A Matter of Fate: The Concept of Fate in the Arab World as Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature

A Matter of Fate: The Concept of Fate in the Arab World as Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature

A Matter of Fate: The Concept of Fate in the Arab World as Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature

A Matter of Fate: The Concept of Fate in the Arab World as Reflected in Modern Arabic Literature

Synopsis

Dalya Cohen-Mor examines the evolution of the concept of fate in the Arab world through readings of religious texts, poetry, fiction, and folklore. She contends that belief in fate has retained its vitality and continues to play a pivotal role in the Arabs' outlook on life and their social psychology. Interwoven with the chapters are 16 modern short stories that further illuminate this fascinating topic.

Excerpt

The West has often regarded the Arab world with suspicion mixed with awe. On the one hand, the Arab nations have preserved the special features of their culture and have been critical of the Western way of life, its institutions, and ideas. On the other hand, Arab culture has been poorly understood in the West and conceived mostly in stereotypical terms. The tendency of the Arab world to exercise a certain degree of separatism has also prevented a clear perception of its people. Yet the Arabs have had a dramatic influence on human history: they produced a world religion—Islam—which has become the second largest monotheistic religion, and at the height of the Islamic empire they made important contributions to civilization in every field of human endeavor. However, after the fall of Baghdad in 1258, and especially during the Ottoman age, the Arab world underwent a process of intellectual lethargy, resulting in its decline. The reversal of fortune culminated in a period of European domination that began in the early nineteenth century and lasted until well after the middle of the twentieth century.

Major developments following the liberation of Arab lands, including the discovery of vast reserves of petroleum under Arab sands, the ArabIsraeli conflict, and the resurgence of Islamic fundamentalism, along with the significance of these events for global peace, stability, and prosperity, have focused increased attention on the Arab world and generated international concern with its affairs. The West feels an urgent need to know the forces that shape the Arabs' worldview and motivate their actions and reactions. In cross-cultural communication, especially between nations that sometimes find themselves at loggerheads, literature can be an invaluable aid.

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