Old Engines

The efforts of thirteen long years at Makkah led to a simple conclusion. The mission was not acceptable to those who enjoyed wealth, power and influence. The Prophet needed new ideas, new strategy, new approach. He needed political power. Else, his mission will not move forward. Political power needed unity. Islam as the basis of unity was rejected. So, what was to be the basis? The answer was in considering what the basis of unity outside of Arabia was. How did the super powers that shook the earth at will, Romans and Persians, unite their subjects? It was none other than on the basis of region, nation, race and language. These slogans never fail.

The easiest way for the Prophet therefore, would have been to first get the Arabs united on the basis of Arabism, Arabic language (the language of Paradise), the Arabic region and (the superior) Arabic race. Even the Jews and Christians who lived in Arabia of that time considered themselves Arabs first and Jews or Christians next. Accordingly, Jews had no hesitation in slaughtering Jews and Christians slaughtering Christians, while they aligned themselves to Arab tribes. So, after drawing a total blank at Makkah, the Prophet could have appealed to Arabic, nationalistic, linguistic and regional sentiments to win the people, increase his numbers and then set about to implement his plans – whatever they were. But he did not.

When a man came to him just before a battle, offering his help but on the basis of Arabism, the Prophet refused. He had a fight before him. He could win or lose. He was being offered help. But he refused. Why? It was because the man believed in nationalism, racism, regionalism. The Prophet told him to step over them and accept unity based on values.

The Prophet’s attitude indicated, firstly, that his mission was not political, and, secondly, that he was a true Prophet and not (as those in the West in political, religious and intellectual attire like to impress on their masses) an adventurist who – as luck would have it – somehow succeeded. The idea of unity on the basis of values was new; yes; because it was not a product of the earth. It had not grown out of it. It came down from the heaven.

The member to member relationship between the individuals of the Ummah is on the basis of faith. They are one community, brothers unto each other, wherever they live, no matter at what distance from each other. A Muslim Eskimo relates himself as much to the Ummah as a Muslim from Thailand or Sharjah. They have rights upon each other, and duties towards each other. Any other division, such as on the basis of race, language, reason, or intellect, is illegal. They stink, as the Prophet said.

Divisions for political reasons (such as, one belongs to one political party, another to another), or for administrative reasons (such as grouping in districts), or the like, are allowed. Such groupings however, are for administrative reasons alone, and are, therefore, temporary, and do not affect the status of the individuals as belonging to one community with rights and duties towards each other. A Muslim belonging to one political party remains the brother unto a Muslim belonging to another political party, and cannot sleep with a full stomach while his brother of the other political party goes hungry as his neighbor.

The Ummah, therefore, is indivisible, and the concept inviolable. If some of its members cut themselves off from the Ummah, they still remain part of the Ummah, except that those who cut themselves off are misguided, and need to be educated. If one of those who cuts himself off, for example, dies, it still remains the duty of the Ummah to pray for him, bury him, and look after his dependents. Beyond this simple example, he must be defended by his brothers if attacked unjustly.

There are good many examples of Muslims who believe they are a cut above the rest, and hardly seem to be endowed with the sense of belonging to the Ummah. Nonetheless, and however wrong such attitudes, if one of them is in trouble, he deserves help and support by the individuals and groups of the Ummah. The rule also applies to religious divisions such as, for example, divisions on the basis of service to Islam. Groups with various opinions emerge in the communities, on the basis of how best Islam can be served. They seem to be self-centered, treat themselves a cut above the rest, and all but show disdain for the rest. They still remain part of the Ummah, with same rights, and same duties.

The Ummah comes into being on the basis of the testimony, “There is no God but One, and Muhammad is His Messenger.” Anyone who expresses belief in this, with no addition and no deletion, with no conditions and no reservations, is automatically a member of the Ummah. The Ummah can also be referred to as “Ahl al-Sunnah wa al-Jama`ah” (in short: “Al-Jama`ah“). That is, “Those who follow, (apart from the Qur’an), the Prophetic example, and are the mainstream community.” The loyalty of its members is to Islam, and their identity is Islam. They are not Arabs, Turks or whites first, and Muslims second. They are not Muslims first and Arabs, Turks, and whites next. They are Muslims first and Muslims last. Being an Arab or American or Eskimo is accidental. They cannot do anything for their rulers, nationalistic governments, political parties, or their own organizations, what does not receive Islam’s approval.

In its demands, obligations and injunctions, Islam has the benefit of entire humanity in focus; whereas, a nation formed on the basis of race, language, geographical location, or region, will have its own benefit in its sight, and not necessarily the benefit of entire mankind. Loyalty to Islam assures the benefit of the humanity at large: Muslim, non-Muslim, humans, animals, the earth and the atmosphere: just about everyone, everything. Loyalty to nations does not assure this. It assures loyalty to a small number of people, for a brief period of time. Such loyalties remain valid until the geographical area undergoes changes, new boundaries are drawn, and new nations come into being from new combinations. So, loyalty to nations has a brief life. After a period, the same loyalty turns into treachery. Those who were loyal to India before partition, will now be treated as disloyal to their nations, if they remain loyal to any Indian cause that has not the approval of their new governments, in new breakaway regions. In Islam there is no such confusion. From day-one of the pronunciation of the testimony, a Muslim’s loyalty is to the Ummah, and the Ummah’s loyalty is to universal truths via the Qur’an and Sunnah that embody them.

This principle generally receives the approval of mankind. It is disapproved by those who hold power, influence or wealth. This is because these ideas promise to loosen their stranglehold on their subjects and harms their interests. They would rather keep the people bound to their slavery via loyalty to the state. But Islam frees the people and tells them to be on the side of the truth, wherever it be, even if it happens to be beyond borders, with the enemy. Islam demands loyalty to ideals and values; and ideals and values belong to none. They came from the heaven, and humanity has their ownership. But the ideals and values of the ruling classes, the rich and the influential, are not in harmony with the universal ideals and values, except in name. The meanings behind the words commonly used by both – Islam and the elites opposed to it – are different and contradictory. This is the reason why the ruling classes over the world, both in Muslim lands as well as non-Muslim, are at war with Islam. It is not their people who are at war with Islam. It is those who have wealth, power and influence. They use their position to poison the minds of their populations, provoking them against Islam: not because Islam is not good for their people, but because it is not good for them; they stand to lose their stranglehold, and the advantages they draw thereby.

The Muslim states that exist now, with the kind of laws concerning human movements, rights of residence in area of choice, etc., do not receive Islam’s approval. Islam recognizes political borders, but does not recognize barriers placed before human movements, residence, relationships and rights and duties. For example, if there is famine in a town at the border of a non-Muslim country, then, the help to the non-Muslims there, to the extent of sharing food, by a town of a Muslim country, just across the border, is a religious obligation. That the two towns belong to two different countries, (one Muslim, another non-Muslim) does not absolve the Muslims in the border-town of help to the drought-stricken across the border. Islam does not recognize fences against its values.

After the advent of the Prophet, the whole of humanity has turned into one community, one Ummah. Of this one Ummah of the Prophet, the world community, there are two kinds (and not two entities): the Ummah al-Ijaabah and the Ummah al-Da`wah: (i) those who have positively responded, and (ii) those who are yet to receive the message. If any community declares war against Islam and Muslims, then the rules change. Otherwise, the peoples of the world are, according to Islam, one community.

Intellectually paralyzed West is unable to see this point, digest it and accept it. The so-called intellectuals of the Western world are as much parochial and regional in their outlook as their politicians and statesmen. Even those thinkers who parade their universal outlook through articles posted in leading newspapers and internet sites, have no concept of universal brotherhood of man. To take the example from Iraq, all the emphasis by the fair-minded, neutral columnists and essayists is upon lies of Bush and Blair; not on the fact that even if their allegations were true, the invasion is illegal because Iraqis are equal unto the Americans and British. They are aghast to think of such a relationship.

It explains why, to this day Western thinkers have not been able to work out the idea on their own, nor have they been able to understand it. It is because, to understand unity of the human beings on the basis of values, they will have to look up at the heaven. The idea came from there. It will never grow out of the earth, out of its inhabitants, out of human minds.

The intellectuals of the West are at a dead end. They need fresh ideas. There are several issues that need to be addressed in this connection. But this is the most important one. If they can accept this, they might be able to free themselves from the bondage to the West. They need to look up now, toward the heaven; or soon they will resemble old locomotive engines, in the backyard of railway stations, placed at dead end of the tracks.

About YMD

Past Issues