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Arab Modernism, the Rise of Fundamentalism | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Dubai – Did the Arabic modernism fail, leading to the rise of religious fundamentalism?

People who discuss the failure of the Arabic modernism focus on the fake representations of it and not on its original thoughts. They don’t consider its representatives, proposals, and achievements that have changed the form of society and Arab state including education, establishment of universities, protection of women’s rights and labor, political reform, and setting constitutions…

All these achievements cannot be denied because they were major proposals among the representatives of renaissance or Arabic modernism.

First, we should set our understanding for the “Arabic modernism”, which we see as efforts and ways that overtake the cultural, intellectual, and political tradition before the 19th century, including many fields from politics to sociology, literature, journalism and media.

Modernism cannot shoulder the mistakes of military, right-winged, or rebellion regimes that chant the slogans of renaissance and unity while failing in fulfilling their promises and sticking to losing battles…which means that the failure hit those regimes and not “the modernism”.

The wrong dating of Islamic awakening

Many have written that the “Islamic Awakening” emerged from the feeling of Arab defeats particularly against the Israeli enemy in 1967, which was considered a failure of promises of Arab liberalism and unity.

In fact, many Islamic movements were restricted after June 1967 and were transformed into radical armed factions in the end of seventies. But, it can be said that these radical groups were tied to the success of the Islamic revolution in Iran and to the anger that emerged after the inking of peace accords with Israel.

However, the June’s defeat shook the Left-winged movements and its rising ideas in the region. Other parties chose the Islamic trend and collected the Arabic left and communist concepts to transform them into Islamic ones.

It is worth noting, that the Baath invasion of Kuwait in 1990 represented another heavy defeat that broke the national Arabic ideology and led to the emergence of extremist organizations like Al-Qaeda.

However, the ascension of Islamic intellect and its social and violent existence appeared long before the defeat of June; this ascension started with the establishment of the Muslims Brotherhood’s organization in 1927.

Moreover, many platforms defended the fundamental intellect since after the fall of the Ottoman Empire in 1924, and confronted the modern ideas and mind.

Arabic modernism and wrong remarks

The Arabic modernism handled the failure of the revolutionary governments which ruled since the fifties of the past decades in Egypt, Damascus, and Iraq and sought to legitimize a communist identity to control the authority and focus of promises of liberation after the Second World War; these governments succeeded in achieving the nation’s independence, but failed in achieving the independence of their citizens. It is worth mentioning that in their first phase, these governments allied with the Muslim Brotherhood till their first confrontation in 1954.

Yet, accusing the failure of Arab modernism of contributing to the rise or fundamental intellect certainly neglects the intellectual base of fundamentalism and its opposition for the Westernization of Arab communities since their beginnings.