Islam as nationality and identity
Europeans are in a great tragedy. After Paris they were struck in Brussels, which is regarded as the political capital of Europe. They are witnessing a new era of terrorism on their soil but they have, in my views, failed to address the real problem. In west many great minds believe that counter-insurgency, war or promoting moderate notion of Islam will address that threat. Unfortunately, they are wrong and could not defeat Islamic fascism until they do not accept the fact that West has itself legitimized that Frankenstein ideology. Among all Islamic organizations regardless of their means of struggle, the notion of Ummah or one Islamic nation is essential and that very principle defines their ultimate objective i.e. to establish an Islamic State or Caliphate. One of the core principles of the Political Islam is that all Muslim are part of a greater Ummah. Thus Muslim are one nation and people; they should be governed by a unified state under God’s Law.
According to an Islamic website, Islam Today, ‘Ummah’ is an Arabic word which translates as ‘community’ or ‘nation’. Quran the foundational text of Islam uses it in five general categories. One of them is that, ‘people united by a common faith’. That usage refer to Surah (chapter) Al Baqarah of the Quran which says, “Mankind was a single nation (Ummah), and Allah sent Messengers with glad tidings and warnings…” [Al-Quran: 2:213]. Since the birth of Islam, there has been caliphate (Islamic state) in one form or another. Where different imperial powers used religion to legitimize their rule on nations. Arabs and then Turks occupied massive territories of other nations and justified their colonisation in the name of religion. In World War One (1914-18) Allies defeated Ottoman Empire and then Turk nationalism buried the last Islamic State by establishing a Turkish nation state in 1923.
However, after World War Two regressive policies of British Empire gave rebirth to the notion of Islamic Ummah and legitimized the Islam as a form of nationality by dividing India on religious basis and creating a state on the concept that a different faith could constitute a different nation and nationality. Pakistan which was created by the British Empire in 1947 by dividing Indian sub-continent could be best defined as ‘a state based on theocratic colonial geopolitics’, which was formed on the basis that somehow Muslims of India are superior to Hindus of India. The notion that on the basis of believes you could establish a nation was proved catastrophic in its early days. It resulted in the displacement of fifteen million people and more than a million innocent human beings were killed in riots on both sides. Religion is a cohesive force for Pakistan’s existence that’s why as a state it has always propagated the idea of one Islamic nation.
The Afghan War, Pakistan’s support to Taliban in Afghanistan for theocracy and Pakistan’s asymmetric warfare via its proxies further cemented the idea of holy war and Ummah in the region. It is necessary for Pakistan’s survival to propagate the idea of one Muslim Nation and Community. Hans Morgenthau, a leading scholar of International Relations noted in 1956, “Pakistan is not a nation and hardly a state. It has no justification in history, ethnic origin, language, civilization, or the consciousness of those who make up its population … Thus it is hard to see how anything but a miracle, or else a revival of religious fanaticism, will assure Pakistan’s future”.
Since 1947, Pakistan as a state propagated the idea of Islamic nation because its existence relies on that very notion. During Afghan War, Saudi and other anti-Soviet powers funded Islamic Jihad, which resulted in the dramatic rise of Political Islam. In decades that notion of Ummah became a global ideology because of modern electronic media and press. Thousands of Islamic NGOs and organisations were funded and supported by Saudi Arabia and other countries for the promotion of that ridiculous idea. However, in the West, the projection of idea that there is a so called ‘Muslim Community’ which has a distinct identity different from the Western civilisation, unintentionally strengthen by western policy makers. States allowed the establishment of Islamic Sharia Councils (in UK, these are quasi-Islamic courts) and Prime Ministers appointed advisors on Islam, in some cases these advisors themselves were part of political Islamic movement.
Even though now the West is trying to counter Political Islam by projecting and funding a group of moderate Muslims who claims to be fighting for the recovering of peaceful Islam. Nevertheless, idea that faith can constitute a nation or a community will aid the Islamic fascism. Any version of Islamic or Muslim Community, moderate or radical will simply strengthen Political Islam. The reality is that there is no such Muslim Community because only distinct culture, language and ethnicity can constitute a nation or community. The Bengali culture is different from Arab culture, both ethnicities follow Islam as their religion but still their norms, clothes, culture, food and mentality differs from one another.
Similarly, the culture and norms of Baloch are different from their neighbouring Sindhis. Sindhi culture is very distinct from Pashtun Culture. Kurds have a unique culture in the Middle East that is distinctive from Arab and Turkish culture. The culture defines social and religious interactions of a nation. If culture, land, language and history defines the social and religious interaction accordingly than how is it possible to ignore dissimilarities and label 20 per cent of the world population a single community because these distinct ethnic groups somehow believe in a similar religious idea?
Western states have created a feasible ground for Islamic terrorism by institutionalising the idea of Muslim community. They should review their policies and either promote their state oriented national identity or identities which are areligious and based primarily on distinct ethnic culture. First and foremost, Western policy makers should counter the notion of Ummah and Muslim Community by propagating ethnic and state oriented areligious cultures and identities. They should also systemically get rid of Sharia courts or any form of council, which is working as a parallel authority within Western states. In Middle East and Afghan-Pakistan region they should support those ethnic groups who have resisted religious form of national identity and instead struggled to form states on the basis of nations and ethnicity i.e. Kurd, Baloch, and Sindhi etc.
In conclusion, Islamic fascism is based on the notion of one Islamic nation. As far as there is a notion that Islam constitutes a nation and nationality, the Islamic terrorism will only flourishes.
Author: Jamal Nasir Baloch
Freedom Fighter for