The Shaping of the Middle East

Essay by gerifrenchUniversity, Bachelor'sB+, December 2002

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As Bush prepares our country to go to war against Iraq, the Middle East prepares itself for what they see as yet another "invasion". The politics of this particular area are very important, and what shapes them even more. There are three important factors, which are closely tied to the politics of the region. Islam is number one and by far, because there is no separation of church and state in most Middle Eastern countries. The second thing is nationalism. It has played an important role in the Middle East in various ways. Finally, the Ottoman Empire has had lasting effects, which still play a role in politics today.

Islam is one of the three major world religions, and most inhabitants of the Middle East are Muslims. The politics are strongly influenced by Islam, because there is no separation of church and state. In the book, it clearly states "Islam has had a decisive influence on state politics throughout the region since the death of Muhammad" (p.32).

One example of this are the laws used in most countries of this region. In the Koran and the Hadith, which are religious texts, guidelines and laws are written down. Every true Muslim is supposed to live according to these laws. Yet the Shari'a is considered the common, civil law in most countries, with the exception of Iran, which is laic, and Turkey. The fact that religious laws have been turned into regular laws proves how closely related politics and religion are in the Middle East.

Another example, which set the tone for today's politics in the region, is Caliphs. They were considered the governing authority in the area, which they controlled, and they used Islam as a tool to control their people. In the book, it says "Arab Muslims would collect...