Customer Reviews for

Mirror of the Arab World: Lebanon in Conflict

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 1, 2008

    So why the conflict?

    After reading A Mirror of the Arab World the Middle East conflict is a bit more understandable. Reading just one book is not enough, but it's a lot better than going with the sound bites from the media or statements from the concerned parties. Sandra Mackey has written a number of books on the Middle East and this one was recommended to me. A few quotes from the first part of the book lay the foundation to understand the conflicts in Lebanon and in a larger sense the Arab world. *The definition of family in Arab culture is not nuclear or even extended. The concept of ahl (kin) means a first cousin is like a brother and a distant cousin is an integral part of the total family, regardless of gaps in wealth, education, and social status. This potent sense of family has cast societies into an amalgam of primordial allegiances governed by the most Arab of utterances: ¿My brother and I against my cousin, my cousin and I against the alien.¿ Pg 18. * In terms of the contemporary Arab world, the largest tribe in the metaphorical sense is housed in Islam. Within it there are sub tribes composed of the orthodox and the dissenters. In the first decade of the twenty-first century, the sectarian split between the orthodox Sunnis and the dissenting Shia is the most poisonous divide among the Arabs from Iraq in the east to Lebanon in the west. Knowledge of the origins of each of these sects, their differing theologies, their attitudes toward authority, their differing definitions of the nation-state, and the their means of pursuing political power is essential to understanding the mounting tensions within Islam that are threatening to rip the world of the Arabs apart. Pg 20. Just getting a grasp on the importance of the family in the Arab world overlaid with the sectarian split between the Sunnis and the Shia helps get the Western reader (mind) better oriented to what's going on.

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    Posted December 5, 2010

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