Friday, November 20, 2009
In the end of the book Hasan marries Maddalena. This was a very unique because she was a Nun and had to get special permission. Not long after Hasan and Maddalena have been married she gives birth to a little boy. That's when events begin to turn for the worse. The current Pope dies and a new Pope takes over. His name is Pope Adrian. Pope Adrian did not like artists and non-believers. One day Hasan was caught with a pamphlet that went against the Pope and was sent to jail. Pope Adrian was poisoned and was then replaced by the Cardinal. When Hasan was released, Maddalena, Hasan, and their son tried to move back home.
I found it interesting that the Nun was able to get special permission to get married. I believe that this was interesting to me because I am not familiar with the Catholic religion so I did not know that she could even get permission to get married.
Did you like how the book ended? Why or Why not? If you did not like the ending what do you think would be a more fitting ending?
Example: Christopher Columbus discovered America. This is a "fact" often reported in scholarly sources, as well as Wikipedia. However, what about thousands of years before then, when Mongols possibly arrived first, etc...
My point is, all reported factual information most likely has a counterargument. Do not take Wikipedia, more over any encyclopedia, as absolute fact.
Leo marries a Maddalenna who is from a nunnery. In order to marry Hasan she had to recieve special permission. Soon after shes gives birth to a baby boy. After the pope passes away a new pope arises and is much more conservative than the previous Pope. his name was pope adrian and he was not supportive of artists and non-believers.
Leo gets sent to prison because he was caught with a pamphlet that went against the Pope. While Leo was in jail someone poisoned the pope. The Cardinal replaces him and Hasan and his family attempt to move back to Tunis.
I liked the fact that the book ended on hope. Leo was finally able to settle down with a wife and child and things seemed to come full circle. After all of the series of unfortunate events this conclusion was needed for readers not to leave this book with a sense of hopelessness.
I found it interesting that the pope was viewed as an evil dictator instead of a man of God. The pope of our time has no say in what humans do to their bodies, whether they shave or not. I just don't understand what the duties and the roll of the pope was in this book.
My question is do you think people took what the pope ordered seriously because of God's wrath or the Popes?
One major point of the report that I found particularly interesting was the description of the Arab world. Its easy to lump the region together into a neatly packaged "world" yet the reality is far from unified. Even within countries, the people are fractured and on the brink of warfare. This stems from the practically arbitrary division of nations after the European colonial era, and the nature of the Arab peoples. The nearly constant bloody warfare doesn't help either. Approximately 1 million Arabs have died violently since 1990, and all of this death must leave deep psychological scars. Beyond that, the "Arab" is such a loosely defined term, to Americans it is anyone from the itself vaguely defined Middle East. But to "Arabs" themselves, it is a term they may never even describe themselves as. It is not connected to a region, to a religion, to an ethnic group, or even a language, as not all "Arabs" speak Arabic, and it is so varied in dialect that Arabic speakers from different regions may not even be able to understand each other.
I found these readings incredibly informative, and easy to read (if you didn't read the Economist, I STRONGLY recommend it.) In addition to all of these thoughts, I've started to consider my own misconceptions about the Arab World. I never would have imagined how young, and rapidly growing the population is, and I was completely unaware of just how many civil wars/revolutions there were in the Middle East. If we, as a nation are so deeply invested and involved in a region, how can we be so ignorant of the true situation? I consider myself relatively aware, but I suppose the more you know, the more you realize you don't know...
Leo marries a woman, Maddalena, who is from a nunnery. She had to received permission from the Cardinal to leave before she was able to marry Hasan. Soon after shes gives birth to a baby boy. Around this time the Pope passes away. This is not a good thing for Leo. A new Pope replaces his him and is much more conservative than the previous Pope. The new Pope, Pope Adrian required people to shave, and is less accepting of non-believers and artists.
Leo gets sent to prison because he was caught with a pamphlet that went against the Pope. Apparently Leo was not the only one that didn't really like the Pope because while he was in jail, the Pope was poisoned. The Cardinal replaces him and soon after Hasan and his family attempt to move back to Tunis.
I guess my question is do you think the Pope had too much power. Does anyone else find it slightly ridiculous that someone can command you to shave a certain way?
Back to the Mongol comparison, the success of the Mongol invasion was based on their superior military tactics. Ok, checkmark for the US led invasion of the region; however, the method of achieving victory could not be more different. The Mongols attempted the wholesale slaughter of the Middle Eastern cities population and was largely successful in urban areas. The U.S. stands on high moral grounds in that we do not promote large scale civilian casualties. They do happen but when we are at fault the people responsible are held accountable. This does not happen in authoritarian regimes.
In the final parts of Leo Africanus, we see many somewhat surprising changes in Hassan’s life. Another woman is introduced into the story, who was formerly practicing to be a nun. She asks the cardinal if she can be excused from the program. Upon her removal from the program, Hassan is asked to marry her.
Following this – the Pope, who Hassan had built quite the relationship with, passed way. Pope Adrian, who is much more conservative in his ways, takes over; and things do not go down between him and Hassan. Pope Adrian decrees that every man must shave their beard, and Hassan refuses. Hassan, among other things done in rebellion, is caught with a pamphlet protesting against the current Pope and is jailed. Pope Adrian is later poisoned, and Hassan is released, and a new Pope takes reign. Eventually, Hassan receives help from a friend – Hans – and is able to make a return to Tunis.
We then moved onto articles focusing on the Middle East/Arab World. I found the articles on the Middle East very interesting. The first article discussed the recent stagnation in Arab politics and predicted a revolution in the very near future. Arab society has been progressing in recent years and modernizing. Bamyeh’s article discusses the three principles of the Muslim world: partial control, free movement, and cultural heteroglossia. He states that in order for these principles to function properly, no authorities can impose orthodoxies on the people. He also says that the authoritarian states in the modern Middle East would not be a possibility if the Islamic system was not affected by Western colonists.
I overall enjoyed Leo Africanus, and hope to read future stories like that in the near future. And as always, reading about the Middle East is quite interesting to me.
My question is that does an authority have so much power to tell everyone to do as he says? I mean for the Pope to tell everyone to cut their beard seems a little of the personal side. It's interesting to see how society has changed and so did the rules. How we have individual rights and personal freedom.
I found this reading the most interesting of all of the readings we have done so far in class. The articles from “The Economist” were objective, concise, and easy to read. I learned a lot about the Arab world’s history from the past twenty years. This is not something I had learned in any of the history classed I had taken, which usually stopped before the 1970’s. I found the information in the articles very interesting, as a meaningful prerequisite to understand the complex situation in the Middle East of today.
The first article centered on the Arab world’s political stagnation for the past twenty years. Arab countries are still ruled by authoritarian regimes, practiced in the arts of oppression. Still, the most controversial and continuing conflict is the conflict over Israel. There are also conflicts over oil, and unity is difficult to accomplish with the many different Muslim groups present. There are Sunni, Shia, and Kurdish fragments that make cooperation very difficult. Arabic is a language that would seem to unite, but instead, there are so many differing dialects that it is hard for others in different regions to understand each other. Violent out breaks are constant, and unpreventable. Any attempts at unity have failed utterly.
There have been many attempts by the US to try to facilitate some kind of peaceful solution in the Middle East. IN one article it mentioned that the bush administration planned to stop trying to create stability at any cost, and would instead focus on creating democracies. Barack Obama is also making attempts to repair America’s relations with Islam.
The most interesting part of the reading is the lengths that these governments will take to stay in power. They have massive security and intelligence power at their disposal to control the citizens. They set up sham voting procedures. It is very interesting how the youth has used to power of the internet to organize and let their wants be known. They organize over facebook and twitter, and express themselves over blogs.
The question I have is about the future of the Middle East is what the the future will hold. Will the various nations remain separated, and will the governments remain authoritarian? Will religious extremism continue to be the most effective and dangerous force in the Arab world?
How can we sit back and say "oh they are doing so terribly/not as well as us" when it takes $2 trillion to fix it? Let's be honest, our entire nation is an upheaval at billions of dollars, let alone trillions. So. What point am I trying to make? Globalization is key! Ultimately, the only way we can ever hope to improve more nations living conditions (and ultimately our relations with them and their relations with others) is through globalizing how we think and act. It has to be less of an elitist western attitude looking down on others, and more of a "we're in this together" kind of attitude, because all of us really are living on this same planet, at the same time.
The economist special report discusses the political situation in the Arab world. According to the reading, the Arab world has experienced two decades of political turmoil and confusion. But what are the causes of this political disaster? The answer is the authoritarian rule deriving from the struggle with Israel and a division within the Arab world. War is a significant and important situation for the countries involved. Because of the religious and political struggle within the Arab countries, that led to division, thus leading to civil war within the Arab continent. The reasons for the wars in the Middle East are due to various causes. One important cause is oil. The fact that 75% of the world's oil (that being a lot of oil) is within the Persian gulf, is significant because the countries and nations surrounding the Persian gulf area would try to invade and own that specific areas. This leads to civil disrupt and a lack of agreement of the countries to come to a consensus on how to deal with the mass amounts of oil. Furthermore, another issue is the problem with Israel. The religious significance of Israel manages and enables countries to fight for what they believe in. Finally, the most significant reason for the war is the Arab states themselves.
It is important to understand that the Arab states were divided. This division led to a combination of political ideals and agendas. The lack of democratic form of government is imperative. Not one of the 21 states that are in the Arab League can plausibly claim to be a democracy. That fact is alarming to me. The fact that I am an American leads me to believe that's my form of government (democracy) is the correct form of government and I feel that it should be adopted by the entire world. I feel that if democracy is given a shot, then the world would be more successful and a lot more peaceful place. However, the rest of the world does not agree with that logic. The great struggle for Arabians is to decide what form of government works for them and the method for them to maintain and sustain their country.
My total view on the reading was that it was filled with fantastic imagery and insight into the Arab World. The factual details provided insight for the reader to maintain a full understanding of the text. One interesting section of the article was the part entitled "Which way will they go?" This is because it presented a struggle for the Arabians on their political situation. This presentation of choice intrigued into reading deeper and attempting to do further research on the topic.
Now, as tempting as it may be to let that statement stand for itself, people generally like to see some sense of example/argument to back a statement up, particularly in this type of format. So I will. Parts of the Middle East are already democratic, yet the western world tends not to recognize that when elections don’t produce favorable results, and point to “democracy” in other parts of the world that doesn’t exist. For instance, Yasser Arafat was always derided, yet he was democratically elected. Democratic elections occur with regularity in the Palestinian territories. They will elect a Yasser Arafat or Hamas, as in Gaza. Elections in Lebanon sometimes elect moderates or pro-American candidates, but often allow a strong showing for Hezbollah. Democracy doesn’t cease to count as democracy if you don’t like the results. But in terms of a stable, western-style liberal democracy, there is a ways to go before we see that widespread across the region, a few things will need to happen. I say a few because it is a relatively short list, yet each one will be very difficult and require a lot of work. The first is very simple. You cannot expect any kind of stable system if you cannot provide basic services to the people. So the first step needs to be rebuilding the infrastructure of the nations of these nations. You need to be able to provide water, electricity, and roads to the people, and they need to work, before you can legitimize any kind of rule. Second, you need to create stable economic conditions in a country. As Richard Nixon so eloquently put it, you can “make the economy scream” until a democratic regime falls. And finally, if you can have both at the same time, great, but otherwise, opt for glasnost before perestroika. Establish liberty firmly and democracy is likely to be stable when it follows. Establish democracy without liberty and you are likely to lose it with great speed. Checks on power are the best thing possible for stable government systems. A society with free speech, free religion, free press, free association, etc is much more likely to successfully preserve a democratic system than one with out it. And there you have it, a stable, liberal democracy filled world in three very difficult steps.
So this is the part where you say I’m a moron and completely wrong…
In the “Special Report on the Arab World,” I found the sheer facts amazing. I found this article to be more interesting than the other. One thing that truly stuck out to me was in the letter Mr. bin Laden wrote to Mullah Omar where he talks about how “75% of the world’s oil was found in the Persian Gulf region and that ‘whoever has dominion over the oil has dominion over the economies of the world.”’
The other part in this article that I found particularly interesting in the “Special Report on the Arab World” was how they worked back along in a string of events to possibly find the jumping off point that let to America’s “War on Terror.” The author of the article believes that “the year Saddam invaded Kuwait” in 1990 was a changing point that provided the way for multiple events including the attacks on September 11th. So what I was wondering, is if you believe that one event or outcome can be traced back years, decades or centuries to one event? Or do you believe that there are many different things put together to end up with an outcome? Any thoughts?
I really enjoyed this article; I think they should talk about how the world was responding to the recent events that have happened in the Arab world. I think that they did a great job capturing the whole world, but I wish they would have shown the stance of some of the world’s great power.
There is no question that the Arab affects the global economy and globalization itself, my question is simply how? The article gave me an up to date idea of what’s going on there, but how is this all tied to the world economy?
Maalouf ended Leo Africanus odyssey with his marriage to Maddalena. This decision was heavily influenced by the wishes of Pope Leo X. When the new Pope comes into power, Pope Adrian, Leo Africanus was accused of disloyalty, because he refused to shave his beard. He was then imprisoned for the insubordinance. He was released from prison when Cardinal Julius became pope. It was interesting to see how influential religion was and still is throughout the world.
It is interesting to see how influential religion in within Leo Africanus’ life. His life is constantly on the line in the name of religion. Maybe it is because I was raised in a lax religious environment, but I have found that religion is often a dangerous instrument when wielded by a corrupt man. Religion in theory is a great idea. The world is such that no one individual may every know all there is to know. Religion gives people an outlet to fight off fears and anxieties about the unknown. It allows us to not live in fear of what we are incapable to accomplish, but the patience to allow use to break down the situation. Religion gives the individual hope and faith. Even if their hope is founded in logic unbeknown to themselves. However, the problem with religion is that the fallible man runs it. The blind faith is dangerous. Those who have come to trust an authority to have their best interest at heart are vulnerable. Throughout history, especially in Leo Africanus, we see how religious authorities abuse their power.
My question is do you think this type of corruption can be eliminated without dissolving organized religion? Or will the potential of corruption always exist within religion?
I found the articles on the Middle East very interesting. The article from the Economist discussed the recent stagnation in Arab politics and predicted a non-violent revolution in the near future. Arab society has been progressing in recent years and modernizing. News is being less restricted and more accurate, popular websites like Facebook and Youtube are being more popularly used, and education is spreading. Bamyeh’s article discusses the three principles of the Muslim world according to Bamyeh: partial control, free movement, and cultural heteroglossia. Bamyeh attempts to apply these old principles of the Muslim world to the current day globalization there. He states that in order for these principles to function properly, no authorities can impose orthodoxies on the people. He also says that the authoritarian states in the modern Middle East would not be a possibility if the Islamic system was not affected by Western colonists. I enjoyed both these articles. It was great to hear about globalization happening right now as opposed to previous world systems, and it was particularly interesting to connect this trend with previous systems.
Thursday, November 19, 2009
At the end of Leo Africanus, it seemed that a united Muslim world was a finally a reality. Harun tells Leo that "at present from the borders of Persia to the coast of the Maghrib, from Belgrade to the Yemen, there is one single Muslim Empire” (335). Today that ideal seems to be an impossibility. Having a common religion is not enough to keep the modern Arab states together. Factors like internal sects, language and ethnic differences, varying economies and power struggles keep the Muslim world from uniting as it once did under the Ottoman Empire. Religion, in fact, no longer seems to be the strongest bond that Arab states have. Instead, a common anger over the conflict in Israel seems to be more important.
In Leo’s time, the economy of the Muslim world seemed to be centered on international trade. That remains true today, except that today the main commodity is oil. Although, as the Special Report on the Arab World pointed out, that is a generalization that certainly does not apply to many poorer Muslim countries, such as those in northwest Africa. However, it is safe to say that the Arab world needs to diversify their economies in order to remain relatively prosperous. They rely too heavily on oil, and although they became concerned enough to begin diversification a few years ago, they were lulled into false security when oil prices rose so dramatically in the past decade.
Since Leo’s time the Arab world is often thought of as being in a perpetual state of conflict. Whether it is over oil or religious convictions or terrorism, it is a huge issue. As Americans we may automatically think of Iraq, but the true stalemate in the Middle East is not the relatively recent war in Iraq but rather the ongoing conflict in Israel. Without the intervention of powers such as America, Israel could have easily been crushed by its Muslim neighbors long ago. However, unwilling to defy America but equally unwilling to give up on their Palestinian brothers, the Arab states have created a deadlock that in a way works to their advantages. Or at least to the advantage of the leaders and politicians. Many politicians are elected solely on the basis of their position towards Israel, and many rulers keep power by claiming a state of emergency due to the conflict in Israel, despite the obvious lack of impact that the war has on their citizens.
After the passing of the pope a Pope Adrian takes over. This pope is much more conservative than the previous one. He condemns art and even decrees that every man should shave their beard. Hassan runs into conflict with this pope. He refuses to shave his beard. He is also caught with a pamphlet which talks against Pope Adrian. He is jailed and not released until Pope Adrian is poisoned and a new pope takes over.
Eventually Luther’s fanatics reach Rome where they pillage and sack the city. The pope, as well as anyone with him are in grave danger. Hans, a former student helps him get to Naples where they make plans for Hassans return to Tunis.
I really enjoyed this book much more than the other readings. I found it as entertaining as it was informative. I am glad this reading was part of the course.
In Bamyeh’s article, he argues that Dar al-Islam, or the Muslim world, could only function as a unit to the extent that it followed three fundamental principles: partial control, free movement, and cultural heteroglossia. These principles extend beyond the Muslim example to any global system with “maximal systematicity and minimal interruption.” Though attempts have been made to replace these principles, most notably through colonialism or the nation-state, these attempts were unsuccessful and not as efficient as older systems.
The first principle of partial control contrasts the European principle that the state is the ultimate organizational and governmental body. The Islamic state was only one of several sources of societal authority. The success of early Islam was in many ways attributed to the shared spiritual landscape that created consistencies across tribes. Thus, public institutions and religion were unified, and government was usually left open. When there was an attempt at forming a single state power, conflict was created because of the number of diverse groups that had their own organizational forms.
Despite these differences in organization of politics and institutions, free movement was prevalent within Dar al-Islam. This movement allowed for valuable communication and exchange of intellect, leading the development of a global society across several urban centers. It further contributed to the multicultural nature of these cities. In contrast to a sovereign state, this society did not define borders. Finally, free movement allowed for consistency in education and mannerism and a mix of social experience, leading to similar opportunities across the Muslim world. The combination of education and clear communication networks helped the development of a global society of many prominent urban centers.
Heteroglossia was originally used to describe a work of literature that had multiple voices representing several viewpoints. Its application in religion is its distinction from diversity. Heteroglossia does not imply the competition of voices, but rather the imposition of order on a society with several voices and viewpoints. Heteroglossia allows voices to be expressed to similar voices. Because of the inherent lack of competition, heteroglossia is inherently invisible. Because of this, it is better equipped than diversity to make advances toward universality. Within Islam, “a variety of social forces and interests imagined themselves to be the addressees of a single divine message.” This has an important implication in that opposing thoughts and voices do not destroy a society. Eventually, mutuality in religion and compromises amongst ideals lead toward unity. So, with heteroglossia in combination with the first two principles, a global society works best when there is no authoritarian government, a tenet of Islam.
In application of these principles, is it best to establish capitalism because of its free movement of goods and less than partial control on “invisible” forces? Is a global culture possible beyond Islam, or in other words, can unique nations still exist without competition? As the article asks, is imperialism or globalization our future, though the current trend seems to be toward globalization.
Leo one day before his plan to leave Rome with his wife and child, he is imprisoned by the Pope for having a phamphlet ridcolouling the pope. Leo is imprisoned for a years time until his is released by the new Pope, as the old one fell ill do certain poisons. Generally, one misfortune bestows another and his other wife and daughter who waited for him patiently, finally gave up and left for Persia. I find this point particulary interesting too, as i know that marriages at the time were arranged and the man was allowed to take more than one wife, yet i didn't realize that the wife had the choice to leave. He is sent as an emissary of the Pope where he encounters his life long almost brother, Hasan the Ferret, now working for the Grand Turk. After attempts to get the Muslims and Christians to live in peace were over, Leo traveled around with Givivanni in the Black Band, until Givivannis death. One interesting view point you get through Leo travels is how much religion was used as a hope and as a will to impose rules and restrictions. The pope at one point imprisons Leo. In today's society I have not heard of case involving religious figures imprisoning anyone. It seems that religion in that day had as many believers as people exploiting religion for some monetary or political gain. One more interesting point that is only seen differently from a first hand account, is the rise and fall of nations such as Granada. Coupled along with the the routes in trade that separated many, again, because of religion. My question for everyone is if religion was not used as a divider for many nations how would the World System be different overall?
The Arab world has been and is still currently ruled by authoritarian regimes. There are many countries that the people are classified as being Arab, however, ethnicities, religion, and language differ between these countries. In addition, inter-Arab divisions are extremely bitter toward each other and a great deal of violence is still seen. The author gives his stance on why the Middle East is particularly prone to violence and war. He claims that fighting over oil is a major cause and also the continuing conflict with Israel. Finally, he states that the absence of democracy in these Arab nations causes violence because they instead rely on domination in order to stay in power.
The author talks about President Bush’s efforts of setting up democracy in the Arab regimes failed for numerous reasons. The first reason was that that Arab reformers believed the Bush administration lacking as successful messengers. Arabs felt that reform should have been their own business. In addition, the war in Iraq caused controversy. Arabs did not feel America had their best interest in mind because they were killing their people and ruining their land. Now with the Obama administration, pushing for freedom reform is no longer the issue. In Cairo, Obama states, “ Each nation gives life to this principle in its own way, grounded in the traditions of its own people. America does not presume to know what is best for everyone.” The author makes the point that this might be a better way to go than the Bush administration, however it still does not address the problem of political stagnation in the Arab world.
I think it will be interesting to see how the Obama administration’s plan of withdrawal will play out. It seems that Arabs are divided in their opinions of whether or not they think outside interference is beneficial. The dynamics between outsiders and the Arab states, I think have been necessary in order to develop the Arab states internal politics. Also, it is amazing how the impact of war with Israel has such a stagnant effect on Arab nations. When will this controversy be resolved, if ever?
I thought it was extremely interesting that heteroglossia means that the “social unconscious of religion” imposes order, but not unity, on the people (11). Thus Islam binds people together, but it does not make them conform. Bamyeh describes the opposing views that can still exist within Islam: gender inequality as well as gender equality, economic policies that benefit the merchants as well as those that benefit the poor, and even praise for austerity as well as ostentation. These dichotomies fascinate me because they would be unable to exist in harmony within our capitalist society. I also thought it was interesting that although we see immigration as a problem, it is actually a positive step toward achieving a peaceful world system based on the principle of freedom of movement. Bamyeh emphasizes that despite various restrictions on goods and people, both will continue to move transnationally because “Global order, after all, does not consist only of that which is allowed” (15). I thought that statement best described how the world may move toward the three principles that Bamyeh outlined, whether the imperialistic societies like it or not.
I think a major fault with this article is that Bamyeh almost refuses to address the fact that imperialism is still winning out. Although he makes a good point – that a peaceful global society could be achieved through the historical principles of partial control, freedom of movement, and heteroglossia – imperialism is very tenacious and predominates in most of the world. I understand his conclusion that there is no “end” of history and so imperialism does not make sense in the long run, but I think he could have elaborated more on the Islamic world, let alone the rest of the world, will come to adopt this view. Part of the article is Bamyeh describing how the Islamic world has partially left these principles behind, although it has not benefited them. I would like to know how he thinks they will be convinced to readopt these ideas and follow through with them, as well as how he believes the rest of the world will change its ways. Although these principles may be more rational and beneficial, I cannot see the entire world easily making the transition.
There are many reasons for the lack of development in the Arab states. One of the major reasons is because of oil. A nice graph shows proven world oil reserves with the Middle East and North Africa having 60.4% of the world’s oil reserves. I think there are a couple Arab states in the Middle East and North Africa, right? It would not be that big of a deal if it was never discovered as a natural resource that humans could exploit, and if the U.S. wasn’t so dependent on foreign oil. Unfortunately, with the industrial revolution oil was going to be needed and our good friend Rockafeller and big business came along.
Another reason is the ongoing conflicts between Arab and Iranian conflict with Israel. What are these conflicts over anyway: religion, oil, power? Whatever the problem is I would hope that someone could fix the bloodshed, the instability, and the ignorant leaders who gain power in corrupt ways. The article explains how there is no nationalism. They are all separated not by distance and borders, but by many factors and they don’t even have their own identity.
This was a good read because something needs to be done. I thought the article was quite objective, but it does explain the situation well with good use of charts. Either way, why did we originally invade in 90’ and 91’ and when will we be out. The Vietnam conflict was consistent for 16 years with a strong U.S. military presence for only five to six years. We have had a strong military presence in the Middle East for at least the last nine years, some may say more especially if you count desert storm. I am not against the war, but I hope the government isn’t making the same mistakes. Also, is it the Unites States responsibility to make sure that all the countries that have oil, have democracy?
One of the major problems highlighted in the article is that Western imperialism has damaged and retarded the economic and political growth of the Middle East. Western colonialism and imperialism did this by carving out borders in the region, exploiting resources, and supporting puppet regimes, all the while ignoring any need for democracy (which the Western nations had for themselves). I think that this was (and still is) a very large problem: Western nations were the first nations to move from agrarian societies to urban societies, thus democratizing and liberalizing. So, the Western nations/societies were the first to "modernize," while the Middle East is still painfully trying to catch up. (And this is a "crisis of Islam" (i.e. the Islamic world).)
One thing that I found surprising was the fact that most of the Arab world is under the age of 25. I wonder what the repercussions of this fact will be. Will these young Arabs look fondly upon the United States (and the rest of the Western world)? Will they push for more modernization and liberalization?
Islam is probably my favorite religion to study. I am fascinated with life in the Middle East and that I’m finally being exposed to the history of this society. I’ve come to realize that all the current problems concerning the Middle East has primarily stemmed from Western involvement. It is difficult to understand their society since they have a different set of values. Likewise, I’m sure the Middle East has difficulty understanding our culture since they differ. I hesitate to form an opinion of what role the West should have in Arab society—I almost feel that it should be equal to the role Islamic society has to the West, practically none. Unless we can truly act understand the people of the Middle East, I feel that our actions are self-serving and blind to the needs of the masses. I’m torn between wanting what I feel is best for the Middle East, based on my Western understanding and question interfering with another society. If Iraq invaded the US because it felt like the American people were oppressed under the government, we would quickly dismiss their claims and question their right to any aspect of our government.
I found 2 things about this very interesting. The first was just how conservative this new pope was, chastising art and beautiful things made by humanity. It seems as if he is taking a step back from modernization. I also found Hasan’s inability to shave interesting. I understand it is an Islamic tradition not to shave, but he was no long Muslim, so what was the big deal?
My two questions are: Is it possible Hasan was being too self-centered? He endangered his life and his family because he would be embarrassed to succumb to the Pope after all the years of having a beard. I find it bizarre that he favored his beard over his family, and family was important to Hasan. Also what would have happened to Rome and Italy itself if the Pope had stayed in power? I think it’s possible that much of the architecture and artwork that came out of Italy and makes it unique would be gone.
One of the questions I have about this book is the idea that Leo Africanus was truly a convert to Christianity. I believe he converted in order to explore and be able to get into the inner workings of Rome. For example, he refused to shave his beard, which is innately an Islamic tradition. Furthermore, he himself seems to never shake off his Islamic education and is remembered throughout history as an “Islamic scholar”.
The other reading for this week was the article “Global Order and the Historical Structures of Dar Al-Islam” by Bamyeh. This focuses on modernization and colonialism, however, Bamyeh uses the principles of previous Islamic “global structures” to demonstrate how globalized Islamic civilization actually was and to hypothesize if this type of system could be used today in the age of globalization. Bamyeh stresses three principles of Islamic civilization that maintained the vitality of the Muslim world: partial control, free movement, and heteroglossia. Throughout the article, he emphasizes the idea that for these principles to function properly and thrive, the authorities of the system should not have enough power to impose “orthodoxies” on the people. Lastly, he supports the claim that current authoritarian states in the Middle East would not be possible if the Islamic system was not weakened by the effects of Western colonialism.
I found Bamyeh’s reading interesting because I had never read anything about the structure of historical Islamic civilization being used as a model for current global systems. Furthermore, I had never come across the term heteroglossia before and found the explanation fascinating. I also thought the concept of the state being just one aspect of the governing system of society was very logical.
One thing that I found interesting in these chapters was Pope Adrian’s taste about art. He viewed as a challenge to the creator, creator being God. He views art as blasphemy, because art and sculpting was created for the replica of humans, and he thought that should not be a human’s job. The top of the Sistine Chapel for Adrian was too much to bear. He thought that the naked bodies were against everything the church should stand for. It is interesting for me to think about what would have happened if someone did not poison him and he stayed in power. Would the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel still exist?
Another issue that I have found in whole book is the marriages of Hasan and children he has with these marriages. At the end when Nur writes to him, and he is married to Maddalena, that he is brought to tears. I am surprised that he did not pine for her if he was that in love with her to cry.
In this chapter, Hasan was married to a beautiful granadan woman sey up by the Pope. She was raised in a nunnery. Soon after the Pope died and was replaced . Unfortunately he was replaced by a much more conservative puritanic person who then began a crusade against art in Rome. The pope ordered that all men shave, however Hasan will not. After he was founf with an anti-adrian pamphlet, he was put in jail once again. Next, this new horrid Pope was poisoned and replaced by Pope Clement. After much political upset Hasan and his family finally are able to return to Tunis.
It was interesting that Hasan insisted on not shaving his beard. It seems like such a simple thing. Yet he risked his safety and the safety of his family. He kept it because it would have been humiliating. To shave would be the straw that broke the camels back. I would like to think of what I can compare this to today… like what would qualify as an equal idea of not wanting to shave you beard. And is it likely that people would act the same way?
The Economist’s article, entitled A Special Report on the Arab World; Waking From its Sleep, details exactly that. Arab nations have been in a sleep-like standstill in terms of political power and progression within the world. For approximately two decades, Arabs have been divided between maintaining the currently authoritarian rule versus following the rest of Europe towards unionizing politics and economics. The author describes a persistent lack of freedom, unity, and especially passing of history. What this means is that Arab nations are constantly in wars or at ends with neighboring countries, causing attention on internal development to lose focus.
Subsequently, Al-Qaeda’s influence and terror became quickly rooted within Arab society. This was possibly a result of the abundance of oil, increased conflict with Israel, and a non-democratic government. Another issue is nationalism. Nationalism can be symbolized by a flag to create a sole meaning of identity, but in Arab nations this ironically fragments Arab society.
I like how this article heavily included the impact or the attempted impact of the United States within Arab countries. I find this topic to be very interesting because of its controversial and always debatable sides. Do you think the United States has the right to interject in Arab affairs? What extent is appropriate/ inappropriate? How could the United States help stabilize and improve Arab politics and economy without forcing democratization?
Recently in a class discussion we talked about what things in a society are necessary for that society to function. The question can be taken one step further: what things in society are absolutely necessary for a global society to function? More specifically, what universals are necessary for our inter-societal exchanges (such as commerce, communication, etc.) to function?
I think that all societies value at least two things (it does not matter if they have knowledge of these things): truth and utility. Further, truth and utility are necessary for inter societal exchanges to work. Truth is easy to explain as being necessary to and valued by societies and relationships between societies (on a global scale). Societies value truth because without truth or honesty, relationships would break down because such relationships require truth. Less circularly, without truth or honesty, we would have no reason to believe or value anything (i.e. no reason to believe a teacher, friend, doctor, business, vendor, product, etc.). The more specific reasons as to why truth is required vary like opinions: philosopher Kant would say that it would be contradictory (irrational) for a society not to place any value on truth; Hume might say that truth is very useful, thus it pleases us, and we do or like things that please us.
Utility is the second requisite that I believe is necessary for a society or a global society to function. Utility is more than just hedonistic pleasure (which is a common conception); it is usfulness, satisfaction, desirability... Economists say that utility varies from person to person, but that it is very important; it is our preferences. (It is important to point out that democracy/peace does not equal a quest for profits.) Without utility, people, and on a larger scale societies would have no reason to interact with one another, because there would be no derivation of utility.
One of the things I found interesting was how important it was for Hasan to keep his beard, even when it meant risking his own and his family's security. He asks, "Would anyone believe me if I were to say that I was ready to die for my beard that year? And not only for my beard, because all the battles were confused in my mind, as is the Pope's: the beard of the clergy, the naked breasts on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, the statue of Moses..." (315). Although it was accepted in his country not to have one, especially foreigners, it was humiliating to shave one after having it for many years. That something that is merely fashion to us should have such deep significance for Hasan is fascinating. That he should cling with more determination than before is not unimaginable, because as he says, he is surrounded by affronting images to his moral/religious sensibilities, and shaving his beard would seem to be the last straw.
One of the questions in class has been, what are the advantages and disadvantages of reading about history from a first-person account? Do you think that this cultural detail about the significance of the beard is something that we would understand better if we learned about it another way? Is knowing these details important?
What I found to be interesting about this last part of the book was the foisting of Maddalena onto Hasan like she needed to be given away. I know Cardinal Julius caused a scene when he took her from the convent withput permission, instead just putting her in his carriage and leaving, but I did not understand why they were so anxious for Hasan to take her. Did they want Hasan to take her because she was causing too much of a scandal and Hasan was the first person they thought of to have her, or was there another motivation. Because both the Pope and Cardinal Julius seemed anxious to get rid of her, even saying that Hasan could meet her today, not wasting any time. I just thought that dynamic was interesting.
I found the relationship between Giovanni and his son to be quite interesting. Leo was walking towards the Palazz Salviati when he heard the procession of Giovanni drawing close. He was accompanied by forty of his men, making his way down the street when he suddenly called out his son’s name, Cosimo and made his way to his window. The boy appeared, and Giovanni walked underneath the window, drawing his sword and telling his son to jump. Everyone but the two was shocked at what was happening. However, Cosimo jumped into the air and at the last minute, Giovanni puts his sword away and catches him in his arms, then holding him to the sky and asks how his prince had been, which is followed by laughter between Cosimo and his father. It is interesting to see this sort of father son relationship. I was close to my father but we never joked around like that and Giovanni did not spend a lot of time with his boy; today, a son would not be as accepting towards a father who was barely around but Cosimo seems to genuinely love his father.
First impressions sometimes prevent certain people from being given a chance. Giovanni gave the impression of being unpleasant to Leo, but this soon changed once the two spent some time together. My question is do you think being in a position like Giovanni’s would prevent someone from having a joyful, friend filled life or do you think these men accept positions knowing the sacrifice that must be made in order to be in command?
This brings to light the way societies have changed. Due to the different receptions such a scene would get in the book's time and in present time, does that mean we have grown to value human life more? Execution and even the idea of euthanasia is much deliberated in today's society, and even the thought of the electric chair is much debated due to the different voices on either side of the moral scale. Capital punishment is such a touchy subject and goes into the whole idea of religion and morals, but in Hasan's story, it was considered normal and even a spectacle for people to gather to witness.
Times have really changed, huh?