Sunday, Jul 25th

Last update12:50:36 PM

You are here: Home RELATIONSHIP Courtship Why Islam despises tribalism, nationalism and other non-faith bonds

Why Islam despises tribalism, nationalism and other non-faith bonds


Summary: The effort of building human relationship on the basis of faith created an open and all-inclusive Islamic community in which people of various races, nations, languages and colours lived as brothers and sisters, and most importantly, as equals.

Author Biography: Sayyid Qutb was a fearless Egyptian Muslim activist executed in 1966 for writing In the Shade of the Qur’an, an inspiring and invaluable commentary on Allah’s Book from which this article has been extracted.

This Islamic approach making faith the basic social tie in Islamic society has produced remarkable results. Instead of stressing those traits which are common to both man and animal, the Islamic approach promotes and nurtures man’s human qualities so that they become the dominant factors.

The concrete remarkable result of this attitude was that the Islamic society became an open and all-inclusive community in which people of various races, nations, languages and colours were members. No obstacle prevented them from forming a coherent and open society.

The rivers of higher talents and various abilities of all races of mankind flowed together into this vast ocean and worked in perfect harmony. Such a coherent mix gave rise to a high level of civilization in a very short period of time. It harnessed the capabilities, ideas and wisdom of all those peoples to produce a great civilization, in spite of the fact that in those times, travel was difficult and the means of communication were slow.

In this unique Islamic society the Arabs, Persians, Syrians, Egyptians, Moroccans, Turks, Chinese, Indians, Romans, Greeks, Indonesians, Africans and people of other nations and races were gathered together . Their various characteristics were united, and with mutual cooperation, harmony and unity they took part in the construction of the Islamic community and the Islamic culture.

This marvellous civilization was not an `Arab’ civilization but an Islamic one. At no time did it acquire a nationalistic guise, but was instead always based on faith. All these peoples came together on an equal footing in a relationship of love, with their minds set on a single goal.

They used their best abilities, developed the qualities of their races to the fullest, and brought the essence of their personal, national and historical experiences for the development of this united community, to which they all belonged as equal members and in which their common bond was through their relationship with their Lord.

In this community their `humanity’ developed without any hindrance. Such characteristics were never witnessed in any other community in the entire history of mankind. The best known society in ancient history was that of the Roman Empire. Peoples of various races, languages and characteristics lived in that society. But nothing of this was based on `human relationship’, nor did it aspire to any sublime ideal such as faith. Their society was ordered on a class system which provided for a class of `nobles’ and one of `slaves’.

Moreover, the Roman race, in general, had the leadership, and the other races were considered its subjects. Hence, this society could not rise to that high level of Islamic society, nor could it produce results and blessings of the type produced by the Islamic society.

In recent history there have appeared other societies grouping together different peoples. We may cite the example of the British Empire. It bore a strong resemblance to the Roman society to which it was an heir. It was based on national greed, in which the British nation had the leadership because it was able to exploit the territories which it colonized.

The same is true of other European empires. The Spanish and Portuguese Empires in their time, and the French Empire were equally oppressive. They all shared the same contemptible and ugly outlook.

Communism, on the other hand, wanted to establish a new type of society, demolishing the walls of race, colour, nation and land. But its society was not established on the basis of a universal human relationship, but on a class system. Thus, Communist society only reverses the emphasis of the old Roman society: nobles had the distinction in Rome, while in Communist society the proletariat dominate.

The underlying emotions in this society are envy and hatred. Such a selfish and vengeful society cannot generate in its individuals anything except base emotions. Its very basis aims to excite, develop and strengthen animalistic characteristics. In its view, the most fundamental needs of human beings are those which they share with animals. These are food, shelter and sex.

To Communism, the whole of human history is nothing but a struggle for food. Islam, then, is the only divine way of life which brings out the noblest human characteristics, developing and using them for the construction of human society. In this respect, Islam has always remained unique. Those who opt for any other system, whether based on nationalism, colour and race, or on class struggle, or similar corrupt theories, are truly enemies of mankind.

They are the ones who do not want man to develop those noble characteristics which have been given to him by his Creator. Nor do they wish to see a human society benefit from the harmonious blending of all those capabilities, experiences and characteristics which have been developed among the various races of mankind. Such people swim against the current and try to reverse the tide of human development.

They wish human society to be based on the same factors which group animals together: a stable and a grazing land. They are not happy with that sublime level to which God has raised man and which provides a fitting basis for uniting human society. It is most odd that a society based on the harnessing of the best human qualities is labelled as fanatic and reactionary, while the one that promotes animal characteristics is hailed as progressive and civilized. All values and considerations are turned upside down only to avoid making faith the basis of human society, when belief is the highest human characteristic.

But God will most certainly accomplish His purpose. This type of reversal into jahiliyyah, or ignorance, and its animal values will not survive for ever in human life. God’s will is certain to prevail. Humanity will try one day to establish its society on the basis by which God has honoured man and which provided the foundation of the first Islamic society that attained a highly distinctive position in human history.

The image of that society will continue to loom large on the horizon and mankind will aspire to attain the same high level which it had experienced at a particular stage in history.

Extracted from Vol. 7 of In the Shade of the Qur’an.


Related stories

Christianity’s crippled future

How fundamentalism holds back Muslims

The cause of Muslim wrangles in Uganda – and the possible remedies