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الموقع تحت الإنشاء

النسخة التجريبية من موقع النهضة العربية (أرض)

Arab intellectuals seek to explore the transformations in Arab societies in relation to Al Nahda


In an attempt to achieve an epistemological understanding of the issues of transformations in the Arab world and how it relates to the renaissance’s questions, especially in light of the profound transformations that the Arab world has witnessed over a period of more than a decade on many levels, which predict serious accumulations in the foreseeable future, the International Network for Arab Societies’ Study and The Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) launched a series of international forum seminars entitled “Transformations”. Where the first scientific webinar was held under the title “Transformations in the Arab World and the Renaissance Project”, with the participation of four Arab intellectuals: the facilitator of the committee, the Egyptian philosopher, and academic Dr. Mustafa Al-Nashar, the Egyptian academic Dr. Magdy Abdel Hafez, the academic Dr. Esmat Sayed Hussein Nassar from Egypt, and the writer Shaya Al-Waqyan from Saudi Arabia.

The General Coordinator of the International Network for Arab Societies’ Study Dr. Maryz Younes opened the session with a reiteration of its role as the first step of a bigger project monitoring the anharmonic developments in the Arab world due to its link to various economic, social, political and demographic changes, which is the core of this dialogue-based project.

Dr. Mustafa Al-Nashar presented the colonialism shock phase witnessed by the Arab World and formed the beginning of the ongoing transformations. These transformations shifted from direct military manifestation to fourth-generation warfare: “Our dialogues and transformations are majorly shaped by the West and its interference in the Arab affairs. We are reactors rather than actors.” He posed the question of when the Arab world will overcome the early renaissance project’s three-dimensional suffering embodied in the followers of originality, modernism, and the combination of both. He noted that the latest transformation is the Arab spring and the following loss of the concept of the state in countries like Syria, Iraq, Tunisia, and Egypt. He stressed that our development is only possible through true self-independence, the independence of Arab decision-making, solidarity, and awareness of the importance of unity of the Arab countries’ capacities to avoid falling prey to sectarianism, wars, division, and foreign interventions.

Dr. Magdy Abdel Hafez stressed the transformations’ effect on systems, technology, institutions, intellect, culture, behaviors, language, and traditions in the last couple of decades. He shared pullet points from the seminar series’ instruction paper, the first and second being the obstacles facing modernism in our societies and their lack of modernist values. Abdel Hafez believes the first lacked value is rationality that impacted our behaviors and attitude towards time as we seized respecting it in all aspects of life. The second is individuality, not in a narcissist view, but as modernism focuses on individuals and can only be achieved by unleashing their creativity. The third is public spaces that frame private and public behaviors and distinguish between public and private life, which led to a lack of connection between daily life and citizenship behaviors. The fourth is transparency that reflects the power of the mind and is embodied in elections and decision-making and turns rulers into a public matter. The fifth is democracy that liberates citizens and protects them from oppression. The sixth is secularism, which turns social phenomena into religious ones and leads to mixing different aspects of life. He said: “Some of the obstacles in the face of modernism are the lack of social actors, imposing modernism from higher levels which led people to associate it with oppressive orders coming from above, closures before the creation of substitutes such as the closure of traditional institutions i.e unions, before the establishment of modern ones, the use of modernism’s tools in ways contradictory to its values such as the use of technology to oppress demonstrations and torture in prisons, and lastly, the contradiction among modernists and their research results due to difference in references.” He concluded with a note on philosophy and philosophers’ main role in our world and the need to pair them with the work towards the liberation of oppression, preserving independence, critical approaches, and the promotion of rational thinking in societies.

Shaya Al-Waqyan focused on discussing the question of the modern Arab renaissance, calling it modern due to the previous Abbasi one. The modern renaissance started at the beginning of the nineteenth century and French colonization. The interaction between the Arab renaissance and the West was a negative one which raised the question of an Arab renaissance in the face of colonizers’ modernization and organization. The question can be summarized in what most intellects agreed on “Why did Arabs and Muslims move backward while others moved forwards?” the occurring transformations focused on combating backwardness from a Western perspective rather than a local needs-based one. Since the end of the twentieth century, the question was replaced with another focused on the heritage-based individuality rather than the Western one that led to a cultural and intellectual struggle. All renaissance projects were built on the duality of individuality and the other. The solution lies in overcoming this duality and normalizing individuality as an extension to the other. He explained how Arab intellectuals offered all possible Islamic, rational, secular, scientific, and national solutions that cannot all be incorrect and can only be proven faulty by testing them. There are numerous solutions and one of them must be the answer to a renaissance if we carry it out. He noted the need to rephrase the question around the renaissance and question the reason it remained a theoretical one rather than a preictal one embedded in societies and the Arab culture and why many political renaissance projects failed.


Dr. Esmat Sayed Hussein Nassar noted that discussing the renaissance is only possible through the triangle of “Us, The Other, and What’s next” which the early renaissance thinkers followed. He pointed out the existence of various discourses, but not every discourse could reach the point of a project while each project is a discourse as discourses are theoretical and require a link to reality and planning to grow into projects. He added that projects leaders aim at pulling differences closer rather than embracing revolutions and radicalization which Hassan Attar worked on. The modern Arab project must include two main factors; constants vs change and lived reality and the consideration of general interest without contradicting the leaderships’ discourse nor the public.

Understanding the issues of transformations in the Arab world is essential for the new renaissance questions that exceed the renaissance pioneers’ questions posed before the transformations witnessed in the Arab world and redefine concepts based on the current context.