Sunday, February 28, 2016

Weekly Report 3: Arab Musician

For this article, I had to spend quite a lot of time just finding the article. In American newspapers, it would appear that Arab Musicians are incredibly overlooked throughout their world-view. I did happen upon an article about Mohammed Assaf, who is young, famous, and luckily for this report, was in the news. Two and a half years ago, June of 2013, he won the competition known as "Arab Idol" which is essentially American Idol for the Arab world. He was born in Libya and was raised in a very poor camp. Bare utilities were very hard to find for him at a young age. He actually snuck onto the television show, having had lots of trouble getting to Cairo where the auditions were being held, so he had to find a less than orthodox method of getting into the auditions. Another Palestinian actually had to give up his own opportunity so that Assaf could have his shot at glory. He won the competition,  but instead of simply enjoying the music, people began trying to make it seem like he was doing it for political reasons. A Palestinian winner would look good for all Palestinians, so at one of the shows Hamas, a Palestinian terrorist organization, rallied to support him, which was not exactly what he desired for his career. Assaf stated later that he was not trying to be a political figure, just a musician, and that instead of supporting Palestine against others, that Palestinian music should be celebrated as just that: Palestinian music. Mohammed Assaf is a selfless singer, performing out of the goodness of his heart, trying to make oppressed people happy for a while. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reflection 2

Today in class we learned all about the Islamic legacy of Spain from Dr. Deveny. In 711 the Visigoths maintained control of Spain. They were Catholic as compared to the Arabic soon to be conquerors. Cordoba was the most important city in the world at the time, so Islam's takeover of this city was very significant, it showed that Islam had the power to in a sense, takeover the most important aspects of the world. Musa and Tariq were Arabic leaders that lead the Islamic conquest. Tariq took the initial venture into Spain, commanded to do so by his general Musa. The Rock of Gibraltar is in fact named after the place where he initially landed on the peninsula in 711. The siege was so successful because in Islam, death is not to be feared, but welcomed in service of Allah, and so they were much more aggressive and therefore more effective in combat against the Visigoths. Al-Andalus is the name of this Arabic tribe that Tariq and Musa led into battle. These leaders led their troops all the way across the peninsula, and their ancestors eventually crossed the treacherous Pyrenees to try and overtake France as well. Here they were finally stopped in 732 in a battle against Frankish catholics, led by a man named Charles. On their road to dynasty, the Muslim rule took Malaga, Jaen, and most importantly, Cordoba, as well as many, many other cities. In Cordoba most notably there was built "La Mezquita" the largest and most profound western mosque to date. Malaga and Jaen are both incredibly important as well because they were essentially port cities, which in the future aided to progress the Arabic trade and flow of culture. Within "La Mezquita" in Corboda were stereotypical Arabic-Muslim architectural standards. As in all mosques, there is a mihrab, a wall which faces and points towards mecca for prayer and caligraphy in place of any and all person or animal drawings.The mozarabs were hispanic people who became Islamic, and/or Arabic people, and they are who would most use the mosques throughout Spain that the Islamic dysnasty had inspired. Aside from the elite and astonishing "La Mezquita," Cordoba was also home to an incredibly impressive library. There rumored to have been over 400,000 books, astonishing considering the fact that every single book was hand written, and most other libraries at the time were considered incredibly wealthy in knowledge if they had 12 books. The language throughout the books, as well as theories and ideas were passed through Arabic techniques, one of the many ways Arabic-Muslims influenced the culture. For example, the letters that the Spanish people would grow to use were based upon the Arabic concept of letter organization, that of assigning meaning to a written letter. Also, they influenced the adaptation of Arab numerals into the Spanish language. Since the Spanish people had previously used roman numerals, a rather complex system, the Arabic numerals proved to simply and accelerate the study of mathematics. Thanks to the expansion of the Muslim and Islamic cultures, Spain became more advanced, diverse, and culturally rich.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Weekly Report 1

This week I read "Thousands of Syrians brave cold, rain at Turkish border" from the Al-Jazeera online newspaper. Doing so I learned that Turkey has decided to begin letting in Syrian refugees. These refugees in particular are fleeing from Aleppo, a city under rebel control. The reason they have to run from their homes is because the Syrian government has launched an offensive in an attempt to rid the area of rebels. The Syrian offensive is being supplemented with Russian air strikes, and so the civilians who want to be safe are trying to escape the country. There are tens of thousands of refugees trying to escape, and the Turkish government is allowing some people through. However, they are not allowing everyone through so the majority of them are still in Syria, but Turkey is preparing to allow more, if not all of them,through.. The fact that these people need to flee from their own government is deplorable. The need to drive out the rebels may seem necessary to the government, but their actions only show that the government needs to be overthrown. The kind of government that would sacrifice its own civilians for the sake of political control is not a government that should be responsible for anyone. That should be incredibly difficult for civilians, to have to pick between supporting a government that would put them at risk, and an armed force that hides among them to take advantage of this faulty government. It's no wonder the Syrians are fleeing the country, these two forces should simply be left alone to essentially fight it out, without the use of civilian coverage.