Why Berbers resist Islam in Algeria?
Before I would start to examine this spicy question of “why Berbers resist Islam in Algeria”, let me clear the situation which is almost idyll nowadays. In fact, the major population of Algeria find no difference between being Arab or Berber or Muslim; these three traits equally mean the concept of “being Algerian” saying that every Algerian family must have some Berber origin, Arabization or Islam as Deen. However, it is true only if we examine Algeria superficially by its major population. But how about the minority?
Personally, my way was crossed by Atheists and Christians even in the center of Algiers that is the proof of “There is minority.” However, the minority of Algerians out of Islam cannot be defined if they’re Arab, Berber or foreigners. Even the lying wikipedia is saying only that 99% percent of Algeria are Muslim and about 100.000 are Christian, Jew or some other. That ninety-nine percent is a huge lie in my eyes, surely containing about 30% of non-practicing hypocrites or those who only follow the habitual social norms. Wallahu a3lam – Only God knows.
But then, why I don’t just ask “Why the Algerians resist Islam?”. Well, it cannot be asked since Algeria has a true majority of Muslims; we adore Islam as culture as religion. The Algerian blood absorbed Islam in the time the Islamic relevation was spreading, then Djazair proved his strong faith toward Islam during the oppressing years of the brutal French colonialism (Christianity) and during the civil war of mad terrorists (Islamic Extremism). Algerians as a whole race kept the Religion of Peace, Islam.
Then, why I aim the Berber community as resisting Islam? The answer is hiding in the history as well as in the natures of the Islamic religion and the general human beings. In the time of 700 when the first Islamists arrived to the Maghrebi North Africa, the Muslim people met a developped Berber civilization that didn’t want to be part of the Islamization. It may sound too briefly that they just didn’t want to cooperate; however, it’s meaning hides in the “Islamic Opening” that has 3 general steps when it is spreading:
- At first, Muslims enter a land peacefully with gifts and baraka in order to teach Islam
- At second, the people feel themselves frustrated in the course of time and attack the Islamists
- At third, Muslims win and start to rule the land, conditioning the people who don’t join Islam.
This is how it works… it’s only one of the many ways how Islam got the main religious role in many countries like in Algeria; building mosques, spreading Arabic language and enterring Arabic-Islamic culture became the new hype. How about the Berber culture? Humm…
The Berber culture has strong and ancient bases with original Kabyle language, particular calendar, music, dresses, and other traditions. Actually, Islam let the Kabyle culture untouchable, following the Islamic rules – you’re in peace till you don’t break the peace. Although, many people from Kabylia entered Islam for living in “real” peace. Real peace means accepting Islam for avoiding being “minority” in the Muslim community. This is a logical social rule which puts the minority under pressure of the majority that may made some Berbers and foreigners feel weaker or menaced. It sounds quite scientific. In fact, the people of the old Numidia (Algeria’s ex-Berber kingdom) enterred Islam by learning its wisdom from trading and befriending.
Following the former aspects, my question is just inappropriate – why would Berbers resist Islam if they are actually Muslim except of a very small minority… Well, the question is coming from my simple observation:
The most proud Kabyle women don’t wear hijab outside; indeed, they rumble through the streets talking loudly either in French or in Berber. Proud Kabyle men and women prefer to speak either French or Kabyle, but never Arabic that is the language of Islam. The most and almost the only alcohol consumers of Algeria are Kabyle men. These are only three personal observations questioning the Islam in the Kabylia that made me ask the question: why Berbers resist Islam?
I think, the answer is “alienation”.
The first alienation is the difference between the Kabyle and Islamic cultures. In fact, accepting Islam as religion means accepting the whole prophetic teaching and the Arab-based Islamic culture. If you keep following your tribe’s traditions which may be in contrary to Islamic ones, you are doing “bid’a3” that is illegal religious reform. So, one should keep the Berber traditions only as souvenirs, but it is very hard for a proud Kabyle to stop practicing his or her culture.
The second alienation is history-political. The most Kabyles hate many Arab national heroes who fought the Independence against France. Why? They are not against Independence – not for a moment. Right after the Independence, the new building Algeria wanted to make a perfect union as an Arabic country. For this, such acts were created as bringing Egyptian teachers to teach the illiterate society and the Kabyles. In that time, if anybody was against these acts got shot even if he was a Kabilian war-hero fighting against France – if you know what I mean. In fact, the Kabylia was a living target that time since many French-loving Kabyles helped the French legions as well as after the Independence, many Kabyles wanted autonomy that was impossible for the building Algeria. It hurts the Berber heart. In addition, the 90’s terrorist actions aimed ruthlessly the Christian or non-Christian Berbers. Civil wars are horrible things…
The third alienation is the education and language. Nowadays, Algeria is officially the only Berber country, the Berber langauge is among the national languages getting taught in schools and used in daily life. It sounds good and quite democratic. Rather not? In Kabyle lands, Berber language is the most spoken langauge, their schools teach in Berber and Algeria’s major language (Arabic) is only thought as foreign langauge. Berbers grow up speaking Kabyle on the Kabyle land as if they would live in the old Numidian kingdom while the major part of Algeria has no much ideas about Kabylian. For God’s Sake! Letting a minority to keep their traditions is not the same as BREEDING THEM TO BE A MINORITY. Language is the bridge of the unity; Algerian Berbers should learn in Arabic to keep the unity, then Arabic Algerians should learn Kabyle language as for multiculturalism. Also, let us forget a little about French to enter the real global language: ENGLISH. Without these language reforms and without forgetting the past’s crimes, there will be an ever barrier between Berbers and Arabic Islamization.
I hope, you can find the hidden answers for why Berbers resist Islam in Algeria – if they do. Otherwise, Algeria has very beautiful Berber villages such as Tizi-Ouzzou where I listened the Friday Prayer (Jumua) in Berber langauge by Kabylian Imam. In contrary, in the heart of the Djurdjura I met Christian Berbers living peacefully among the other people. In the extreme, I lived in little Berber village where the people drink beer, but they pray the Friday prayer. These examples have nothing to do with “alienation”; they are the beauty of Algeria: Algeria is a Tamazight country that means the country of free men. In Algeria people do what they want. ❤
However, as a patriot Algerian – I would like to see my country more united under the crescent and the star.
1 – 2 – 3 Viva l’Algerie ❤