Minority Issues and Monopolistic Attitudes of Majorities: How Ummah Becomes a Complete Solution?
If minority issues are to be wound up forever, it is obligatory that the universe should embrace the concept of Ummah which is put forward by Islam. All should be attentive that everyone is human. The sense of “My Nation, not Others’” ought to be substituted by the sense of “My Nation, as Others,’” writes MUHAMMED SIBILI.
Apart from the etymological discourses, nationalism is a term which is defined in numerous ways in accordance with various dogmas. The sense of ‘my nation’ can be considered as the core essence of nationalism. Aggressive nationalism and non-aggressive nationalism are the two binaries of nationalism and every national movement can be enlisted in one among the mentioned categories.
The sense of “My Nation, not Others’” is the main catalyst that makes nationalism aggressive. Aggressiveness is a verb that needs an object (maf’ool). Hence, there should be a molested fraction created by the particular nationalism. This leads to the establishment of minorities as victims of persecution.
In every nook and corner of the world, minorities were, and are, being attacked by the majorities. The aim of these aggressions is to utterly eradicate these minority sections. But, in fact, the minorities, as a universal phenomenon, could not be entirely wiped out. Despite the truth, majorities always keep an ironical attitude towards minorities.
The Islamic concepts of nationalism and patriotism, which give much focus to humanity, get an immense importance in this meticulous platform. Islam declares that the minorities are also human and they also deserve everything even as the majorities do.
With the concept of Ummah, Islamic humanitarianism merged whole communities like the bangles of a chain. Hence, entire communities can live peacefully without any distinctions between minorities and majorities.
According to Islam, both Muslims and infidels are belonging to the Ummah of the Prophet. As per the interpretation of Imam Faqrudheen al Razi, Ummah of the Prophet is two types: Ummath al Da’wahandUmmath al Ijaba. When the first one is defined as the community who responded (believers) to the invitation of the Prophet, the second one was the people who met the age of the Prophet. Precisely, everything, including whole non-living beings, is a part of the Ummah of the Prophet until the Day of Judgment.
A believer ought to love the lovers of the Prophet. So, as a result, it can be grasped that, respecting whole Ummah of the Prophet seems to be an indispensable matter. In addition, Thafseer al Razi itself forwarded that, the appointment of the Prophet is based on two considerations:(1) Appointment for the matured (Irsal al Thakleef),(2) Appointment for the blessings (Irsal al Thashreef).
According to the second appointment of the Prophet, even non-living things too, gets some purities and blessings. So, everyone deserves respect from others. The prohibition of cutting trees, assaulting horses, old people, children and ladies during the Mu’thabattle was a command derived from this notion.
In Islam, nationalism is always based on the concept of Ummah. The entrance of Muhammad (saws) was in a dark age where too many classes and races were in existence. While bringing down the extant social constructs of his time, he was also not unmindful of the bigger picture. Among his followers, there were white Persians, black Ethiopians and white Romans like Salman Farisi(ra), Bilal al-Muadhin(ra) and Shuaib(ra) respectively.
The proclamation of the Prophet, “One who segregates according to races is not from me,” itself strengthened the ideals of humanity in the human consciousness. He eradicated the deeply rooted discrimination in Madinah between the warring tribes ofAws and Khasraj. Therefore, Islam offered a life without the disruptive effects of majoritarianism or minoritarianism.
The birth of the Harm Principle was from an intellectual movement identical to Islamic concepts. J.S. Mill, the advocate of Utilitarianism,was the first person who initiated the Harm Principle. The idea put forward by the principle was that if a person celebrates his freedom, it should not be harmful for others. The root cause that motivatedJ.S. Mill for such a humanitarian notion was his living surroundings. He was mentally dull due to the pictures of aggressions upon minorities in his era (1806-1873). He had witnessed the emigrated European minorities in United States of America, who were the products of Industrial revolution and the minorities from the Europe reached as refugees due to the German revolution (1848-1849). But his findings remained as theories only and became unfruitful in the practical domain.
Lexicons define the minorities as ‘the small fraction of whole, especially fewer than 50% of total.’ In various locations of the world, minorities live as aggressed or non-aggressed. Some of the criteria of this discrimination are nationalistic thoughts and some are color, race, class, politics etc. The minorities created by Apartheid in South Africa were not only based on nationalism but also on color too.
Minorities and Governments
Whilst a majority argues a nation as their own and makes a monopolistic attitude within a boundary, harassment towards minority communities is a sure matter.
There are different types of nations. It includes theocracies, non-theocracies but those which work for a particular religion, one party system following nations and secular countries. Wherever it is, minority communities are inevitable. It can be understood from the descriptions about the various types of nations.
Theocracies are nations where the constitution and whole political motions are running according to a religion. Indeed, each and every lifestyle of the citizens of the nation should be in regard to the suggestions of the particular religion.
When it is comprehended, there should be a doubt whether these countries contain minorities or not. But, it is possible and can be proved by examining the situations of Saudi Arabia, the largest Muslim theocracy in the world. Every political concept of Saudi Arabia is bounded to Islamic thoughts. Its depth can be calculated by understanding the fact, if an infidel needs to be a Saudi citizen, he should be converted to Islam.
Then there is a chance to think that there is no minorities in Saudi Arabia. The minorities within the Islam make their minorities. There is 86% of Sunni Muslims and the remaining 14% is Shia Muslims. Because of the distinctions in the culture, praying and belief, Shies remain as a minority community in Saudi Arabia.
Some nations stand as non-theocracies and simultaneously work for a religion. This type of countries are very rare. Their constitution or government will not be under the jurisprudence of any religion. Despite the name of democracy, they will accept any ideologies for establishing propagation of their religion, whether it is approved by democracy or not. Israel is such a nation. Even though their constitution has not linked with Jewish laws anyway, they will be ready for any activism within the border for the bestowment of Jews.
Throughout the book The Other Side of Israel, Susan Nathan talks about the condition of minorities within Israel. To date, the international community does not seem to be bothered about them. Susan Nathan is trying to justify that the students of Israel politics, as well as research scholars, are the only ones who have knowledge about them.
In 2005, there were about twelve lakh Palestinians in Israel. The ratio between these Palestinians and Israel citizens is 1:5. They are known as Arab Israelis or Israeli Arabs. To Israelis, they have always been Palestinians. They have been suffering great discrimination from Israelis. Gazza and West Bank are outside the Israeli border. Beyond these, there is a bunch of harassed citizens within the boundary of Israel itself. The distribution of population of Israel is as: 80.1% = Jews, 14.6% = Muslims,and 2.1% = Christians. 2.2% = others. This calculation proves that the non-theocracies for a particular religion also bear minority communities.
The nations following the one party system are also not exceptions. For an instance, China can be taken in consideration. M.A. Abdul Kader Musliyar, a Keralite historian, has noted the poor surroundings of Chinese minorities and the injunctions they faced in the period of the 1960s. The liberal mind of Chinese politics sees communism as their religion in most sectors.
Actually, in China, there are five officially registered religions (Buddhist Association of China, Chinese Taoist Association, Islamic Association of China, Three-self Patriotic Movement, and Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association). But about 55 types of unregistered minorities live in China like Tibetan Buddhists and Uighur Muslims.
The degradation of culture is a common approach of Chinese majority towards the minorities. Cultural degradation and mental harassments will affect a community more negatively than physical attacks. The Chinese model of harassments can be read from this particular sense. In Xinjiang, the largest Chinese administrative division and eighth largest subdivision of a country in the world, a non-Muslim name is a demand for being subjected to the incentives from the side of government. Even the Friday speeches from Muslim Masjids should contain communist dogmas in China.
The presence of minorities in secular nations like India does not need an intellectual justification. The mottos like ‘Unity in diversity’ themselves showcase the idea at its zenith. But nations under the title of secularism should be bothered about the welfare of their minorities. They will always try to locate every culture and ritual uniformly. But, it is a query whether every secular country keeps unpolluted secularism nowadays or not. There are emerging paradoxes today which even attempt to reconcile secularism and minority harassments. In nutshell, the nations under every kind of system consist also of minorities.
If minority issues are to be wound up forever, it is obligatory that the universe should embrace the concept of Ummah which is put forward by Islam. All should be attentive that everyone is human. The sense of “My Nation, not Others’” ought to be substituted by the sense of “My Nation, as Others.’”
Sibili Abdul Salam is a freelance writer pursuing BA in English literature from the University of Calicut. His areas of interests are minority affairs, cultural anthropology and theology. He can be contacted @firstname.lastname@example.org