chapter  1
12 Pages

Multiple Faces of Islam

ByR. Hrair Dekme;ian

The multiplicity of contemporary Islamic groups and movements represents a reaction to the legacy of the past as well as to the problems faced by the Islamic community in the modern world. In the last three centuries, the Islamic world was buffeted by powerful external and internal forces. It witnessed the decline of Ottoman and Persian power in the face of European imperial might and cultural hegemony. This decline of Islamic power gave rise to ethnic nationalist movements among the Turks, Persians, Arabs, Kurds and non-Muslim minorities. Within the Arab sphere, a Pan-Arabic nationalist movement emerged in the 1950s as a reaction to both the establishment of Israel and Anglo-French-American hegemony over the region. This movement, which sought to unite the Arabs under Egypt's Gamal 'Abd aI-Nasser and/or the Syrian Ba'th Party, was defeated by rivalries among the Arab leaders as well as by Western interventionism and defeat by Israel in the June 1967 war.