Ahmed Adghirni: “Arab identity is of no interest to the Amazigh (Berber) people”

While catching up on some of the videos by MEMRI (Middle Eastern Media Research Institute), I came upon this most interesting  one:  a discussion between an Arab and Berber (Amazigh) Muslim from Morocco regarding a proposed Berber-Jewish Friendship centre.

This discussion shows a few separate things I would like to bring to your attention.

There is something that several different Muslims have called my attention to: there is a big gulf between ‘Arab Muslims and non-Arab Muslims’.  I am not sure if I understand all the nuances of the situation – and there does appear to be a lot of complexity to it, especially when there is also a racial component – but I am confident that I understand the ‘bones’ of the issue.  Or, at least, a few of the bones…

‘Arab Maghreb‘ refers to non-negro, non-Arab areas of Africa (in the North-West) concquered by the Arab-Muslims.  Some of the population of the ‘Maghreb’ prior to the Arab invasion was descended from the Phoenicians (who, some anthropologists argue, were (or were closely related to) the proto-Slavs), the ancient Greeks and the Romans.  Prior to their conquest during the spread of Islam, this area had strong ‘Mediterranean’ European cultural influences.  Arab culture was foregn to them.

The prophet Muhammad was an Arab – and, for some reason, the Muslim scriptures go to great lenght to affirm that his skin was ‘ white’.  This is not just a descriptive – it is a direct and itegral part of the Muslim faith!  (This may be connected to the same root as the fact that the Arabic word for ‘negro’ or ‘black man’ is the same as the word ‘slave’)

The teachings of Islam state that all races and nationalities are equal to each other – except for Arabs, who are superior (‘more perfected’), which is demonstrated by the fact that Allah chose his messenger from among Arabs (their language is also superior (‘more perfected’) to other languages, ‘which is why’ the Koran was dictated to Muhammad in Arabic).

All Arabs are equal – except the tribe from which the prophet Muahammad came, which is superior, as demonstrated by the fact that Allah chose his messenger from among them.

This teaching is at the root the strict Sharia marriage rules (adherence to these rules, even in our times,  confirms their existence and current validity under Sharia):

  • A Muslima may not marry a non-Muslim, because she would be ‘marrying down’ (by having to obey a man/husband who is not a Muslim and is therefore ‘below’ her) while no such prohibition exists for a Muslim man (if he marries a woman who is not a Muslima, she has to look up to him and obey him – a Muslim – anyway, so she is ‘marrying up’ and there is no ‘conflict’).
  • An Arab woman must marry a Muslim who is also an Arab, because to marry a non-Arab Muslim, she would be ‘marrying below her status’.
  • Similarly, a Quraishi (from Muhammad’s tribe) woman is not permitted to marry outside her tribe, because that would be ‘marrying below her status’.  (This is often expressed as ‘a woman with a lineage’ may not marry a man of ‘a lesser lineage’.)

This is known as the principle of ‘kafa’ah’ – suitability:  a woman’s guardian is responsible for finding her  a ‘kuff’ (‘suitable’)  husband.  (In Muslim countries, women have occasionally successfully legally challenged their arranged marriages on the grounds of ‘kafa’ah’. )

Here is a direct quote from one Sharia source:

The Jurists have stated that among Arabs, a non-Quraishi male is not a match (Kuf) for a Quraishi woman, nor can any person of non-Arab descent be a match for a woman of Arab descent. For example, the Sayyids, whether Siddique or Farooque, Uthmaani or Alawi, or belonging to some other branch can never be matched by any person not sharing their lineage, no matter his profession and family status. The Sayyids are suitable matches for one another, since they share descent from the Quraishi tribe. Thus, marriages between themselves are correct and permitted without any condition as appearing in Durrul Mukhtar: 

“And Kafaah in lineage. Thus the Quraysh are suitable matches for one another as are the (other) Arabs suitable matches for one another.”

The ruling relevant to non-Arabs is as follows: ‘An Ajmi (non-Arab) cannot be a match for a woman of Arab descent, no matter that he be an Aalim (religious scholar) or even a Sultan (ruling authority). (Raddul Muhtar p.209 v.4)

This whole discourse appears to be a bit of a tangent, but am trying to demostrate something integral to this issue: Arab Muslims consider themselves to be ‘more perfected’ than other Muslims are – and demand that they and their culture are held as superior to all others.  After all, the old adage about definingracism/prejudice is not ‘would you sit and talk with ‘insert name of discriminated-against group’, but would you permit your daughter to marry one.

Clearly, the ‘rule’ – as established by Sharia and as enforced everywhere where Sharia contols civil laws, the Quraishi are not permitted to marry their daughters outside their tribe Arab Muslims are not permitted marry their daughters to non-Arab Muslims, and Muslims are not permitted to marry their daughters to non-Muslims.  In other words, there is a ‘lineage-based’ (meaning ‘race’ as well as ‘culture’, ‘wealth’ and ‘religion’ based) class order established and enforced by Sharia, with Arabs ‘above’ and  at the top and the Quraishi at the pinnacle…

This has been a sore point with many non-Arab Muslims, because marriage law is not the only aspect of life where the Arabs claim their ways are ‘more perfected’ and therefore that should replace the local customs and culture.  Many non-Arab Muslims are vocal opponents of the ‘Arabization’ of their cultures and the devastating effects this has on their youth.

These Muslims have no difficulty in distinguishing between ‘cultural’ and ‘religious’ practices:  they accept Islam as their religion, but they will be damned if the accept ‘Arabic’ culture as superior (and thus preferable) to their own!

One Muslim I spoke with referred to this as Arab supremacism and said that Imams intent on radicalizing non-Arab Muslim youth are capitalizing on this.  To paraphraze him (as I do not recall the exact wording he used) these Imams tell the non-Arab Muslim youths that no matter how devout they are, they can never become as ‘perfected’ and thus beloved of Allah) as the lowliest Arabs – unless, of course, they martyr themselves in the cause of jihad.

In no uncertain terms, young and vulnerable people are being targetted by some unscrupulous Imams and told that because they are of Pakistani or other non-white descent, they cannot ever become first class Muslims and the ONLY way they can become perfected enough to enter paradise is by becoming suicide bombers.

This is important for us all to know and understand!

But, back to the video above…

You can see from the body language – as well as the discourse between them – that the two men (aside from the mediator) come from very different points of view.  The Arab’s (Yahya Abu Zakariya) body language is aggressive and presumptive of dominance.  The Berber’s (Ahmed Adghirni) body language is much more interesting…

(Disclosure – I may be reading more to this than there is…  A few decades ago, while I was taking a University course on Arab history, I had a neighbour who was a Berber and who loved to fill me in on the ‘Berber perception of life’ – including that of Arabs.  Right or wrong, the Berber perspective (according to my Berber neighbour) regards the Arabs as invaders who used to raid the peaceful Berbers in order to steal their women – the Berber wome were famed for their beauty and piercing blue eyes.  He said that it was considered a status-symbol among the Arab colonists to have blue-eyed children…  Eventually, the Berbers came to regard the Arabs as the usurper colonists – much as the Arab in the debate regards the French…)

In the Berber’s perception – and I think this s born out by Ahmed Adghirni’s body language, the Arabs are unwelcome colonists… a point completely lost on Yahya Abu Zakaruya, who seems compleely incapable of getting the idea that not everyone regards Arab culture as the pinnacle to aspire to, and does not seem aware that not everyone sees the world from the Arab perspective.

This video shows that there is serious animosity to the increasing Arabization of culture in Islamic countries.  Nor is anti-semitism as universal in Muslim countries as the Arabic lenz makes it appear.

And that is something we should pay attention to.

UPDATE:  I just came across this article demonstrating Arab views on Berber women.