When did we become Arabs?
I was watching Rotana Music yesterday, and this song caught my attention. It was about a university graduation ceremony… and even though everyone was an Arab including the Dean and the students, the ceremony looked exactly like a ceremony you would find in the heart of the USA! and not at all the graduation ceremony you would find in any Arab country.
I am not going to go into the song or video clip… I wondered yesterday why do we try too hard to be Americanized or westernized in everything even in our Arabic songs? This lead me to another question, maybe the reason is rooted much deeper inside us, historically and ideologically… were we always Arabs? and if not when did we become Arabs?
Well, honestly searching this whole Arab identity, made me feel how ignorant I am! I have always thought we were always Arabs and that Arabs and Muslims are synonyms! But that is very inaccurate. So forgive the shallowness of what I will write, I am not intending to give a lesson in history here, and obviously there is much much more to how we became Arabs. Even though these are random, isolated facts, for me they gave me a direction of where to start if I am interested to know more.
Basically, the idea of an Arab identity is fresh of the over, it is that new!! it started among the French educated intellectuals of Syria in the late nineteenth century, in an effort to mobilize both Christians and Muslims to throw off the domination of the Ottoman Empire which was doing really badly. Before that Arab had referred to the Bedouins and the inhabitants of Arabia. And we were known in different names.
During World War 1 the idea of Arab nationalism emerged again as an important idea, this time it took the form of the Arab revolt, with the help of the English. England played a major role afterwards in promoting Arabism in the Middle East, obviously to serve their own interests and so the area gradually became Arab! In 1941, Anthony Eden, the British Foreign Minister proposed the creation of an Arab league, which became a reality in 1945.
The Millions of inhabitants of this area, resisted the idea for a long time, because of their doubts of why they changed from Asians or Africans or whatever other identities we had to Arabs, but this was changed drastically with Gamal Abd Al Nasser, who became a national hero by nationalizing the Suez Canal and leading a war against Israel in 1956… After that the masses embraced the idea lovingly.
If you are curious to know morw, get on the internet to find out more