The book chronicles the rise of Arab nationalism from the beginning of the 18th century to date. In particular, it examines the role of Muslim scholars in the development of new states. As such, it offers an analysis of the influence that religion, history, culture and language have on promoting patriotism. In addition, is filled with accounts of the involvement of foreign powers such as Britain and France in exerting power over Middle East territories. Similarly, it presents an illustration of the origin of the independence movement and the various forces that tried to revolt against such moves. Moreover, it tackles the viability of the Arab league in forging unity among member countries and highlights the factors that led to the disintegration of the Ottoman Empire. It also delves into the influence that al-Husri had in the development of an educational infrastructure that promoted Arabic values at the expense of the western one. Additionally, it explores the role of Egypt in forming a coalition of like-minded states to assert the supremacy of countries located in the Arabian Peninsula.
The language and ancestral history of people are factors that form their identity. While geographical boundaries and climatic conditions may differ, it is possible for different minorities to subscribe to similar nationalistic ideologies despite them being located in separate nations. Education is a significant tool for passing information and guiding people towards a preferred model of governance as well. Thus, it is prudent that prominent people integrate their state’s history into the cultural settings of the society through the adoption of certain linguistic characteristics. Consequently, the choice of becoming independent, like the case of the Arab countries should not be intertwined with religion because the later has a moral code, which is a universal human right.
As much as the elite in the society have considerable influence over various aspects of daily life, ordinary citizens retain the power to choose their country’s course of direction. Whereas the maintenance of a unique identity as envisioned by the author is plausible, the world undergoes various leadership changes at the turn of every century. As such, nations have become cosmopolitan in nature thereby making it necessary for Western democracy to be entrenched in different nations. For instance, the fall of King Faysal of Iraq can be attributed to the progressive movement of a section of the population who had forecast the economic prosperity of having devolved governance within its institutions. Hence, nationalism cannot be solely based on the preservation of cultural traits. Rather, it is the realization of the need to safeguard basic human rights such as self-determination of governments.
It is confusing to note that the speaking of Arabic was the unifying factor that made most Middle East countries to seek for political representation as a unitary state. This stems from the notion that people might share a common language but have various cultural values and beliefs. Likewise, the proximity to another country cannot be the basis for considering a pact of nationalism especially due to the unpredictable nature of discoveries of nations that was common at the time. For example, the existence of Syria happened much later than other countries. Therefore, it would be irrational to justify the creation of the Arab League as motivated by the shared Arabic language yet western civilization had already emerged.
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