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Compare the analysis of the contemporary world presented by: [a] Secular nationalsit movements in the midle east and [b] Islamic thinkers and islamist political movements. What are the key differences in the understanding of problems and the prescription - Essay Example

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Arab nationalism and Islamism are political and social theories which seek to address the particular concerns facing the Arab world. Islam is a world religion which is one of the three great…
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Compare the analysis of the contemporary world presented by: [a] Secular nationalsit movements in the midle east and [b] Islamic thinkers and islamist political movements. What are the key differences in the understanding of problems and the prescription
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Extract of sample "Compare the analysis of the contemporary world presented by: [a] Secular nationalsit movements in the midle east and [b] Islamic thinkers and islamist political movements. What are the key differences in the understanding of problems and the prescription"

The Middle East A variety of theoretical paradigms have grown out of the Middle East in recent times. Arab nationalism and Islamism are political and social theories which seek to address the particular concerns facing the Arab world. Islam is a world religion which is one of the three great monotheistic religions and has its heart in the Middle East. While each is important, Arab nationalism may be waning and Islamism remains a potent force in the post-Cold War world. What are the key differences in the understanding of problems and the prescription for action for each ideological movement (Khater, 2004; Bloom, 2005)?
Arab nationalism is an ideology which grew out of the new states of the Arab world following the demise of the Ottoman Empire and was articulated first by Gamel Abd Nasser in Egypt. The basic premise behind Arab nationalism is that the Middle East has been artificially divided and that the Arab people constitute one nation. In a modern context, Ba’athism is the last true Arab nationalist ideology and the Ba’th party under Saddam Hussein was in power in Iraq prior to his overthrow and remains the dominant political party in Syria under Bashar al Asad. Unlike Islamism, secular Arab nationalism sees strong central government, socialist economic policies and Arab unification as the means through which global challenges can be overcome. Only through Arab unity, according to secular Arab nationalism, can the present problems of the Arab world be overcome. What does Islamism have to say? (Khater, 2004; Gelvin, 2005; CIA, 2009).
Islam began in the Middle East around 600 A.D. and was shepherded into this world by the Prophet Mohammad. Seeking to address the plight of the people of the Middle East around the seventh century A.D. and growing out of Judaism and Christianity, Islam has now become a world religion with more than 1 billion adherents worldwide. There are two main streams or branches of Islam, Sunni and Shi’a, and the divisions between the two sects is centuries old. Sunni Islam is the more prominent sect while Shi’a account for between 15-20% of the total Muslim world (Gelvin, 2005; Khater, 2004). Islamism is an ideology which stresses Islam as a guiding political force. Islamism has frequently come into conflict with secular ideologies and regimes, including in Egypt, Syria, Saudi Arabia and the Palestinian territories. Islamism has been tied to violence and terrorism and remains an important threat to the stability of the region. The present power in the semi-autonomous Gaza Strip Hamas, self-identifies as an Islamist organization (Khater, 2004).
The Muslim resurgence in the past sixty years has been caused by persistent underdevelopment in the Middle East, a legacy of authoritarian rule and rising expectations in a global world. The West has many difficulties with Islam and many in the Western world, before 9/11 as well as after, have little understanding the faith and subsequently of its adherents. The result has been an upsurge in grievances in the Islamic world and the appropriation of terror as a tactic. Islam is said to provide justification for terror and terrorist activities and many terrorists cite the Koran when committing acts of violence. Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and a variety of global organizations which espoused violence as a political tool justify their actions using Islam. The term jihad is now known universally as a call to arms to the Muslim faithful but this term has been misappropriated and corrupted by Islamic terrorists seeking to impose their will through force. While secular nationalists see Arab unity as the cure for the ills of the region, Islamists see Islam as the guiding social, political and economic force and the answer to all of one’s problems (Gelvin, 2005; Khater, 2004; Huntington, 1996).
References
Bloom, M. (2005). Dying to Kill: The Allure of Suicide Terror. New York: Columbia University Press.
Bram, J., Orr, J. and Rapaport, C. (2002). “Measuring the Effects of the September 11 Attack on New York City.” Economic Policy Review 8.2: 44-69.
Central Intelligence Agency. (2009). Iraq. Retrieved October 15, 2009, from The World Fact Book https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/is.html
Gelvin, J.L. (2005). The Modern Middle East: A history. New York: Oxford University Press.
Hoekman, B.M. & Zarrouk, J. (2002). Catching Up with the Competition: Trade Opportunities and Challenges for Arab Countries. Detroit: Published by University of Michigan Press.
Huntington, S.P. (1996). The clash of civilizations and the remaking of world order. New York: Simon & Schuster.
Khater, A.F. (Ed.) (2004). Sources in the history of the modern middle east. New York: Houghton-Mifflin.
Morag, Nadav. (2006). The Economic and Social Effects of Intensive Terrorism: Israel 2000-2004. The Middle East Review of International Affairs 10:3, 33-42.
The Koran. (2004). (N.J. Dawood, Trans.).New York: Penguin Classics. ISBN 0-14-0449205
Wolfsfeld, G. (1997). Media and Political Conflict: News from the Middle East.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Read More
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