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F U S A Y F S A ' M o s a i c





A Middle East Studies Journal Created by Smith College Undergraduates

Issue I, Volume I December 21, 2020

The views and opinions expressed in this journal are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Fusayfsa' or Smith College.

The Team Founder/Editor-in-Chief Manal Fatima Managing Editor Nadeen Jumai'an Associate Editors Alex Martin Gwen Ellis Editorial Board Clara Broekaert Elizabeth Walton Malika Belton Lexie Casais Selin Kubali Wyoming McGinn Design Su Than Thar Nyi Manal Fatima

Content Creators Nicole Alkhouri Manar Alnazer Muneera Aldarwish Rehana Nazerali-Rudy Lily Turner Operations Alexandra Domeshek Alyssa Schams Sarah Uddin IT Snoussi Mariem Rukaiya Abdullah Social Media Leela McClintock Faculty Advisory Board Bozena Welborne Emma Chubb Greg White Justin Cammy Susanna Feruguson Steven Heydemann



EDITOR Dear Readers,

This journal was founded to correct misconceptions and initiate discussions through which everyone can get a chance to learn more about North Africa West Asia. We wanted to create a space, where one can explore the distinctiveness of all the components that form this region, treating every patch with significance and every difference with adoration, where instead of putting labels, generated from preconceptions, one learns about its people through them. In this edition, we bring to you papers that go into these crucial areas. Through research papers, opinion articles, interviews, and artworks, we allow our readers to initiate their journey of exploring this mosaic of cultures, heritage, and people. I would especially like to thank my wonderful team– Nadeen and the entire editorial board, content creators, operations team, IT, multimedia – who helped me in staying determined and maintaining my energy throughout this process. I would also acknowledge Professor Heydemann’s constant encouragement and support that made this possible. And of course, my baba – his birthday (Dec 21) kept me on my toes to finish this project on time (I hope a copy of this will suffice as a birthday gift). To encapsulate the richness of NAWA is beyond the scope of this journal, but we try our best as we bring to you the very first edition of Fusayfsa’!

With love and solidarity, Manal Fatima

6 13 16 19 22 24







Gwen Ellis –Smith College



H A L A L :







LilyTurner – Smith College













Riley Kolsto – Smith College C I T Y

P O R T R A I T S ; P O R T R A I T S



Sarah Diefallah

' ' R E C L A I M I N G


R E G I O N ? ' '

Fusafsa' Roundtable


I R A Q :




Clara Broekaert and Manal Fatima – Smith College


S P O T L I G H T :



Rehana Nazerali-Ruddy, Nicole Alkhouri and Muneera Aldarwish N E G L E C T E D




28 30 32 34 38 45 48


Manar Alnazer – Smith College W O M E N




W A R :











Clara Broekaert (Smith College) and Hebatalla Taha (Leiden University) T H E








Austin Shifman – UMASS



M I N O R I T I E S :







Basma Azzamok – Amherst College







Mika Yassur – Smith College

E N D N O T E S / B I B L I O G R A P H I E S / A P P E N D I C E S





James Morier’s [1] 1824 The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Isfahan was and is a prime example of Orientalist literature. It follows the trials and tribulations of a young man named Hajji Baba as he wanders all over Iran, and it was the most popular Oriental novel in the English language in its time. It was also a highly influential stereotype of the so-called “Persian national character.” [2] Although Morier professes in the introductory epistle to value first-hand accounts written by “Orientals” themselves, and attempts to set up a framing story which credits Hajji Baba as the author of the text, he is indisputably the true author, and in this way he exemplifies the fundamental nature of Orientalism as defined by Edward Said. In Orientalism, Said writes, “... neither the term Orient nor the concept of the West has any ontological stability; each is made up of human effort, partly affirmation, partly identification of the Other,” and, “at most, the ‘real’ Orient provoked a writer to his vision; it very rarely guided it.”[3] Essentially, Morier’s text was only lightly shaped by realities in Iran, but it fundamentally impacted the perception of Iran in Europe. Interestingly, the text was generally warmly received in Iran when Mirza Habib Isfahani[4]made his (quite loose) translation a few decades later in 1886. This essay will attempt to explain why many Persians embraced this unsympathetic text, as well as detail specificities of the impact of the text in both the European and Iranian contexts. Overall, Morier’s version gave its European audience the impression of an Iran characterized by picarism, weak government and borders, religious superstition, and general insignificance. The text consequently had the impact of affirming European superiority and shaping European perceptions of Iran for decades afterwards. Isfahani challenged the imperialist nature of the text and its impact by creatively modifying it in his translation; this made it more digestible to Iranians. Additionally, the timing and transformed positionality of the text made it a rallying point for critique of the Qajar government during the Constitutional Revolution. While Morier’s text was Orientalist, imperialist, and racist, the Iranians repurposed it and reclaimed it for their own use, enjoyment, and revolutionary means.


The Impression of Iran Given to Europe by Morier’s Text The success of Hajji Baba in England and the rest of Europe, combined with the fact that most Europeans knew absolutely nothing of Iran, meant that Morier’s depiction became the vision of Iran maintained by much of the populace. Although Amir Ahmadi Arian argues that when compared with other Orientalist texts, Hajji Baba makes a distinct effort to remain close to actual life in Persia,[5] it cannot be denied that Morier’s vision is characterized by some degree of scorn and slander. What exactly was this vision? Perhaps the most distinct characteristic of all of the characters in Hajji Baba is picarism (i.e., a “picaro” personality). A “picaro” is someone whose ultimate life goal is survival, who lives as a rogue, oftentimes without morals or scruples. This is Hajji Baba’s approach to life: he swindles and cheats his way through life without any moral compass to speak of. All of the secondary characters in the story are also motivated exclusively by survival and material gain. Everyone is a hypocrite: the merchant who takes Hajji under his wing at the very beginning pretends to be deeply religious but is actually completely obsessed with money; the dervishes Hajji meets in Mashhad are actually nothing more than swindling deceivers; the doctor Mirza Ahmak [6] actually doesn’t know a thing about medicine but pretends for the sake of his reputation. In fact, the higher up in the ranks Hajji moves, the more extensive the hypocrisy becomes. Because characters from all walks of life are motivated entirely by greed and treachery, the story implicates the entire population of Iran: all of the Iranian people are characterized by picarism, painting a picture of Iran as a society in which everyone is swindling others.[7] It tells the European audience that this picaro characteristic is endemic to all Iranians. Furthermore, “... his [Hajji’s] ultimate failure each time [he tries a new path] is meant to highlight the impasse that Persian culture and society had reached, plagued by vicious circles and vacillations that the author views as inherent to Oriental societies.” [8]Hajji’s, and everyone else’s, lack of character development highlights the stagnancy of Iran as a whole. The text also portrays Iran as structurally unstable and fundamentally weak. Hajji Baba travels extensively throughout northern Iran in the story, and often finds himself on the borders fraternizing with the tribes of the periphery. The periphery is characterized by lawlessness: “Turcoman” tribes constantly attack caravans, and the region is entirely out of the control of the central government. Hajji tells of how the princes must travel through the borderlands accompanied with heavy muscle to avoid being raided and kidnapped. Even within the city, chaos reigns; when the Turks raid Isfahan, the police response is completely uncoordinated and ineffectual. The only instance of some sort of higher authority regulating this chaos occurs when a local enforcer catches Hajji selling poor-quality smoke and bastinados [9] him, but even this is achieved through deceit and treachery (the enforcer dresses up as an old woman, pretending to be a customer).


Arian convincingly argues that this representation is not necessarily wrong, as “through these stories one reads a geopolitical dispute, a border under the control of the local community, itself entrapped in the complicated friction between two colossal empires [Iran and the Ottoman Empire].”[10] The early Qajar empire was far from stable, and Morier is probably tuning into this. However, this depiction of pure chaos likely gave Europeans interested in slandering Iran or affirming their own superiority something to latch onto. It perhaps even allowed them to make evaluations of how easily dominated Iran might be. Arian further writes that taking the depictions of people and place together enhances the potency of an image of Iran as a crisis-stricken land, populated by picaros and characterized by tenuous borders and corrupt government, with no one willing to improve the situation.[11] This is hardly a favorable image of Iran. Though he writes from the perspective of a Muslim, Morier inserts a distinctly anti-Muslim tone throughout the work, and portrays Iranians as superstitious and backward for their faith. He is not shy about this, either— he writes in the introductory epistle: ... it is most certain that the former [the European] will ever feel devoutly grateful that he is neither subject to Mohamedan rule, nor educated in Mohemedan principles; whilst the latter [the Muslim], looking upon the rest of mankind as unclean infidels, will continue to hold fast to his bigoted persuasion, until some powerful interposition of Providence shall dispel the moral and intellectual darkness which, at present, overhangs so large a portion of the Asiatic world.[12]

Morier satirizes and caricatures the superstition of the Turcoman tribe that captures Hajji Baba by describing their foolish reliance on astrologers and their faith in bloodletting. He also scorns the dervishes when he portrays them as swindling pretenders. He debases the doctors as he portrays Mirza Ahmak as a superstitious infidel-hating quack. Moslem Fatollahi argues that even the language Morier uses evidences his prejudice: he writes scornfully about cultural practices, many of which are rooted in Islam (“He was married when only seventeen years of age”). [13]The majority of British men and women in the late 18th to early 19th century married in their 20s, [14]and Morier evinces his scorn for this cultural difference in the age of marriage with the insertion of the word “only.” He implies that seventeen is too young to get married and evaluates it against the traditional age of marriage in his own country, all the while ignoring Iranian cultural tradition, in which seventeen was a common age to marry. This condescending attitude gives the European audience the impression that Iran is populated by superstitious, uncivilized people who are getting married too young and have not yet joined Europe in its wondrous Scientific Revolution.


Finally, the text also shows a general disregard for Iranians in the way that it fails to give any specificity about the people and places it mentions. At the beginning of the story, Hajji Baba is captured by a “Turcoman” tribe. There are many tribes on the peripheries of Iran, many of them Turkish. The reader is left to wonder which of the numerous tribes Hajji has been captured by. The lack of a name given to the Turks evidences Morier’s disregard for the individuality of Iran’s tribes; for him, they are not significant actors in the narrative of Iranian history except as one big, homogenous group. Overall, then, Morier’s text gives its European audience the impression that Iranians are greedy swindlers, inhabiting a weak and lawless land, paralyzed by religious superstition. The Significance of this Vision of Iran in the European Context As previously mentioned, a lack of general knowledge about Iran among Europeans meant that many took Morier’s portrayal of Iran at face value. For the English reader of the 19th century, the book was mainly seen as a genuine representation of Persia, and by extension the “Orient.” Further, the introductory epistle may have served to subtly enhance this image of authenticity. While most people were probably aware that the epistle was fake, Morier had spent a few years in Iran, and so was an untouchable “expert.” His words were true to the impressionable 19th century European audience. The impact of the text on Britain was especially profound because although travel literature became a fashionable genre all over Europe, its widest and most welcome market was Britain, and it was primarily through these travelogues that the transmission of perceptions was accomplished.[15] It was in fact commonplace for the European populace, and especially Britain, to gather their information on “Oriental” countries from travelogues and works of fiction. To Western readers, Morier’s unfavorable depiction of the Persians served as a reassurance of Europe’s cultural and moral superiority, and also of the civilizing mission of the imperial powers.[16] In the text, Europeans act as the sole exercisers of sound judgement: it is a European who cures Hajji Baba of his ailment in the introduction, and it is a European doctor who cures the grand vizier of his ailment later on (and attempts to exert a good influence over the shah, before being thwarted by a meddling Iranian doctor). Europe is portrayed as quite literally the cure to Iran’s illnesses. Morier’s depictions of Iran’s chaotic borders and its stagnant people only add fuel to the fire. This impact on public perception and the European superiority complex was not only significant but also lasting. Well into the 20th century, Hajji Baba could often be found on lists of recommended reading for diplomats travelling to Iran. In the late 19th century, a British colonel supposedly recommended that Charles James Wills read Hajji Baba before travelling to Iran, saying, “When you read this you will know more of Persia and the Persians than you will if you had lived there with your eyes open for twenty years.” [17]


The text was still familiar enough to diplomats in the 1910s and 1920s to be a touchstone for conversation, and it even saw a swell in popularity in the 1950s during the period of Mosaddeq’s deposition. This is troubling when one considers the fact that in the 19th century, a correlation between the tone of the majority of British travelogues and the main trends in British foreign policy is clearly discernible.[18] In other words, Hajji Baba potentially shaped the European perception of Iran significantly enough as to impact foreign policy.[19] Moreover, the text arguably has roots extending all the way to today which shape the Western perception of Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. Hajji Baba may be largely forgotten in the English literary canon, but it's derogatory outlook is still alive and kicking.[20] Isfahani’s Translation and its Reception in Iran When the distinctly Orientalist/imperialist bent of Hajji Baba is considered, it is remarkable that the text found such popularity in Iran after a Persian translation by Mirza Habib Isfahani was published in the early 20th century. How could such a derogatory text be so warmly received, and even repurposed for the sake of supporting the 1906-1911 Constitutional Revolution?Moslem Fatollahi suggests that Isfahani culturally manipulated the text extensively so as to make it more palatable to an Iranian audience. Through omission, addition, and euphemism, he transformed Hajji Baba into something entirely new and distinct, tailored to Iranian cultural and social mores and preferences. For example, instead of rendering literally the sentence, “He was married when only seventeen years of age” (which implies scorn for marriage practices linked to Iranian culture), he translates it as, “He was seventeen when he got married.” [21]He effectively erases the scornful undertone. Isfahani also softens some of Morier’s harsher statements with flowery language and clever euphemisms; he changes the word “intercourse” to a more eloquent phrase with a pun when describing Hajji and Zeinab’s flirting, and changes the description of the dervish Sefer from “wild” to one that highlights his power and potency in the form of an idiomatic expression. Fatollahi further argues that Isfahani’s cultural manipulation (“cannibalism”) of the text is actually representative of postcolonial discourse. By transforming a work of obvious orientalist imperialism into something new, imbued with Iranian cultural signs and motifs, Isfahani reclaims it for himself and for the use and enjoyment of Iranians. Of course, some scholars view the act of colonized people making translations of their colonizer’s literary corpus as playing into the colonizer’s dominance in defining the bounds of knowledge. However, it cannot be denied that Isfahani and the Iranian milieu fundamentally transformed the text’s social implications and repurposed it for themselves. The translation also found resonance with its Iranian audience not only for its modified prose, but for its potential use in a national constitutionalist/revolutionary discourse. Among modernist circles, the work


represented all of the ills of Iranian society. The Persian translation of Hajji Baba was received as a critical depiction of Persia’s backwardness and moral decadence, an image sorely in need of Westernizing remedies.[22]Because the translator and author were, for a time, unidentified (and sometimes misidentified), the text appeared to be the work of a political dissident (a correct assumption) protesting the chaos of society in Qajar Iran, and so it was naturally drawn into protest discourse.[23] In fact, the positionality of the translator made it possible for the text to take on a revolutionary connotation: social critique coming from an insider (i.e., a member of said society) has a completely different significance than the same critique coming from an outsider. When Isfahani critiques Iranian society, he does so as one intimately acquainted with that society, as one belonging to that society. Conversely, when Morier offers largely the same critique, he does so from a place that many would deem inappropriate, especially considering Britain’s history in Iran’s affairs. Because rallying around the text implies acceptance of its criticisms, it is impossible and contextually inappropriate to rally around a critical text written by an outsider. This in fact connotes acceptance of the dominance and superiority of, in this case, Britain. Isfahani’s translation therefore effectively changed the positionality of the text and made it available as a rallying point for other dissidents. It is actually unsurprising that Hajji Baba spoke to so many of the wrongs of society. Amanat writes in Iran: A Modern History, “... [a 1905 protest] highlights most, if not all, of the elements that would shape the revolution: merchants and artisans resentful of an inefficient and intrusive state…”[24] Hajji Baba certainly depicts an “inefficient” state— the borders are entirely beyond the state’s control, and police forces can’t even muster a defence of Isfahan when the Turks raid the caravanserai. Amanat also writes, “... the revolution sought to secularize Shi’i millenarian aspirations by incorporating such modern concepts as nationalism, the rule of law, limits to state power, individual rights, and people’s representation.” [25]Essentially, revolutionaries desired some sort of order to the chaos and infighting, with a sprinkle of modernization on top. What better text to rally around than Isfahani’s Hajji Baba, which perfectly represented everything the revolutionaries did not want Iran to be? The text’s representative qualities combined with the timing of its publication and its transformed positionality in fact made its inclusion in revolutionary discourse almost inevitable. Therefore, overall, Hajji Baba was well-received in Iran (and even came to be considered a literary masterpiece) because of the literary intervention of Isfahani and also because of its unique position which spoke to nationalist revolutionaries. Conclusion Morier’s Hajji Baba had significantly different effects on its European and Iranian audiences. To Europeans it gave the impression that Iranians were characteristically greedy and swindling, that they lived in a weak and lawless land, and that they and their society were paralyzed by religion and superstition. This generalization gave Europe a negative impression of Iran and also reaffirmed their perceived superiority over “Oriental” nations, impressions which have had long-lasting impacts. In contrast, the text was received warmly in Iran because of the literary intervention of Isfahani as well as its newfound ability to function as a touchstone for revolutionary discourse. The position of Hajji Baba as simultaneously an orientalist text and a revolutionary


text makes it a rare and interesting case in the phenomenon of exchange between “Western” and “Eastern” societies, an exchange that is continuously ongoing and reshaping itself. For this reason it is important to remember that there is a difference between knowledge of other peoples that is the result of understanding, compassion, and careful study, and knowledge that is part of an overall campaign of selfaffirmation and othering.[26] In light of Said’s discourse, Morier’s Hajji Baba may serve as an example of what we must move away from when redefining the relationship between “East” and “West”; ironically, however, Isfahani’s version may be a model of what we can move towards.

Gwen Ellis is currently a senior at Smith College.



To the Western world, the definition of music is simple, an “ordering of tones or sounds in succession… [that] produce composition having unity and continuity.”[1] In the Islamic world, however, the concept of music is more complicated. Certain religious chants and practices which would fall into the category of Western music are not considered to be musical to Muslims because of their religious significance, forming instead a class of Non-Musiqa, or non-music. Looming over the various nuances that exist between Islam and music is the question of whether or not the traditional notion of music is allowed in Islam. The root of this debate lies in the fact that neither of the Islamic religious texts, the Qur’an nor the Sunnah, directly discuss the permissibility of music. Throughout the course of this paper, I will discuss the permissibility of music in Islam through an exploration of the musical hierarchy of Lois al-Faruqi’s Handasat al-Sawt, or hierarchy of Islamic music. (See Appendix A) The most highly regarded form of non-music is that of Qira’ah, the recitation of Islam’s holy book, the Qur’an. Although the passages of the Qur’an are never altered or set to music, Qur’anic recitations retain various musical qualities, such as its system of melodic modes, or tajwids. The two main styles of Qur’an recitation are muttural, which “focus[es] on presenting the test simply and clearly,” and mujawwad, an “elaborately melodic” style designed to “engage listeners emotionally” in the text.[2] The mujawwad style, although very similar to singing in its use of vocal ornamentation, uses the individual’s vocal “skills to focus [...] listeners on the text” of the Qur’an as opposed to the artistry of their singing ability.[3] Another key difference between the mujawwad style of recitation and singing is that unlike songs in which the rhythm is consistent, the rhythm of mujawwad recitation is composed of spontaneous melismas that are thought to be “divinely given”.[4] For reciters, the goal is a spiritual performance that “beguile[s] and enchant[s] [...] listeners”, allowing for the listener to accompany the reciter on the revelatory journey through the verses of the Qur’an.[5] While non-music serves an integral role in Islam, its counterpart Musiqa, or the Western definition of music, serves as a cultural staple for gatherings and celebrations of Muslims. Musiqa is further sub-divided into categories based on how halal, or legitimate, its content and purposes are. The most popular Islamic tradition in which music is employed is mawlid, or the birthday of a holy person, namely Muhammed. To celebrate such a momentous occasion, Muslims perform poetry and music, the former of which is considered to be Non-Musiqa.[6] The Chicago Mawlid Committee, for example, celebrates by performing poetry in a variety of melodic modes, accompanied by light percussion.[7] However, integration of such instruments can be dangerous, for despite being “an integral part of Sunni Islam,”the mawlid has been challenged in the 21st century by Muslim reactionaries who contest its legitimacy.[8]


Music that is considered to be unquestionably halal is that which is played in private spheres, ranging from weddings to lullabies to circumcisions. In such instances, such as in the case of weddings, it is a known fact that the Prophet “encouraged music at the time of weddings,” which set the precedent of permissibility of “music for family occasions”.[9] Occupational music and military music also fall under the category halal due to their fulfilling of certain purposes, the former of which is required in certain occupations; for example, music has always been “universally [...] combined with architecture in the very act of building” since the time of medieval Europe.[10] Between the categorization of controversial music and halal music, there exists a category referred to as the “invisible area”, which is unable to be categorized due to the “various views … given by the [ religious scholars or] ‘ulama” who preside over the implementation of Islamic law, shari’ah.[11] Within the realm of controversial music, there exist two poles by which to judge the content of the music: mubah is music which is permissible but “not looked upon with great favor” and makruh, which is “improper… [and] disapproved [of]” but not explicitly “forbidden by Islamic Law.”[12] For the majority of Muslim scholars, music that has been historically tied to Islam, such as Andalusian music of Morocco or Persian classical music, is considered to be mubah, for these styles of music provide significant archival context of the preIslamic world in the areas from which they originated. Musical traditions from Islamic countries in Southeast Asia, like that of the Sundanese music of Java, serves as a historical tie connecting to the Buddhist and Hindu influence in the area’s culture.[13] Music that has been deemed to be “lavasious… has been banned by the ‘ulama” and is classified as haram, or an illegitimate form of music.[14] During the era of pre-modernism, what qualified as haram music was more clear; it was music that was “not very conducive to the remembrance of God.”[15] However, as global integration of culture continues to become more and more prevalent, “a consumer oriented youth culture” has emerged, which has caused an influx of foreign music, “[bringing] about an interesting, heated discussion” in the Islamic world.[16] As Western imagery and ideals continue to infiltrate the sphere of Islamic music, many of the more conservative ‘ulama have responded in the form of fatwas, or religious rulings and opinions, encouraging rigid censorship of music deemed to be unethical according to shari’ah. Responding to the haram use of music, the express purpose of which is the exploration of “morality, sexuality, [and music] for the purpose of art,” authorities in predominantly Islamic countries “have taken action against” musicians who perpetuate this type of music, particularly those who frequently perform publicly and who integrate women into their ensembles.[17] Many authorities utilize violence as a means of punishment and condemnation of haram music, which has resulted in “musicians [being] killed or physically attacked.”[18] There are, however, many moderate Islamic scholars who have condemned the use of violence and hard-line attitudes towards haram music, encouraging instead the creation of a “competitive Islamic counter pop culture,” which would retain similar themes to popular Western music while omitting the former’s evocation of sensuousness.[19]


Although Al-Farqui’s “Hierarchy of Handasat al-Sawt Genres” provides a clear, concise structure for how music is viewed in Islam, there is a musical category which cannot perfectly contained with its constitution, that of Sufi music.[20] Music has always served an integral role in Sufism, which is a form of mystical Islam that also incorporates religious traditions from Hinduism and Buddhism with “selfknowledge [as] a focus.”[21] Many of Sufi religious rituals are grounded in musical performances, namely in the honoring of Sufi saints. The most commonly practiced form of Saint celebration is that of ‘Urs, or the “marking [of] the anniversary of the saint’s death,” in which Sufis partake in “ecstatic night-long celebrations” with the elaborate presentation of “loud Sufi music and love poetry”.[22] The Sufi tradition of listening to music and poetry, sama, also plays a significant role in Sufi tradition, for it is through the listening to and the making of music that one “[optimizes] the phenomenological relationship between human lover and a Divine Beloved.”[23] Emphasizing the “unity of God and man,” Sufism utilizes music as a tool to bring the two together, with listening being an act that allows one to enter an enlightened state that is closer to God.[24] The relationship between Islam and music is one that is incredibly nuanced and complicated, due in part to the fact that the permissibility of music in Islam is never directly addressed by the Prophet Muhammad, whose words serve as the foundational structure of the religion. While music as defined by Western convention can be applied to many Islamic practices, to do so in Islam is heresy, for religous forms of non-music must follow a divine pattern that is beyond the human means of quantification. In modern times, it is a common convention among Muslims to state that all music utilized for entertainment is haram, or impermissible, solely because it distracts from one’s devotion to God. In reality, the cultural relationship between the Islamic world and music is one that predates Islam itself, with many scholars believing that “the great music of the Islamic people developed despite Islam”.[25]

Lily Turner is currently a sophomore at Smith College.



When there is a lack of readily available sources on a historical topic, as is often the case when it comes to research on women, scholars sometimes consult idealistic descriptions of women’s lives in a given place and time period and apply them too strictly to reality. It can be tempting to take more widely-available sources at face value instead of trying to construct a vision of the past from bits and pieces of information, but it is impossible for these prescriptive accounts to capture the complexity of life as it truly was. Even if a sacred text stipulates certain conditions, this does not mean that members of that religion will universally (or even commonly) follow that stipulation if it is in conflict with practicality or culture. Although it would be convenient if the Quran could be used to form a baseline of knowledge about Muslim women’s lives throughout history, this is very much not the case. From the beginning, women’s lives have failed to conform to the standards set by the Quran and other instructive texts. These concepts can be illustrated through the examination of the Quran and the work of a medieval Islamic scholar, Ibn al-Hajj, who criticized the behavior of his contemporaries, particularly women, using religious justifications, even though he and his colleagues were also guilty of religious innovation. Two surahs in the Quran, “Women” (Sura 19) and “Marium" (Sura 4), relate specifically to women, but in different ways. The first presents instructions relating to issues such as marriage, male and female inheritance, and adultery, and attempts to govern the behavior of both women and men. The second sura tells the stories of several figures from the Hebrew and Christian Bibles, including the independent Marium who isolates herself in the wilderness in order to give birth to Isa and is subject to false accusations of unchaste behavior.[1] The Quran grants women certain rights, such as the retention of their own property during marriage, that women in some Western countries only gained fairly recently, but stops short of permitting women to exist on the same moral and intellectual level as men.[2] Women are presented as naturally inferior, and they therefore receive a smaller inheritance than men and owe obedience to their husbands, at the risk of beating if their submission is not sufficient. Still, they are human individuals, directly addressed by the narrator of the Quran and not described as inherently evil compared to men. Despite the clarity of many of the Quran’s instructions for female behavior and gender relations, we cannot assume that the picture the Quran paints of women’s roles always applied in real life. The lives of actual Muslim women were much more complicated and varied.


Huda Lufti’s article, “Manners and Customs of Fourteenth-Century Cairene Women,” reconstructs the lives of those women, in part by examining the work of Ibn al-Hajj, al-Madkhal, in which he puts forth a great number of ideas regarding his exacting moral standards for women and the faults of the women he encounters and hears about in his daily life. As an Islamic scholar, al-Hajj tried to apply the Quran and the hadiths to modern life, and in theory the majority of his Muslim contemporaries in the expansive Islamic world were doing the same thing, but he found that women were not living up to the expectations of them found in the Quran. In this regard they differed from women of the past who were allegedly more chaste and moral. Al-Hajj himself takes for granted that precepts set by his scholarly predecessors in their own treatises can be taken as literal descriptions of life when he bemoans the excessive mobility, and therefore immorality, of women in his own time period: “Some of our worthy ancestors […] said: ‘A woman is permitted three exits: one to the house of her husband […]; one when her parents die, and one when she is carried to her grave.’ [… O]bserve the kind of chaos and corruption caused by women’s frequent exits nowadays.” [3]He hearkens back to a mystical time when women and men knew their place and did not transgress their boundaries. That time, of course, never existed. A’isha herself, the favorite wife of Muhammad and therefore something of a moral authority, was present at the Battle of the Camel in the period immediately following Muhammad’s death. Al-Hajj would certainly have disapproved of a woman assuming such a public and authoritative role as A’isha did.

Ibn al-Hajj also decries popular religious practices especially common among women such as visiting the tombs of saints and allowing superstitious beliefs about auspicious and inauspicious days to dictate their household routines. To al-Hajj, these practices are innovations without Quranic or hadithic precedent, which may have been a fair assessment, but he neglects the fact that he and other members of the ulama also adapted the original messages of the Quran. One primary way that this occurred was through hadiths; while scholars did attempt to verify their authenticity as much as possible, it was difficult to ascertain and scholars were naturally predisposed to accept hadiths that meshed with their own preconceived notions of morality and the order of the world, which were relative to their backgrounds and their own particular societies. Al-Hajj says that women’s habit of resting on Sundays is illegitimate because it originated within Christianity.[4] It seems plausible that Muslim women in Cairo did in fact adopt this practice from their Christian neighbors, but Muslim men were guilty of the same kinds of adoptions. For example, stoning for adultery is never prescribed in the Quran, but it is ordered in the Hebrew Bible, and it may have migrated via Judaism to some schools of Islamic jurisprudence despite its un-Islamic origin. As Sanaz Alasti writes, “the traditions indicate that Talmudic law primarily influenced Muhammad [or later propagators of hadiths supporting stoning]. […] The Qur’an (24:2 Surah a Nur) only stipulates 100 lashes for the adultery.”[5] Unfortunately, we lack sources written by women defending their own religious practices or pointing out male hypocrisy. Women and men both made religious innovations, and indeed they were forced to: it is impossible for one text, especially one which is not particularly lengthy, to regulate every situation that might occur in a wide variety of time periods and locations.


The many schools of Islamic jurisprudence which have developed since Islam’s creation, all originating from the study of the same text, show the difficulty of applying one set of writings, produced in a specific context, to an infinite variety of situations in different times and places. Educated men were better situated than women to advocate for and legitimize their own beliefs and reasonings, although their opinions were not necessarily better founded in Islam than some of the “unorthodox” religious practices popular among women. Scholars carried out this work through the related practices of the propagation of Islamic law and of those hadiths which they believed to be authentic. The plausibility of a hadith depended in part on who had passed it down and whether they were considered reputable enough to be a reliable reporter of hadiths. Of course, the view of women by men such as al-Hajj as morally and intellectually inferior to men made any reports or assertions that women themselves made about the supposed actions or words of the Prophet, or about anything else, less valuable in the eyes of the scholarly world as a whole. Women were excluded from the ulama, and denied the chance to legitimize their religious practices by discovering and publicizing Islamic precedents for them. Scholars like al-Hajj, who without a doubt followed practices that were not specifically described in the Quran and did not originate from it, had the resources to justify themselves and the power to denigrate women’s religious practices including activities as seemingly innocuous as not purchasing milk on Wednesdays.[6]Even while discussing the delicate and personal topic of death rituals, in which women were prominently featured, alHajj criticizes un-Islamic “‘innovations,’” such as covering the deceased person’s face. This was not in fact an “innovation,” as it dated back thousands of years to Pharaonic Egypt.[7] The monopolization of orthodoxy by men who for generations had spread and interpreted holy texts without permitting women to have a major impact on their opinions led to some of men’s religious innovations not being seen as innovations at all, while women’s religious practices, whether innovative or ancient, were subject to demonization. This phenomenon is an example of the wider issue of men having a greater opportunity than women to record their beliefs and practices in order to normalize and promote them and portray them in a positive light, while these same men maintained the ability to ignore or excessively denigrate things relating to women—or to any other group of oppressed people—leading to a lack of sources on their lives.

Riley Kolsto graduated from Smith College in 2020 with a double major in history and classical studies, as well as a concentration in museum studies. She is currently applying to law school.



Mixed media on paper

By Sara Diefalla



“RECLAIMING A REGION?” Fusayfsa’ Board Talks

Definitions, Stereotypes and History

‘’What is MENA+?’’ is a question with innumerable answers. MENA+ (Middle East North Africa Plus) represents not just a geographical region, but also a mosaic of cultures, languages, and people. Although MENA+ is primarily a geographic descriptor, there is no exclusively defined area that the term represents. The "+" in MENA+ expresses that variability and flexibility. MENA+ should not be a forced identity or identification, nor should it imply a monolithic entity. It encompasses a range of countries, religions, cultures, and languages. In our view, there can be no single representation of MENA+ ; the term encompasses a diversity of complex realities that intersect and overlap with one another. The term "MENA'' also has complicated origins and interpretations. For instance, the term has been criticized for adhering to a eurocentric view of the region. People often ask: Middle of what? And to the East of what? Evidently, the region is much more complex and diverse than what a stereotypical Westernized definition or representation allows for. Due to this origin, some choose not to use the term "MENA" and prefer terms like NAWA (North Africa West Asia) or WANA (West Asia North Africa). The Fusayfsa’ Team has launched its first issue of the journal in Fall 2020 with the hopes of questioning assumptions and biases, and providing valuable and nuanced perspectives of the region. The team sat down on Zoom on a Sunday afternoon to address these key questions that are pertinent to our understanding and perception of a complex region: How do we define the Middle East? Why are we defining the Middle East? And how do history, political constructions and culture shape our understanding of turmoil in the context of modern debates about the region? These are some of the thoughts shared by Fusayfsa’ board members.

23 MF: The main concern was that first of all, geographically, the term “Middle East” had no sound meaning and it is eurocentric. So we raised concern regarding the right roles when we were in the process of formulating the article about what is MENA+. So let’s start, what is the Middle East? SU: There's the idea that the Middle East is just a label for something. It's just a word. So I think that's one consideration people have, if it's been this way for so long,what would be the point of changing the name now? But there's the idea of reclaiming your region or your identity. CB: I think it's really interesting what SU brings up about reclaiming a region just because I go kind of into the rabbit holes of articles talking about this idea. Decolonizing language to refer to things like geographies and places is very hard, even maybe impossible, because of the etymological history of many words.So, almost all of the language we used to refer to place names is based on our shared human history of conquest and colonization. But if we look at West Asia, it would still have eurocentric roots because the word Asia was first used by Herodotus in reference to Anatolia in the Persian Empire and the word Africa came from the Romans who used Africa to refer to present-day Tunisia. My question is: Are we going to come across as kind of coming from our ivory tower, saying how people should identify. So, what would the average person in the Middle East, or in the region, say? And are we kind of reflecting on our kind of privilege situation in which we're in, at Smith, in our ivory tower. And should we make sure we're not repeating that kind of activist language that then doesn't correspond to the vast majority of people? MF: We have words that link back to the language of the colonizer in one way or another, but through what perspective does the term ‘’Middle East’’ seem plausible? West Asia is more like a geographical fact, but the term ‘’Middle East’’ is a point of view that was strengthened during WWII, when Britain was using the region to set up its air commands. NJ: When I'm describing myself to someone from Smith I can say I'm Middle Eastern, but I would never say the same in Arabic. I don't know any other Arabic speakers can relate, it is a very colonialist term and some people do have this notion that a region is defined in geographical terms but the way that the Middle East is right now, it is a collection of factors. And a lot of it if we're talking about the Middle East and in a white eurocentric context, we're talking about the Middle East as an exotified place. It all just really ties into that concept that almost every professor I know has spoken about in their class in one context or another and that is Orientalism, it's the way that term has been used to distort realities and to exaggerate certain features of a culture. The fact that I don't use that term as often in Arabic, really brings in that question. MD: As someone who's also from the Middle East, I don't know anyone who calls themselves Middle Eastern like they would say, you know, for example, if you're from Jordan then you'd say you're from Jordan. After I came to the US, I was put under the ‘Middle Eastern’ label. Yes there are common aspects between the countries [in the Middle East], but it is not all one broad brush stroke. NJ: People can disagree with me, but the usage of the term [Middle East/ern] immediately sets up a power dynamic. MF: The history of the usage of the term ‘Middle East’ in itself is quite interesting– India was also put under the term, and it kept on changing depending on its suitability to the European powers. That further undermines the use of the term ‘’Middle East,’’ which stayed undefined for so long. Another thing I want to mention, recently I was reading this blog by a person, who is from the region, and they said when we use the term ‘’Middle East’’ it also invokes some preconceived ideas about the ‘’Middle Easterns,’’ lumping them together as Muslims or, in extreme situations, terrorists. And this is for those people who may know nothing about the region. That’s why I believe that maybe through the use of the term ‘West Asia,’ we might be able to abandon some stereotypes. NJ: Media also plays quite a significant role in solidifying and establishing these stereotypes and power dynamics. SU: Is it media or implicit biases? I feel like it is a combination of both. CB: Europeans held large parts of land. North Africa was inhabited by Berbers, and then it was invaded by the Umayyads so I am trying to think how we can be aware of current power dynamics and still not erase other shifts in regions that were there before. I am thinking about capturing changes before and after certain conquests to see how it had an influence on the names. MD: People also call it the ‘Arab World,’ but then Turkey and Iran are not included in it. CB: When you deconstruct terms it’s really hard to stop because our entire human history is conquests and empires.



This article describes the event of Arbaeen that takes place in the city of Karbala, Iraq. It makes use of diary entries from travel memoirs, which may include references to other Iraqi cities.

Arbaeen[1] is a religious observance that signifies the forty-day period after the martyrdom of Hussein Ibn Ali, the grandson of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. It is commemorated by Shiite communities around the world. In this article, we will focus on the significant event that takes place in Karbala, inviting around 20 million people to the war-torn country of Iraq every year.[2] ‘’It was the 28th of July, 2016, when my plane landed in the city of Najaf, Iraq. The moment I stepped out of the airport, the unwelcoming hot winds rubbed against my face and my poorly ventilated ride looked like my only refuge. As sweat dripped from my tightly wrapped hijab, I peeped outside the window to witness the ruins of the so-called failed state. Big cars revved, shining against a sparsely vegetated backdrop, enveloped (and enveloping the city) in dust and compressing the pile of plastic bottles that eventually formed the lining of the sideways. Both my ride and reverie came to a halt as we were stopped, right in front of the shrine of Ali Ibn Abi Talib[3], by a procession of coffins – of people recently killed by Daesh.’’[4]

Image source: Huffpost

25 Hussein Ibn Ali, along with his 72 companions, was killed on the 10th of Muharram, 61 AH (680 C.E.), by troops sent by Yazid Ibn Muawiya, and Hussein’s family was taken captive.[5] Among those who were beheaded were his 6-month-old son, Ali, and 15-year-old nephew, Qasim. According to Shiites, Hussein’s death was unjust and marks the cruelty and heartlessness of the Umayyad regime. Hussein revolted against the Umayyad rule that he deemed as corrupt and illegitimate. For this, he is celebrated as a symbol of patience and justice, especially among the Shiites, who consider pilgrimage to his shrine a source of blessing and second in importance only to Hajj. The visit to Hussein’s shrine can be made anytime during the year; however, it is only on the 20th of Safar, Arbaeen, when Karbala hosts a seemingly endless sea of pilgrims. Although it is not required, many pilgrims make the journey from Najaf to Karbala on foot, which takes them around three days to reach the shrine of Hussein. Some also begin the walk from Basra, Iraq.[6] ‘’ I stood on Furat Street,[7] facing the door to the sanctuary of Abbas Ibn Ali. [8] They have a tradition – before you enter the shrine, you have to seek the permission of the one residing inside the mausoleum, as if they are still alive.’’[4][9]

The Arbaeen Walk is intriguing for many reasons. Iraq is considered a failed state, struggling with the effects of war and the looming threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL). In such a climate, the number of people who enter the country to memorialize a man who was killed 1400 years ago is vast. It is also compelling that even though the pilgrimage mainly holds significance for Shiites, people affiliated with other religions also take part in it.[10] You may also witness people with physical limitations trying to walk barefoot and carrying flags in remembrance of Hussein’s half-brother, Abbas. Another noteworthy element of this walk is its meticulous organization. Free food, shelter, and other amenities are readily available for the pilgrims. The Iraqis, who put on the shoes of hospitable hosts, provide visitors with free massages and open up their houses to rest without charge. The Mawkebs (or food stalls) serve a variety of food ranging from South Asian cuisines to local Iraqi food. ‘’The scene shifted, the drab shades of light brown were sparkled, and the mounds of dirt were erected into a golden kingdom, a small kingdom, but a kingdom nonetheless. It gleamed like a mirage. And encircled in the dusty brown hues of the Iraqi desert sand, emerged the two golden domes of the shrine of Hussein Ibn Ali and his brother Abbas Ibn Ali.’’[4]

Image source: Pinterest (HAS)

The Islamic State and the Politicization of Arbaeen The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq has rendered Arbaeen into a political protest as much as a cultural and religious gathering. The Fall of Mosul to ISIL, the geopolitical and sectarian changes in the region embodied by the ‘Shiite Crescent,’ and the politicization of Arbaeen by Iran have all contributed to this shift.[11] The capturing of Mosul by ISIL in June of 2014 and the consequent massacres of the Shiite communities, considered ‘apostate’ by the Sunni militants, have been incorporated into the grieving process of the Arbaeen pilgrimage. Theology lecturer Sayed Mahdi al-Modarresi described the pilgrimage under the looming threat of Daesh as “the biggest annual gathering, longest continuous dining table, largest number of people fed for free, largest group of volunteers serving a single event, all under the imminent threat of suicide bombings”. [12]Indeed, pilgrims have repeatedly been targeted by ISIL, and other Sunni militias - deadly attacks in 2013, 2014, and 2016 were reported.[13]

26 ‘’I opened my eyes under the plain night sky of Samarra, laying down in the court of the Golden Mosque.[14] The destroyed dome[15]blended into the gloomy background. A tent stood as a partition between men and women. The limited space of the property was equivalent to the entire city for us. Beyond the vicinity of the shrine was a heavily guarded area where marks of ISIL shone in the form of deeply embedded bullets on the shabby and shattered city walls.’’[4]

The 2020 Arbaeen pilgrimage marks the active effort by prominent Shiite clerics to depoliticize the gathering. Ayatollah Ali Sistani founded the “Maukib al-Atabatain,” a group of clerics that were to “propagate the message of Imam Hussain during Arbaeen" and “correct the course after years of politicization of the religious occasion” by making sure no political factions and foreign countries organized rallies and waved their flags.[16] During this year’s pilgrimage, a protest against corruption and foreign political influence in Iraq broke out but was rapidly controlled. Nonetheless, it was fodder for the Tehran propaganda machine that has persistently framed Iraq’s protests against its interference as sustained by pro-Islamic State militias and Baathists.

Image source: TheArabWeekly

Pilgrimage Under Different Governments ‘’How high were the chances of being attacked by ISIL? How unsafe it was to travel to Iraq? But many traveled and still travel, millions marched on the 20th Safar in 2016, and millions march every year, despite the threat, to commemorate the martyrdom of Hussein Ibn Ali on the day of Arbaeen, making it one of the largest religious gatherings. They[17] say it is Bab-eShifa, the door of blessing, and that the walk to Karbala is the walk to heaven.’’[4]

Image source: Pinterest (HAS)

The pilgrimage has not only been under peril from ISIL but in the past has been suppressed by different Iraqi governments, who feared it might threaten their rule. Hussein’s dome was destroyed and rebuilt many times, [18] and the Shiite processions were also repressed in the past.[19] Under the Abbasid Caliph Mutawakkil, the pilgrimage to Karbala was banned, and the mausoleum of Hussein was demolished. Similarly, Shiites did not enjoy much freedom in practicing their religion under the Iraqi Baath regime, and the pilgrimage was ‘closely monitored and limited.’ [20] Due to the intricate nature of religion and politics in the region, past governments who were predominantly Sunni also framed these processions as Shiite political protests and linked them to Iran and its ‘Shiite Crescent.’ It was only after the fall of Saddam Hussein that Shiites from outside Iraq came en masse. And the numbers have roughly grown since then - until the breakout of COVID-19.[21]

COVID-19 As the world’s largest annual pilgrimage, the COVID-19 pandemic has significantly challenged the organization of the Arbaeen pilgrimage. Scientists warned that “infectious diseases are the most common health threat in mass gatherings” and that “due to the spiritual purpose of the walk, some pilgrims might believe that there are low health risks and won’t follow the protective measures”.[22] In early September of 2020, the Iraqi government announced that it would close its borders to visitors. [23] It restricted foreign pilgrims to 1,500 per country by plane, while Iran was authorized to send an additional 2,500 pilgrims overland.[24] Counting 4,172 new cases of COVID-19 on the last day of Arbaeen, Iraq was one of the worst-hit countries in the region and mitigation measures were put in place by Karbala authorities. Nonetheless, the pilgrims hailing from all corners of Iraq overwhelmed some popular religious sites. Pilgrims underlined the importance of being in Karbala this particular Arbaeen to commemorate the Shiite paramilitary groups that were essential to the caliphate’s fall in Iraq in 2017.[25]

Image source: rfi)


‘’I leaned against the pillar inside one of the courts of Zarih-e-Hussein. [26] It was the break of dawn. The rays of sun entered through the skylights, and pigeons dangled around the golden arms of the sun. In the distance, I could hear a man, stationed in a bowing position, facing the grave of Hussein, crying, and reciting, ‘...Peace be upon the son of Zamzam and al-Safaa. Peace be upon him, who was saturated in his blood. Peace be upon the loneliest of the lonely. Peace be upon the greatest martyr of all martyrs. Peace be upon the one for whom the heavenly Angels wept. Peace be upon the one who is at rest in Karbala....’’[4]

Image source: Nation.pk

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Interview Conducted by Nicole Alkhouri and Muneera Aldarwish Fusayfsa' interviewed Smith student Sevval Ercin about her relationship with and interest in the MENA+ region. Sevval is a Middle East Studies and Government double major, and a Poetry concentrator. Although she's spent most of her life living in Miami, Florida, Sevval's family is originally from Turkey: "my parents are from [Sivas]… in the heartland of the country." Sevval acknowledges that not all Turkish people feel as though they are part of a broader Middle Eastern world, but she says that she has "always felt Middle Eastern." Adding that this might be because she grew up in the U.S., where Turkey feels a lot closer to the Middle East than it might to someone growing up in Turkey. Further, as a Muslim, she feels that her Islamic perspective has also connected her to the Middle East and the rest of the Arab world. Every summer Sevval goes back to Turkey to visit her grandparents, and one of her favorite memories of Turkey is when Ramadan falls in the summertime: the streets and mosques are decorated with lights, and at the end of the month there is a large communal Iftar table in the middle of the town. Sevval's family has iftar on the balcony of her aunt's apartment, which she describes as "very beautiful with the lights, and being outside in the cool air." Ever humorous, Sevval added that the food—typically lentil soup, dolma, and baklava—is not the only thing she enjoys about Ramadan celebrations in Turkey: "my father's side of the family were always… loud and arguing and talking a lot, and I just love Ramadan because they had to shut up! Once it came time for Iftar, they had to stop talking and they just had to eat." She is joking, of course, but her descriptions of family life are as relatable as they are charming. Before COVID-19, Sevval also ran Smith's Middle East & North Africa organization, which she hopes will be up and running again once students are back on campus. The point of the club is "to provide a space for students to hang out… to meet, and talk, and catch up." On her decision not to run meetings over the past semester, Sevval told us "with Zoom classes, and

so much of our lives already online, I didn't really feel like I should ask people to meet online, too." But all hope is not lost for the club, which had fallen to the wayside once before, and it was Sevval herself who revived it and made many new plans, including for a festival: "Inshallah someone can do it next year, if COVID ever ends!" Sevval speaks Turkish fluently, and as part of her coursework at Smith, she is also learning Arabic. A desire to connect with Islam on a deeper level has partly inspired her to pursue the language: "I just wanted to understand prayers more, I wanted to read the Quran, and focus more on the Quran."

29 For Sevval, Arabic language is a way for her to connect with Islam and her Islamic identity, but also with a broader Arab identity: "I think they're related, for sure." Inspired by her love of film—and television in particular—as well as by classes she has taken at Smith, Sevval seeks a deeper analysis of representations of Muslim and Middle Eastern people in media that goes beyond simply recognizing stereotypes and misconceptions. Her work seeks to interrogate the very purpose of creating film and media about Middle Eastern people. She talked with us about some important considerations regarding it: "it should not be painting a postcard for people… [the point is to] make the picture a bigger picture". For Sevval, a 'bigger picture' means delving deep into the lives of Muslim and Middle Eastern characters, creating an on-screen presence that is as rich and three dimensional as the lives of real people. After she graduates, Sevval hopes to work on a screenplay that fulfils these goals and enriches what she believes representation in media should look like.



After ISIS lost to the Kurdish forces (PYD) in 2019[1], the Kurds sent the women and children of ISIS to camps in Northeast Syria.[2]. While we don’t know exactly how many people live in these camps, it is estimated that 12-13.5 thousand non-Iraqi and non-Syrian women and children live there[9][10]. These camps, while inhabited by people, are not inhabitable places. The water there is dirty; there is a tent shortage, and available tents can’t handle tough weather; there are few guards to secure safety for the children and women; there is no school; and children are dying from treatable diseases due to lack of proper health care[3]. Children from accross the globe are being punished for their parents’ jihadist crimes. Crimes they didn’t commit. Their countries neglected them. Not all countries have neglected their young citizens. Turkey, Russia, Kosovo, Uzbekistan, and Kazakhstan have each returned around 100 mothers and children to rehabilitation centres[2]. These children are living in better conditions than their friends in Syrian camps. While this doesn’t ensure absent exposure to Jihadist ideologies, their countries are taking more action to prevent it than ‘humanitarian’ countries, like France[2]. There are 300 French children in Syrian camps. Only 18 children returned to their homeland. France imposes a caseby-case policy; if the child is an orphan or sick, then the government might take them back. They justify such a law with three key arguments: it isn’t easy to confirm parentage, thus citizenship isn’t granted for these kids; they are worried for the safety of French diplomats if sent to Syria; and they don’t want to separate children from their mothers. However, these women aren’t accepted in France, thus neither the children nor the parents will return to their country[2]. Image source: NYT

31 I believe France’s first two ‘arguments’ aren’t valid concerns and are excuses to neglect these children. Identifying children has been a struggle for Kurds[4]; however, it isn’t difficult to confirm parentage if one claims to be French. The government could compare the children’s DNA with their parents who have French nationality. If both parents are dead, they could compare a family member’s DNA with the children’s DNA. These tests cost €250-400[5]. The French government gives its citizens €1,000 to secure their new-born babies[6]. If the French government is willing to pay €1,000 for each of their 753,000 new-borns in 2019[7], it is not an issue to check the identities of these 300 children, which might only cost them €124,000. As for diplomats, France could easily employ locals to secure and check on French children. This leads me to believe that France is camouflaging their inhumanity with made-up struggles to avoid doing what is right. Their last argument is more complicated. Taking away children from their mothers might spark more radical hatred towards France. But so will neglecting these children in PYD camps. Many women and children are discontent with the current conditions they live in[8]. This, in turn, makes them angrier at the West and more committed to ISIS beliefs [2]. This is most evident in a YouTube video of an American father looking for his two children in these camps. In the search, an ISIS woman was asked if she saw the two kids. She said the father must go back to America to find his children, since it’s America who’s killing them [4]. Additionally, France refuses to let in French terrorist women because they have committed a crime and should be punished in Syria[2]. On that note, why would France leave children in the hands of the worst criminals in modern history? Why would France pass down its responsibilities to Kurds to care for the kids? If they cared about their citizens regardless of their religion and ethnic background, why wouldn’t French governors try their best to foster these children? Not only that, why doesn’t the country provide basic needs for its citizens in these camps? The PYD is clearly unable to handle the situation, as is clear in the living conditions of the camps. Countries must take their citizens back. It’s a humanitarian obligation. If France and all other countries truly cared for their children, they would at least improve the living conditions. They would fund the camps, open schools, hire more guards, provide better tents, clean the camps, and send medical teams to care for the physical and mental health of these children. An interviewer once accounted for how different ISIS children behaved around strangers in Syrian camps than children in any other refugee camps. Usually, kids would ask to be interviewed and have their pictures taken , but ISIS children were more suspicious of strangers[1]. This suspicion will grow bigger if we continue to treat them without dignity and compassion.

Manar Alnazer is a first year at Smith College, majoring in computer science. She is an international student from Saudi Arabia.

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Since the start of the civil war in Yemen, the Houthis, the Ta'izz Resistance, the Southern Transitional Council, and the Aden Security Forces have all engaged women in their respective security and policing operations to some extent. The Houthi movement’s reliance on Zainabiyat, a military intelligence apparatus that is entirely run by women and actively targets nonHouthi and other dissenting women, has been documented extensively by official reports and personal accounts. Meanwhile, First Lieutenant Hanan Ja’far based in Hudaydah province has received significant media attention and became a symbol of women’s participation in the Yemeni police throughout the war. Rim Mugahed, a non-resident sociology researcher at the Sana’a Center for Strategic Studies and a novelist, focuses on women in prisons, community perceptions of women policing and female voices, transitional justice, and various other social issues in Yemen. She joins us to discuss women in the police force during the Yemeni Civil War. Has the proportion of women in the police increased or decreased since the start of the war? Governmental, civil, and service institutions such as the police no longer have a real and actual presence on the ground because of the war. The security services have replaced all the policing institutions with militias and armed groups. Security control has become the responsibility of the controlling parties on the ground. The warring parties have effectively become the police and the de facto rulers. There are thus no women in the police because as an institution it is essentially defunct. Do Yemeni women play a role in the army or militias? Are there female units? The war has had a significant role in the polarization of Yemen on regional, sectarian and ideological basis. Women did not play a key role in this polarization process and it seems that the militias and conflicting parties were able to take advantage of this. In Sana’a, there is the Zainabiyat, the female armed wing of the Houthi militia. They carry out violent attacks towards women who oppose the Houthi authority and have, for example, carried away demonstrators. News reports also depict their responsibility for the arbitrary arrests and extortion of women and for running women’s detention centers. In the south, pictures of armed women belonging to the Transition Council were exchanged on social media but to my knowledge no actual violence took place. In Ta’izz, women became part of the so-called resistance, and many girls ‘graduated’ from this training, but they were ultimately excluded under orders from the top, and many of them faced humiliation and abuse. Do the women that participate in policing and security forces belong to specific groups? Before the war, the women who joined the police or army belonged to the lower middle class. The families of richer women would not allow for this ‘gender-mixing’. Since the war, whether a woman joins the police or army depends on their economic situation and regional affiliation, and before this ideological and sectarian affiliation. You can’t be, for example, part of the resistance in Ta’izz and work in a police station affiliated with the Houthis in Sanaa. Do women participate in ongoing military operations in Yemen? I do not suppose they are participating in any military operations. Perhaps only security operations inside the cities, but not formally in the organized armies or fighting militias.

33 In December of 2014, not long before the battle of Aden that spiraled Yemen into a full-fledged Civil War, a report by NGO Saferworld depicted the potential positive impacts of Yemen’s National Dialogue Conference’s vow to expand and empower “women in the work of the security services and the military and intelligence”- from improved gender-based violence response to use of less excessive force. Yet, as this interview, extensive research, and a new report on the recruitment of young girls aged 13 to 17 by the Houthi militia demonstrates, the Yemeni civil war has transformed the institution of law enforcement into a distinctly partisan and defunct one. This interview was conducted in Arabic and was edited for clarity.

Hebatalla Taha is a Lecturer at Leiden University whose research deals with violence, insecurity, and political economy. Clara Broekaert is a student at Smith College focusing on development and security studies.



Misconceptions of Islam There is a conception problem when it comes to the Western world's view of Islam. The majority of Americans view Islam the least favorably of the seven major religions. Certain European nations (Greece, Poland, Hungary) have unfavorable opinions of Islam at an over sixty percent clip and equate the religion to groups like ISIS and to violence, according to a Pew Research study. Pew Research studies regularly find that Islamic populations overwhelmingly have negative views of groups like ISIS. American Muslims, by and large, are liberals, support looser immigration restrictions, and accept homosexuality. All this while most Muslims in the United States do not feel they are a part of mainstream American life. So, where does this rift come from? Enduring Centuries of Exploitation Two centuries ago, the West's imperialist powers brought havoc to the Middle East and laid the groundwork for the instability that is perpetuated and exploited to this day. The British empire took Egypt in 1882, by this time they controlled much of the western Persian Gulf, and ran Iran's petroleum industry for forty-five years after discovering oil in 1908. British imperialism in the region served to protect their access to colonies in modern-day India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh. Post-World War I, Palestine, Jordan, and Iraq also fell under England's control. Similarly by the turn of the nineteenth century, the French held three Arab territories — Algeria, Morocco, and Tunisia — and attained Lebanon and Syria after the Great War. By 1932, seventeen Middle Eastern nations were under European control, between the British, French, and Italians. The United States, and their Zionist allies, are the most powerful and most recent imperialists to find their footing in destabilizing the region for capital gain. Terrorism is, of course, not fundamental to Islam. Instead, fundamentalism is allowed to wreak havoc across the Islamic world because of the regions being stripped of resources, or in many cases, stripped of entire cities by the warhawking interests of Western capitalism. Scholars like Cheryl Benard and many others recognize the seemingly obvious fact that Islamic terrorism is a product of material conditions and not a prerequisite of Islam. Image source: Heritage Images

35 Furthermore, scholars on Islamic political thought have claimed that leaders who simply disavow the extremely conservative terror groups are not enough. Western conflicts with groups like ISIS and Al-Qaeda are well documented. Still, the western backing of "Moderate Islamic" leaders and groups have also been a noted failure in the effort to secure a more balanced and prosperous Middle East. Setting the bar at those willing to condemn violence and terrorism is not enough as it leads to a large portion of those willing to work alongside the Western powers, often being somewhere along the lines of an "aggressive traditionalists" view of Islam. And while not directing violence towards the West, Western values and ideals are seen as perverse. This division serves to further separate the general Islamic community from their brothers and sisters abroad and from the westerners with whom they would generally share many core beliefs. More Alike than Dissimilar US hegemony is now unchecked; global capitalism has seen no real challenging ideology since the collapse of the Soviet Union.. There are socialist parties worldwide, but most who attempt to seize power are crushed, and violently so. If Islam is made to be the cultural rival to the Western world, a view pushed by white supremacists and warhawks alike, then socialism is made to be economical, and in a materialistic perspective, the societal rival to the West. Whether it's the US reaction to Iran flirting with nuclear capability or the backing of socialist genocides in Indonesia in the 1960s, it is clear that rivals to Western hegemony are viewed through the same (sniper's) lens as expendable hostiles. An Unexpected Example We can look to an unexpected place to see an intersection of all these competing forces and to discover who the victors of these struggles have ultimately been, time and time again. On October 25, 2004, the Thai army and police opened fire, crushed and suffocated ethnic Malay Muslim protesters, killing eighty-five in the Tak Bai district of Narathiwat province. The military detained more than 1,200 people for days and denied them medical care, causing many to lose limbs. The courts found all officers innocent. Brad Adams, the Asia director at Human Rights Watch, pointed to this fact regarding the separatist insurgency that rages on still: "The Thai authorities' failure to deliver justice to southern Muslims has fueled conditions for the insurgency in the deep south." A large contributor to the tensions that led to protests and hostility in the region was thought to be the Thai government's cultural insensitivity and promotion of practices like endorsing Western tourism in the mostly Muslim area in South Thailand. Now in 2020, even as protests for democracy have erupted in the nation's capital, the majority-Buddhist country and protestors often see their struggle as an insulated one from those in the South. Both struggles stem from the same beast, the Cerberus of capitalism, which in the western lap-dog state of Thailand strikes all citizens with indiscriminate economic violence. And while it reflects the global Western versus Islamic struggle, the cultural solidarity that the Buddhists and Muslims in Thailand have yet to bridge reflects perhaps a deeper, more troubling pattern of division between the victims of global capitalism. Organizing Through the Spiritual So, how do ideologies of socialism and Islam that hold freedom from oppression so close to their creed intersect? It is no secret that faith has played a significant role in liberation ideologies. They provide spiritual sustenance in times of great duress, including pain related to combating a states' systems of oppression. Religion has always sought to provide a spiritual connection to the community. In a materialist world, being sapped for consumption by the ruling class, there are very few meaningful communal spaces. Often people only feel collectivist ruminations when they are engaged with the varying religions or a patchwork of liberal political beliefs that often serve to further divide and alienate. If the Islamic world's struggle to guarantee their citizens, the Ummah, a better life unthreatened by their Western rivals is to succeed, then faulty US-backed democracies cannot be the endpoint. If socialists wish to build an international workers coalition that can organize to combat the injustices of capitalism transnationally, they must recognize the alliance will be religiously diverse, and it is fortunate for both sides that their cooperation could potentially serve to better both causes.

Austin Shifman is a senior at the University of Massachusetts - Amherst, and they will be graduating in the Spring of '21 with B.A. in Political Science and a certificate in Asian Studies. Their areas of personal research involve the history of leftist organizing in ASEAN countries, as well as modern-day movements for equality in the region.

Sara Diefalla



People of Middle Eastern and North African (MENA) descent have had a long and convoluted history with the United States government in terms of race. Unlike other minority racial groups, they were able to benefit from their racial classification up until the mid-twentieth century because people of MENA descent were classified as racially white by the U.S. government. Conjointly, also unlike other minority racial groups, they are often unable to benefit from diversity initiatives aimed at assisting those groups due to that classification, which continues to categorize MENA individuals as white. MENA students feel the effects of this, especially within higher education. Students of MENA descent must be classified by institutions of higher education as a minority group if the institutions hope to fully reap the benefits of their diversity initiatives. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) is a diverse region of the world composed of several nations and ethnic groups. A variety of distinct cultures, languages, and traditions thrive in the region. The umbrella classification of “white” does not adequately reflect the diversity of people who call the Middle East and North Africa home. To fully understand the region’s diversity, the U.S. Census Bureau conducted a forum in 2015 on ethnic groups found in the Middle East and North Africa. The purpose of the forum was to establish a working MENA category to test on the 2015 National Content Test, whose results would then be used to determine the necessity of a separate racial classification for MENA Americans.[1] The forum concluded that 19 nationalities and 10 ethnic groups would be included in the MENA classification: Nationalities: Algerian, Bahraini, Egyptian, Emirati, Iraqi, Iranian, Israeli, Jordanian, Kuwaiti, Lebanese, Libyan, Moroccan, Omani, Palestinian, Qatari, Saudi Arabian, Syrian, Tunisian, Yemeni Ethnic Groups: Arab or Arabic, Amazigh or Berber, Assyrian, Bedouin, Chaldean, Druze, Kurdish, Middle Eastern, North African, Syriac[2] The classification of MENA as white is tied to the evolution of whiteness in America. Race has been an evolving concept since the inception of the nation. The initial evolutions were prompted by the desire to construct an idea of whiteness that elevated Western Europeans over other ethnic and racial groups. The first framework used to determine race was dubbed as a scientific method; this method laid out three key markers for identifying the race and ethnicity of a person: “(1) be recognized by society and the individual; (2) categorize individuals into the same groups over a long period of time; and (3) be predictive of social and economic opportunity.”[3] Under the scientific model, any ethnic or racial group can make the bid for whiteness if they can successfully argue how they fulfill the aforementioned criteria.


The first avenue for naturalization came in the form of the Nationality Act, or the Naturalization Act of 1790. The Act granted citizenship to free, white aliens who had been residing in the United States for at least two years.[4] In 1870, the Act was amended to include “aliens of African nativity and persons of African descent” for naturalization.[5] In 1906, the Naturalization Act introduced an application process in which aliens could petition for naturalization through “loopholes in citizenship rules and procedures.”[6] Several people of non-Western European origin did, in fact, go through the courts to claim whiteness for the purpose of naturalization. Based on those loopholes, Takao Ozawa – a Japanese American – brought his case for naturalization before the Supreme Court in 1922. Born in Japan, Ozawa had lived in the United States for about twenty years.[7]However, the court denied the bid for naturalization because, despite the paleness of his skin tone, Ozawa was not considered white. The Court referred to the first marker of the scientific model: for someone to be considered white by society, “membership in the Caucasian race was a necessary (though not sufficient) condition.” [8] It is important to highlight that the court provided an out for themselves by specifying that Caucasian membership would not be enough on its own to successfully claim whiteness. A case brought forward by Bhagat Singh Thind in 1923 exhibited just that. Thind was an immigrant of Indian descent who believed that since anthropologists had classified the people of the Indian subcontinent as Caucasian, he was eligible for citizenship.[9] Despite that, the Supreme Court rejected this argument in favor of the first marker and in violation of the second marker of the scientific model. The Court effectively nullified the scientific model for race because their ruling neglected the fact that anthropologists have classified people of Indian descent as Caucasian, which had spoken to the first marker of the model.[10] Had the Court accepted Thind’s argument, the racial makeup of citizens in the United States would have significantly changed since people not of Western European or African descent would have been able to become citizens. The Ozawa and Thind cases pushed the United States away from a scientifically based notion of race to a more socially constructed notion of race. The scientific model had proven arduous in barring nonWestern Europeans from citizenship eligibility, so the Courts moved to a more performative model. This model laid out two avenues in which a petitioner could qualify for whiteness: they must demonstrate that they can assimilate and adopt white values, or they must demonstrate that their broader ethnic group could assimilate and adopt white values – white values being defined as closely tied with Western European and Christian practices.[11] This performance model was applied at the Court’s discretion when addressing racially ambiguous ethnic groups such as people of Middle Eastern descent.


In the early twentieth century, immigrants of Middle Eastern and North African descent were viewed more favorably relative to other ethnic groups in the United States, but the courts were divided. This largely had to do with the popular perception of the Middle East as an exotic, non-threatening region and the fact that many early Middle Eastern immigrants were Christian, appealing to the religious identity of European whiteness.[12] However, their citizenship was still contested in an onslaught of court cases that offered differing verdicts on whether or not people of Middle Eastern descent were considered white. In re Najour (1909) ruled that since Arabs were Caucasian, they must also be white.[13] In re Ellis (1910) specified that people of Syrian descent were white because they “possessed general acceptance as Caucasians” and proved that they were able to assimilate.[14] Dow v. United States (1915) followed the same logic as Ellis: Syrians were Caucasian and thus were white.[15] The landmark case that cemented the connection between the Middle East and whiteness was brought forward by Mohamed Mohriez to a Massachusetts federal court in 1944. The court stated that Mohriez, an Arab, was white because of the contributions of the Arab people to Western civilization, namely the preservation of Ancient Greek philosophy and inventions such as algebra.[16] The Mohriez case provided the necessary evidence for the assimilability of Middle Easterners needed for naturalization. Though Congress abolished the racial eligibility requirement for naturalization in 1952, making it possible for people of all races to apply for citizenship, race remained an important classification in respect to which groups benefited from civil rights protections and policies such as affirmative action.[17] Unfortunately, people of Middle Eastern and North African descent were left out of these due to a directive passed by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in 1977 that officially defined the white race as “a person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East.”[18]People of MENA descent faced an interesting predicament. Prior to the civil rights movement and the elimination of the racial requirement for naturalization, they fought through the courts to be considered white. However, after the civil rights movement and the inception of civil rights protections, they found themselves excluded from most civil rights laws. This is troubling because they neither have the protection of civil rights measures nor experience any of the privileges associated with whiteness. In the words of U.S. Representative Rashida Tlaib, many of MENA descent are faced with the question of “do I look white?”[19] The Middle East and North Africa is a vast region spanning 19 countries and housing countless ethnic groups. It is just as common to meet a dark-skinned Moroccan as it is to meet a blue-eyed blond-haired Jordanian. The OMB has blindly categorized individuals who should count as people of color under the classification of white, thus invalidating and erasing their lived experiences in America pertaining to xenophobia, racism, discrimination and much more.[20] This invalidation and its ramifications are apparent with Mostafa Hefny, an Egyptian man who was precluded from an employment opportunity aimed at benefiting disadvantaged minorities.[21] Hefny was dark-skinned and faced the same obstacles that African Americans face. However, because he was Egyptian, he was forced to identify as white.


This discrepancy between the lived experiences of MENA Americans and their categorization of white leaves them in a situation where they are left behind. MENA Americans face many of the same challenges and prejudices that other ethnic minority groups face in the United States, as well as unique challenges brought about by the post-9/11 world. The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for safeguarding transportation hubs, ensuring the safety of travelers, and reducing the risk of terrorist threats. But for most MENA Americans, the TSA is also responsible for them needing to arrive at the airport extra early to ensure that they don’t miss their flight in case they are randomly selected for extra screening. That care is not unwarranted. The ACLU found that many of the TSA’s training materials placed a disproportionate amount of emphasis on people of MENA or South Asian descent such as primarily featuring Arab or Muslim terrorist examples in presentations and documents. Although these training materials were discontinued in 2012, the damage had already been done.[22] They aided in exacerbating the racial profiling of people of MENA descent at transportation hubs. MENA Americans and people of MENA descent are randomly selected for extra screening so often that it has become somewhat of an inside joke within the community. This phenomenon follows the same rationale of New York City’s stop and frisk policies – the targeting of a racial or ethnic group driven by prejudice. In addition to institutional challenges, people of MENA descent are rarely viewed as white by society because of their differences from European and Anglo culture. The Middle East and North Africa is a region rich with culture, language, and tradition. Recent immigrants from the region and MENA Americans often still engage in cultural practices and traditions and may speak their native language while living in the United States, which sets people of MENA descent apart from white Anglo-Americans. For one, it shows that people of MENA descent largely are not fully assimilated into Anglo American whiteness since they have held onto their culture. Because of that lack of assimilation and presence of distinct culture, MENA Americans are other-ed and just as vulnerable as other ethnic minority groups to discrimination even though they are categorized as white. People of MENA descent are barred from taking advantage of several affirmative action programs and diversity initiatives due to their white categorization. This is especially prevalent in higher education. Most – if not all – federal affirmative action programs are only extended to Black, Hispanic, Asian, Pacific Islander, American Indian, or Alaskan Native people.[23] This eligibility framework is often followed by state and private affirmative action and diversity initiatives. For instance, the Gates Scholarship – a highly competitive full-ride college scholarship – stipulates that students may apply only if they are “AfricanAmerica, American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian & Pacific Islander American and/or Hispanic American.”[24]


Similarly, Amherst College’s Diversity Open House prioritizes students who come from “traditionally underrepresented groups, such as African-Americans, Hispanic/Latinx American, Native American, and Asian-American backgrounds.”[25] Both of the aforementioned programs fail to take into account MENA Americans. MENA Americans are an underrepresented ethnic group and must be considered as a minority group. Institutions of higher education that invest in making their student body more diverse do so for the betterment of the school’s academic environment. This inclination towards diversity is attributable to the interest convergence theory. This theory – developed by Harvard Law Professor Derrick Bell – makes the claim that social justice changes and advancements come into fruition because they align with the interests of the dominant group in power.[26] The push for diversity in higher education is correlated with the institutions’ desire for intellectual progression. However, for institutions of higher education to truly develop their academic environment with the aid of diversity, they must expand their definition of diverse groups to include students of MENA descent rather than rely on unhelpful, sweeping legal definitions. The invisibility of MENA students in higher education is similar to the plight faced by students with hidden disabilities. Hidden disabilities, which can include things such as learning disabilities and attention disorders, are often overlooked by higher education diversity initiatives.[27] Overlooking people with hidden disabilities detracts from the purpose of diversity initiatives in higher education because the institutions are not benefiting from the unique experiences and perspectives that these students can offer. Correspondingly, students of MENA descent are a hidden race. The white classification leads institutions of higher education to overlook the value of their contributions to the academic environment of the school and the societal roadblocks they might have faced. The interest convergence theory demands that the interests of the dominant group – the institutions of higher education – be realized through social justice advancements – diversity initiatives. Institutes of higher education benefit from including MENA individuals in their diversity initiatives. People of MENA descent in the United States have cycled through two modes of legal consciousness: “with the law” and “against the law”.[28] “With the law” is legal consciousness where the law is seen as something that can be “manipulated to pursue preferred outcomes”, while “against the law” is legal consciousness where the law is seen as a “dangerous, oppressive force.”[29] People of MENA descent have cycled through the former when they fought through the courts to be recognized as white to have the privilege of naturalization and have cycled through the latter once the racial requirement for naturalization was lifted and civil rights protections began developing. The “against the law” mentality has only been exacerbated by the treatment of MENA people in America. However, MENA Americans must switch back to a “with the law” mentality to reap the benefits of higher education diversity initiatives by redefining and highlighting what it means to be a person of MENA descent.


A MENA presence on a college campus is imperative because it reduces the prevalence of echo chambers. A robust MENA presence on college campuses is crucial for advancing the goal of cultivating an environment where students can feel empowered to share and engage in discourse involving diverse viewpoints and perspectives. In Grutter v. Bollinger (2003), Justice Sandra Day O’Connor touted the benefits of a diverse student body, namely focusing on the fact that members of ethnic groups don’t have to act as a spokesperson for their group when sufficient diversity is present.[30]A small MENA presence in an academic setting disincentives students from speaking out about sensitive issues for fear of backlash or retaliation. Speaking about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict could brand students as anti-Semitic, or talking about the War on Terror might brand students as anti-American.[31] Additionally, a small representation of any group on campus promotes the spokesperson phenomenon. Students must always be aware that since they are one of the few representations of their ethnic group, they must present themselves in a fashion that is palatable to the greater student body. This burden curtails their ability to genuinely engage in an open dialogue, especially if the topic is about sensitive issues such as the aforementioned PalestineIsraeli conflict or the War on Terror. This is neither conducive to academic discussions nor fair to students who are pressured to stifle and/or repackage their viewpoints. Rather than a handful of students being the window to an entire ethnic or racial group, a more diverse population would allow for a freer exchange of ideas without the burden of being the sole ethnic representative hanging over students’ shoulders. Institutions of higher education must recognize the value of having students on campus that can contribute to the dialogue, and MENA students can do just that. These institutions have already recognized the importance of racial, gender, geographic, and economic diversity as can be seen by their existing initiatives that seek out students from broadly different backgrounds. Lacking the insights that MENA students can offer is antithetical to the purpose of diversifying college campuses. Amherst College is an elite liberal arts college that boasts an extremely diverse student body relative to other liberal arts colleges. The college showcases the following on its admissions page: “Amherst College is proud of its efforts to achieve and sustain diversity in our community. Across many dimensions of diversity – geographic, racial/ethnic, socioeconomic, academic, extra-curricular – Amherst has assembled an exceptionally vibrant student body and is one of the most diverse of all liberal arts colleges in the country.”[32] This commitment to diversity is commendable and, in practice, has undoubtedly contributed to the betterment of the academic environment on campus. But despite that, Amherst College is not getting its bang for its buck with how its diversity initiatives are set up. The lack of an avenue for MENA students to distinguish themselves from their white racial classification prevents Amherst from fully leveraging the diversity it seeks.


The acknowledgement of people of MENA descent by institutions of higher education is imperative for the promotion of MENA rights in the long haul. It is important to note that a diverse student body better reflects the composition of the world that students will eventually enter after completing their education. Students that have interacted with people of MENA descent on campus will optimistically have unlearned the stereotypes and prejudice that plague MENA Americans in the broader American society. Although this will not solve the prejudice and racism that people of MENA descent face in the United States, it will empower MENA Americans to reclaim their “with the law” legal consciousness view and continue advocating for their rights. Having diversity on college campuses is imperative for academic development. The classification of MENA individuals as white does institutions of higher education a severe disservice in relation to their diversity goals. The MENA region is rich with history and culture and has a tremendous geopolitical impact in the world today. MENA students can offer an invaluable broad range of unique perspectives different from actual “white” students of European descent. People of MENA descent are diverse in every sense of the word, especially when juxtaposed with other minority racial and ethnic groups. While the classification of people of MENA descent as white effectively strips them of minority status in the eyes of the federal government, institutions of higher education must forgo that and consider MENA students as a minority group capable of contributing immensely to the academic environment.

Basma Azzamok is currently a student at Amherst College.



States in the Middle East North Africa region are often regarded as weak because they do not fulfill the standards of Western state success: they might have trouble taxing their citizens, redistributing wealth, and managing crime.[1] But when the vast majority of states in a given region fail to live up to certain criteria, it might be time to examine the rubric. It is not in the best interest of authoritarian states in MENA, including Egypt, Lebanon, and Algeria, to operate with high levels of rule of law, transparency, and accountability. Instead, the power of the state comes from political elites directly subverting these standards and operating under a different rule book. Their intentions are centered around the monopolization of authority, often by means of extraction of wealth. By evaluating MENA states by these different standards, as I will do in this essay, one will find that the states are in fact quite strong. First, it is important to understand what is meant by the state in the context of the Middle East. As defined in The Middle East, a state is “a human community that (successfully) claims the monopoly on the legitimate use of physical force within a given territory.”[2] In MENA, the state is closely linked to the regime, or the formal and informal institutions that influence the selection of leaders and policy-making and determine for whose benefit recourses and institutions are used.[3] The Middle East makes the distinction between regime and the individuals in power: while ‘regime’ is often used to refer to the years that a leader holds power (such as the ‘Mubarak regime’) it is important to note that one can often find strong continuity in regime, even as the leader changes.[4] The state is also structured in terms of institutions; hence, the regime of a given country will operate through those institutions—the mechanisms of the state. Wealth extraction and patronage are some of the main devices used by MENA authoritarian states to maintain power. Here, patronage refers to the allocation of government jobs based on personal connection and regime loyalty, as opposed to merit. In the case of Egypt, where the military has exercised decades of control, “[s]cholars have documented the military’s control over large segments of the economy, including… the production of everything from clothing to foodstuffs to pots and pans to kitchen appliances to automobiles.”[5] Moreover, members of the military can be found in positions of local government and public companies.[6] By these means, the Egyptian military was able to influence the very constitution of the country to benefit their economic interests: as of 2013, the military’s budget is largely exempt from parliamentary oversight, and the regulation of military affairs is delegated to a group of generals.[7] By monopolizing important industrial economies and proliferating its members throughout society, the Egyptian military has effectively created a strong system of linkages. Besides Egypt, governments in Algeria, Jordan, Morocco, Syria, and Tunisia rely heavily on patronage networks as well.[8]


As described in The Middle East, “wasta” (personal connections) and “baksheesh” (bribes or tips) are essential parts of the economic system in MENA.[9] By entrenching more and more military personnel in positions of authority, Egypt is effectively perpetuating and strengthening a system in which citizens are economically reliant on the military. Thus, the military exercises power by the mechanism of the patronage networks it has established: while the country suffers from high unemployment rates, the military holds the power to extend potentially lucrative job opportunities. Examples of the co-optation of privatized companies for personal enrichment can also be found in Lebanon. As Steven Heydemann describes in his paper “Key Features of Authoritarian Upgrading,” the privatization of the telecommunications sector led to fierce competition among business elites, and eventually went to benefit former chiefs of staff and police.[10] More recently, the Lebanese government also attempted to impose a tax on messaging services, including WhatsApp, to generate state revenue.11 The effort was largely recognized as an effort by the government to regain wealth after decades of corruption, and protests ensued that resulted in the cancellation of the proposal.[12] The attempt can still be regarded, however, as an example of a government’s ability to adapt taxation strategy as new technologies proliferate in MENA. Moreover, when we begin to analyze the benefits of patronage networks and extraction for states in MENA, arguments (such as those put forward in The Middle East) that the state in MENA is weak largely because “[t]he region lacks institutions that depersonalize and depoliticize the distribution of goods and services” begin to seem nonsensical.[13] Again, it is simply not in the interest of the state to develop these institutions, and the state itself derives its strength from the lack of these institutions as elites accumulate personal wealth. They have little incentive to develop institutions to properly distribute goods and services outside of what is necessary to maintain their “authoritarian bargains,” or the exchange of citizen’s personal freedoms under the regime in exchange for economic security. Patronage networks also play a role in managing political contestation and perpetuating the longevity of the regime. In oil driven economies, for example, elites can use oil wealth to buy support instead of appealing to public interest and relying upon democratic principles. Generally speaking, political parties in MENA have become a vehicle for the further development of patronage networks and the co-optation of elites.[14] While changes have been made to voting laws in recent years, the changes “have less to do with democratization than with making elections safe for authoritarianism.”[15] While there is, in theory, more opportunity for political opposition to participate, there is still heavy restriction and surveillance on opposition parties and election. The law is used to impose regulations and requirements for opposition parties that often limit and obstruct parties from forming or gaining a platform at all.[16] Furthermore, political opposition and elections can be used to project the illusion of legitimacy while the dominant party inevitably wins by an overwhelming majority. Algeria, for example, has a multiparty system that is, in reality, completely controlled by elites and serves more as a legitimizing quota system than as an expression of public opinion.[17] Polls are yet another example of the exercise of patronage: vote counts are often run by officials who are loyal and owe their jobs to the dominant party, and ballot boxes are frequently stuffed.[18]


It should be acknowledged that the citizens of these countries are not completely persuaded by these pretenses of democracy. In the case of Algeria, voters are apathetic and election participation is low.[19] Despite the presence of so called democratic institutions, citizens are unable to affect change through these mechanisms. However, the limited opportunities that some regimes are beginning to offer their political opposition still serve as a funnel and diversion for political discontent. By these means, regimes are often able to oversee and mitigate potential uprisings and sources of political grievances. The law is also used to undermine anti-government protests and civil societies. For decades countries such as Egypt, Algeria, and Syria have been in a ‘state of emergency’ that legally justifies the imprisonment of political activists and opposition leaders without accountability.[20] Civil societies can in fact pose a legitimate threat to regimes; in the case of Tunisia’s recent shift to democracy, for example, the Tunisian General Labour Union (UGTT) was a key player in supporting the efforts of the protests and assisting later negotiations out of political crisis.[21] In their efforts to regulate NGOs MENA states will often pass laws restricting their funding and activities. Consider, for example, the Law of Associations passed in Egypt in 2002.[22] Overall, organizations are weakened in their abilities to actually hold governments accountable, and the lack of clarity and inconsistent application of the law leaves uncertainty about which activities might be punished.[23] Such laws garner international disapproval, however. One strategy authoritarian MENA states have undertaken in their management of civil societies is to permit organizations that promote non-politically-threatening agendas, such as women’s rights campaigns or education.[24] Allowing organizations such as this has a positive impact on a state’s international reputation while the state’s actions continue unchecked. In summary, MENA states preserve their autonomy by destabilizing civil society organizations that have the potential to act as a political check. By analyzing the effectiveness of authoritarian states in MENA through their success at establishing and maintaining patronage networks, extracting wealth, managing political contestation and subverting civil society, one finds that the state is relatively strong. With this analysis comes the realization that standard, Western norms for determining state strength (such as rule of law, accountability and transparency, and economic redistribution) may be somewhat irrelevant in these cases. This is not to say that we shouldn’t measure or expect these qualities in MENA states, but to continually demarcate the state as ‘weak’ without reevaluating the standards from which this conclusion is drawn disregards the reality of what many of these regimes were designed to accomplish.

Mika Yassur is a sophomore at Smith College. She is studying Government and Philosophy, and is particularly interested in comparative politics.


Endnotes The significance of James Morier’s (1782-1849) The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan in the European and Iranian contexts, and the Iranian reception of Mirza Habib Isfahani’s (1835-1893) translation [1]James Justinian Morier was a British diplomat who worked in Iran for a number of years as a secretary to Sir Harford Jones-Brydges, a British envoy to the shah. [2]Abbas Amanat, “Hajji Baba of Ispahan,” Encyclopædia Iranica, vol 11, no. 6 (2003). [3] Edward Said, Orientalism (Vintage Books, 1979). [4] Mirza Habib Isfahani was an Iranian man of letters (poet, grammarian, intellectual, etc). He made his translation of Hajji Baba while in exile in the Ottoman Empire. [5]Amir Ahmadi Arian, “The Unstable People of a Tumultuous Land: Persia Through the Eyes and Feet of Hajji Baba of Isfahan,” Iranian Studies, vol. 49, no. 1 (2016): 59. [6] “Ahmak” actually means stupid/foolish; it is a play on the name “Ahmad.” [7]Amir Ahmadi Arian, “The Unstable People of a Tumultuous Land,” 69. [8]Abbas Amanat, Encyclopædia Iranica (2003). [9]A form of torture which involves caning the soles of the victim’s feet. [10]Amir Ahmadi Arian, “The Unstable People of a Tumultuous Land,” 72. [11]Ibid. [12] James Morier, The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan (London, John Murray, 1824): lxxi. [13] Moslem Fatollahi, “Cannibalism and Cultural Manipulation: How Morier is Received in the Persian Literary Canon,” Human Affairs, vol. 28 (2018): 145. [14] Peter Laslett, The World We Have Lost: Further Explored (Routledge, 2004): 82. [15] Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans (Oxford University Press, 2009): 191-2. [16]Abbas Amanat, Encyclopædia Iranica (2003). [17] Amir Ahmadi Arian, “The Unstable People of a Tumultuous Land,” 59. [18]Maria Todorova, Imagining the Balkans, 203. [19]Another less significant impact the text may have had in Britain was that of eliciting well-meaning sympathy among the populace. Maria Todorova argues that the healthy British appetite for Orientalist literature and travelogues went hand-in-hand with a seemingly never-ending well of sympathies for the plights of the East’s unfortunate inhabitants. Travelogues to nearby Circassia and the campaigning of David Urquhart in this same period resulted in British advocacy campaigns for Circassia’s victimization at the hands of Russia. A contemporary is quoted as saying that the appeal of the plights of the poor in the East was, “... the capacity of some of us to salve our consciences for neglecting the unpicturesque poor of the East End of London by taking an interest in the picturesque poor of the East End of Europe.” (Todorova, Imagining the Balkans, 215). [20] Edward Said identifies the legacies of Orientalism today more insightfully than I am able, and writes: “... the terrible reductive conflicts that herd people under falsely unifying rubrics like “America”, “the West”, or “Islam” and invent collective identities for large numbers of individuals who are actually quite diverse, cannot remain as potent as they are, and must be opposed…” (Said, Orientalism, xxviii). [21] Moslem Fatollahi, “Cannibalism and Cultural Manipulation,” 148. [22] Abbas Amanat, Encyclopædia Iranica, 2003. [23]Kamran Rastegar, Literary Modernity Between the Middle East and Europe (Routledge, 2007). [24] Abbas Amanat, Iran: A Modern History (Yale University Press, 2017): 316. [25] Abbas Amanat, Iran, 317. [26] Edward Said, Orientalism, xviii.


Endnotes Haram or Halal: The Permissibility of Music in Islam [1Merriam-Webster, s.v. “Music” [2]Nelson, “The Qur’an Recited”,187 [3]Ibid, 188 [4]Ibid, 189 [5]Ibid, 188 [6]Nasr, “Islam and Music: The Legal and Spiritual Dimensions”, 223 [7]Chicago Mawlid Committee [8]Katz, “Birthday of the Prophet”,3 9]Nasr, “Islamic and Music: The Legal and Spiritual Dimensions”, 224 [10]Ibid [11]Nasr, “Islam and Music: The Legal and Spiritual Dimensions”, 222; Ibid, 225 [12]Ibid, 221 [13]Ibid, 226 [14]Ibid, 227 [15] Ibid [16]Otterbeck, “Battling over the Public Sphere: Islamic Reactions to the Music of Today”, 1 [17]Ibid [18]Ibid [19]Ibid [20]Nasr, “Islam and Music: The Legal and Spiritual Dimensions”, 222 [21]Erguner, Jounreys of a Sufi Muslim, 114 [22]Dalrymple, Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India, 113 [23]Crow, “‘Sama’: The Art of Listening in Islam”, 3 [24]Ibid, 2 [25]Nasr, “Islam and Music: the Legal and Spiritual Dimensions”, 228 [26]Naser, “Islam and Music: the Legal and Spiritual Dimensions” The Creation of Legitimacy and Erasure of Reality in Medieval Prescriptive Literature [1]“The Koran: Marium,” University of Michigan Library Digital Collections, accessed March 3, 2017, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=DIV0&byte=468143. [2]“The Koran: The Women,” University of Michigan Library Digital Collections, accessed March 3, 2017, ttp://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=DIV0&byte=114839. [3]Huda Lufti, “Manners and Customs of Fourteenth-Century Cairn Women: Female Anarchy versus Male Shar’i Order in Muslim Prescriptive Treatises,” in Women in Middle Eastern History: Shifting Boundaries in Sex and Gender, ed. Nikki R. Keddie and Beth Baron (New Haven: Yale University Press, 2008): 99.[4]Ibid, 105. [5]Sanaz Alasti, “Comparative Study of Stoning Punishment in the Religions of Islam and Judaism,” Justice Policy Journal 4, no. 1 (2007) : 7, accessed March 4, 2017. [6]Lufti, “Manners and Customs of Fourteenth-Century Cairn Women: Female Anarchy versus Male Shar’i Order in Muslim Prescriptive Treatises,” 105. [7]Ibid, 113.


Endnotes Invisible Minorities: MENA Students and Their Exclusion from Higher Education Diversity [1]Census Bureau: 2015 Forum on Ethnic Groups From the Middle East and North Africa: Meeting Summary and Main Findings Report. (2016). PR Newswire., 1. [2] Census Bureau, E-1. [3] Humes, Karen, and Howard Hogan. “Measurement of Race and Ethnicity in a Changing, Multicultural America.” Race and Social Problems 1, no. 3 (2009): 111–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-009-9011-5., 112. [4]Imai, Shiho. "Naturalization Act of 1790," Densho Encyclopedia https://encyclopedia.densho.org/Naturalization%20Act%20of%201790/. [5] Ibid. [6] Shiho .[7]Tehranian, John. “Performing Whiteness: Naturalization Litigation and the Construction of Racial Identity in America.” The Yale Law Journal 109, no. 4 (2000): 817–48. https://doi.org/10.2307/797505., 822. [8]Ibid., 822. [9]Ibid., 822. [10]Ibid., 822. [11] Tehranian, “Performing Whiteness,” 823. [12]Tehranian, John, “From Friendly Foreigner to Enemy Race,” in Whitewashed: Americas Invisible Middle Eastern Minority. New York: New York University Press, 2010. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.amherst.edu/login.aspx? direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1021122&site=ehost-live&scope=site. [13]Tehranian, “Performing Whiteness,” in Whitewashed. [14]Tehranian, “Performing Whiteness,” in Whitewashed. [15]Ibid. [16]Ibid. [17]Tehranian, “From Friendly Foreigner to Enemy Race,” Whitewashed. [18]“OMB Directive 15: Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 8, 2005. https://wonder.cdc.gov/wonder/help/populations/bridged-race/directive15.html. [19]NowThis News. “Rashida Tlaib Questions Why 2020 Census Erases Middle Eastern & North African Identity | NowThis”. YouTube video, 5:33. Posted [2020]. https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=qUQNzziXd1Y [20] Ibid. [21]Tehranian, “From Friendly Foreigner to Enemy Race,” Whitewashed [22]Handeyside, Hugh. “New Documents Show This TSA Program Blamed for Profiling Is Unscientific and Unreliable - But Still It Continues.” American Civil Liberties Union, May 13, 2019. https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/discriminatory-profiling/new-documents-show-tsaprogram-blamed-profiling. [23]Tehranian, “Performing Whiteness,” in Whitewashed. [24]“Gates: Scholarship.” The Gates Scholarship, www.thegatesscholarship.org/scholarship. [25] “Diversity Programs.” Diversity Programs | Admission & Financial Aid | Amherst College, www.amherst.edu/admission/diversity. [26] Weeden, Darnell L. "In Fisher v. University of Texas Derrick Bell's Interest Convergence Theory is on a Collision Course with the Viewpoint Diversity Rationale in Higher Education." Utah Law Review OnLaw 2016 (2016): 102.


Endnotes Invisible Minorities: MENA Students and Their Exclusion from Higher Education Diversity [27] Leake, David W., and Robert A. Stodden. 2014. “Higher Education and Disability: Past and Future of Underrepresented Populations.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability 27 (4): 399–408. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.amherst.edu/login.aspx? direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1059990&site=eds-live&scope=site., 400. [28] Hull, Kathleen E. 2016. “Legal Consciousness in Marginalized Groups: The Case of LGBT People.” Law & Social Inquiry 41 (3): 551–72. doi:10.1111/lsi.12190., 552. [29] Ibid., 552. [30] Kirkland, Anna, and Ben B. Hansen, “How Do I Bring Diversity?'' Race and Class in the College Admissions Essay,” Law & Society Review Vol. 45, 2011, pp. 109. [31] Tamer, Christine. 2010. “Arab Americans, Affirmative Action, and a Quest for Racial Identity.” Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights 16 (1): 101–28. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.amherst.edu/login.aspx? direct=true&db=edshol&AN=edshol.hein.journals.tfcl16.7&site=eds-live&scope=site., 118. [32] “Diversity Programs.” Diversity Programs | Admission & Financial Aid | Amherst College, www.amherst.edu/admission/diversity. The Strong Authoritarian State in MENA [1] Ellen Lust, “Institutions and Governance,” in The Middle East, ed. Ellen Lust (Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2017), 161. [2] Ibid. [3] Ibid, 168. [4] Ibid, 169. [5] Tarek Masoud, “Egypt,” in The Middle East, ed. Ellen Lust (Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2017), 432. [6] Ibid. [7]Ibid, 433. [8] Steven Heydemann, “Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World,” The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, no. 13 (2007), 14. [9] Melani Cammett and Ishac Diwan, “The Political Economy and Development in the Middle East,” in The Middle East, ed. Ellen Lust (Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2017), 121. [10] Steven Heydemann, “Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World,” The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, no. 13 (2007), 14. [11] “Lebanon protests: How WhatsApp tax anger revealed a much deeper crisis,” BBC News, last modified November 7, 2019, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50293636. [12] Ibid. [13] Ellen Lust, “Institutions and Governance,” in The Middle East, ed. Ellen Lust (Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2017), 160. [14]Ibid, 179. [15]Steven Heydemann, “Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World,” The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, no. 13 (2007), 11. [16] Ibid.


Endnotes The Strong Authoritarian State in MENA [17] Addi Lahouari, “Algeria,” in The Middle East, ed. Ellen Lust (Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2017), 411. [18] Steven Heydemann, “Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World,” The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, no. 13 (2007), 11. And Addi Lahouari, “Algeria,” in The Middle East, ed. Ellen Lust (Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2017), 412. [19] Melani Cammett and Ishac Diwan, “The Political Economy and Development in the Middle East,” in The Middle East, ed. Ellen Lust (Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2017), 121. [20]Steven Heydemann, “Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World,” The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, no. 13 (2007), 11. [21] Laryssa Chomiak and Robert P. Parks, “Tunisia,” in The Middle East, ed. Ellen Lust (Thousand Oaks, California: CQ Press, 2017), 831. [22] Steven Heydemann, “Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World,” The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, no. 13 (2007), 7. [23] Ibid. [24] Steven Heydemann, “Upgrading Authoritarianism in the Arab World,” The Saban Center for Middle East Policy at the Brookings Institution, no. 13 (2007), 8. Inside Iraq: The Arbaeen Pilgrimage [1] ‘’Arbaeen’’ means forty in Arabic. [2] John Davison Al-Deen Abdullah Dhiaa, “Shi’ite Pilgrimage Fans Fears of Spreading COVID-19 in Iraq,” Reuters, October 8, 2020, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-iraq-arbaeenidUSKBN26T237. [3] Ali Ibn Abi Talib is the cousin of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad. [4] This excerpt is taken from the diary entry of Manal Fatima, co-author of this article, that talks about her travel experience in Iraq in 2016. [5] “Husayn Ibn Ali - Oxford Islamic Studies Online,” accessed December 20, 2020, http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e903. [6]Edith Szanto, “The Largest Contemporary Muslim Pilgrimage Isn’t the Hajj to Mecca, It’s the Shiite Pilgrimage to Karbala in Iraq,” The Conversation, accessed December 20, 2020, http://theconversation.com/the-largest-contemporary-muslim-pilgrimage-isnt-the-hajj-to-mecca-itsthe-shiite-pilgrimage-to-karbala-in-iraq-144542. [7]‘’Furat Street’’ is a street in Karbala, Iraq. [8]‘’Abbas’’ is the half-brother of Hussein who is an important religious figure in Shia Islam and is also buried in Karbala, Iraq. [9] For most of the Shia holy shrines, the visitor has to ask for the permission to enter, which is called ‘’Izne Dakhool'’ in Arabic. [10] Syed Zafar Mehdi, “Millions March to Iraq for Arbaeen Pilgrimage,” October 28, 2019, https://www.aa.com.tr/en/middle-east/millions-march-to-iraq-for-arbaeen-pilgrimage-/1628644.


Endnotes Inside Iraq: The Arbaeen Pilgrimage [11] Ali Mamouri, “Iraqi Shiite pilgrimage takes political turn,” Al-Monitor, December 26, 2014, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/12/arbaeen-iraq-and-political-connections.html? emailaddress=cbroekaert%40smith.edu [12]Lizzie Dearden, “One of the world's biggest and most dangerous pilgrimages is underway,” The Independent, November 25, 2014, https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/oneworld-s-biggest-and-most-dangerous-pilgrimages-underway-9882702.html [13] “Shia pilgrims among 77 people killed in IS attack in Iraq,” BBC, November 24, 2016, https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38090006 [14] ‘’Golden Mosque’’ refers to the shrine of two Shia Imams: Ali Al-Hadi and his son, Hasan Askari. [15]Omar Al-Jawoshy, “Dozens Killed in Suicide Attack on Shiite Shrine North of Baghdad (Published 2016),” The New York Times, July 8, 2016, sec. World, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/08/world/middleeast/dozens-of-iraqis-killed-in-suicide-attack-onshiite-mosque.html. [16]Ali Mamouri, “Despite COVID-19, political crisis, Iraqi Shiites march on Karbala,” Al-Monitor, October 8, 2020, https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/10/iraq-arbaeen-shiiteprotests.html [17] ‘’They’’ refers to the ‘’pilgrims to the shrine of Hussein.’’ [18]“A timeline of the constructions of Imam Hussein Holy shrine,” Imam Hussein Holy Shrine, accessed December 20, 2020, http://imamhussain.org/english/imamhussain/18017. [19] Andrew Cockburn, “Iraq’s Oppressed Majority,” Smithsonian Magazine, December 2003, https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/iraqs-oppressed-majority-95250996/. [20]Edith Szanto, “The Largest Contemporary Muslim Pilgrimage Isn’t the Hajj to Mecca, It’s the Shiite Pilgrimage to Karbala in Iraq,” The Conversation, accessed December 20, 2020, http://theconversation.com/the-largest-contemporary-muslim-pilgrimage-isnt-the-hajj-to-mecca-itsthe-shiite-pilgrimage-to-karbala-in-iraq-144542. [21] Fotini Christia, Elizabeth Dekeyser, and Dean Knox, “To Karbala: Surveying Religious Shi’a from Iran and Iraq,” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2016, https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2885347. [22] Lara Hamdanieh, and Abbas Ostadtaghizadeh, “Arbaeen in the context of COVID-19 pandemic,” Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness, 2020, https://doi.org/10.1017/dmp.2020.362 [23] Middle East Monitor, “Iraq denies opening Zurbatiyah border crossing to Iran visitor,”, September 11, 2020, https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200911-iraq-denies-opening-zurbatiyah-bordercrossing-to-iran-visitors/ [24] “Pilgrims flood Iraq's Karbala for Arbaeen despite virus fears,” France24, October 4, 2020, https://www.france24.com/en/20201004-pilgrims-flood-iraq-s-karbala-for-arbaeen-despite-virus-fears [25] John Davison, and Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen, “Shi'ite pilgrimage fans fears of spreading COVID-19 in Iraq,” Reuters, https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-iraq-arbaeen-idUSKBN26T237 [26] Shrine of Hussein Neglected Children [1] Sagramoso, D., Author Domitilla Sagramoso Domitilla Sagramoso is a lecturer in security and development at the Department of War Studies, Author, Domitilla Sagramoso is a lecturer in security and development at the Department of War Studies, Saunders, P., Blog, S., . . . Saradzhyan, S. (2020, September 17). Russia Matters. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.russiamatters.org/analysis/who-defeated-isis-analysis-us-and-russian-contributions


Endnotes Neglected Children [1] Sagramoso, D., Author Domitilla Sagramoso Domitilla Sagramoso is a lecturer in security and development at the Department of War Studies, Author, Domitilla Sagramoso is a lecturer in security and development at the Department of War Studies, Saunders, P., Blog, S., . . . Saradzhyan, S. (2020, September 17). Russia Matters. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.russiamatters.org/analysis/who-defeated-isis-analysis-us-and-russian-contributions [2] Hubbard, B., & Méheut, C. (2020, May 31). Western Countries Leave Children of ISIS in Syrian Camps. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/31/world/middleeast/isis-children-syria-camps.html [3] Arraf, J. (2019, December 23). Conditions Deteriorate At Syrian Camp Where ISIS Families Are Held. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.npr.org/2019/12/23/790687279/conditionsdeteriorate-at-syrian-camp-where-isis-families-are-held [4] News, V. (Producer). (2019, August 26). Taken by ISIS | One American Father’s Journey to Get His Kids Back from the Caliphate [Video file]. Retrieved 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=bCg9mDTjbgg&app=deskto [5] How Much Does a Paternity Test Cost?: DNA Diagnostics Center. (2020, June 15). Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://dnacenter.com/blog/how-much-does-a-paternity-test-cost/ [6] Having a baby in France: A guide for expats. (2020, September 07). Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.expatica.com/fr/healthcare/womens-health/having-a-baby-in-france-107664/ [7] Papon, S., & Beaumel, C. (2020, January 14). Demography report 2019Fertility rate stabilizes in France. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.insee.fr/en/statistiques/4293268 [8] News, S. (Producer). (2019, November 10). 'We're going to slaughter you': The children of Syria's IS camp [Video file]. Retrieved September 19, 2020, from https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=tW_7me1Nj7w [9] Women and Children First: Repatriating the Westerners Affiliated with ISIS. (2019, November 24). Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.crisisgroup.org/middle-east-north-africa/easternmediterranean/syria/208-women-and-children-first-repatriating-westerners-affiliated-isis [10] Tayler, L. (2020, September 14). Despite US Veto, Desperate ISIS Suspects and Families Remain at Risk. Retrieved September 24, 2020, from https://www.justsecurity.org/72300/despite-us-vetodesperate-isis-suspects-and-families-remain-at-risk/

Bibliographies The significance of James Morier’s (1782-1849) The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan in the European and Iranian contexts, and the Iranian reception of Mirza Habib Isfahani’s (1835-1893) translation Amanat, Abbas. “Hajji Baba of Ispahan.” Encyclopædia Iranica 11, no. 6 (2003): pp. 561-568, available online at http://www.iranicaonline.org/articles/hajji-baba-of-ispahan. Amanat, Abbas. Iran: A Modern History. Yale University Press, 2017. Arian, Amir Ahmadi. “The Unstable People of a Tumultuous Land: Persia Through the Eyes and Feet of Hajji Baba of Isfahan.” Iranian Studies 49, no. 1 (2016): pp. 57-75. Fatollahi, Moslem. “Cannibalism and Cultural Manipulation: How Morier is Received in the Persian Literary Canon.” Human Affairs 28 (2018): pp. 141-159. Laslett, Peter. The World We Have Lost: Further Explored. Routledge, 2004. Morier, James. The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan. London: John Murray, 1824.


Bibliographies The significance of James Morier’s (1782-1849) The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan in the European and Iranian contexts, and the Iranian reception of Mirza Habib Isfahani’s (1835-1893) translation Rastegar, Kamran. Literary Modernity Between the Middle East and Europe: Textual transactions in nineteenth-century Arabic, English, and Persian literatures. Routledge, 2007. Said, Edward. Orientalism. Vintage Books, 1979. Todorova, Maria. Imagining the Balkans. Oxford University Press, 2009. Haram or Halal: The Permissibility of Music in Islam Crow, Douglas Karim.“‘Sama’: The Art of Listening in Islam.” In Maqam: Music of the Islamic World and Its Influences, 30-33. “Chicago Mawlid Committee”, Youtube, last modified May 3, 2017.https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=70bicV6gx90&feature=youtu.be Dalrymple, William. Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India. London: Bloomsbury, 2010. Erguner, Kudsi. Journeys of a Sufi Musician. Translated by A.C. Mayers. London: Saqi, 2005. Katz, Marion. “Birthday of the Prophet”. Encyclopedia of Islam Three, 2017. Merriam-Webster Dictionary. “Music”. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/music Nasr, Seyyed Hossein. “Islam and Music: The Legal and Spiritual Dimensions” in Enchanting Powers: Music in the World’s Religions, ed. L.E. Sullivan. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1997. Nelson Davies, Kristina. “The Qur’an Recited” in The Garland Encyclopedia of World Music, Volume 6: Middle East, eds. V. Danielson, S. Marcus, and D. Reynolds, 157-63. New York: Routledge, 2002. Otterbeck, Jonas. “Battling over the Public Sphere: Islamic Reactions to the Music of Today.” Working paper, 2007. http://freemuse.org/sw22367.asp The Creation of Legitimacy and Erasure of Reality in Medieval Prescriptive Literature Alasti, Sanaz. “Comparative Study of Stoning Punishment in the Religions of Islam and Judaism.” Justice Policy Journal 4, no. 1 (2007) : 1-38. Accessed March 4, 2017. Lufti, Huda. “Manners and Customs of Fourteenth-Century Cairene Women: Female Anarchy versus Male Shar’i Order in Muslim Prescriptive Treatises.” In Women in Middle Eastern History: Shifting Boundaries in Sex and Gender, edited by Nikki R. Keddie and Beth Baron, 99-121. New Have: Yale University Press, 2008. “The Koran: Marium.” University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 3, 2017. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=DIV0&byte=468143. “The Koran: The Women.” University of Michigan Library Digital Collections. Accessed March 3, 2017. http://quod.lib.umich.edu/cgi/k/koran/koran-idx?type=DIV0&byte=114839. Invisible Minorities: MENA Students and Their Exclusion from Higher Education Diversity Census Bureau: 2015 Forum on Ethnic Groups From the Middle East and North Africa: Meeting Summary and Main Findings Report. (2016). PR Newswire.“Diversity Programs.” Diversity Programs | Admission & Financial Aid | Amherst College, www.amherst.edu/admission/diversity. “Gates: Scholarship.” The Gates Scholarship, www.thegatesscholarship.org/scholarship.Handeyside, Hugh. “New Documents Show This TSA Program Blamed for Profiling Is Unscientific and Unreliable But Still It Continues.” American Civil Liberties Union, May 13, 2019. https://www.aclu.org/blog/national-security/discriminatory-profiling/new-documents-show-tsaprogram-blamed-profiling. Hull, Kathleen E. 2016. “Legal Consciousness in Marginalized Groups: The Case of LGBT People.” Law & Social Inquiry 41 (3): 551–72. doi:10.1111/lsi.12190. Humes, Karen, and Howard Hogan. “Measurement of Race and Ethnicity in a Changing, Multicultural America.” Race and Social Problems 1, no. 3 (2009): 111–31. https://doi.org/10.1007/s12552-009-90115.


Bibliographies .Invisible Minorities: MENA Students and Their Exclusion from Higher Education Diversity Kirkland, Anna, and Ben B. Hansen, “How Do I Bring Diversity?'' Race and Class in the College Admissions Essay,” Law & Society Review Vol. 45, 2011. Leake, David W., and Robert A. Stodden. 2014. “Higher Education and Disability: Past and Future of Underrepresented Populations.” Journal of Postsecondary Education and Disability 27 (4): 399–408. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.amherst.edu/login.aspx? direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1059990&site=eds-live&scope=site. NowThis News. “Rashida Tlaib Questions Why 2020 Census Erases Middle Eastern & North African Identity | NowThis”. YouTube video, 5:33. Posted [2020]. https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=qUQNzziXd1Y. “OMB Directive 15: Race and Ethnic Standards for Federal Statistics and Administrative Reporting.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 8, 2005. https://wonder.cdc.gov/wonder/help/populations/bridged-race/directive15.html. Shiho Imai. "Naturalization Act of 1790," Densho Encyclopediahttps://encyclopedia.densho.org/Naturalization%20Act%20of%201790/. Tamer, Christine. 2010. “Arab Americans, Affirmative Action, and a Quest for Racial Identity.” Texas Journal on Civil Liberties & Civil Rights 16 (1): 101–28. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.amherst.edu/login.aspx? direct=true&db=edshol&AN=edshol.hein.journals.tfcl16.7&site=eds-live&scope=site. Tehranian, John. “Performing Whiteness: Naturalization Litigation and the Construction of Racial Identity in America.” The Yale Law Journal 109, no. 4 (2000): 817–48. https://doi.org/10.2307/797505. Tehranian, John, Whitewashed: Americas Invisible Middle Eastern Minority. New York: New York University Press, 2010. http://search.ebscohost.com.ezproxy.amherst.edu/login.aspx? direct=true&db=nlebk&AN=1021122&site=ehost-live&scope=site. Weeden, Darnell L. "In Fisher v. University of Texas Derrick Bell's Interest Convergence Theory is on a Collision Course with the Viewpoint Diversity Rationale in Higher Education." Utah Law Review OnLaw 2016 (2016) Inside Iraq: The Arbaeen Pilgrimage Al-Jawoshy, Omar. “Dozens Killed in Suicide Attack on Shiite Shrine North of Baghdad (Published 2016).” The New York Times, July 8, 2016, sec. World. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/07/08/world/middleeast/dozens-of-iraqis-killed-in-suicide-attack-onshiite-mosque.html. Christia, Fotini, Elizabeth Dekeyser, and Dean Knox. “To Karbala: Surveying Religious Shi’a from Iran and Iraq.” SSRN Electronic Journal, 2016. https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2885347. Cockburn, Andrew. “Iraq’s Oppressed Majority.” Smithsonian Magazine, December 2003. https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/iraqs-oppressed-majority-95250996/. Cocks, Tim. “Iraq Hopes Shrine Rebuild Can Reconcile Sects.” Reuters, October 6, 2008. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-iraq-monuments-mosque-idUSTRE49502B20081006. Davison, John, and Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen. “Shi'ite Pilgrimage Fans Fears of Spreading COVID-19 in Iraq.” Reuters, October 8, 2020. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-health-coronavirus-iraq-arbaeenidUSKBN26T237. Dearden, Lizzie. “Pilgrims Are Risking Their Lives to Walk across Iraq.” The Independent. Independent Digital News and Media, November 25, 2014. https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middleeast/one-world-s-biggest-and-most-dangerous-pilgrimages-underway-9882702.html.


Bibliographies Inside Iraq: The Arbaeen Pilgrimage Gallagher, Ash. “War-Torn Countries in the Middle East Can’t Afford to Battle Coronavirus.” War-torn countries in the Middle East can’t afford to battle coronavirus, March 20, 2020. https://www.trtworld.com/opinion/war-torn-countries-in-the-middle-east-can-t-afford-to-battlecoronavirus-34727. Hamdanieh, Lara, and Abbas Ostadtaghizadeh. “Arbaeen in the Context of the COVID-19 Pandemic: Disaster Medicine and Public Health Preparedness.” Cambridge Core. Cambridge University Press, October 2, 2020. https://doi.org/10.1017/dmp.2020.362. “Husayn Ibn Ali’’, in Oxford Islamic Studies Online, edited by John L. Esposito.Oxford Islamic Studies Online,Accessed December 20, 2020. http://www.oxfordislamicstudies.com/article/opr/t125/e903. Imam Hussein Holy Shrine. “A timeline of the constructions of Imam Hussein Holy shrine.” Accessed December 20, 2020. http://imamhussain.org/english/imamhussain/18017. “Iraq Denies Opening Zurbatiyah Border Crossing to Iran Visitors.” Middle East Monitor, September 11, 2020. https://www.middleeastmonitor.com/20200911-iraq-denies-opening-zurbatiyah-bordercrossing-to-iran-visitors/. Kéchichian, Joseph A. “Saddam Hussein’s Legacy of Sectarian Division in Iraq.” The World from PRX, March 20, 2013. https://www.pri.org/stories/2013-03-20/saddam-husseins-legacy-sectarian-divisioniraq. Mamouri, Ali. “Iraqi Shiite Pilgrimage Takes Political Turn.” Al. Al-Monitor, December 26, 2014. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2014/12/arbaeen-iraq-and-political-connections.html. Mamouri, Ali. “Despite COVID-19, Political Crisis, Iraqi Shiites March on Karbala.” Al. Al-Monitor, October 8, 2020. https://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2020/10/iraq-arbaeen-shiiteprotests.html. Nasr, Vali. “Pilgrimage To Karbala ~ An Excerpt from ‘When the Shiites Rise’ | Wide Angle | PBS.” Wide Angle (blog), March 26, 2007. https://www.pbs.org/wnet/wideangle/uncategorized/pilgrimage-tokarbala-an-excerpt-from-when-the-shiites-rise/1635/. “Pilgrims flood Iraq's Karbala for Arbaeen despite virus fears,” France24, October 4, 2020. https://www.france24.com/en/20201004-pilgrims-flood-iraq-s-karbala-for-arbaeen-despite-virus-fears. “Shia pilgrims among 77 people killed in IS attack in Iraq,” BBC, November 24, 2016. https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-38090006. Szanto, Edith. “The Largest Contemporary Muslim Pilgrimage Isn’t the Hajj to Mecca, It’s the Shiite Pilgrimage to Karbala in Iraq.” The Conversation. Accessed December 20, 2020. http://theconversation.com/the-largest-contemporary-muslim-pilgrimage-isnt-the-hajj-to-mecca-itsthe-shiite-pilgrimage-to-karbala-in-iraq-144542. Szanto, Edith. “Beyond the Karbala Paradigm: Rethinking Revolution and Redemption in Twelver Shi‘a Mourning Rituals.” Journal of Shi’a Islamic Studies 6, no. 1 (2013): 75–91. https://doi.org/10.1353/isl.2013.0007. Yekrangnia, Mohammad, and Alireza Aghababaie Mobarake. “Restoration of Historical Al-Askari Shrine. I: Field Observations, Damage Detection, and Material Properties.” Journal of Performance of Constructed Facilities 30 (May 22, 2015). https://doi.org/10.1061/(ASCE)CF.1943-5509.0000761.


Appendices IHaram or Halal: The Permissibility of Music in Islam

Appendix A Al-Faruqi's “Hierarchy of Handasat al-Sawt Genres”[26]

Profile for Fusayfsa '

Fusayfsa' (Mosaic) – Fall 2020 Edition  

Fusayfsa' is an undergraduate Middle East Studies journal created by Smith College students.

Fusayfsa' (Mosaic) – Fall 2020 Edition  

Fusayfsa' is an undergraduate Middle East Studies journal created by Smith College students.

Profile for fusayfsa

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