Term Paper: Arab Transnationalism in History

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Arab Transnationalism

The Arab World has extended its sphere of influence over other territories from around the world throughout history and there are a series of examples demonstrating this. Many countries today contain evidence concerning Arab influences and much of the political culture in the Arab world has been made possible as a result of transnational movements established by Arabs across time. When taking into account several Arab communities and the connections that one might find with other areas in their vicinity, it becomes clear that there is more to the matter and that Arabs have actually played an important role in shaping thinking in a series of states that they interacted with.

Setting the stage

People are typically inclined to consider that the Persian Gulf is little more than a passageway connecting Europe to Asia. Individuals basically believe that this is the place that enabled European and Asian cultures to interact and that represented a meeting point for many Europeans and Asians. Countries near the Persian Gulf are primarily similar as a result of the fact that they all have a complex history of wanting to interact with people and communities that were not in their immediate vicinity. The fact that the gulf has been a significant waterway ever since ancient times has made it possible for people living next to it to interact with a series of peoples and to learn more concerning the background of these respective individuals.

a.) Pakistan

Pakistan is one of the states displaying Arab transnationalism reaching beyond Arab states. Even with the fact that the country is filled with Muslims, it would be wrong for someone to refer to it as being an Arab state. Pakistan actually stands as proof regarding how transnationalism influenced Arab individuals to extend their activities and businesses outside national borders.

b.) Close relationship between Arab states

Arab states have managed to stay together because the numerous similarities between them, taking into account that most people there are Arabs and Sunni Muslims. "Important distinctions exist, however, among the five countries. Bahrain is an island with historical connections to the Persian Empire. Kuwait is separated from the others by Saudi Arabia. In Oman high mountain ranges effectively cut off the country's hinterland from the rest of the region. Moreover, various tribal loyalties throughout the region are frequently divisive and are exacerbated by religious differences that involve the major sects of Islam -- Sunni and Shia --and the smaller Kharijite sect as well as Muslim legal procedures" (Persian Gulf States -- HISTORY).

III. Geographic position

The fact that the Persian Gulf is located between two of the most important rivers in the Ancient World is significant because it made it possible for the East to be connected with the West. Individuals had a food surplus as a consequence of the fact that lands were very fertile in the area and thus came to have time to perform a series of other activities. Civilizations developed rapidly in the area, but the fact that people there needed access to forested lands in order to make permanent buildings and minerals in order to make metals influenced them to go abroad in search of these resources. Individuals in the Persian Gulf area started to trade their food for other resources ever since ancient times, thus making it possible for transnationalism to thrive in the area.

IV. Islam

a.) Arab transnationalism before Muhammad (the founder of Islam)

Islam is probably one of the most powerful forces responsible for amplifying Arab transnationalism and this is reflected by the numerous nations that came to express appreciation toward Islam as a consequence of the fact that Muslims extended their sphere of influence across their borders. Even with the fact that trasnationalism experienced much progress during the early years of Islam, commercial connections between South and South-East Asia and the Arab nations existed before Muhammad. His home city, Mecca, was actually an important point on the route of trading networks that transported diverse items coming from South Arabian ports to Levant.

b.) Muslim-Asian relations

Muslims developed rapidly in years following Muhammad's death and began an expansionist strategy meant to spread their religious ideology. As previously mentioned, Pakistan is among the countries that stand as proof that Arab transnationalism was particularly successful. "While the theme of transnational Islam in Asia most readily brings to mind recent events in countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia, or networks and movements such as Al-Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah and the Taliban, transnational Islamic influences in South and Southeast Asia have a long and complex history dating back hundreds of years" (Mandaville 3).

c.) Territories pervaded by Islamic though and Arab transationalism

Muslims provided nations in East Africa, South, and South-East Asia with the opportunity to use their territory as a route for transporting their merchandise. They actually developed transport means intended to assist merchants in successfully carrying their items across Arabian territory and even further. "Although some of the societies encompassed within this mini-world system, such as parts of present-day Malaysia and Indonesia, took several hundred years to embrace the religion, the centrality of Muslim traders and scholars within these networks ensured that Islam served from early on as an important form of transnational symbolic "currency" (Mandaville 4).

d.) Arab thoughts on globalization

In contrast to how most people would be inclined to think, Arabs were actually reluctant to have other cultures familiar with their cultural values. Many Arabs warned against selling documents to foreigners because they feared that these people would translate their texts and would eventually become acquainted with their way of life. This makes it possible for people to understand that Arabs were enthusiastic about promoting their cultural values, but that they only did so in situation when they knew that this would benefit Arabs and Muslims directly. "During the momentous century or so following Muhammad's death, Islam spread outwards from the land of its origins with an unstoppable vitality that exceeded even that of imperial Rome" (Connected Worlds History in Transnational Perspective 240). Arabs were thus passionate about learning from other cultures and hesitant about allowing their ideas to pervade other communities.

VI. Ibn Battuta's travels

Abu Abdullah Ibn Battuta was born in 1304 in Tangiers and the fact that he was located in an area dominated by Islam enabled him to travel across Islamic borders with little to no limitation. This proved to be essential when considering his later travels, as he learnt a great deal of information as a result of his relationship with Islam and was practically provided with the opportunity to express his position to the fullest. He left his home when he was 21 with the purpose of making a pilgrimage to Mecca. His journey took 3000 miles and lasted for eight to nine months during which he interacted with people belonging to a series of cultures and during which he came to acknowledge the importance of having an open mind and being ready to accumulate new information rapidly.

It was a year consequent to his arrival in Mecca, in 1926, that Ibn Battuta embarked on a journey covering parts of Asia and Africa. The moment when he arrived in Baghdad he realized the great power of Islam by observing how conquering Mongols had been conquered themselves as a result of taking in Islamic thought and becoming Muslims. This trip provided him with important information concerning how other nations lived and with regard to the attitudes that some people employed toward Arabs. The fact that he was a Muslim played a very important role in influencing others to believe that it was in their best interest to treat him with kindness, regardless of his personal beliefs.

Ibn Battuta was one of the most notable Muslim explorers is it is largely because of him that Arabs came to have a better understanding of other communities. Even with the fact that he observed other people perform controversial activities, he did not hesitate to emphasize that he was dedicated to maintaining his beliefs. He practically accepted that others behaved in disagreement with his cultural values because he acknowledged that cultures differ and that this is actually what is intriguing about being an explorer.

Ibn Battuta's travels through Anatolia further contributed to his understanding of communities that clashed with Muslim thinking. The fact that he was renowned as a scholar upgraded his image when regarding things from the perspective of Islamic leaders that he interacted with. They were enthusiastic about presenting him with their cultural values and with supporting his constant search for knowledge.

One can actually say that Arab transnationalism is owed to people like Ibn Battuta, taking into account that he created strong connections between cultures that he interacted with and Islam. "The fundamental change that has increased transnational activism is the growth of a stratum of individuals who travel regularly, read foreign books and journals, and become involved in networks of transactions abroad" (Ahmed & Sonn 13). These people are drawn in by a series of concepts that… [END OF PREVIEW]

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