Arabism and islam:stateless nations and nationless states

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by ajtr, Oct 9, 2010.

  1. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Messages:
    12,038
    Likes Received:
    715
    ARABISM AND ISLAM:STATELESS NATIONS AND NATIONLESS STATES

    By CHRISTINE M. HELMS


    **50 page pdf file follow the link in heading.
     
  2.  
  3. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Messages:
    12,038
    Likes Received:
    715
    Kings, clerics and the paradox of Saudi society


    Visitors to Saudi Arabia this September bore witness to a rare spectacle, as thousands of young men spilled onto gridlocked arteries from Riyadh to Khobar to commemorate National Day.

    Similar displays of patriotic fervor pass without notice in many countries around the world. But in a kingdom renowned for the austerity of its conservative religious movement, even a simple festival can be symptomatic of dramatic changes in the structure of society.

    For decades, any celebration of the 1932 unification of the kingdom was widely interpreted as an affront to Islam. Powerful Saudi clerics conspired to treat tributary holidays, outside the two religious festivals of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, as heresy. For this same conservative clergy to ignore elaborate, state-sponsored celebrations and National Day-themed theater (in a country that does not allow cinemas) suggests that the balance of power between the House of al-Sa'ud and the House of Ibn Wahhab may be tipping in favor of the monarchy.

    The current socio-political system in Saudi Arabia dates to the establishment of the kingdom by Abdul Aziz al-Sa'ud (Ibn Sa'ud). The expansion of al-Sa'ud's power base beyond the central portion of the kingdom in Najd depended heavily on a group of desert warriors known as the Ikhwan, who had embraced the call to arms of al-Sa'ud's then-ally and puritanical religious revivalist Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab. The same 1744 pact governing this alliance between religious and temporal power persists to this day through the clerical legitimization of the rule of the House of al-Sa'ud, and the reciprocal guarantee of the Islamic character of the state.

    Under this arrangement, the descendants of al-Wahhab -- the al-Shaikh family -- exercise ultimate control over the judiciary, education and religious hierarchy through key positions including that of Justice Minister and Grand Mufti. Dynastic succession in the 5,000-man strong royal family is similarly restricted to the direct descendants of Ibn Sa'ud, who dominate political life in the country to an extent that is virtually unparalleled in the contemporary world.

    The alliance provides the royal family with leverage to perfect the practice of co-option through intermarriage, the allocation of oil wealth and appointments to positions of power. As a result, the kingdom's senior Wahhabi clergy, including the top cleric and highest religious authority, have been subordinated to the political order and are expected to ratify and justify regime policies.

    The impact of this arrangement on the legitimacy of the official religious establishment has fluctuated over time, but state-appointed clerics continue to enjoy tremendous power in schools, universities, mosques and state-controlled radio and television.

    This is perhaps doubly true of the kingdom's "unofficial" clerics and religious figures aligned with the fragmented Islamic awakening movement (sahwa). Members of this disparate group -- made up of both moderates close to the reformist lobby and hardliners who provide moral succor to violent dissidents -- share the social conservatism of their official counterparts, but derive their influence from their popular following and their willingness to openly challenge the regime.

    The most prominent among them rose to power in the 1990's by channeling popular anger toward official clerics who had legitimized the presence of American troops on Saudi soil.

    Many of these same independent and politically motivated conservative clerics today oppose King Abdullah's education and justice reform agenda, issuing hundreds of internet fatwas to derail modernization efforts. A royal response issued in August 2010, by way of decree, limited the authority to issue religious edicts to approved members of a 20-cleric Senior Scholars Authority and an affiliated committee.

    The seemingly long-delayed decision to insulate the citizenry -- and the royal agenda -- from the influence of more extreme elements within the independent clergy, can actually be traced back to the early part of this decade. Following al Qaeda's attacks on the kingdom in 2003 and 2004, the king encouraged nationalist sentiment by promoting patriotism (watania) as a stand-alone subject in the academic curriculum.

    With the exception of a joint statement issued by 156 scholars expressing outrage at the perceived replacement of religious based loyalty with Saudi nationalism, the clerical establishment remained surprisingly quiet. Their acquiescence paved the way for King Abdullah to sanction National Day as an official holiday in one of the first decrees he issued upon coming to power in 2005. In every year since, preparations have been more elaborate, and celebrations more colorful, than the year before.

    These incremental steps toward an opening of the social sphere in Saudi Arabia require time to become institutionalized. Unfortunately, the king's advanced age and shrinking windows of lucidity suggest that time may be running out. With only an ailing 85-year-old crown prince standing between the reputedly conservative Nayef bin Abdul Aziz al-Saud and the throne, the people of Saudi Arabia have every reason to celebrate the next National Day as though it were the last. A brief patriotic opening may soon be drawing to a close.

    Ian Siperco is the Director of the Middle East and North Africa Program for a global operational and political risk consulting firm.
     
  4. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

    Joined:
    Aug 20, 2010
    Messages:
    4,404
    Likes Received:
    2,783
    Location:
    Gangtok, Sikkim, India
    The Middle East has to modernize and come to 21st century in a big way. They still fancy themselves as being stuck in 7th century and this is the cause of their autocratic and narrow-minded governing pattern and social laws. Even though there's significant social security with very few crimes compared to Asian countries, this system is very fragile and can turn nasty with just one push of a button--revolution. Years of oppression, subjugation and violent propaganda might fill people with mindless violence and directionless aggression and this will culminate into disaster for each of the Islamic countries in Middle East and adjoining theocracies like Iran and Pakistan.

    A country governed by clerics is bound to fail in long term as there are cracks beginning to be visible even in Iran where the mullah regime applies brutal force on its people to accept their tyranny. However, when Iranians come out of Iran, they're totally changed men and women and even more liberal than West in some cases. The same might apply to Saudi Arabians at this rate if their radical and fundamentalist Wahhabist clerical force keeps on bullying people. As if this wasn't enough even there's absolute monarchy in the state. It is even a miracle how the people of that country tolerate this even to this day.
     
  5. ajtr

    ajtr Veteran Member Veteran Member

    Joined:
    Oct 2, 2009
    Messages:
    12,038
    Likes Received:
    715
    Two by Feroz Khan

    Two by Feroz Khan. Emphasis added, and some proof-reading

    By following this thread and observing how the argumentative lines of logic are developing, it is interesting to witness a gradual emergence of an intellectual mea culpa. It seems, from comments posted and replies made to them, that debate is being characterized as one between resident Pakistanis and non-resident Pakistanis and their view on Islam; with the non-resident Pakistani identified as seeking a more extremist response to the end of a religious role, while the resident Pakistanis suggesting that Islam/religion is not a problem, but its interpretation which is the root of all the evil in Pakistan.


    Pakistanis need to understand that the issue of religion has to be confronted and it has to be rationalized. Religion is the elephant in the room, which most resident Pakistanis, as seen from their comments, are afraid to speak out against it in a critical sense. Even, the oblique references to the “enemy” suggests that there is such a dread of the punitive powers of religion and its terror, at the disposal of the state, that most Pakistanis are not even willing to call the “enemy” by its name.

    This is the problem in Pakistan and this is the problem, which the resident Pakistanis will have to grapple with and eventually confront. There is a war being waged in Pakistan, for its soul, and in this war, like all wars fought in the name of a god, it will be long, destructive, divisive and intolerant.

    Wars, even if they are fought for a religious purpose, are expressions of secular politics and their conduct is often decided by the politics of that war; determinations of power. In this sense, the utilization of a religion, Islam to be more precise, as a political motivation used as casus belli, is a secular aim; the attainment of political power and the exercise of that power within a territory.

    Even a theocratic ideal is bound by a secular reality and religion, in the process of fighting this war for its own ends, has to exist within a secular framework. In such a case, the “enemy” or religion and in the case of Pakistan, Islam, can be easily identified. When a religion is used to gain a political end, it loses its aura of infallibility and it opens itself for criticism. As the old Roman saying suggested: render unto gods what is god’s and unto to caesar, what is caesar’s; once religion is used for a more secular, temporal purpose of fighting a war to gain a political end, it ceases to be a religion and instead becomes another political argument, which by definition and intent, is a secular idea.

    Islam, in this struggle, as being defined by those who wish to leverage it for their own political ends, is not a religious thought any more, but is an expression of a more cheapened commodity; political power. If Islam/religion wish to pursue the endeavors of political power in the secular world, then it opens itself for what the Germans referred to as “gegenangriff” – counter-attack.

    In the case of Pakistan, Islam and its ideology is no longer beyond the pale of untouchability and such, can be questioned. Islam and religion, in Pakistan, are just another political idea, party, manifestation and doctrine and if Islam and religion in Pakistan wish to wield political power and enter the political arena; they should, and must, be judged by the standards of the arena they have entered of their own free will without anyone having forced them to do so, and which exists in the present world and not in the Hereafter.

    This, in the case of Pakistan, may have the trimmings of a religious war, but is in all actuality a secular attempt at gaining political power. Like all secular political parties, if Islam and the idea of religion wants to be a political force, then it it must be judged by the standards of accountability that exist for politics in the secular world and not the by the standards of the Hereafter.

    Therefore, resident Pakistanis should not waffle and be confused and be afraid of questioning religion in Pakistan and its role in the Pakistani society.
     
  6. The Messiah

    The Messiah Bow Before Me! Elite Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2010
    Messages:
    10,788
    Likes Received:
    4,552
    Nearly all the govt's and dictators in middle east are puppets of yanks...it is one of the reasons people are frustrated and bearded clerics are rising in popularity because of it.
     

Share This Page