This book argues that nationalisms in the Arab Middle East were colonial constructs to legitimize the colonially created nation states. Such states were structured in a manner that guaranteed their behavior as colonies after their independence. Their dependence was in fact the condition for their formal independence. The book contrasts these colonially introduced national identities to the pre colonial Islamic identity the revolved around the concepts of Umma and Dawla. Both concepts have not yet been adequately dealt with in English and have usually been mistranslated into "nation" and "state" respectively. The book provides a thorough explanation of these concepts by studying canonical Sunni and Shiite Islamic texts of political theory and jurisprudence. The book also shows that understanding such concepts might explain how public opinion is formed in the Middle East and how Arab governments gain and loose legitimacy. Finally the book traces the local elites, failed attempts to reconcile the colonially introduced identity that revolves around the colonially created nation state and the native culture that sets political allegiance in the whole Muslim community. Such a failure allowed the Dawla, a non-territorial, non-sovereign form of organization whose allegiance lies with the whole Muslim Umma, to reemerge as a means of social, political in sometimes military, form of organization, thus the variety of non state Islamic actors throughout the region. -- Publisher description.
London ; Ann Arbor, MI :
Includes bibliographical references (pages 218-230) and index.