Outline of Logos 2: Islamic Civilization (lecture by Piero Scaruffi)

Logos 2: 5 April 2006
Bibliography
Bernard Lewis: The Middle East (1995)
John Esposito: History of Islam (1999)
Albert Hourani: A History of the Arab peoples (1991)
Majid Fakhry: A History of Islamic Philosophy (1970)
Carter-Vaughn Findley: The Turks in World History (2005)
David Morgan: Medieval Persia, 1040-1797 (1988)
Bibliography
Modern Era
Alan Reza: No God But God - Origins, Evolution and Future of Islam (2005)
Faisal Devji: Landscapes of the Jihad: Militancy, Morality, Modernity (2005)
Olivier Roy: Globalized Islam - The Search for a New Ummah (2004)
Gary Gregg: The Middle East - A Cultural Psychology (2005)
Bibliography
Modern Era
Amina Wadud : Quran and Woman
Omid Safi: Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism
Farid Esack: Quran, Liberation and Pluralism
Fazlur Rahman: Revival and Reform in Islam
Mohammed Arkoun: The Unthought in Contemporary Islamic Thought
Anouar Majid: Unveiling Traditions - Postcolonial Islam in a Polycentric World
Pervez Hoodbhoy: Islam and Science - Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality
Bibliography
The Quran is NOT in the bibliography
This lecture is not about religion or philosophy
One can always find X and the opposite of X among the verses of the Quran
100 Islamic scholars will give 100 different interpretations of the same sentence
The Quran says what people want it to say
What the Quran actually says is often irrelevant


The Protagonists
Arabs: originally, the ethnic groups who lived in the Arabian peninsula; later, all speakers of the Arabic language from Morocco to Syria
Turks: nomadic people originally from Central Asia who later relocated to the Middle East and eventually to Turkey (today found in western China, Mongolia, former Soviet republics of central Asia, and the Republic of Turkey)
Persians: the people who spoke Parsi and based between the Tigris/Euphrates rivers (western Iraq) and the Indus river (Pakistan) and Central Asia (historically it included Eastern Iraq and Afghanistan)
Indians
The Protagonists
Muslims: anybody (Arab, Persian, Turk, European, Indian) who was raised or converted to the religion of Islam
Christians: anybody (European, African, American, Arab_) who was raised or converted to Christianity

Ancient Arabia
Statuette

Ancient Arabia
Archaic Nabataeans 1900 BC - 600 BC
Arab tribe engaged in trading with the interior of the Arabian peninsula (camel caravans)
incense
myrrh
horses
camels (after 11th c BC)
Arabian peninsula:
Mineans (1200-650 BC) capital Karna
Sabeans (1000 BC - 570 AD) capital Marib/Sana
Himyarite (1100 BC - 6th c. AD) capital Dhafar
Ancient Arabia
World in 1st c
Ancient Arabia
Nabataean empire
600BC-250BC: sea power and sea trade (main ports at Gaza, Mediterranean, and Aila, Gulf of Aqaba)
250BC-100 BC: small kingdoms in southern Arabia
Long-distance trade with India and China
85BC: conquest of Damascus (silk road)
Construction of a new capital, Petra
Ancient Arabia
Nabatean
Ancient Arabia
Trade sea route 250BC-250AD from Alexandria (Egypt) to Xian (China)

Ancient Arabia
Roman Arabia
Described by both Herodotus ("The Histories", Book III, 430 BC) and Strabo ("Geography", Book XVI, 22 AD)
26BC: Roman emperor Augustus orders an invasion of southern Arabia
111AD: Nabataeans join the Roman Empire
Ancient Arabia
Roman Arabia 1st c AD

Petra
Petra
Ancient Arabia
Petra
Ancient Arabia
Nabataean polytheism
Nabataean temples were built in Italy, Egypt, Turkey and throughout Arabia
Nabataean gods were worshipped up until the time of Mohammed
Supreme god: Dushara
Ancient Arabia
Nabataean polytheism
Also popular:
Baal (imported from Phoenicia)
El (chief god of the Semites)
Allah (native of Arabia)
Derived around 300 BC from the western Semitic god Enlil (Il, Ilah, Al Ilah), creator of the earth and water
al-Kutba, god of writing and divination
Ancient Arabia
What is an "Arab"?
Ancient Mesopotamia: "Arab'ya" the land to the west and south of Mesopotamia
Arab and Nabataean used interchangeably in ancient times
Arab then : a native of Arabia ("immigrant" for the Greeks)
Arab today: anybody who speaks the Arabic language (mostly NOT ethnic Arabs)

Ancient Arabia
Language of the Nabataeans:
Aramaic
Syriac
Nabataean
Old Arabic
Arabic
Arabic
A semitic language
Oldest inscription in Arabic: 1st c BC (in Musnad script)
Arabic alphabet evolved (4th c) from the Nabataean/ Syriac variation of the Aramaic alphabet
Oldest Arabic fragment in Nabataean alphabet: epitaph for the Arab poet and warlord Imru'ul-Qays (Syria, 329 AD)
Oldest Arabic fragment in the Arabic alphabet: Jabal Ramm, Jordan (4th century AD)
Arabic
Arabic
The Nabataean alphabet could represent 22 phonemes, but Arabic has 28 phonemes: 6 Nabataean letters represented two Arabic phonemes each
Cursive Nabataean writing evolved into Arabic writing but with more ambiguities (only 17 letters were different in shape, one letter represented 5 phonemes, one represented 3 phonemes and 4 each represented 2 phonemes)
Disambiguation dots (Quranic era) to disambiguate phonemes
Disambiguation vowels (Al Farahidi, 786)
Kufic script (Arabia for Caliph Umar's death, 646 AD)
Arabic
Pre-Islamic Arabia
Bedouin life organized around the tribe
Endless wars among Bedouin tribes
Yathrib (Medina) originally settled by Jews
Ancient Arabia
Cultural psychology of the tribal world:
If X does something that i disagree with
1. I am the only judge
2. X is guilty (guilty = offense, X offended me)
3. No trial is required (a trial is an attempt to defend the offense)
4. Punishment = revenge (i avenge the offense)
5. All of the relatives of X are legitimate targets for punishment
6. All of the neighbors of X are legitimate targets for punishment
7. The entire tribe of X is a legitimate target for punishment
Ancient Arabia
Cultural psychology of the tribal world:
If X does something that i disagree with
8. The punishment does not have to be proportional to the offense
9. Preferred punishment is death because it prevents the cycle of punishment
10.Therefore i am a man of peace
Ancient Arabia
Jews
Jewish merchants
Jewish Bedouins
Jewish farmers
Jewish poets
Jewish warriors
Symbiotic relationship between Jews and Arabs (Jews heavily Arabized, but Arabs heavily influenced by Jewish beliefs)
Ancient Arabia
Jews and Persians
525: The Himyarite kingdom converts to Judaism
530: Christian Ethiopia invades south Arabia
575: The Persian Sassanids invade south Arabia
608: A shrine to many Arabian tribal gods is erected in Mecca
Ancient Arabia
Meccan shrine (Kaaba)
Founded by Jews (legend says)
Nabataean gods
Three daughters of Allah: Allat/Astarte, al-Uzza, Manat
Hubal, the Syrian god of the moon (chief god of Mecca)
Oracles (kahin) interpret the gods
Ancient Arabia
Pre-Islamic Arabia
Eastern Roman Empire (Byzantium): Christian
Sassanid Empire (Persia): Zoroastrian
Yemen: Jewish
Ethiopia: Christian
Mohammed
Mohammed
Mohammed
The Arab Empire
Formation of the empire
632: Abu Bakr declares war on the Eastern Roman and Persian (Sassanid) empires
636-42: Jerusalem, Persia, Syria, Egypt
Empire of faith: first religious empire
The Arab Empire
Reasons for the Arab success
Byzantine and Sassanid empires exhausted by centuries of warfare
The Arab Empire
Reasons for the Arab success
Deadly combination of
tribally-based military units,
holy/charismatic leadership,
martyrdom-oriented religion
and horse-based desert raid
The Arab Empire
Reasons for the Arab success
North-African and Middle-Eastern populations alienated by Byzantine and Persian bureaucracies
Egyptian and Syrian opposition to orthodox Byzanthine Church
North-African discontent with orthodox Catholic dogmas
Large Arab minorities in Syria/Jordan
Arab tolerance for Christians and Jews (allowed them to retain their religious and political institutions)
Muslims exempt from taxes
The Arab Empire
Reasons for the Arab success
Islam (substantive of aslama) = submission (to Allah) "aslem taslam" (Mohammed)
Muslim (active parciple of aslama) = subject
Prophet (nahi or rasul) = messenger
The Arab Empire
Reason for the Arab success
Boom of Christian churches in Syria
Jews allowed to return to Palestine
Byzantine and Persian artists welcome at the caliph's court
The Arab Empire
Early Islam
The Arab Empire
Still a tribal world
Inter-Arab civil wars
Three of the four caliphs who succeeded Mohammed were assassinated (Umar, Uthman, Ali)
The Arab Empire
Mosque
Medina, Arabia (622)
Al Haram, Arabia (644)
Amr Ebn El Aas Mosque, Egypt (642)
Early mosques oriented towards Jerusalem
The Umayyad Empire
Formation of the empire
661: Umayyad dynasty
Power returns to the powerful Banu Ummaya clan of Mecca
The capital moves to Damascus (in Syria rather than Arabia)
Removal of Mohammed's family: son-in-law Ali (661) and grandson Husayn (680)
696: Arabic becomes the official language of the empire
708: Morocco
709: Central Asia
711: Spain
The Umayyad empire in 750
Map 750
The Umayyad Empire
A Syrian empire
Damascus
Byzantine culture
Greek and Persian as the official languages (until 696)
Byzantine gold coin (until 694)
Intellectual awakening due to contact with other civilizations and urban lifestyle (Damascus, Alexandria)
Impiety of the Umayyad rulers
Continuing tribal wars among nomadic people of the Arabian peninsula
The Umayyad Empire
Reason for the Arab success
The new Arab order (stretching from Persia to Spain (i.e. the strategic routes to India) restores economic order in the western Mediterranean and spawns an economic boom at a time when Christian Europe's economy is collapsing
First time ever that the Western Mediterranean, the Middle East and Central Asia are politically and economically united
Vast commercial empire

The Umayyad Empire
Economy
Pure capitalism instead of state-controlled economy of the Roman empire
Checks, letters of credit, trade associations, joint-stock companies
Small farmers (who cultivate the land themselves) greatly improve agriculture
New crops (rice, sugarcane, cotton, bananas, etc)
The Umayyad Empire
Society
No separation between church and state (the caliph "is" the church)
Top tier: Ruling Arabs
Non-Arab Muslims
Non-Muslims (majority of population)
Dhimmi: Christians, Jews, Zoroastrians
Slaves (Christians, African pagans, Central Asians, Hindus)
The Umayyad Empire
Sunni and Shiite Islam
The Umayyad Empire
Sunni Islam
Anyone from Mohammed's tribe can be elected caliph ("successor")
The Umayyad Empire
Shiite Islam ("Shiate Ali", follower of Ali)
Only members of Mohammed's family as caliph
Ali (husband of Mohammed's only child Fatima) is the legitimate heir to Mohammed
Ali was succeeded by 11 more "imam" (descendants of Mohammed)
680: Massacre of Mohammed's family at Karbala
Shiite sense of martyrdom
Twelvers: the twelfth imam disappeared and will return as the Mahdi at the end of time
Ismailis: contemporay imams simply hiding
Twelvers: resignation
Ismailis: militant
The Umayyad Empire
Kharijites
Anybody can become a caliph
The most pious should become caliph
The Umayyad Empire
Sufism
Possibly predating Islam
Love is a projection of the divine essence
Dancing ("whirling dervishes"), drumming, chanting and other physical rituals to transcend worldly existence and perceive the divine ("remembrance of Allah")
Pantheism: God is the universe, everything is God
More Greek philosophy than Quran
More Vedanta than Quran
All religions are shadows of the true religion
Asceticism inspired by Christian hermits of Syria
Several orders
The Umayyad Empire
Mosque
Kairouan/Qayrawan, Tunisia (670) with first minaret (703)
Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem (692), first massive building complex of Islam
Al Aqsa, Jerusalem (709)
Damascus, Syria (710)
Bukhara (712)
Aleppo, Syria (715)
Xian, China (742)
What the Muslims knew
Damascus, Syria (705)
Tour of Aanjar
Umayyad ruins
The Abbasid Empire
Formation of the empire
749: Abbasid dynasty
756: Umayyad caliphate in Spain
762: the Abbasid caliph moves the capital from Damascus to Baghdad (near the old Persian capital Ctesiphon)
The Abbasid Empire
Abbasids (750-945)
Baghdad
Islamic purity
No separation between church and state (the caliph "is" the church)
Persian culture
Indifference towards Arabian tribal politics
Tolerance for non-Muslims (almost all Abbasid rulers were sons of non-Arab slaves)
Investment in architecture and translations (Baghdad as the new Alexandria)
The Abbasid Empire
Abbasids
Revolution of the provinces
End of Arab monopoly on power: the tribal aristocracy of Arabia is replaced by a cosmopolitan elite
Persian Sassanid court traditions replace Arab tribal traditions
Army reformed along Persian model
Civilian bureaucracy reformed along Persian model
Contempt for Arab customs
The Abbasid Empire
Cultural boom
Intellectual heritage of Persia, Syria, Rome and Hellenized Egypt
Import intellectual achievements of India ("Arabic" numerals) and China (paper)
The Abbasid Empire
Age of Translations: 786-825, in Baghdad
Greek philosophy
840: Islamic philosophy is founded by Al Qindi
Al Farabi (Persia, b 878): Platonism

The Abbasid Empire
Astronomy
Thabit ibn Qurra (836)
Abd al-Rahman al-Sufi (903)
Abu al-Hasan Ali ibn Yunus (950)
al-Biruni (973)
Mathematics
Al-Khwarizmi (780): algebra (Indian numerals)
Habash al-Hasib (825): sine, cosine, tangent

The Abbasid Empire
Medicine
Ali ibn Sahl Rabban al-Tabari (783)
Abu Bakr al-Razi (850)
Ali ibn Abbas al-Majusi (925)
The Abbasid Empire
Language
Sibovayh, a Persian scholar, codifies the Arabic grammar and writes the first Arabic dictionary (840)
Farsi, the Arabized form of Parsi (9th c)
The Abbasid Empire
Islamic society
Dhimmi
Muslims still a minority in the empire
Rights for non-Muslim communities
Judicial independence (Christian, Jewish and Zoroastrian laws)
Economic independence
Military and political dependence
Women and slaves also treated independently
Forbidden to marry Muslim women (death penalty)
The Abbasid Empire
Islamic society
Slaves: birth of the international slave trade
The Abbasid Empire
Islamic society
Mamlukes (9th century)
Children of non-Muslim slaves from the steppes (Turks), raised in isolation (Cairo monastic barracks), instructed about Islam and trained as soldiers (mounted warriors)
Sons of Mamlukes were forbidden to become a Mamluke (not hereditary)
The slave army was a remedy to the inefficiency of feudal cavalry (hereditary, politics, etc)
The Abbasid Empire
Arabian peninsula largely under control of tribal warlords and religious fanatics opposed to Umayyad/Abbasid worldliness
Tribal warfare in the Arabian peninsula (9th c-19th c)

Decline of the Abbasid Empire
Fragmentation of the empire
Umayyads (sunni) in Spain (756-1031)
Cordoba the cultural capital of the western Arab empire (912-976): palaces, libraries, universities
Saffarids (Zaranj, 867-903), Samanids (Bukhara, 875-999) and Ghaznavids (Ghazni, 999-1030, military slaves) in Persia
Buyids (North Persian shiite - Twelvers) in Mesopotamia and Persia (932-1055)
Fragmentation of the Empire
Map 1000
Decline of the Abbasid Empire
Fragmentation of the empire
Fatimids (shiite - Ismailis) in Tunisia (908) and Egypt (969-1169) and Syria
Cairo (973)
Gold of Nubia
Revival of Egyptian trade network
Parallel network of missionaries spreading Ismaili insurgency from India to Yemen
Most powerful state in the Islamic world
Assassins/Hashshashin (1090-1256)
Ismaili/Fatimid Muslims based in northwest Persia
Mystic secret society terrorizing the Abbasid (and later Seljuq) elite with meticulous killings
Targeting sunni Muslims (not infidels)
The Turkish Era
Reunification of the Middle East
Seljuqs (sunni) in Persia (1038), Mesopotamia (1055) and Anatolia (1194)
Turks
Restore orthodox Islamic government
Political stability
Persian culture
The Turkish Era
North African kingdoms
Sunni fanatical revival of the Maghreb
Almoravids (sunni Berbers) in Morocco (1062-1146), Andalucia, western Africa to Senegal (capital Marrakesh)
Almohads (sunni Berbers) in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Andalucia (1130-1269)
Ayubbids (sunni Kurds) in Egypt, Syria and western Arabia (1169-1252) SALADIN, CRUSADES
Mamluks (sunni Turkish slaves) in Egypt and western Arabia (1252-1516)
Sunni orthodoxy restored in North Africa
North Africa and Spain
The Turkish Era
Abu Abd Allah Muhammad al-Idrisi (Morocco, 1100)
"Nuzhat al-mushtag Fi Ikhtiraq al-Afaq/ Roger's Book" (1154, Sicily)
geographical encyclopedia
world map
description of various regions of the world
The Turkish Era
Turkish Islam
Adaptation to Middle-Eastern settled life of nomadic Turkic-speaking populations of Central Asia
The Turkish Era
Progressive emancipation from the caliphate
Not caliphs but sultans, shahs, khans, etc
Implicit separation of church (ulema) and state (sultan, shah, khan)
Forced conversions to Islam, but mainly to enforce the same law on the whole kingdom and to legitimize the new elite (Turks, slaves)
Court = patron of science, art and literature (Chinese and Byzantine influence)
Shift away from the Arab epicenter (and the Arabic language) towards the Turko-Persian axis (and the Turkish and Persian languages)
Sufi revival
The Turkish Era
Persian philosophy
ibn Sina/ Avicenna (Persia, b1023): Aristotle/ Plato
Abu-Hamid Al-Ghazali (Persia, 1095)
Spanish philosophy
ibn Rushd/ Averroes (Spain, b1126): Aristotle
Ibn Arabi (Spain, b1165)
Jewish philosophy
Saadia ben Joseph (Persia, 10th c)
Solomon ibn Gabirol/ Avicebron (105x, Spain)
Judah Halevi (113x, Spain)
Moses ben Maimon/ Maimonides (Egypt, 1190)

The Turkish Era
Persian poetry
Ferdowsi (Persia 932): "Shah-nameh" (1010)
Omar Khayyam (Persia, 1050): "Rubaiyat"
Sadi (Persia 1184): "Bustan" (1257)
Rumi (Afghanistan/Anatolia, 1207): "Mathnawi" (125#)
Hafez (Persia 1324): "Divan"
The Turkish Era
Mongol sack of Baghad (1258)
The Mamluks save the Arab world
Decline of Mesopotamia and rise of Egypt
Military power (Mamlukes)
Cultural power (Alexandria, Cairo)
Economic power (trade with Europe)
Ilkhans (shiite) in Persia and Mesopotamia (1265-1335)

The Turkish Era
Ottoman Empire (sunni Turks)
1354: Gallipoli, first outpost in Europe
1453: Constantinople / Istanbul
1516: Syria, Palestine, Egypt
1520-66: Suleyman
1526: Hungary
1529: Algiers
1534: Baghdad
1574: Tunis
1580: Treaty with Spain
The Turkish Era
Ottoman Empire
Multi-ethnic multi-lingual empire
Gunpowder empire based on infantry (as opposed to the traditional reliance on elite cavalry)
Hierarchical bureaucracy for education, judiciary and even religion

The Turkish Era
Ottoman Empire
Balance of fanaticism (defenders of Sunni orthodoxy against the Shiites and the Christians) and tolerance (melting pot of ethnic/religious groups, strong Sufi influence)
The ulema organized in a hierarchical organized institution (equivalent of the Catholic Church), led by a grand mufti (1433)
Leading Sufi orders also coopted by the state
The Turkish Era
Ottoman Empire
Kanun (Sultanic laws): an entire code of laws independent of shari'ah
Laws about the organization of government and the military
Laws about the taxation and treatment of the peasantry
The Turkish Era
Ottoman Empire
Social division along religious rather than ethnic lines
Millets: separate, autonomous and self-governed non-Muslim communities
Muslims, Greeks, Armenians, Jews
Muslims (notably Arabs) also segregated
The Turkish Era
Ottoman empire/ Slavery
Slave system key to preventing the accumulation of power
Bureaucracy (even the Grand Vizier himself) and infantry (e.g. Janissaries) assigned to the kullars, personal slaves of the Sultan (Christians who had been forced to convert to Islam, mainly by devshirme or child tribute, with no civil rights)
Only newly recruited slaves can be inducted into positions of power
The Turkish Era
Ottoman empire/ Slavery
Both government and army are efficient and faithful and neutral to political, religious or ethnic strife
Brothers of the Sultan killed to avoid competition for the throne (from Mehemmed I till end of 16th c)
The Turkish Era
Ottoman empire
Culmination of the century-old Turkish process of
centralization of political power
assimilation of religious authority
destruction of tribal autonomy
The Turkish Era
Ottoman Empire
Gunpowder
Christian corporations manufactured and sold the weapons that Muslims used to defeat the Christian armies
Spices
Christian demand for spices caused the Islamic world to get wealthy, and the Islamic world used that wealth to wage war against the Christian world and attack its moral capital, Constantinople (Istanbul)
The Turkish Era
Ottoman Empire
Ottomans influenced by Persian culture
North Africans influenced by Arabian culture
The Turkish Era
Selim Sinan, Ottoman architect
Tekiya, Damascus (1554)
Selimiye, Edirne (1574)
Suleymanye, Istanbul (1587)
Blue Mosque, Istanbul (1619)
The Turkish Era
Ottoman empire
Causes of decline
Uneducated sultans (kept in isolation during childhood from 1617 on)
Western naval routes to the Far East that bypass the Ottoman empire (Portugal, Holland, Britain)
Russian expansionism
Safavid empire
Discovery of America
Ossified bureaucracy
The Turkish Era
Ottoman empire
Causes of decline
Islam
Belief that everything in the Islamic world is superior to anything in the non-Muslim world
Western technology anathema
Western books anathema
The printing press anathema (only millets can have it)
No scientific revolution, no industrial revolution
The Turkish Era
The Turkic empires
Gunpowder empires of Turkic descent
Ottoman Empire (Edirne, later Istanbul)
Safavid Empire (Isfahan in Persia)
Moghul Empire (Fatehpur Sikri in north India)
The Turkish Era
Persia
1258 - 1365: Mongols (Ilkhanate, Tabriz)
1365 - 1413: Timurids (Samarkand)
1501 - 1722: Safavids (Isfahan)
Roots in Turkic-speaking sufis of Azerbaijan
Shiite theocracy (Twelvers)
First major Shiite kingdom since the Fatimids
1501 Tabriz, 1503 Hamadan, 1504 Shiraz, 1507 Karbala, 1509 Baghdad, 1510 Herat, 1511 Merv
Continuous warfare against Ottomans
1587: gunpowder empire (Shah Abbas I)
The Turkish Era
Persian Art
Timurid art (1389-1501)
Architecture (Samarqand, Herat)
Painting and calligraphy (Shiraz)
Jahanshah Qara-Quyunlu (1439-67)
Darb-i Imam in Isfahan (1454)
Blue Mosque in Tabriz (1465)
Safavid (1501-1722)
Isfahan
The Turkish Era
Persia
Persians ruled for centuries by non-Persian dynasties of lower cultural development and lower political expertise (Arabs, Seljuqs, Mongols, Azers, Qajars)
The Turkish Era
India
1192-1526: Delhi sultanate (Ghurid Turks)
1526-1707: Moghul (Timurid Turks)
Monumental Art of Moghul Empire
The Turkish Era
Arabian peninsula
Largely forgotten by the Islamic world
Indifference of the Ottoman empire towards the Arabian peninsula
Warlords guarantee safe passage to pilgrims
Ancestral pre-Islamic lifestyle prevails
Minimal contact with non-Islamic world
Minimal western influence
Summarizing
622-660: Early expansion
661-748: Umayyad empire
749-9th c: Abbasid empire
9th c-10th c: Separation of North Africa and Middle East
10th c-17th c: Turko-Persian Middle East (notably Ottoman, Safavid, Mogul expansion)
17th c-...: Decline of Ottoman, Safavid and Mogul empires
BREAK
622-660: Early expansion
661-748: Umayyad empire
749-9th c: Abbasid empire
9th c-10th c: Separation of North Africa and Middle East
10th c-17th c: Turko-Persian Middle East (notably Ottoman, Safavid, Mogul expansion)
17th c-...: Decline of Ottoman, Safavid and Mogul empires
The decline and fall
Wahabi sect
1760: Abd Wahab allies with Muhammad Ibn Saud of Diriyya and founds the Saudi state in Arabia
1804: Wahabis of the Saudi state capture Mecca and Medina
1818: Failure of Wahabi mission (Ottomans recapture Saudi kingdom)
Most literalist of the renewal movements
1902: Abdul al-Aziz conquers Riyad and unites Arabia under the puritanical Wahabi Islamic order

The decline and fall
Renewal movement
India, 18th c: Shah Wali Ullah (decline of Mogul empire due to ignorance of the Quran, friend of Wahab)
Uzbekistan: Naqshbandiyyah order
Algeria, 1774: Ahmad al-Tijani (militant sufism)
Nigeria, 1774: Uthman dan Fodio (strict adherence to Islamic practices)
Persia, 1790s: Ursuli school of legal thought (increases influence of the ulema on the Qajar state)
Mecca, 1798: Moroccan-born Ahmad Ibn Idris (opposing legal schools)
Sumatra, 1803: Padri movement (anti-Dutch resistance)
Bengal, 180x: Hajji Shariat Allah and Faraidi movement (strict adherence to religious practices)
The decline and fall
Renewal movement
Kurdistan, 1813: Shaykh Khalid al-Baghdadi of the Naqshbandiyyah order (establish Islamic law, resist European expansion) Wave of conversions and jihads from West Africa to Central Asia
Senegal, 1826: Al-Hajj Umar Tal (jihad state)
Persia, 19th c: Sayyid Ali Muhammad Shirazi "Bab" (messianic message, later Bahai faith)
Jihad against foreign imperialism within the organizational framework of Sufi orders
Almost all of them formed after a pilgrimage to Mecca
Pilgrimage to Mecca plays the role of marketing for the renewal movements
The decline and fall
Renewal movement/ causes
New patterns of trade (seatrade vs land trade)
Rise of Christian empires in Islamic lands
Echoes of the scientific/industrial revolution
The decline and fall
Renewal movement/ effects
18th-19th century: two overlapping phenomena
Massive political expansion of the Christian powers (and retreat of the Ulema's power)
Massive religious expansion of the Islamic faith
Reformist movement (either by colonial Europeans or European-inspired rulers)
vs Renewal movement
Two tectonic plaques on a collision route
The decline and fall
Colonization and Decolinization
The decline and fall
European colonialism
1811-1918: Disintegration of the Ottoman empire: Greece, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Yemen
1830-1919: France conquers Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Lebanon, Syria
1868-1919: Russia conquers Transoxania
1882-1919: Britain conquers Egypt, Sudan, Iraq, Palestine, Arab emirates
1885-now: Jews emigrate to Palestine
Holland and Portugal in Indonesia/Malaysia
Maratha and then Britain in India

The decline and fall
Arab independence
1922-1971: Independence of British colonies: Egypt 1922, Iraq 1932, Saudi Arabia 1932, Jordan 1946, Israel 1948, Libya 1952, Sudan 1956, Kuwait 1961, UAE 1968, Oman 1971)
1943-1962: Independence of French colonies: Syria 1943, Morocco 1956, Tunisia 1956, Algeria 1962)
1921-1979: Iranian republic
1923-now: Turkish republic
The decline and fall
Middle Eastern nationalism
Influenced by
European nationalism of the 19th century
Soviet socialism
1928-1980: Muslim Brotherhood (Islamic republic)
1931-1946: Jewish terrorism (against British rule)
1936: Palestinian intifada (against British rule)
1939: Arab countries supply 5% of the world's oil
1941: Baath party (unify the whole Arab world)
1945: League of Arab States (Egypt, Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Yemen)

Note: 1930 Mohammad Allama Iqbal calls for Indian Islamic separatism, unity of all Islamic nations
The decline and fall
The Big Game in the Middle East
1948: First Arab-Israeli war: Israel defeats Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, Iraq
1950: Democratic elections in Turkey
1952: Egyptian republic (Nasser)
1952: Turkey joins NATO
1953: USA-sponsored coup in Iran
1954: Algerian liberation war (1 million dead)
1956: Second Arab-Israeli war: France, Britain and Israel defeat Egypt (USA condemnation of Britain)
1956: Israel's nuclear program
1960: OPEC

Note: 1949 Pakistan (1956 Islamic republic)
The decline and fall
Historical trends until 1961
No major popular revolution (popular uprising against own regime) in the entire history of the Islamic world, from Morocco to Indonesia
No major victory since 1683 by an Islamic country
The decline and fall
The socialist era
1961: Nasser's "Arab socialism" (Syria 1963, Iraq 1963, Algeria 1965, Yemen 1966, Libya 1969)
1962: Algeria becomes independent
1962: White Revolution in Iran

1961-1991: Kurdish liberation war in Iraq (200,000 dead)
1962-2002: Christian/animist war in Sudan (2 million dead)

1967: Third Arab-Israeli war: Israel defeats Jordan, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and occupies the territories
1969-1989: International Palestinian terrorism
The Cold War
Dictators

The decline and fall
The oil era
1973: Fourth Arab-Israeli war: Israel defeats Egypt and Syria
1973: OPEC oil embargo
1975-1990: Civil war in Lebanon (40,000 dead)
1975: Morocco invades and annexes Western Sahara
1979: Khomeini founds the Islamic republic of Iran
1979: Saddam Hussein
1979-1988: Soviet invasion of Afghanistan
1980-1988: Iraq invades Iran (one million dead)

The decline and fall
The era of Islamic revolutions
1987-2006: Palestinian intifada (5,000 dead)
1988: The Soviet Union withdraws from Afghanistan
1990-1991: Gulf War (85,000 dead)
1992-1999: Civil war in Algeria (150,000 dead)
1996-2001: Taliban in Afghanistan
The State of the Islamic World
Islamic human development
Varies wildly
Turkey
Arab world
Iran
Indian subcontinent
Central Asia
The Islamic World
Women
Central Asia (communist influence)
Turkey (women entitled to vote and veiling prohibited)
Indian subcontinent (Hindu-style rights, even female prime ministers and presidents)
Iran (highly educated)
Arab world (ancestral Arab concept of women as inferior beings)
Burka mandatory in Yemen
Women cannot drive in Saudi Arabia
Westernized women in Arab socialist countries (Syria, Iraq, Egypt)
The Islamic World
Political system
Central Asia (communism or democracy)
Turkey (democracy)
Indian subcontinent (Indian style democracy)
Iran (unpopular Islamic republic)
Arab world (no democracy before 2003)
Algeria
Lebanon
The State of the Arab World
Huge sofa
The Arab World
Arab Human Development Report 2002
No major scientist or mathematician in the entire Islamic world (one billion people)
Only one Nobel prize in 100 years
One Arab in four is illiterate (the vast majority being women)
All the Arab countries together have a combined GDP that is half that of Spain alone
Only 1% of Arabs own a computer
Fewer foreign books translated in Arabic over the entire century than in one year in Spanish
The Arab world has the highest percentage of believers in God (99.9%)
The Arab World
UNESCO Science Report 2005
Arabs have the lowest knowledge of Science, History and Geography of any region of the world except central Africa
"In the Arab region the main sponsors and employers of technology are foreign multinationals"
Excluding Islamic studies, Arab universities produce fewer graduates per capita than any other region of the world

The Arab World
OECD 2003
38% of Arabs are under 14
Excluding oil revenues, the Arab world has the slowest economic growth rate in the developing world
High level of corruption
Only region in the world with no democratic progress (before 2003)
The Arab World
Why would anyone want to live there?
Low crime (safest countries in the world for males)
Relatively low consumption of drugs
Relatively low percentage of prostitutes
Strong families
Etc
The Arab World
The Arab version of "why would anyone want to live there"?
The Arab World
The Arab regression
Obliteration of pre-Islamic history
Obliteration of early Islamic history
Obliteration of foreign culture
Obliteration of science
The religious scriptures as the only reliable source of truth

The State of the Islamic World
What the Islamic world has in common
War
Philippines
Indonesia (Aceh)
Afghanistan (Mujaheddin, Taliban)
Pakistan (Kashmir)
Palestine
Iraq (Iran, Kuwait, USA/UK)
Sudan (South, Darfur)
Algeria (Berbers)
Morocco (Sahrawis)
Turkey (Cyprus, Kurds)
Bosnia, Kosovo
Russia (Chechnya)
China (Turkestan)
The Islamic World
What the Islamic world has in common
Religious intolerance
Widespread religious cleansing (Pakistan's hindu population declined from 24% to less than 1%, Jews in the Arab world declined from one million to less than 20,000, Afghanistan's Buddhist population has declined to 0%, only 20,000 Jews left in the entire Islamic world, etc)
Arab universities have virtually no course for non-Islamic religious studies (British universities alone offer 426 degrees in non-Christian religious studies)
Persecution of Muslims who criticize Islam
The Islamic World
Cartoon
The Islamic World
What the Islamic world has in common
Islamic Conference 2005: The Islamic world is perfect
The rise of the Quran
Rise of the Quran
The Rise of the Quran
Rise of the Quran
Collapse of the historical cradles of Islamic civilization (Ottomans, Persia, Egypt)
Envy and humiliation
Islamic way of life vs Christian way of life
Rise of Arab, Pakistani, Persian, etc nationalism (Nasser, Bella, Arafat, Khomeini)
Rise of the Arabian kingdoms (independent, oil)
Saudi Arabia pushed to the top tier of Islamic states for the first time since Mohammed
Rise of the Wahabi sect
Rise of the literal interpretation of the Quran
The Rise of the Quran
Rise of the Quran
Instead of the advanced societies of Turkey and Iran influencing the backward society of Saudi Arabia, the opposite started happening
Failure of Arab socialism
Success of Iran's Islamic republic (1979)
Islam as the alternative to Western civilization
Islam as an alternative to (secular/socialist) Arab nationalism
The Rise of the Quran
Rise of the Quran
Massive exodus of non-Muslims
Mass emigration of progressive Muslims
Islamic societies become more and more isolated
The Rise of the Quran
Rise of the Quran/ Consequences
The rest of the world has moved towards increasing emancipation from religion
USA and French revolutions "demoted" the status of religion (separation of state and church)
Russia and China via communism
West, Far East and India via capitalism
The Islamic world has moved in the opposite direction, towards stronger religious dominance
The Islamic world never had the equivalent of the USA/French/Russian/Chinese revolutions (except Turkey)
The Rise of the Quran
Consequences
The rest of the world has undergone a period of rapid development (society, science, arts, technology)
The Islamic world has undergone a period of stagnation
The rest of the world has embraced a different set of values
For the first time in history, the powers are not at war
Quranic groups are at war with everybody (USA, Russia, China, India, Europe, Far East)
The Rise of the Quran
New cultural psychology
The Quran should be obeyed even by non-Muslims in Islamic lands
The Quran should be obeyed even in non-Islamic lands
Ignorance about and contempt towards other religions
Quran unknown to most Muslims (most Muslims do not read Arabic)
The Quran was never so important for a Muslim
Clash of Civilizations
Clash of civilizations as a worldwide trend
Clash due to two conflicting sets of values (Bernard Lewis 1957, Samuel Huntington 1996)
False: China, India, Russia, Latin America, Black Africa are evolving towards a common set of values (e.g., the Chinese have never been so similar to Europeans in their entire history)
To some extent, Europe, China, India, Russia and Black Africa have the same "clash of civilization" against Islam
The "clash of civilizations" mainly applies to Islam vs the rest of the world
Clash of Civilizations
The Islamic civil war
"There is indeed a war of civilization going on, but it is taking place inside Muslim society" (William Pfaff 2004). The West is "a detonator of explosions" which are actually meant for the Islamic world itself.
"Civilizations do not clash, they compete" (Wafa Sultan)
Clash of Civilizations
The Islamic civil war
A side-effect of European colonialism: Europe imported Islam
Between 1989 and 1998 the Muslim population throughout Europe grew 100% (to about 14n)
Creation of the mosque culture
Consequences of the European Ummah:
not that Europe is becoming Islamic
but that Muslims are becoming European
Clash of Civilizations
Trauma of decolonization
All former colonies went through similar turmoil
Affirmation of national identity
Economic crisis
Adoption of USA model
Every part of the world that postponed USA-style reforms has fallen behind, to an extent proportional to the extent that reforms have been postponed
Nasser and Khomeini (just like others) postponed the adoption of USA-style reforms
Communism was overthrown,, but nobody has overthrown Nasser and Khomeini (except Turkey, Dubai, Malaysia)
Clash of Civilizations
Clash of civilizations
Iran's revolution:
First major popular uprising in Islamic history
First major victory (after Algeria) of an Islamic movement over the non-Islamic powers
Demonstration of both edges of the religious sword:
Inspiration for the jihadists to stage further uprising against the West
Disappointment for the progressists whose revolution was hijacked (the first major uprising and the first major victory resulted in an undesirable state)
Clash of Civilizations
Clash of civilizations
Progressive Muslims are more interested in building a prosperous, free and peaceful society than in what a prophet said (it can always be twisted)
Conservative Muslims are more interested in twisting the prophet's words to promote Islamic nationalism
The USA is calling the bluff on progressive Muslims: USA colonization as the no-brainer solution to all your problems
The Jihadists are calling the bluff on conservative Muslims: the international jihad as the no-brainer solution to all your problems
Clash of Civilizations
Clash of civilizations
The Islamic masses feel trapped between two equally undesirable scenarios, USA colonization and international johad, and cannot produce a third alternative: the popular uprising (Gilles Kepel)
Clash of Civilizations
Clash of civilizations
Jihadists as the new "barbarians" who take advantage of the rivalry between the old powers (USA and Soviet Union) to defeat both and start a new civilization
The Arabs were the barbarians that successfully exploited the weakness of the Byzantines and Sassanids after many centuries of war (or like the USA that exploited the continuous warfare between Britain and Germany)
Jihadists as the founders of the future empire of the planet
Clash of Civilizations
Clash of civilizations
The rise of the Quran
Islamic Reformism
Western Reformism
Islamic Reformism
Characters of religious reformism
Autonomy of the individual in interpreting the religious scriptures
Critical examination of the religious dogmas (including authenticity of the scriptures)
Recognition of religious relativism (one's religious beliefs depend on the birthplace, not on absolute truth)
Sense of humour!
Political activism
Separation of church and state
Human rights
Gender equality
Islamic Reformism
Islamic Reformism
1808, Turkey: sultan Mahmud II
1860s, India: Sayed Ahmad Khan calls for western-style reform of Islam, Islamic-Hindu unity
Islamic Reformism
Islamic Reformism
Amina Wadud : Quran and Woman
Omid Safi: Progressive Muslims: On Justice, Gender, and Pluralism
Farid Esack: Quran, Liberation and Pluralism
Fazlur Rahman: Revival and Reform in Islam
Mohammed Arkoun: The Unthought in Contemporary Islamic Thought
Anouar Majid: Unveiling Traditions - Postcolonial Islam in a Polycentric World
Pervez Hoodbhoy: Islam and Science - Religious Orthodoxy and the Battle for Rationality
Islamic Terrorism
Western terrorism
Islamic Terrorism
Why is it relevant
Because the world is at peace (first time in history)
Islamic Terrorism
Renewal movement of the 18th c/ causes
New patterns of trade (seatrade vs land trade)
Rise of Christian empires in Islamic lands
Echoes of the scientific/industrial revolution
Renewal movement of the 21th c/ causes
New patterns of trade (globalization)
Rise of Christian monopolies in Islamic lands
Echoes of the information revolution
Clash not between civilizations but between the process of secularization and the revival of religion

Islamic Terrorism
Is it "Islamic"?
The vast majority of "Islamic terrorists" are Arabs, and Arabs only represent one third of all Muslims
The vast majority of fatalities of "Islamic terrorism" are Muslims
Thousands of people killed in Shiite-Sunni sectarian violence over the years


Islamic Terrorism
A new weapon of mass destruction: suicide bombing
Chronology of suicide bombers:
Khomeini (Shiite and not Arab)
Lebanon (Shiite and not Arab)
Sri Lanka (not Islamic at all)
Palestine (Sunni Arab)
Pakistan (Sunni Arab)
Chechnya (Sunni Arab)
Al Qaeda (Sunni Arab)
Iraq (Sunni Arab)

Islamic Terrorism
The superficial view: Salafi/Wahabi (Sunni Arab) groups exporting terrorism (historically unusual that non-Arab areas are inspired by Arabs)
The alternative view: Sunni Arabs importing terrorism (historically usual that Arabs copy from non-Arabs) from their traditional sources of culture (Persia)

Islamic Terrorism
Compare with the success rate of Anarchists
1882: Assassination of czar Alexander II
1886: Haymarket bombing in Chicago (7 dead)
1893: Teatro Liceo bombing in Barcelona (22 dead)
1894: Assassination of French president Sadi Carnot
1897: Assassination of Austrian empress Elizabeth and Spanish prime minister Antonio Canovas
1900: Assassination of Italian king Umberto I
1901: Assassination of USA president William McKinley
1920: Assassination of Spanish prime minister Eduardo Dato
Islamic Terrorism
19th century terrorist
Islamic Terrorism
False causes
Poverty causes terrorism (no terrorism in most African, Latin America, Asian countries)
Ignorance causes terrorism (ditto)
Colonialism causes terrorism (ditto)
If not Islam, what is it that causes the abundance of suicide bombers in the Arab world?
Why are there so many Saudis and Palestinians willing to die taking with them as many civilians as possible, while there is not a single South African or Bolivian willing to do the same?
Islamic Terrorism
A real cause
The rise of the Quran, i.e. of the ancestral Arabian cultural psychology
Islamic Terrorism
Other causes
A sign of the collapse of the old order in the Middle East, based on client states and puppet regimes
A side effect of the failure of all attempts to build an Islamic state
International Jihad displacing old-style state-based Islamic ideology (Iran, Taliban)
Islamic Terrorism
Other causes
Victories
Lebanon 1983 (USA withdrawal)
Afghanistan 1989 (Soviet defeat)
Somalia 1992 (USA withdrawal)
Kenya/Tanzania 1988 (USA embassies)
New York 2001 (first major attack on USA soil)
Spain 2004 (elections)
Palestine 2005 (Gaza withdrawal)
Iraq 2006 (civil war)
Islamic Terrorism
Pre-Al Qaeda
Several countries in which Islamic terrorism already existed before it struck the USA (from the Philippines to India to Russia to several Islamic countries themselves)
Islamic Terrorism
Nature of terrorism/ primary
Liberation movement against the "occupier" (non-Islamic power)
Palestinians against Israel
Afghans against the Soviet Union
Al Qaeda against the USA
Chechnyan against Russia
Islamic Terrorism
Nature of terrorism/ secondary
The terrorist organization is a puritan organization, inspired by Wahhabi principles
The goal is to reform the Islamic society
The target of the Islamic terrorist is not terror but the public opinion
Addressing a trans-national (and soon virtual) ummah
The importance of mass media
A war fought in the media
Al Jazeera "is" the enemy
The World-wide Web is going to be the next enemy
Islamic Terrorism
Nature of terrorism/ tertiary
Muslims never blame Muslims
Infidels (Zionists, USA, Russians) are responsible for a terrorist attack (directly or indirectly)
Infinite loop: the more Muslims the terrorists kill the angrier the Muslims get against the "occupier"
The more damage the terrorists inflict on Islamic countries, the more confrontational those Muslims become against the non-Islamic powers
Instead of creating an alliance between Muslims and non-Muslims to fight terrorism, terrorism creates a wedge between Muslims (who refuse to admit who is doing the killing) and non-Muslims (for whom it is obvious who is doing the killing)
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
The holy connection: Islamic renewal and the worldwide spiritual revival
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
Al Qaeda
Ethical, not political, movement
No coherent political program
Suicide bombing (martyrdom) is an end in itself
Similarity with environmentalism: ethical call, but no coherent political program
Similarity with anti-globalization movement: demonstrations are an end in itself
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
Al Qaeda
Indifference towards social issues (unlike Islamist movements of the 1940s-80s)
Politics as a means to embed moral values in the law (abortion, euthanasia, gay marriage, shari'a)
Similarity with Christian fundamentalists of the USA

Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
Al Qaeda
New forms of spirituality are becoming increasingly detached from traditional cultures and societies and tend to create new, global, purely religious communities
The us ("we know the truth") vs them ("they don't want to see the light") paradigm
Similarity with the new-age movement of the West Coast
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
The Islamic world may be more integrated with trends of the Western world than the Western world (or the Islamic world) would like to admit
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
Osama/Robertson
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
Western and Islamic trends
Hippies (to change the world)
to 1968 student riots (Marxist-Leninist program)
to 1970s terrorism (Trotzkyist permanent revolution)
to international terrorism (the internationale recast as a universal struggle against imperialism)
to Palestinian terrorism (zionism = imperialism)
to Al Qaeda
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
Western and Islamic trends
Vietnam (containment of the Soviet Union)
to regional wars (Africa, Latin America)
to Western state support for terrorist groups (Renamo, Contras)
to Arabian state support for Arab terrorists
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
Western and Islamic trends
French revolution
to terror (Robespierre)
to exporting "irredentist" movements
to national identities

Iranian revolution
to terror (Khomeini)
to exporting Islamist movements
to Islamic identity
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
Western and Islamic trends
Nazist propaganda (anti-British rhetoric): Germany is the victim of British imperialism
to Soviet propaganda (anti-Western rhetoric): the proletariat is the victim of capitalist imperialism
to Al Jazeera (anti-everybody rhetoric): the Islamic world is guilty of nothing, the rest of the world is guilty of everything
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
History repeats itself?
Christian demand for spices caused the Islamic world to get wealthy, and the Islamic world used that wealth to wage war against the Christian world and attack its moral capital, Constantinople (Istanbul)
Christian demand for oil caused the Muslims to get wealthy, and the Islamic world is again using that wealth to wage war against the Christian world (even attacking its moral capital, New York)
Jihad and the Spiritual Revival
A paradox of "civilization": it took centuries to evolve a generation of people who are engaging in self-immolation at a rate perhaps never witnessed before.
Cultural Psychology
Binoculars
Cultural Psychology
Religion
A religion is never the same over the centuries
At any point in time a religion is a set of memes
Terrorists "hijacked a religion" because a religion is designed to be hijacked

Cultural Psychology
Religion
Religions are metaphors
They were written as metaphors and they were understood as metaphors
After the rational/scientific revolution, the world lives in the age of the literal
Religions are understood as literal
Therefore rational Westerners repudiate the Bible, which is difficult to believe literally
Muslims live in the same age of the literal but have not had the rational (scientific) revolution
Cultural Psychology
The eternal meme
Once Islamic, forever Islamic (e.g., Israel is the homeland of the Palestinians not of the Jews, Turkey is the homeland of the Turks not of the Greeks, etc)
History begins with Mohammed
Cultural Psychology
The "Muslims are good Infidels are bad" meme
Aberrations of the non-Islamic world are norms (e.g. torture at Abu Gabhri)
Norms of the Islamic world are aberrations (e.g., widespread torture, media censorship)
Cultural Psychology
The Muslim meme
Muslims are always right
The concept of "invasion" depends on the religion of the invader (Osama bin Laden and his Arab brigade were not perceived as "invading" Afghanistan, Zarqawi is not perceived as invading Iraq)
Cultural Psychology
The insurgent meme
Opposing the infidel is always right
"Most Muslims recognize the Iraqi insurgents, not the democratically elected Iraqi government, as the sole legitimate representatives of the Iraqi people" (AlJazeera.net, 2005)
Cultural Psychology
The (Muslim) superiority meme
What offends Islam should be forbidden not only in Islamic lands but all over the world
What offends the rest of the world is ok
Cultural Psychology
The (Western) inferiority meme
Western democracy is the enemy of Arab nationalism
Humanitarian aid unwelcome (If Allah wants Muslims to starve to death, who is the non-Muslim to interfere?)
Cultural Psychology
The apocalyptic meme
The very same Muslim who condemns the September 11 attack says: "If the USA (or the West or India or whatever), does not change its attitude, this will happen again"
The terrorist (himself a bad man) was sent by Allah to punish you for your sins
If a Muslim harms an infidel, ultimately, it is because the infidel deserved it

Cultural Psychology
The humiliation meme
Cultural Psychology
The martyrdom meme
A Christian meme: martyrdom as the highest privilege of the "witness" (in Greek and Arabic "witness" and "martyr" are the same word)
Mohammed was not a martyr
Shiites: Karbala
Cultural Psychology
The truth meme
The difference between fact, opinion and lie is blurred
A bigger lie makes a stronger argument
Hollywood movies are accepted as fact
News reports are considered the product of USA/Zionist conspiracies
Cultural Psychology
The tribal meme
If one Italian offends one Arab, than it is ok for all Arabs to kill all Italians (eg, Palestinian suicide bombers, Danish cartoons)

Cultural Psychology
The Zionist meme
Israel is the cause of all evil
It was not Arafat who stole money, it was Israel that starved the Palestinians
It is not devout Muslims who are killing each other in Iraq, it is the USA
It is not the Arab governments that failed to provide for their people
Cultural Psychology
The Jewish meme
When the Jewish state declines, Jews become more religious
Political defeat leads to religious revival
Cultural Psychology
The Quranic meme
The morality of a Muslim (whether moderate or fundamentalist) rests on the Quran
The rest of the world can win the hearts and minds of Muslims only by appealing to the Quran (#1 reason why suicide bombers are bad: suicide is forbidden in the Quran; #2 reason is that the victims are often Muslims; #3 is that the correct interpretation of "jihad" is peaceful)
In a sense, we all have to become Muslims, and then hope that our (moderate, peaceful) interpretation of Islam will prevail over the interpretation of the extremists
Cultural Psychology
The mother of all Quranic memes: the Muslim double standard
Embedded in the memes of Islam is the confrontation with the infidel and the solidarity with fellow Muslims no matter who has done what
Muslims are always the victims, never the culprits
Muslims are entitled to the very privileges that are criminal if non-Muslims enjoy them
Ditto for the past (e.g., Arab expansion vs Crusades, Arab invasion of the Western world vs the "occupied territories")
Cultural Psychology
The denial meme
If Mohammed killed, how many of the one billion Muslims are willing to call him a killer?
If Islam was at war from the moment it was born, how many Muslims are willing to call Islam an ideology of war?
If the political establishment massacred Mohammed's family, who are Sunnis obeying, the Prophet or his enemies?
If Mohammed fell into the three temptations of Satan (that Jesus resisted), who sent Mohammed: God or Satan?

Cultural Psychology
The USA meme
What the USA does is not terribly relevant
The USA is guilty whether it does X or the opposite of X.
Changing that the USA does will not change the Arab opinion of the USA
What has to change is the Arab mind, so that they can understand and appreciate the difference between X and the opposite of X.
Cultural Psychology
Love/hate relationship for the USA
"How can such a great country like the USA have such a stupid president?" (Saddam Hussein's representative at the United Nations, Aldouri)
"First, I thank the United States that they have given us this weapon of democracy." (Hamas spokesman Farhat Asaad)

Cultural Psychology
The body meme
"Palestinians only have their bodies to use as weapons" (an Al Jazeera commentator justifying suicide bombers)
"Jews only had their minds to use as weapons" (A Jewish friend explaining why so many Jews became scientists, artists, philosophers and writers)