Monday, June 13, 2005

The Arab Mind

Is there such a thing as an all-encompassing Arab Mind that ties us all together & sets us apart from other people?What if anything do all Arabs have in common?What are our unique cultural traits?Generosity?Warmth & hospitality?The concept of shame & honor?Over-infatuation with our own eloquence?The tendency to get carried away with our own rhetoric?Moralism?Idealism?Emotionalism?A Lack of Pragmatism?The herd mentality?False pride & bombast?

I hate to sound like a bookworm but my first posting is going to be a book. Not because I agree with its content or even because I enjoyed reading it. Quite the contrary infact for at least one of them.

It's important to me because it made an impression & I can't stop thinking about it.

The book is Rafael Patai's "The Arab Mind". Being an Arab, it was a novel experience to read a book about Arabs by an Israeli. I think it was the first time I got a chance to see 'us' as we appear to 'them'.This is not a book about war or geopolitics or strategy. It's an anthropological study of Arab culture. By an Israeli no less.

Am not going to deny it made me feel quite angry & frustrated in some parts. It is quite prejudiced. But not prejudiced enough to dismiss entirely as racist drivel unfortunately.

It is interesting to think about how much of what passes for mainstream Arab culture today comes from Islam & how much of it is just that. Mainstream Arab culture.Which force is more powerful in our societies today?Islam dressed up as Arab culture or Arab Bedouin culture dressed up as Islam?



Anonymous haal said...

interesting question?

I was initally going to say, Arab culture dressed up as islam..but then, wait a minute, islam is partly a toned down, more civilized bedouin, arab culture. In the sense that it redefined the arab/bedouin customs and embedded in it islamic virtues.

but i dont know!

6/14/2005 11:22:00 AM  
Blogger LouLou said...

I don't know either haal. In a conflict between Arab culture & Islam which usually prevails?Which has the bigger influence on our lives?The concept of '3aib' & shame & honor or the concept of 'haram'?

A good clue would be how Arabs compare with other Muslims no?I've known Muslims from places like Bosnia, Senegal, Malaysia & Turkey but I never had this debate with any of them. Maybe it's time to get back in touch with old friends!

6/14/2005 06:14:00 PM  
Blogger haal said...

My sense is that we islamize (islamcisze) our culture heritage. For instance, in egypt if someone dies you go to the funeral wearing black or dark blue. Although, in islam the prophet asked us to wear white. When you go there wearing white people look to you with all sort of questions and all heads are turned over to see this white dressed lady. If you try to convince anyone that it was the prophet who said that, they would usually say, 'but it is our customs...', and some one once said me that it is 'musta7ab to wear white, so if u feel more comfortable wearing black, khalass' and she gave example of the beard!!!!!! Well.....

6/16/2005 02:05:00 PM  

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