An analysis showing how far Islam and Nationalism are compatible. Some questions that are answered "Can an individual be a Muslim believer and a faithful nationalist at the same time? What has been the historical course of the birth and spread of nationalism in Islamic countries?"
This book was published in 1985 by the Council for the Ten-Day Dawn Celebrations on the occasion of the 6th Anniversary of the victory of the Islamic Revolution. It has benefited a large number of readers.
The subject of nationalism has been very vital for exploiters, oppressors and enemies of Islam. It has been an effective tool in the hands of Superpowers and non-Muslims in general for shattering the very mighty unifying force among Muslims generated on the basis of Islamic principles of the "international" and not the "national" brotherhood.
Horrified by the current Islamic resurgence and a world-wide rising wave of unity among Muslims, the world oppressive, arrogant and Zionist forces are engaged day and night in sharpening more and more this tool of nationalism and using the same very cunningly against Muslims and all the interests of Islam. Needless to mention that Muslims must beware of all such designs and be ever prepared to deal with these plots most effectively.
Keeping in view the importance of this subject for Muslims, the IPO has decided to publish it again for the benefit, of all the concerned. This book, written originally in Persian language, has been translated in various languages including Arabic, English and Spanish. It deals with the same subject of nationalism explaining that there is no room for this kind of concept in Islam.
International Relations Department
Islamic Propagation Organization
Nationalism being an issue which has always commanded society's attention, it would be fitting to analyze this concept from a scientific angle. How can it be defined and what principles does it entail? How far does Islam accept these principles? Is there any incompatibility between Islam and nationalism? Can an individual be a Muslim believer and a faithful nationalist at the same time? What are the weak strong points of nationalism? What has been the historical course of the birth and spread of nationalism in Islamic countries? It is by means of research and investigation and far from tumultuous propaganda that it becomes clear whether nationalism has a place in a society where an Islamic revolution has taken place in a society which is decided on establishing Islamic values and an Islamic order.
Communism and nationalism are two living schools in the contemporary West. Today, Islam is not confronting idolatry, Christianity and Zoroastrianism; it is in fact confronting communism and nationalism. Even if the number of Christians may amount to a billion, yet as an active, effective religion and ideology, Christianity has become a 'corpse' which is kept in the church, where its followers go every Sunday to say prayers, or once or twice a year to hold a ceremony in memory of that defunct institution. Christianity is no longer a determining factor in the life of the Westerners or a motive force in their social life. The driving forces which direct their lives are actually nationalism and communism. That is why a profound study and understanding of nationalism becomes important.
Today, it is mainly with nationalism and communism that Islam, as an ideology is in confrontation. Eastern and Western imperialism in its bid at undermining Islam, expands and imposes these two schools of thought, so that, like Christianity in the West, Islam would be sunk into oblivion, becoming a useless religion which would only serve for homely acts of devotion, and which would eventually decay and disappear.
Nationalism is a new plot hatched by the imperialism of the cross to deal Islam a blow. The aim is to realize that dream which could not be realized in the Wars of Crusades. A look at the works of the orientalists can help us to understand this wishful objective of the West and discover the depth of this concoction. Nationalism attempts to break up the unity and solidarity of the world Islamic Ummah which endangers imperialistic interests, and which is a potential threat to colonization in international politics. With the progressive spread of nationalism, imperialism was able to divide the world of Islam into small pieces, and swallow them one by one. Thus, the dangerous dimensions of nationalism make it imperative for the Islamic world to unveil its true visage.
The Islamic Revolution of Iran is founded on monotheism and Islam. Therefore, it is not nationalistic in nature, its fabric being Islam, not nationalism. The nationalists could have been followers of the revolution, but not its pioneers. In fact they constantly tried to check its rapid advance. Objective wise also, the Islamic Revolution of Iran is territorially unlimited and therefore, not confined to Iran; it has a universal mission, being a vanguard of a new dawn for the East, and must spread to any realm where live the Muslims.
It would therefore be fitting to make a survey of the Islamic unity of belief and internationalism and investigate the connection between Islam and nationalism.
The expansion of such ideologies as nationalism, liberalism or communism will deny the revolution its Islamic, essence. It is, therefore, the revolutionary duty of all Muslims to carryon a constant ideological and political war with the said poisonous ideologies. However, this combat must be based on awareness and strongly supported by intellectual and religious conviction, and the reasons for our rejection of nationalism must be explained both to our compatriots and aliens.
In the Islamic order and monotheistic society, there is no room for nationalism or Marxism, and from a social and political viewpoint, the only acceptable and dominant school is Islam. "Surely the (true) religion with Allah is Islam" (3: 18). But from a subjective viewpoint, every person is allowed freedom of thought and expression, and no compulsion in whatever way, is permissible.
"There is no compulsion in religion." (2: 256)
"Those who listen to the word, then follow the best of it."(39: 18)
Moreover, the weak and strong points of existent ideologies should be critically examined in a logical and unprejudiced way, and presented to the society to make it aware of them.
Therefore, the various schools of thought must be analyzed in a lucid way with an open mind, free from fanatical prejudices, and the position of Islam should be clarified in this connection.
We hope that this book will throw light upon various aspects of the problem, and will prove fruitful in the discussion on Islamic ideology.
Ali Muhammad Naqavi
While some of the characteristics of nationalism may be witnessed in the tribal system of the Greek city-state many thousand years ago1 nationalism as a political, social and ideological school of thought took birth in the West following the French Revolution.
Jean-Jacques Rousseau was one of the greatest advocates of this creed. He emphasized the unity, solidarity and the group spirit of the masses and insisted that one should have the highest attachment to one's home and country where one has been brought up. He believed the fatherland to be the core and center of a person's and a group's love and loyalty. He elevated this belief to a sacred religious duty, and severely condemned the idea of mankind's collective attachment or a religious societal order.
The main fabric of the school of nationalism was laid by the French Revolution, where it was first put to practice. It was then that the stimulation of emotions towards the flag and country, the glorification and worship of national heroes, the composition of the national anthem, the emphasis on the sanctity of the French language and race, the creation of great national festivals and ceremonies in the style of religious rites, a pride in the history of France and a belief in the great mission of the French nation, emerged and displayed themselves one after another in the course of the Revolution. But with the rise of the Jacobins to power and the disasters which followed the Revolution, the evils of nationalism evinced themselves from the very beginning. For the Jacobins, nationalism became the means to toy with the masses feelings, general mobilization, aggression upon neighboring countries, expansionism, massacre, corruption, suppression and self-interest, showing that nationalistic sentiments always result in aggression and imperialism. To the Jacobins, French interests were their basis for decisions.
With the progressive influence of the French Revolution in the West, the concept of nationalism rapidly gained popularity2 leavening behind the notions of freedom and democracy. The rise of Napoleon Bonaparte quickened its pace in the West. Napoleon was a staunch believer in the creed of nationalism and, as we shall see, he was the first to scatter its seed in the Islamic world. His strong sense of nationalism laid the grounds for its expansionistic and aggressive policies, his wars and massacres had encouraged a spirit of domination in the French nation, and soon, other nations were contaminated with nationalistic sentiments. In Germany and Italy, this spirit rose rapidly, and in the name of nationalism, horrible crimes were committed and a desperate fight for power was started.
The 19th century is called 'the golden age’ of nationalism3. It was in that century that Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine set up the foundations for American nationalism. In England, Jeremy Bentham gave nationalism a new scope. With William Gladstone, British nationalism reached its height. Nationalism spread as an intellectual movement and school in the whole of central and Western Europe. Mazzini, who rose in Italy is regarded as one of the greatest theoreticians of the school of nationalism of the 19th century. Other great propounders and banner-bearers of nationalism in that century were Giuseppe Garibaldi in Italy, Victor Hugo in France and Otto Bismarck in Germany.
Nationalism made history in that century, bringing about some of the greatest events. Belgium secured its independence, while in South and Central America, the colonies of Portugal and Spain declared their independence under the leadership of Simon Bolivar and Jose Martin. But the strongest sentiments of nationalism were roused by Western governments in the European colonies of the Ottoman Empire. Greece, Bulgaria, Hungary, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Croatia were tempted into claiming independence.
Of course, these events were trivial as compared to the unprecedented expansion of imperialism in the Third World, and the political clashes and conflicts of Western governments. History has shown that nationalism has been far more destructive than constructive. British, French colonialist policies and aggressions, and the expansionism of Napoleon III and Bismarck, proved that the deceptive slogans of Western nationalism and liberalism were empty covers and excuses for enslaving oppressed nations.
Nationalism is a creed, a school and a pseudo-religion which the West created to fill an ideological vacuum.
Man cannot live without a faith, an ideology, to which he can show affection and love. In the Middle Ages in the West, this faith, ideology, were found in Christianity and the religion of the Church. But Christianity was an unrealistic, imperfect and one dimensional religion, and since it had an unscientific and anti-intellectual basis, it could not last as a permanent and universal religion and ideology.
The Renaissance and subsequent changes dealt the church a heavy blow, and Christianity could no longer make its presence felt as a living faith in Europe, and soon became a dead creed. As we said, Christianity, from the beginning, lacked the dynamism which provides the people with zeal, frenzy, fanaticism and solidarity. After the Renaissance, it retired completely from the political, social, intellectual and emotional life of the people and western ideology was left with an intense vacuum.
In the absence of an inspiring force that would revive them, the westerners were left in the dark. Christianity was dead. Since man cannot live in a vacuum (of belief) and needs an ideology to follow and love, ‘Azar, the idol-maker’ of Western ideas hewed the idol of nationalism, and offered it to the West as anew religion and anew god that was welcomed by thirsty devotees. This vacuum was later on filled by Marxism, and both these schools owed their creation to the weakness and failure of Christianity in satisfying the religious longing of Westerners.
But in Islamic East, there never existed such a vacuum. Here, Islam was already present as a living, dynamic and universal ideology. It contained such dynamism that in the first century after its advent, it unified all the lands stretching from North Africa to the farthest parts of Asia, and from Spain to Mongolia, and joined together peoples of different races, languages and cultures as a single Ummah. Even now, Islam still possesses in the Muslim world afar greater power of rousing revolutionary zeal, devotion and solidarity than any other ideology. It can inspire its followers to sacrifice their life and wealth in the way of the school, and for that reason there is no need in the Islamic world to import nationalism as a Western commodity which is produced in accordance with the peculiar conditions of that region.
Nationalists and Western intellectuals of the Islamic world ignore the facts of their own country and its cultures and fancy that any experiment which has been successful in the West, may be repeated in the East. But this is illusory thinking. A blind imitation of such so-called intellectuals has left them no power of discernment to realize that the West possessed special conditions which differed from those of the world of Islam. The West was faced with a decadent Christianity and church, whereas, here is a revolutionary and dynamic Islam. It is unable to understand this reality that Islam and Christianity are two wholly different phenomena.
While Christianity is a collection of dogmas and religious rites of priests, Islam is a living, comprehensive ideology containing intellectual and practical issues, concerning both the individual and society.
Colonialism and Capitalism were two other factors which encouraged the spread of nationalism.
In the 19th century, the Westerners embarked on a fearful race for colonization and plundering the Third World countries. They pounded upon Asian and African nations like bloodthirsty wolves. With such actions, they badly needed a strong ideology to justify their pillage and crimes, while, at the same time, to provide a motive for further plunder and colonization. Thus, in the heat of these attempts at colonization, nationalism rose as an ideology and a living creed of the West.
The school of nationalism in connection with colonization played three significant parts:
1- It was firstly the source of colonization. Intense patriotic feelings, a belief in national and racial superiority, a tribal pride and a glorification of one's own history and culture, emerged from nationalism, providing the ground for political expansionism and economic self-axism. Imperialism is the illegitimate offspring of these same nationalistic inclinations.
2- Nationalism was a means to justify colonization and the savage acts of Western colonizers under the guise of “national exigencies” and «revival of the country's greatness.
3- Thirdly, it was the strong motive force which maintained the spirit of colonization. By kindling intense nationalistic sentiments and a spirit of self-sacrifice for the fatherland, the motive for colonization was set, giving fresh impetus to English, French and Germans in their close and stubborn race for domination over Asia and Africa.
Francis Cooker, the well-known Western thinker writes: “In the 19th century, most nationalists out of their fanatical nationalism were convinced and claimed that advanced nations had a lofty history and culture, and a racial and national superiority; therefore they were not justified in confining their talents to their own borders. Their national and patriotic duty must not be summed up in their defense and preservation of the independence and territorial integrity of their own country. They have a universal mission to expand the radius of their political and national cultural influence to all parts of the world in the interest of mankind, and help to civilize retarded lands even by force and violence if necessary.”
The above view which was the logical conclusion of nationalistic thought was the root of colonization and a means of justifying savage plunder by imperialism.
A survey of the words and writings of the founders of the nationalistic school in the 19th century reveals how stubbornly they propagated this idea that our national duty compels us not only to defend our frontiers, but also to engage in military and political ventures even thousands of kilometers away from those frontiers for the sake of the country’s greatness.
Dr. Bridgehet a national thinker of the 19th century writes: “Being pleased with our territorial Integrity is not enough, since dropping behind in the international, political and military race would mean neglecting our duty of guarding the historical greatness of our country. If we abstain from expansionism, our national pride will be damaged. It is only by being adventurous and warlike that our national pride may be preserved4.”
Nationalism also extended Darwin's view about the survival of the fittest to the social and political realms. Ernest Haeckel propagated it strongly in Germany, stating: “Only strong and powerful nations have the right to live and to swallow weak and retarded nations”. This may be called “the collective cannibalism of modern civilization.” Karl Pearson, another prominent nationalist too, considers the survival of the fittest as «the natural law of the relationship of nations.”
As a result of such argumentation by the nationalists, at the end of the 19th century, a new wave of aggressive expansionism was witnessed. British colonization led by Gladstone, the English nationalist, made India and many other zones a part of the British Empire. Germany, under Bismarck, another nationalist leader embarked on expansionism. France seized various parts of Africa and made of them its own colonies. England occupied the Suez zone and embarked on more imperialistic adventures. Germany intended to create a wide Aryan Empire from Berlin to Baghdad. Even the newly-risen America as a power, influenced by nationalism, entered the race for colonization, occupying the Philippines and other areas of the Far East. The thirst for colonization led to disputes between France and Germany on the question of domination over Morocco, and a similar rivalry emerged between Russia and Britain to make Iran their mandate. All these were the amazing results of nationalism.
Joseph Lighten, the social historian5 writes:
“The whole history of the 19th century is based on an economic-political nationalism resulting in clashes and colonization. Nationalism is the root of the expansionism and friction of various governments.” Some of the greatest nationalists of the 19th century have been active agents for the expansion of aggressive colonization and great criminals of history.
Gladstone, the highest banner-bearer of British nationalism was the man who began a series of aggressive attacks upon the Third World forcing weak nations under his yoke. Robert Clive was the principal agent of the expansion of colonization in India, the man who cruelly massacred the Indians in the Battle of Pelassi. Cecil John Rhodes spread British colonization elsewhere. All these people justified their savage and disgraceful aggressions in the name of nationalism.
Thus, in the 19th century, the high pundits of colonization used nationalism as a motive and a justification for their ventures. Nationalism was the creed of the imperialists and not that of the opponents of colonization. Naturally the establishment of capitalistic order was not without its influence on the expansion of both nationalism and colonization, and there has always existed a close bond of cause and effect between these three factors. Capitalism aided by nationalism directed the national policy of the countries towards expansionism to exhibit its power in all parts of the world so that it could secure new markets where demand was high.
The East India Company which enhanced British colonization in India in the name of 'national greatness' and under the cover of nationalistic slogans, is one of the clearest examples of the connection that exists between nationalism, imperialism and capitalism, a subject which will be discussed in the following chapter.
Nationalism as a tool in the hands of the world-devouring capitalism.
Another factor which was influential in the advance of 19th century nationalism was the capitalistic order which took root in the West6. Nationalism had become a tool in the hands of big capitalists and factory owners to preserve the home market for their industrial products and rouse national feeling for the sole consumption of local products on the one hand, and also to secure new markets by leading nations and governments towards colonization in the name of national interests. For this reason the school of nationalism flourished in the 19th century after the growth of capitalism.
World-devouring capitalism ripened following the industrial revolution. A series of discoveries and inventions begun in 1732 by John Key set the wheel turning for the industrial revolution. The discoveries and inventions of Thomas Savery, Thomas Newcomen, James Watt, Richard Arkwright, Samuel Crompton, Abraham Derbys, Henry Cort and Henry Bessemer resulted in the establishment of huge mechanized factories, the rise of millionaire class and middle-class merchants and culminating in the birth of a world-devouring capitalistic order.
This new class of capitalists and merchants used nationalism as a tool for promoting and preserving their wicked and inhuman goals. To the profiteering class whose factories' production was far higher than the demand at home, securing markets was what mattered the most. Employers and capitalists directed all efforts at selling their products in their bid to win the race they were engaged in with the capitalists and industrialists of other nations.
These two groups had two objectives:
A) To secure new markets in other parts of the world.
B) To monopolize the home market and prevent the entry of imported goods.
World-devouring capitalism fulfilled both objectives through the injection of nationalistic sentiments which encouraged the masses to choose home made products, rather than imported goods of better qualities. And also by encouraging nationalistic prejudices, capitalism directed the countries' policy towards imperialism and colonization which were considered necessary for securing new markets.
The capitalists made use of nationalism to counter foreign capitalism, and the conflict extended from the economic to the political field. They made use of limited freedom of travel, restricted import and the language barrier to check the entry of foreign goods in the home markets7.
With this goal in mind, the capitalists propagated the slogan of “homeland”, calling their own profits “national interests”, and mobilizing their compatriots to defend the “country's interests.” Thus, with the rise of capitalism, nationalism became a weapon in a combat between the capitalists of various countries, and in order to monopolies world markets, it was placed wholly at the service of capitalism. Moreover, plundering capitalists used the creed of nationalism for another evil objective also which was to incite dispersion among oppressed classes.
The 19th century witnessed the exploitation of the oppressed classes of society in the most ruthless manner by capitalism. The industrial revolution and the appearance machines turned commercial capitalism Into Industrial capitalism and resulted in the concentration of capital and labor. With these conditions, the exploitation of the labor force was multiplied a hundredfold, resulting in a fearful social system where the worker's blood was cruelly sucked.
The inhuman system of capitalism, in order to terrify the oppressed masses and check their rebellion, compelling them to work day and night in pitiful conditions like thoughtless mechanized beings, needed an effectively strong motive, and this was found in nationalism. Thus through the slogan and cry of 'homeland', capitalism attained its objective.
With nationalistic sentiments, national zeal and frenzy reaching a crescendo, the oppressed class of society forgot all about social injustice and instead turned to national issues. Due to the national unity banner, they failed to realize the lack of harmony between their interests and those of the arrogant in their society.
Moreover, a natural development of savage exploitation was that the workers' spirit of rebellion and dissatisfaction gained in intensity day by day in other European countries while raising the question of nationalism and kindling the flame of nationalistic sentiments, making it impossible for the world oppressed to make common cause against the arrogant. The oppressed of each nation, out of nationalistic sentiments, allied themselves with the arrogant of that nation, against the oppressed of another nation, thereby preventing an effective alliance of world oppressed against the whole arrogant world. This was the old policy of divide and rule’ which had long been adopted by oppressors as far as history goes.
The history of nationalism in the 20th century can be divided into two periods:
A- Nationalism in the first half of the 20th century.
B- Nationalism in its second half.
In the first half of the 20th century, up to the Second World War, the clearest manifestation of nationalism was seen in Europe and Japan resulting in a universal war. It revived in them the dream of colonizing the whole world, and led them to start two calamitous wars. Most scholars admit that the main cause for the First and Second World Wars was nationalistic sentiments. In this period, the true off-springs of nationalism who elevated this school to its highest position and gave it its severest form were Mussolini in Italy, Hitler in Germany, Peron in Argentina, Franco in Spain and Salazar in Portugal. This was the wicked product that nationalism gave to mankind and this way is still continued. Nationalism is still looked upon as a formal religion by international aggressors such as the U.S.
In the second half of the century, nationalism made its appearance in the Third World. At first it looked like a movement aimed at uprooting colonization, but a close analysis points to the contrary. As the western culture and domination were not compatible with eastern religion, culture, mentality and local traditions, rebellion against colonization was inevitable in these eastern regions, whether nationalism appeared as a motivating force or not. For the people, the motive of revolt was religion and religious fanaticism, not nationalism and nationalistic sentiments. But when the small enlightened group depending on the West realized that the direct domination of colonization was no longer possible they directed the movements in the name of nationalism, so that after the exit of colonization, they would indirectly be able to preserve its values and methods of domination.
In the contemporary world, colonization having become a thing of the past, and the colonies having secured their independence, nationalism has come to be used by colonization and imperialism in another form, and its role is somewhat changed.
Neo-colonization uses nationalism to prevent the union of former colonies, so as to keep them weak and dependent on stronger powers.
The imperialists on realizing that they could no longer keep eastern nations under their direct yoke, and that their union would be a serious threat to their interests, started exporting nationalism to the East in a bid to weaken them and encourage conflicts among the newly independent nations of Asia and Africa. This way, they aimed at sowing the seed of hostility and dispersion among them to check their unity and solidarity. This is why we see that wherever colonization has made an exit, the rein of affairs is held by a westernized educated minority, and nationalistic forces are encouraged to stand against Islamic forces. The bond between nationalism and colonization is preserved as before, and wherever nationalism raises its head, its root is imperialism.
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.
'Patriotism' is the equivalent of nationalism. In Latin, 'natio' and 'nitus' means 'the place of birth'. Political scientists have given different definitions of nationalism.
Carlton Hayes says:
“A nation is an independent political group with a common world-view and cultural heritage1.”
In this definition, a common political organization and cultural unity are considered as the main factors in forming a nation.
Hans Kohn says:
“The co-existence of a special group in a single realm is the factor for forming a nation. Being brought up in a natural and geographical environment creates the greatest unit of tribal solidarity between individuals. The group which on this basis feels a joint interest and expediency, forms a nation2.”
“A nation is a collection of individuals who are joined together by the factor of territory, blood, language, culture or history3.”
Salo Baron describes a nation as follows4:
“The word 'nation' is applied to a group of people who live in the same land and are joined together by common political organizations.”
Kohn says of the characteristics of nationalism5:
“A deep feeling of attachment to a homeland and absolute loyalty to it, and a sense of sharing its destiny are the basis of nationalism, which is genuine when no other factor checks the loyalty to the homeland.”
The American Encyclopedia defines nationalism as follows:
“Loyalty and attachment to a national unity are more significant than any other attachment in the question of nationalism. Other characteristics of nationalism are pride in the achievements of one's nation, a deep belief in the distinction of one's nation and even its superiority over other nations."6
Hayes, too, repeats, the same point and writes:
“Loyalty and attachment to the interior of the group (namely the nation and homeland) are the basis of nationalism7.”
An analysis of the above definitions clarifies two points:
A) Giving authenticity to territory, blood or language is the basis of nationalism. Instead of basing unity on belief and ideology, nationalism bases it on language, territory and race. Homeland and nationality become the axis of patriotism. In answer to the question as to what is the main factor behind the building of a separate identity, the school of nationalism has this to say:
'What distinguishes a human being from another, is not his belief, but his birth-place, homeland, language and race. Those who are within the four walls of the homeland and nation, belong to it, and those who are outside it, are aliens. National interests and expediency are the criteria of the propriety or impropriety and goodness or badness of everything and the measure for the evaluation of the individual and social conduct'. To the school of nationalism, the factors behind the formation of a nation are material in nature, like geographical frontiers, language, race and political organizations. It is on the basis of these factors that the people have a feeling of sharing a single destiny and a common past.
B) The next basic characteristic of nationalism is that all the loyalty is centered upon the homeland. All other loyalties such as loyalty to God, religion, belief and ideology are subordinated to loyalty to the country and nation. No loyalty should check patriotism, and when religious sentiments come in opposition with patriotic sentiments, the latter must prevail.
This is a principle which no nationalist can ignore. Man lives for his country and offers his life for it, and not for anything else. It is attachment to nationality that gives direction to one's individual and social postures, not attachment to religion and ideology. A human being takes pride in his national achievements and feels dependent on its cultural heritage, not on the history of religion and his faith.
A nationalist believes deeply that nation and country are superior to all others, attributing all the good things to them.
According to the above view, nationalism is closely linked with secularism, in view of the necessity of separation between government and religion, and politics from creed. One of the basic principles of nationalism is a rejection of religious bonds and an acceptance of a secularistic order.
One of the main slogans of Egyptian nationalism was:
“Religion is related to God (meaning personal acts of devotion) and homeland is connected with society (i.e. social-political life). Secularism means that religion is something subjective that must be confined to an individual's private and family life, and religious feelings and ideas should not interfere in the socio-politico set-up, be the concern of nationalism only. So the socio-politico roots of religion should be severed from politics.
Nationalism leads directly to secularism. The belief that national unity must be based on a common land, race or language, necessitates that religion be kept apart from politics. Thus, secularism paves the way for the domination of nationalism, since according to this school of thought, religion and nationalism cannot rule at the same time in the same realm.
Secularism is the twin brother of nationalism and it changes the meaning of minorities. In a government founded on religion, the followers of other creeds and schools are regarded as minorities, but with nationalism and secularism, there are only racial, political and regional minorities. Nationalism claims that religious beliefs prevent national unity and religious minorities feel themselves alienated. The only proper basis is geographical, racial or lingual nationality. The main duty of everyone is the patriotic duty, and religious duty is subordinate to it, and confined to personal belief. The patriotic duty of everyone is to sacrifice everything, even religion, for the nation and country and serve and fight for them.
Nationalism considers sovereignty as a tool to protect the country and its citizens, not one for enforcing a particular ideology and system.
Economy, too, is based on national interest and welfare, not on what is legitimate or illegitimate. Culture, art, poetry and literature are the means for depicting national pride and greatness and creation of solidarity and inspiring racial sentiments.
To nationalism, the strongest factors directing individual and social life, determining intellectual and political postures, are the country and nation. As Ibn-Khaldoon says, the element behind patriotism is nationality.
Some of the other characteristics of nationalism are:
1) Belief that one should defend a compatriot against a foreigner, whether the former is in the right or not.
2) Eulogizing and almost worship of national personalities and historical heroes of one's country.
3) Revival of past traditions such as ancient idolatry. Neo-nationalism too, in this connection, relies on myths, ancient and dead customs, such as the ceremonies of the last Tuesday night of the year.
Egyptian nationalism, the most eloquent spokesman of which was Taha Hossein, did its utmost to revive the relics of the old pharaonic civilization. Lofti-el-Sayed, the well-known Egyptian nationalist suggested that his compatriots should have a knowledge of the old and brilliant Egyptian civilization in order to ensure the continuity of their history8. Likewise, Iranian nationalism was tried to relate the Iranian nation to Cyrus and Darius, not to Muhammad (S).
4) A tendency to distort historical facts to glorify one's country, and to invent stories and create models to show one's nation at its best.
5) Like old Totemism, there are special emblems in nationalism which are given sanctity. The flag, national emblem, and national anthem are considered sacred, for each of which a human being has the duty of self-sacrifice.
Thus, we see that nationalism is a pseudo-religion which is its own god and its own prophet. (Ferdowsi, for example, is regarded as a prophet of Iranian nationalism). This creed has its own totems, idols, models, ceremonies and ethical rules. In fact, Westerners created a creed which they called nationalism on the basis of patriotism, which is rooted in human instincts, after which they exported it to the East.
Westerners lay the foundation of nationalism on the in-group feeling, patriotism and tribal attachment. A critical examination of the school of nationalism would show it to be similar to the tribal system of Totemism.
Unity in the tribal system was founded on a community of blood and land, with a total disregard of right and wrong, and on chastity, honesty and belief. Whoever belonged to the tribe was shown affection, and whoever did not belong to it was considered an alien.
Nationalism too, is similar in this respect. In the tribal system, wars and peace were made for the tribe's sake. A person was proud of his membership in the tribe and very often looked with scorn upon others. The tribe was an organization under whose umbrella, the members felt secure. Nationalism also gives rise to similar sentiments.
Some elements of the tribal system of Totemism, too, have found their way in nationalism. Every tribe had a totem in which the members felt that a spiritual power protected the tribe. Moreover, while 'homeland' is the great totem of the modern man, nationalism is as illegal and unjustifiable as Totemism. Some groups fight for the lion (emblem of Britain) and blue flag; and some fight for the eagle (German emblem) or for the red flag. While Totemism was the factor behind tribal unity, today the 'country' plays the same role.
Patriotism and nationalism are two perfectly different concepts, the distinction between which is sometimes not understood.
Patriotism is a natural and instinctive human feeling, whereas nationalism is not a sentiment, but an ideology. The former is sentimental, whereas the latter is a pseudo-creed on which the instinct and sentiment are based.
The school of nationalism is built upon two animal instincts of man which he has in common with other creatures, namely the 'group instinct' and the 'love of home'. Nationalism begins with these two instincts, eventually ending in a pseudo-religion which causes these relatively innocent sentiments to become dangerously fanatical.
The group-feeling is a natural human instinct which has in common with some animals. Protozoa, ants, bees live in groups. When wild bulls sense danger, they push the cows and calves to the middle of the flock, and remain on the outskirts, ready for defense. When horses sense danger, they stand in a circle, face to face, pointing their heads to the center, and placing their rear legs outside the circle, ready for defense1.
An attachment to 'land' and 'home', too, is also an animal instinct, innate in man. Cats and dogs love the house they live in. A pigeon is so attached to its cot that wherever it goes, it finally returns back to it.
Thus, the group feeling and attachment to the land are two of man's animal instincts.
In the course of history, ever since man stepped beyond wilderness and turned instinctively towards civilization and group-life, he has always been preoccupied with the question regarding the basis on which he should build his collective life: whether it should be on the basis of territory, blood and language, or on the basis of idea, belief, meditation and intellect. Animals which act by instincts solely, base their collective life on blood or land.
Since the beginning of history, there have existed two parallel lines. One line was that prophets and great religions which has based unity on belief and faith, the height of which was attained by Islam in establishing a nation of conviction called the Islamic Ummah. The other line was that of paganism which based unity on geographical boundaries, color, language, race and political organization. The primitive system of totemism, tribal system, ancient civilizations of Greece, Rome, Iran, Caldea and Assyria, all sought their unity in the above factors.
The Quranic verses call it the line of satan. Satan bases his superiority on being created from fire which is the equivalent of race and blood; but Adam uses intellect and awareness as a basis of privilege, and it is for this reason, and not because of blood and race that he is prostrated before by the angels.
So far it has become clear that a unity based on land and blood is related to man's animal instinct which he shares with some animals, and not because of his distinctive characteristics which make him of a superior animal.
But should land and blood be man's only basis of unity, or is there some other factors? To answer this question, it would first be necessary to understand man's peculiar nature.
According to the Quran, man is an animal endowed with a divine (i.e. beyond animal) spirit. Consequently, there are two inherent tendencies or inclinations which characterize man's nature: an animal tendency which makes him similar to other animals, and a human tendency which distinguishes him from them.
The tendencies he has in common with other animals are his instincts. According to Freud and McDougal, instinct is a mysterious force which acts through bodily organs of all living creatures and makes them do things without awareness and thinking.
In man, these instincts originate from his animal nature. They include desire for food, the sexual urge, fighting, attachment to land, blood, wealth etc. Of course, according to his superior nature, man's instincts from a biological viewpoint are weaker and more flexible than those of the animal and his acts and behaviors unlike those of animals, are not solely instinctive, but are motivated by other higher sources too.
These superior inclinations are what distinguish man from the animal and make him superior to it. They are his intellect, intelligence, self-awareness and belief, faculties which are unique to him and also the desire for perfection, knowledge and the ideal.
The motive force behind men's behavior in life are these higher inclinations which make him superior to and distinct from the animal. That is why we see that ideals, thought and reasonings which have risen higher in human beings than in animals, are so effective that they transform all instinctive needs. The similarities and differences between individuals and human societies do not directly originate from instincts, but from awareness, reasoning and reflection.
We see here where the school of nationalism deviates and errs. It regards land and blood as the main controlling factors of man's behavior, and how the school of communism mistakenly considers the belly as the main factor and the Freudian school which regards the sexual factor as being the motive force behind man's behavior. Considering these, we can then understand the difference between these schools and the school of the prophets. The former schools stress on instincts which do not make man a superior animal and disregard man's higher qualities or undermine them.
In the school of the prophets, the determining factor and criterion has nothing to do with territory, blood, food or sex; but it is rather man's belief, ideology and ideals which originate from his awareness, intellect and knowledge, which give him an exalted position among creatures and enable him to dominate the world. So long as he is bonded to such things as land and blood, he remains at the animal level, but once he steps higher towards belief and ideology, he attains the human level. Instinctive factors on which nationalism and other Western 'isms' rely are improper and futile since they degrade man to the animal level, and from a scientific viewpoint they are wrong since man's unique quality is his awareness, explaining his weak instincts. Human sacrifices all the way through history on grounds of conviction, show that a vision of life based on instinct is defective.
Man is a human being, not an ass or a crow. He must adopt belief as the basis of unity and a determining factor of life and reject attachment to territory, race, gold, and force.
That is why we reject nationalism, communism and all other futile 'isms' and turn to a divine school which is based on belief, a search for perfection and man's unique quality.
In nationalism, nationality is only an accident of nature. Whereas in Islam, it is the choice and conscious will of the individual that determines his destiny. The bases of nationalism are the co-existence of a special group in a particular land, or attachment to a particular race or language; all of which are accidental factors without any connection with the human will.
How can an individual belonging to a particular race, color or language liberate himself from these instinctive attachments? Adopting the 'accident of nature' reasoning as the test and main criterion of man's social and political life will mean degrading his rank and position, whereas his superiority over other living creatures lies in his free will and choice. Nationalism denigrates him to the extent of his confinement to the four walls of his birth-place.
Nationalism also negates man's free will in other respects, which fact is clearly illustrated by the Nazi rule in Germany. Hitler's nationalism stressed that whoever is of the Aryan race and has German as his mother tongue is German, whether he wants it or not. The consequences of this nationalism were the forceful occupation of other territories on the excuse of a common race.
Herbert Luthy says: “Nationalism is a creed based on a handful of dogmas that cannot be accounted for from a scientific and intellectual point of view, and have authenticity only in the minds oft heir followers.”1
Nationalists have been unable to explain explicitly how their principles can be applied universally, and what are the factors which build up the independent identity of a nation and what is the distinction of a nation which naturally or psychologically sets it apart from other nations, so that these qualities cannot be found in any other nation. The works of the nationalist propounders give us ho indication in this connection, but a show of such disharmonious ideas which are not logically acceptable.
Nationalist theoreticians rely on geographical, lingual, racial, political, economic, cultural and historical factors, and regard the territory, country, blood and history as the factors that build up a nation's separate identity.
Now we will analyze the validity and logic of each of the above factors as a so-called unifying factor and as a yardstick for measuring the independent identity of a society.
Territory and country: These words are rather conventional, than natural. A human being feels at home to be in his town, village and locality as a result of persistent suggestion from outside.
If one is to consider more than the above, why should he regard himself an Egyptian and not an Arab? And if he is a member of the Arab world, why not be an Asiatic? This is something conventional and personal, not logical. Why should a man, born in Ireland, consider his country to be Britain and not Ireland? The frontiers of many countries, especially in Africa, are imaginary demarcations. Nationalists want the people to show attachment to these crooked lines that colonial powers have drawn on the maps of Asia and Africa, and turn this affection into an ideology. They drew these lines, made them look real and forced people on this side of the line to consider themselves as belonging to that country, and those outside that line as foreigners, without giving a logical reason for it. The attachment of a person to his land is natural, not logical. When it is suggested constantly to a person that a country is his homeland, he comes to believe it, and to consider others as aliens. From a geographical viewpoint, 'homeland' is constantly changing. What Afghanistan is today, was considered Iran yesterday. Why then should an Afghan regard himself an Afghan and not an Iranian? This is only a matter of suggestion.
What other factor other than a common religion, an Iraqi Kurd has in common with an Iraqi Arab? Why should he not consider himself a citizen of Kurdestan instead of Iraq? Nationalists cannot offer a reasonable explanation.
B) Language: The German school of nationalism with Herbert Luthy (1744-1803) and Johan Fichte (1762-1814), particularly, who had been its greatest representatives in the 18th and 19th centuries considers language and history to be the most important factors behind the national identity of a people. They regard language as being especially significant in the creation of a national spirit and identity. Following them are some nationalists of the Islamic world like Namegh Kamal of Turkey and Nadim of Egypt who attach the greatest importance to language as a basis of nationality. But the fact is that the language and common history of a people have not been sufficient in themselves to kindle a national awareness.
The Americans of George Washington's time had the same language and history as those of England, and vet they segregated from Britain and became an independent nation. Switzerland has three different languages in three regions, and yet the feeling of nationality is strong there. India has over fourteen languages, and yet there is no language but English that all Indians may understand. If language is a determining factor of unity and independent national solidarity, why did hot England and North America form a single nation in spite of their common language? Why did not the Latin American countries (except Brazil) which have a common language like Spain, Brazil or Portugal become united?
We do not want to deny the role of a common language in accelerating the process of unity and solidarity, since it is evident that language is a means of direct communication, offering a nation a common literature. What we mean is that language is not the principal factor in shaping nationality, even if it speeds the process. Many nations have become nations in spite of differences in languages (like Switzerland), while there are many nations which are remote from one another in spite of a .common language. Thus language cannot be regarded as a firm basis for nationality. Nasser and other Arab nationalists tried to set up a united Arab nation on the basis of a common language but they failed. The Maronite Christians and Muslims of Lebanon speak the same language but they have been fighting each other for the last six years, and these Christians feel closer to the Europeans than to the Muslims.
Moreover, in every country, we come across several languages, not one. What is called a dialect is in fact a different language. Is it easier for a Persian-speaking individual to understand the Afghani Dari or the Azari of Tabriz? The people of Arabia do not understand even ten percent of the Arabic of Libya. All these facts show that language is a weak factor and basis of nationality and any reasoning opposing this assertion will be illogical and defective.
C) History, culture and civilization: It is true that the history and culture of a people create a feeling of unity and of communal interests, but nationalists forget the fact that in the East, especially in the world of Islam, the unity of history, culture and civilization is based on belief, not on geographical factors. Culture and civilization-wise, post-Islamic Iran is more close to Arab countries and Pakistan, than to the ancient Zoroastrian culture. Similarly, Egypt in its culture and civilization is closer to post-Islamic Iran than was the Pharaonic civilization. Our history and culture are based on ideology and belief. All the Muslims after the rise of Islam have the same history and culture. The past civilization of Iranians, Arabs, Turks, Pakistanis and Indian Muslims is nothing but an Islamic one. Nationalism tries in vain to call this civilization an Iranian or Arab civilization in order to rouse the national sentiments or unearth the decayed bones of pre-Islamic history and culture which has nothing to do with our present culture and civilization. That is why the relics of those civilizations cannot warm the hearts of the people in comparison with Islamic history and civilization, and lead them towards unity and victory.
Nationalists do not only try to revive the memory of the ancient civilization through exaggerations, suppositions, bombasts, self-Praise and fallacious reasonings, but they also resort to a scorn of Islamic history and civilization in order to elevate the racial greatness of Iranians, Arabs or Turks, and, try to ignore Islam altogether. But this is wrong and prejudiced and it defeats the objective. As Dr. Shariati, the martyred teacher, has pointed out: “During the whole course of history, the Iranian race (and the Turks, Arabs and other Muslim nations) has never found a better opportunity than the brilliant Islamic centuries to show its talent and ability.”
Contrary to the nationalists, since the seventh century A.D., Iran, Turkey and the Middle East embraced Islam, so strongly that their history is the same as that of Islam, and their course has been the same with the course of Islamic history, culture and civilization. The greatness and honor of these nations lie in their share in promoting Islam and in their creation of a magnificent Islamic culture and civilization. They are the achievements of these Islamic nations whose past history is not in any way comparable with their religion, and if Islamic countries wish to be proud of their past, they have no basis but Islam.
Moreover, the choice of history as a factor in building up a man's identity is a feeble and illogical one, since the frontiers of countries have not been the same throughout history. Afghanistan was once part of Iran. How then can history be considered as the basis of independent nationality?
D) Race: Most nationalists regard race as a factor which determines nationality. But a careful analysis of it shows the weakness and illogicality of it, like other factors based on prejudice, illusion and superstition.
What is racism? It is a feeling of unity based on kinship. The first line of this attachment is an objective reality, namely the bond with one's father and mother. When this is extended, it reaches one's family, tribe and lastly one's race. But extending it to race, the bond becomes so remote from common ancestors that the racial root cannot be scientifically and logically proved. Has there ever existed in history a thing called the Aryan or Semitic race? Moreover, who can prove that a man is an Aryan? For example half of the Iranians are Sayeds, who are descendants of the Prophet of Islam who was not himself an Aryan. Can those non-Sayeds claim that during these thousands of years, their blood has not been blended with non-Aryan blood?
Belief in the race and racial unity has no objective and scientific reality; it is only a subjective illusion on which nationalism wishes to base its social-political relations. How comical and illogical!
Thirdly, if we were to adopt blood as a basis, as racism and nationalism do, why should we not have our first ancestors, namely Adam and Eve, as the basis of human generation. In such a case, instead of racism, we may turn to humanism, and instead of nationalism to internationalism. This would be a more logical and convincing idea than the question of race which cannot be proved. Even if the Aryan, Semitic and other races have a historical authenticity, if we do not stop at this point and go far back in history, all these races end In common ancestors. Then why should we not adopt this as a basis?
E) Political organization and economic factors: Some nationalistic schools consider political organization and economic factors as the basis of nationality. From apolitical angle, the Irish form part of Britain, and yet they consider themselves independent. There are many similar cases in the present and past history.
Economics has sometimes acted as a factor of unity like the union of the customs among the various German provinces between 1819 and 1952, which was a prelude to their political union. But such cases are only exceptions to the rule. Economic harmony and collaboration of various groups are not the requisites of national unity.
It is thus clear that the main foundations of nationalism are weak, invalid and illogical, even though they may help occasionally in rousing nationalistic sentiments. They are not determining and fundamental factors behind unity and solidarity. For this reason, French nationalists have been forced to claim that what causes a German, an Englishman and a Frenchman to regard themselves respectively as belonging to Germany, England and France is only and only the individual will or desire. So long as the individual does not freely accept to be a citizen of a particular nation, a common language, race, history or geographical frontiers would be of no avail, and cannot by themselves create a feeling of attachment and national awareness.
An effort to create unity on the above basis leads to greater differences and conflicts among human beings. A unity based on geographical boundaries, race or language cannot include all human beings. It is more like walls set up between them, separating them, and intensifying their division. Ideological boundaries can expand without force or imposition with the free acceptance of that school by individuals and nations, and intellectually it is not impossible for it to end with the unity of all mankind. But geographical nationality with lingual and racial differences obviously include all men and so, it can never sustain human unity permanently.
Nationalism creates division among mankind and thus, it cannot lead to universal unity. In such a unit, the questions of minorities and aliens, too, become insoluble. But an Ummah founded on belief is an 'open unit' and it can admit people from every race, color, language and territory who accept that belief. This unity can, therefore, expand and lead to man's universal brotherhood.
In fact the only proper, scientific and logical basis for nationality and unity is belief, ideology and school. Other factors as compared to these are insignificant.
Thus we see that none of the principles that nationalists rely on are universal and logical. But the nationality based on belief which Islam upholds has an intellectual authenticity and is justifiable. Those who have the same ideology possess the same world vision, religious belief, culture, objective and destination, form thus a single Ummah.
So long as patriotism and nationalism exist, the danger of war and human clashes cannot be removed, since national unity will dialectically lead to international dispersion and confrontation. This opposition is not soluble except through force and colonizing others. But a unity based on belief and the acceptance of that belief will remove all differences and one and all will become equal and brothers.
Would the country be subjected to division if we use 'religion' as a basis or 'nationality' as a basis?
The aim of nationalism is the creation of unity, but its result is the reverse and it defeats its own objective. The means adopted by nationalism to realize its objectives of creating unity is to kindle sharp sentiments of solidarity on f the basis of race, language or nationality.
But in every country, there exist racial and lingual minorities. When these minorities come to face nationalistic sentiments incited by the propaganda of the majority, they may lose their own independent identity within the majority and react. It is often seen that such propaganda directed at inciting nationalistic sentiments by the majority rouses a regional, racial or lingual nationalism among the minorities and results in the dispersion and disunion of the country.
Logically there is no reason why the majority's nationalism should be considered right and the minority's one wrong. Why should British nationalism be regarded as right and laudable, while the Irish one, as blameworthy and condemnable. If Iraqi Baathists have the right to speak of Arab nationalism all day and night, why shouldn't an Iraqi Kurd have the right to turn to Kurdish nationalism since he is not an Arab after all. If territorial, racial and lingual prejudice is good, then it is good for both sides, and if it is bad, it is so for both. We cannot judge by two different criteria. If the nationalism of America's whites is good, why should that of its blacks be bad?
We see, then, that nationalism has no logical basis, and it defeats its own purpose, and has to establish solidarity by force. It secures what is contrary to its goal, namely division and dispersion.
Contrary to the nationalists' claim, it is not religious beliefs, but nationalistic feelings which check unity and produce division in the country. The result of half a century of the nationalistic propaganda of Reza Khan and Muhammad Reza was rebellion in Kurdestan and Turkeman Sahara.
Nationalism has at no time been able to solve the question of racial, lingual and regional minorities. On the, contrary it has intensified oppositions and made them perpetual.
As the criterion is race, language or territory, and as race and language and the like are not changeable, therefore those not belonging to a certain race or having a certain language are always regarded and live as a minority group and cannot share the sentiments of the majority. Those who through emigration or change of geographical boundaries or invasions become nationals of a country, even after many generations and centuries, feel themselves to be a segregated and alienated group, and others feel the same towards them. Armenians in Turkey, Syria and Iran, and Kurds, Scots, Irish and American negroes are the clearest examples of this.
Nationalism cannot solve the problem of minorities with the criteria of blood and language. But when belief is used as a basis, since it is not a property that can be inherited and something personal, it can perhaps solve the minority question, so that ultimately no minority would probably exist. Anyhow, this is not logically impossible. But the problem of minorities will always exist as a cancerous tumor in nationalistic societies. This is especially more felt in Islamic societies where rousing nationalistic sentiments lead to division.
In Iran, Pakistan and Turkey and most Arab countries, the religious minorities are not more than two to four percent of the population, and even this number can benefit from all the civic and human laws under the system of Islam and feel secure. The way is always open for everyone to become a full member of the Islamic Ummah. But when nationality becomes the basis, the number of racial, lingual and regional minorities increases manifold, so that the total of these minorities in some of these countries actually forms the majority of the population. If nationality is adopted as a basis, the Kurds will turn to the Kurdish nation, and the Turks to the Turkish race. Thus, these countries would undoubtedly move towards division, and only force can keep them united. As the above countries have adopted nationality as a basis, they have so far been entangled with difficulties.
Some thinkers like Harold Lasky2 believe that nationalism should be accepted not as a reality, but as expediency. He writes: “In spite of the shortcomings, defects and contradictions of nationalism, the fanaticism that it creates releases people's energy and creativity.”
But Lasky and his likes only take the conditions of the West into consideration where religion lacks sufficient dynamism for rousing public zeal and sentiments. The history of the East and the Islamic world shows that religion has been more effective than nationality in activating and inspiring the Muslim people, in inciting their initiative and creativity, and rousing intense zeal in the masses.
Among the greatest dangers of nationalism is prejudice: a violent affective state where the individual or the group, become ego-centric, leading them to ignore reality and be harsh and inflexible in their judgments.
Nationalistic sentiments in one country usually leads to prejudice against other nations, and sociologically speaking, it encourages the 'we-group' or 'I-group' feeling and the people to love and praise their own nation and regard all those outside this 'in-group' as contemptible enemies. Self-glorification becomes the rule and no sympathy or tolerance is shown to others.
This ego-centrism, an offshoot of this unbalanced nationalism manifests itself in various ways under different conditions: Ethno-centrism, chauvinism, race-centrism, racism etc.
Walter Lecquer, well-known sociologist says:
“One of the main peculiarities of nationalism is an over-estimation of one's own nation, and a depreciation of others, a lack of self-criticism, sense of responsibility and observance of fairness. Nationalism abandons realism and allows an idealistic and mythical vision to dominate society1.”
To glorify itself, nationalism generally resorts to suppositions, exaggerations, fallacious reasonings, scorn and inadmissible self-praise, and worst of all, it engages in the distortion of history, model-making and fable-writing. Historical facts are twisted to imaginary myths as it fears historical and social realism.
Will Durant says:2 “The 19th century discovered nationalism and corrupted almost all historians.”
Treilschke, Von Sibel, Michellet, Martin, McCaulay, Green, Banderft and Fetik were patriots first and historians later. Every nationalist considers his country as God's select realm and the whole world full of wickedness and barbarism.
Nationalism has made history so corrupt and tumultuous, that a wise man suggested that for attaining universal peace, it would be better to discard history instead of drawing up pacts of friendship and commerce.
Misinterpretation of history is one of the greatest harms of nationalism. It may be argued that the case is so where an extreme form of nationalism exists. But that is not the case. Any kind of nationalism by essence inclines towards self-pride and scorn of others, for so long as it does not rouse in people a false sense of pride in their nation, how can it turn national prejudice in favor of itself and against others?
As nationalism is based on man's animal instincts, not on belief and intelligence, therefore, tribal prejudice which is called fanatical ignorance by Islam, is its foundation and one of its peculiarities.
The accidental birth of a person in a certain country gives him the wrong baseless idea that he may scorn others and consider them as enemies. Having been born in Europe and having a white skin for example, he gives himself the right to plunder the blacks and refuse to employ towards others criteria he uses towards his own compatriots. Even a genius like Einstein is disliked by a German because he is a Jew. Taking birth in Germany or France, both a matter of accidental birth in a certain land and not one of conscious choice, is no reason to dislike other, be prejudiced and evaluate human beings with two different criteria.
Can anything be more inhuman and unreasonable that to prefer a wicked, corrupt and incompetent compatriot of the same race or language to an honest, benevolent and competent person who is born beyond one's frontiers?
A person is judged on the basis of his race, language, country and considered a compatriot or alien, without the least consideration of his deeds, virtues or views. Human honor and good deeds are disregarded simply because one is born in a certain land. The yardstick for evaluating the individual becomes territory and blood, not action, faith, chastity or obligation.
The more popular nationalism becomes, the more intense will fanatical ignorance and racial prejudice become, and the more limited will be one's vision. A nationalist defends everything related to his country solely through intellect or reflection. He considers everything outside his country as alien and ignominious. Right and wrong become meaningless concepts.
This is fanatical ignorance which is strongly condemned in Islam, it is inherited from the inhuman tribal system, but with a more dangerous dimension.
Nationalism inevitably ends in racism and racial prejudice. In any land where it attempts to base unity on the co-existence of a particular group so as to create fanaticism and make that group an independent, separate unit, it must attribute a certain name to that group like Iranian, Turk or some other name; it must brainwash those in that group into believing that they are superior to other on the basis of their race, blood etc. Without attention to the criteria of virtue, belief and action. Eventually, other neighboring countries come to manifest similar feelings, leading to perpetual clashes, rivalry and racial hostilities.
History bears witness to the fact that nationalistic sentiments have always ended in racism. The Greeks at the height of their civilization called non-Greeks barbarians.
“It is nature's will that barbarians be the slaves of the Greeks.” The Jews who were a national unit before being a religious unit, regarded themselves as God's selected people. The Romans at the height of their civilization believed that there were only three nations on earth, the Romans, their confederates and the barbarians (non-Romans).
$$SUB[Nationalism results in a desire to dominate]
5- Nationalism results in a desire to dominate and colonize seeking domination and colonization are due to three factors:
1- Strong prejudice
2- Superiority complex
3- Self-interest (and disregard of others interests)
Nationalism relies on all these three factors and that is why it eventually leads to domination and colonization. Nationalism has been the cause of clashes, aggressions, and constant rivalry between nations, causing much riot and bloodshed the world over. When a country thinks only in terms of its own interests and gives itself the right to dominate others, the result will obviously be conflicts, aggressions and colonization . Some think that this is only true of extreme nationalism. But history has taught us that there are no such things as healthy or unhealthy nationalism, since nationalism in whatever form ultimately ends in chauvinism and racism.
It may be argued that if patriotism and racism do cause fanaticism and domination, religion and ideology, too, may do the same. But those who think so are ignoring an obvious reality. It is true that every school and ideology produces fanaticism and encourages one to believe that one's school is superior to others, but as this is not based on the authenticity l of territory or blood, and since its foundation is the authenticity of intellect and reflection, its result is a scientific and theoretical contest. A belief is such that when proved in a logical manner or when it is attractive enough, people may agree to it without being forced or pressurized. A society based on belief is an open system, whereas, societies founded on nationalism and racism are closed systems which elevate some and debase others, looking upon them as inferiors and colonial slaves. But when belief or ideology expands, all its followers become equal brothers. Nationalism in its expansion results in imperialism, and colonization . A religious school of thought prescribes the ideal system for all human beings, whether white or black, eastern or western, all of whom can join the proposed union, whereas nationalism can expand only through subjugating weak nations. An Aryan can never become Semitic, and Turkey cannot become Iran except by becoming a colony. But Egypt, Iraq and Iran accepted Islam without becoming colonies.
Belief based on the intellect, expands without violence and through guidance and propaganda, in the same way that traders and dervishes carried Islam to the farthest parts3 of Asia and Africa. But nationalism, having solely a racial and geographical foundation, can expand only through colonization.
As mentioned in the previous chapters, the savage colonialism of the West in the 19th century which spread over the Third World was caused by nationalistic sentiments. The calamitous World Wars and the Nagasaki and Hiroshima disasters and hundreds of other wars which have tainted man's history with blood, are living proofs of nationalism as a dominating force.
Nationalism is a factor of expansionism and a basis of injustice and aggression. It has been the source of imperialism and it cruelly transgresses over weak nations, imposing its illegitimate ambition on others in the name of national desires and national expediencies.
Nationalism narrows man's mental horizon in two ways: Firstly, it discourages man to think of the whole of mankind and of ways to help and guide the latter. It encourages him to consider his compatriots only and limit the radius of his vision within the framework of frontiers. Secondly, it encourages man to reject belief, the spirituality, the intellect, and to focus on land, blood, country and race, thereby narrowing down his mental horizon.
Nationalists are the slaves of emotions, and have no regard for the intellect and intelligence. Ideology, on the other hand, relies extensively on reflection and by creating a sense of obligation and responsibility, the intellect comes to dominate over emotions and not the other way round as is the case with nationalism.
Simple patriotic sentiments, so long as they do not contravene the higher conviction of man is permissible in Islam, like the affection one feels towards one's father, son and family. But as already shown, nationalism does not stop at simple sentiments. It is a socio-political creed and an actual way of life which aims at a full control of man's individual and social conduct. Islam, too, being a school having its own independent, spiritual, practical, political and social system and comprising a particular set of beliefs, it naturally comes into conflict with the school of nationalism.
Unlike other religions such as Christianity, Buddhism etc, Islam is not confined to religious rites and metaphysical convictions. Had Islam been only a religion of devotions, it might have agreed with nationalism. But Islam is a religion with asocial and philosophical worldview, and provides for economic and political principles. Nationalism, too, has its own social and political principles based however on different beliefs and criteria. Therefore, conflict between Islam and nationalism is inevitable. The Islamic ideology is not compatible with any other ideology on the question of sovereignty over the private and social life of Muslims. A Muslim cannot at the same time be a Muslim and a polytheist, or a Muslim and communist. In Islam, there is no room for one to be a loyal and genuine nationalist. It is a question of identity, and one negates the other.
Nationalism is incompatible with Islam, both schools having two opposite ideologies. These two assume two totally opposite poles in their spirit, essence, direction and goal.
As we shall explain later, the Quran has explicitly rejected the basis of nationalism, and states that language, colour and race are no criteria for unity and privilege. The only criteria are belief and virtue. A common ideology is the basis of the unity of the Islamic ummah, not race, country, language or even culture. The goal of nationalism is to create national units, whereas the goal of Islam is universal unity. To nationalism what matters the most is loyalty and attachment to the homeland, whereas to Islam, it is God and religion. Nationalism gives authenticity to geographical boundaries and racial distinctions, whereas Islam negates them. Nationalism inclines to limitation and race, but Islam assumes a universal outlook.
Nationalism attaches value only to the historical traditions, culture, civilization, ideas and historical figures of its own nation, but Islam's vision goes beyond the frontier, race, tribe and nation. Moses, Jesus, Muhammad and Ali are considered as belonging to all mankind. Islam wishes all nations to regard the Quran as their Book, and the Ka'aba as their Qibla, and true leaders of Islam as their leaders.
It is very hard for nationalism to accept this view. According to its limited vision, it considers the entry of Islam as a transgression or as something dangerous. It associates the nation to Cyrus and Darius, not to Muhammad and Ali. It intends to revive its ancient past which Islam calls paganism. Islam curses the Pharaoh, but Egyptian nationalism makes him a national hero to be worshipped.
The logical result of this attitude is to revive national creeds. It is not surprising that during the nationalistic regime of Pahlavi, the creeds of Zoroastrianism and Baha'ism which were regarded as Iranian faiths, were encouraged by the regime. In the time of Hitler's domination over Germany, Nazi thinkers belonged to one of the two following groups: one group considered Christ as a Palestinian Jewish descendant and thus rejected Christianity, and the other group turned to Christianity and wanted to prove that Christ was not Palestinian, but of the Nordic race.
Islam says that all the Muslims in the world are members of the same body and all Islamic nations, Arab, non-Arab, Turk, Afghan, Indian, black, white and yellow must belong to one ummah in their belief. But nationalism considers the religious solidarity of a country with other nations as a danger for national and tribal identity.
Thus, nationalism's vision about society and politics is quite opposite to that of Islam, and these two cannot go together. That's why the nationalists of other Islamic lands regard separation from Islam a condition for nationalism to succeed, even if they do not utter it. Their acts reveal their hatred towards those who seek Islam.
The Prophet's combat with Qureish nationalism
At the advent of Islam and the Islamic revolution, the only social and political organizations of the pre-Islamic Arabs were the tribe, race and language which were used as measures of superiority or inferiority. Blood and tribal bond was the basis of unity, a rough and raw form of modern nationalism and racism. Language, too, was regarded as a sign of superiority and for this reason, the Arabs considered non-Arabs as “Ajam", which means dumb.
The progress of the Islamic revolution did away with this idea and with tribal organization; with the tempestuous slogan of “There is no god but God", it made conviction and ideology prevail over all attachments to blood, territory and language.
The Prophet (S) who founded the classless and universal society of Islam, actually brought various nations together and removed their tribal hues. At a gathering of three Muslims from three countries, namely Salman from Pars, Soheib from White Romans and Bilal from Black Ethiopia, an Arab named Gheys-bin- Motateba entered and addressed the above as 'foreigners'. The Prophet (S) said in anger: “Your father is the same and your religion is the same, and the Arabism of which you seem to be proud belongs neither to your father, nor to your mother (meaning Adam and Eve are the parents of all of you)". Then he declared: “He who propagates the creed of tribal solidarity or fights for its sake or offers his life for it, is not of us."
Nationalist forces and tribal prejudices stood stubbornly against this revolutionary message of Islam, and served as a barrier against its expansion. Those factors made the Qureish and other nations of the time take a posture against the Prophet of Islam. They protested why the Quran did not descend upon a select man of Mecca and Tayef. As the Quran says:
“And they say: Why was not this Quran revealed to a man of importance in the two towns?" (43:31)
Arab tribes with their limited tribal vision wondered why the Prophet (S) did not belong to their tribes and whether he intended to establish the superiority of his own tribe. Abu-Jahl said openly: “We are the equals of the family of Abd-Manaf. In horsemanship we are their rival and in generosity their equal. How is it now that they claim prophethood and revelation? By God, we will not accept Muhammad as a Prophet."
The same racial and tribal prejudice made the Jews who had long been waiting for the advent of such a Prophet, to stand against Muhammad. Thus they refused to accept the truth and were worried why the Prophet (S) was a descendant of Ismail and not of the Israelites. So they united the pagans and polytheists against the believers in God.
Kindling the flame of national feeling was the wickedest weapon of the Medinan hypocrites against Islam. In one case, one of their leaders, by bringing up the question of the Battle of Beghath, managed to get the two great Muslim tribes of Owss and Khazraj into conflict, when the following verse was revealed:
"O you who believe: If you obey a party from among those who have been given the Book, they will turn you back as unbelievers after you believed." (3: 100)
Abdullah bin Abi, a leader of the Medinan hypocrites was a loyal nationalist, and constantly instigated the people of Medina, in favour of nationalism, saying:
"A few beggars have come to our country from other lands and have become bullies. They are like dogs which are fattened to assault us.”
He told the Medinans:
“It is wrong of you to have made those foreigners partners in your wealth and country. If you stop helping them today, they will flee."
In answer to these futile words, the following verse was revealed:
"They it is who say: Do not spend upon those who are with the Apostle of God until they break up. And God's are the treasures of the heavens and the earth, but the hypocrites do not understand. They say: If we return to Medina, the mighty will surely drive out the meaner there from; and to God belongs the might and to His apostate and to the believers but the hypocrites do not know." (63:7-8)
Thus, one sees the dangerous dimensions of the opposition to Islam based on tribal and national sentiments. It becomes clear with what has been said so far, that next to paganism and polytheism, the prejudice of blood, land, ancestors and tribe is the greatest enemy of Islam. The Prophet (S) fought strongly against it until he removed these barriers in the way of the divine ideology of Islam. The hostility between national prejudice and Islam is not anew phenomenon. It began with the advent of Islam.
Tribe worship (tribalism) and tribalistic sentiments have always been a threat to Islam. The nationalist Arabs take pride in their being Arab, not in being Muslims. An Egyptian thinks of his Pharaoh. A Turk tries to show his connection with Chengiz and Halaku. An Iranian takes pride in Cyrus, Darius, Buzarjomehr, Mani and Mazdak, instead of pride in Muhammad and Ali. An Indian makes heroes of the mythical Hindu figures, and instead of going to the well of Zamzam, he seeks the River Ganges. In this way, the entity of Islam is endangered. That is why Islam has always been hostile to nationalism.
From the Viewpoint of the Quran and Tradition
Nationalism is based on giving authenticity to racial and national units. It divides human society into limited and independent units according to geographical boundaries or factors of race, language, history, political organization etc., and considers all others outside these units as aliens, and very often encourages hostility between them. Nationalism does not address the whole of humanity, but restricts itself to national units, and its goal is the establishment of national states, not a universal society.
But Islam addresses all of mankind as a single unit. Its system is not for a nation, a race, a special region, but for the whole human society. Those who accept this system are regarded as equals and brothers, and have equal rights and duties in devotion, politics, economy and social life. The ultimate goal of Islam is to establish a universal monotheistic society which goes beyond geographical, racial, lingual and cultural boundaries, and joins them all in one community. Islam condemns the division of mankind on the basis of blood and territory in national and racial units, and grants no authenticity to national and racial differences. Its only test of individual worth is chastity, belief, faith and good deeds.
A nationalist confines his vision to national interests, and believes in the limitation of others. He has two criteria, one for himself and his compatriots, and another for foreigners, and his treatment also takes two forms. He does not give those outside his nation the right to benefit from similar privileges.
But Islam gives her message to all mankind, and judges all impartially without the shortsighted tribal attitude of nationalists. Its mission is universal, not national, and it aims at setting free relations between all human beings, since the promotion of divine message, culture and spirituality depends on it. It desires the perfection of all mankind, and rejects selfishness and tribal egocentrism. Nationalism encourages one to serve one's own society, and to desire its greatness and seek its interests, even to the extent of sacrificing the rights and interests of other nations. But Islam teaches each individual to think in term of the whole humanity, and to even resort to self-sacrifice in its way or give up the interests of the group.
The Quran emphasizes the universal unity of mankind:
“O people! be careful of (your duty to) your Lord, Who created you from a single being and created its mate of the same' kind, and spread from these two many men and women.”(4:1)
It says that differences in birth-place, homeland and education do not affect the essence, and cannot replace universal unity by limited units:
“And He it is Who has brought you into being from a single soul, then there is for you a resting- place and a depository.” (6:98)
Differences in race, tribe, nation and family have no legal authenticity and they are not the basis of unity or criteria of superiority and inferiority. They are only the means of facilitating human relations:
“O you men! Surely We have created you of a male and a female and made you tribes and families that you may know each other; surely the most honorable of you with God is the one among you most careful of his duty.” (49:13)
Thus, divisions into tribes and groups is for the purpose of knowing one another better, not for taking pride, showing love or hate, seeking superiority or engaging in disputes. The only criteria are faith, belief and chastity.
The Quran considers the division of mankind into political and national units a crime resulting in human misery and calling for divine punishment:
“... or to confuse you in sects and to make some of you taste the violence of one another.” (6:65)
It condemns the division of mankind and assumption of superiority on the basis of land, blood as a great crime of Pharaoh:
“Now Pharaoh had exalted himself in the land and had divided its inhabitants into sects...” (28:4)
There is not a single verse in the Quran concerning the authenticity of nationality and division of mankind on the basis of land and blood. The Quran calls all men to kindness and happiness, not to national and racial privileges.
The Prophet (S) has repeatedly declared that human beings form a single Ummah and there is no authenticity in territorial or racial superiority. He says:
“There is no superiority for Arabs over non-Arabs, or for non-Arabs over Arabs. All are sons of Adam.”
Or that the whole humanity is one unit and the only criteria are religion and chastity:
“There is no superiority for one over another except by religion and chastity. All people are sons of Adam and Adam is from earth.”
Another of the traditions quoted from the Prophet (S) says:
“There is no superiority for Arabs over non-Arabs, for non- Arabs over Arabs, for the white over the black and for the black over the white, except by chastity.”
After the capture of Mecca, in his first public discourse which was in fact a declaration of his ideological and political posture, the Prophet (S), addressing the Qureish said: “O people, all of you are from Adam and Adam is from the earth. There is no pride in lineage, no pride for Arabs over non- Arabs, nor for non- Arabs over Arabs. Your worth with God depends on your chastity.”
Thus the Prophet (S) declared explicitly that no blood relationship can be the means of pride or superiority. The only criteria are faith, conduct and proper behavior. The Prophet (S) always emphasized human unity and negated its division into limited racial and national units. It is reported in traditions and narrations that in his daily prayers after uttering, “Shahadatein” (there is no god but God and Muhammad is His Prophet), he repeated the sentences: “I testify that all servants of God are brothers.”
Nationalism or Internationalism?
According to Quranic dictates, Muslims have a universal mission, not a national one. Islam sets up a single society and rejects limited tribal and national units which only think of their own interests.
It invites all peoples of the world to unite under one flag:
“You are the best of the nations raised up for the benefit of men: you enjoin what is right and forbid the wrong.” (3: 110)
“And thus We have made you a medium (just) nation that you may be the bearers of witness to the people” (2:143)
The Prophet's mission was not a tribal and national one, but a universal mission:
“Say O people! Surely I am the apostle of Allah to you all…. (7:158)
هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ
“He it is Who sent His apostle with guidance and religion of truth that He might cause it to prevail over all religions.” (9:33)
“And W e have not sent you but to all the men as a bearer of good news and as a warner.” (34:28)
As the Prophet's mission was not a national and tribal one, but one for all humanity, in his sixth year of emigration, he sent letters to Heraclius, Kasra, King of Iran, Najashi of Ethiopia and Maghighus of Egypt, inviting them to Islam.
The creed and school of the Quran is universal and for all mankind:
“And We have not sent you but as a mercy to the worlds.” (21: 107)
“And it is naught but a reminder to the nations.” (68: 52)
“Blessed is He Who sent down the Furqan upon His servant that he may be a warner to the nations. “ (25: 1)
The Shia belief in Mahdi's order is a reflection of the same Islamic international ideal. A day comes when with the advent of the savior of mankind, universal rule will be established, and under the banner of Islam and the leadership of God's chosen Imam, all human beings will be united and peace and justice will prevail throughout the world.
It is thus clear that Islam and its goals, mission and vision is totally opposite to nationalism.
Should God be the focus of the loyalty or the country?
While nationalism believes the country to be the focus of loyalty, Islam believes God and His religion should be this focus. As the Quran says:
“Judgment is only Allah's; He has commanded that you shall not serve aught but him;"
In nationalism, deep affection to' one's country is a basis, whereas in Islam, the basis is belief in God and absolute loyalty to Him.
“Thee do we serve and thee do we beseech for help.” (1:4)
Nationalism aims at having man given the greatest share of his loyalty and affection to the country, and to even subordinate the loyalty to God to the love of the nation. This in itself is a kind of polytheism. Praise is only due to God and when given to anything else, it is idolatry, and a following of satan's line:
"Have you not seen those who assert that they believe in what has been revealed to you and what was revealed before you? They desire to summon one another to the judgment of the Shaitan, though they were commanded to deny him, and the Shaitan desires to lead them astray into a remote error.” (4:60)
Nationalism attaches more importance to the country than to belief, religion and God, whereas Islam does the reverse:
“Therefore Fly to Allah: I am a plain Warner unto you from Him. And do not set up with Allah another god: Surely I am a plain Warner to you from Him." (51:50-51)
Nationalism believes nationalistic sentiments to be genuine when it is not disturbed by any other factors (apparently God and religion) whereas Islam holds the contrary to be true. Indeed Islam insists that a monotheist must show fanaticism only towards God.
It is an explicit Islamic order that: “one should by no means obey the people when this obedience is against God's orders.”
If God's orders contravene patriotism, it is contrary to the principle of Islam to give priority to the nation or country:
قُلْ إِنَّ صَلاتِي وَنُسُكِي وَمَحْيَايَ وَمَمَاتِي لِلَّهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ
“Surely my prayer and my sacrifice and my life and my death are (all) for Allah, the Lord of the worlds;" (6:162)
To nationalism, what matters the most is national interests, whether from an individual or social point of view, but in Islam it is love of God and divine injunctions. Love and hate, friendship and enmity, war and peace are all for the sake of God and His religion. No other factor is of importance.
In nationalism, sovereignty belongs to the nation and the criterion is national interests. But in Islam, God is the sovereign, and no other factor is of significance before His laws.
“Judgment is only God's.” (12: 67)
"So judgment belongs to God, the High, the Great.” (40:12)
“Judgment is His and all return to Him. ” (28:88)
"His is the judgment and He is swiftest in taking account.” (6:62)
The Quran condemns those who give authenticity to anything like the nation and country instead of following God's commands:
"Is it then the judgment of the times of ignorance that they desire? And who is better than God to judge?” (5:50)
They seek the rule of ignorance (which is anti- Islamic), whereas there is nothing better than God's judgment.
In Islam sovereignty belongs to God and His religion. The nation acts as His deputy within the bounds of that school. The last and ultimate source of reference is God:
“...and whatever the Apostle gives you, accept it.” (59: 7)
“And go on steadfastly on the right way as you are commanded and do not follow their low desires …” (42:15)
The Prophet (S) has emphasized that loyalty and love are for God and not for anything else. Thus he deals a vital blow to nationalism by saying:
“Make God the axis of your love and loyalty and nothing else.”
But nationalism worships the nation and country and thereby clashes with the basic principles of Islam, namely, monotheism and engages in a kind of hidden polytheism.
A survey of the ideas and conducts of the so-called devoted nationalists who speak of both nation and Islam shows that their main ideal is nationalism or liberalism, and Islam is only a cover or a means. Instead of regarding Islam or religion as being a valuable religion by itself and for the sake of God, they consider it a means to realizing their patriotic ideals. Thus to them, Islam is a means, not a goal, and this attitude is in itself polytheistic.
They suppose that they can rouse nationalistic sentiments in the name of Islam, but their ultimate goal is independence, not the establishment of an Islamic order. That is why they try to encourage despotism and colonization in the name of Islam. But they suppress the true supporters of the Islamic order in the worst possible manner.
According to the injunctions of Islam, the ultimate goal, must be God, not freedom and independence or anything else. We should love freedom and independence for the sake of God and Islam, and not the other way round which would be polytheistic. If we study the writings of nationalists who speak of Islam, we see that their Ka'aba is independence, freedom or country and God and Islam are the means to attain that goal.
A genuine Muslim, too, loves freedom and independence and defends them firmly but he does so only for the sake of God and Islam, since they are his real Ka'aba.
Nationalism believes that the factor behind nationality and unity is the co-existence in the same land of individuals comprising a special group. A common natural and geographical environment, community or race, language, history or political organization establishes the bond between individuals who feel bound in common as far as their interests go. That is where a distinction is marked between themselves and the foreigners.
Opposed to this, is the view of Islam where the bond between individuals is belief and school and from which attachment and separation results and by which interest and expediency are measured. According to Islam, an individual whose belief lies in the opposite pole, even if he is a compatriot, a neighbor, or a close relative, is considered an alien, whereas a community of belief brings the remotest people from various parts of the world close together. Salman was from Fars (Iran), but Muhammad of Arabia and Ali of Hashimi tribe called him a member of their Household. Bilaal of Ethiopia and Soheib of Rome became members of the Islamic government of the Arabian Peninsula. But Abu-Lahab, Abu-Jahl and Abu-Sufyan who were pure Arabs were banished from the new society and governments, and were considered aliens in spite of the national, racial, and tribal connections.
The Islamic view about nationality is wholly different from nationalism. The Muslims' nationality is not based on the unity of geographical, language and material factors. It is based on religion. The Islamic ummah is a party or society 'which is founded by God and the Prophet, and its membership depends on the unity of belief, world vision and an Islamic system. Islam rejects every territorial and materialistic limitation. Iqbal, the great Islamic thinker says:
“It is only God Who is the body and soul of our nation,
It is only God that makes the gamut of our instrument;
It is only God that is the source of our secrets,
And His tread binds our thoughts together.
The destiny of nations is related to the country,
And on lineage is founded the repair of nations.
But our nation has a different foundation,
And this foundation lies in our belief."
Islamic nationality depends on a common creed. Turkish, Iranian, Arab and Indian Muslims form a single nation, and an alien is he who has no share in Islamic privileges, even if he is a parent, a son, a neighbor or co-tenant. Here the frontier of thought and belief, not manmade conventional borders becomes important. Color, blood and territory which are natural phenomena or human conventions cannot be regarded as criteria. An Arab, an Iranian and an Indian are equals in Islam so long as they are true Muslims. In this way the extensive nation of Islam is created. From Tangiers to the Philippines, all the lands form a single nation. The universal congress of Hajj is an example of this Muslim unity of belief.
The emigration of the Prophet (S) is a symbol of a move from geographical nationality to an ideological one. Iqbal says:
“The knot of the Muslim nationality was opened by our master who emigrated from home-land."
The Quran says:
“Surely We have revealed the Book to you with the truth that you may judge between people by means of that which God has taught you.” (4:105)
Islamic texts emphasize this point so clearly and since early Islam the conduct of the Prophet (S) and Imams has been so clear that no room remains for doubt. It is here that the course of nationalism separates from that of Islam altogether, and nationalism is negated in Islam, since its foundations are different.
The Quran declares explicitly that belief is the basis of unity, not nationality:
“And hold fast the covenant of God all together and be not disunited, and remember the favor of God on you when you were enemies, then He united your hearts so by His favor you became brethren.” (3: 103)
“Indeed all believers are brethren.” (49:10)
“Surely this Islam is your religion, one religion only, and I am your Lord, therefore serve Me.” (21:92)
The Prophet, too, spoke of the Islamic ummah as a body, the members of which are vitally related together. He said:
“Muslims are like a body. If the eye or another part is hurt, the whole body will hurt.”
Members of this ummah reject the boundaries of land and blood, and worship One Beloved, and thus they benefit from the rights and duties of that society. From North Africa to Indonesia, from Egypt to Palestine, Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan, all possess the same rights and duties.
Those who divide this universal unity of Muslim by nationalism and racism etc. and separate their way from the course of belief are pagans according to the Prophet.
The Prophet (S) declared explicitly that anyone who follows any other factor than God and belief and endeavors in its way has abandoned Islam and turned to paganism. Thus in Islam, the basis of group and nation is not blood and territory, but belief. About the infidels the Holy Quran says:
“But if they repent and keep up prayer and pay the poor-rate they are your brethren in faith.” (9: 11)
Abu-Dawood in his book, Jihad, quotes the Prophet (S) as saying:
“God has commanded me to fight infidels so that they may confess the Uniqueness of God and turn to Qibla, and pray and fast as we do. Once they accept our belief, they benefit from all the rights and duties of other Muslims."
Religion is the true boundary of nationality. A co-religionist becomes a compatriot, and an unbeliever becomes an alien.
“Muhammad is the Apostle of God, and his friends act as the enemies of infidels and as brethren towards one another.” (48:29)
“Indeed, there is for you a good example in Ibrahim and those with him when they said to their people: Surely we are clear of you and of what you serve besides God; We declare ourselves to be clear of you, and enmity and hatred have appeared between us and you for ever until you believe in God alone.” (60:4)
In the school of nationalism, all are brothers and equals, whether they are believers or infidels, pious or evil-doers. But in Islam, a person who does not hold the same belief, has no bond with the Muslims, is not considered an equal, even if he is a “compatriot.”
“O you who believe! do not take for intimate friends from among others than your own people.” (3:118)
Nationalism considers all people in a country as compatriots and those of other nations even if they are Muslims as foreigners. Islam believes in the contrary:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا لا تَتَّخِذُوا عَدُوِّي وَعَدُوَّكُمْ أَوْلِيَاء تُلْقُونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَقَدْ كَفَرُوا بِمَا جَاءَكُم مِّنَ الْحَقِّ يُخْرِجُونَ الرَّسُولَ وَإِيَّاكُمْ أَن تُؤْمِنُوا بِاللَّهِ رَبِّكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ خَرَجْتُمْ جِهَادًا فِي سَبِيلِي وَابْتِغَاء مَرْضَاتِي تُسِرُّونَ إِلَيْهِم بِالْمَوَدَّةِ وَأَنَا أَعْلَمُ بِمَا أَخْفَيْتُمْ وَمَا أَعْلَنتُمْ وَمَن يَفْعَلْهُ مِنكُمْ فَقَدْ ضَلَّ سَوَاء السَّبِيلِ
“O you who believe! do not take My enemy and your enemy for friends.” (60: 1)
All relationships, even that of a son, father, .wife, husband, are subordinated to belief, and those who do not believe in the school are aliens in spite of their close relationships:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ لاَ تَتَّخِذُواْ آبَاءَكُمْ وَإِخْوَانَكُمْ أَوْلِيَاء إِنِ اسْتَحَبُّواْ الْكُفْرَ عَلَى الإِيمَانِ وَمَن يَتَوَلَّهُم مِّنكُمْ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الظَّالِمُونَ
“Do not take your father and your brothers for guardians if they love unbelief more than belief, and whoever of you takes them for guardians, these it is that are the unjust.” (9:23)
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا إِنَّ مِنْ أَزْوَاجِكُمْ وَأَوْلادِكُمْ عَدُوًّا لَّكُمْ فَاحْذَرُوهُمْ وَإِن تَعْفُوا وَتَصْفَحُوا وَتَغْفِرُوا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“Surely from among your wives and your children there is an enemy to you.” (64:14)
لا تَجِدُ قَوْمًا يُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الآخِرِ يُوَادُّونَ مَنْ حَادَّ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ وَلَوْ كَانُوا آبَاءَهُمْ أَوْ أَبْنَاءَهُمْ أَوْ إِخْوَانَهُمْ أَوْ عَشِيرَتَهُمْ أُوْلَئِكَ كَتَبَ فِي قُلُوبِهِمُ الإِيمَانَ وَأَيَّدَهُم بِرُوحٍ مِّنْهُ وَيُدْخِلُهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ خَالِدِينَ فِيهَا رَضِيَ اللَّهُ عَنْهُمْ وَرَضُوا عَنْهُ أُوْلَئِكَ حِزْبُ اللَّهِ أَلا إِنَّ حِزْبَ اللَّهِ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
“You shall not find a people who believe in God and the latter day befriending those who act in opposition to God and His apostle, even though they were their own fathers, or their sons, or their brothers, or their kinsfolk, these are they into whose hearts He has impressed faith, and whom He has strengthened with an inspiration from Him: and He will cause them to enter gardens beneath which rivers flow, abiding therein; God is well-pleased with them and they are now surely the party of God and are the successful ones.”(58:22)
The verses destroy the foundation of nationalism, since it is based on geographical boundaries, race, language, etc, and show clearly that belief is the basis of man's posture. There is only one party that is important and that is God's party.
This principle of belief has also been reflected in the jurisprudential system of Islam, and no non-Muslim can receive a Muslim's inheritance even as a son, as is explained in verse 54 of chapter Ahzab. It is also stated in traditions that an infidel cannot receive a Muslim's inheritance.
Difference of belief loosens the bond of marriage, and if one of the couple converts to Islam or becomes an apostate, their relationship becomes illegitimate. This is also supported by the Quran.
The society which was established by the Prophet (S) at Medina, was based on belief, in which all other attachments of territory, blood, race, etc. were negated. It was a society quite contrary in principle to nationalism.
In the battles of Badr, Ohod and Khandaq, the Prophet. Fought side by side with the Ansars of Medina who were considered aliens. In these battles, territory and blood were subordinated to belief. Hazifa attacked his father; Abu-Bakr drew his sword upon his son Abdo-Rahman; Abbas-bin- Abdul-Mottaleb, the Prophet's uncle and Aqil his cousin, and Abul-Aass were taken prisoner. Omar even proposed that all the prisoners whose guilt was proved and had not surrendered, should be killed, and every Muslim should personally kill the prisoner who was a kinsman. Omar himself killed his uncle in battle. That is how the bonds of kinship was broken for the sake of belief.
In the capture of Mecca, the Prophet (S) led the army of Ansars (i.e. aliens) to attack his own hometown, and many of his relatives were killed by these aliens. To make aliens friends, and kinsmen aliens was something unprecedented in Arabia.
In the battle of Bani-el- Mustalaq, a quarrel arose between a member of the Bani-Ghafar tribe and another of the Bani-Own clan. The former slapped the latter on the face. The latter belonged to the Ansars of Medina and the former from the Meccan emigrants. The man called upon the Ansars to help him and the other asked the emigrants for assistance. Both parties were about to rush upon each other with drawn swords, when the Prophet (S) intervened: “Woe to you that rise against each other for the sake of pagan kinship.”
In this battle, a well-known Medinan nationalist and a leader of the hypocrites, Abdullah-bin-Abi, was present too.
When he heard of the incident, he instigated the Ansars of Medina, saying: “We invited these foreigners to our country, and now that they have become powerful, they assault us. They are like dogs that you fatten to attack yourselves. By God, when return to Medina, those who have honor (meaning the Medinans) will expel the dishonored (meaning the Prophet and his emigrants).”
He then turned to his compatriots and said:
“How stupid you were to let these share your wealth and property. By God, if you leave them alone, they cannot last a moment.”
When these words of the Medinan nationalist were reported to the Prophet, he summoned the son of Abi-Abdullah and said: “I have heard that your father had uttered these words.” Abdullah though he loved his father greatly and was proud of him, said without hesitation: “O Prophet of God, if you give permission, I will cut off his head and throw it at your feet.” But the Prophet (S) forbade this. And when the Muslim Combatants returned to Medina, Abdullah stood at the gate of the city, drew his sword upon his father and cried: "You cannot enter Medina (his home) if the Prophet does not permit you. Now we will see how the honorable ones expel the dishonorable ones.”
This is the basis of Islamic nationality, and thus the nation of the faithful believers takes shape, a nation in which blood relationship is nothing as compared to belief.
When Banu-Qaynaqa of the Jewish tribe of Medina rose in revolt against the Muslims and were suppressed, the Prophet (S) sent Ebada-Ibn-e- Samet as arbitrator. He was of the Khazraj tribe and he unhesitatingly issued the verdict that the Banu- Qaynaqa must be banished from Medina.
After the treachery of Bani-Qurayda who were confederates of the tribe of Owss, the Prophet (S) sent as arbitrator Sa'ed-bin Moaz, a general of Owss. He condemned to death all the men of Bani-Qurayda for their great treason.
These show that in an Islamic society, only belief and school are important. Nationalism and Islam cannot exist together in the same society, and emphasis on one of them means negating the other.
In nationalism, authenticity lies with land and country, but in Islam it lies with the creator of land and country. Nation in Latin means birthplace. The co-existence of a special group in a single land gives form to nationality. That land belongs to that group and no other group has a right and claim upon it, and all individuals must protect it even with their lives.
But in Islam, territory belongs neither to this group nor to that, but to God and all human beings are deputies. And those who perform this duty and believe in His school have a greater claim upon the territory of God, and its management. Frontiers are frontiers of belief, not geographical ones.
The Quran emphasizes this point in various verses, stating that no nation has the monopoly of any territory and the whole world belongs to God:
قُلِ اللَّهُمَّ مَالِكَ الْمُلْكِ تُؤْتِي الْمُلْكَ مَن تَشَاء وَتَنزِعُ الْمُلْكَ مِمَّن تَشَاء وَتُعِزُّ مَن تَشَاء وَتُذِلُّ مَن تَشَاء بِيَدِكَ الْخَيْرُ إِنَّكَ عَلَىَ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدِيرٌ
“Say: O God! Master of the kingdoms.” (3:26)
قُل لِّمَنِ الأَرْضُ وَمَن فِيهَا إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (84) سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّهِ قُلْ أَفَلا تَذَكَّرُونَ
“Say whose is the earth and whoever is therein, if you know? They will say: Allah's. Say: Will you not then mind? (23:84-85)
قُلْ مَن بِيَدِهِ مَلَكُوتُ كُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُوَ يُجِيرُ وَلا يُجَارُ عَلَيْهِ إِن كُنتُمْ تَعْلَمُونَ (88) سَيَقُولُونَ لِلَّهِ قُلْ فَأَنَّى تُسْحَرُونَ
“Say Who is it in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things and Who gives succour, but against Him succour is not given. If you do but know? They will say: This is Allah's. Say from whence are you then deceived?” (23:88-89)
قُلْ إِنَّمَا أَنَا مُنذِرٌ وَمَا مِنْ إِلَهٍ إِلاَّ اللَّهُ الْوَاحِدُ الْقَهَّارُ رَبُّ السَّمَاوَاتِ وَالأَرْضِ وَمَا بَيْنَهُمَا الْعَزِيزُ الْغَفَّارُ
“There is no God save Allah. the One and Absolute, Lord of the heavens and the earth...” (38:65-66)
As He is the Owner of the whole world, He has made man His deputy; therefore the world belongs to all human beings, especially to believers:
وَهُوَ الَّذِي جَعَلَكُمْ خَلائِفَ الأَرْضِ وَرَفَعَ بَعْضَكُمْ فَوْقَ بَعْضٍ دَرَجَاتٍ لِّيَبْلُوَكُمْ فِي مَا آتَاكُمْ إِنَّ رَبَّكَ سَرِيعُ الْعِقَابِ وَإِنَّهُ لَغَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“And He it is Who made you successors in the land...” (6:165)
وَإِذْ قَالَ رَبُّكَ لِلْمَلائِكَةِ إِنِّي جَاعِلٌ فِي الأَرْضِ خَلِيفَةً قَالُواْ أَتَجْعَلُ فِيهَا مَن يُفْسِدُ فِيهَا وَيَسْفِكُ الدِّمَاء وَنَحْنُ نُسَبِّحُ بِحَمْدِكَ وَنُقَدِّسُ لَكَ قَالَ إِنِّي أَعْلَمُ مَا لاَ تَعْلَمُونَ
“I am going to place in the earth a khalifa ” (2:30)
أَلَمْ تَرَ أَنَّ اللَّهَ سَخَّرَ لَكُم مَّا فِي الأَرْضِ وَالْفُلْكَ تَجْرِي فِي الْبَحْرِ بِأَمْرِهِ وَيُمْسِكُ السَّمَاء أَن تَقَعَ عَلَى الأَرْضِ إِلاَّ بِإِذْنِهِ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بِالنَّاسِ لَرَؤُوفٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“Do you not see that God has conquered everything on the earth for you?” (22:65)
Thus, all the abundant resources of the earth belong to all men and not to a special group or nation.
Geographical boundaries should not create limitations for human beings, since the world belongs to God and to man as His deputy:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلائِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنفُسِهِمْ قَالُواْ فِيمَ كُنتُمْ قَالُواْ كُنَّا مُسْتَضْعَفِينَ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللَّهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُواْ فِيهَا فَأُولَئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا
“Why did you become abject in your dwellings? Was not God's earth wide enough for you to emigrate?” (4:97)
Every human being has the right to benefit from the wealth of the. Various parts according to his needs:
وَمَن يُهَاجِرْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ يَجِدْ فِي الأَرْضِ مُرَاغَمًا كَثِيرًا وَسَعَةً وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِن بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
“He who emigrates for God from his lands, will find wealth and abundance there.” (4:100)
The whole world belongs to the followers of divine ideology and His good servants:
وَلَقَدْ كَتَبْنَا فِي الزَّبُورِ مِن بَعْدِ الذِّكْرِ أَنَّ الأَرْضَ يَرِثُهَا عِبَادِيَ الصَّالِحُونَ
“God's good servants will be the heirs of all the world.” (21:105)
وَعَدَ اللَّهُ الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا مِنكُمْ وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ لَيَسْتَخْلِفَنَّهُم فِي الأَرْضِ كَمَا اسْتَخْلَفَ الَّذِينَ مِن قَبْلِهِمْ وَلَيُمَكِّنَنَّ لَهُمْ دِينَهُمُ الَّذِي ارْتَضَى لَهُمْ وَلَيُبَدِّلَنَّهُم مِّن بَعْدِ خَوْفِهِمْ أَمْنًا يَعْبُدُونَنِي لا يُشْرِكُونَ بِي شَيْئًا وَمَن كَفَرَ بَعْدَ ذَلِكَ فَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَاسِقُونَ
“To all those who follow the divine school and endeavor in the way of goodness. God has promised sovereignty in the world.” (24:55)
This godly view of Islam enables a true Muslim not to think in terms of attachment to territory and nation, but to consider the world as belonging to God and His servants:
Scholar Iqbal says: "Every land which belongs to God is our land.”
The Quran, all the time talks of the whole world, not of Arabs, non- Arabs, or of Mecca and Medina. If the Muslims were to have an attachment to a particular land, it would be of Mecca, but even about this sacred city, the Quran says:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا وَيَصُدُّونَ عَن سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالْمَسْجِدِ الْحَرَامِ الَّذِي جَعَلْنَاهُ لِلنَّاسِ سَوَاء الْعَاكِفُ فِيهِ وَالْبَادِ وَمَن يُرِدْ فِيهِ بِإِلْحَادٍ بِظُلْمٍ نُذِقْهُ مِنْ عَذَابٍ أَلِيمٍ
“We have made it the Sacred Mosque equally for all men for the dweller therein and for the visitor.” (22:25)
Consequently many jurisprudents consider Mecca as the land of all Muslims and regard private ownership in this city as unacceptable. 'History narrates that Omar did not even allow the Meccans to close their doors, so that any pilgrim would enter whenever he wished. Omar bin Abdul-Aziz forbade taking rents from pilgrims, since the land belonged to all Muslims. Other jurisprudents have not gone so far in their view, and have said that a person who had built a house with his own capital in Mecca can receive rent for the main building but not for the yard and garden which belong to all.
The Prophet (S) is quoted as saying:
“The sale and rent of houses in Mecca is forbidden.”
On the one hand the Prophet (S) made Mecca the property of all Muslims, and on the other hand he regarded unbelievers even Meccan inhabitants as aliens to be expelled from there. The Quran says about infidels:
يَا أَيُّهَا الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ إِنَّمَا الْمُشْرِكُونَ نَجَسٌ فَلاَ يَقْرَبُواْ الْمَسْجِدَ الْحَرَامَ بَعْدَ عَامِهِمْ هَذَا وَإِنْ خِفْتُمْ عَيْلَةً فَسَوْفَ يُغْنِيكُمُ اللَّهُ مِن فَضْلِهِ إِن شَاء إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ حَكِيمٌ
“The idolaters are nothing but unclean so they shall not approach the Sacred Mosque after this year.” (9:28)
This is then the view of Islam which rejects the idea that citizenship depends on birthplace. Islam asserts that it depends on belief, and by this assertion, it destroys the basis of nationalism.
Emigration, a symbol of leaving territory by belief unlike nationalism, Islam teaches man not to attach himself to land but to belief, and if necessary, he should leave his home and land and country for the sake of it. Emigration is a fundamental principle in Islam.
Emigration is the equivalent of Jihad (Crusade.) leaving one's home and country is for the sake of belief and ideology. Most prophets emigrated, and the Holy Prophet's emigration marks the beginning of the Islamic calendar and history.
In Islam, unlike nationalism, one leaves his homeland for the sake of belief and thus emigration is not only a duty, but refusal to emigrate for the sake of belief is a treason and quilt to society on the part of the individual. Attachment to a particular land and confining one's activity and loyalty to it is in Islam a futile life and act when one's religion and ideology is being threatened. Such a conduct is anti- Islamic and liable to condemnation:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ تَوَفَّاهُمُ الْمَلائِكَةُ ظَالِمِي أَنفُسِهِمْ قَالُواْ فِيمَ كُنتُمْ قَالُواْ كُنَّا مُسْتَضْعَفِينَ فِي الأَرْضِ قَالُواْ أَلَمْ تَكُنْ أَرْضُ اللَّهِ وَاسِعَةً فَتُهَاجِرُواْ فِيهَا فَأُولَئِكَ مَأْوَاهُمْ جَهَنَّمُ وَسَاءَتْ مَصِيرًا
“Surely as for those whom the angels cause to die while they are unjust to their souls, they shall say: In what state were you? They shall say; We were weak in the earth. They shall say: Was not God's earth spacious, so that you should have migrated therein? So these it is whose abode is hell, and it is an evil resort.” (4:97)
The phrase 'was not God's earth spacious' shows that national frontiers have no validity and Muslims should not be bound them in the promotion of Islamic goals and in their own evolutionary course:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَهَاجَرُواْ وَجَاهَدُواْ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ وَالَّذِينَ آوَواْ وَّنَصَرُواْ أُوْلَئِكَ بَعْضُهُمْ أَوْلِيَاء بَعْضٍ وَالَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَلَمْ يُهَاجِرُواْ مَا لَكُم مِّن وَلاَيَتِهِم مِّن شَيْءٍ حَتَّى يُهَاجِرُواْ وَإِنِ اسْتَنصَرُوكُمْ فِي الدِّينِ فَعَلَيْكُمُ النَّصْرُ إِلاَّ عَلَى قَوْمٍ بَيْنَكُمْ وَبَيْنَهُم مِّيثَاقٌ وَاللَّهُ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
“Ant those who believed and did not fly, not yours is their guardianship until they fly.” (8:72)
Emigration for God and giving up the home and nationality for the sake of belief is the equivalent of crusade and self-sacrifice:
إِنَّ الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَجَاهَدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ أُوْلَئِكَ يَرْجُونَ رَحْمَتَ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ غَفُورٌ رَّحِيمٌ
“Surely those who believed and fled their homes, and struggled hard in God's way, they can hope for the grace of God and God is Forgiving, Merciful.” (2:218)
الَّذِينَ آمَنُواْ وَهَاجَرُواْ وَجَاهَدُواْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ بِأَمْوَالِهِمْ وَأَنفُسِهِمْ أَعْظَمُ دَرَجَةً عِندَ اللَّهِ وَأُولَئِكَ هُمُ الْفَائِزُونَ
“Those who believed and fled their homes and strove hard in God's way with their property and their souls, are much higher in rank with God; and those are they who are the achievers of their objects.” (9:20)
وَمَن يُهَاجِرْ فِي سَبِيلِ اللَّهِ يَجِدْ فِي الأَرْضِ مُرَاغَمًا كَثِيرًا وَسَعَةً وَمَن يَخْرُجْ مِن بَيْتِهِ مُهَاجِرًا إِلَى اللَّهِ وَرَسُولِهِ ثُمَّ يُدْرِكْهُ الْمَوْتُ فَقَدْ وَقَعَ أَجْرُهُ عَلَى اللَّهِ وَكَانَ اللَّهُ غَفُورًا رَّحِيمًا
“And whoever goes forth from his house flying to God and His apostle, and then death overtakes him, his reward is indeed with God.” (4: 100)
فَاسْتَجَابَ لَهُمْ رَبُّهُمْ أَنِّي لاَ أُضِيعُ عَمَلَ عَامِلٍ مِّنكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ أَوْ أُنثَى بَعْضُكُم مِّن بَعْضٍ فَالَّذِينَ هَاجَرُواْ وَأُخْرِجُواْ مِن دِيَارِهِمْ وَأُوذُواْ فِي سَبِيلِي وَقَاتَلُواْ وَقُتِلُواْ لأُكَفِّرَنَّ عَنْهُمْ سَيِّئَاتِهِمْ وَلأُدْخِلَنَّهُمْ جَنَّاتٍ تَجْرِي مِن تَحْتِهَا الأَنْهَارُ ثَوَابًا مِّن عِندِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ عِندَهُ حُسْنُ الثَّوَابِ
“They therefore, who fled and were turned out of their homes and persecuted in My way and who fought and were slain, I will most certainly cover their evil deeds and I will most certainly make them enter gardens beneath which rivers flow; a reward from God and with God is yet better reward.” (3: 195)
The high worth of emigration in Islam means an emphasis on the negation of land and attachment to religion which is in total contravention with nationalism.
The conduct and emigration of the Prophets, too, proved the above idea that belief is the axis of Islam, not land. After the conquest of Mecca, the Ansars were anxious lest the Prophet (S) would settle in Mecca. But he called them and said:
“I have no attachment to territory. I am God's servant and His messenger. I have emigrated for His sake to you and henceforth my life and death are by your side.”
Although the problem for which he emigrated was now solved, yet the Prophet (S) left Mecca after capturing it and returned to Medina to prove that he had no attachment to land or home.
Nationalism gives utmost importance to kinship and this culminates eventually in racism. Nationalism further resorts to race and historical heritage when trying to point out the differences and similarities which exist between two nations and account for their compatibility and incompatibility.
Sometimes it speaks of blood as the basis of unity. There has always appeared extreme or semi- extreme racism at different periods and places. Like the Greeks who called others than themselves barbarians, or ancient Jews who scornfully called others foreigners, or extreme Italian and German nationalists who were bent upon exterminating the Jews, or American nationalism which even now causes the blacks to suffer.
But Islam rises to strongly fight this king of nationalism, and is opposed to race and historical nationality. It says that men and women, black and white, civilized and uncivilized, African and European, Aryan and Semitic, all have the same root in creation and are from the same parents; blood relationship is no criterion for superiority:
“O people ! fear your God Who has created you from a single soul.” (4:1)
The Prophet (S) says:
“There is no superiority of Arabs over non- Arabs, or non-Arabs over Arabs, for they are all descendants of Adam.”
“No one is superior to another except by religion and chastity. All men are descendants of Adam and Adam was created of earth.”
The Prophet (S) says to the Arabs:
“Obey and entrust the rein of affairs with anybody who is superior from the point of view of Islamic commitment and brilliant records, no matter his race, color, country, territory, even if he is a black Ethiopian.”
“There is no privilege in relationship, neither for Arabs over non- Arabs, nor for non- Arabs over Arabs. Superiority lies only in chastity.”
In Islam the color of the skin is no criteria for superiority or inferiority:
“(Receive) the baptism of Allah and who is better than Allah in babtising? and Him do we serve.” (2: 138)
The Prophet (S) says:
“There is no superiority of the white over the black or the black over the white.” unless due to the criterion of virtue.
The Prophet (S), addressing the tribe of Bani-Hashim said:
“O Bani-Hashim, love the people for their deeds, not for kinship.”
Imam Ali (a) says of the abolition of racial and national privileges in Nahjul Balagha:
“The Prophet (S) abolished class and racial superstitions and made all Muslims equal before the sacred law of the Quran without any exception.”
The powerful combat of Islam against racism can be understood from this fact that the Prophet (S) appointed Usamah-ibn- Zayd, an Ethiopian slave, as commander-in- chief and as superior to such generals as Obeydollah- al- Jarrah and other Qureish and Ansar leaders which meant the casting aside of racial and tribal criteria. Giving authenticity to kinship creates division, and it is for the same guilt that the Quran condemns the Pharaoh:
“Surely Pharaoh exalted himself in the land and made people into parties, weakening one party from among them; he slaughtered their sons and let their women live; surely he was one of the mischief- makers.” (28:4)
The Quran severely condemns giving authenticity to blood attachments as a barrier in the way of truth:
وَإِذَا قِيلَ لَهُمُ اتَّبِعُوا مَا أَنزَلَ اللَّهُ قَالُواْ بَلْ نَتَّبِعُ مَا أَلْفَيْنَا عَلَيْهِ آبَاءَنَا أَوَلَوْ كَانَ آبَاؤُهُمْ لاَ يَعْقِلُونَ شَيْئًا وَلاَ يَهْتَدُونَ
“When they are told to follow the way of God they say: We are firm in the way of our fathers, whereas their fathers were misled and ignorant.” (2:170)
Of course, soon after the Prophet, paganism became the order with the creeping coup d'etat of the Omayads, resulting in the encouragement of chronic racism and blood attachment on which the foundation of modern nationalism rests. But many learned, ranking Sunni ulama reject these two ideas, such as Abu Bakar Baghlani and Imam-al- Haramein. The Mo'etazela and Khawarej sects also refused to accept it.
Nationalism is accompanied by a fanaticism which considers others inferior, and boasts only of its own history and ancestors. This extreme sentiment causes one to love one's country and nationality, and discourages one to be benevolent towards others. One feels that one is perfect, while others are imperfect and useless.
Islam and the Prophet (S) violently fought and condemned this fanaticism.
Explaining fanaticism, the Prophet (S) said: “Simple attachment to the tribe is not fanaticism. Fanaticism is supporting kinsfolk and compatriots in goodness or badness, in right and wrong and in all cases. Such a person is involved in the wrath of God.”
After the capture of Mecca, the Prophet (S) said in his first discourse:
“O Qureish leaders! God has condemned pride and fanaticism of ignorance and boasting of ancestors, and the time for this is over. Remember that today I trample upon all these means of pride.”
It is this fanaticism of ignorance which makes people and nations seek domination out of their ego- centrism. The history of Western nationalistic countries in the last hundred years shows this fanaticism of the 20th Century. A German shouts: “Germany above all”; and Mussolini declares: “Love of Italy is the highest religion.” America claims: “The United States are selected by God,” and an Englishman believes that «ruling the world is the God- given right of the British.”
The Quran rejects these ideas. It talks about the Jews and Christians who had turned into nations, not religious groups:
وَقَالُواْ لَن يَدْخُلَ الْجَنَّةَ إِلاَّ مَن كَانَ هُودًا أَوْ نَصَارَى تِلْكَ أَمَانِيُّهُمْ قُلْ هَاتُواْ بُرْهَانَكُمْ إِن كُنتُمْ صَادِقِينَ بَلَى مَنْ أَسْلَمَ وَجْهَهُ لِلَّهِ وَهُوَ مُحْسِنٌ فَلَهُ أَجْرُهُ عِندَ رَبِّهِ وَلاَ خَوْفٌ عَلَيْهِمْ وَلاَ هُمْ يَحْزَنُونَ
“And they say: None shall enter the garden of paradise except he who is a Jew or a Christian. These are their vain desires. Say: Bring your proof if you are truthful. Yes whoever submits himself entirely to God and he is the doer of good to others, he has his reward from his Lord, and there is no fear for him nor shall he grieve.” (2: 111-112)
Fanaticism of ignorance also results in pride in the past and in ancestors and the Prophet (S) called it, 'a contaminated state'.
“Those who take pride in their nation and ancestors, should abandon it and remember that such sources of pride are nothing but fuel of hell. If they do not abandon it, they are worse before God than the filth they carry with them.”
It is quoted from the Prophet (S) in Kafi:
“Islam has done away with the pride of paganism and boasting of forefathers. All people are from Adam who was of earth, and none has superiority over another except in chastity.”
A special peculiarity of contemporary nationalism is this same pride in one's past history. which Islam calls paganism. For example, Iranian nationalism boasts of the Sassanids and Achaemenids whereas these are considered as banner-bearers of paganism by Islam.
The same fanaticism of ignorance causes nationalists of Egypt to glorify the Pharaoh who is damned by God, and boast of him.
Can an individual be both a Muslim and a nationalist?
Nationalism and Islam have two opposite ideologies, schools and ideas and independent goals and programs.
Man by his nature can follow only one ideology and stick affectionately to it. If a person believes that he has two ideologies, one of them will be active and living, while the other, passive and dead. A German nationalist cannot be a true Christian, since it is his nationalism that is active and living, and his religion is passive and dead. An Italian cannot be at the same time a committed fascist and a true Christian.
Islam has a special ideology, and nationalism has another. A human being cannot follow two living ideologies at one time, unless one complements and supports the other.
A person may consider it expedient to conceal his ideology or even be unaware of it, not knowing whether it is his patriotism that is dominant or his belief in religion. He cannot be said to have two ideologies, since only one of them is active and directs his conduct. If a person who supposes he has no ideology or has more than one, is asked to abandon them, a time will come when he feels that the ideology he holds forms part of him and is impossible to give up, and that he is ready to sacrifice his life for it. This is his active and living ideology.
Now it must be seen whether such a person is prepared to sacrifice himself for Islam, or for freedom, democracy, communism or nationalism. That for which he is willing to give up all, is his ideology even if he is not aware of it.
It is the love for this ideology that determines his conduct, his ways and policy, and his other affections will be subordinated to it.
Some nationalists suppose that they can follow both nationalism and Islam at the same time. Tahtavi and Mustafa Kamal in Egypt, Namek Kamal in Turkey, Abol-Kalam Azad and Hossain Ahmad Madani in India were among those who thought that one could follow both ideologies at the same time, believing that they were compatible. Abdo Rahman Al-Bazazz, former prime minister of Iraq, too, in his book, “Islam and the Arab People”, claims that one can be both a Muslim and an Arab nationalist.
But these two are incompatible and an inclination in the direction of one of them will mean moving away from the other. We cannot mingle water with fire:
“Is there not among you one right- minded man?” (11:78)
We are Muslims only when in all aspects of life we have an Islamic vision. But if we adopt another vision socially and politically and abandon a part of Islam, how can we call ourselves Muslims?
ثُمَّ أَنتُمْ هَؤُلاء تَقْتُلُونَ أَنفُسَكُمْ وَتُخْرِجُونَ فَرِيقًا مِّنكُم مِّن دِيَارِهِمْ تَظَاهَرُونَ عَلَيْهِم بِالإِثْمِ وَالْعُدْوَانِ وَإِن يَأْتُوكُمْ أُسَارَى تُفَادُوهُمْ وَهُوَ مُحَرَّمٌ عَلَيْكُمْ إِخْرَاجُهُمْ أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَابِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ فَمَا جَزَاء مَن يَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ مِنكُمْ إِلاَّ خِزْيٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَى أَشَدِّ الْعَذَابِ وَمَا اللَّهُ بِغَافِلٍ عَمَّا تَعْمَلُونَ
“Do you then believe in a part of the Book and disbelieve in the other? What then is the reward of such people among you as do this but disgrace in the life of this world and on the day of Resurrection, they shall be sent back to the most grievous chastisement.” (2:85)
No one can follow an imported foreign school and claim to be a Muslim too. The idea of a 'nationalist Muslim' is as absurd as that of a 'religions communist' or 'capitalist Marxist', or a 'pagan monotheist' or a 'nationalist internationalist'.
They are opposites. When the ideology of Islam expands, nationalism is destroyed, and when nationalism grows, Islam is annihilated. One cannot stay aboard two ships going in different directions. Making such a claim means either ignorance, or hypocrisy and inability to understand the true nature of both schools.
Iqbal, the great contemporary theoretician on Islam, addressing Mowlana Hossein Ahmad, a renown ‘Alim and nationalist leader of India, has composed a poem in which he says that he who calls the nation and country the basis of unity has no knowledge of the Prophet's Islamic teachings.
One should abandon nationalism and all imported isms and turn to Islam. If he cannot do so and if he mingles both, then he has in fact broken with Islam and become anti- Islamic. Islam is a generality which must be accepted either as a whole or rejected altogether. We cannot be partly this and partly that.
Iqbal says in his poem:
It was declared on the pulpit that
the nation is derived from the country.
How ignorant is he, of the rank of Muhammad of Arabia.
Join Mustafa since it is he who is the whole faith,
If you do not join him, then you are Abu-Lahab.
We should break all the idols of all isms including racism and nationalism, and introduce an ideology in which all monotheistic Muslims believe, and regard God as the only criterion, not land, blood and language:
رَّبَّنَا إِنَّنَا سَمِعْنَا مُنَادِيًا يُنَادِي لِلإِيمَانِ أَنْ آمِنُواْ بِرَبِّكُمْ فَآمَنَّا رَبَّنَا فَاغْفِرْ لَنَا ذُنُوبَنَا وَكَفِّرْ عَنَّا سَيِّئَاتِنَا وَتَوَفَّنَا مَعَ الأَبْرَارِ
“Our Lord surely we have heard a preacher calling to the faith saying: Believe in your Lord. so we did believe; Our Lord forgive us therefore our faults, and cover our evil deeds and make us die with the righteous.” (3: 193)
It is the duty of Muslims to fight unyieldingly against every other ideology and school including nationalism, communism and liberalism, politically and intellectually and they should not rest until the school of God comes to dominate over the personal, social, political, economic, intellectual and religious life of man:
وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لاَ تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ كُلُّهُ لِلَّه فَإِنِ انتَهَوْا فَإِنَّ اللَّهَ بِمَا يَعْمَلُونَ بَصِيرٌ
“Fight with them until there is no mischief left and only the religion of God remains in the world.” (8:39)
Nationalism and communism are by no means the remedy to the sick and unbalanced societies of today. The only way out is the establishment of a monotheistic society and creation of beings with a monotheistic worldview and that is only possible through the Quran.