21 Aug 2005


I see Music as the true maker of civilization. The thread that connects what I might have meant by 'Islam the civilization'.

A further question hit me last night, 'what have become of us, Egyptians, who were conquered by this glamourous civilization called Muslims.' Did we call them the 'Arabs' or 'Muslim'. I dont know. I am also choosing to believe that Islam/Arab came to Egypt not by sword, but that we Egyptians did welcome them.

The art of recitating Coran, a book I was browsing last night at Diwan, speaks about the different ways of readings Coran got me thinking about this 1/4 tone that we have in our music. Can it be an Islamic tone, Coranic tone? For instance, 'howa sahih, sahih, el hawa ghalaaaaab... ma3rafsh ana, ana.....' This crying like sound is actually Coranic, right? The prophet said, 'if you can't tabkou, fa tabakou'. This was not Egyptian music. We had our great Harp, 2 buo'ih like instruments inscripted in our temples. Then what we now call our music, has the nahawand, which comes from Nahawand. Again not Egyptian. Kathoumiyat which is Turkish music with its ta'tou'ah, fa'fou'ah, and God knows what!

I would personally want to have 'Egyptian' not an Arab not a Muslim as my identity. This is what makes total sense to me at this point. But not the today Egyptians, because to be honest, when I open my window and look at the Egyptians I see, Poor Kuwaitis. Kuwaitis with no Oil. Not Egyptians as those who built the Pyramids. Did actually the Pyramids lose the battle with the Ka'ba, as of historical importance. The extra care we give to the Ka'ba overshadowed that of the pyramids. Not saying that we should ignore the Ka'ba, but I am just wondering why the pyramids got ignored.


Blogger Jane said...

Haal, thanks for stopping by my blog. I thought I'd do the same. I find yours ever so interesting, in particular this exchange with "Dallula" that became quite heated. You stated your concern that it will appear that Muslims are fighting amongst themselves. You needn't be worried. As a total outsider, all it seems very normal to me that different people will have different ideas and opinions and interpretations. It is natural to expect that conflict will arise...in life it is sometimes unavoidable. What truly matters is how one handles oneself during the conflict. Take care.

8/21/2005 08:00:00 am  
Blogger LouLou said...


Why do you think the Pyramids got ignored by Egyptians for the Kaaba?

The Kaaba is in Saudi Arabia & as far as I know if any physical care is given to the Kaaba it's given By Saudi Arabia not Egypt.

Added to which the Pyramids are historical burial sites dating back to Pharoanic times as far as I know. But the Kaaba is a religious site which you use everyday to direct your prayers as well as visiting for Hajj & Umra. It's something completely different from the Pyramids. Or Taj Mahal. Or Eiffel. Or Pisa. It's like apples & oranges.

Generally historical sites are of interest mainly to academics & the elite. You don't find the average guy on the street very knowledgeable or very interested in history as a general rule. If you think Egyptians are bad you should see Americans. They couldn't tell you what historical sites exist in the next town. I think Egyptians are a lot better actually. I was in Egypt as a tourist & I never met a single Egyptian - educated or otherwise -who didn't ask me if I visited the pyramids yet & talk about 7adara 7000 sana etc...It's not like they didn't know about it. Even the bawabeen & the taxi drivers would say that. In America the only way you can find out about local historical sites is to call or visit the City Council or the public library & pick up some brochures. You can't ask anyone. They have no idea.

8/21/2005 11:17:00 am  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Who cares about the pyramids. It exemplifies our failure as a culture. I'll get back to you on the music stuff later tonight.

Nice to know that you identify yourself as an Egyptian --but not a typical one of these days.

8/21/2005 11:51:00 am  
Blogger haal said...

All I meant, Loul, was that the pyramids are not as important to Egyptians as the Ka'aba. To me, this is a sign of 'shame' from Egyptian civilization or anything that is not Islamic, or religious in general.

It was just a thought!

'The Kaaba is in Saudi Arabia & as far as I know if any physical care is given to the Kaaba it's given By Saudi Arabia not Egypt.'
When egypt was rich, it used to send the Ka'aba cover to Saudi Arabia. The best cover, embroided in gold ...etc. While they didnt care about the pyramids.

8/21/2005 12:55:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

The crying sound is not Quranic. First, I don't know that that hadeeth is sa7ee7. Second, crying from reading or listening to Quran is not a form of reading, its a reaction and a reflection. None of the recitation rules say that at this spot you do a tanheeda for example :)

The 1/4 tone. Someone who knows music and recitation can help. Maybe there are locations where it exists. Words where the edgham rule is applied for example? maybe.

The value of music is apparently huge, even in Quran like you note. The natural musical vocal sounds that can be generated from reading the Quran is quite something, and that's how we're encourage to recite it. One of the rules is called ghonna, the link to music can't be more obvious than that I guess.

Can you elaborate on what you mean by Music being the maker of civilizations? That's strong.

Was there ever a 'battle' between the pyramids and the kaaba? Incomparable really like Loulou says. I don't know that we ignored the pyramids. We just treat it like we do everything else, recklessly. If the kaaba was in Egypt, we would've probably done the same to it. And in fact that's what a number of Muslims do when they go there. Then again, I personally don't like the pyramids. They're great monuments that reflect ingenuity of individuals and hard work of alot of people. But they also reflect a failed culture and a society that worships not just the life of its leader, but his death as well, trying to bring him as a king again in the afterlife, and managing to make that a national project. Its also the same culture of work we use till today; one man show with a thousand helper (whom are typically whipped to work). That's a failed working culture in my book, even if it produces a pyramid everynow and then. Its just not sustainable.

8/22/2005 01:21:00 am  
Blogger ألِف said...

I really have nothing to add regarding the Pyramids vs. Ka'ba issue because I don't see the cause here.

But this is interesting:
I once read that there were not only one Ka'ba, but Ka'bas, many of them. The Ka'ba was the house of god to Arabs, a temple, and Makka's Ka'ba heppened to be the most famous.

I never verified this info, though.

8/22/2005 02:16:00 am  
Blogger LouLou said...

You know haal something I've always been curious about is why some of the peoples conquered by Islam were Arabized & Islamized while others were only Islamized?

Why is it that Palestinians, Egyptians, Iraqis etc...speak Arabic today while Kurds & Iranians & my Berber relatives don't?

The fact is the overwhelming majority of the people who call themselves Arabs today are Arab only by language/culture not by blood. Even here in the Gulf many local tribes actually come from Indian or Persian origins. So what makes Arabized Arabs like us different from Kurds or Iranians or Afghans?Why were we Arabized while they weren't?

8/22/2005 07:58:00 am  
Blogger haal said...

yes, check a post at Mohamed's titled, an Arab on a ski! I was pissed his called himself Arab!

But yeah, I think the weaker you are, the more willing to join the 'glamourous' civilization and this what happened to Egyptian. They saw Arab/Muslims as saviours, they clinged to them and imitated them in everything. Well, they are used to just mutate into anything.

Something I heard, that the halawet el mould that we have here in cairo, are actually Virgin Mary and a saint called Girgis... (the girl and the guy on the horse). I am not sure, but why not?

If we look at IRan, notice their flag. They have the symbol of the persian empire inside it! Persian empire, civilization moush ay kalam.. They knew that, cherish it and dont attempt to normalize all input to reach a lame mix that is neither nor!

I too read about the many ka'bas but the Meccan Ka'ba was a special one that had something sacred throughout history... I assume the 'black stone'!?!

8/22/2005 02:44:00 pm  
Blogger Mohamed said...

Yeah, I also have a post about our identity, claiming that each one of us can have one zillion identities! Why be so rigid?

And its true, Egyptians will integrate just about any other culture and come up with some kind of weird mosaic of cultures. We just pick the wrong aspects of the cultures we integrate!

8/22/2005 04:58:00 pm  
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8/23/2005 09:24:00 am  
Blogger Jane said...

Reading these other comments (minus the spammers) I realized my ignorance and was curious to ask a few questions and hopefully someone will be so kind as to answer them. What is the "official" language of Egypt? What do most people speak? Is there any other predominant language used besides Arabic? If not, what did Egyptians used to speak before Arabic?

8/23/2005 03:08:00 pm  
Blogger haal said...

We, the people of the Arab Republic of Egypt, speak Arabic, and this is the official language. Of course, we have a heavy population speaking English, that you can hear it around anywhere you go. Then French is the second most popular one, far less than English. So if you want to come to Egypt, communicating with people should be the last thing you should worry about. You will be fully understood and will feel that you actually are speaking arabic with us.

I dont know what language we were speaking before, I would guess Copitc Language, and before that the ancient egyptian languge, heliogriphic(spelling).

8/24/2005 08:46:00 am  
Blogger rahmanium said...

most if not all of our modern songs (befor this new shababya songs era attack) was turkish driven in both instruments and melodies , but you can call music of sayed darweesh a true egyptian music ,also songs of upper egypt with "el rababa" are true egyptian music like "yaseen el tohaami" and thousands of local singers scattered in the delta
see the songs of"ferqet reda"

i guess we'r not that influenced by arab culture as it seems . it was always a mixture ,i nknow we'r in our worst cases now ,but we've been there many times... after all its a long history

8/24/2005 03:16:00 pm  
Blogger Alina said...

I don't know much about how real Egyptians see the Pyramids and all the history of antient Egypt. But I know that in what branding is concerned, they are a big part of Egypt. Most tourism agencies organizing trips to Egypt focus on visiting the Pyramids. Not to mention all the documentary on this issue. To be honest, I don't really know much on nowadays Egypt...Maybe there should be a balance. Foreigners shoul know more about the present and Egyptians should know/care more about the past.

8/25/2005 01:11:00 pm  
Blogger ألِف said...

Before the Arabisation of Egypt, Egyptians spoke what they called "te met rem en khēme", the language of the people of Egypt, which they wrote using many systems across its long history, the oldest of which was Hieroglyphic. 'Coptic' is a later name for the same language, which literally means 'Egyptian'.

Currently the languages spoken in Egypt are: Arabic in many dialects; Nubian in two varieties; Siwi, a Berber dialect which is linguistically closely related to Egyptian; and Beja.

Being an Afro-asiatic language, Egyptian had mutual influences with the ancestors of Arabic since pre historical times, which left deeply rooted cognates.

The Arabic which Egyptians speak now is the most widely understood.

9/01/2005 01:15:00 am  
Blogger Al Sharief said...

When I stopped at this haal's mix & mis-match, I knew I had to dig out what I 've read some times ago on how the Pyramids of Giza was Built. How Great & complex it was as a Project Management problem was not what I wanted to write about. Indeed it was & is one of the Greatest ever wonders of the world & a hall Mark of civilization.

What I wanted to remember was the "Human" factor in such a mega project in ancient times. I do NOT want to over play the Slavery part of that but I could not help it when haal the "historian" ventured with "Just a thought" and started to compare notes on the Pyramids of Pharohs Vs. the Kaaba of Islam & Ibrham in the Arabian Pinsula. I knew I had to dig out the words of Dr. Ali Sharaiti when he visited the Pyramids in Egypt for the first times.

Read More on Giza-pyramids-holy-kaaba-of-Arabia.

9/06/2005 12:26:00 am  
Blogger haal said...

Ali Shari'ati is awesome. I assume you know he is a Shi'i!

ANyways, where should I read about that? Provide a link or dis-link, Al-Shareif!!

9/06/2005 12:53:00 am  
Blogger zoss said...

haal; incase you haven't come across it yet, here's the link.

9/06/2005 05:47:00 am  

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