Impediments in the path of Muslim unity

Developing Just Leadership


Dhu al-Hijjah 14, 1430 2009-12-01


by Editor (Editorials, Crescent International Vol. 38, No. 10, Dhu al-Hijjah, 1430)

Two laments are common among Muslims: lack of unity and negative projection of Muslims in the Western media. Most Muslims believe cooperation between Muslim rulers and governments constitutes unity. The desire for favourable projection in the Western media is based on an equally faulty assumption that journalists do not know the truth about Islam and Muslims. If only Muslims made the effort to write letters to editors, the media would correct their negative reporting.

The very existence of Muslim nation-states is a violation of Allah’s (swt) designation of Muslims as one Ummah (21:92, 23:52). The nation-state structure is a European colonial imposition to divide Muslims. By adopting this concept, Muslims are ipso facto, guilty of rejecting the Qur’anic command of living as part of the Ummah. To accept that the beneficiaries of such division will forgo their interests and work for unity is unrealistic.

Reasons for negative reporting about Islam and Muslims in the Western media must also be properly understood. Western reporters are not ignorant about Islam; their distortions are part of a wider war: to project policies that advance the corporate elites’ agenda of rapacious greed under the rubric of civilizational mission to promote human rights. Creating enemies — real or imagined — is part of this agenda. Since the Muslim world has resources, primarily oil and gas, that the West covets and the fact that the Muslims are a soft target, they are projected as the enemy to justify the wars being waged against them. If multinationals do not care about their own people, why should they care for Muslims in distant lands?

Muslim rulers work in tandem with and for the interest of the West because their personal survival depends on it. Thus one is confronted with a curious paradox: while hundreds of millions of Muslims live in abject poverty their rulers lead a lifestyle that would be the envy of most people in the West. Expecting unity from such people is unrealistic. What Muslims and the Islamic movement must strive for is to change this situation but the question is: how? Getting rid of individual rulers may help assuage Muslim anger but it does not solve the fundamental problem of illegitimacy of the systems imposed in their societies. The Islamic movement must work to dismantle these systems rather than vent their anger by killing rulers, hateful as they may be. We can compare the situations in Iran and Egypt. In Iran, the Muslim masses led by a muttaqi leader, overthrew the oppressive order in 1979 and ushered in an Islamic system. In Egypt, the Muslims killed then President Anwar Sadat in October 1981 but they are faced with an even more oppressive dictator.

How did Muslims end up in this sorry state? The answer lies in our history, both distant and recent. The seeds of disunity were sown in early Islamic history when the khilafah was subverted into mulukiyah. This was the fundamental breach in the divinely-inspired system that occurred so soon after the Prophet (s) left this world. The deviation at the core worked its way through the Islamic polity and a thousand years later Muslims were so weakened that they easily succumbed to the colonial onslaught. The nation-states that emerged from the bowels of colonialism were infected by the same germs that had weakened the Ummah in the first place. There was also a deadly virus attached to it: sectarianism. This virus has wreaked havoc in the Ummah and has been used to deadly effect by the enemies of Islam.

We must also add nationalism to the viruses infecting the Ummah. Nationalism is little more than glorified tribalism, a primitive social construct that was challenged and defeated by the liberating influence of Islam in Arabia 1,400 years ago. Muslims that imbibed the Islamic spirit fully had to contend with the jahili spirit of tribalism. The Umayyads, the principal standard bearers of tribalism, were the first to strike at the core of Islamic values. Jealousy was also a factor. Before the advent of Islam, the Abd Shams clan to which the Umayyads belonged considered itself superior to the Banu Hashim clan of the Prophet (s). Muhammad’s (s) prophethood upset this hierarchy of power and prestige in Makkah. The Umayyads did not reconcile with such loss, hence their staunch opposition to the Prophet (s) and his message until the very end when it was no longer tenable. Abu Sufyan led the Makkan mushriks in all the battles against the Prophet (s) except Badr. On that occasion Abu Sufyan was leading the Qurayshi caravan on its way back to Makkah from Syria. Muslim threat to the caravan was the main reason for the battle of Badr.

It appears little has changed in the Middle East in 1,400 years. The early opponents of the Prophet of Allah (s) are alive, their jahili spirit manifeting itself in their descendants who rule the Middle East today. They not only promote tribal loyalties but are also aligned with the enemies of Islam. The Middle East has once again become a cauldron of intrigue and superstition. Instead of supporting the struggling Muslims in Palestine and Lebanon or joining hands with the Islamic State of Iran for dignified existence, Arabian rulers are openly aligned with the US and Israel. They are busy stoking the flames of sectarianism to divide Muslims.

If Muslims want to change their present sorry state, they must first develop a better understanding of the reality facing them. Killing one or two rulers, trying to infiltrate the military to bring about a coup or hoping to win power by participating in fraudulent elections is not the answer. The Islamic movement has to bring about a revolution through non-violent resistance in their societies. For this, the emergence of muttaqi leadership that has clear directional course is an absolute necessity. There are no short-cuts in the Islamic movement.

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