Culture can be defined as the cultivated behavior that is socially transmitted. It involves the accumulation of knowledge, beliefs, attitudes, experiences, religion, relations, concepts of the universe, values, meanings, roles, notions of time, relations, material possessions and objects acquired and a way of life of a group of people throughout the generations. This way of life is accepted by all the individuals in the group without thinking about it and is passed from one generation to another through communication and imitation. It can therefore be considered as a groups traditional ideas and values that are attached and followed by all the generations. (Hofstede, 1997
There are many different types of culture but this paper will generally focus on 3 types ie pluralism, Dualism and Salad bowl.
This refers to the type of culture whereby smaller groups of people within a large society tend to maintain their unique culture identities and their values, behaviors and identities are well accepted by the wider society or culture. The minor groups of people participate fully within the dominant society while still maintaining their cultural differences. It involves coexistent of different cultures in a location without the domineering of one particular culture. The human differences that exist are accepted by the majority and hence it eliminates discrimination in the form of racialism or sexism. It can also be refereed to as multiculturalism (The Columbia Encyclopedia, 2004)
This is a concept that is used to describe the integration of many cultures which combines like a salad as compared to the prolific notion of a culture melting point. In this model, the various cultures are juxtaposed but they are not merged together into one homogenized culture just like the salad ingredients. Each culture maintains its distinct values and qualities. The society is therefore composed of many individual pure cultures.
Arabs are a grouping of various independent, self identified and self sustained ethnicities of various ancestral origins, religion and historic identities and its individual members are identified based on similarities in Language, culture genealogical or political grounds. Most Arabs have multiple identities with a local ethnic identity e.g. Egyptian, Palestinian or Lebanese. These may be broken further into tribal, village or clan identities. The main feature unifying all Arabs is the Semitic language, Arabic which has its origin in Arabia. The Arabs are not a single nationality even though they have had nations and nationhoods. There are 22 Arab nations from and the Arab world crosses from Africa asia and euope. There are about 130 million arabs worldwide.
The arab identity is a cultural identity that links the people of Middle east and north Africa via language, traditions, history and the Islamic religion. The arab world is composed of the states that are associated with the League of Arab states.
In the modern world the arab identity has been narrowly identified with the Islamic religion. The western world unfortunately belives that being an arab means being a muslim. But this is a mistake that they do make. The arabs represent only a minority of the worlds 1.6 billion muslims.(Mohdad, 2004). In real context, the Arab identity is identified independently from yhe religious context. This is because it started even before the rise of islam. Ther has been historical evidence attesting that there were arab Christian and arab jewish kingdoms in the pre –islam period. Even though, most arabs today profess the Islamic religion.
Arabs can be defined based on genealogical,linguistic and political grounds. Genealogically, an arab can be defined as some one who can trace his ancestral origins to the original inhabitants of the Syrian desert and the Arabian peninsula ie the Arabian tribes. Linguistically, an arab can be identified as someone whose cultural expression and first language is Arabic and uits varieties. There arethose who reject this definition criterion on the basis of non-Arab ancestry eg the Egyptians (Jankowski,). There are 300 million people who can fall under thisdefinition. Politically, an arab can be defined as any person who is a national of a country withb Arabic being a natonal lanf=giage or it is one of the official language. It can also refer to a citizen of a country which is a member of the League of arab states. This identification though the simplest is the most contentious as it excludes the Arabs in Diaspora and it includes other people not of the Arab origin e.g. the Berbers of Morocco and the Somali of Somalia. The best identity of an arab would be one who is a citizen of an Arab state, has a command of the Arabic language and has knowledge of the Arab traditions that include the various customs, manners and social systrms of the culture..
This is an all inclusive term that puts together common themes and overtones found in the Arabic speaking cultures (Hooker, 1999) Most of the arabs hold the traditional values and morals close. The culture of loyalty to the family is a top priority among the arabs. Most arabs are muslims and they hold religion as a guide to how they live their lives. The Qur'an is followed in all aspects of their lives including how the are governed and how the live their social lifes. Their language is Arabic and it is uniform in the entire arab world. Arabic is a unique and complex language. Aish, a form of bread is the staple in most arabs' diet. The pastoral arab nomads who herded camels and sheep are quickly fading and they are being replaced with professionals who are working in the cities. Many arabs are employed in the oil companies and oil fields based in the middle east and other large manufacturing organizations as well (Barakat, 1993). The culture of the arab world is therefore defined by the distinct religion, art, and food.
The arabs have a set standard for clothing based mainly on their religion islam. Islam has minimum standards that are set for personal modesty and these are reflected in the styles of clothing that is worn among the Muslims. Most of these standards and guidelines on the modes of dressing may be seen as outdated or conservative but the Arabs view them as the values of public decency and therefore infinite in terms on when they will cease to be followed. The Arabs buy their clothes in the Muslim world or they sew their own. The Islam religion just outlines the minimum standard of modest dressing but does not outline the style, color or the fabric that one should wear. The distinctive style that women wear has been an issue of controversy for a long time especially in the western world. The women wear the traditional abaya with a full head and their face covered though some women now opt not to cover their faces. Majority of the women in the arab world dress conservatively. Some may cover their faces while others mwy not. The very more conservative women wear long black garments called Abayah and these covers the whole body from the shoulders all the way to the feet.inside this covering she may wear a traditional Arabian dress that may be full body length and with long sleeves and it may be decorated with beautiful beads. She can also be wearing a very fashionable dress from an international designer. A conservative woman will also wear a face and head covering in addition to the Abayah. The less conservative women wear the Abaya but do not wear the face and head cover. Some may wear the Abaya and a scarf like cover that covers only the hair but not the face. This cover is called a Hejab.
The mens clothing include a long sleeved one piece dresss that covers the whole body. It is called a Dishdashah or a Thoub. It is tailored in such a way that it allows air to circulate and this aids in cooling the body when the weather is hot. When the weather is hot especially during summer, the thoub is made of white cotton. This helps in reflecting the sunlight and hence maintaining the body temperature to normality. When the weather is cold eg in winters, it is made from heavy fabric eg wool and it is usually made from darker colors eg black or grey. The men also wear a 3- piece head cover with this Dishdashah. The bottom piece of the head covering is a white cap. The cap is called Thagiyah and is sometimes filled with holes. Its purpose is for holding the hair in place. A scarf like head cover is worn on top of the Thagiyah. This is reffered to as Gutrah which is a light white head cover that is worn in winter or Shumag a heavy head cover that is checked in red and white and is worn in winter. The purpose of these head covers is to protect the face and the head from the diorect sunlight. They are also used as coverings for the nose and mouth in times of sand storms and cold weather. The Ogal, a black band surrounding the head top is worn on top of the Thayigah and the Gutrah and it is used to hold them into place.(Mohammad Al-Sabt, 1995). The male children are taught on how to wear the heads covering when they reach puberty. this is usually a sign of entering manhood. The head covering is not worn while one is in the house but it is worn when one has guests in the house as a sign of respect.
Most arab music puts emphasis on melody and rhytyn rather than on harmony. The arab music is characterized by an arab tone, rhythmic-temporal structures that produce a variety of rhythmic patterns, a number of musical instruments, specific social contexts and an arab musical mentality. Is the most popular in the whole arab world and its superstars are very popular. There are also regional styles of music that are popular in their specific tregions eg Moroccan gnawa and Egyptian el gil. Most of the arab music has been dominated by Egypt and in particular Cairo which is a cultural center. Beirut has in the recent years become a major center of the arab music. The classical arab music
The arab music is composed of several genres and styles and it ranges from classical, pop, sacred and secukar music. It is usually very independent and alive with a long history of interaction with other regions styles and genres. The arab music is usually a composite of the music from the arabs of the arab peninsula in conjuction with the music from the arab world at large. The music has been highly influenced by music from other regions like the Egyptian, Persian, Assyrian, Swahili and European music(Touma, 1996) The arabs developed and translated works of music from the greek texts and thus mastered the greeks musical theory. In the 21st century, the genre of music that are very common in the arab world include Arabic pop, Franco-Arabic, Arabic Jazz, Arabic rock, Arabic electronica, Arabic R&B, reggae and hiphop.
Arabic pop- The Arabic music began to take a more weastern style in the 50s and 60s with artists like Abdel Halim Hafez leading the way. Arabic pop consists of Arabic instruments and lyrics but the songs are sung in a western style. Many Arabic artisyts took up the style in the 1990s and it was in 1996 when Amir Diab released the song Habini that become a hit and a success in the middle east, the araab world and worldwide at large.
Franco- Arabian this is a blend of western and eastern music that was made popular by Dalida from Egypt, Sammy Clarke from the Lebanon and Aldo from Austarllia.this genre describes a cross cultural blending of middle east and the westy though there are some songs that have incorporated Arabic- Italian, Arabic-french and Arabic –english lyrics and styles.
Arabic hiphop- the Arabian music has been influenced by R&B,reggae and hiphop especially in the last 5 years. This involves featuring a rapper in an Arabic song eg Ishtar in her song Habibi Sawah. Some artistusts ahave also used full R&B and reggae styles and beats eg Darine. This has however been greatly criticized. Hence this genre of musuic is not common in the arb world.
Arabic rock- many Arabic rock bands are fusing hard rock sounds with the traditional Arabic instruments and this type of genre is becoming very popular in the Arab world. The Arabic music has become very popular and can now be found on the internet.
Arabian Cinema- this is the cinema of the arab world and the Arabic language is used to act the films and also in the theatres. There is an increase in the demand for arab films worldwide. The films from the arab countries eg Syria, Algeria and Tunisia are becoming common in the local film festivals. Three quarters of all the Arabic films are produced in Egypt.
Arabic is one of the Semitic languages and is closely related top Hebrew and Aramaic. The documentation of the language began with the rise in islam and the Quran is written in Arabic.Theb semitic languages are characterized by their reliance on revowelling ie changing the form of the words by replacing the vowels. The words in the divctionary are all consonants from where other words are derived. Eg from the word ktb (write), words like kitab which means book and maktaba which means library can be derived. There are several sounds in the arabisc language that are not g=found un the English language. Arabic omits the glottal stop or represents it with a single quote(') in transilitetrations.vellars ( words produced when the tongue touches the soft palate of the mouth) k in the English language is transliterated as kh. The language has different dialects from various countries and traditions. The everyday spoken dialect is different from the Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) which is used by the media and the educated Arabs. The spoken Arabic is different from the written language. The later is more formal and colloquil. There are various English words that have been derived from the Arabic but it is through other languages eg Spanish. Some of these words are sugar from ‘sukkar' and cotton from ‘qutn'. The more direct words are algebra, alcohol and zenith. (Salloum, 1996). Ther are about 195 million people who speak Arabic as their first language and more than 35 million others speaking it as the second language.
Arabic is the symbol of islam and it is the language of the Quran. In the arab world, it is the language used to communivcate with the family members, with friends, in the market place and when addressing government officials. It is also used to speak to the people of knowledge. (Mustaqeem). Arabic has become a part of Islam and hence knowing the language has become an obligatory duty in the muslim world. Its teaching remains teacher centered and the teachers aim at teaching the textbooks only while overlooking the importance curriculumn alignment to assessment and instructions. There is therefore a need to write a national standard for Arabic and also establishment of teascher colleges that will aim at offering quality pedagogical training that willl be backed up by intensive sound research and funding. The language is viewed as sacred to the muslims because the quran was revealed to Mohamed in Arabic (Dowling, 2009)
Arabic is a difficult language especially for English speakers to grasp. This is because of the high guttural sounds as compared to roman and german languages. The sounds in Arabic are different and it has only two verb tenses and few grammar rules that one can master. When written, it moves from right to left. Though the written Arabic is standardized, there exist many variations in the local spoken dialects.
Arabic language is developing so rapidly. This has been brought about by many factors and reasons. Written and audiovisual mass media has contributed to the widespread of this language. But this language has yielded to the power of information instead of yielding to the power of its speakers. A language is strengthened when its community becomes stronger but in this historical period, the status of the arab and Islamic Ummah does not give it chances of prominence and the chances of mustering the sinews of power. This is making the Arabic language weak and thus unable to assert its existence, unable to control the flow of information, or to separate itself from the sphere of influence. The Arabic language is generally deteriorating. Many people in the 19th century called for people to stick to the correctness of the language. many authors published books that they called Journalese with an aim of correcting errors, the erroneous writing styles and in a bid to try and rehabilitate Arabic. There are many factors that led to the deterioration of Arabic and to the domination of the local colloquil langusge. In all this, the aranic can be seen to have been ushered into an era of widespread information and while it is still suffering from an immue deficiency. This has resulted into widespread invasion of the standard language orvthe language of information by the collioquil languiages andtrhis has reasultred un the rise of a third hybrid language and this has spread within a very short time to the whole of the arab world.