Arabic Culture And The Impact Of Globalization Cultural Studies Essay

Culture can be defined as the cultivated behavior that is socially transmitted. It involves the accumulation of knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, experiences, religion, relations, concepts of the universe, values, meanings, roles, notions of time, relations, material possessions and objects acquired and a way of life of a group of people throughout the generations. This way of life is accepted by all the individuals in the group without thinking about it and is passed from one generation to another through communication and imitation. It can therefore be considered as a group’s traditional ideas and values that are attached and followed by all the generation (Hofstede, 1997)

Types of culture

There are many different types of culture but this paper will generally focus on 3 types i.e. Pluralism, Dualism and Salad bowl.

1.2.1 Pluralism

This refers to the type of culture whereby smaller groups of people within a large society tend to maintain their unique culture identities and their values, behaviors and identities are well accepted by the wider society or culture. The minor groups of people participate fully within the dominant society while still maintaining their cultural differences. It involves coexistent of different cultures in a location without the domineering of one particular culture. The human differences that exist are accepted by the majority and hence it eliminates discrimination in the form of racialism or sexism. It can also be refereed to as multiculturalism (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2004)

1.2.2. Dualism

This is a term that describes a society embracing two cultures and being comfortable with them. E.g. Canada having been colonized by the French and the British has embraced the cultures of these two nations (The Canadian Encyclopedia).

1.2.3. Salad bowl

This is a concept that is used to describe the integration of many cultures which combines like a salad as compared to the prolific notion of a culture melting point. In this model, the various cultures are juxtaposed but they are not merged together into one homogenized culture just like the salad ingredients. Each culture maintains its distinct values and qualities. The society is therefore composed of many individual pure cultures (Sullivan, 2006)

Chapter 2.Arabic culture

2.1 Who are the Arabs?

Arabs are a grouping of various independent, self identified and self sustained ethnicities of various ancestral origins, religion and historic identities and its individual members are identified based on similarities in Language, culture genealogical or political grounds. Most Arabs have multiple identities with a local ethnic identity e.g. Egyptian, Palestinian or Lebanese. These may be broken further into tribal, village or clan identities. The main feature unifying all Arabs is the Semitic language, Arabic which has its origin in Arabia. The Arabs are not a single nationality even though they have had nations and nationhood. There are 22 Arab nations from and the Arab world crosses from Africa Asia and Europe. There are about 130 million Arabs worldwide. (Haddad, 1999)

The Arab identity is a cultural identity that links the people of Middle East and North Africa via language, traditions, history and the Islamic religion. The Arab world is composed of the states that are associated with the League of Arab states.

2.2 Arabs Identity

In the modern world the Arab identity has been narrowly identified with the Islamic religion. The western world unfortunately believes that being an Arab means being a Muslim. But this is a mistake that they do make. The Arabs represent only a minority of the worlds 1.6 billion Muslims. (Mohdad, 2004). In real context, the Arab identity is identified independently from the religious context. This is because it started even before the rise of Islam. There has been historical evidence attesting that there were Arab Christian and Arab Jewish kingdoms in the pre -Islam period. Even though, most Arabs today profess the Islamic religion.

Arabs can be defined based on genealogical, linguistic and political grounds. Genealogically, an Arab can be defined as some one who can trace his ancestral origins to the original inhabitants of the Syrian Desert and the Arabian Peninsula i.e. the Arabian tribes. Linguistically, an Arab can be identified as someone whose cultural expression and first language is Arabic and its varieties. There are those who reject this definition criterion on the basis of non-Arab ancestry e.g. the Egyptians (Jankowski, 2004). There are 300 million people who can fall under this definition. Politically, an Arab can be defined as any person who is a national of a country with Arabic being a national language or it is one of the official languages. It can also refer to a citizen of a country which is a member of the League of Arab states. This identification though the simplest is the most contentious as it excludes the Arabs in Diaspora and it includes other peoples not of the Arab origin e.g. the Berbers of Morocco and the Somali of Somalia. The best identity of an Arab would be one who is a citizen of an Arab state, has a command of the Arabic language and has knowledge of the Arab traditions that include the various customs, manners and social systems of the culture (Sheehi, 2004).

2.3 Arab culture

This is an all inclusive term that puts together common themes and overtones found in the Arabic speaking cultures (Hooker, 1999) Most of the Arabs hold the traditional values and morals close. The culture of loyalty to the family is a top priority among the Arabs. Most Arabs are Muslims and they hold religion as a guide to how they live their lives. The Qur’an is followed in all aspects of their lives including how they are governed and how the live their social life. Their language is Arabic and it is uniform in the entire Arab world. Arabic is a unique and complex language. Aish, a form of bread is the staple in most Arabs’ diet. The pastoral Arab nomads who herded camels and sheep are quickly fading and they are being replaced with professionals who are working in the cities. Many Arabs are employed in the oil companies and oil fields based in the middle east and other large manufacturing organizations as well (Barakat, 1993). The culture of the Arab world is therefore defined by the distinct religion, art, and food.

2.4 Arabic clothing

The Arabs have a set standard for clothing based mainly on their religion Islam. Islam has minimum standards that are set for personal modesty and these are reflected in the styles of clothing that is worn among the Muslims. Most of these standards and guidelines on the modes of dressing may be seen as outdated or conservative but the Arabs view them as the values of public decency and therefore infinite in terms on when they will cease to be followed. The Arabs buy their clothes in the Muslim world or they sew their own. The Islam religion just outlines the minimum standard of modest dressing but does not outline the style, color or the fabric that one should wear. The distinctive style that women wear has been an issue of controversy for a long time especially in the western world. The women wear the traditional Abaya with a full head and their face covered though some women now opt not to cover their faces. Many women in the Arab world dress conservatively. Some may cover their faces while others may not. The more conservative women wear long black garments called Abayah and these cover the whole body from the shoulders all the way to the feet. Inside this covering she may wear a traditional Arabian dress that may be full body length and with long sleeves and it may be decorated with beautiful beads. She can also be wearing a very fashionable dress from an international designer. A conservative woman will also wear a face and head covering in addition to the Abayah. The less conservative women wear the Abaya but do not wear the face and head cover. Some may wear the Abaya and a scarf like cover that covers only the hair but not the face. This cover is called a Hejab.

The men’s clothing includes a long sleeved one piece dress that covers the whole body. It is called a Dishdashah or a Thoub. It is tailored in such a way that it allows air to circulate and this aids in cooling the body when the weather is hot. When the weather is hot especially during summer, the Thoub is made of white cotton. This helps in reflecting the sunlight and hence maintaining the body temperature to normality. When the weather is cold e.g. in winters, it is made from heavy fabric e.g. wool and it is usually made from darker colors e.g. black or grey. The men also wear a 3- piece head cover with this Dishdashah. The bottom piece of the head covering is a white cap. The cap is called Thagiyah and is sometimes filled with holes. Its purpose is for holding the hair in place. A scarf like head cover is worn on top of the Thagiyah. This is referred to as Gutrah which is a light white head cover that is worn in winter or Shumag a heavy head cover that is checked in red and white and is worn in winter. The purpose of these head covers is to protect the face and the head from the direct sunlight. They are also used as coverings for the nose and mouth in times of sand storms and cold weather. The Ogal, a black band surrounding the head top is worn on top of the Thagiyah and the Gutrah and it is used to hold them into place. (Mohammad Al-Sabt, 1995). The male children are taught on how to wear the heads covering when they reach puberty. This is usually a sign of entering manhood. The head covering is not worn while one is in the house but it is worn when one has guests in the house as a sign of respect.

2.5 Arab music

Most Arab music puts emphasis on melody and rhythm rather than on harmony. The Arab music is characterized by an Arab tone, rhythmic-temporal structures that produce a variety of rhythmic patterns, a number of musical instruments, specific social contexts and an Arab musical mentality. Classical music is the most popular in the whole Arab world and its superstars are very popular (Maalouf, 2002). There are also regional styles of music that are popular in their specific regions e.g. Moroccan Gnawa and Egyptian el gil. Most of the Arab music has been dominated by Egypt and in particular Cairo which is a cultural center. Beirut has in the recent years become a major center of the Arab music (Amnon, 2001). The Arab music is composed of several genres and styles and it ranges from classical, pop, sacred and secular music. It is usually very independent and alive with a long history of interaction with other regions styles and genres. The Arab music is usually a composite of the music from the Arabs of the Arab Peninsula in conjunction with the music from the Arab world at large. The music has been highly influenced by music from other regions like the Egyptian, Persian, Assyrian, Swahili and European music (Touma, 1996). The Arabs developed and translated works of music from the Greek texts and thus mastered the Greeks musical theory. In the 21st century, the genres of music that are very common in the Arab world include Arabic pop, Franco-Arabic, Arabic Jazz, Arabic rock, Arabic electronica, Arabic R&B, reggae and hip hop.

Arabic pop- The Arabic music began to take a more western style in the 50s and 60s with artists like Abdel Halim Hafez leading the way. Arabic pop consists of Arabic instruments and lyrics but the songs are sung in a western style. Many Arabic artistes took up the style in the 1990s and it was in 1996 when Amir Diab released the song Habini that become a hit and a success in the Middle East, the Arab world and worldwide at large.

Franco- Arabian. This is a blend of western and eastern music that was made popular by Dalida from Egypt, Sammy Clarke from the Lebanon and Aldo from Australia. This genre describes a cross cultural blending of middle east and the west though there are some songs that have incorporated Arabic- Italian, Arabic-French and Arabic -English lyrics and styles.

Arabic hip hop- The Arabian music has been influenced by R&B, reggae and hip hop especially in the last 5 years. This involves featuring a rapper in an Arabic song e.g. Ishtar in her song Habibi Sawah. Some artistes have also used full R&B and reggae styles and beats e.g. Darine. This has however been greatly criticized. Hence this genre of music is not common in the Arab world.

Arabic rock- Many Arabic rock bands are fusing hard rock sounds with the traditional Arabic instruments and this type of genre is becoming very popular in the Arab world. The Arabic music has become very popular and can now be found on the internet. (Van der Merwe, 1989)

2.6. Arabic visual art (Contemporary and historical background

Arabian Cinema- This is the cinema of the Arab world and the Arabic language is used to act the films and also in the theatres. There is an increase in the demand for Arab films worldwide. The films from the Arab countries e.g. Syria, Algeria and Tunisia are becoming common in the local film festivals. Three quarters of all the Arabic films are produced in Egypt. Intellectual and cultural heritage of the Arabs can be said to have been derived from the Arabic language. The Islamic civilization and contemporary art which has been advocated by the Muslim scholars can be said to come from God and the Holy Quran.

2.7 Arabic language

2.7.1 Definition

A language can be said to be a system of vocal symbols that is used for human contact and it is associated with the relationship between the voice tags and its significance relationship that it is agreed upon. Arabic is the language used to speak by the nationals of the Arab countries. It was revealed to prophet Mohamed through the holy Quran. it is one of the Semitic languages and is closely related top Hebrew and Aramaic. The documentation of the language began with the rise in Islam and the Quran is written in Arabic. The Semitic languages are characterized by their reliance on remodeling i.e. changing the form of the words by replacing the vowels. The words in the dictionary are all consonants from where other words are derived. E.g. from the word ktb (write), words like kitab which means book and maktaba which means library can be derived. There are several sounds in the Arabic language that are not found in the English language. Arabic omits the glottal stop or represents it with a single quote (‘) in transliterations. Velars (words produced when the tongue touches the soft palate of the mouth) k in the English language is transliterated as kh. The language has different dialects from various countries and traditions. The everyday spoken dialect is different from the Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) which is used by the media and the educated Arabs. The spoken Arabic is different from the written language. The later is more formal and colloquial. There are various English words that have been derived from the Arabic but it is through other languages e.g. Spanish. Some of these words are sugar from ‘sukkar’ and cotton from ‘qutn’. The more direct words are algebra, alcohol and zenith. (Salloum, 1996). There are about 195 million people who speak Arabic as their first language and more than 35 million others speaking it as the second language.

2.7.2 Status

Arabic is the symbol of Islam and it is the language of the Quran. In the Arab world, it is the language used to communicate with the family members, with friends, in the market place and when addressing government officials. It is also used to speak to the people of knowledge. (Taymiyyah, 2008). Arabic has become a part of Islam and hence knowing the language has become an obligatory duty in the Muslim world. It has a long history going back to 1600 years ago. Apart from being the language of the Quran, it is also used as the language of literature, and science. It has performed these tasks throughout history and it has given attention and care to the people. Its teaching remains teacher centered and the teachers aim at teaching the textbooks only while overlooking the importance of curriculum alignment to assessment and instructions. There is therefore a need to write a national standard for Arabic and also establishment of teacher colleges that will aim at offering quality training that will be backed up by intensive sound research and funding. The language is viewed as sacred to the Muslims because the Quran was revealed to Mohamed in Arabic (Dowling, 2009)

It is used as a Job Language- language is a tool of communication and can be said to be the pot of a culture. It has been used as a tool of communication between the past and the present. It is used as a way to express ones joys, pains and hopes. It is also used as a means of discussion and persuasion. It is used as a way of leisure by reading written materials and hence benefiting from the experiences of others. It also plays a very important role in the field of thinking. (Quail, 1983)

Function of the language to the society.-The language is responsible for saving the cultural heritage and the social traditions of a group of people from generation to generation. Arabic is a strong, strict and specific language that has become one of the languages in which the documents of the United Nations are written from.

2.7.3 Challenges facing Arabic

Arabic is a difficult language especially for English speakers to grasp. This is because of the high guttural sounds as compared to Roman and German languages. The sounds in Arabic are different and it has only two verb tenses and few grammar rules that one can master. When written, it moves from right to left. Though the written Arabic is standardized, there exist many variations in the local spoken dialects. The Arabic language is facing a threat from the e learned people especially those who obtained their degrees from foreign countries. These people claim that the language itself does not help them to express what they feel; say or what is going on in the human mind. They claim that it does not express their thinking. The language is facing a challenge from the weak loyal people to the language and the university professors working in the United States and in Europe. These professors has an opportunity to reduce the alienation of the language but instead when they come back home, they clash the bitter reality (Omari, 1990)

2.7.4 Effects of Arabic Language.

Arabic is a language that should be here to stay. It is a language that involves the Muslims and matters of their religion which are both spoken and written. It is used to read the Quran because it is written in Arabic. Arabic is an important language in the life of the Muslim as they use it to translate and interpret the Quran and also in the prayers that are performed five times a day. Since the Koran is read by all Muslims regardless of age and sex, Arabic therefore is a language that has to be learnt by all Muslims male or female, young or old. It is also the language of Hadith. Arabic language is developing so rapidly. This has been brought about by many factors and reasons. Written and audiovisual mass media has contributed to the widespread of this language. But this language has yielded to the power of information instead of yielding to the power of its speakers. A language is strengthened when its community becomes stronger but in this historical period, the status of the Arab and Islamic Ummah does not give it chances of prominence and the chances of mustering the sinews of power. This is making the Arabic language weak and thus unable to assert its existence, unable to control the flow of information, or to separate itself from the sphere of influence (In focus, 2010). The Arabic language is generally deteriorating. Many people in the 19th century called for people to stick to the correctness of the language. Many authors published books that they called Journalese with an aim of correcting errors, the erroneous writing styles and in a bid to try and rehabilitate Arabic. There are many factors that led to the deterioration of Arabic and to the domination of the local colloquial language. In all this, the Arabic can be seen to have been ushered into an era of widespread information and while it is still suffering from an immune deficiency. This has resulted into widespread invasion of the standard language or the language of information by the colloquial languages and this has resulted in the rise of a third hybrid language and this has spread within a very short time to the whole of the Arab world. In the Quran there are many words which have been borrowed from the Greeks, Turkey Persians, and Hindi. Words like straight are borrowed from the Greek, Ruby from Persian, Blessed from Hindu and Alkstas from Turkey (Nayef, 1996). But the Arabic language has been greatly affected from the mid 19th century especially due to the translation of the scientific expressions into Arabic. The translators created and sculptured some new words which became part of the Arabic language (Zidane 1998). In his book, Zidane has stated that there are hundreds of words that have been borrowed from other languages. But he goes on to say that the Arabs should not necessary take these words but should only take what they want

2.7.5 Communication

Influence of the Arabic language by other languages.

Arabic has been influenced by other languages through interaction and this has affected communication. Language interacts and is influenced by many factors just like the way organisms interact and influence each other. Languages borrow from each other and Arabic is not exceptional. Though many English words have been borrowed from the Arabic language, Arabic has also borrowed some words from other languages. This is one effect of globalization in that it aims at achieving one global language.

Chapter 3. Globalization

3.1. What does globalization mean?

This can be described as a new world order that is based on reason-mail and on the information revolution which is based on information without regarding the systems and civilizations, cultures, values, and other differences either geographical or political boundaries that exist in the world (Saad, 1978)

Globalization can be defined in various ways. It has had varied definitions from the beginnings of the nineties with some locking in economic matters and some have established in all forms of globalization definition. There are those who define globalization as the free movement of goods and services, information, labor and capital across national, international and regional borders (Saad, 1978). Dr Abdel-Sabour Shahin describes globalization as the cultural direction of the movement towards the rule of one system which is led by a single force. This is to mean attracting political and economic activity of the world through the will of the center of one of the centers of power and usually the United States (Shahin). From these definitions, we can see the impact of globalization on sectors like political, economic and social, education, culture and communication.

3.2. Intellectual Invasion

This is whereby the culture and the way of thinking of a certain group of people is influenced by the culture and way of thinking of another group. There are many debates on whether culture invasion is beneficial or harmful.

3.3. The power of globalization

Globalization is powerful tool that is associated with worldwide increase in the living standards and in the reduction of poverty. Through globalization, there has been an expansion of the free markets and an increase in the world trade. This has accelerated economic growth and led to the reduction of poverty. It has led to spread of democracy and job creation and hence people have better well paying jobs. It simply keeps the world alive and moving

3.4 Stages of emergence of globalization

These can be divided into 3 phases. The start up phase, regional phase and the cosmic phase of globalization.

Start up phase- this began immediately after the Second World War and was as a result of the United States Marshall plan. This plan aimed at reconstructing Western Europe.

Regional phase- This phase began with the beginning of the second half of 1950s. It was attained through establishment of a common market based on the Treaty of Rome.

Cosmic phase- This is a phase of globalization that began in 1985 after the political and economical collapse of the Soviet Union followed by the fall of the Berlin wall in 1989 and after the second Gulf war which resulted in the liberation of Kuwait in 1991. America became the only super power in the world (Mohammed Ali, 1995).

While scientists were differing on the true definition of globalization, it was taking its shape within the 3 phases. The industrial revolution of the 18th century led to increase in production of the good in Europe which led to an increase in the search for new markets. The markets were found in the colonies that had been established in America, Asia and Africa. This was the start up phase of globalization. The second globalization was achieved through the liberalization of trade. (Mohammad, 1997)

3.5 The advantages and disadvantages of globalization

Some of the advantages of globalization include:

Liberation of the trade markets and capital.

It creates opportunities for worldwide economic growth

It increases domestic production at the global level.

It facilitates deployment of modern technology and access to information globally.

It creates stability in the world and it aims at uniting the world through trade.

The disadvantages of globalization include

America has dominated the majority of the world economy.

Globalization has led to the destruction of national identities and the national cultures of people.

It has led to the rich countries being richer while the vulnerable poor countries continue to be poor.(Mohammad, 1997)

Chapter 4: Arabic culture and globalization

4.1 Globalizations vs. culture

After the above discussion, it may appear as if globalization has influenced all aspects of the society including religions like Islam and languages like Arabic. Languages are greatly influenced and are very vulnerable to globalization. Most of the Arab world and the Islamic nations are turning towards things Western. This will definitely affect Arab culture and the Arabic language. The only thing that will stand this effect is the Holy Koran which is not vulnerable because it is kept by God

4.2 Outcome of intellectual invasion in the Arab culture

The invasion of the Arabic culture has been occasioned by the modern technology and science. Though the Arabic is honored by the Almighty God and the Quran, most sciences are found in other languages. This has led to most Arabic students going into foreign countries where they are taught using other languages rather than Arabic. This intellectual invasion has led to other factors like impending the growth of creativity in the Arabic, the difficulty of spreading the scientific culture to those who do not have any other language other than Arabic and the freeze of the Arabic language. (Karim, 1989).

This has lead also to the proliferation of some foreign words into the Arabic culture. The children being born have adopted an English tone in their tongue and are using English very commonly. This can be seen in the way that they answer phone calls with the word Hello, Okay and Bye. The Arabic language has incorporated these English words in their daily life, in speeches, in the media, education and in employment. There has also been an upsurge in the consumer goods, food and clothing that are westernized. The music industry in the Arab world has also been greatly influenced by the western culture. (Galal, 1999). Dr Abdel concludes that the third world do not realize the extent that globalization impacts and they are busy setting up language schools to change the local tongues of the people and in doing this, they are actually fighting the local languages.(Shahin). In the Arab world, this is can be seen as sabotage to the Arabic language because the curriculum being developed favors English language (Shahin). This can be seen from a study carried out by Mohammed Ali Mullah who researched on the use of Arabic and Arabic on Arabic bilinguals living in the United States. The study concluded that most of the Arabs in the United States use English more than Arabic. The students preferred to use English to write their research papers and the research found out that English won by 87% while Arabic just managed 13%. This shows how the Arabic language is deteriorating.

CHAPTER 5. How can we protect our Arabic culture and language.

There is need to initiate a world wide interest in the Arabic language and enactment of laws that will protect the Arab culture from being eroded. We should strive to focus on the different levels of Arabic language education which should be incorporated in the curriculums from the early years. The schools should be taught in Arabic and not any other language. We should not see foreign languages as a development and therefore we should stop competing on knowing them. There should be laws that prevent writing of foreign names in shops. Intensive research should be carried out that focus how globalization has impacted on the Arabic culture. This can help in knowing how deep we have gone and consequently preventing any deeper sinking. The Arabic media should be controlled to prevent it from publicizing the western culture so much. There should be laws that promote the clothing in the Arab worlds and which discourage western clothing from influencing the same. The artists should be controlled to prevent them from influencing the young generation of Arabs with their Western Arabic songs and lyrics.

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