Islam:The Birth of a New Nationality
In our search for the basic factors that produce collective consciousness, we arrived at two points: common suffering and common aspiration in the face of domination and exploitation of man by man or his institutions. We also observed that these factors are not permanent unifiers unless infused by the yearning for justice, righteousness and piety (in the terminology of Western writers, the human and progress objectives). It is this vital essence which like life itself is living and is the augmenter of life, the élan vital. When this essence is injected into the body of a people or a group, it stimulates a collective movement, dynamism and evolution, resulting in the creative development of its culture and traditions, which are manifestations of a nation's independence and its distinct character.
In a considerably large part of our world, we see different nations with different languages, traditions, racial descent and living in geographically diverse conditions, which have formed numerous political units and separate and independent states. These are the world's Islamic nations. The classical Western criteria see them as different nationalities as alien to each other as they are to other nations and countries. Accordingly, these criteria require them to retain their separate identities and remain alien to one another. The consequences of this separation and alienation are observable for all. But despite the apparent differences they share certain elements that unite them. Among these people, the most prominent common factor is their faith, Islam, which is a world in itself, rich in culture and specific traditions.
We have to see how their attachment to Islam serves as a ground of common consciousness and unity; that is, what are the common goals and objectives which are taught and inspired by Islam as a creed and a world-view. Secondly, we have to find the common malaise that affects these nations despite their adherence to Islam. Let us review the teachings of the Quran in this regard:
That which you serve apart from Him, is nothing but names which you have named, you and your fathers; God has sent down no authority touching them. Judgment belongs only to God, He has commanded that you shall not serve any but Him. This is the right religion; but most men know not. (12:40)
O Men, a parable is set forth, so giue you ear to it. Surely those whom you call upon, apart from God, shall never create a fly, though they banded together to do it; and should a fly snatch away from them aught, they would never rescue it from it. Feeble indeed alike are the seeker and the sought! (22: 73)
And struggle for God as is His due, for He has chosen you, and has laid on you no impediment in your religion, the creed of your father Abraham, He named you Muslims aforetime and in this, that the Messenger might be a witness upon you, and that you may might be witnesses upon mankind. So perform the prayer, and pay the alms, and hold you fast to God; He is your Protector - an excellent Protector, an excellent Helper. (22:78)
O mankind, We have created you of a male and a female, and made you races and tribes, that you may know one another. Surely the noblest among you in the sight of God is the most God-fearing of you. God is All-knowing All-aware. (49:13)
And hold you fast to God's bond, together, and do not scatter; remember God's blessing upon you when you were enemies, He united your hearts, so that by His blessing you became brethren; and you were on the brink of a pit of fire, then He saved you from it; thus does God make clear to you His signs that you may follow the right way. (3:103)
You are the best nation raised up for men; you enjoin what is good and forbid the wrong and believe in God. Had the people of the Book believed, it were better for them; some of them are believers, but most of them are transgressors.(3:110)
Those who have studied the history of liberation movements know that the independence of nations and peoples essentially depends upon an individual or a group, howsoever small it may be, that has completely liberated itself from the bondage of worldly temptations and attachments; these are the men who tell the people that if they wish to be dominated and ruled by the worldly powers they shall remain under their subjugation, but if they resolve to be free, all the rich and the powerful shall melt like ice and be destroyed.
The basis of liberation is the conviction of the oppressed in their rightfulness and deprivation on the one hand, and the weakness and vulnerability of the forces of untruth on the other. What ideology can teach humanity the fundamentals of freedom in clearer and more evident terms? Tawhid and Islam mean liberation and freedom, freedom from all chains and bonds and opening of the avenues of man's evolution and upliftment towards the Divine.
Islam tells its followers that all the distinctions of colour, race and language that are observed among the nations of the world, and which have been made the criteria of their separation, are accidental, having no essential reality. On the whole, those people are noble and honourable who are advancing on the path of human perfection. The plurality of colours, languages and traditions in human society, and all the other differences observable in nature, are manifestations of the richness and variety of being and forms of a single reality. Every flower has its own colour and odour, its own properties and uses. But all are to be evaluated and measured according to the criterion of their contribution to man's advancement towards his Supreme Source.
These differences and distinctions cannot be regarded as divisive factors; rather it is their coming together and getting to know one another (ta'aruf) that gives birth to material and spiritual development.
Whatever your race, territory or language, you share a common Law (Din), and it is your duty to safeguard this Divine Law with firmness and not to let yourselves be divided. Always remember God's blessing that earlier you were enemies of one another but after the spirit of Islam and tawhid was infused into you, you were united together. The fruit of this unity was a world full of knowledge, merit and moral excellence, which you brought as a gift for entire humanity. If you preach and defend virtue and fight against evil and corruption, you shall be the best of all nations. Either this material and social existence of yours will lead you to commit aggression against one another and oppression and exploitation of one another, or the same material and social existence of yours will become the source of your life, development and growth:
O men your insolence is only against yourselves; the enjoyment of this world's life, then unto Us you shall return ... (10:23)
On the other hand, this very material existence is the source of your life and its development and evolution at both the individual and collective levels.
The likeness of this world's life is only as water which We send down from the heaven, then the herbage of the earth, of which men and cattle eat, grows luxuriantly thereby, until when the earth puts on its golden raiment and becomes garnished ... (10:24)
Now since this worldly existence of yours in society is an admixture of evolution and transgression, in order not to give injustice and aggression any chances of growth, your remedy lies in this: With complete and perfect faith in the Unity and Sovereignty of God, with self-denial and willingness to sacrifice, take up arms and wage a perpetual, unceasing struggle against the sovereignty of wealth and against egoism.
O believers, shall I direct you to a commerce that shall deliver you from a painful chastisement? You shall believe in God and His Messenger, and struggle in the way of God with your property and your lives. That is better for you, did you but know. (61:10-11)
In this way, the basis of your nationhood and the constituent of your collective consciousness is, firstly, faith in God (the objective), and, secondly, your jihad (the common anguish, which at the level of action is translated into insurrection against untruth and preparedness for self-sacrifice).
And (as for) those who believe, and have migrated and struggled in the way of God, and those who have given refuge and help, those in truth are believers they shall have forgiveness and generous provision. (8:74)
Study the history and fates of past and present nations; whatever they were and whatever they became was a result of their own individual and collective endeavours; you, Muslims, are also governed by the same law.
This is a nation that has passed away; they have what they earned, and you shall have what you earn, and you shall not be called upon to answer for what they did. (2:134)
In the end your destiny as human beings depends upon your efforts made in the way of sublimation towards your Lord, who is the highest representative of justice and truth, virtue and beauty. It is only after effort and endeavour that you will achieve the ultimate success of attaining His vision:
O Man! Thou art labouring unto thy Lord laboriously, and thou shalt encounter Him . (84:6)
The different Muslim nations, with all their present separation from each other, live under the influence of this kind of teaching so far as their world-view and objectives are concerned. And it is this teaching which forms the common culture of these peoples. It is this Islamic and tawhidi culture that has produced their heroes and martyrs, and has preserved the legacy and memorable epics that were woven into the fabric of their collective Islamic consciousness.
In the first century of the Islamic era the principles and objectives of Islamic tawhid were conveyed to the world in such clear and unambiguous terms that all the civilized people of those days, with all their fervour and awareness, embraced these teachings. Very soon the Islamic nation or rather the Islamic cosmopolitan society came into being. But this unity disappeared soon and divisions emerged, because the men who wielded power could not or did not wish to understand the real meaning of Islamic objectives. The Islamic international movement was perceived as an Arab empire and caliphate - a perception which was a flagrant violation of Islamic objectives.
Because of this, the unity which was achieved was soon squandered, a defeat in whose wake appeared many upheavals, weaknesses and deviations, until, subsequently the Muslims went into a long and deep slumber.
Concurrent with this slumber was the awakening of the Christian West. By making abundant use of the Islamic traditions in culture, social life and science, the West laid the foundations of its own culture, a culture which, apart from its indebtedness to the traditions and the scientific endeavours of the Islamic world, was motivated by worldly ambition, greed for wealth, urge for aggression and quest for worldly power. As a consequence, a few centuries ago the Islamic world came under the attack and exploitation of the enemies from the West. At first their cultural, moral and religious existence was threatened; then their material and economic resources were pillaged and plundered. The prolonged state of slumber, on the one hand, and the colonial onslaughts on the other, intensified the captivity of Muslim nations producing a defeatist mentality in them.
Now it is a hundred years that the cultural, social and political changes in the world have been shaking these nations and ringing the bell of alarm for them. They are, on the one hand, understanding the import of tawhid, Islam and its objectives from a new angle, and a new world of fresh truths is dawning upon them; on the other hand, the observation of the present conditions of Muslims and their misery, deprivation and backwardness is generating a fresh urge and aspiration among the Muslim masses. We are witnessing an awakening and movement in the captive Islamic countries.
The liberating slogans and objectives of tawhid and Islam inspire and stimulate not only Muslims but also every oppressed people who become acquainted with Islamic teachings. Both in the newly-formed African countries and the Arab countries under the yoke of imperialism, Islam has emerged as a militant ideology of revolt and struggle for the oppressed people of the world.
Western civilization, which for centuries has been waging war openly as well as covertly against Islam, has sprung to its feet at the emergence of this phenomenon. As a result, the bourgeois imperialist West has adopted the stance of peaceful coexistence with the Marxist Eastern bloc. With its innate affinity with Zionism, it established a Zionist state in the heart of the Muslim world. On the other hand, it endeavours to win the hearts of the followers of other faiths, such as Buddhists and Zoroastrians.
Today it appears that the West is busy in uniting all the forces opposed to Islam and justice and equipping them against the Muslims. It is for this reason that every now and then we see steps being taken and conspiracies being hatched, in every nook and cranny, to weaken the impact of Islamic slogans and teachings. As a consequence of all these conspiracies and unholy alliances, the sense of common anguish is growing amongst Muslims, strengthening further the fabric of their collective consciousness.
The Islamic outlook and the sense of suffering is expanding today and the Islamic nationhood is in the process of a rebirth, a nationhood that transcends the conventional age - old frontiers and embraces all Muslims, or rather all free and God-loving human beings. It is a nationhood which negates the sovereignty of every nation, tribe and family and is founded upon the freedom and liberty of man from every kind of intellectual, social and political bondage and upon his ascent to the heights of the abode of the Divine.
Men like Imam Khomeini(R.A.),Ayatullah Khamna'ee,'Abd al-Rahman al-Kawakibi, Sayyid Jamal al-Din Asadabadi, Muhammad 'Abduh, Na'ini, Iqbal and Bashir Ibrahimi are the pioneers of this new outlook of tawhid and Islam. They were the first to feel the new anguish and to spouse the Islamic aspiration; they were the founders of a new nationhood based on tawhid. It is the lament of Iqbal Lahuri which like morning breeze awakens the slumbering hearts and unites the divided consciousness of the Muslim world, reminding it of its mission of magnanimous service to God's creation and bringing the good tidings of man's freedom and liberation:
Rise from thine heavy slumber
O sleeping bud, wake up to a narsissus-like vigilance over the world,
Rise, for griefs have devastated our haven;
Let the lament of the morning fowl and the dawn call of prayer wake you up;
Rise, the fire-eaters are at work and the fire-balls hang in the air.
Rise from heavy slumber, from heavy slumber arise!
What an ocean is thine that is silent like a desert?
What an ocean is that which swells not and falls like a lake?
What an ocean is it that knows no storms and whales?
Rise like a tidal wave from the split breast of the ocean!
Rise from heavy slumber, from thine heavy slumber arise!
Beware of the West and its bewitching coquetry!
Beware of its disloyal charm and its Michiavellian malice!
The world lies desolate from the savagery of the West!
O builder of the Sanctuary, take up the task of building a new world!
Rise from thine heavy slumber, from thine heavy slumber arise!
From thine heavy slumber arise !