Socio-cultural history of Arabic Culture
The Arabic culture is believed to have originated alongside Sabaens in the Arabian Peninsula. The culture is considered to be closely related to the Semitic culture. The Arabs were originally comprised of three communities and this included the Armenians, Akkadians, and the Canaanites.
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They moved to the “Near East “about four thousand years ago though they later lost prominence in the region due to various conflicts and political chaos. Aramaic language was the central language in the Near East but was later replaced by Greek following Alexander III’s conquest. The three Arabic communities were further divided into nomadic and sedentary Arabs.
The nomadic Arabs were referred to as Bedouins and lived in the arid areas while the sedentary Arabs settled in areas with adequate resources that could allow them to live as a community. The Arabs were thus composed of small and traditional ethnic groups and this led to little economic and martial prominence (UNESCO, 1984).
The community concentrated in herding and trading and did not take pleasure in power or prosperity. Proliferation of the Arabs started when their ethnic groups began to coalesce and this caused a decline among the Greek Seleucids and the Sabaeans.
The culture faced another decline during the Byzantine Empire when Judaism and Christianity emerged. The two religions existed along with the Bedouin religion of the Arabic culture. The religion was polytheistic and worshipped Allah as their God (UNESCO, 1984).
The culture proliferated once again during the first millennium when Bedouin religion and political power grew to remarkable heights. During this time, Mecca was founded as the community’s holy centre and Arabic became the basic language in the region. Arabic poems as well as literature became popular and the idea of “manliness”, or “Muru’a” was established to characterize the patriarchic Arabian community.
After a while, the culture rose again and this time the proliferation was characterized by the emergence of Prophet Muhammad and the rise of Islam. It is this prominence that has maintained and solidified the current Arabian culture (UNESCO, 1984).
Challenges facing the Arabic culture in the US
While the Arabs in America enjoy equal rights as enshrined in the federal constitution, some of them face prejudice that has infringed upon these fundamental rights. According to Boosahda, “what has been happening to Muslims, Middle Easterners, and South Asians in the United States in the wake of September 11 is a process of ostracism from the American community” (Boosahda, 2004).
The effect of these is that Arab Americans are seen as perpetual foreigners and are considered as being faithful to their mother land rather than to the United states of America. Such opinions when converted into deeds are clear examples of discrimination against the Arabs in America. Odious words and actions by the general public are examples of how such actions play a major role in “de-Americanizing” the Arabic populace in America.
For instance, in the United States when Arabs are injured in a hate crime, they are told to “go back to their country.” This means that the injured parties, in this case, the Arabs, “don’t belong to the United States” (Boosahda, 2004).A mosque in America is seen as an Anti- American symbol.
Arabs in America are treated as suspects and this is based on the belief that their race, customs and religion are good indicators that the community is composed of potential criminals. There are many stories of Arabs in America being recognized as suspects and this is unfair since in most cases only their physical features and way of dressing are used with no physical evidence.
The community has been highly stigmatized and isolated and is currently referred to as “the terrorist group” (Boosahda, 2004). During this time, all the incidents of the Arab community were stopped and the Arabs were cross examined and confined at airports.
Official government principles in the U.S are designed in such a way that they affect the legal rights of Arab Americans. When Arab Americans are detained, the American judges often do not accept financial bonds and if they do, they set this at very high figures than for American detainees.
Prejudice concerning domestic matters related to the Arab culture has increased in America and this has affected their medication. According to Asward, “there has been a disturbing tendency in U.S. government’s public discourse to consider Arabs as less deserving of normal courtesies than other ethnic or religious groups” (Aswad, 1996).
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The government of the United States has established an immigration act and that is made harass the Arabs in the nation. The corpus requires that all immigrants in the nation register with the regime and present their interrogations.
However, when Arabs turned up in good faith, they were taken into custody and jailed for a long period. While in custody, the Arabs were treated in a harsh and cruel manner though they had committed no crime whatsoever.
The discerning enforcement of current immigration laws in America is a good example of government sanctioned infringement of the rights of persons from the Arabic background.
In other situations, the American regime has exclusively depended upon ambiguous and cruel immigration rules in opposition to the Arab community. Chief among these is the rule that Arab immigrants report to the INS of any adjustments in address within ten days of migrating.
Arabs in America also suffer from workplace discrimination. The aggravation of Arab Americans at work has become an act of nationalism for most of their co-workers.
The kinds of comments and nicknames given to the Arabs have become quite intimidating. Arabs in the nation are referred to as “terrorists and suicide bombers” (Aswad, 1996). Children of Arabic culture suffer from increased incidents of prejudice due to the anti-Arab rhetoric on the media. To these children, anti-Arab jokes and nicknames are a major problem.
Employers in America discriminate against Arabs for wearing the Hijab. According to Asward, “When women wear this external symbol of faith, they consider their faith intensely private and will never discuss it unless someone asks them something. When they walk into interviews, the literally interviewers’ jaws drop. They are excited on the phone, but in person they lose the energy” (Aswad, 1996).
Arabic women, therefore, face religious bias on wearing headscarfs. The issue of the Hijab is also realized in American schools and many girl students are suspended for putting on the scarf. American school officials claim that the headscarf is against the schools mode of dressing that prohibits caps, bandanas and hoods inside any academic institution (Sabry, 2011).
Applying the above information to what I learned from my experiences
The three experiences have allowed me to understand and respect the Arabic culture. I can say that my experience from the cultural immersion activities was enlightening.
I learned a lot from the experiences and am grateful to have encountered different ideologies to broaden my mindset of international views. The experiences have taught me to be neutral to many views, so that I am not a one minded individual who only focuses on his cultural ways to make decisions.
Women in the Arabic culture are treated like second class citizens and have to cover their bodies’ every time. The experiences have allowed me to have a different perspective of Arabic women and how they can express their emotions and desires regardless of the Koran law.
Overall my knowledge gained through the experiences has been positive, though this was negative and frustrating for the first few months in the country. I have learned to become patient and understanding because I know this will enlighten my mind and views of the Arab culture, which I can carry with me to America and educate the younger generation.
I have learned that we are all humans and should comingle with one another regardless of religious or custom beliefs. The experiences prove that in any culture rules are made to be broken by the influences surrounding them.
I am privileged to have the opportunity to experience the Arabic culture first hand both professionally and informally. It seems as if the culture is changing gradually to fit into the international scene from my experience.
Ways I can be more responsive to the Arabic culture in academic Institutions
Teachers should try to correct cultural differences among all ethnic groups in America by creating opportunities in academic institutions where the learners discover cultural issues among each ethnic group.
The objective of this is to make learners understand better the contributions of every culture in the modern life.This bring about a constructive change in attitude and actions and uphold greater respect for learners of Arab culture and a better understanding of the community (Sabry, 2011).
The issues facing the Arab community in the United States can be solved by educating learners that personal identification is important and the emotions of other people are significant and need to be treasured and cherished. Tutors can assist children in neutralizing the opinions of the Arab culture that they obtain from their relatives and friends.
This can be achieved by offering them an extensive understanding of social, civil and chronological truth of the Arab world. This can also be attained by training children the techniques of critical reasoning to identify typecasts related to Arabs and to evaluate the rhetoric behind government heads and the media.
It is important to incorporate reading material on the Arab culture into all classes in academic institutions including literature and geography among others.
Textbooks and classroom resources, free from bias, are crucial in promoting a better understanding of the Arab culture.
Instructors are encouraged to critically evaluate textbooks and other classroom resources all through the school syllabus to recognize bias and to make sure that Arabs are represented justly and in comparison with other cultures and civilizations in the nation (Sabry, 2011). People thus need to be more sensitive to the Arabic background.
Aswad, C. (1996). Family and gender among American Muslims: issues facing Middle Eastern immigrants and their descendants. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.
Boosahda, E. (2004).Arab-American faces and voices: the origins of an immigrant community. Austin: Univ. of Texas Press.
Sabry, T. (2011). Arab Cultural Studies: Mapping the Field. New York: Tauris & Company Ltd.
UNESCO. (1984). Historical and socio-cultural relations between Black Africa and the Arab world, from 1935 to the present. Paris: University of Michigan.