Terrible papers part 3

>> Monday, December 28, 2009

This was the hardest paper I wrote and it was for my Ottoman History class. The question was: "In 1900 few areas of the world were not controlled by European states. The Ottoman , Empire was a territory desired by Europeans. The Empire stood on the crossroads of important trade routes, holy sins for Christianity, and regions rich in agricultural and mineral wealth. How did European designs manifest in the empire and how did the Ottomans respond? How then did the Ottomans survive for so long against European imperialist interests?"

1st I do not understand it. 2nd they did not last in the 1900's they died off in the early 1900's. 3rd Did not know if I should or should not talk about the 1800's and if I do should I go back as far as the Crimean war or just the Russo-Turk war. 4th (which was the biggest problem) as a Muslim I just wanted to say IMAN and the QADR of Allah!!!!


In 1900’s Europeans controlled most of the world. The Ottoman Empire was a territory desired by the Europeans and they took many actions to further their interest in the Ottoman territory. This paper will discuss what actions the Europeans took, how did the Ottoman Empire respond and why did the Ottoman Empire survived for so long against European imperialist interests.

By the 1900’s Europe had an economic strangle hold on the Ottoman Empire. However this stronghold started to take place by the end of the 1800’s. In 1877-78 the Ottomans lost a war against the Russians. Russia was very close to the capital and hence Ottomans were forced to accept the Treaty of San Stephano on March 3, 1878. The treaty gave Russia a large piece of eastern Anatolia and Bessarabia. Also under the treaty a Great Bulgaria was to be created, spanning from the Black Sea to Albania and from Aegean to the Danube. Russia believed that this new state would be dependent on Russia, giving Russia some control over the Balkans. However through the intervention of Great Britain, Austria and Bismarck’s Germany, Russia was not able to gain all that it hoped for. On July 13, 1878 through the Treaty of Berlin, Bulgaria was reduced in size and Southern Bulgaria became Eastern Rumelia and was still under the Ottomans. The Empire also kept the central and southern Balkans and Albania. However, Austria took Bosnia and the Empire was forced to give up Cyprus to Great Britain for their help in the Congress of Berlin. Great Britain ended up being a major beneficiary of the congress because of the land gained by them.[1]

There were other losses of land but they were by name only because they only been nominally a part of the Ottoman Empire. Examples are France occupying Tunisia in 1881 and the British occupying Egypt in 1882. However a major loss because of European intervention was in 1899 when the Empire won a war against Greek invaders on the southern Macedonian border. Europeans intervened and even though the Ottomans won the war they did not gain anything.[2]

During all this Abdulhamit was building railways and telegraph tracks that helped the empire but he also built great palaces and mosques. However Russia had almost brought the Ottomans to financial ruin because of the past war. Added to the cost of war was the excessive borrowing of money by Abdulhamit’s successors. All this caused the empire to need to borrow money.[3] Europeans at first resisted helping the Ottomans because of the empire’s useless expenditures such as building luxurious palaces but at the end Europeans decided to strike a deal with the Ottomans because they were concerned if they did not then the Ottomans would turn to Russia.[4] Europe liked neither the Ottomans nor the Russians but to the Europeans according to Lord Stratford de Redecliffe in 1875, the Ottoman Empire was the lesser of two evils. Abdulhamit proclaimed the Decree of Muharrem in 1881. He had to either give into the Europe’s conditions or the Ottoman Empire would die.

Through the arrangement set in the Decree of Muharrem the Ottoman debt was forgiven by 50 per cent, this was in exchange for European banks creating the Public Debt Administration and having state revenue go there. This meant much of the money that would go to the Ottoman government went to the Public Debt Administration. In 1903 however some of the money was remitted. By 1913 the Ottoman Empire had more officials working in the Public Dept Administration than teachers in Ottoman schools.[5]

Furthermore after the Decree of Muharrem the Ottomans did not stop borrowing money. In fact borrowing money was now easier. Before Ottomans would only receive half of the loan that they asked for and would have to pay the full sum back and interest on the full sum. Now much of the debt due to the “discount” rates was cut because of the Decree of Muharrem. This was because the Public Debt Administration guaranteed investors would make a profit. It loaned money to build railways but also put a tax on sheep in certain regions so the investors would still gain a profit if the railroads failed to make one. The Public Debt Administration could also use the military to collect such taxes.[6] The ability to tax and use the military gave Europe insurance that the Ottomans would pay the debt or Europe would at least benefit if the Ottomans could not pay the debt.

The European designs taking place in the Empire was that Europe was taking land from the Ottomans, by intervening in the Ottoman Empire’s foreign policy such as when they intervened and cause the Ottomans to gain absolutely nothing after the war with the Greeks and that Europe held the Empire’s debt.

Abdulhamit’s response to the debt he inherited was to appeal to Europe that if the Empire went bankrupt it would benefit no one and in turn Europe decided to reschedule the debt. Abdulhamit accepted the terms of the Decree of Muharrem because his other option was to let the Empire fall to Europe like Egypt did to England in 1882. Furthermore the Decree of Muharrem allowed the Empire to borrow money to pay off old loans.[7] Abdulhamit’s response to invasions such as when Austria seized Bosnia-Herzegovina and when the Bulgarians took Eastern Rumelia or the Armenian rebellions in the 1890’s was to resist the temptation of war. Abdulhamit did not go to war because any intervention against the Ottoman Empire by Europeans would be disastrous.[8] This helped the Ottomans survive longer. Furthermore the building of telegraphs and railroads helped the Ottomans fight as well as they did in World War I.[9]

Abdulhamit banned the first attempt at constitutional rule.[10] He also used secret police and actually damaged effective government to keep power for himself.[11] This and the Empire’s financial problems and its military not receiving enough money partly because foreign banks were paid before soldiers eventually led to another response.[12] The Young Turks revolution began in 1889 with the creation of the CUP. On July 23 1908 Abdulhamit restored the constitution. The Young Turks were concerned with social and economic reforms and the influence of Europe on the Empire. Their focus was to develop the Empire militarily and economically and they also accepted the fact Christian minorities had their own nationalism and hence put forth a Turkish nationalism.[13] Furthermore they wanted democracy or a constitutional government and not a government that was based on Islamic creed like the Ottoman Empire traditionally was. Stratford de Redcliffe wrote in 1876, “Their administrative institutions are based on a creed the principles of which, in their nature unchangeable, obstruct the progress of that social development by which nations increase their strength and secure the respect of their neighbors,”[14] which would make one believe that this new government would be successful in dealing with Europeans. However despite the attempts of the Young Turks to make the empire better by changing the form of government that should lead to progress and recognizing Christian minorities they eventually started to face troubles. In April 12 1909 a counter revolution was staged. Furthermore unlike Abdulhamit who avoided war at all costs with Europe the Young Turks were invaded by Italians and lost the Tripolitanian war which in turn made the Empire lose Libya, the last African territory on October 5, 1911.[15]

Before the Young Turks the sultan had final say on everything, the parliament government had different views and did not initiate much reform because they kept arguing instead of taking action.[16] The Young Turks stepped into power without knowing how to deal with separatists tendencies. Furthermore Abdulhamit knew how to deal with Europe but The Young Turks believed that a more representative government would cure all the problems the Empire had with Europe.[17] Furthermore leaders of the revolution were taking powers from government organizations and giving it to party centers. This caused a one party dictatorship. Halide Edib gives the example of Russia where the Union and Progress was copied. The Russian Unionist told Halide nothing new happened in Russia and they had added the Cheka that does not possess governing capacity.[18] Basically all national groups were represented in this new parliament but there was no harmony and different ideals started to clash with one another.[19]

The Ottoman responses to European designs were two fold. In the late 1800’s the response of Abdulhamit was cunning and shrewd diplomacy. In the 1900’s the response was the reforms led by the Young Turks that improved the military. Young Turks were able to change an army that was defeated in 1912 against Bulgaria and Greece to be able to stand up against Russia and Great Britain in 1914.[20] A response that both Abdulhamit and the CUP had was construction and development. Abdulhamit constructed railways and telegraphs but also squandered money building palaces, while the CUP modernized Istanbul and built streets and sewers and extended telephone, gas and electric lines. However the Young Turks were not able to improve railways, highways or other enterprises except for the military because most of their reforms were cut short due to World War I.[21]

Why did the Empire last for so long? The responses of the Empire allowed it to last so long. Abdulhamit was able to obtain more loans from Europe because most of Europe feared Russia. He basically played off on their fears. He also knew how to pick between a bad deal and a worse deal. The Young Turks started to make social, political and most importantly military reforms. A lot of the modernization and economic changes however was cut short because of World War I.

[1] Justin McCarthy, The Ottoman Turks (Addison Wesley Longman), 306-307

[2] Ibid., 307

[3] Ibid., 307-308

[4] Viscount Stratford De Redcliffe, The Eastern Question: Turkish Finiance, 4-5

[5] McCarthy, Ottoman Turks, 308

[6] Ibid., 310

[7] Ibid., 308-310

[8] Ibid., 307

[9] Justin McCarthy, The Ottoman Peoples and the End of Empire, (Arnold 2001), 28

[10] Kern, Notes, November23

[11] Ibid., 27

[12] McCarthy, Ottoman Turks, 316

[13] McCarthy, End of Empire, 27-30

[14] Viscount Stratford De Redcliffe, The Eastern Question:The True Meaning of the Eastern Question, 11

[15] McCarthy, Ottoman Turks, 320-321

[16] Ibid., 321

[17] Halide Edib, Memoirs of Halide Edib: The Constitutional Revolution of 1908, 266

[18] Ibid., 267-268

[19] Ibid., 271-272

[20] McCarthy, Ottoman Turks, 323

[21] Ibid., 323


Terrible papers part 2

>> Saturday, December 19, 2009

Okay so I took a Arabic Cinema in Translation for my minor this semester. And the final paper was 10 pages long based on at least one movie we haven't watched and comparing it to the themes of movies we did. I had to do a little compromising for the sake of the class. I also went on a page long rant. This post is long but once you start reading it you won't be able to stop. Many people found it funny.

My Paper

This paper will be about The Destiny and The Victorious Saladin, both directed by Youssef Chahine. The themes that will be discussed are religion and why people do what they do. This essay will also discuss women.
One of the topics we talked about in class was what the causes are that make people become terrorists. Many reasons were given on why people take radical actions: to fight oppression, discrimination, sexual deprivation and religion. The films The Destiny and The Victorious Saladin gave two more reasons: failure and greed. In The Destiny, the Caliph’s second son is viewed as a complete failure because he spends his time dancing around with gypsies and his father always chastises him. He eventually feels unloved and joins a fundamentalist sect. Furthermore there is a scene in the film where many of the boys from the fundamentalist cult are on trial and the mother tells Ibn Rushd that the boy sleeps all the time and then all of the sudden he is trying to change his family to become righteous. The boy was lazy and a failure and the only thing he had going for him was to become a “shaykh” or righteous person who condemns everyone else. I personally believe people become extremists so they can chastise others on not being religious before others can chastise them for being failures.
Out of all the reasons given as to why people turn to extremism specifically Islamic extremism, personally I have seen it is because of people being failures and having nowhere else to turn but religion. They cry and their mother’s hit them, their father’s did not love them, and they blame everyone else for being a failure but their own selves. Youssef Chahine, I believe, was completely accurate in his portrayal as to why people become extreme. However he does not accurately portray why people take violent action, there is a difference in extremism and terrorism. Extremism is what we see the protagonist in Yacobian Building originally turning to, a man who overnight became religious and then wants to change everyone around him, such as pushing his girlfriend to read his book. In The Destiny we see the Caliph’s younger son join a religious sect and then it seems as if overnight he believes everyone to be wrong and damned. He even tells his friend who has been stabbed in the throat and is in bed rest to get up and pray. That to me is extremism. It eventually leads to the extremist participating in an act of terror due to the character going through a tough ordeal. The character in Yacobian building was raped in prison and then got hold of weapons, so he took his revenge. While he was on the extremist path, one does not need to be an overzealous extremist to become a terrorist. As we see in Paradise Now the characters were not religious at all and did not want to change their friends or family, they just wanted it all to end. One wanted to redeem his family honor, the other wanted equality. In Terrorism and Kebab the main character actually gets into a fight with the religious figure. All the sets of characters from these three films have reasons to become terrorists that have nothing to do with religion. Only the character in Yacobian Building was on the extremist path but the spark for him joining the extremists and the spark for him taking violent action were two different events.
Comparing how people get onto the extremist path, I believe The Destiny is more accurate. From personal experience it is definitely because people are failures and have nothing else going for them. However the Caliph’s son did not have a reason or motivation to become a terrorist or someone involved in an assassination plot. The motivation to become an extremist was not there in Yacobian Building but the motivation for becoming violent was. I do not believe being rejected by the police academy because of discrimination makes someone religious overnight but rather it is a constant string of failures and the unwillingness to take responsibility for those failings. Yacobian Building is correct on why people take violent action and The Destiny is correct on why people become extremely religious overnight.
The best example I can give is that the Muslim Brotherhood were extreme in their beliefs. But after being jailed so many times, one of them by the name of Sayyid Qutb wrote Milestone in jail and many members of the Brotherhood understood the book as telling them to take up violent action against the government. However if the attacks on the brotherhood and the jailing of many of its members did not happen then the book never would have been written and the violent responses never would have happened and the Brotherhood would just be overzealous people who were just on a missionary cause.
Another theme discussed when we watched Paradise Now was the motive behind terrorism is not religion but religion is used as an excuse. One character want to either gain freedom from this life or equality and the other wants to redeem the honor of his family. However the characters around them support their course of action using religion. For example the plotter keeps talking about heaven. But the plotters themselves just wanted a revolution in which they could become leaders afterwards. If they truly believed in what they preached why did they not carry on the suicide missions? The same theme was talked about during The Yacobian Building. Absolutely everything these people did they justified it with religion. However the main reason behind their actions was pure selfishness. In Terrorism and Kebab we see a religious figure that uses prayer as a way to get out of doing work. Then he preaches to an attractive young lady that she should cover and be religious but it is soon made clear that he is attracted to her and wants to be with her. He used religion to start the conversation and was hoping to get something more. The girl’s question to him was if he really cared about people changing why did he not preach to the others? This exposed his true motives. Similarly in The Victorious Saladin, King Richard originally came to fight Saladin because he believed Saladin was oppressing the Christians. When he realized Saladin was a good man he still stayed and fought because of the glory. The King of France and Lady Virginia kept claiming it was for Christendom that they had joined the Crusades, however the King of France really wanted money and Virginia wanted revenge on Saladin for killing her husband and the throne of Jerusalem. If they were religious then they would have not killed the emissaries of King Richard sent to Saladin in an attempt to frame Saladin or kill other Christians because they were Arabs. Furthermore if Lady Virginia was religious she would not have made up lies about Saladin to gain the help of the Christian kings. In The Destiny Sheikh Riad and the leader of the sect who is referred to as “Angel” put on a fa├žade on their followers that they are the religious and that Ibn Rushd is the deviant. They recruited people into their sect and tell them that they need to save everyone from the hellfire. Their way of saving everyone from the hellfire is by being condescending and extreme towards everyone else. However the true motive behind their actions is the lust for power and Ibn Rushd is just a distraction. The sect leaders hidden agenda was to overthrow Al-Mansur the Caliph of Andalusia. These religious leaders who condemn their fellow Muslims actually make an alliance with the Christians who want to over throw the Caliph whose rule this sect is supposedly protecting from deviants.
Youssef Chahine clearly has a grudge against religious authority when he made The Destiny. The most important book that Ibn Rushd wrote according to The Destiny is the one he wrote refuting Imam Ghazzali’s Incoherence of Philosophers entitled Incoherence of Incoherence. The film claims that the fundamentalist sect follows Ghazzali’s words and believes him to be correct. Is Youssef Chahine attacking the majority of the Muslims living today? Most of the Muslim world accepts Incoherence of Philosophers over Incoherence of Incoherence. Is he trying to say most Muslims are extremists? Furthermore Ghazzali was a supporter of Aristotle. Ibn Rushd wrote a book on Aristotle but was more in line with the Mutazilite school of Islam which was more on Plato’s view of philosophy. In one scene Ibn Rushd asks the Caliph’s son how he is spreading the word of God without knowing chemistry, mathematics and love or philosophy. However Imam Ghazzali also studied and supported the study of those subjects. The only problem he had was in philosophy which he divided into five parts and said four were okay to learn but the fifth part, metaphysics were not beneficial to learn. Since most of the Muslims today do follow the Ghazzalian way, is Youssef Chahine trying to say we do not know these subjects? Furthermore the film suggests that most of the people are with Ibn Rushd and against Ghazzali. In one scene Al-Mansur wants to lock up Ibn Rushd and wants to burn his books. One of the supporters of Ibn Rushd claims ideas live on forever and the dynasty was started on an idea. This scene in the film leads people to believe that these ideas were similar to the ones Ibn Rushd has and that many other people had. However in the time period the film takes place Andalusia is being ruled by the Al-Mohads. Contrary to what Youssef Chahine would have us believe, most of the people and not just the extreme sects in Andalusia at the time believed what Ghazzali believed. In fact a man named Ibn Tumart, who claimed to study under Ghazzali and debated the Al-Moravids because the Al-Moravids believed in anthropomorphism, started the Al-Mohad dynasty. The ideas that the supporter of Ibn Rushd is talking about in the film in real life were Ghazzali’s ideas. It was discussed in class that Youssef Chahine was holding a grudge. This grudge led him to rewrite history and claim that the majority of the Muslims living today and in the past were extremists. The extremists were the likes of Youssef ibn Tashfin who started the Al-Moravid dynasty that the Al-Mohad dynasty, that followed Ghazzali’s teachings, overthrew. The Al-Moravids are the ones who took religious ideas and made them into political and military movements. As we discussed in class, Youssef Chahine clearly held a grudge. However he acted on that grudge in a childish and unscholarly manner with a film that is historically inaccurate and is inconsistent with ideas and the film blames the wrong people.
We also discussed the role of women in the class. In the film The Victorious Saladin the role of women was expanded. The films we watched in class many of the women who played supporting roles did absolutely nothing, whereas in films where they were main character they did something. For example the first film we watched Determination the girl is stuck in a marriage with the butcher and the man saves her by arguing she is still married to him under traditional law. The mother in Call of The Curlew stood there while her daughter was killed. The mother in Nights of the Jackal could have easily stopped the father from being abusive by demanding he not abuse his children or else she will not whistle at night. In Cairo Station the female lead is actually beaten and does not do anything to defend herself and in return makes love to her beater. In The Victorious Saladin the women shown are knights and actually fight. Lady Virginia took part in battle wearing full armor and then went to the Christian kings for help after her army lost in the beginning of the film. Louise was a knight hospitaller and is shown fighting and then becoming a prisoner of war and then a medic. King Richard’s wife also takes an active role.
However all the women who took active roles in The Victorious Saladin are Christians and not Muslim. In fact there are no Muslim women in the film. Is Youssef Chahine trying to tell Muslims something? Is he trying to say that Muslims suppress our women and Christians don’t? In the film there is a Christian character named Issa who is Saladin’s trusted general and is his “swimmer.” He is the love interest of Louise the Knight hospitaller who is on the opposing (Crusaders) side. Historically speaking there was an Issa Al-Awam in Saladin’s army who was a Muslim and not a Christian. Issa Al-Awam was a fisherman who did not want to join the military and his wife Selma kept nagging him about it. Eventually she herself joined the army of Saladin since her husband would not and she became a battlefield medic similar to Louise who was a battlefield medic in the film. Issa Al-Awam felt ashamed that his wife joined the military and he did not so he joined the navy and then because he was a great swimmer he would jump overboard whenever someone or something fell overboard and in turn he was nicknamed Farris al-Bahir or the knight of the ocean. This story is told to many Muslim children to tell them that no matter what they can always somehow help their nation even if they are a fisherman or a woman. Selma the medic’s story is told to young girls everywhere in the Muslim world to let them know they can be anything. Youssef Chahine takes this story makes a fictional Christian character based on Selma and makes Issa into a Christian and makes all Muslim women invisible in his film. What is he trying to do? Is he trying to say the West treats their women better? Is he trying to discourage Muslim girls from being active in the military?
Something we have not discussed in class is race. Youssef Chahine ignores many races in The Destiny and The Victorious Saladin. In The Destiny he shows Christians, Muslims and gypsies. Where are the Jews? Jews held many high positions in Andalusia. Was he trying so hard to show that Muslims are not tolerant that he made the Jews completely invisible because they were a flaw in his argument? All the poets shown in the film are gypsies but there were great Muslim poets in Andalusia and Jewish poetry and the development of Hebrew started in Andalusia. Is he trying to show most Muslims are just war mongers and are power hungry and only a few Muslims enjoy singing and poetry? Most Muslims at the time and today encourage poetry. Also did he not show the Jewish poets, singers and rulers because it would show that the Muslims were tolerant and not all Muslims are fanatics that he was so bent on showing in his film because of his grudge? Also in The Victorious Saladin he keeps repeating that all people are welcomed in Jerusalem but it belongs to the Arabs. What is that suppose to mean? It is holy land and traditionally Muslims believed it belonged to everyone. Furthermore Saladin was a Kurd not an Arab. Is this just a mistake on Chahine’s part or is he a racist?
Both films of Youssef Chahine, The Destiny and The Victorious Saladin have themes we discussed; religious fundamentalism and women. Also watching the film The Destiny it makes it clear just how big of a grudge Youssef Chahine held and it reflected in his rewriting of history.


Terrible papers part 1

>> Friday, December 18, 2009

So I have not updated because it was finals week and I had 3 final papers. I am going to post all 3 up (maybe two). They are my WORST papers I have ever written. I wrote them in back to back all nighters with no sleep within a week. But they have something to do with Islam. First one is a paper I wrote on Ring of the Dove by Ibn Hazm for my Literature of Muslim Spain class.

My Paper

This paper will be about Ibn Hazm’s concept of love and how this concept of love is universal and not limited to time and place. This paper will explain Ibn Hazm’s discourse and then relate it to current situations or realities that exist today.

Ibn Hazm was a great Muslim scholar who lived in Andalusia during great political turmoil. Ibn Hazm is mentioned very little in Arab sources but is mentioned a century after his death by two Jewish writers. Ibn Daud referred to ibn Hazm’s argument against Ibn Negrila and Salomon ben Adereth refuted Ibn Hazm’s theories on the Pentateuch. Most of what we know about Ibn Hazm’s life is through his own writings.[1]

Ibn Hazm has two genealogies. The long genealogy that is provided to us by Ibn Hazm himself traces back his lineage to a Persian convert Yazid Ibn Abi Sufyan. The first of Ibn Hazm’s family to come to the Iberian Peninsula was his ancestor Khalaf. Sa’id, Ibn Hazm’s grandfather, settled the family in Cordoba. Ibn Hayyan however believes that the only ancestor to Ibn Hazm was his great grandfather who was a Spanish citizen from Labla.[2]

Ibn Hazm studied many subjects. He studied: history with the historian and man of letters, Ibn Al-Faradi, Maliki fiqh by Ibn Dahhun, Zahiri fiqh by Sulayman Ibn Muflit, philosophy by Ibn al-Kattani and calligraphy by slave-girls when he was a child. He served as minister three times and was also imprisoned three times.[3]

He believed like others in his time, one did not write for the sake of writing; there was always a reason to write. Ibn Hazm believed there were seven reasons to write a book: the first is a writer may have something original to say, second he may complete something that was left incomplete, third he may right a wrong, fourth he may want to explain a difficult concept, fifth he may want to abridge someone else’s work, sixth he may collect information from various sources and seven he may assemble things that have been scattered.[4]

Ibn Hazm wrote his book Ring of the Dove because he wanted to explain a difficult concept. He says, “You charged me – may God exalt you! 0 to compose for you an essay describing Love, where in I should set forth its various meanings, its causes and accidents, and neither adding anything nor embroidering anything, but only setting down exactly what I have to tell according to the manner of its occurrence, and mentioning all to the full extent of my recollection and the limit of my capacity.”[5] Obviously he wishes to describe a difficult concept and that concept is love.

In his book, Morals and Right Conduct in the Healing of Souls, Ibn Hazm writes, “All the different kinds of love belong to the same family.”[6] Love is longing for the loved one, the unwillingness to be separated and the hope of love being reciprocated. He disagrees with people who believe that the type of love varies according to the object because we see a father mourn the death of a son the same way someone may mourn the death of a wife, sister or brother. He believes the object changes by the lover’s desire or the amount of love one has for the loved; a father may not mourn his son or a husband may not mourn his wife.[7] Maybe for this reason when Ibn Hazm speaks in his book Ring of the Dove he does not specify male or female, husband or wife, rather most of the time he uses the male third person pronoun and most of the examples he gives about love are of friends and not of spouses. His concept of love is not unique to only spouses or sexual partners but rather it is a universal. Love can be between two creatures or a creature and an object. He believes the greatest love is the love of God.

In Ring of the Dove, Ibn Hazm claims there are five ways to fall in love. They are: falling in love while asleep, falling in love through a description, falling in love at first sight, falling in love after a long association and falling love with a quality and thereafter not approving any other different. All of these are beyond time and space and still hold relevance today and will still hold relevance tomorrow.

Ibn Hazm claims falling in love while asleep is the most unlikely of all causes of love. He calls it falling in love while asleep because his friend literally fell in love while asleep. Ammar ibn Ziyad looked deeply troubled to Ibn Hazm. When Ibn Hazm asked what was wrong Ammar replied that he had fallen in love with a maiden from a dream he had. This woman did not exist in the world, she was out of pure imagination but Ammar loved her. Ibn Hazm tried to bring Ammar to his senses even going as far as saying to love the women in the pictures on the walls but not some fantasy, but in the end Ibn Hazm’s effort failed. Ibn Hazm concluded that this is one of the causes of love.[8] This cause of love is a case of pure fantasy which cannot be reached. Today we see many people who hold out from committing to their significant other because they have a fantasy. We see people so hypnotized by what they cannot obtain that they fail to see what is in front of them, available to them and what may be better for them. People insist on holding on to a false hope that does not give them happiness.

The second cause of love is falling in love through a description. People fall in love with another simply through a description without ever actually seeing the object that is loved. After seeing the beloved the relationship can go either way, it may succeed because the lover had an accurate picture in his mind or it may fail because the beloved is nothing like the lover imagined. Usually this type of love takes place with ladies of the palace because no one has seen them. Ibn Hazm also gives the examples of friends because he once used to exchange correspondence with a member of a noble family. When he met the man in person he started to hate him. Similarly through a description Ibn Hazm hated Amir ibn Abi Amir but when he finally met him face to face they became the best of friends.[9] This cause is also valid today. Many times men overhear or take part in conversations about how beautiful a woman is. They fall in love with the picture they obtained from this description however when they actually meet the lady they are either disappointed or satisfied. Similarly this type of love goes beyond human relationships. Many people fall in love with their cars, video games or other objects. People actually become obsessed with their cars or completely addicted to video games so much so their relationships are ruined. Some people read the reviews of cars and other products and spend time researching what they will buy. Others cannot wait for a certain product to be released such as a new sports car or a new video game. When they actually obtain the object of desire they are either disappointed or satisfied. The car may handle like they read in the reviews or it may not. The video game may be as fun as it was told to the consumer or it may not be. People fall for the hype that surrounds a certain thing let it be a person or product or even a city and then when they actually witness it they are either disappointed or satisfied.

The third cause is falling in love at first sight. Ibn Hazm divides this category into two: the first is when a man sees a lady and knows nothing about her and the second is a man who falls in love with a lady and her name, where she lives and everything about her is known to him. The difference between the two is that the one who does not know anything about the lady and does not have his love reciprocated his ordeal will last much longer. Ibn Hazm gives a story about his friend who followed a slave girl and she did not give him any information about herself and so the friend longs for her every day.[10] Today we see people speaking about the one who got away. A man will see a woman and at first sight fall head over heels but never get the courage to go up to her. If they do get the courage they get rejected and then they will be sad about it or rethink in their minds how they should have done something differently to obtain the lady of the affections.

The next cause of love is falling in love after a long association. Ibn Hazm claims, “This is my own way in these matters.”[11] It is his preferred cause of love. Ibn Hazm believes this way of falling in love is the most secure. This type of falling in love is also the opposite of the love at first sight. Ibn Hazm believes falling in love at first sight is just lust.[12] Today we see people holding off their wedding or any type of commitment because they want to get to know each other better. Furthermore we see best friends falling in love. We see this type of falling in love as a theme to many pop songs such as Miley Cyrus’s song “If We Were a Movie.” Today we see many couples when they first start to date to be in complete awe of each other, others claim that they are the cutest couple and nothing can separate them. But when they move in together, they start to see they are not compatible. Ibn Hazm continues to describe a man he once knew who pulled away from his friend at the first sign of attraction because he did not want to ruin their friendship.[13] Today we witness the same thing where people do not want to move on from the friend stage because they worry about ruining what they already have if the spousal stage does not work. Ibn Hazm also mentions a noble who used to buy slave girls. This noble fell in love with a slave girl but the girl hated him. After getting to know the noble the slave eventually reciprocated the love.[14] There are many instances today where we see two people who cannot stand one another, end up marrying and starting a family.

The last type of love is falling in love with a quality and thereafter not approving any other different. In this type of love the lover only loves one quality and if someone or something does not have it he will not even give it a chance. Ibn Hazm personally liked blondes.[15] If a person likes blondes he will pursue an ugly blond even if there are prettier brunettes. It will not matter the brunettes are pretty or not rather it will only matter if they were blonde. This cause of love, like the others, still holds relevance. Today there is a great prejudice against dark skinned people all over the world. In the Indian subcontinent people believe dark skin is a sign of ugliness. There are beautiful dark skinned people but no one wants them because they are dark skinned. People prefer light skin to a point they will buy creams that make their skin tone light or will force their spouses to use the cream. Furthermore there is plastic surgery that changes the size or shape or both to certain parts of the body. This cause of love is even more relevant today than it was during Ibn Hazm’s time. In his time people were stuck with the qualities they were born with. The most they could do was dye their hair. Today we have bleach creams and plastic surgery and we have been brainwashed that we must have certain qualities in order to be beautiful to a point we not only love to see those qualities in the people we love but also in ourselves and we change ourselves.

Anyone who reads The Ring of the Dove can relate the concepts in it to their own lives; from high school students who have crushes to car fanatics to people from the Indian subcontinent. The concepts written in The Ring of the Dove are universal concepts and surpass time and space. Ibn Hazm wrote about falling in love with a quality from his country Andalusia in his time hundreds of years ago, today people from the Indian subcontinent can relate to what he is talking about. He speaks about falling in love through a description, anyone who has been fooled into buying a product from an infomercial can relate to this cause of love. Anyone who heard about a beautiful woman only to discover she is not beautiful can relate to falling in love through a description. Anyone who married their best friend can relate to falling love after a long association. Anyone who had a crush, regardless if they obtained that love or not can relate to falling in love at first sight. Today falling in love while asleep is rare like it was during Ibn Hazm’s time. However if anyone had a fantasy that was completely unrealistic can relate to falling in love while asleep. Only the ways of falling in love are covered above but The Ring of the Dove as a whole is also universal and can be used as a self help book for people in strained relationships from all over the world and from any time. Books like The Ring of the Dove should be read rather than fantasy love storybooks like Twilight. Reading Ring of the Dove one realizes that nothing or very few things ever change and that we can take advice on love from our parent’s generation or from a man who lived hundreds of years ago.

[1] Muhammad Abu Laylah, In Pursuit of Virtue (Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd, 1998), 13.

[2] Ibid., 16-17.

[3] Ibid., 18-19.

[4] Ibid., 21.

[5] Ibn Hazm, Ring of the Dove trans. A.J. Arberry, Litt.D., F.B.A (Luzac & company, LtD, 1953), 17

[6] Muhammad Abu Laylah, In Pursuit of Virtue (Ta-Ha Publishers Ltd, 1998), 157.

[7] Ibid., 157.

[8] Ibn Hazm, Ring of the Dove trans. A.J. Arberry, Litt.D., F.B.A (Luzac & company, LtD, 1953), 46-47.

[9] Ibid., 48-50.

[10] Ibid., 52-54.

[11] Ibid., 55.

[12] Ibid., 55-56.

[13] Ibid., 55.

[14] Ibid., 59.

[15] Ibid., 61.