As Salaam Alaikum my question is is Arab Nationalisam Haram ? Was Pan Arabism/Arab Nationalism founded by Arab Christians ? Is Arab Nationalism Racist and Secular ?
A Criticism of the Idea of
The First Contradiction:
The Arab nationalist message seems simple and consistent. The Arabs from the
Gulf to the Atlantic are one people united by the ties of blood, history,
language, and interests. They ought to be united in one political entity which
is socially and culturally modern and progressive. This programme can be
achieved by the Arab nationalists in the face of various imperialist and
"reactionary' forces of whom the Islamic movement is the most prominent.
Now, the appeal to ties of blood or the argument from ethnography and race
has been rather eclipsed by scientific discussions and has largely fallen into
disrepute after Hitler. Still it is not quite clear how one can speak of a pure
Arab race after the long process of mingling between the original Arabs of the
Peninsula and such peoples as the Egyptians, Mesopotamians, Berbers, or Negroes.
The Arabic phrase 'ties of blood' comes in conveniently to cover the weakness of
the nationalist views on this matter by its double reference to both race and
kinship. The latter is usually the meaning which is immediately suggested by
normal usage and saves the nationalists from getting involved in a losing
The invocation of geographic facts is not of much help in advancing the
nationalist argument. The Gulf-Atlantic axis is a rather arbitrary projection
which overlooks other areas to which the original Arabs ventured. Moreover, it
is the 'imperialist' view of the Arab-land which the nationalists now come to
adopt, rather uncritically in the light of their high-flown anti-imperialist
slogans. The crucial fact in this regard is that it was Islam that created this
'grand Arab homeland', as it is called, and which impelled the original Arabs to
conquer that area and much more besides it to spread its teachings.
The Arab nationalists perform a sleight of hand in that they arbitrarily
carve out of the grand Islamic homeland, which was made possible by the Arabs'
spread of their own religion, a small area--the 'Arab homeland' -- which is then
separated from the larger body and made to stand against or to take priority of
allegiance' vis-a-vis it. If we adopt the same secularist stance, for the sake
of argument, which the nationalists adhere to, we can say that Islam is an
Arabic cultural and social phenomenon which has been propagated by the Arabs
throughout a large part of the known world at the time. In this sense, the
Muslims of the world can be said to have been 'Arabized' by the mere fact of
The Arab nationalists play the trick of separating a section of the
'Arabized' (the Muslims) which happens to possess one added feature of
'Arabism', the language, and place it as an independent entity and identity
against the rest of Muslims (the 'Arabized' in our sense). It is to be noted
that they do not include in their nationalism some Arabic-speaking minorities
while they ignore the vital role that Arabic -- with its script -- plays in the
languages and culture of the other Muslims.
The nationalists are indicted of contradiction according to their own secular
view of Islam as a social growth. For, if it is the 'religion of the Arabs',
their prize acquisition as well as the main motive for issuing out of their
limited homeland in Arabia, this religion should be the defining feature of Arab
nationalism. It is Islam, and not those cultural factors transformed by it
beyond recognition, such as language or history, that should be set up as the
emblem and sine qua non of Arab nationalism. Yet, the nationalists are out and
out secularists who exclude Islam altogether or assign it a servile existence
within their creed as a vaguely defined 'spiritual factor', a thing which
negates Islam's own claims.
This same criticism applies to the nationalists' call about joint interests
-- presumably economic -- as a unifying factor of the 'Arabs' so ambiguously
defined. It is to be asked, why shouldn't common interests, of whatever sort,
exist among the Muslims, as they have always done? Once again we meet with the
same trick. An arbitrary carving out of a certain section within the general
Islamic context and its setting up as an independent entity. The keyword here is
'arbitrary', which strips nationalism from any rational claims and exposes its
bare ideological bias, which it tries to mask under pretexts of modernity or by
appeal to similar specious terms.
The major contradiction in Arab nationalist thinking is seen in its most
flagrant form in the adoption of certain cultural elements as language, common
history and heritage, and tradition as defining features of that nationalism,
while ignoring Islam out of a deep-seated secularist bias.
Before Islam, the Arabs were living in what may be called their pre-history.
A warring collection of tribes with various dialects and with none or very
little of cultural life, especially on the intellectual plane.Islam introduced
such an unimaginable qualitative change into the life of the Arabs that it would
hardly be an exaggeration to say that it ' created ' the Arab identity anew.
The Qurayshi dialect was turned into the richest language in the world and
one of the most wide-spread. Islam won for that tongue adherents that came from
non-Arab cultures and it was responsible for turning it into a tool of thought
and expression in many fields of science and scholarship. It spread it far
beyond its original home and speakers.
Similarly, the Arab society was totally transformed in its structures,
customs, aims, and outlooks by Islam. This religion is a constitutive principle
of Arab social and intellectual life for the past fourteen centuries, and the
attempt to posit an 'Arab nationalism' without Islam or in confrontation with it
is inconceivable if not utterly absurd. At the same time, an Arab nationalism
that tries to take account of Islam will find itself in an impossible position;
for the universal claims of Islam and its insistence on full allegiance to its
tenets, as well as its priority over other attachments, ensure that it rejects
nationalism as a modern form of ancient tribalism or hamiyyat al-jahiliyyah (the
fanatical clinging to pre-Islamic loyalties).
The Arabic language and culture have been made by and contained within Islam
and not the reverse. Islam has not been a passing and limited stage occurring to
an otherwise independent and developed history or tradition of Arab culture and
society that had their own line of growth. The same view applies to Arab
history, which is Islamic history along with the history of the many peoples
that accepted Islam.In fact, Islam is the common denominator that ties the life
and history of a great mass of humanity together. As a total religion, Islam has
shaped all the aspects of the societies that embraced it and linked them
together in a vast entity which often found a political expression in the
caliphate system. A non-clerical creed, Islam does not have a separate, isolated
history within a church, for instance.
The strategy adopted by the propagandists of Arab nationalism in view of the
above state of affairs is as follows: They take certain cultural, social, and
historical facts or elements and cite them both as factors of 'Arab nationalism'
and as reasons or arguments supporting that idea. They, however, ignore the
decisive role played by Islam not only in shaping these elements but in bringing
them into existence as well, as with regard to culture and history.
Islam is forgotten and deliberately banished from the consideration of the
Arab nationalists. It is excluded according to the principle of secularism,
which is, indeed, the real defining feature of that nationalism. Nevertheless,
the cultural, social, and historical facts forged by Islam are wrested from it
and made to stand as supports and features of an Arab nationalism. Moreover, the
same facts that can in all validity and legitimacy be adduced to substantiate
the idea of Islamic 'nationalism', unity, or identity are arbitrarily 'stolen'
from the Islamic framework and forced to become constituents of a secular idea
that sets aside one group of Muslims----the so-called Arabs---and puts them in
confrontation with or, at least, in contradiction with the rest of the Muslims
who, still, share with this separated group the same cultural, social, and
historical unifying elements.
This may well be described as an exercise in deception and it continues the
same misleading attitude noticed earlier of artificially defining and extracting
an 'Arab' identity from within the Islamic matrix. If a separate Arab identity
existed, there would not be any problem. But to take the unification and
identification features forged by Islam and designed for all Muslims and then to
separate them from Islam, their forming principle, and confine their
applicability to an ambiguously and arbitrarily defined group of Muslims -- this
can rightly be called intellectual dishonesty.
In their much-vaunted slogans about the unity of culture, heritage, customs,
feeling, outlooks, and hopes, the Arab nationalists use fruits from the tree of
Islam while disowning the tree. This position, paradoxically enough, is their
only logical move. For, to recognize the claims and priority of Islam is to
negate their own existence, their own attempt at breaking Muslim ranks and at
setting up a higher authority than religion. The Arab nationalists have to deny
Islam even at the cost of devastating logical inconsistencies. Accepting Islam
demolishes their own raison d detre. Islam would not allow a higher, or even
another, locus of allegiance, of authority, or of guidance. It would not
tolerate a breach of unity among the believers or a limitation of its universal
message and validity. Hence, it rejects nationalism and is in turn rejected by
Date delivered: 632 A.C., 9th day of Dhul al
Hijjah, 10 A.H. in the 'Uranah valley of Mount Arafat.All mankind is from Adam and Eve, an Arab
has no superiority over a non-Arab nor a non-Arab has any superiority over an
Arab; also a white has no superiority over a black nor a black has any
superiority over white except by piety and good action.
Learn that every
Muslim is a brother to every Muslim and that the Muslims constitute one
brotherhood. Nothing shall be legitimate to a Muslim which belongs to a fellow
Muslim unless it was given freely and willingly. Do not, therefore, do injustice
(1) Narrated AbuHurayrah: The Prophet
(peace_be_upon_him) said: Allah, Most High, has removed from you the pride of
the pre-Islamic period and its boasting in Ancestors
. One is only a pious believer or a miserable
sinner. You are sons of Adam
, and Adam
came from Dust
Let the people cease to boast about their Ancestors
. They are merely fuel in Jahannam; or they
will certainly be of less account with Allah than the beetle which rolls dung
with its nose. (Book #41