Baali, Fuad. Arab Unity and Disunity: Past and Present.

PositionBook Review

Baali, Fuad. Arab Unity and Disunity: Past and Present. Lanham, MD: University Press of America, 2004. Paper $16.00.

The author contends that a single Arab nation could become a reality if the narrow asabiyah of the individual states are "combined in one large, powerful, and unified asabiyah ..." (p. 48). To give credence to his hypothesis, Baali launches into a discussion of Arab history before and after the rise of Islam. He shows the tension between tribal spirit (asabiyah) and Islam and how Islam, especially under the Caliph Omar was quite successful in aligning the tribal spirit with the spirit of Islam (a larger asabiyah). An interesting aspect of the discussion is Ibn Khaldun's belief that "religion without asabiyah is ineffective" (p. 14). This leads Baali to argue that the nomad and Islam needed each other. That realization led Baali to conclude that for the nomad, right and might were inseparable. Any time there is a conflict between the two the phenomenon of Mahdi (the expected savior) appears. On this basis, Baali discusses Arab unity and Disunity in the contemporary period. He concludes...

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