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Maghribis in the Mashriq during the modern period: Representations of the other within the world of Islam

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Abstract

Representations of the 'Other' are invariably associated with European or Western perceptions of Islam, Muslims and the Orient. However, as this article argues, the world of Islam was never monolithic and Muslims held widely differing views of each other. Even among 'fellow' North Africans, such as Egyptians and Maghribis, collective regional or local identities developed and furnished the material for self-identification built upon perceived differences among the 'others'. In discussing the religio-cultural bases for these differences, the author examines Malikism, Maghribi Islam as practised in the Mashriq, including Sufism, as well as varying ideas regarding urbanity and cosmopolitanism. He concludes with an analysis of how the Moroccan state and its representatives often sought legitimacy in the Mashriq despite the fact that the Sharifian Empire was a rival of the Ottomans and that Moroccan ulema often saw the Mashriqis as lax in the practice of their religion.

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... 9 In a different setting, a Tunisian woman who had moved to Lebanon for educational purposes confided to me that her Lebanese professors told her to translate her Tunisian to Lebanese or French in order to be understood. 10 There are historical reasons for this cultural vector, tied to centrifugal material and ideological movements directed toward an Arab and Islamic heartland(Burke 1972, El Mansour 2001 as well as colonial pasts and intellectual ideologies. Though he wrote the following in light of blindspots in the history discipline, Burke's critique of intellectual flows resonates with reasons for the directed cultural gaze:Although two-thirds of all Arabs live in northern Africa (Egypt and the Arab Maghrib are each one third), Maghribis have long been regarded by U.S. Arabists as "not quite real Arabs," spoiled by colonization and the mission civilisatrice. ...
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