By Kamal Salibi
This present day Lebanon is among the world's so much divided nations - 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 awareness of universal id. How can this be? The Lebanese historian Kamal S. Salibi examines, within the gentle of contemporary scholarship, the historic myths on which his country's warring groups have established their conflicting visions of the Lebanese country. The Lebanese have regularly lacked a typical imaginative and prescient in their earlier. From the start Muslims and Christians have disagreed essentially over their country's historic legitimacy: Christians mainly 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 video game, which at a deeper point contains archaic loyalties and tribal rivalries. yet Lebanon can't manage to pay for those conflicting visions whether it is to strengthen and continue a feeling of political group. during his vigorous exposition, Salibi bargains a big reinterpretation of Lebanese historical past and offers insights into the dynamic of Lebanon's contemporary clash. He additionally offers an account of the way the photographs of groups which underlie smooth nationalism are created
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Additional resources for A House of Many Mansions: History of Lebanon Reconsidered
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. In this respect, he was the pre-eminent hero of historical Arabism, and they had to accept him as such. of the Arabs which was no less important a part of the national history: they pointed out that many of the Arabs of pre-Islamic times - most notably, the Ghassan Arabs of Syria - were Christian.
Therefore, wherever Arabs chose to be autonomous or independent of the universal Islamic rule without appearing to be rebels, they had to justify their political dissidence by opting for sectarian interpretations of Islam - Kharijite or Shiite - which challenged the established Sunnite, or orthodox interpretation represented by the universal State of Islam. Thus, for example, the tribes of Oman justified their frequently achieved independence from the established Islamic state by becoming Ibadi Kharijites, while those of THE CONFIDENCE CAME 41 the northern Yemen highlands did the same by becoming Shiites of the Zaydi sect.
Set patterns of behaviour can then remain in operation, functioning in one way or another in the name of the ideal or under its cover. Thus the ideal, whose original purpose was the remodelling of a given society according to new precepts or a new vision, with a view to the common good, is transformed into a false witness to the obstinate persistence of that society in traditional ways. Should it happen to have the required minimum of popular appeal, the ideal then can also become the stock-in-trade of political opportunists and demagogues who make use of it to achieve devious ends.
A House of Many Mansions: History of Lebanon Reconsidered by Kamal Salibi