Arab nation strives to achieve renaissance/ Sobhi Ghandour

All the efforts made in the past and present to restore the status of the Arab nation, which has witnessed a series of deteriorations and failures on many fronts over the past three decades, are highly appreciated and welcome.

Despite these efforts and all the important writings about the importance of the Arab renaissance project, the status of the Arab has continued to deteriorate. What's worse is that the renaissance project as yet has neither passed the stage of intellectual theorizing nor resulted in practical implementation.

Perhaps this should not just be attributed to the many challenges and poor conditions, but also to Arab disagreement on the intellectual grounds of this desired project. Most importantly, it is the lack of sound regulatory frameworks needed for achieving the project and following its implementation that is the problem.

Another possible obstacle is the dominance of politics over intellectual and organizational dimensions in the efforts aimed at realizing an Arab renaissance.

The most important question, which is often overlooked, is the “how”, whereas the focus tends to be on questions like where, what and why, none of which change the Arab status.

This criticism does not apply to the book released recently by the Centre for Arab Unity Studies in Beirut.

The last chapter of The Arab Renaissance Project answers the question of the “how”, with ideas about practical mechanisms through which the renaissance project can be achieved. This effort is highly appreciated.


Yet, it would be better if the writer separated the intellectual, political and regulatory aspects so as to arrive at a common intellectual ground, so that we could deal later with the political aspects according to different conditions and places.

How valuable it would be if the writer designated a chapter on the new Arab generation, which should be the focus of any renaissance project. Until change for the better takes place, the bet will always be on the younger generations and their effective role in forging the future of their nation.

As Arabs, the question arises: What is the new Arab generation that we hope will bring about change?

The "old generation" in any society is the reservoir of knowledge and experience from which the new generation takes the ideas they need to build on their work. Thus, the old generation becomes responsible for drafting and formulating ideology, while the new generation becomes responsible for the work and action needed to achieve the desired goals and objectives.

There is an inevitable association between ideology and action in any process of change, and it is the common responsibility of all generations.

The problem now is that most of the old generation still believes in the weak-minded ideas they inherited, which were responsible for the deterioration of Arab societies and political, social and cultural backwardness.

Unfortunately, the current concepts in Arab societies contribute significantly to shaping the ideology of the younger generation and guiding them.

Therefore, we see Arab youth divided and torn between two extreme directions — extremism represented in their apathy and pessimism, and extremism manifested in various sectarian and sectionalist forms, some of which permit violence.

It is very important for us to answer the question: How can we rise again and restore our status?

It is our responsibility and duty to reform the new Arab generation in order to build a comprehensive Arab renaissance and a better future.

It is true that each Arab country has its own characteristics and personality,, yet there are common problems shared by the various countries of the Arab nation which reflect negatively on these national characteristics.

Therefore, there is now an urgent need for Arabs to formulate a common Arab position on the nation's renaissance project, as there is a need to have a unified national position within each country. The talk about the need for an "Arab renaissance" means that Arabs are one nation spread across several countries, which form one integral geographic and cultural entity.

The Arab entity is made up of integrated and correlated units, as Arabism does not exclude or contradict family, tribal, national, religious, and ethnic affiliations.

Nationalism is an expression associated with the issue of identity. It means belonging to a group, country or nation. It does not mean there is only one political or ruling system or religion.


It is wrong, for example, to talk about "national ideology" versus "religious ideology". It would be better to discuss "secular ideology" versus "religious ideology".

Hence, Arabism is the more accurate and comprehensive term to use when discussing Arab nationalism in order to avoid mixing the common cultural identity with various methodologies and ideologies within the Arab thinking or amid Arab intellectuals. Also, it is important to differentiate between the importance of religion's role in society, and implicating it in the state's duties and authorities.

Truly, commitment to rejecting violence in political endeavor and adopting peaceful and democratic means are essential in order to bring about a renaissance.

To this end, achieving the Arab renaissance requires us to enhance the role of Arab intellectuals and well-educated people who are loyal to modern Arabism, and then to set the right goals and employ the correct methods under wise leadership.



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