Nationalism is an imported school which has been exported by exploiting powers to disturb the unity of the Islamic world. Some Western thinkers and Orientalists who have always strived to introduce Western political and cultural colonization in Asia and Africa, provided the ground for its rise and the so-called enlightened groups depending on the West acted as its banner-bearers, propounding this school of thought.
Western colonizing governments have always considered the unity of the world of Islam, which they call “Pan-Islamism", a potential danger to their political and economic interests. At the end of the 19th century, inspired by the ideas of Sayyid Jamal-al-Din and Sultan Abdul Hamid, there started talks about the unity of world Muslims, and the union and solidarity of the Turks and Arabs in the Ottoman Empire prevented the inroad of Western values and ideals in the critical and strategic Middle East zone.
Colonizing powers felt the danger and adopted a policy which unfortunately proved effective. This was the infusion of the idea of nationalism and the awakening of national sentiments among the Arabs and Turks in order to check “Pan-Islamism” and thereby divide the great Ottoman Empire, and replace the declining influence of the Ottomans by the power of Western colonization.
It is noteworthy that nationalism rose first, not in the Muslim lands which were under British and French domination, but in regions which formed part of the Ottoman Empire. In India which was a British colony, such Westernized intellectuals as Sir Sayyid Ahmad Khan found no need to rely on nationalism, national and xenophobian sentiments and were still occupied with the thought of economic and educational improvement of the Muslims. They even took an opposing stand against the nationalism of the Hindu Congress Party. In Algeria and Sudan too, it was Islam that stood in the persons of the Mahdi Sudanese and Algerian Abdul-Qader against colonization, but there was no sign of nationalism. In Indonesia and Malaysia and Muslim lands of the Far East, too, which were directly under British and French domination, Westernized intellectuals believed there was no need to rouse nationalistic feelings.
On the other hand, these intellectuals who were dependent on colonization, raised the cry of nationalism in the lands of the Ottoman Empire, namely Turkey, Egypt and the Arab lands in order to overthrow the Ottoman rule and pave the way for their own influence and expansion.
This historical fact clearly shows that those who sympathized with nationalism in Islamic lands did not claim independence out of xenophobia, but were motivated by something quite different. They were in fact, the surrogates of Western colonizers who could be used to break up Islamic unity and weaken or destroy the Ottoman Empire. We see now, why in the Iran of that time, the westernized intellectuals did not so strongly support the idea of nationalism as was done in Turkey, Egypt, Syria and Lebanon by their allies, since Iran did not form part of the Ottoman Empire. Moreover, at that time, Iran had little connection with the world of Islam owing to the excessive reliance of the Qajar kings on the prejudicial differences between the Shi'a and Sunni sects, and colonial powers did not think it probable that Iran would join the great union of world Muslims. Therefore, they felt secure and all their efforts were directed at making the western culture and system bear root in Iran, and prevent a religious government from assuming power so, in Iran, the emphasis was laid on the question of the constitution, Western democracy and liberal thoughts of the West. In the works of Taleboff and Mirza Khan Kermani, we see much less of nationalism and national unity than in those of their Arab and Turkish counterparts. The focal point of discussion was the 'constitution', Western liberalism and the necessity of casting aside religious thoughts and principles, and copying European culture1.
Why were the Muslim lands of Istanbul, Cairo and 'Beirut preoccupied with the idea of nationalism? Why was this longing for nationalism at the end of the 19th century concurrent with the height of colonial expansion? Why did the Arabs and Turks, the targets of nationalism, confront each other? Why was there no talk of British or French colonialism? Why did nationalistic sentiments become popular in the realm of the Ottoman Empire, but not in those countries invaded by Western colonialism? Why is it that following the dissolution of the Ottoman Empire, as a result of intense nationalistic sentiments, colonialism rapidly succeeded in swallowing the Middle East? Answers to these questions may be found in the wide dimension of Western colonial interference for the creation and expansion of nationalism in the world of Islam.
In Islamic countries nationalism took birth in the 19th century. The first countries which fell victim to it were Egypt and Turkey. Napoleon's invasion of Egypt was a turning point in the history of the Islamic world and the beginning of Westernization. During the brief stay of the French in Egypt, Western ideas had found their way amidst Egyptian intellectuals. The contact of such Egyptian scholars as Abdul Rahman Jabarti, Sheikh Hassan Attar etc. with the men of learning that Napoleon had brought with him to Egypt, and the encouragement given by the French, roused the desire in some self-sold Egyptians to walk in step with the West. This point can explain why the spirit of nationalism rose first in Egypt to prepare the ground for its separation from the Ottoman Empire sooner than other lands belonging to it. Most probably, as the French were openly fighting the Empire of the Turkish Muslims and inherited the anti-Islamic prejudices from the crusaders and men like Charlemagne, they began sooner than others to break up Islamic unity and destroy the Ottoman Empire, by rousing Egyptian nationalism, in the same way as the British did with Arab lands.
In order to revive Egyptian nationalism and rouse the pride of the Egyptians of their past, Napoleon established an institution called the “Egyptian Foundation”, a sham scientific society supposedly for research in ancient Egyptian history and culture, but which in reality aimed at reviving Egyptianism against the idea of Islamic unity, and at undermining Islamic inclinations forcing a gap between Egypt and the Ottoman Empire. It was through this Foundation that some distinguished French men of learning such as Clot, Cerisy, Linant and Rousset were dispatched to Egypt2, whose objective, as we may guess, was to help the Egyptians discover their ancient Pharaonic culture and to acquaint them with French culture on which they were encouraged to frame their lives and policies.
Sylvestre de Sacy and other French scholars wrote books on the magnificence of Egyptian civilization, and Egyptian nationalists such as Tahtavi discovered the splendor of their ancient civilization and cultural independence through De Sacy's book, “Nationality3”.
It was probably through French influence that Muhammad Ali declared his independence from the Ottoman Empire and for the first time raised the question of Arab unity. Western missionaries, too, were very active. Between 1863 and 1879, no less than seventy seven French, American, Italian and German schools were opened in Egypt.
Following all these efforts at colonization, a westernized intellectual class rose as the banner-bearer of Egyptian nationality, insisting upon the following of Western civilization. Defa'at-al-Tahtavi (1801-1873) was the first of these men. He stayed in Paris for five years and having been indoctrinated with French ideas, he returned to Egypt to propound Montesquieu's thoughts on the nation and the country.
Tahtavi in his well-known book, “Manahej” and other works made recurrent use of words like 'homeland' and 'patriotism', words which were not so popular till then among the Egyptians, in the concept of Western nationalism. He declared that the Egyptians were a nation apart from other Muslims, and the core of their love and loyalty should be their 'homeland'. He tried to prove that nationalism is not compatible with Islam, but this was a futile and hypocritical effort. This pioneer of nationalism considered the reason for the decadence of Egypt to be the rule of non-Egyptian Muslims such as the Mameluks. But at the same time, he shamelessly spoke of the French and Westerners in general, not as a symbol of greed for the world, but as representatives of science, civilization and culture, and suggested that Egypt should follow the West4.
Another pioneer of Egyptian nationalism was Yaghoub Zow'e, whose father was a Jew and mother, an Italian. He lived in Paris for a long time and was a French agent. In Paris, he published the journal, 'EI-Vatan-el-Mesri' (Egyptian homeland) to propagate nationalism. He was a founder of Egyptian nationalism5 and had a close friendship with Cromer, the English governor of Egypt.
Taha Hossain was another Westernized Egyptian nationalist. He attempted in his book, 'EI-Mostaqbel-el-Thaqafe', to prove that Egypt has no connection whatsoever with the world of Islam, but that it has instead, a strong bond with Europe.
In the time of Taha Hossain, nationalist forces led by the Wafd Party became a determining factor in Egyptian politics. Sa'ed Zaghlool, leader of the Wafd party and other nationalist politicians were British pawns who considered political independence only as a means of becoming Europeanized progressives and found it in the acceptance of Western values.
This was an account of the rise and spread of nationalism in Egypt, showing how Westerners sowed the seed of nationalism and irrigated it.
Turkey was another of the first Islamic countries where the school of nationalism found its way. Bernard Lewis, the well-known orientalist, confesses that three European Jews inspired the spirit of nationalism in Turkey6.
The first person who tried hard to kindle the flame of Turkish nationalism was Arthur Lumley David (1811-1832). He was an English Jew who traveled to Turkey and wrote a book called, 'Preliminary Discourses' in which he tried to show how the Turks were a distinguished and independent race, superior to the Arabs and other oriental races.
Lewis writes: “The book of this English Jew made the Turks imagine themselves as having a distinct nationality and independence.” Before the spread and indoctrination of Western ideas, no sign is seen of nationalism in the Ottoman, Empire. Even until the beginning of the present century, the Turks did not consider the Arabs as aliens, and the Arabs looked upon the Turks in the same way. The Arabs were content to be included in the Ottoman Empire on account of being of the same religion, and the Turks respected them because of 1heir culture, and knowledge of Arabic was considered a sign of learning. Even a Sultan like Abdul-Hamid was surrounded by Arab counselors in his court, the likes of Abol-Hoda and Ezzat Pasha. In the revolution of 1908 against Abdul-Hamid there were at least two Arab officers, named Aziz Ali Mesri and Mahmood Showkat Pasha among the leaders. But the book of the said Jew gradually convinced some self-sold and dependent intellectuals and politicians like the leaders of the" Young Turks» movement of the superiority of the Turkish race.
In 1851, Fu'ad and Jowdat Pasha translated most of David's writings into Turkish. In 1869, another writer, Ali Savi, published a treatise in Turkish which was an imitation of David's, speaking of the glorious past of the Turkish race. This was one of the first writings in which nationalism was propounded and it was something quite unprecedented in the Ottoman Empire. As Lewis says: “Thus the Turks discovered their nationality through the West and copied the writings of the Westerners7.”
David Leon Cohen, a Jewish French writer was another man who greatly contributed to the expansion of Turkish nationalism. In 1899, he published a book called "Introduction Generale a l'Histoire de L' Asie8”. In this book, he writes of the racial superiority of the Turks and of their epical records in history. This book was translated into Turkish in the first decade of the l0th century in a large number. Prof. Khadouri and Bernard Lewis believe that the said Jew inspired the Pan- Turkism of 'Young Turks' who started a revolution in 1908.
In addition to the above book, Cohen published several epical stories on the past glories of the Turks. Clearly, the main aim of this Jew in his eulogy of the Turkish race was to rouse their racial prejudices and weaken their bond with other Muslim nations. He was not content with writing only, but also formed societies of exiled Turks and Egyptians in Paris and tried to lay the foundation of nationalistic movements in those countries9.
But the person who had the greatest role in the creation of Turkish and Arab nationalism, was the famous orientalist, Arminius Vambery (1832-1918), the son of a Jewish Hungarian priest. He published many works on the necessity for the revival of Turkish nationality, language and literature. His works intensely captivated the attention of Westernized, so-called enlightened Turks and incited their patriotism. He was closely acquainted with the Turkish statesmen and politicians of the first rank10.
One of the main aims of the Jews in inciting nationalistic sentiments was to pave the way for the occupation of Palestine. The Jews in their unsuccessful contact with Sultan Abdul-Hamid to secure Palestinian territories for Jewish emigrants, came to the conclusion that the only way to fulfill their dream was to overthrow Abdul-Hamid and break up Islam and Arab and Turkish unity. Under the cover of nationalism and through encouraging the creation of the 'Young Turks' movement, Zionism first succeeded in deposing Abdul-Hamid, imprisoning him and laying the ground for inciting differences and enmity between the Turks and Arabs.
These plots of colonialism and Zionism gave birth to the 'Young Turks' movement which resulted in the revolution of 1908 and deposal of Abdul-Hamid. The “Young Turks” who executed the Zionist scheme, embarked on a 'Pan- Turkish' policy based on a belief in the superiority of the Turks. So they adopted an anti-Arab stand, closed down Arab cultural societies and began acts of discrimination against the Arabs and non- Turks, a conduct which was in line with the direct plots of British colonialism in rousing Arab nationalism.
Thus Zionism and imperialism and their discrimination towards the Arabs on the one hand, and inciting Arab nationalism and their opposition to the Turks on the other. Until this time, the Arabs did not consider themselves a separate race. But as the Turks were seeking the superiority of Turkish culture over other cultures, the Arabs, too, insisted upon their own independent identity. It was the racial and nationalistic policies of Young Turks that kindled the flame of Arab nationalism-a matter, which as we shall see, was directly supported by the British11.
After the revolution of 1908, the “Young Turks” expanded Turkish nationalism by force and by propagation through the mass media. Moreover, the repeated blows inflicted upon Turkey by Arab countries, together with the extension of western education and dispatch of students to Europe, intensified Turkish nationalistic frenzy. Even some Muslim thinkers as Namek Kamal (1840-1888), Zia Pasha (1825-1880) and Jowdat Pasha (1823-1898), tried hard to blend Islam with nationalism-an idea which was doomed from the very beginning since these two schools are incompatible. The progressive advance of nationalism and colonization at last led to the rise of Ata Turk accompanied by his anti-Islamic policy.
With him, Turkey became totally dependent on the West, exactly what the Satanic West wanted. The Western intellectual class continued to promote this school which was now supported by the bayonets of Ata Turk and his successors. Zia Gukalp (1876-1942), the greatest theoretician of the Turkish nationalist school, was a well- known personality of the west who busied himself copying Western ideas and culture, both of which he made the core of his ideology. Turkish nationalism resulted at last in the membership of Turkey in the NATO, thereby surrendering its political and cultural independence.
This was then an account of the rise and advance of nationalism in Turkey.
$$SUB[British Colonialism, the Banner-bearer of Arab Nationalism]
4- British Colonialism, the Banner-bearer of Arab Nationalism.
Nationalism was nowhere to be seen in the Arab countries before the inroad of Western ideas and colonial influence.
Arab lands gradually came under the domination of the Ottoman Empire from the 16th century onward, and a unity was established between almost all parts of the Muslim Middle East (excluding Iran). All through the Ottoman rule, until the beginning of the 20th century, the Arabs had no feeling of alienation towards the Turks, and were perfectly content with the unity that existed between Turkish and Arab lands. They considered the Ottoman Sultan, the rightful ruler of the Muslims, and the Ottomans, too, showed no discrimination towards the Arabs. They chose the governor of each Arab zone (with the title of Naghib) from among the people of the same zone.
French colonization was the first to sow the seeds of nationalism and the separation of Egypt, to be followed by the deceitful and mischievous creation of Turkish nationalism by Imperialism and Zionism in the form of the 'Young Turks' movement and leading for the first time to discrimination of Arabs by them.
Concurrently, colonial powers especially Britain roused the racial and nationalistic sentiments of the Arabs through Christian Arab missionaries and Western intellectuals.
After Egypt, the pioneers of Arab nationalism were Syria, Lebanon and Jordan. Missionaries were most active in these regions. Members of the Jesuit Catholic sect from 1830 and Protestants from 1820 entered Syria. The giant Christian society became the agent for executing the plot of colonization. Christian Arabs regarded Western penetration to their own interests, and looked at French and British colonization as a refuge against the Muslims. They were very sensitive about the expansion of the idea of the universal Islamic Ummah, since such a unity would place them in a minority, whereas having nationalism as the basis of unity would not only prevent their being considered a minority (since in such a unity all are Arabs -not Muslims and Christians), but being ahead of the Muslims as far as Western education was concerned and trusted by colonial powers, they hoped to assume the rein of affairs. From the beginning, Christian Arabs sought the aid of Western governments against Muslim Arabs, as was the case in the Civil War of 1860 when they invited the Europeans for a campaign in Lebanon. But this method did not solve the Christians' problem in the long run since it roused the cynicism of the Muslims. Therefore on the suggestion of their colonial masters they resorted to the importation of the creed of nationalism.
One of the clearest examples was Najib Azouri, a founder of Arab nationalism. He was an agent of both France and England. In 1904 in Paris, he published a book named “Le Reveil de la Nation Arabe”. He further formed a society by the name of “Ligue de la Patrie Arabe”, and published a monthly journal named, “L 'independence Arabe”, as an organ of the union. In its publication, an employee of the French Foreign Ministry named Eugene Lung, collaborated closely with him. Lung as a servant of French colonialism wrote a book named “La Revolte Arabe”12, in which he praised the Arab race. One of the points repeatedly stressed in this book was the racial, cultural and political differences between the Arabs and Turks, and occasional reference to the superiority of the Arabs over the Turks and the necessity of segregating the Arabs from the Ottoman Empire. To both Azouri and Lung, three revolutions would be necessary to destroy the Ottoman Empire: An Arab revolution, a Kurdish revolution and an Armenian revolution13.
Azouri's views on international politics, too, show his dependence on Britain and France. Against the Turks, he sought the friendship of Britain, and supported the pro British party of Muhammad Wahidi and pro-British dailies such as “El-Haghtatem” and “El-Watan”. He regarded the power of Germany which supported the Ottoman Empire a danger to human society, and considered the governments of France and Britain as the banner-bearers of justice in the world, and encouraged these two colonizing powers to interfere in the Ottoman's internal affairs in favor of the Arabs. He volunteered to start a revolution within the Ottoman Empire in cooperation with lung, with the aid of British and French capital and weapons. Dr. Hamid Enayat writes:
“Azouri expressed his loyalty and obedience to Britain and France and introduced himself as the supporter of their interests in the East, and said: 'The French should assist and tell us what they want from us14.”
Azouri as a founder of Arab nationalism was dependent on the French and British governments and was in their service15.
Besides Azouri, there were such men as Petros Bostani, Nasif al-Yazeji, Ibrahim al- Yazeji, Nofel, Salim Nofel, Mikhael Shamhada, Sem'een Kalhoun, Gerges Fayyaz, Rastan Dameshghia and many other Christian enlightened men depending on colonial powers, who tried to incite and expand Arab nationalism. These men did their utmost to convince the Arabs that they were a distinct race, superior to other Muslim nations. They deliberately misinterpreted history to attain this objective and presented Islam, Islamic culture and civilization as being originally Arabic- a matter which was a great treason to the intellect. Their arguments and ways to prove Arab nationality came from Western culture and thought.
Arab nationalism was reflected in two ways: firstly by emphasis on Egyptian, Syrian, Iraqi and other nationalities, and secondly by emphasis on Arab unity, or the Arab race.
During the World War I, the British government decided to enter the arena in person and to openly support and guard Arab nationalism, turning the enmity between the Arabs and the Turks to its own interest. The rise of Sharif Hossain, grandfather of king Hossain of Jordan against the Turks in June 1916, which is regarded as an objective desired by Arab nationalism, was the product of direct British meddling and intervention. The expansion of Arab nationalism against the Ottomans, brought the British and French governments into the Arab zone, resulting in the creation of Israel as a cancerous tumor in the heart of the Arab land.
Sharif Hossain, as a pioneer of Arab rebellion against the Turks was a British agent, and the British were the greatest supporters of Arab independence from the Turkish yoke. The story of Sharif Hossain's collaboration with the British as a hero of Arab nationalism is very amazing. In 1914, direct contact was made through Abdullah, son of Sharif Hossain and father of King Hossain, between Kitchner, well-known English general, and Sharif. Some time after, Kitchner sent one of his high-ranking officers, named Ronald Stors to visit Abdullah. At this time, the World War had begun and Kitchner who was now British War Secretary, sent a message to Abdullah in October 1914 asking him to rise in rebellion for independence against the Turks. Kitchner promised to support the Arabs' efforts for independence, and even to transfer the Muslim Caliphate from the Turks to the Arabs and choose Sharif as the new caliph.
Sharif Hossain, this so-called reverend pro-British nationalist, carried out the plan of colonialism in the name of Arab independence, and at a time when Turkey was entangled with the British and French, he made an assault upon the Turks rousing the Muslims against them and in favour of the British. McMahon, an English general, sent a letter to Sharif, the copy of which is in the archive of the British Foreign Office in which Sharif Hossain's role is lauded as a determining factor in “the combat for independence by the valiant Arab nation.”
On July 21, 1915, Sharif sent a message to McMahon, asking for British support for the Arab demand for the caliphate. On June 10, 1916, the Arab national uprising, with the aid of British arms and munitions and military and political support was started, led by Sharif Hossain. T. E. Lawrence, an English government official, was the principal adviser to Feisal, son of Sharif, in this national Arab uprising. On one side, the Arab forces rushed upon the Turks, while on the other, in a perfectly coordinated operation, General Allen by, the British commander in Palestine took the lead in fighting. Thus the combat of the Arabs for independence incited by nationalism, was promoted under British military protection.
But while British and French colonizing powers tempted the Arabs into a war of independence, and while Sharif Hossain and Arab secret organizations such as El-Fetat and El-Ahad were actively executing the schemes of the colonial powers, Britain and France were secretly dividing the Arab zones among themselves. With the Treaty of Sykes-Picot and the Balfour Declaration, they laid the ground for the division of Arab lands and creation of Israel as a country.
France occupied Algeria, Tunis and Morocco by inciting anti-Turkish feelings. Italy made Libya its colony, while Russia occupied parts of Armenia; Britain occupied Egypt, Cyprus, Aden, and the Sheikdoms of the Persian Gulf, and then Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, culminating in the creation of the cancerous tumor, “Israel”, in the heart of the Arab world.
And that was the painful story of Arab nationalism, its creation and expansion.
It becomes clear then that nationalism in Islamic lands was incited by the Westerners, with the British and French missionaries and Orientalists having a great share in it. It was then expanded by colonial plots and used by colonialism as a tool for breaking up Islamic unity and destroying the Ottoman Empire. In this connection, Christian and Jewish minorities and pro-Western intellectuals were the principal executors of these imperialistic plans. Almost all the banner-bearers and famous pioneers of nationalism in Islamic lands were those who copied the Western values and ideals.
With the inroad of Western ideals, words like 'homeland' and 'patriotism' became very popular with the Arabs, Turks and Iranians. Nationalism was the stealthy and motivated imitation of Western models, dictated by colonial powers, eventually resulting in the dependence of those countries upon the West or East. This fact that for many years the main supporters of Egyptian nationalism and Arab nationality and other Islamic nations were France and Britain is more eloquent than words. With those brilliant records of colonization, at present, the biggest supporter of nationalist forces of Turkey and Iran is the U.S., and the supporter of the Ba’athists and some Arab countries is the Soviet Union.
The important question that arises is why the idea of nationalism which penetrated Islamic lands through Western ideas and colonial plots, was welcomed by some sections of the Muslim masses and how did it expand?
Firstly, the masses could not see the difference between 'patriotism' and 'nationalism' and to their unconscious mind, both concepts seemed to denote the same idea as that of Islamic 'Ummahism'. From the beginning, Islam had created a strong feeling of the 'Ummah' and had divided the world into the “House of Islam” and the “House of War”. The masses believed nationalism to be the same as 'Ummahism' and therefore welcomed it.
The reason was that even though the people sometimes spoke of nationalism, yet in practice, they regarded a Christian Egyptian and Coptic Egyptian beyond the sphere of nationality, and Turkish Armenians as aliens. Actually, to the masses, nationalism and Islamic Ummahism meant one and the same thing.
Secondly, contrary to the main pioneers of nationalism, who propagated it as a result of their dependence on colonial powers and the West, the masses manifested nationalistic sentiments in opposition to social tyranny or to the colonial influence of Britain and France. To the masses, nationalism was a sentiment, not a school, but to the Western, so-called enlightened class and politicians, it was an ideology and a political creed.
The third factor behind the growth of nationalism among the masses was the injustice of the selfish, pseudo-Muslim governments which inflicted oppression and torture upon the people. While the Ottoman Empire was on the brink of collapse, Turkish rulers like other selfish rulers of history treated their subordinates oppressively including not only the Arabs but the Turkish peasants. After the Young Turks assumed power, tyranny and discrimination became prevalent, an outcome of Turkish nationalism, which led to a spread of nationalistic sentiments among the Arabs, of which colonialism made the utmost use. The most recent example of a country where nationalism is fully manifest, is Bangladesh, resulting from the tyrannical conduct of Pakistan's military dictators.