Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Arab nationalism is a nationalist ideology in Arab world. It is defined by a belief that all Arabs are united by a shared history, culture, and language. Closely related is Pan-Arabism which calls for the creation of a single Arab state, but not all Arab nationalist are also Pan-Arabists.
Immediately prior to the First World War, Arab nationalism was not a strong force. At the time, Arabs generally did not see themselves as members of a nation or people. Instead, most Arabs held loyalty to their religion or sect, their tribe, or their own particular governments. The ideologies of Ottomanism and Pan-Islamism were stronger than Arab nationalism. Arab nationalist thought was confined to a few intellectuals mostly in Beirut and Cairo.
The ideology first became important during the collapse of Ottoman authority. The rise of the Young Turks and CUP alienated many of the empire's supporters in the Arab lands. The powerful notable families, excluded by the new governments in Istanbul, turned towards Arabism as an alternative. The CUP government was also accused of trying to Turkify the empire. This new spirit was manifested in the Arab Revolt during the First World War and the first failed attempts at Arab unity under the Hashemites.
While during the war the British had been a major sponsor of Arab nationalist thought, in order to use it against the Ottoman Empire, during the Mandate period Arab nationalism became strongly anti-colonial. During the interwar years when the Arab lands were under colonial control Arab nationalism became an important opposition movement.
Important Arab nationalist thinkers include Michel Aflaq and Sati' al-Husri . Another thinker who is often considered an Arab nationalist was Antun Sa'adah. The most prominent of Arab nationalist dictators include Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, Moammar Al Qadhafi, President of Libya, Syrian president Hafiz al-Assad and former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein. The Arab nationalist movement was strongest in the late 1950s and early 1960s.
In 1958 the states of Egypt and Syria temporarily joined to create a new nation, the United Arab Republic. Attempts were also made to include Yemen in the union, but the UAR collapsed in 1961 after coup in Syria, leaving only Egypt, which had been the centre of political activity in the UAR, with Cairo as the capital and Gamal Abdal Nasser as the president. The name United Arab Republic continued to be used by Egypt until 1971, after the death of Nasser.
Arab nationalists generally were not particularly religious, and did not promote observance of Islamic laws as such; however, the fact that most Arabs were Muslim was used as an important building block in creating a new Arab Muslim national identity. The large number of early Arab nationalist thinkers were not Muslims, but Arab Christians from Lebanon and Syria. An example of this is Michel Aflaq, the founder of the Ba'ath Party. Aflaq however, viewed Islam as a testiment of "Arab genius". He once said of the Prophet Muhammad "Muhammed was the epitome of all the Arabs. So let all the Arabs today be Muhammed." Since the Arabs had reached their greatest glories through the expansion of Islam, Islam was seen as a universal message as well as an expresion of secular genious on the part of the Arab peoples. Islam had given the Arabs a "glorious past", which was very different from the "shameful present". In effect the troubles of the Arab present were because the Arabs had diverged from their "eternal and perfect symbol"; Islam. The Arabs needed to have a "rebirth" a "renessance"; this was the Arab Ba'ath.
Throughout the Middle East, regional nationalisms and allegiances to the post-WWI states such as Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq partly compete and partly coexist with broader Arab nationalism. In Lebanon, for instance, the identity of "Arab" is rejected by some Lebanese nationalist groups (especially Maronite), while being enthusiastically embraced by others.
Definitions of "Arab" sometimes vary; see Arab.
Arab nationalist thinkers
- Jamal al-Din al-Afghani
- Muhammed Abduh
- Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi
- Sati al-Husri
- Rashid Rida
- Shakib Arslan
- George Antonius
- Michel Aflaq
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details