The Yemeni Al-Aqyal Movement… Reviving an Identity or Anti-Racism?


The ascendant Yemeni identity discourse, which adopted the vocabulary of the old Yemeni kings, became popular, and its contents became very controversial. Of course, the idea of ​​resorting to history and its greatness to escape the calamities of reality is inherent in all nations, especially in times of conflict and war, where history plays an important role in stimulating fighting and defining the identity of enemies and allies. .. Whoever wanders around the sites of the Facebook groups of this movement does not take long to notice that it glorifies the ancient Yemeni history before Islam and is hostile to the Imamate, and perhaps the entire Islamic period in Yemeni history, in addition to its explicit hostility to the Hashemites.

The stage of pre-Islamic history has always been ignored or denied by Islamic forces. For example, the founder of the Houthi group, Hussein al-Houthi, mocked all attempts to be proud of the Yemeni civilization before Islam, and considered it an idea hostile to the Islamic identity, in complete agreement with the Salafists and the rest of the currents of Sunni political Islam In its hostility to the previous history of Islam and belittling it. All of them are trying to formulate their own history, a reference point on which their existence is based. The Imamate is a clear historical reference for the Houthis, mentioned in a glorified manner in Hussein al-Houthi’s lectures. Something similar is being done by the Sunni political Islam groups in drawing inspiration from the Caliphate stage. Therefore, the idea of ​​Al-Aqyal can be considered a mere reaction to these groups, as they took the same isolationist context, cut off from what preceded or followed it in time.

History is one of the components of any collective identity, even if it is imagined, but hostility to a historical stage may cause major problems, especially since it is an existing stage, as Islamic currents are hostile to the pre-Islamic stage, while the sayings are hostile to the stage of Islam, which is one of the components of the Yemeni identity, which is an identity It connects Yemenis with other peoples, and dismantles any isolation and narcissism that may be the product of extremist national identities. Of course, the pre-Islamic stage became pivotal in establishing the identity of the country states in the region, after the Islamic mosque was the main link between the peoples of the region. It is noteworthy that in all attempts to revive the history of the pre-Islamic era, these country countries have fallen into several problems, the most prominent of which are hostility to the Islamic stage and falling into the sins of isolation and narcissism. And the last lies in the problem of dealing with the pre-Islamic stage as if it was separated from its surroundings of geography, and cut off in time from what precedes or follows it. This is historically inaccurate, because Islam appeared in a religious commercial and tourist center, which is Mecca, while not denying the influence of the Bedouin and tribe factor, which are present in all the region, the Levant, Egypt and the Maghreb. What is meant here is that the Bedouin problem is not limited to the regions of Najd and Hijaz.

On the other hand, civilizations do not thrive on their own in any country. The civilization of Yemen was within a civilized extension of regions in Asia and Africa, affected and influenced, flourished and stumbled. Reading glorification does not do much in understanding the factors of decadence and prosperity, nor in realizing the importance of what is going on around us in the region influencing us and us.

The time lapse comes within the perception that Islam came as a decisive moment that led to the fall of Yemeni civilization, and that it is a completely dark stage.

The Islamic period is a link between the history of Yemen, ancient and present, as history knows no interruption

Yemen was not subjected to colonization, so the historical excavations and archaeological exploration that were associated with the occupation are relatively simple in Yemen, which led to an incomplete historical writing of that historical stage in Yemen, but the influence of the Western approach remains predominant in writing the pre-Islamic period. This approach suffers from some imbalances, especially those related to dealing with the civilizations of the region as if they were islands separate from each other, and in an artificial conflict and conflict with the Islamic stage to reinforce the idea of ​​isolation, and to undermine any possibility of international interdependence required in any region, because the advancement of any country cannot take place in isolated from its surroundings.

Islam is still the religion of most Yemenis, and it came after a period of real civilized decline for the Yemenis, and led to stages of prosperity, until the stage of the Imamate came after the expulsion of the Ottomans in the seventeenth century, a stage of regional decline, in which the entire region was drowned in isolation, and this does not exempt the Imamate from the disadvantages This historical moment, as a system of government, was in constant turmoil due to the authorization of rebellion against the ruler. Therefore, the hypothesis that Islam is the cause of civilizational decline ignores two things: Islam came after the destruction of Yemeni civilization, and it was not the one who destroyed this civilization. Ignoring the stages of prosperity that Yemen experienced in the medieval era, and assuming that the Imamate is the whole stage of Islam.

This hypothesis denies the idea of ​​historical accumulation, and is necessary to present a comprehensive, undisturbed conception of any national identity. The Islamic period is a link between the history of Yemen, ancient and present, as history knows no interruption. The accumulated history is extended, and helps to look into the future, as historical hadiths alone are not enough to build an identity, otherwise it will become a state of drowning in past projects, such as the projects of the Salafists and the Houthis. Identity is a mixture of history and a future vision that invested its understanding in history to build its future political perceptions.

Another problem with the idea of ​​al-Aqyal is anti-Hashemite, which is the idea that many Yemenis are expected to be in hostility with a segment of society. The problem of the Hashemite is complex, as it is a sectarianism that is different from the rest of the fanatics, because it possesses feelings of grievance and an old distinction that has accumulated over hundreds of years, and therefore it cannot be undermined by its hostility, which may strengthen its sectarianism, and it is difficult to dismantle this nervousness, and this is only available with a national identity, which includes all components Yemenis, for a Yemeni identity that is hostile to the Hashemite may fall into the trap of fanaticism and discrimination, not only against the Hashemites, but it may also ignore the real grievances of Yemenis of African descent, and with the same logic of Yemeni denial of the Hashemites, Yemenis of African descent will be denied.

The identity discourse is very complex, and does not bear simplicity in the subtraction, but rather calls for sensitivity to all social components without exclusion or hostility, and this cannot be achieved if the identity discourse is historically glorified, and does not look to the future and to the various components of society within a future vision that achieves justice and equality for all. . The process of building a successful national identity is always linked to the existence of a successful and coherent political entity, which is the state or a political project that has political perceptions, and is not just a vent for many young people frustrated with parties and the political process, to become a state free from politics, mired in a past without a future.

Recalling history and its glories is understandable in light of an unprecedented state of decline, and it may succeed in urging people to aspire to a better future, with the logic that whoever has achieved these glories can achieve them in the future. It also reduces the feeling of frustration and self-contempt due to the current situation, but we must be careful of such a summons, not to turn into a form of escape, not only from the misery of the present, but also from the entitlements of the future.

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