نضال نعيسة
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20 February 2010

كاتب سوري مستقل لا ينتمي لاي حزب او تيار سياسي او ديني

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Arab Times Blogs
The Wheat and the Chaff Divesting Islam of Arab Bedouinism Part 2

The Wheat and the Chaff, Divesting Islam of Arab Bedouinism  Part 2 http://almuslih.org

 Nidhal Na‘isa

 In one of its types and readings Bedouinisation is the highest embodiment of the severely patriarchal, ancestral values of the tribe, which were prevalent in the desert 1400 years ago, and which appears to have been given a new impetus by the magical, new ego-inflating petrodollar. The values of the tribe, if they mean anything, mean blind hierarchical obedience and complete subjection and loyalty to all who are of the tribe. This is something that cancels out the possibility of adjudication affairs on the basis of values, in the same way that it cancels out the individual worth of a man by considering him merely a number in the homogeneous collective. It brooks no standing out from the crowd nor expression of any significant differences among its members. It barely distinguishes between one individual and the next, and there is no place for any opinion other than that of the chief

 This is the key to the intellectual totalitarianism and oppression prevailing in the East. There is a familiar Bedouin, desert, tribal principle which is in force to this day and which says: “Your kinsman, right or wrong” – the brotherhood, that is, of blood and tribal affiliation, meaning that there is no place for reflection or justice, nor any place for neutrality or any form of democracy. Primacy and discrimination in Bedouin and tribal values are based on the logic of absolute loyalty and blind closing of ranks

 This logic is reflected generally in the condition of all Muslim states, which to this day have not experienced any primacy of democratic values. There is, in fact, an obvious overlap here between religion and Bedouinism in its depth, essence and roots. There is a Prophetic Hadīth on this tendency which runs: “He who disobeys and departs from the community and dies, has died the death of a pagan.”[1] That is, there is no room for operating and thinking as an individual outside the domain of the community. It is the imposition of the collective mind, which cancels out individual thought and puts in its place something that is sanctified. Sometimes the overlap cannot be distinguished from the values of the tribe. Did the religion of Islam emerge into the snare of Bedouinism, or did Bedouinism impose its rhythms upon Islam? Are these women religious? Over the last four decades a ‘Bedouinism replacement’ process has been taking place at the expense of Islam. Bedouin rituals are effectively taking the place of the rituals of Islam, and all one needs to do today is to dress like a Bedouin in order to shield oneself from barbs of criticism and be socially accepted

 When today a western man, or any man in any part of the world, sees a woman wearing a black abāya and niqāb what comes to his mind is the image of a religious Muslim, without knowing truth of the matter or bothering to establish her identity,[2] or measuring in effect the level of faith in her heart, or confirming whether she is actually religious at all. It is parallel to what comes to mind when one sees a Christian nun, only the latter really is essentially religious, and wears a specific clothing to mark this, as we know

 Bedouin costume has become ‘Islamic costume’. It has become obligatory for us to think that she who wears this costume is an observant Muslim, and perhaps somewhat saintly too, despite the fact that what she is wearing is a localized Bedouin costume. What we have here is a clear case of the blurring of the lines. Today there is an established view that the Bedouin custom of the niqāb constitutes religiosity, and for this reason it has become widespread among girls and women, as is the case regarding other Bedouin customs such as the head-cover, headband and dishdāsha robe worn by men, who grow their beards long and trim their moustaches. These men also carry a toothpick and make sure to shorten the thawb length to above the ankles, and affect other dervish-like styles which are merely Bedouin and not religious. The aim of all this is to repudiate everything that could possibly evidence modernity, civilization or engagement with the values of the present age. Indeed, Bedouinism has become an effective equivalent to religion, and hence the pressing need today to separate Bedouinism from faith

 We may therefore ponder on what it is that might constitute a means to make this separation of religion from the state. Bedouinism, in the eyes of many, has become inherent to the profession of Islam More pressing is how to challenge this Bedouinism. For, in the eyes of many, to do so would constitute a challenge and an enmity to faith itself. Not even the Shaykh of Al-Azhar has been able to shield himself from the barbs of takfīr when he challenged the girl’s Bedouinism in her wearing of the niqāb. Many held his actions to be a hostile attack on Islam. In order for the Bedouin to avoid coming face to face with any criticism of their behaviour, they have managed to forge a link between Bedouinism and religion; they have surrounded it with a halo of absolutism and bestowed upon it a type of sanctity. Some attempt to propagate Bedouinism through massive investment in the media, so as to beguile the simple-minded that this constitutes religion. Now, as soon as anyone attempts to make a distinction between Bedouinism and Islam, he is subjected to the barbs of takfīr, to the accusation that he has become a renegade and left the faith, a charge which requires the death penalty

 Bedouinism, in the eyes of many, has become inherent to the profession of Islam. Before the 1970s and the rise of the petrodollar[3] as a social engine, economic driver and magnet for livelihood, the phenomenon of Bedouinism was not so widespread. One could say that people were Muslim by conscience, moderate in their voices, moderate in their diet and their behaviour. More importantly, everyone accepted each other, whoever he was. That is, they were more Islamic than they are today in this era of the ‘Islamic Awakening.’[4] Now people are coming to resemble the Bedouin of the desert tribes more than Muslim citizens in civic states. Islamising or Bedouinising? Anyone who thinks of himself today as religious and affects Salafist mores, is in reality Bedouinizing. Living the faith – in the view of such as these – is to wear the niqāb or sport the long beard, or walk about with a scowl or a frown on the face and keep himself to himself renouncing all humane, civic, modern values, and indeed actively seeking to demolish and bury them. This is the opposite of the earlier, multi-faceted Islam of its glory days, when it was open to other cultures, interacted with them, and took much from them

 The great translation movement which took place in the Islamic heartlands evidences its openness to the culture and thought of others. Bedouinisation has intensified in our societies and is now dominant. It scowls resentment, anger and aversion, even against the former Shaykh of al-Azhar himself, the symbolic custodian and guardian of the faith. It is this increasing domination that spurred him to his spontaneous expression of irritation when he commanded the girl to remove the niqāb from her face. I hope that things do not sink to the point – as I fear they may have already – where we find ourselves today, all of us, enraged with indignation at this Bedouinisation, raising our hand against each and every Bedouin feature to bring it down, manually and forcefully, just like the Shaykh of al-Azhar

 For then we would be back at square one of the sterile debate, in the same circle of blood and violence which has marked out this region from all others in the world. [1] Narrated by al-Shaykhān. [2] Many sexual crimes have been committed by men concealed in a burqa and a niqab, making out that they are women who may not be questioned or identified since a search of her or an exposure of the face, according to Bedouin values, constitutes an assault on the woman and an infringement against her honour. [3] There are many who prefer to name the period of oil wealth, which ushered in Bedouinism to other societies through the tyrannical influence of the petrodollar, the ‘Islamic Awakening’. [4] Many Islamizers of the Islamic Awakening maintain that this oil (the petrodollar) is simply God’s heavenly gift to the Muslims as an indication of His love and predilection for them, and His preference for them over all other people, given that for God the true religion is Islam. God, they argue, is therefore making use of the infidel West to discover oil for the Muslims and proffer them new inventions and the good life and make their lives pleasant, so that all they need do is concentrate on worship and perform their prayers 

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