By Nissim Rejwan
What's an Arab? notwithstanding many within the West might resolution that query with simplistic stereotypes, the truth is way extra advanced and engaging. Arabs themselves were debating Arab id considering that pre-Islamic instances, coming to various conclusions concerning the nature and quantity in their "Arabness." Likewise, Westerners and others have tried to research Arab id, achieving regularly destructive conclusions approximately Arab tradition and means for self-government. To deliver new views to the query of Arab identification, Iraqi-born student Nissim Rejwan has assembled this interesting selection of writings by way of Arab and Western intellectuals, who attempt to outline what it capability to be Arab. He starts with pre-Islamic instances and maintains to the final many years of the 20 th century, quoting thinkers starting from Ibn Khaldun to trendy writers similar to al-Ansari, Haykal, Ahmad Amin, al-'Azm, and stated. via their works, Rejwan exhibits how Arabs have grappled with such major concerns because the effect of Islam, the increase of nationalism, the search for democracy, women's prestige, the more youthful iteration, Egypt's position within the Arab international, Israel's function in center japanese clash, and the West's "cultural invasion." via letting Arabs converse for themselves, Arabs within the reflect refutes a trendy Western stereotype--that Arabs are incapable of self-reflection or self-government. to the contrary, it unearths a wealthy culture of self-criticism and self-knowledge within the Arab global.
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Additional info for Arabs in the Mirror: Images and Self-Images from Pre-Islamic to Modern Times
Using these ﬁve criteria, al-Husaini arrives at the grim conclusion that the Arab peoples “are Arabs only in name,” though he concedes that conditions vary within the various Arab societies. indb 24 11/14/07 11:14:49 AM “a r a bi z i ng t h e a r a bs” strong inﬂuence on these eruptions—now weakening them, now lending them strength, now again directing them to the right and now to the left. Al-Husaini concludes, Until this day, we cannot credit the nationalist movements with the attributes of ﬁrmness and cohesion, since they never managed to stand on the foundations that we have expounded above.
This tendency, al-c Azm argues, was closely related to a basic element in the structure of traditional Arab society and had a great deal to do with the kind of “social personality” that Arab society tends to cultivate in the individual. To support his thesis, the author cites studies conducted some years previously by a leading Egyptian social anthropologist, Hamdi c Ammar. indb 32 11/14/07 11:14:55 AM se l f-i m ag e s ol d a n d n e w personality tends to substitute masculine bravado for the true essentials of fortitude (c Ammar’s remarks are quoted in al-c Azm, Al-Naqd al-Thati bacd al-Hazima, and in Rejwan, “Egypt’s Search for a New Self-Image,” 61–62).
Were attended by tens—or hundreds—of thousands of people” (in Al-Wasat [London], July 31, 1992). ” It is also possible, he continues, that there is in these statistics something to be proud of—something to make the Arab reader rest on his laurels or even go into a deep slumber. “But I have before me now an antidote to this,” writes Faraj.