Friday, February 26, 2016

Report 3: Musicians of the Arab world

Find information about “Musicians of the Arab World." Write a report on any famous musician (dead or alive) from any country in the Arab world.

  Umm Kulthum was born Fātimah ʾIbrāhīm as-Sayyid al-Biltāǧī on an uncertain date, and died at the age of 76 in 1975, Her father was also a singer, and sung religious songs at weddings and other celebrations; her mother was a housewife who took care of Umm Kulthum and her siblings. They lived in a poor village in a small house.  She learned to sing from her father, and would often overhear him teaching her brother, so she was able to pick it up by rote. She moved to Cairo with her father and was able to pursue a career in entertainment, with both singing and acting as well. At first she was unskilled and untrained, but had tremendous raw talent. By the late 1920’s she was able to rise to the top with a new and expansive repertoire that was no longer limited to what her father taught her and a few current popular songs of the time.

In 1940, she joined the Listening Committee, which helped select songs for public broadcasting on the radio. This solidified her status as an authority in the music business. She suffered from a variety of health problems and later married one of her doctors. She was a spokesperson for a variety of causes, including Arab music and musicians. Towards the end of her life her health rapidly deteriorated and she passed away from heart failure. Millions of mourners filled the streets of Cairo and her body was carried by many pall bearers in the crowd who took turns carrying her. She was finally buried in keeping with Muslim practices. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Reflection 2: Dr. Deveny's Lecture

Today, we had a guest lecture from Dr. Deveny. He teaches Spanish, and this was heavily emphasized in his lecture. The old song that was in Arabic as well as had some Spanish code-switching was very interesting to me. As someone who knows a little bit of a lot of languages, I code switch often. The code-switching also implied a message that the Arabs and the Spaniards should get along.
There are three important cities from the 8th century to 1492 that are important to history as it relates to Arabs in Spain. From the 8th to 11th centuries, it was Cordoba. There was a large library in Cordoba that housed many books. What I found significant about these books was that they were handwritten manuscripts from ancient civilizations that Spain had conquered. However, if these books were damaged and ruined like many of them were, that was the only existing manuscript and the information it contained was now lost to the world. From the 11th to 13th century, the most important city was Sevilla. There was an epic poem about the hero Cid, who was exiled from the court. Then, Cid managed to singlehandedly conquer Valencia, which I found very impressive.  The last important city was Granada. There are 4 streams that interconnect, which is similar to what is said to be found in Paradise in the Islamic religion.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Dr. Deveny’s presentation. It was very thought-provoking, seeing as I knew nothing about the topic beforehand besides King Fernando and Queen Isabel from what we learned about Columbus in school. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Arab and Muslim contributions to world civilization, Blog #2

Malala Yousafzai is the youngest Nobel Prize laureate at age 17. She was born in Pakistan and is fluent in three languages; Pashto, English, and Urdu. Growing up, she fought to go to school and receive a good education as the Taliban grew stronger and forbid women to go to school. She even blogged for the BBC under a pseudonym and spoke out frequently about women’s rights to education. The Taliban issued death threats against her, but she continued to demand women get rights to education.
On October 9, 2012; a man boarded the bus Malala rode home from school and demanded to know which of them was Malala. Her friends looked shocked towards her, giving her away. She was shot in the side of the head, and the bullet travelled to her neck. She was in critical care and flown first to a hospital in Peshawar, then to Birmingham, UK. She had many surgery to reduce swelling and fix a paralyzed nerve in her face, but had no major brain damage. She received a massive outpouring of support, although the Taliban still considers her a target and threatens her.

On her 18th birthday, Malala opened a school for Syrian refugees in Lebanon. The school admitted nearly 200 girls ages 14-18. That day, Malala started a social media campaign #BooksNotBullets to encourage world leaders to decrease funding for weapons and to increase the funding on “weapons for change”-books. She has also written an autobiography, I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, and a documentary about her life, called HE NAMED ME MALALA, was released in October 2015.

Friday, February 5, 2016


                Two days after they began, peace talks in Geneva have been suspended, and will hopefully resume on February 25th. However, many suspect that the peace talks never really had a chance to start before they were suspended. Many of the planned meetings never actually happened, and the two sides were never together at the same time. 250,000 people have died as a result of the war, and many more have fled their homes seeking safety. Russia said that they’d continue with the air strikes, even though they are impacting civilians killing them. John Kirby, US state department spokesperson, believes that the air strikes on civilians will extremely hinder the peace process.

I am sad to see that little to no progress is being made on this issue, and that the groups can’t even be in the same room with each other to discuss things properly. Hopefully, by the 25th they will both had a chance to think things over and be able to talk with each other in a civilized manner. Twenty two days (according to when the article was published) is a long time. I am scared for the amount of things that can go wrong between now and then. Many people could continue to die because of the senseless acts of war. These air strikes on civilians make me so angry, they did nothing wrong. Many of the Syrians are asking for the air strikes to stop before the peace talks resume. After all, how can you begin to discuss peace when you are still actively attacking someone? You can’t.