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Syrian Musician Kamal Ballan Shines at Moscow's Tchaikovsky Concert Hall

 MOSCOW- Arab Music fans in Russia recently had the opportunity to enjoy sweet oriental Arab music played by Syrian Musician Kamal Ballan at the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall in Moscow.

Led by prominent Maestro Vladimir Andropov, Director of the Governmental Academic Bolshoi Theater in Russia, the Russian National Academic Orchestra of Popular Musical Instruments recently held a concert in which Ballan took part through musical performances dedicated to a number of prominent world musicians.

The concert was held to express the diversity of music which matches the diversity of peoples around the world.

In his solo Oud performance, Ballan played the renowned Egyptian Maestro Mohammad Abdul Wahhab's al-Nahr al-Khaled (Immortal River) symphony in addition to wonderful musical pieces that were composed by prominent Syrian Maestro Farid al-Attrash, within the framework of the world symphonies and musical works.

The applause of the Russian audience after Ballan had finished his performance was strong enough to affirm that they had enjoyed the tunes coming out from the strings of Ballan's Oud.

Interviewed by SANA correspondent in Moscow, Maestro Andropov hailed the performance of Ballan and referred to the Russian audience's great interaction with his Arab musical performances.

Regretting the suffering of the Syrian children under the ongoing events in Syria, Andropov stressed that "children have nothing to do with all what is going on in the country."

Andropov expressed his willingness to visit Syria together with the whole orchestra in order to present concerts to entertain the children of the country.

For his part, musician Ballan said that it was his honor to participate in promoting the Arab culture in Moscow where he has been living for a long time.   

"I was proud to represent Syria at this prestigious venue, the Tchaikovsky Concert Hall, through presenting some of the masterpieces of great Arab maestros Mohammad  Abdul Wahhab and Farid al-Atrash," Ballan said.

He added: "I sought to provide an opportunity to the Russian audience to enjoy Arab music and know how great and diverse our culture is," Ballan added.

H. Mustafa  

Wadih El Safi Passes Away

Wadih El Safi, a famous Lebanese singer, songwriter, and actor died Friday at the age of 92, according to the Lebanese media.

 A Lebanese cultural icon, El Safi is often called the “Voice of Lebanon”. Born in Niha, Shouf of Mount Lebanon , Wadih El Safi started his artistic journey at the age of seventeen when he took part in a singing contest held by Lebanese Radio and was chosen the winner among fifty other competitors.

Wadih El-Safi, (born Wadi’ Francis),  is considered a pillar of Lebanese music and one of the most prominent figures in Arab music, nicknamed "the man with the golden throat" whose name and voice were associated with the mountains of Lebanon.

El Safi’s health severely deteriorated about this time last year, following a surgery to a broken leg.

Wadih El Safi is a classically trained tenor, having studied at the Beirut National Conservatory of Music. He began composing and performing songs that drew upon his rural upbringing and love of traditional melodies, blended with an urban sound, and creating a new style of modernized Lebanese folk music.

El-Safi was known of his love to Syria and the Syrian people. He always said that the Syrian and Lebanese peoples are considered as one people and that Syria, represented by its leadership, and people, was a key sponsor for art and artists.

His song "Syria, the Home of Peace" was his last work dedicated to glorify Syria as cradle of peace and coexistence and to thank the country for the care it has accorded to Arab artists.

The Syrian Information Ministry and the Artists' Guild offered their sincere condolences to the late singer's family.

In 1947, El Safi traveled to Brazil, where he remained until 1950.

El Safi toured the world, singing in many languages, including Arabic, Syriac, French, Portuguese and Italian.

He helped give the Lebanese song its identity by developing folk and country singing, stirring homesickness to country and countryside in expatriates.

El Safi has written over 3000 songs. He is well known for his mawawil (an improvised singing style) of ‘ataba, mijana, and Abu el Zuluf. He has performed and recorded with many well-known Lebanese musicians, including Najwa Karam, Fairouz, and Sabah. His songs are as famous as Lebanon and the Cedar tree.
El-Safi reportedly received medals from many countries and participated in several major festivals, “dedicating his art to God and uniting people’s heart, with his music reviving humane, national and religious values for 75 years.”

His Funeral will be held Monday afternoon October 14 at the St. George Cathedral in downtown Beirut.

Wadih El Safi will be greatly missed by his Lebanese and Arab fans, but his songs will live on forever.

H.M

 

Public Administration: Had Arab-Islam Contributed to?

 

  

In quotidian life

“When you get up, you brush your teeth, but the tooth brush was invented by Arabs. You have breakfast, but it is Arabs who invented orange juice. You read newspapers, but paper was introduced to Europeans by Arabs”[1] 

Bulliet also said that divergence should not be a reason for scholars to ignore the continued cultural overlap between nations. 

At the present time 

Recently, Western people and scholarly interest in Islamic culture has grown steadily; as have many blogs, websites, articles, research studies, books, conferences, associations and academic departments. The search engine Google gives 2.4 milliard items about Islam[2]. It begins to seem like a trend, and thus, many rather superficial studies gain ‘media market’; this is not the case of this study. Such focus in its majority is directed to its principles, history, beliefs and norms of its followers, and worship behaviors. Yet, lacking highlight to Public Administration Principles and practices, in Arabic as well as foreign languages.

All, via those resources, are trying to understand the nature and history of Islam and Arab culture; asking focal questions: What led to the quick spread of Islam in the seventh and eighth century? To what degree were political and religious leaderships separated or combined in the history of Islam? How had the capital alteration from Damascus to Baghdad, to Cairo, to Istanbul affected the Islamic civilization? 

What Position occupy Muslims throughout the world? 

A comprehensive 2009 demographic study of 232 countries and territories reported that 23% of the global population, or 1.57 billion people, are Muslims. Furthermore, Michael Hart in his book, (1992), ranked popular people from human history according to their importance to humanity, based on their achievements; asserting that many Arab leader were "supremely successful" in both the religious and secular realms. 

Besides, Islamic empire in its Golden Age (mid-7th century- mid-13th century) was the first “truly universal civilization”. Where Muslim rulers established one of the largest empires in history, bringing together for the first time peoples as diverse as Chinese, Indians, Middle East and North Africa people, black Africans, and white Europeans. During that Islamic era (Sonn, 2011), most of the Old World was ruled by Islamic dynasties in particular, during the Umayyad and Abbasid periods; which had profound influence on religious beliefs, ethics, politics, public administration, sciences and decorative arts throughout the known world (Britannica, 2010). Furthermore, Muslim world became a major intellectual center for science, philosophy, medicine and education. In Baghdad they established the “House of Wisdom”, where scholars, both Muslim and non-Muslim, sought to gather and translate the world’s knowledge into Arabic in the Translation Movement. 

In the current as well earliest context, Arab-Islamic world takes up an important place in politico-military and socio-economic issues in the world.  In this connection, Professor Salim Al-hassanieh has taken initiative to shed light on how Public Administration had played a major role in Islam rapid expansion across the World.  

Administration Thesis 

Al-hassanieh thesis was to discern if Arabs enjoyed an administrative literature, in addition to identify its nature and resources. Upon those bases, Al-hassanieh has selected historic documentary methodology as a research scheme. Since the profession of writing is closely connected to administration history and management system in all civilizations included Arab-Islamic civilization. Therefore, he enquired the relationship between the profession of writing and administration, to actually detect a primordial close one between the two, dating back to writing discovery in the Sumerian Era. Hence, he reached a positive answer to the question: Did Arabs, under the rule of Islam, write a theory or a model  about Public Administration? The researcher has also disclosed that the beginnings of specialized and methodological writing on Public Administration were at the Abbasid Era preliminaries and the paper industry foundation in Samarkand. This study, as he wrote, is derived from the new School of history, the Annales School (Britannica, 2010), substituting the study of leaders, politics and wars with lives of bureaucrats, people of administration and their activities. 

Arabic version 

The origin of this research was produced in Arabic; its results were presented in local and international conferences, and published by the Syrian Ministry of Culture, in 1997. The author and translator of this book, Salim Al-hassanieh, being a Professor of Universities; illuminating a subject rarely dealt with even by specialists of organization theory. For instance, he explained how Public Administration played a major role in the performance of Islamic Governments and in the spread of Islam. The book entitled ‘Illuminations on the History of Arab-Islamic Public Administration Contributions’, covers a crucial historical period of human history, the period of the Islamic religion widespread from the Arab-peninsula to the world’s four corners (Prophet Muhammad phase 622 A.D - Mamluki Era end 1517 A.D). 

Content 

The book consists of a preface to the translation, an introduction and seven chapters. The chapters are arranged according to the chronological order of the Arab Caliphates that took over the throne. Chapter one talks about the Profession of Administration (“Dywan” divans and writing) and the position of administrative thinking in Islamic “Feqh” (Jurisprudence). The second chapter deals with writing during Prophet Muhammad and Rashidi Era, as well as about the Umayyad Caliphates located in Damascus. The third chapter talks about Abbasid Caliphate in Baghdad, and the fourth chapter is around the Fatimid Caliphate in Egypt, whereas the fifth discusses Mamluki Era in Egypt and Levant. While the sixth chapter is dedicated to Al-Qalqashandi,  being definitely the most important author in Public Administration in the history of Arabs. Finally, chapter seven speaks about the encyclopedia of Al-Qalqashandi: Subh Al-Asha fi Sina’at Al-Insha [3](, finished writing in 814 Hijri, which classifies most administrative knowledge of his contemporaries. It took ten years to reprint that encyclopedia in the 20th century threshold in Egypt. 

Umar Ibn Al Kattab was the first Caliph who shaped the Islamic Empire that was about to evolve. The organization of the Islamic Caliphates into states and provinces was carried out according to his orders, which still exist until today after more than 1400 years. Muslim caliphates (empires) which were divided into provinces; originally had a central government under a Caliph who held  supreme civil, military, and religious power. Subsequently, the Arab-Islamic State depended on three pillars, additional to Islamic regulations: the official army, the judicial system, and the Divans. 

Critics’ review 

Regardless of this wide spread of Islam and Arabs, we notice that, outside the narrow circle of specialized scholars and orientalists, only few know that the Islamic Arabic State, historically, practiced the finest arts and sciences of administration of their age. To their surprise, in the course of this hasty presentation, they will find out that administration applied by Arabs was practiced according to authentic standards, roles and systems, yet have been buried beneath the accumulation of the Dark Ages. This summary is trying to highlight arts and sciences of administration in the Islamic Arabic State, especially public administration, as neutral and objective as possible. 

Surprisingly, there is a little knowledge of Islam contribution in the subject of Public Administration, in spite of the fact that most of the Old World in the Islamic era was ruled by Islamic background in particular the last Umayyad period and Abbasid period (Britannica,2010; Wikipedia, 2011). Since most courses that dealt with the history of traditional administration thinking, covers only the 20th century first quarter, such as Frederick Winslow Taylor (1856-1915) who presented “Scientific Management” theory, Henri Fayol (1841-1925) coming with “General Administration Functions” theory, and Max Weber (1841-1925) who produced “the Bureaucracy Theory”. This would indicate to Management’s scholars that administration philosophy is limited to contemporary administration pioneers’ contributions, and that administrative ideology appeared from the bloom of the contemporary West. 

Whereas, this hypothesis  contradicts logical rationality, as ideological and scientific achievements such as administration thoughts and practices are accumulative civilized heritage to which successive generations and nations have contributed (Katzenstein, 2010). Such achievements have started with the Sumerian Tablets dating 4000 B.C, which were majorly on governments and administrations. In addition to Hammurabi’s Law, in the second millennium B.C, which was a doctrine in administration and sociology and is kept at the Louvre Museum in Paris till now. 

Public Administration is considered as one of the most significant pillars of Islam State expansion, as well as a fatal reason for Islamic governments failure, namely “bureaucracy”. The study initial objective is not to make pure historic research on the subject, but because public Administration history is rich in information and knowledge, not only for historians but also for management and administration scientists, as it is for those who occupy responsibility in government. 

The profession of writing has been and continues to be the most important and most useful of all professions invented by humanity through ages, despite the introduction of modern means of recording, documenting and communication. The invention of writing was the dividing line between historic and prehistoric times. A major innovation in Islamic empire Golden Age was paper – originally a secret tightly guarded by the Chinese. The art of papermaking was obtained from prisoners taken at the Battle of Talas (751), spreading to the Islamic cities of Samarkand and Baghdad. The Arabs improved upon the Chinese techniques of using mulberry bark by using starch to account for the Muslim preference for pens vs. the Chinese for brushes. 

The available literature on the profession of writing is limited to addressing technical aspects in Arabic writing e.g., character drawing, grammar,...etc. While what is related to the profession of writing as a civilized function and key element for communication, documentation and storage system, were not addressed properly. This study assumes that the profession of writing played a key role in the bureaucracy systems (Divan) in Arab Islamic State, or what is known today as bureaucratic systems (in the neutral sense of the word). It was the main tool for communicating within the Divans (government offices) and between each other, between Divans and Caliph, and between all the above and the people. 

Finally, the framework of this study is determined by the profession of formal non-creative writing (bureaucracy), i.e. the writing in the field of management of Divans (government offices) and the State, as a communication tool and not calligraphy, as a physical embodiment of words. Moreover, this study aims to find evidences of the profession of bureaucracy writing, from the Islamic State establishment till the Mameluke dynasty ruling. It also objects to highlight the role of writing in official administrative communication through the establishment of Divans (Ministries); since the subject of “Writing” as a tool for human communication did not receive careful attention it deserves from Arab scholars. This might be because the concept of communication, in general, is not considered as a system for leadership and management, exchange and publishing of knowledge, and science on a wide scale; even though writing is the key element in any communication system.        

Lama Al-hassanieh



[1] Richard Bulliet, professor of history at Columbia University, October 18, 2011 (http://dukechronicle.com/users/yueran,zhang).

[2]  http://www.google.com/webhp?hl=ar#hl=ar&site=webhp&q=islam* 

[3] A transliteration which literally means “the morning of the night-blind in composition production”, standing as a guide to writing industry

Basalt Sculpts Depicting the Will of Life

 Buzzing nature and genuine heritage spirit was portrayed in a sculpture exhibition held recently in al-Sweidaa province by Sculptor Shafiq Ishti.

Throughout his 50 works, artist Ishti spoke of his strong interaction with both his surrounding and community.

 The exhibition displayed a collection of basalt sculpts varying in form and significance. They were created from the solid black stone that naturally simulates the spirit and diversity of its rich environment.

There is a channel of communication prevailing between the artist and his sculpts. Ishti considers sculpture as more durable and capable to express ideas and feelings and to portray reality.

  On his relationship with his sculpts, the artist said the exhibited works are tightly linked with his own values, confirming his allegiance with his environment that summarizes all previous civilizations prevailing in the region.

"It is a relationship reflecting my challenging spirit and firm determination to be existent," Ishti clarified.

He said that the nature of the material (row basaltic stone), he is dealing with, represents the willpower and nature of each and every native in this province (al-Sweadaa province) and in Syria in general as regards struggle. Thus reflecting the nation’s freewill for existence and steadfastness in confrontation of all conspiracies and challenges it is being exposed to.

Khaled falhoot

 

 

 

Culture Minister, Iraqi Intellectuals Discuss Initiative to Establish Anti-American-Zionist Scheme Association in Damascus

Damascus- A number of Iraqi intellectuals recently visited Syria to voice solidarity with the country in the face of any possible Western aggression. The guest delegation met Culture Minister Lubana Mushaweh and discussed with her an initiative to establish an Anti-American-Zionist Scheme Association in Damascus. The initiative aims to support just Arab causes and defend Syria against the Zionist-American scheme.

Dr. Mushaweh said "when the Iraqi intellectuals defend Syria they defend themselves," stressing that real intellectuals don't follow the dictates of anyone and they don't bargain on their countries or accept foreign aggression against their homelands.

She added that Syria withstood the crisis thanks to the Syrian people's adherence to national unity and to the morals and values they were brought up on. She urged those who were misled by false democracy calls to realize that all what happened in the Arab homeland had nothing to do with democracy or freedom.

For his part, leader of the Iraqi delegation, Abdul Zahra Ali al-Sa'edi, Head of Constitutional Committee of the Iraqi (Confrontation) Strategic Studies Center, said the Iraqi intellectuals decided to visit Syria at an initiative to defend the Arab nation's just causes with the Syrian issue at the top.

"The Iraqis have paid the bill of the American invasion of Iraq through division, sectarianism and incessant terrorism," al-Sa'edi said, stressing that the American aggression against Syria never serve the interest of the Syrian people by any means.

"It is part of the American-Zionist conspiracy against the Arab countries and it only serves Israel," he added.

Members of the delegation affirmed that it is the duty of each Arab intellectual to defend Syria as it is the source of Arab nationalist thinking and the fortress which confronts the Zionist occupation.

They asserted that Syria is still the "main defender of the Palestinian cause" which the West is trying to undermine through its calls for false freedom and through the so-called "Arab spring".

The Iraqi intellectuals hailed the victories of the Syrian Arab Army in its battle against terrorism and expressed their pleasure to seeing Damascus a life-loving city despite the crisis.

H. Mustafa