Why Arabic is Important to Me, to You.

5 Sep

Thus far, I am in my third week of learning Arabic with Ustaadha Grinwa/Professor Grinwa. The first few days were intimidating, and there were moments I questioned if I would ever be able to distinguish a single word of the ah- ha- lal- khak heavy language. Yet here I am, my third week in and still infatuated with one of the oldest languages in the world and trying to at least attain the basics. But if you’ve studied a foreign language [outside of high school], you know after the basics you just want to keep going..

         

As I mentioned, Arabic is one of the very oldest languages in the world and has rapidly spread over the last half a century, with more speakers then it’s ever had before. Arabic is important to its 300+ million native speakers, and its people and influence has become a central topic in today’s American population, culture, politics, and economy. Arabic is important to you. Although often taken for-granted, many aspects of your daily life are centered around the politics and products of Arab nations and you encounter these aspects via friends, classmates, military, the news, this year’s 2012 election, and every time you fill your gas tank.

Arabic’s native speakers extend across 20+ countries that use Arabic as their main language of communication, education, entertainment, and of course the Islam religion. With the spread of Islam between 500-600 bce across north Africa- trickling down the continent, crossing to South East Asia, up into Europe, and scattered across the Americas via travelers and refugees, there are Muslim populations the world over. With this spread of Islam came a spread in Arabic and a change in the Arabic alphabet so more Muslims could read the Qur’an. The majority populations in Chinese speaking Malaysia, Southern Thailand’s native Thai Speakers, the Gambia’s Mandinka and numerous other languages, have all adopted Arabic as a second tongue as a result of Islam. Expanding Arab Sky’s next post will look further into the geography of Arabic and Muslim populations in the Middle East, the U.S. and across the world.

As global citizens, its important understand the diverse populations, languages, and religions as the world. As an American, Middle Eastern and U.S. relations have become more important over the last 30-40 years starting with the 1973 oil crisis and exponentially throughout my 22 year life time. My country has been involved in numerous wars, freedom operations (true underlying motives to be debated later..), dethroning of political leaders and terrorists, asylum for hundreds of thousands of refugees, lives lost on both innocent civilian and US and other military sides, oil crises, the overwhelming Arab Spring, foreign policies, and an immeasurable billions and TRILLIONS of dollars in foreign aid.

 Hamed Jafarnejad/AFP/Getty Images

1. Obama at a press conference in his first 100 days a President, addressing concerns of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.

2. Iranian Naval leader showing how easy it would be to close off the Strait of Hormuz and cut the U.S. off from all oil.

The following source provides information on where our $50 billion in foreign aid will be going in 2013. Of the top 10 countries, 6 are Arab speaking countries and part of the Arab League.

http://foreignassistance.gov/CountryIntro.aspx

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For the sake of global communication and international relations, it is last that as an Anthropology student I point out the importance of cultural and religious understanding (so inevitably connected especially in the Middle East) by Americans and other countries around the world. Cultural relativism is going to be Expanding Arab Sky’s- EASs basis for each post, trying to convey all information about the Arab world on its own terms free of judgment or comparisons to the American way of life. There is not right or wrong in Culture, just how it is experienced by natives and how it is perceived by countries like the US looking in.

Finally, two beautiful cartoons on cultural relativism

        Cartoon #48, Cultural Relativism in Classroom

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Expanding Arab Sky

3 Aug

As I begin taking my first Arabic class, I want to document and share my experience learning more about an ever expanding influence and migrating people that identify as “Arab”. By looking at the history of the Arab region, societies, and people I will uncover its cultural foundations, yummy food, and its growing status in our hyper-globalized world. While looking at Arab history of trade and religion, its cultural passions of food and soccer, I will share what I’ve learned about speaking and writing Arabic in-between. As an Anthropology major, I am easily fascinated by cultures and I hope this research and applying Anthro theories will help understand Arab culture as a whole and its diversity within.

Fe sahetek! Cheers!

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