Secular Nationalism & Jahiliyyah
December 17, 2006 § 5 Comments
As I have previously discussed on Wa Salaam, I think many of the problems of the Middle East (M.E.) stem from socio-political events occurring at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th. However, reaching this far back is too difficult to make conclusive and believable arguments, especially since no one in the argument would have been born for at least another 40 years or so. Therefore, in discussions concerning the M.E. (and most sociopolitical conflicts for that matter) we choose to make it easy on ourselves by making a compromise. That compromise is two fold, on one hand we rely on current affairs as our platform. Yet, on the other hand we, the people, tend to side quickly with whomever is less likely to be a threat.
A perfect example of this is Israel, for years the “Jewish-State” has had the support of not only the U.S. Government but also the hearts and minds of the people of the U.S. as well. Sure, there are arguments about evangelicals enlisting sheepish Americans to the Israeli cause. But lets face it, these terms between Palestine, Lebanon, Israel and the United States are not exactly simple and honest. I have drawn my conclusion concerning Palestine, written them, published them and all they do is inspire more conflict. So what’s one to do?
Apparently nothing, as U.S. loyalties to Israel become transparent. The Washington Post recently published a statement that suggests,
“The attempt to delegitimize the state of Israel has found many willing ears. Not only is it a popular refrain in the Muslim world, but it has great support in the UN, in western Europe, and increasoingly in the mainstream media in the U.S. (Israel is a Liability for U.S., Washington Post 12/8/2006.”)” (S. Gruber, American Thinker)
Is it ironic that the U.S. media is turning away from supporting Israel, this is indeed an abrupt change from previous sentiment at least in the media or is it the result of Israel’s recent announcement admitting to possessing nuclear weapons that has spooked many Americans? Nevertheless, it may be a combination of factors, one of which is stated above but also the recent report submitted to President Bush by the Baker’s Dozen (the Iraq Study Group) implied in Steven Gruber’s article when he wrote,
“It’s only natural of course, that the world is tiring of Israel. After all, a favorite line of reasoning suggests that if not for the never-ending Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Islam would be at peace with the West. Notwithstanding the patent absurdity of that argument, and human nature being what it is, it stands to reason to reason that fearful westerners will opt to offer Israel up as a sacrificial lamb. Even our own Iraq Study Group report recommends sacrificing the patent absurdity of that argument, its stands to reason that fearful westerners will opt to offer Israel up as a sacrificial lamb. Even our own Iraq Study Group report recommends sacrificing Israel at the appeasment alter.”
So what of Israel? For my purposes here Israel is not the question, the question I would like to analyze is: what of Muslims as they relate to Israel and the West? Should we feel the aroma of victory because of the shift in U.S. media relations concerning the “Jewish-State”, not at all. In fact, there are no victories until there is peace, and not just peace for Muslims. Wasn’t it our beloved Prophets whom, in our tradition, fought not only for self-interests, but the interests of the weak and oppressed. These men did not lose heart in the face of disaster even when they themselves were the weak and oppressed. They never lost sight of the way, a way that would not allow them to mistake hirabah for jihad, they would stand firm in the way of the religion and not necessarily the routine of dogma. When the Ummah of the Muslims arrived triumphant in Mecca the Prophet later said,
“There will be a time when your religion will be like a hot piece of coal in the palm of your hand; you will not be able to hold it.”
And a Muslim asked,
“Ya rasulullah, would this mean there would be very few Muslims?”
The Prophet of Islam replied,
“No, they will be large in numbers, more than ever before, but powerless like the foam on the ocean waves.”
Indeed, in my heart I feel that the Prophet was speaking of this time, right now. But what can we do? And where do the problems lie? I am not suggesting that I have the answers, only God knows best, but I think we can start with acknowledging the fact that nationalist ideologies are no different than the secular tribal orders of al-jahiliyyah, this (nationalism) is not modern. There is something missing from the rostrum of global discussions and in the agenda of politicians. They are fixed on material interests based on their desire to serve the people. But, often these descisions are void of qualities that will best serve people as suggested by Akbar Ahmed,
“The need is to reconstruct notions and practice of justice, compassion, balance, and knowledge. This will devert the exclusionists, brislting with the need to maintain honor, from confrontation to accomodation, from conflict to consensus.”
This should not be impossible, it should actually be very obtainable for Believers in God, His Books and His Messengers. As for Muslims, we need to come out from under our rocks; dust ourselves off and relinquish the mass hysteria that somehow Muslims are the target of all the worlds hatred. Those in the M.E. have an opportunity to learn more about the West and how it has come to terms and conclusions of modern ideas. It would be much more helpful to examine the West from its conceived virtues and vices as they’ve developed internally rather than looking for a prophecy to identify as the identity of the West.
On the other hand, the Westerner, whom we must not forget is a much more diversified group, could make real progress in the global push for freedom, by examining the qualities that have developed at home as a result of the inherent diversity (this means both successes and failures) despite social, ethnic and/or economic classes. For most Westerners fears are rooted in the mere fact that there are certain elements within their own environment which are completely foreign. Yet, they pass these foreign bodies (ideas, structures, people, etc.) on the way to work, sitting next to someone of this foreign-ness on the train and in a million other scenarios from dusk to dawn. The situation is clear: the fear of the other, the relative position in proximity to the unknown and an unwillingness to make the first compromise, make up the structure of an entry-way.
However, the entry-way is locked. I feel the key to this entry-way is in the Western-Muslim, those Muslims who have lived in the West or perhaps were born there. These are the people who can make the greatest impact, by first coming to terms with what non-Muslims are faced with. This is very empowering, and yet allows you to realize just how fragile, the situation is. I think that Muslims really need to examine what we are fighting for and not just stand in opposition to every Islamophobe with a microphone or a pen (or blog). The final point of this article is that Muslims should accept democracy as the next plateu of governance. It has not been successful in the M.E. yet, and has endured criticisms upon criticisms but, as I have realized over my lifetime there is no other way. Muslims need to stop thinking that Shari’a disappears in the face of democracy, it does not. In fact, I think it becomes stronger, and once Muslims step into the realm of modernity, they will have a voice. The sheer number of Muslims alone will demand attention. Should we fear corruption, a state or a governing body that presents a political solution? We must stand steadfast with our hearts firm in rememberance and we will be safe there, it is decreed,
“If a suggestion from Satan assail thy (mind), seek refuge with Allah; for He heareth and knoweth (all things).” (07:200)
In my final thoughts on this subject, I pray that the “anarchic threat” that is often placed on Muslims give way, insha’allah. But in order for this to happen, Muslims are going to have to get up, get out and get busy as pillars of the community and men and women of knowledge. As Muslims, are we not complelled to seek knowledge? Knowledge of our religion and our selves is the only way that the peace of Islam, the peace that is tossed aside everyday by misguided Muslims, the peace that is rejected as a canard by non-Muslims, a Peace that is promised:
“Allah has promised, to those among you who believe and work righteous deeds, that He will, of a surety, grant them in the land, inheritance (of power), as He granted it to those before them; that He will establish in authority their religion – the one which He has chosen for them; and that He will change (their state), after the fear in which they (lived), to one of security and peace: ‘They will worship Me (alone) and not associate aught with Me. ‘If any do reject Faith after this, they are rebellious and wicked.” (24:55)
A Peace that is promised to separate good from evil in the hearts and minds of everyone. We need to achieve peace and move beyond triabal wars masked in diplomacy, because there are peacable solutions to Palestine and Israel, they just have not been accessed yet. There are peacable solutions to Iraq, Afghanistan and Darfur we just have to work together on principles of justice, compassion, balance and knowledge and not nationalistic pride and principle. This must be done because, there are no victories until there is freedom from oppression. Do you agree?