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السلف الصالح

Discussion in 'العربية (Arabic)' started by jack_1313, Sep 2, 2013.

  1. jack_1313 Senior Member

    English - Australian
    I'm trying to interpret what the author means by تحكم السلف الصالح in reference to Western civilisation in the following sentence:

    في ما يتعلق بالثقافة يعتبر الفريقان أن لها أولوية في تقرير مسار الشعوب؛ وأن الشعوب الإسلامية والعربية، على الخصوص، لها سمات جوهرية تمنعها من تجاوز ماضيها وأسلافها. يعتبرون تاريخها دائرياً، والثورة ليست تجاوزاً للماضي بقدر ما هي إعادة الأمور إلى نصابها السابق. للغرب تفوّق علمي تكنولوجي. للشرق الله والدين. يتخلّف الشرق، وربما كانت الأسباب تعود إلى تقدم الغرب العلمي والتكنولوجي؛ لكن الشرق له أصالته التي يترجمها السلفيون إلى اتباع السلف الصالح. يعتبر الفريقان أن لكل من الغرب والشرق أصالته. أصالة الغرب هي في التجاوز الذي يؤدي إلى التقدم، بسبب العلم والتكنولوجيا؛ وخلع استبداد الماضي وتحكّم السلف الصالح. أما الشرق (وخاصة الثقافة الإسلامية)، فهو مهما قام بثورات وانتفاضات، فإنه لا بد وأن ينتهي إلى حيث بدأ. الزمن لدى الغرب لولبي وتصاعدي؛ والزمن لدى الإسلام دائري
    Regarding culture, the two sides believe that culture has a priority in determining the path of the peoples and that the Islamic and Arab peoples, in particular, have core characteristics that prevent them from stepping beyond their past and their predecessors. Both sides believe that culture is the main thing that determines the paths of peoples and that the Islamic and Arab peoples, in particular, possess core characteristics that prevent them from moving beyond their past and [the behaviour of] their predecessors. The two sides see the history of these peoples as circular - the revolution isn’t a step beyond the past, but, to some extent, the situation returning to its previous state. The West has scientific and technological superiority; the East has God and religion. The East is lagging behind, and perhaps the can be traced back to the West’s scientific and technological advancement, but it has its strength, which the Salafists interpret as following the righteous predecessors. The two sides believe that both the East and West have their strength. The West’s strength is transcendence, which leads to progress (due to science and technology) and breaking the tyranny of the past and the rule righteous predecessors. The East (particularly Islamic culture), on the other hand, always ends up in the same place no matter many revolutions and intifadas it experiences. For the West, history is a rising helix; for Islam, it is circular

    Here, I have understood خلع to be a second مضاف إليه to بسبب, and تحكم to be a second مضاف إليه to خلع. However, I'm a bit confused about what the author means - he seems to be talking about خلع تحكم السلف الصالح as a good thing, but I've only ever seen السلف الصالح used in a positive way before. Is he using the term negatively, referring to the form of government that the Salafists prefer by using the term that they commonly use?

    Thanks :)
    The whole article can be found here.
  2. آمين

    آمين Senior Member


    Likely reference to "Tradition" . . . "Grasp of Tradition"
  3. AndyRoo Senior Member

    He is comparing how the Salafists follow their ancestors, while the West has shaken off the sway of the ancestors. It seems he is using السلف الصالح without any religious connotations in the case of the West at least.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  4. suma Senior Member

    English, USA
    It seems a bit odd though that an Arab writer would use a buzz word like السلف الصالح for something neutral in meaning such as "ancestral ways".

    السلف الصالح has become a buzz word to mean the Salafist movement in today's world.
    But I agree he seems to be using the word in its more basic/literal meaning that is to say, "ancestral ways".

    So he's pointing out one of the strength's of the West is in its ability to transcend its past and not become encumbered by traditional norms of practice or outmoded ideologies.
    Last edited: Sep 2, 2013
  5. إسكندراني

    إسكندراني Senior Member

    أرض الأنجل
    عربي (مصر)ـ | en (gb)
    Arabic newspapers are not exactly religiously sensitive. Especially opinion columns like this one seems to be.
  6. jack_1313 Senior Member

    English - Australian
    Thanks very much for the help guys :)

    I think the best way to deal with this might be to simply put "righteous predecessors" in quotation marks to show that the author isn't really describing these people as righteous, but is using the term to invite a comparison between the West's behaviour and the behaviour of the Salafists (and implicitly criticising the latter):

    The West’s strength is transcendence, which leads to progress (due to science and technology) and breaking away from the tyranny of the past and the rule of "righteous predecessors".
  7. آمين

    آمين Senior Member

    Salaf Salih - is not a term just referring to or used by Salafis alone. ALL Muslims look back to the Pious Predecessor. The author did mean Tradition - s/he simply used Islamic terminology for effect.
  8. suma Senior Member

    English, USA
    Another thought....
    As Alexander pointed out, since this is an opinion piece from the editorial pages; and such writers love to show off their erudition and literary finesse by composing highly nuanced and elegant writing, it could be that this writer is taking a veiled stab at the Salafists; particularly if he is hostile to Salafi ideology.
  9. barkoosh Senior Member

    السلف الصالح can mean "Forefathers" in general, with no religious connotation. This agrees with what dictionaries say. Some dictionaries define it as الآباء والأجداد المحترمون. Hans Wehr renders it "the worthy ancestors, the venerable forefathers". True, it is becoming widely used for, and almost limited to, the Salafi movement. But this doesn't invalidate a general use of the term.
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013

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