Sunday, June 29, 2008

Beyond the Confines of Patriotism & Nationalism

In the Name of Allah, The most Beneficent, The most Merciful

Stereotypes that don’t fit the Islamic Vision of Unity and World Order.

Patriot – n. One who defends or is zealous for his country’s freedom or rights.

Nationalism – Patriotic feeling, policy of national independence.
Country – n. Region; territory of a nation; land of a person’s birth.
[Concise Oxford Dictionary]

Muslims view themselves as a single and indivisible nation and term it as Ummah. This concept of nation is based on ideological affinity and not on territorial integrity. He (the Muslim) is therefore primarily zealous in guarding that ideology. In the process, he does (as part of the State) guard the territory, but that is incidental to the protection of the ideology. This concept is widely different from the dictionary meanings of Patriotism or Nationalism and their application in the world today.

Unfortunately but truly, patriotism and nationalism is the root of discord, disunity and strife on this planet. Britain, a nation that calls itself ‘civilized’ said through the mouth of Lord Palmerston – ‘There are no permanent friends or foes, only permanent interests.’ Let us analyze this statement in the perspective of all 195 countries of the world.

Every nation, large and small, rich and poor, has its interests; and logically the interests of one would collide with the interests of the other. Rarely would one see parity in interests of two nations. Colonialism, apartheid, malice, economic benefits and greed skews it further. So, enemies are many while friends very few, and that too till such time that there is compatibility of interests. The moment their interests fall apart, they are foes. Principles, morals, and ethics are nowhere on the horizon while deciding foreign policies.

In contrast, the Islamic State (Caliphate) that existed prior to 3rd March 1924 would reach out to help another drought stricken country with shiploads of food and gold currencies out of sheer concern for human life and for seeking Allah’s pleasure. In 1836 the Ottoman Caliph Abdul Mejid sent three ships full of grains and 1000 gold Dinars to Damascus. Compare this to America dumping several million tones of wheat into the saline sea water so that the world price is maintained, while Ethiopia then, and the whole world now is reeling under the food crises.

Nations were created and nationalism was whipped up so that they would fight amongst themselves while the war industry in the hands of the capitalists thrives. Prior to 15th August, 1947 it would be patriotic for an Indian to say something like, ‘If Lahore is bombed by America, New Delhi will strike back’. Just a day later it would be patriotic to say the converse of it. If the same sentence is uttered today, it would be construed as ‘waging war against the Indian nation’. Kashmir, where not a blade of grass grows, is left as a bone of contention so that scores of F-16s and Mirages are purchased for billions of dollars till eternity, by both.

Compare this to the Caliphate, which would also be a military state, but with a very different philosophy. With no intention or sanction to kill innocent civilians even under the guise and subterfuge of ‘collateral damage’, the Islamic state would use limited force to remove the corrupt top leaders of a county with the sole aim of establishing justice. No wonder that just about 100 persons (infidels) were killed in 27 battles fought in a period of 10 years after the forming of the first Islamic state in 622 C.E. at Medina by Muhammad, the last Prophet for humankind. After 3rd March 1924, the world has seen more blood spill than the total since Adam was born.

If Muslims dislike present day national boundaries, it isn’t that they don’t accept the reality. Nor is it an affront to the present structure. It is akin to a prison. The prisoner does acknowledge the prison walls, the bars and the humility of the prison. The dislike of the prisoner is natural. The prisoner does aspire to be released and makes all available efforts to come out. Similarly, the Muslim Ummah aspires to come out of the suffocating capitalist driven national boundaries into a world that they believe is one of justice.

Muslims will never be patriotic and nationalistic the way the world wants it today. This is more so because for Muslims, the concept of nation is of faith – worship, rather than the physical one carved out for extraneous reasons. Muslims see South Africans driving out people of Venezuela or Raj Thackeray targeting North Indians from Maharashtra (Western India), as a problem of boundaries. Regionalism is a smaller version of Nationalism. Are these acts not patriotism in today’s sense? Regionalism and intra-state water disputes are a manifestation of ‘There are no permanent friends or foes, only permanent interests.’ Even dogs of one area bark to shoo away an alien dog. How is regionalism, nationalism or patriotism different? Please be dispassionate in answering this crucial question.

Present non-Muslim nations would be better off if the Muslims living in that country leave it to become citizens of an Islamic State. The aspiration of Muslims to convert present Muslim countries (ruled by tyrannical rulers) into an Islamic State under a Caliph is legitimate. State terror would vanish from the world but do the mischief mongers want this. If peace prevails, the looser is the mischief maker because in chaos is his benefit. So the better alternative is that they (Muslims) be allowed to govern the Muslim lands by what they believe is the Divine law.

Abu Farhaan


Anonymous said...

where is Dr.Masri's article ?

Anonymous said...

You should definitely read the following article by Arnold Toynbee on the Muslim world. Thoug most of what he says is incorrect what is interesting is that he also argues that the worst thing that Muslims have taken from the West is nationalism and the concept of nation-states.