By Kamal Salibi
This day Lebanon is without doubt one of the world's such a lot divided international locations - if it is still a rustic in any respect. yet sarcastically the faction-ridden Lebanese, either Christians and Muslims, have by no means proven a keener attention of universal identification. How can this be? The Lebanese historian Kamal S. Salibi examines, within the mild of contemporary scholarship, the historic myths on which his country's warring groups have dependent their conflicting visions of the Lebanese country. The Lebanese have continually lacked a typical imaginative and prescient in their previous. From the start Muslims and Christians have disagreed essentially over their country's historic legitimacy: Christians quite often have affirmed it, Muslims have tended to stress Lebanon's position in a broader Arab heritage. either teams have used nationalist principles in a harmful online game, which at a deeper point contains archaic loyalties and tribal rivalries. yet Lebanon can't have the funds for those conflicting visions whether it is to improve and keep a feeling of political neighborhood. during his vigorous exposition, Salibi deals an incredible reinterpretation of Lebanese historical past and gives insights into the dynamic of Lebanon's contemporary clash. He additionally provides an account of the way the photographs of groups which underlie glossy nationalism are created.
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Additional resources for A House of Many Mansions
No one denied that the other four countries were equally artificial; 32 A HOUSE OF MANY MANSIONS the point lay elsewhere. Among the Syrians, Iraqis, Transjordanians and Palestinian Arabs, no one seriously advanced a thesis in support of the national validity of the given country. Among the Lebanese, however, there were those who did, which amounted to a serious aberration, and one which could not be allowed to pass. By refusing to accept the national validity of their given countries as a matter of Arab nationalist principle, the other Arabs, paradoxically, did manage in time to secure an accepted legitimacy for these countries as states.
In Syria there was the example of the Christians which the Muslims could now follow. Moreover, leading Syrian cities such as Beirut, Damascus and Aleppo already had the prerequisite degree of social development to encourage the growth of nationalism, as well as an evolving and politically ambitious class of Muslim city notables who were willing to drop old ideas and adopt new ones, and so set the example for others. While the Ottoman empire lasted, Arab nationalism among the Muslims of Syria remained for the most part the preserve of these city notables, and the mainly Sunnite intellectual circles with which they were associated.
Arab nationalism, as it came to exist in the Arab world after the first world war, was more of a romantic ideal than a political movement with clear precepts and a set programme. Moreover, it meant different things to its Muslim and Christian adherents. Although Muslim Arab nationalists, usually with great sincerity, spoke of Arabism a s being secular, they could not dissociate it from Islam: if for no other reason, because Arab history is difficult to dissociate from Islamic history. The Christian view of Arabism could only be secular; but the Christian Arab nationalists could not deny that the central fact of Arab history was the mission of Muhammad, who was not only the F'rophet of Islam but also the first leader to give the Arabs political unity under its religious and political banner.