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Indigenising civil society : applying Ibn Khaldun’s asabiya concept on tribes in Iraq
conference contributionposted on 2012-01-01, 00:00 authored by Ahmed Hassin
After the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, civil society has become among the buzz words that are frequently used by local and international government and non-government institutions. However, the connotations of civil society were merely drawn from Western conceptions referring to formally organised types of institutions, like NGOs, unions and media. This paper argues that Muslim/Arab theories should also be tested in their original indigenous societies before generalisation of Western models. The Western conceptualisation overlooks the informal type of civil society organisations and excludes family and kinship ties from its equation. Indigenous social structures, i.e. tribes are key active player in the daily life of the Iraqi political, economic, social and cultural scenes. This study argues that the spirit of social solidarity drawn from Ibn Khaldun’s “asabiya” concepts as well as functions of civil society organisations are the bases for examining tribes in Iraq. Tribes have played significant roles in conflict management, peace-building, reconciliation, policy-formulation, advocacy, active citizenship and democratisation since 2003. The article concludes that, based on their sense of solidarity that is the impetus to functions, tribes are among the active civil society organisations in Iraq.