Saturday, February 12, 2011

Political Awareness

This is a chapter from the translation of the Arabic book مفاهيم سياسية لحزب التحرير ‘Mafahim Siyasiyah’, Political Concepts of Hizb ut-Tahrir. This is the revised edition of the book which was published in 2005 C.E. in English by Revival Publications.

Political awareness does not only mean to be aware of the political situations, the international position, and the political events or to follow up the international politics and the political actions, although these are part of the requirements for a comprehensive political awareness. Rather, the political awareness is to view the world from a special angle, which for us is the angle of Islamic Aqeeda. It is the angle of:
  
لا إله إلاّ الله محمد رسول الله

“There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah.”

أُمِرتُ أن أقاتل الناس حتى يقولوا :لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله، فإذا قالوها عصموا مني دماءهم وأموالهم إلاّ بحقها. 

“I have been commanded to fight against the people till they say: There is no god but Allah, Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah; if they said it they would have safeguarded from me their blood and their property except for its due right.”

This is political awareness. Thus, viewing the world without having a specific angle is considered superficiality and not political awareness. Viewing the local arena or the regional domain is considered triviality and not political awareness. There cannot be political awareness except with the presence of two factors: the view must be to the entire world; and that this view must emerge from a special defined angle no matter what this angle is, whether it is an ideology, a particular idea or a certain interest or anything else. This is the reality of political awareness. Of course, for the Muslim, political awareness must come from the angle of the Islamic creed. So if this is the reality of the political awareness, then it is a natural necessity for the politician to engage himself in the struggle in order to form a particular concept about life for man in his capacity as a man, wherever he lives. The formation of this concept is the first responsibility thrown on the shoulder of the politically aware person who would not rest unless he makes the effort to form it.

The politically aware person must struggle against all the trends which contradict his view, and against all concepts which oppose his. At the same time he strives to firmly establish his own concepts and direction. So he heads in two directions simultaneously, and these directions never part in struggle from each other at all, even by the measure of a hair, because they are one thing. So he dismantles and establishes, destroys and builds, clears away the darkness and ignites the light. Thus, as it was said, he is a fire that burns the falsehood, and a light lighting the path of guidance. As he engages in consolidating the concepts and planting the directions, he concerns himself in applying the thoughts on the events, and in distancing himself from abstraction and logic. He also enters into struggle against the directions, strife and slanders attacking his view of life, and against the deep-rooted concepts which developed during the age of decline, and against the mischievous influence which the enemies spread about the Islamic thoughts, and against belittling the high aims and distant goals into partial aims and immediate, impatient goals. So he struggles on two fronts: internal and external, and in two directions: destroying and building; and he works on two levels: the politics and the thought. In summary, he immerses himself into the battlefield of life in its most high and valuable sense. Therefore, the collision of the aware people with the issues, through their friction with the situation, people and life’s problems, is inevitable, whether at the domestic local scene or the worldly international one. Through this collision, his capability will emerge in giving the message which he carries, and the special angle from which he views the world, according to the concept which he adopts, as the basis, the judgement, and the goal which he strives to establish and the aim which he endeavours to achieve. But because he commits himself with a special view, and because he has a certain taste and inclination, whether they are natural or ideological, unless he is fully aware of himself he might colour the facts in the colour he likes, and interpret the thoughts the way he wants, and understand the news to give the result which he wants to arrive at. Therefore, he should be aware lest his inclinations dominate his opinions and the news.

The self desire for a personal, or a partisan or ideological thing might make him interpret the opinions and news wrongly, or it could add to it points that make him think the opinion is true when it is false, or think it false when it is true. Therefore, the aware person should understand the speech which is said and the actions which are made. In regard to the events, whether they were matters or incidents, he must understand them tangibly and logically, as they are, not as he wants them to be. With regard to the thoughts, he has to understand them according to their reality, so he moves with his mind outside, to see by his heart the reality expressed by that thought, and understand that thought according to his vision of the reality which denotes it, as it is, not as it agrees with what he wants. It is true the expression might be figurative, metaphorical or indirect (kinaya). It might also be a sentence, whose meaning comes from its syntax and not from its words. However, this does not prevent him from moving outside (his mind) and viewing the reality that indicates it, in accordance with the imports of the language as mentioned by linguists. So, the politically aware person must go along with the truth, but in accordance with his viewpoint that he embraces with certainty and conviction. He must see the facts as they are, in accordance with his perception or intellectual vision. In this way he will perfect his awareness after he takes account of the means of perfection. However, the basis of everything he has in terms of vision, comprehension, perception and understanding must remain to viewing the world from a specific angle.

The following question might arise in this context. How can the political aware be free in terms of sticking to the truth and viewing the facts as they are despite his view of the world from a specific angle? If such a question arises, then this is due to the superficial view of the matters. If the person was deep in study, then such a question would not arise. This is because there is a difference between the reality of things and judgement upon them. People do not differ over the reality of things. If the matter is related to sight, then whoever has sight would see the thing as it is, unless he is cheated or deceived. If it was related to sensation, then whoever has sensation he would sense the thing, whether it was by tasting, like the bitter taste or the sweet, or by senses like the soft and rough, or by hearing like the sounds, or by smelling like the smells. Thus, people sense things as they are, despite the disparity in that. However, people can differ regarding judgement on things. So, viewing the world from a specific angle is related to judgement on things and actions. Viewing the facts is related to the senses and comprehension. Therefore, it is necessary to see the facts as they are and to stick to the truth. It is necessary as well to view the world, incidents and things from a specific angle.

How can this apply to international politics? We can examine some examples that show the way of viewing the political events from a specific angle. These examples will be from the politics of the Messenger (saw), politics of the middle ages and the current political examples.

The specific angle from which the Messenger (saw) used to view the world was propagating the da’wa. Since the Quraysh were the leading state in the Arab Peninsular, and were the head of kufr in obstructing the da’wa, he directed his attention to confine the political and military actions to them. So, he sent the spies to observe them, stand up against their trade and involve in wars with them. He was content that other states, i.e. tribes will stand as spectators, or as they say: they stand neutral. Thus, his political and military actions used to emanate from viewing the world from a specific angle. When the Messenger (saw) came to know that Khayber was negotiating with Quraysh for concluding an alliance between them to attack Medina, destroy Mohammed (saw) and crush Islam, he defined the angle of action to conclude a truce or peace treaty with Quraysh and thus devote himself to crushing Khayber. From this special angle he adopted the policy of peace with Quraysh as the basis of his future actions as long as these actions fulfilled his aims. So all his actions in this period i.e. going to Umrah, accepting that the Quraysh avoid him, his soft attitude towards the obstinance of the Quraysh, and opposing his companions, etc. were all done in accordance with his peaceful policy. So, his view of the political actions towards his enemy which he focused his attentions upon, emerged from a special angle and were modified according to the requirements of this special angle.

These are two examples of the actions of the Messenger (saw); one of them is general which is focusing on a great state that comes at the head of his enemies, based on a specific angle. The second is a particular action, which is to focus on a particular objective, and thus make it a specific angle. This makes it clear how the view of political events from a special angle dominates the actions and the behaviour, and had not the view been taken from a special angle the actions would have had no meaning.

The great powers after the Berlin conference took the plunder of the Islamic state’s (Ottoman state) properties as the special angle of their view, although they discussed both the destruction of the Islamic state and its plunder it was the latter issue they adopted. Thus they modified their actions to suit the robbing of the Ottoman state and hence entered into a political struggle with each other for more than a century. Though the struggle ended with the destruction of the Islamic state, this was not the special angle from which these countries viewed the political events and actions.

After World War II, America said the world is a company, and America has the biggest number of its shares, so the management of this company must be in her hand. She took this saying as the specific angle from which she viewed the world. So, her actions conformed to this angle; and she started to look at the political actions that take place in this world from this angle. The view from this angle made her agree with, rather ally herself with the SU, and made her snub England and France. After the collapse of the SU, her view changed; so she did not only snub England and France, rather snubbed the entire states of the world. She exaggerated in that course till she disavowed the international pacts agreed upon by the entire world. So, she withdrew from the Kyoto agreement, and refused to enter the treaties regarding the removal of the land mines, and regarding establishing an international court of crimes and others. The specific angle from which she views the world came to be built upon the basis of the absence of equals with whom she can ally herself on equal footing. Thus, she turned to unilateralism; and started to deal with other great states with hegemony and supremacy.

This is the manner by which the view towards the political events of the world should be taken from a special angle, whether this angle is general, like taking the spread of da’wa as the basis of foreign policy, or specific, like restricting the enmity towards a specific country whose defeat would enable us to go forth in the world. The angle can also be more specific than this, like engaging in a political war, so that the other countries can see a model of our political wars. So the application of the view to the political actions and events from a special angle is an easy matter which does not need the practice of politics in reality. To understand this, it is enough to review the political events deeply. From this it becomes clear that following politics and comprehending the political concepts must lead to the creation of political awareness. This political awareness is very essential for political work and it is a necessary precursor for having influence on the political events.

Seeing that political awareness has become intuitive for the great countries, and the knowledge of international politics is the daily bread of the politicians, then the sons of the Muslim Ummah who are the sons of the Islamic state, are supposed to have political awareness as the first political concept to be endowed with, and the basis of their political actions. They are also supposed to make an effort to make this political awareness common between the masses and intuitive within society and the daily bread of the politicians. Their major function and prime role is the spread of the Islamic da’wah in the world and spreading guidance amongst mankind. This cannot be achieved unless they are politicians and view the world from a special angle and enjoy full political awareness.

In order that political awareness does not appear as something too big, and that it not be considered a huge thing that is only possible for the intelligent and educated people, they should know that it is an easy matter and it is also possible for the illiterate and common people. This is true, because political awareness does not require an acquaintance with the political actions in the world nor an acquaintance with everything in Islam or with what must be taken as the special angle to view the world. It rather means that the view should be towards the world, regardless of how much information he has about it, and it is this view which must be from a special angle. So what matters is that the view should be universal, even if the action is a single political action, and this worldly view must be from a special angle. So the view of the world from a special angle is enough indication for the political awareness.

It is true that this political awareness differs in strength and weakness according to the amount of information the person has about the world and the political events, and also differs according to the knowledge that person has about the special angle. However, it is still political awareness which leads to the same result i.e. an elevation above superficiality in politics and triviality in looking at the events. Accordingly, the political awareness is not restricted to the politicians and thinkers, and it is wrong for it to be restricted to them. It must be common to all the people and it can be established among the illiterate and common people, as it can be established amongst the scholars and the learned people. The political awareness must be established amongst the Ummah even in a general manner, this is because the Ummah is the soil in which men grow. So this soil must be a soil of political awareness in order to be able to produce men of real character and in order to be able to criticise the leaders, to evaluate the men, and to face the foreign dangers with real awareness.

The manner of generating political awareness in the individuals and in the Ummah is political culturing in the political sense, whether it was culturing with the thoughts and rules of Islam, or it was the follow up of the political events. Thus, a Muslim politician must be cultured with the thoughts and rules of Islam, not as abstract theories, but rather by connecting them with realities. He should also follow up the political events, not like the journalist who follows up the news or like the teacher who aims at gaining information. He should rather view them from the special angle so as to issue his judgement upon them, to link them with other events and thoughts, or to link them with the reality (a political action as an example) that takes place before him. This political culturing with the ideology and politics is the method of generating the political awareness in the Ummah and the individuals; and it is the matter that makes the Ummah assume her prime task and original duty, which is carrying the da’wa to the world, and spreading guidance among people. Therefore, political culturing is the method of generating political awareness in the Ummah and individuals. Accordingly, the Muslim Ummah must be cultured politically on the largest possible scale, because this is what establishes political awareness and helps the Ummah to produce a mass of creative politicians.

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