There are no signs that the Syrian conflict would end soon, and even if it did Syria would be a devastated country and an inhospitable environment. It is crucial for Turks and Syrians in Turkey to deepen each other understanding. This paper reminds us that the Syrian identity is a complex one marked by diversity, and it is rooted in the culture of the Levant permeated with Islam as a civilizational reality. This identity is both cosmopolitan and conservative. Syria relishes in ethnic diversity of small groups, but it was the mainstream that formed this country’s basis of cultural legitimacy. Nevertheless, the experiences of Syrians in Turkey differ markedly among their different sociocultural groups, and Turkish policies have no choice but to grabble with such complexity. Fortunately, unlocking the secrets of the Syrian cultural groupings is attainable as there is a significant common ground between Syrians and Turks at the level of values and norms. This paper presents a model that discusses cultural configurations and structural alignments that underlie the integration process of Syrians.
This work aims at constructing a theory of intellectual reform that accounts for cultural and structural factors, and the way they interact. Taking a dynamic approach, this paper focuses on the processes of reform and how each process has bearing on and is contingent upon other processes.
Key factors of intellectual reform are identified, which include sophistication of vision, intellectual vitality, perspective elaboration, diffusion into educational institutions, and literal versatility. In addition, they include institutional autonomy, organizational capacity, and financial resources. The paper identifies the internal dynamics within each of these factors, then shows how these dynamics interact with each other. The paper concludes with an application of the model to the Islamization of Knowledge effort, pointing to critical factors and bottlenecks that affected its course of development.
This paper develops a classificatory scheme of knowledge output: the philosophy level, the theory level, the model level, and the application level. I will use this scheme to illuminate on four, seemingly unrelated, issues: 1) While development is frequently seen as a mechanical process of low level structuration or culturation, this paper argues that it involves philosophical dimensions too. 2) Development involves drawing on the products of “advanced” nations. Using the suggested scheme shows that this is possible only at the lower levels of knowledge. 3) Sustained development requires first a theoretical base built along the lines of the Islamization of Knowledge logic. And 4) The concept of the Islamization of Knowledge is misinterpreted by casual readers as an out-right rejection of modern “scientific” output. This paper argues that the Islamization of Knowledge is a digestive process that calls for the interaction of world cultures guided by a specific philosophical prism.
If the title of this paper sounds confusing, then it is my duty to show that “development” is not a mundane practice that has no relation to philosophy, and that what is known as the Islamization of Knowledge is not an “armed-chair” discourse that has no bearing to reality.* And Since my duty is to solve a puzzle, some degree of simplification is inevitable. I apologize for the highly learned reader for treating an abstract subject at the level of concrete examples.
* I am using the term Islamization of Knowledge because of its popular use, although I think that it is confusing, inaccurate, and misleading.
Perceptions and ideas guide human action. Yet, action molds what is in the head too. The so-called Islamic revival talks about an “Islamic Thought” that steers its direction and forms its strategies. It is a distinguishable form of literature that mixes social criticism, moral admonition, and philosophical dictums, molded in an interpretation of Islamic textual sources (Hadith and Quran). The participants in this discourse are divergent, and so are its levels of sophistication. The purpose of this paper is twofold: First, to analyze the general tendencies of such a discourse, and second, to specify the mechanisms through which activism ideologizes the discourse and stands in the way of its maturity.
The terrain of this Islamic Thought can be mapped out by recognizing two dimensions: the approach of understanding sharia’ and activism type. As for sharia’ approaches, two modes of thinking occupy the Islamists: a mathhab-following mode, and a salafi mode. On the other hand, three forms of activism divide the field: (1) a movement with global claims and aspirations; (2) a movement with local aims and aspirations; and (3) an individualistic type of activism. These three forms intersect with the two modes of sharia’ thinking to produce an ecology of praxis.
Finally, the paper argues that such activist ideology plays a significant role in forming a habitat of thinking regarding Islamic issues. Therefore, the Islamic intellectual discourse finds itself obliged to answer the mandates put forth by activist ideologies. Lacking autonomy, the Islamic intellectual discourse became caught between the research-center and the think-tank orientations, failing to produce an elaborate from of knowledge that can adequately measure-up to modern intellectual challenges.
Eid and the Friendly Employer
I need to take one day off to observe my religious holiday.
Sure, no problem.
Is that the one you call Eid?
Does the word have a meaning?
When does your Eid fall?
Thursday or Friday.
Oh! You have the choice of two days. I like the flexibility of your religion.
Alternative Concepts for Explaining the Sunni-Shii Friction, by Mazen Hashem
The essay starts with commenting on three fault lines that trigger frictions between Sunnis and Shiis: the fiqhi line, the mental image of history, and folkways differences. The popular explanation of the Sunni-Shii friction is that it is a matter of sectarian religious difference. This essay offers an alternative explanation, arguing that the friction could be adequately understood from a perspective that analyzes majority-minority dynamics. The essay concludes with pointing to the ample common ground between Sunnis and Shiis at the level of values and ultimate socioeconomic aims.
The tenuous position of Muslim minorities in Muslim majority countries is often overlooked because of presumed normalcy. This paper analyzes the dynamics of Muslim minorities along four macro factors: First, structural determinants, such as geography, spatial concentration, and the size of the minority, which constitute the material resource repertoire of the minority. Second, geopolitics and inherited colonial policies, which represent the boundaries of possible future development within the region. Third, minority accumulated grievances, including economic deprivation and political disfranchisement, which function as the fuel that justifies counter-majority collective action. Forth, cultural distinctiveness as it constructs the foreignness of the minority. The paper also discusses the nature of the ideological framework within which the minority articulates its demands, which determines its national leadership potential in the global context. Along this analytical map, the paper charts the expected future outcomes of three main Muslim minorities: the Kurds of Iraq, the Darfurians of Sudan, the, and the Amazigh of Algeria. Using the Boolean logic of comparison, the paper argues that the case of the Iraqi Kurds is the most conducive to a new political arrangement as all of the four conditions are strongly present. The case of Darfur is volatile as it takes contradictory positions on the stated dimensions, and where structural conduciveness is high and tribal conflict heightens grievances on all sides. The case of the Amazigh is muted although it has the potential of surprising escalation with shifts in geopolitics or structural conduciveness.