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Islam and Music: From Prohibition to Science of Ecstasy

Zoomed in Map of Egypt
Zoomed in Map of Egypt

Egypt, one of the oldest living civilizations in the world, has amassed a great amount of rich history and culture throughout the centuries. Egypt has very unique geographical characteristics. Located in the northeast corner of Africa by the Mediterranean Sea, Egypt is around half the size of texas and dry throughout the entire country. The northward flowing Nile River contributes greatly to Egypt’s economy and standard of living, most of Egypt’s population lives along the Nile River. Placed between the two continents, Africa and the Middle East, Egypt has adopted extremely unique cultures and traditions from both sides. Some surrounding countries are Libya on the West, Sudan to the South, and Eritrea on the southeast of Egypt. Countries on the other side of the Red Sea that has had

Music is one of the most common form of communication between humans, and it has been for countless of centuries. In fact, using music as a way to communicate is probably older than using words that are written down as a way of communication. Music can contribute and tell us a lot about a certain place’s geography, be it physical geography or human geography. It has the power of doing so because music is composed and performed by humans, humans who live in that region, humans who knows the place the best. Through music, people can express their feelings towards a certain subject or situation, which can then help others learn more about each other or other places they are not familiar with. In Afropop Worldwide Hip Deep, lots of information about a country’s geography can be picked up through listening to their various radio podcasts. Egypt- Islam and Music: From Prohibition to the Science of Ecstasy tells us of the history of Islam, the importance of it to the citizens of not only Egypt, but every country with it as the predominant religion, and also how it has influenced their music. Afropop chooses songs with significant meanings that can each help us pick up different geographic informations such as the culture, the history, society, etc.

Egyptians performing traditional music
Egyptians performing traditional music

Much of the Egyptian music is heavily influenced by the predominant religion in Egypt; Islam. In the very beginning, Georges Collinet, the radio host, asks, “How is it, that the religion that has inspired some of the world’s most beautiful and exciting music is so often preoccupied with curtailing, and even forbidden music?” The religion that Collinet so enthusiastically refers to is the dominant religion in most of the Middle Eastern countries and many of the countries in Africa, Islam. He then goes on and tells us of the cultural controversy in the Islamic society. Under the Taliban, and in places like Saudi Arabia, Sudan, etcetera, all sorts of music have been banned (Collinet). One example is Haroon Bacha, a young Pashto singer driven into exile in New York after death threats from Taliban officials in Pakistan. The reason for the death threats? Because his songs were calling for peace and tolerance, which weren’t what the Taliban wanted their people to hear. Many cities also ban the use of certain instruments because according to Joseph Braude, author, Middle East specialist, and a musician himself, “the philosopher thinks about music in terms of healthfulness in some musical scales and the danger of others. He identified specific musical modes that are likely to insight a person to become violent or sexually deviant. Others, by contrast, that will make a person more peaceful and more balanced. The philosopher goes as far as to recommend that certain scales be banned and never to be heard” (Braude). The radio podcast tells us how even though the religion Islam is one of the most influential factors in Egyptian music today, many instruments that make Islamic music unique are banned within the Islam society due to the thought of it being ‘bad’ or capable of leading humans to sneakiness. Other than this, when we think of Islam, one of the most important things is it’s rich history. “Islam is a venture that started in the Arabian Peninsula and spread over centuries time to become one of the largest landed empires in the history of the world” (Braude). Then Collinet went on and played music and gave detailed lectures of the history of Islam and how it was strongly affected by the Byzantines Empires in the West and the Persian Sassanid Empire in the East. They also talk about how these Muslims believe in two major ancient Greek philosophies, Pythagoras and Aristotelian, and how these two philosophies have had major influences on their lives.

Islam expansion route
Islam expansion route

Egyptian music has many unique qualities and characteristics. Egyptian music, centered around Cairo, began to thrive around the 1910s, when Egyptians started encouraging their women and minorities to invest in their musical talents (Hermann). Some of the instruments Egyptians use are string instruments including the harp and the lupe,the piano of Arabic composition (Collinet). Percussion instruments like Sekhmet and Bes are also used commonly in Egyptian music, making them unique and delightful to the ears (Hermann). There are many other qualities found in Egyptian music, including the use of harmony by the singers. The sound of the voices harmonizing creates a very unique and pleasant sound that can be distinguished easily amongst a group of different music. Singers also clap their hands alongside the harmonizing.

Egyptian instruments
Egyptian instruments

Georges Collinet chose these songs to reflect the geography of Egypt because these music teaches us the importance of religion in their society and how their religion has made an effect on the society and who they are today. This is significant because religion plays a crucial role in the modern Egyptian society and has had an effect on many things, including the beautiful Egyptian music we hear today. All in all, music is critical to understanding different things, it may help you discover and understand things you’ve never known or thought of before, including the geography of a place.

 

Works Cited

 

“Afropop Worldwide.” Afropop Worldwide. Afropop. Web. 8 June 2015.

<http://www.afropop.org/about/>

 

Collinet, Georges. Afropop. 1 Jan. 2010. Radio.

 

“Geography.” Infoplease. Infoplease. Web. 5 June 2015.

<http://www.infoplease.com/country/egypt.html>

 

Hermann, Junker. “Egyptian Music Qualities – Google ·j´M.” Egyptian Music Qualities. 1

Oct. 2009. Web. 18 June 2015. <http://www.reshafim.org.il/ad/egypt/timelines/top

ics/music.htm>

 

Web. 18 June 2015. <http://www.worldatlas.com/img/areamap/89f0f82221547bf89b3ea06

a13344f60.gif>

 

Web. 20 June 2015. <http://wprasek.com/photos/_portfolio_colour/music-performance/img/

080112-2100411a_wprasek.jpg>

 

Web. 21 June 2015. <https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/e4/da/4c/e4da4

c19fe3d87de19697457bb6cfffa.jpg>

 

Web. 21 June 2015. <http://thumbs.dreamstime.com/x/egyptian-music-instrument

s-14972800.jpg>

 

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“Geographic Origins of ISIS: Darkened Shadows Overcasting Southwest Asia”

ISIS Flag

Thousands and thousands of innocent civilians were executed in just the last six months in Iraq. Bodies piled on top of each other, blood flowing out forming a river, this is the work done by the one and only, ISIS ( “Banco” ). ISIS, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, also known sometimes as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, is a group of sunni and jihadist militants who are extreme Islamic fundamentalists trying to bring back and enforce ancient Islamic laws. Their goal is to wipe out other branches of Islam, such as Shia, and convert or kill anyone who are not of their religion  (“Rowan”). They are very well known for their brutal slaughtering of all men, women, and even children. Looking at the history of the Middle East, or more accurately, Southwest Asia, we can see that the three main contributors of the geographic origins of ISIS are the religious and ethnic diversities caused by the disregardful boundaries left by previous colonial masters, the sudden population boom, and the invasion of United States are what caused the formation of the Islamic States of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

Many of the conflicts in Southwest Asia today are caused by the neglectful boundaries set up by the British when they left Southwest Asia after World War I.  This all goes back to a hundred years ago, in 1914, when the First World War started. Back then, Southwest Asia plus some parts of Central Asia and Southeast Europe were still a part of a state known as the Ottoman Empire. During WWI there were two sides: the Allied Side and the Central Powers. The Allied Side included Great Britain, France, and Russia, and the Central Powers consisted of Germany and Austria-Hungary. Having already colonized Egypt and India, Great Britain instantly started planning on their conquest of the Ottoman Empire right after World War I started, in order to expand their colonies in Asia (“Rowen”).  The Ottoman empire fell to an end a few years after the world war ended, leaving the British to divide up Southwest Asia. Without giving it a careful thought, the British randomly divided up the lands, leaving countries with diverse religions and ethnic groups that are continually causing conflicts within the region. Mingled religious and ethnic groups within a country was the result of the British drawing superimposed boundaries without giving them careful thought. Most people in Iraq are Sunnis, leaving the Shiites as the minority religion. The Sunnis live mostly in the north, Shiites in the South and the Kurdish minority in a very tiny part in Northeastern Iraq. According to an Arab scholar named Sa’d a-din Ibrahim, more damage and devastation has been inflicted on the Middle East by religious and ethnic conflicts than by all of the Israeli-Arab war combined. Because the members of ISIS are extreme fundamentalists, they are intensely aware of the religious differences in some parts of their country. Iraq, for instance, has a Shiite minority in the south, thus causing tension between the northern sunnis and the southern shiites (“Rowen”).

Relgious and Ethnic Groups in Iraq
SUNNI AND SHIA DISTRIBUTION IN THE SOUTH WESTERN ASIAN COUNTRIES

The population growth rate in Southwest Asia has always been amongst one of the highest in our world, especially today. Currently, Iraq is growing at a constant rate of 2.23% per year. In the past 20 years, Iraq’s population has grown by a shocking 78% while Syria’s population has grown by 61%, according to the CIA World Factbook. (CIA World Factbook) A higher population means more resources such as food, water, and electricity are required to raise these children. As a result, young men start competing for jobs at adolescence, even before they’ve grown into a full grown man (“Chbosky”). Some children as young as the age of 6 or 7, also compete for jobs to support their family. This is a very important factor of the origins of ISIS, due to the fact that ISIS could be offering jobless people a job by having them sacrifice themselves to join ISIS. The population boom in Iraq and Syria causes the job industry to become more competitive. As the jobs are taken one by one, family supporters gradually become more hopeless and ends up supporting ISIS for money so they are capable of supporting their family (“Chbosky”).

The one thing the United States is very good at is intervening in conflicts they are not at all involved in, such as the Cold War, the Vietnam War, and of course, the ISIS conflict in Southwest Asia. In 2003, the United States invaded Iraq wishing to stop the conflict involving terrorists. Putting together everything that the U.S had done while they were over there, we can safely conclude that it was a waste of time and energy. The intervention made by the United states did nothing but make things worse than they already were before. More than 500.000 people were killed during the invasion (“Iraq Body Count”). When the United States left, nothing was changed, the conflict was still going on. So the 2003 Iraq invasion summed up in one sentence: the United States invading Iraq trying to suppress the terrorists but ending up doing nothing other than killing thousands and thousands of innocent civilians. However, despite the U.S failing to accomplish what they originally planned in Iraq, they actually worsened the situation. After the invasion, ISIS was even more determined to achieve their goal of bringing back ancient Islam and wiping out anyone who did not want the same. The U.S’ efforts were recognized and understood. However, it just did not work and they were no where near effective in this case. (“Stilt”)

YEARLY IRAQI DEATHS 2003-2010

How the British drew the boundaries, the religious and ethnic minorities suffer from mistreatment of ISIS and the majorities of the region, and because of the U.S intrusively invading Iraq and trying to get involved in their conflicts, we have led ISIS to its formation which has definitely caused loads of conflicts for the people in Southwest Asia in the previous years.  At this point, we see no end in this such a terrible case and a turning back is unimaginable. It would not be surprising to anyone if one day ISIS starts another massacre like what the Yazidis did a few years back and slaughter a large number of people, and the main reason behind of this is due to the foolishness of the Western world, randomly drawing boundaries and getting involved in conflicts that do not welcome them. Blessings are sent out to the thousands of innocent civilians that suffered from the brutality of ISIS. Such groups of people are like giants with dark shadows slowly swallowing up Southwest Asia.

Works Cited

 

Ma’oz, Moshe, and Dale Eickelman. “Prospects for Religious and Ethnic Conflict in the Middle East.” – The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. 3 Feb. 1997. Web. 21 Dec. 2014. <http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/prospects-for-religious-and-ethnic-conflict-in-the-middle-east>.

 

“Geography.” Infoplease. Infoplease. Web. 22 Dec. 2014. <http://www.infoplease.com/country/syria.html?pageno=1>.

 

Rowen, Beth. “ISIS Explained.” Infoplease. Infoplease. Web. 22 Dec. 2014. <http://www.infoplease.com/news/2014/isis-explained.html>.

 

Conant, Eve. “Iraq Crisis: “Ancient Hatreds Turning Into Modern Realities”” National Geographic. National Geographic Society, 18 June 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/06/140618-iraq-shiite-sunni-isis-militants-maliki-borders/>.

 

“How Did It Come to This?” The Economist. The Economist Newspaper, 21 June 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://www.economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21604627-crisis-iraq-has-roots-going-far-back-history-recently-folly>.

 

Chbosky, Jamsheed K., and E.B Chbosky. “Defeat ISIS, but Let Iraq Split.” World Affairs Journal. World Affairs. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://www.worldaffairsjournal.org/article/defeat-isis-let-iraq-split>.

 

Stilt, Kristen, and Noah Feldman. “Analysts Discuss the Origins, Motivations, and Ambitions of Surging ISIS Movement (video) | Harvard Law TodayHarvard Law Today.”Harvard Law Today. Harvard Law School, 27 Oct. 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://today.law.harvard.edu/islamic-state-play/>.

 

Banco, Erin. “ISIS Executions: 1,000 Iraqi Civilians Killed In ISIS-Controlled Towns Since June, Hundreds More Found In Mass Graves.” International Business Times. 3 Nov. 2014. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-executions-1000-iraqi-civilians-killed-isis-controlled-towns-june-hundreds-more-found-1718076>.

 

“Iraq Body Count.” Iraq Body Count. Web. 25 Dec. 2014. <https://www.iraqbodycount.org/>.

 

Central Intelligence Agency. Central Intelligence Agency. Web. 15 Jan. 2015. <https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/>.

Globalization in Egypt

Globalization picture

Globalization has been an ongoing issue through most of the world today, it is the process of spreading ideas, goods, and beliefs through interaction, which affects the world environmentally, socially, culturally, and intellectually through advances in transportation. Globalization is caused by advances in technology- because of such advanced technology we have today, it makes traveling and communicating with different people easier due to the fact that everything is safer, cheaper, and more efficient.  How can we measure globalization? Globalization is made of three main components- economy, society, and politics.  Today we’re going to see if Egypt is a globalized country or not.

KOF Index of Globalization-2010
KOF Index of Globalization-2010

According to the KOF (acronym for the German word Konjunkturforschungsstelle, meaning cycle research) Index of Globalization, Egypt was around 40 to 60 percent globalized. The most globalized countries include Canada, Australia, and the Western European countries and they are all around 80 to 100 percent globalized. The least globalized countries include most countries in Africa (Sudan, Libya, DR Congo, etc), some countries in the Middle East (Iraq, Iran,Afghanistan), and a few in South and SouthEast Asia (Nepal, Bhutan, Vietnam, etc) and they’re mostly globalized below 40 percent. Egypt is  not super globalized, but decently globalized. The chart below is the globalization rankings of 2013 out of 187 nations in which Egypt ranks 81. Compared to other African countries, Egypt is pretty globalized. However, compared to the more developed countries, Egypt’s globalization rate is still quite low.

Egypt globalization ranking 2013
Egypt globalization ranking 2013

Now moving on to the three types of globalization- economic globalization, social globalization, and political globalization.  Egypt’s economic globalization has been growing at a steady rate, it has signed quite a lot of trading agreements such as the Egypt-EU partnership, the Egypt-EFTA partnership, Greater Arab Free Trade Agreement, and the Egypt Turkey Free Trade Agreement.

Moving on to Egypt’s social globalization,  social globalization is based on three factors- data on personal contact, data on information flows, and data on cultural proximity. Data on personal contact is measured by things such as international tourism and foreign population in the country. Tourism is a big part of Egypt’s economy and society. Around 14.7 million tourists visit Egypt every year, helping Egypt earn nearly 12.5 billion. This is a factor in social globalization because having such a large number of tourists means that Egypt is tolerant of having foreigners visiting their country. Some isolated countries that are less globalized like Bhutan actually avoids having contact with foreigners from other countries. Next on in the social globalization part, we have data on information flow, which includes internet users and rate of families owning electronic devices such as the television. 49.6% of Egypt’s population uses internet and 95% owns at least one television set in their house according to a research done by the World Bank in 2011. The last factor in social globalization is data on cultural proximity, which means the amount of foreign markets such as Ikea or McDonald in the country. In Egypt, many foreign markets have emerged over the past few decades.

Lastly, we have the political globalization. Political Globalization can be measured by the country’s membership in international organizations such as the UN and its international treaties with other countries. Egypt is an active participant in the United Nations and has signed many various international treaties such as the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea, International Convention Standards of Training, Certificates, and Watch Keeping, etc.

Globalization happens every single day throughout the whole entire world, Egypt will be expected to continue to globalize even further in the future.

 

 

 

Egypt Air Pollution Relating to Infant Mortality Rate?

Air pollution is a huge problem all around the world and so is infant mortality. Infant mortality is the death of babies under the age of one, it is very common in the poorer countries of the Africa region. Below is population, deaths from pollution, and infant mortality rate jammed into one map.

World Population, Deaths from Outdoor Pollution, and Infant Mortality Rates Map
World Population, Deaths from Outdoor Pollution, and Infant Mortality Rates Map

It’s quite hard to tell read the map due to all the colors layering on top of each other, so let’s read the layers one by one:

Egypt Population Map
Egypt Population Map
Deaths Caused by Outdoor Pollution
Deaths Caused by Outdoor Pollution
Egypt Infant Mortality Rate
Egypt Infant Mortality Rate

Life exists mainly along the Nile River in Egypt. In the first map above, it tells us that Egypt’s population ranges from 26 to a whopping 13,000. It is mostly set around 500-2,500, the total population adds up to be 82.06 million,  which is still quite a lot for such a tiny region. Out of all these people in Egypt, around 20,000.01 to 40,000 people die from outdoor pollution, which suggests that air pollution is a pretty serious problem in Egypt. And from the very last map above, we know that 21 to 48 infants die every year in Egypt.

Studies have shown that air pollution actually leads to increased infant mortality rates. Egypt’s outdoor pollution is a lot worse than a lot of the other countries in Africa though its infant mortality rate is lower than most of them. Why is this? We can conclude that this is probably due to the advantage in advanced technology Egypt has over other African countries. Egypt has always been in the top 10 richest African countries, therefore if they come up with a plan that will decrease the amount of outdoor pollution, they could probably make their infant mortality rates even less.