irhab wa al-kabab (Terrorism and Kebab 1992). 2. For example, Jehane Noujaim in her otherwise powerful documentary, The Square (2013). 3. I recommend Ibrahim El Batout’s al-Shita’ illi fat (Winter of Discontent 2012) and Yousry Nasrallah’s Ba`d al-mawqi`a (After the Battle 2013). 4. Chaos (al-Fawda) was the name of Youssef Chahine’s last film, one that presaged the Arab Spring and depicted the uprising as a righteous movement. See my “Chahine, Chaos, Cinema: A Revolutionary Coda,” in Bustan 4.2 (2013): 99–112. Layla M. Feature, Starring Nora El-Koussour, 2016, 98 Minutes, Directed by Mijke de Jong, and Produced by Frans van Gestel, Arnold Heslenfeld and Laurette Schillings At the backdrop of rising anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant rhetoric, Layla Murabit (starring Nora El-Koussour), a smart high school student of Moroccan descent grows alienated in her own city, Amsterdam. Layla could be any teenager: bikes everywhere, enjoys soccer, talks back whenever she can and is indeed in your This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 19:34:54 UTC All use subject to 100  Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies, Vol. 3.1 face. It is because the protagonist is easy to like and identify with, that Layla M. offers viewers a thoughtful insight into how radicalization might happen without justifying it, or demonizing those who slip down that rabbit-hole. It allows us to understand and critique without condemning the protagonist or falling into the trap of Islamophobia. Central to the movie are questions about identity, national belonging and the prevailing patriarchy. The opening scene of Layla M. very much mirrors who she is. Unlike her mother, who does not wear a hijab, Layla wears one, on her own terms. During the soccer game, she tied it to the back of her head leaving her neck bare. She has an earnest look on her face as she diligently monitors the players in the field; she is sometimes the assistant referee. When the referee fails to call on a white player who violated the rules to the disadvantage of another of immigrant descent, Layla yells at the referee deeming his call a misjudgment. In response, the referee tells her father that she should either control her temper, or he should not bring her to the game. The father orders her to be silent. It is there and then, at the soccer field, that women in full body cover (abaya), reach out to Layla and invite her over to their group. In what seems like a scouting mission, the women chose outspoken, angry Layla to model for an image of a woman in a burqa to be used in media materials for protesting the burqa ban. Layla puts on the burqa for the shoot and expresses her eagerness to get out of it; “it is too hot,” she thought. Director de Jong makes it clear from the get-go that Layla’s choices put her in direct confrontation with figures of authority, be it at home or in public. Layla’s involvement with the Islamist group, protesting and posting her image online, infuriates her father. Defying him further, she wears the burqa to the dinner table and cites Qur’anic text to argue back. When a police officer asks a fellow female protester to remove her face cover, to confirm her identity, Layla defies him: “we do not ask you to remove your pants.” Layla reaches the flipping point when she and her brother are arrested during a protest. Feeling that Amsterdam and her family house are no longer her home, she marries Abdel (starring Ilias Addab), a young man she met through her activism, and the two head off to Amman, Jordan. There, they aspire to live a pious life in an Islamic utopia free of racism and discrimination. Arriving in Amman immediately proves this to be an illusion. She is faced with a patriarchal structure that keeps women sidelined and in the kitchen. Not before long, she realizes that her own beloved Abdel had trained to be a suicide bomber. One of the strengths of this movie is that it smoothly unpacks the layered challenges that a young Muslim faces on a daily basis in a Western society, while acknowledging the context for these challenges. We watch Layla struggling to belong as a Dutch at a time when her own existence as a citizen seems to be contested and even rejected. Actor Ilias Addab (Abdel), recalls that while shooting the movie, he wore his beard long and felt the toll of This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 19:34:54 UTC All use subject to Youssef / Film Reviews   101 being a non-white young male with facial hair. People were suspicious of him. To dismiss suspicions that he is a jihadi, he started wearing a cap.1 With the rise of far-right politicians like Geert Wilders, racist anti-Muslim rhetoric (including Moroccan immigrants) came to the fore and was received with increasing support. Layla feels that her sense of belonging to where she was born and raised is being challenged and contested. When exclusionary rhetoric and practices are on the rise, she feels that the national contract2 is neither upheld nor binds her into belonging. Religious identification, on the other hand, offered an alternative contract where “God is great” and it is “He” who rules. Indeed, Layla hisses “Allahū Akbar,” whenever frustrated or defiant. When protesting with her Islamist friends, we hear them all chanting in Arabic, not Dutch. They too are rejecting the national contract. Layla M. navigates smoothly through such shifts in group membership and belonging without vilifying Layla or condoning the Islamists. This is a fine line that de Jong successfully treads since it was baffling to see Layla the intelligent, free-thinking young lady not questioning or reading the writing on the wall when it was clear that she is slipping into radicalization and getting involved with jihadis. De Jong skillfully mediated the complexities and the mundaneness that getting involved with jihadis can entail, but she did so without risking the loss of empathy with her protagonist. Layla can be held accountable for her choices, but she is not dehumanized. The fact that Layla is a teenager further serves De Jong’s goal of avoiding the dehumanization of any of the characters. What Layla faces throughout the movie is a search for belonging intertwined with a sense of righteousness, or like many teenagers, she is looking for a cause. Layla herself does not wear a burqa, yet dons it in a protest to support those who choose to wear it. She lives safely but advocates for those who face death in Syria every day. She detests her parents’ response to racism, discrimination and violence in Syria and the Middle East. Layla wants them to have a stronger reaction if not a clear stance, a position which the parents see as unnecessary. Her disillusion fuels all her confrontations with her family and even her choices in life, similar to those she befriends, how she dresses, and the type of media materials she consumes online. The movie allows us into the home of a middle-class immigrant family that seems fully integrated: they speak Dutch at home most of the time, engage in community activities and the father owns a small business that seems to be thriving. Layla and her family members try, each their own way, to bridge their differences; she argues her cases with Qur’anic evidence and they argue back with reason and compassion, she reaches out to her younger brother teaching him how to recite the Qur’an, and he goes to demonstrations with her. The family, however, is still unable to find common ground in terms of how to This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 19:34:54 UTC All use subject to 102  Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies, Vol. 3.1 respond to Layla’s pressing concern about rising anti-immigrant sentiment in the Netherlands, or to their insistence that one must think beyond rituals and dress to be Muslim. This is where radicalization fills the gap. In a telling scene, she tries to explain and defend her choices to her father by showing him a video of a grieving Syrian father who had just lost two children and is sobbing as he clings to their little lifeless bodies. “This could be us,” she explains. Her father responds that she should be thankful it is not them. For Layla, this is a lame reaction that she would not accept. The alienation she feels crept into her own home. De Jong made sure that Layla’s strife for gender equality is present throughout the movie. It is apparent in her consistent efforts to understand the holy text; when courting Abdel, she points out passages regulating gender relations. She is fascinated with women fighters in Syria. To her, they affirm her image of a Muslim woman: active and equal to man. But patriarchy is in Layla’s face both in the public space and at home: the soccer referee totally dismissed her, charging another man—her father—with managing her “temper” and later in the movie her father tells her point-blank that he is the one who decides what she could wear or not (the burqa in this case). She arrives in her imagined Islamic utopia, Amman, only to be received with prevalent patriarchy. The jihadis do not even acknowledge her presence; they order her husband to control her, and end up putting her under house-arrest. It is Layla’s response to such patriarchy that invites the viewer to sympathize with her. She fights back even under house-arrest. The movie juxtaposes Layla’s challenges and radicalization without assuming causation sparing the viewer any confusion about the danger of militant Islam. It highlights the human in both Layla and Abdel while providing alternative paths that the characters could have taken throughout. While Layla is enraged after her arrest, her brother, chooses to shave his beard and rethink how religion is manifested in his life. Layla’s feistiness is juxtaposed against her mother’s gentleness and wisdom. Layla chooses confrontation, but her mother suggests finishing school as a means for attaining independence and the ability to lead her life as she pleases. In the face of a threat to ship Layla back to Morocco in case she does not quit her involvement with the Islamists, her mother steps in to Layla’s rescue and firmly tells the father that Layla is to stay home and go to medical school; “s.afī!” she says in Moroccan dialect (done). Layla’s mother is definitely a different caliber from the submissive jihadi women Layla meets in Amman. But the movie provides alternatives in Amman as well. Layla meets a Dutch expatriate (Sanaa) at a nearby mosque. Sanaa chooses to do charity work in a refugee camp near the Syrian border as opposed to the submissive life that her next door neighbor, Um-Usama, a German jihadi wife, leads. De Jong skillfully communicated Layla’s struggle to belong. Layla shifts between identities, but not without difficulty. The unasked questions about This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 19:34:54 UTC All use subject to Youssef / Film Reviews   103 who she is and where she belongs are so pressing that she almost envies Abdel for being born in Morocco. While the young loving couple flees Amsterdam, the home they feel alienated from, Layla tells Abdel that everything in his life is logical for the simple fact that he belongs to the place where he was born. This is where the movie also unpacks the imaginary nature of group membership. Abdel’s mother had left Morocco after he was born in search for a better future. Yet, the assumption that one must belong to his/her birthplace resurfaces during Layla’s own experience in Amman. When she meets expatriate Sanaa, Layla seems happy to mention that she is from Amsterdam; she identifies herself by the local, not the national. Furthermore, Layla’s face lights up the moment Sanaa responds in Dutch. Layla’s Dutch identity seems to be activated when she is placed in an alien culture (here being Amman), and that is perhaps surprising to her. When Abdel forbids her to go out with Sanaa, Layla hops into a cab and goes to the refugee camp by the Syrian border. There, she merrily plays soccer with kids, and she seems to wear her real self. As the jihadi culture does not measure up to her expectations, and in the face of attempts to control her, Layla reverts back to her Dutch ways. These shifts are indicative of the fluid nature of identities,3 a theme touched on frequently in the movie. The title choice Layla M. is worth contemplating. In reporting a crime, the identity of those involved is kept private by using the initials of the last name only. Perhaps the director wanted to make a point about Layla’s complicity whether it is by naivete or association. This choice is one of the things that de Jong did very well in this movie; it humanized the protagonist without exonerating her. This is a good movie choice for undergraduate Middle East studies or introduction to Islamic courses. It is important, however, to point out that the movie returns Layla to Amsterdam with inexplicable ease. Perhaps de Jong wanted to avoid ending the movie on a grim note. It is possible that de Jong wanted to leave the door open for those who want to come back. After all, de Jong had the characters of Abdel and Layla dance to the tunes of a popular song by Fadl Shaker, the famous Lebanese singer turned terrorist in 2013 then renounced terrorism again in 20154. Mervat Youssef Associate professor of Arabic in the Department of French and Arabic at Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA. She holds a B.S. from the University of Helwan in Cairo, Egypt, an M.S. in journalism and mass communication from South Dakota State University, and a Ph.D. in journalism and mass communication from the University of Iowa. Her research interests include media constructions of identity, especially in relation to news coverage of Middle Eastern affairs, propaganda, and the sociology of news. In the past few years, her research has focused on Egypt. Specifically, she investigates the This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 19:34:54 UTC All use subject to 104  Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies, Vol. 3.1 expansion and contraction of public space and its manifestation and impact in terms of democratization. Her most recent publication “Arab Revolutions: Breaking Fear Mediating Discourse of Democratic Uprising in Egypt: Militarized Language and the ‘Battles’ of Abbasiyya and Maspero,” co-authored with Heba Arafa and Anup Kumar, in International Journal of Communication, 2014. doi:10.2979/jims.3.1.09 Endnotes 1. Shannon Bowen, “Oscars: A female Muslim Teen Becomes Radicalized in the Netherlands’ Layla M.’,” The Hollywood Reporter, December 1, 2017, news/oscars-a-female-muslim-teen-becomes-radicalized-netherlands-layla-m-1063252 2. Ernst Renan, “What is a Nation?,” in Becoming National: A Reader, eds. Geoff Eley and Ronald Grigor Suny (Oxford University Press, 1996), 41–55. 3. Desmond King, The Liberty of Strangers: Making the American Nation (New York: Oxford University Press, 2005). 4. Hayfa’ Ze‘aytar, “Al-fannān al-lubnānī Fadl Shākir yuthīr al-jadal min jadīd ba‘da tawbatihi “al-thāniyah”,” France24, September 3, 2015, Furūshandih [The Salesman] Feature, Starring Shahab Hoseini and Taraneh Alidusti, 2015¸118 Minutes, Directed by Asghar Farhadi¸ and Produced by Asghar Farhadi, Alexandre Mallet-Guy, and Olivier Père The cinematic text of The Salesman and the sociopolitical context of its international reception have made this seventh feature of Asghar Farhadi highly controversial in and outside Iran. On the one hand, the film tackles universal themes like sexual harassment and revenge. On the other hand, winning the 2017 Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film politicized it. The politicization was further intensified when the director refused to attend the Oscars ceremony in response to President Trump’s Executive Order 13769 titled “Protecting the Nation from Foreign Terrorist Entry into the United States,” often referred to as the Muslim ban or the travel ban. This order suspended the entry of the citizens of several Muslim-majority countries, including Farhadi’s Iran, into the United States. The deeply rooted ties of The Salesman to these historical moments makes it of high significance for the cultural histories of both Iran and the U.S.A. This content downloaded from on Wed, 03 Oct 2018 19:34:54 UTC All use subject to
8/30/2018 School of Modern Languages Georgia Institute of Technology ARBC 2031 Arts Sciences and Technology through History What is Civilization? Fall 2018 Tuesday and Thursday 3:00-4:15 Swann Building 206 Was there a “civilization” among inhabitants of pre‐ Islamic Arabia? • The Question of the Sources • Example of Islamic Sources: Ibn al‐Kalbi’s Book of Idols Ibn al‐Kalbi (737‐819/821) • Full Name: Hishām b. Muḥammad b. al‐Sāʾib al‐Kalbī, Abu al‐Mundhir, • Birth: Kūfa around 120/737 • Death: Kūfa in 204/819 or 206/821 in the Abbasid caliphate of al‐ Maʾmūn (r. 813‐833 AD) • Specialization: wrote more than 150 book (according to the Fihrist). He is an authority on Arab genealogy and pre‐Islamic religious practices • Surviving Books: Ḏja̲ mharat al‐Nasab, al‐Aṣnām, Ansāb al‐Khayl • Disciples: al‐Ṭabarī (Historian of Qur’an) , Abu ’l‐Faradj al‐Iṣfahānī (Historian of Music) 8/30/2018 Tribes of Arabia Urban Centers (Hadar vs Badiya) • Mecca • Yathrib (Medina) • Hadharmaut in Yemen • The Fertile Crescent Islam mostly followed older patterns. Many scholars would argue that Islam was a byproduct of “Axial Age” (8th‐3rd century B.C.), the millennium or so before the rise of Islam in the seventh century C.E. 8/30/2018 Axial Age (8th‐3rd century BC) Axial Age The Axial age is a term coined by German Philosophers like Karl Jaspers. It marks the emergence, roughly at the same time around most of the inhabited world, the great intellectual, philosophical, and religious systems that came to shape subsequent human society and culture. It produced leading religious figures foundational religious texts( e.g. Lao‐ Tzu, Buddha, the Greek philosophers, the Hebrew prophets, and the compilation of the Upanishads in India) The Arabian Peninsula was not an isolated place during Axel Age. • Greek Connection to Arabia via the Fertile Crescent culture owed a considerable debt to the peoples of the east Mediterranean seaside ‐ for example, to the Phoenicians(today’s Lebanon) for their alphabet) • Greek Connection to Arabia through Alexander the Great, and the subsequent penetration of Hellenism into Egypt, Syria, Mesopotamia, and even lands further to the east, • The Hellenistic period covers the period of ancient Greek (Hellenic) history and Mediterranean history between the death of Alexander the Great in 323 BC and the emergence of the Roman Empire as signified by the Battle of Actium in 31 BC and the subsequent conquest of Ptolemaic Egypt the following year. 8/30/2018 • Arabia during the seventh century A.D. was controlled by two rival empires: • The Byzantine Empire: Constantinople or what is left of the the old Roman Empire • The Sasanian Empire: a dynasty which had come to power in the third century A.D. • Sasanians borrowed from Byzantine culture (e.g. bath‐houses, systems of taxation, and the shah Khusrau I Anushirvan (r. 531‐579) welcomed the “pagan” Greek philosophers whom the Roman emperor Justinian had expelled from their Academy in Athens. Battle of Actium by Pierre‐Auguste Renoir The Conflict between the Byzantine and Sasanian empires influenced pre‐Islamic Arabia • The Fertile Crescent functioned as a crossroad • A mercantile community flourished and dominated urban centers • The Romans employed some Arab tribes as "federates" and allies of the imperial army. This increased the level of cultural exchange and contributed to the spread of Christianity among the Arabs. Chief among them was the tribe of Ghassan, who in the sixth century ruled a buffer kingdom between Byzantine Syria, on the one hand, and on the other, both tribal Arabia and a similar Arab kingdom (the Lakhmids) allied with Iran. • Religion was shaped by that function and vulnerability 8/30/2018 Major characteristics of religions in the seventh century Jews Zoroastrians Christians Hunafa’ ( linked in a general way with the figure of Abraham.) Polytheism Spread of Christianity and abolishing Ancient Egyptian religion At the time of the conversion of Constantine, perhaps half the inhabitants of Egypt professed Christianity. WHY? • Arising against the background ground of injustice and inequality • The “confessional" character • Association with empires • (e.g. Christianity’s identification with the Roman Empire began under the emperor Constantine (274 ‐337 AD) and was complete before the reign of his sixth‐century successor Justinian) • (e.g. Zoroastrianism identification with Sasanian Empire developed at an uneven pace, but by the sixth and seventh centuries was substantially complete) • With the exception of Judaism religion had a “universalist” character • NOTE: one of the features of Christianity which appealed to Constantine and his successors was its universalism. Spread of Christianity : The Case of Egypt Doctrinal parallels shared with Egyptians, Greeks and Romans resident in the country: • • • • Redemption Sacramental mysteries Immortality Egyptian succeeded to adapt Christianity to their cult. 8/30/2018 Serapeuni or the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria # 1 Serapeuni or the Temple of Serapis in Alexandria #2 Apis or Hapis is a sacred bull worshipped in the Memphis region. Identified as the son of Hathor, a primary deity in the pantheon of Ancient Egypt. Hathor Deity of the sky, dance, love, beauty, joy, motherhood, foreign lands, mining, music and fertility. 8/30/2018 Atum Ptah Osiris Questions to think about • Who controlled Arabia in (571 C.E. birth of the Prophet d. 632)? • What kind of religious pluralism(if any) existed in Arabia? • What attributes of civilization existed in Arabia before the arrival of Islam? (Deity of creation/the first being to emerge from the darkness and endless watery abyss that existed before creation. (Deity of craftsmen and architects) (Deity of the afterlife, death, life, and resurrection)
9/20/2018 School of Modern Languages Georgia Institute of Technology ARBC 2031 Arts Sciences and Technology through History Fall 2018 Tuesday and Thursday 3:00-4:15 Swann Building 206 Highlights • Arabs and Arabia before Islam • The origin and character of Arabian religion • The Origins of the Idols • Jahiliyya as Arabic Signifier for Pre‐Islamic Arabia • Prophet Muhammad (Revise and Re‐enforce) • Successors (Briefly) • Legacy (Qur’an and Hadith) Arabs and Arabia Before Islam The Origin and Character of Arabian Religions • Social identity ( Kinship ( in Arabic “ ‘asabiya”) • Landscape/Demography Jews Christians (Chalcedonians, Monophysites, Nestorian) Zoroastrians Hunafa’ Polytheists (dominant religion)/ • (Deseret(Bedouin ) • Urban (Agrarian)) • Was the “Bedouin” and the “Agrarian” completely isolated? • Scarce Sources • Islamic Sources such as biography of the Prophet (sira) • Roman Sources 9/20/2018 The Origins of the Idols Jahiliyya • Archeological evidence • General explanation of Jahiliyya often understands the term in contrast to 'Islam.‘ Jahiliyya is from the root (jhl) and the root means in English “ignorance.” • This conception is WRONG • statues of the Graeco‐Egyptian god Harpocrates • Roman sources • Syrian Bishop Theodoret of Cyrrhus ( 393 – 458/466 C.E.) • Understanding Jahiliyya is very crucial to understanding how early Muslims perceived pre‐Islamic polytheist/ “pagan” times. Jahiliyya as fanaticism Philological Evidence from pre‐Islamic poetry shows that Muhammad probably used the word in the way it was used in pre‐Islamic poetry which refers to jahl (impulsive and fanatic)as an antonym to hilm (patience and deliberation) The Prophet Muhammad (570‐632) • Family • Early Childhood • Revelation Period 610‐632 9/20/2018 Challenges after Prophecy (610) What are the major challenges facing Muhammad after the prophecy? • Rejection from tribe and clan members • Facing Persecution • Emigration of Followers to Abyssinia (615?) • Boycott of the Quraysh tribe against Muhammad’s clan (Banu Hashim) (616‐619 ) • Building alliances outside Mecca (620‐622) • Hijra: Muhammad’s emigration in 622 Challenges after Hijra (622) What are the challenges facing Muhammad after the hijra? • Water and Securing Trade Routes: 624 Battle of Badr • Competition over resources with residents of Medina • “Pact” of Median: Not to extend any support to tribes of Mecca • Jewish‐Muslim Conflict • 625 Battle of Uhud: defeat of Muhammad and his followers • Expulsion of some Jews from Medina • 627 Battel of the Trench (Muslims vs Jewish and Meccan Tribes) 9/20/2018 Peace : Treaty of Hudaybiya What is the treaty of the Hudaybiya (623)? • Between Muhammad and Mecca • It opened access to the shrine of Mecca • Allowed Muslims to expand their network of alliances • Protecting Alliances: 629 (Battle of Mu’ta) Unsuccessful expedition towards the Byzantine territory • 630 Violation of the Treaty and Peaceful Conquest of Mecca • Chiefs of Mecca accept Islam Triumph of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula • Battel of Hunayn and siege of al‐Taif (630) (defending Mecca against other Arab tribes like Thaqif and Hawazin) • Campaign against Tabuk (Ghassanis, vessals of Byzantium) 632 Farwell pilgrimage/last sermon and death of Prophet Muhammad 9/20/2018 Muhammad Successors The Qur’an • 632‐634 Abu Bakr • 634‐644 The Caliph ‘Umar Ibn al‐Khatta • 644‐656 Caliphate of ‘Uthman • ‘Uthman’s Qur’an • Bibliotheca de France • Other fragments in Russia, Rome Vatican, London • A copy of a Qur’an is kept in al‐Hussien mosque in Cairo. 80 KG Pages 187 paper • Other Copies of ‘Uthman’s Quran in Istanbul
8/21/2018 The Clash of Ignorance | The Nation MEDIA FEATURE OCTOBER 22, 2001 ISSUE The Clash of Ignorance Labels like "Islam" and "the West" serve only to confuse us about a disorderly reality. By Edward W. Said OCTOBER 4, 2001 m S amuel Huntington’s article "The Clash of Civilizations?" appeared in the Summer 1993 issue of Foreign Affairs, where it immediately attracted a surprising amount of attention and reaction. Because the article was intended to supply Americans with an original thesis about "a new phase" in world politics after the end of the cold war, Huntington’s terms of argument seemed compellingly large, bold, even visionary. He very clearly had his eye on rivals in the policy-making ranks, theorists such as Francis Fukuyama and his "end of history" ideas, as well as the legions who had celebrated the onset of globalism, tribalism and the dissipation of the state. But they, he allowed, had understood only some aspects of this new period. He was about to announce the "crucial, indeed a central, aspect" of what "global politics is likely to be in the coming years." Unhesitatingly he pressed on: 1/11 8/21/2018 The Clash of Ignorance | The Nation "It is my hypothesis that the fundamental source of conflict in this new world will not be primarily ideological or primarily economic. The great divisions among humankind and the dominating source of conflict will be cultural. Nation states will remain the most powerful actors in world affairs, but the principal conflicts of global politics will occur between nations and groups of different civilizations. The clash of civilizations will dominate global politics. The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future." Most of the argument in the pages that followed relied on a vague notion of something Huntington called "civilization identity" and "the interactions among seven or eight [sic] major civilizations," of which the conflict between two of them, Islam and the West, gets the lion’s share of his attention. In this belligerent kind of thought, he relies heavily on a 1990 article by the veteran Orientalist Bernard Lewis, whose ideological colors are manifest in its title, "The Roots of Muslim Rage." In both articles, the personification of enormous entities called "the West" and "Islam" is recklessly affirmed, as if hugely complicated matters like identity and culture existed in a cartoonlike world where Popeye and Bluto bash each other mercilessly, with one always more virtuous pugilist getting the upper hand over his adversary. Certainly neither Huntington nor Lewis has much time to spare for the internal dynamics and plurality of every civilization, or for the fact that the major contest in most modern cultures concerns the definition or interpretation of each culture, or for the unattractive possibility that a great deal of demagogy and downright 2/11 8/21/2018 The Clash of Ignorance | The Nation ignorance is involved in presuming to speak for a whole religion or civilization. No, the West is the West, and Islam Islam. The challenge for Western policy-makers, says Huntington, is to make sure that the West gets stronger and fends off all the others, Islam in particular. More troubling is Huntington’s assumption that his perspective, which is to survey the entire world from a perch outside all ordinary attachments and hidden loyalties, is the correct one, as if everyone else were scurrying around looking for the answers that he has already found. In fact, Huntington is an ideologist, someone who wants to make "civilizations" and "identities" into what they are not: shut-down, sealed-off entities that have been purged of the myriad currents and countercurrents that animate human history, and that over centuries have made it possible for that history not only to contain wars of religion and imperial conquest but also to be one of exchange, cross-fertilization and sharing. This far less visible history is ignored in the rush to highlight the ludicrously compressed and constricted warfare that "the clash of civilizations" argues is the reality. When he published his book by the same title in 1996, Huntington tried to give his argument a little more subtlety and many, many more footnotes; all he did, however, was confuse himself and demonstrate what a clumsy writer and inelegant thinker he was. The basic paradigm of West versus the rest (the cold war opposition reformulated) remained untouched, and this is what has persisted, often insidiously and implicitly, in discussion since the terrible events of September 11. The carefully planned and horrendous, pathologically motivated 3/11 8/21/2018 The Clash of Ignorance | The Nation suicide attack and mass slaughter by a small group of deranged militants has been turned into proof of Huntington’s thesis. Instead of seeing it for what it is–the capture of big ideas (I use the word loosely) by a tiny band of crazed fanatics for criminal purposes–international luminaries from former Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto to Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi have pontificated about Islam’s troubles, and in the latter’s case have used Huntington’s ideas to rant on about the West’s superiority, how "we" have Mozart and Michelangelo and they don’t. (Berlusconi has since made a halfhearted apology for his insult to "Islam.") But why not instead see parallels, admittedly less spectacular in their destructiveness, for Osama bin Laden and his followers in cults like the Branch Davidians or the disciples of the Rev. Jim Jones at Guyana or the Japanese Aum Shinrikyo? Even the normally sober British weekly The Economist, in its issue of September 22-28, can’t resist reaching for the vast generalization, praising Huntington extravagantly for his "cruel and sweeping, but nonetheless acute" observations about Islam. "Today," the journal says with unseemly solemnity, Huntington writes that "the world’s billion or so Muslims are ‘convinced of the superiority of their culture, and obsessed with the inferiority of their power.’" Did he canvas 100 Indonesians, 200 Moroccans, 500 Egyptians and fifty Bosnians? Even if he did, what sort of sample is that? Uncountable are the editorials in every American and European newspaper and magazine of note adding to this vocabulary of gigantism and apocalypse, each use of which is plainly designed not to edify but to inflame the reader’s 4/11 8/21/2018 The Clash of Ignorance | The Nation indignant passion as a member of the "West," and what we need to do. Churchillian rhetoric is used inappropriately by self-appointed combatants in the West’s, and especially America’s, war against its haters, despoilers, destroyers, with scant attention to complex histories that defy such reductiveness and have seeped from one territory into another, in the process overriding the boundaries that are supposed to separate us all into divided armed camps. This is the problem with unedifying labels like Islam and the West: They mislead and confuse the mind, which is trying to make sense of a disorderly reality that won’t be pigeonholed or strapped down as easily as all that. I remember interrupting a man who, after a lecture I had given at a West Bank university in 1994, rose from the audience and started to attack my ideas as "Western," as opposed to the strict Islamic ones he espoused. "Why are you wearing a suit and tie?" was the first retort that came to mind. "They’re Western too." He sat down with an embarrassed smile on his face, but I recalled the incident when information on the September 11 terrorists started to come in: how they had mastered all the technical details required to inflict their homicidal evil on the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and the aircraft they had commandeered. Where does one draw the line between "Western" technology and, as Berlusconi declared, "Islam’s" inability to be a part of "modernity"? One cannot easily do so, of course. How finally inadequate are the labels, generalizations and cultural assertions. At some level, for instance, primitive passions and sophisticated know-how converge in ways that give the lie to a fortified boundary not only between "West" and "Islam" but also between past and present, us and them, to say nothing of the 5/11 8/21/2018 The Clash of Ignorance | The Nation very concepts of identity and nationality about which there is unending disagreement and debate. A unilateral decision made to draw lines in the sand, to undertake crusades, to oppose their evil with our good, to extirpate terrorism and, in Paul Wolfowitz’s nihilistic vocabulary, to end nations entirely, doesn’t make the supposed entities any easier to see; rather, it speaks to how much simpler it is to make bellicose statements for the purpose of mobilizing collective passions than to reflect, examine, sort out what it is we are dealing with in reality, the interconnectedness of innumerable lives, "ours" as well as "theirs." In a remarkable series of three articles published between January and March 1999 in Dawn, Pakistan’s most respected weekly, the late Eqbal Ahmad, writing for a Muslim audience, analyzed what he called the roots of the religious right, coming down very harshly on the mutilations of Islam by absolutists and fanatical tyrants whose obsession with regulating personal behavior promotes "an Islamic order reduced to a penal code, stripped of its humanism, aesthetics, intellectual quests, and spiritual devotion." And this "entails an absolute assertion of one, generally decontextualized, aspect of religion and a total disregard of another. The phenomenon distorts religion, debases tradition, and twists the political process wherever it unfolds." As a timely instance of this debasement, Ahmad proceeds first to present the rich, complex, pluralist meaning of the word jihad and then goes on to show that in the word’s current confinement to indiscriminate war against presumed enemies, it is impossible "to recognize the Islamic–religion, society, culture, history or politics–as lived and experienced by Muslims through the ages." The modern 6/11 8/21/2018 The Clash of Ignorance | The Nation Islamists, Ahmad concludes, are "concerned with power, not with the soul; with the mobilization of people for political purposes rather than with sharing and alleviating their sufferings and aspirations. Theirs is a very limited and timebound political agenda." What has made matters worse is that similar distortions and zealotry occur in the "Jewish" and "Christian" universes of discourse. It was Conrad, more powerfully than any of his readers at the end of the nineteenth century could have imagined, who understood that the distinctions between civilized London and "the heart of darkness" quickly collapsed in extreme situations, and that the heights of European civilization could instantaneously fall into the most barbarous practices without preparation or transition. And it was Conrad also, in The Secret Agent (1907), who described terrorism’s affinity for abstractions like "pure science" (and by extension for "Islam" or "the West"), as well as the terrorist’s ultimate moral degradation. For there are closer ties between apparently warring civilizations than most of us would like to believe; both Freud and Nietzsche showed how the traffic across carefully maintained, even policed boundaries moves with often terrifying ease. But then such fluid ideas, full of ambiguity and skepticism about notions that we hold on to, scarcely furnish us with suitable, practical guidelines for situations such as the one we face now. Hence the altogether more reassuring battle orders (a crusade, good versus evil, freedom against fear, etc.) drawn out of Huntington’s alleged opposition between Islam and the West, from which official discourse drew its vocabulary in the first days after the September 11 attacks. There’s since been a noticeable de- 7/11 8/21/2018 The Clash of Ignorance | The Nation escalation in that discourse, but to judge from the steady amount of hate speech and actions, plus reports of law enforcement efforts directed against Arabs, Muslims and Indians all over the country, the paradigm stays on. One further reason for its persistence is the increased presence of Muslims all over Europe and the United States. Think of the populations today of France, Italy, Germany, Spain, Britain, America, even Sweden, and you must concede that Islam is no longer on the fringes of the West but at its center. But what is so threatening about that presence? Buried in the collective culture are memories of the first great Arab-Islamic conquests, which began in the seventh century and which, as the celebrated Belgian historian Henri Pirenne wrote in his landmark book Mohammed and Charlemagne (1939), shattered once and for all the ancient unity of the Mediterranean, destroyed the Christian-Roman synthesis and gave rise to a new civilization dominated by northern powers (Germany and Carolingian France) whose mission, he seemed to be saying, is to resume defense of the "West" against its historical-cultural enemies. What Pirenne left out, alas, is that in the creation of this new line of defense the West drew on the humanism, science, philosophy, sociology and historiography of Islam, which had already interposed itself between Charlemagne’s world and classical antiquity. Islam is inside from the start, as even Dante, great enemy of Mohammed, had to concede when he placed the Prophet at the very heart of his Inferno. Then there is the persisting legacy of monotheism itself, the Abrahamic religions, as Louis Massignon aptly called them. Beginning with Judaism and Christianity, each is a successor haunted by what came before; for Muslims, Islam fulfills and 8/11 8/21/2018 The Clash of Ignorance | The Nation ends the line of prophecy. There is still no decent history or demystification of the many-sided contest among these three followers–not one of them by any means a monolithic, unified camp–of the most jealous of all gods, even though the bloody modern convergence on Palestine furnishes a rich secular instance of what has been so tragically irreconcilable about them. Not surprisingly, then, Muslims and Christians speak readily of crusades and jihads, both of them eliding the Judaic presence with often sublime insouciance. Such an agenda, says Eqbal Ahmad, is "very reassuring to the men and women who are stranded in the middle of the ford, between the deep waters of tradition and modernity." But we are all swimming in those waters, Westerners and Muslims and others alike. And since the waters are part of the ocean of history, trying to plow or divide them with barriers is futile. These are tense times, but it is better to think in terms of powerful and powerless communities, the secular politics of reason and ignorance, and universal principles of justice and injustice, than to wander off in search of vast abstractions that may give momentary satisfaction but little self-knowledge or informed analysis. "The Clash of Civilizations" thesis is a gimmick like "The War of the Worlds," better for reinforcing defensive selfpride than for critical understanding of the bewildering interdependence of our time. Edward W. Said We mourn the loss of Edward Said, who passed away on the morning of Thursday, September 25, 2003. Edward W. Said, the late University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, was for many years the magazine's classical music critic as well as a contributing writer. Known both for his groundbreaking research in the field of 9/11 8/21/2018 of Ignorance | The Nation comparative literature andThe hisClash incisive political commentary, Said was one of the most prominent intellectuals in the United States. His writing regularly appeared in the Guardian of London, Le Monde Diplomatique and the Arablanguage daily al-Hayat, printed in every Arab capital in the world. In 1948, Said and his family were dispossessed from Palestine and settled in Cairo. He came to the United States to attend college and lived in New York for many years. Because of his advocacy for Palestinian self-determination and his membership in the Palestine National Council, Said was not allowed to visit Palestine until several years ago. Educated at Princeton and Harvard, Said lectured at more than 150 universities and colleges in the United States, Canada and Europe. His writing, translated into fourteen languages, includes ten books, among them Orientalism (Pantheon, 1978), a runner-up in criticism for the National Book Critics Circle Award; The World, the Text and the Critic (Harvard, 1983); Blaming the Victims (Verso, 1988); Culture and Imperialism (Knopf, 1993); Peace and Its Discontents: Essays on Palestine in the Middle East Peace Process (Vintage, 1995); End of the Peace Process: Oslo and After (Pantheon, 2000); and, most recently, Power, Politics, and Culture (Pantheon). To submit a correction for our consideration, click here. For Reprints and Permissions, click here. 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Tutor Answer

School: Boston College



Attributes of Arabia Civilization and How thy Influence Islam
Institutional Affiliation




What attributes of civilization (if any) existed in Arabia before the arrival of Islam and
how did these attributes influence Islam during the period of revelation?
The civilization of the Arabians began in the seventh century of the Christian time as
affirmed by most recorders following the birth of Prophet Mohammad in 571 AD. He later
reported disseminating his word on Islamic civilization in 610 AD (Jonathan A.C. Brown,
Hadith: Muhammad’s Legacy, 1-40). Mohammad is said to have retired to his Creator after
bringing about the full Islamic revolution in the whole of the Arabian Peninsula (May the eternal
peace of Allah fall upon him) (Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies Vol. 3, No. 1, 2018).
I believe that the Arabians exhibited hints of civilization even before the arrival of Islam.
Why do I say so? For decades, Arabians have been known to establish very descent and massive
buildings even before the advent of the Romans. The Saba and Ma’arib area in Yemen has a
beautiful structures and good trees for instance (Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies Vol. 3,
No. 1, 2018). The history has it that this area was so vast that anyone moving on the quickest
means of transportation could not make to cover the whole place in a month.
Further, one could not see the sun while crossing this place because of the shadowy trees
along the roadways. The area also presented symptoms of prosperity and had sufficient water
showing traits of a stable government which was known to almost everyone across the world. To
me, a community that can come up with such brilliant structures even before the advancement in
technology cannot be termed as primitive. Also, the Arabians are known to have excellent
business relations with many dominant nations. Now tell me, how can such open-minded and
talented people be referred to as barbarian?



Besides, history keep...

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