They covet and lust after what others have: other people’s wealth, women, lands, beauty, resources, valuables, name, fame, good reputation and many other things. And they are afraid of losing whatever things they may themselves possess.
Other “religious” leaders and elites have a good reason to hate Islam because Islam often defeated them on the moral and spiritual planes and took followers away from them. So also, other “secular” leaders and elites have an equally powerful motive behind their fear and dislike of Islam and Muslims because they suffered centuries of military defeat at the hands of the Muslims.
So, if the world of non-Islam often feared and distrusted Islam, it was not entirely without reason or background. The question stopped being one of morality, truth and honesty and became one of rivalry and struggle for worldly wealth, possessions and domination.
Qur’an’s “Theory” of Inter-Group Rivalry:
Arrogance and Aggression
The Qur’an, as usual, makes these concepts crystal clear. And also as usual most Muslims remain generally in the dark about what the Qur’an has to say about these things.
Forgive me for referring to Qur’an’s exposition of these notions as “theory.” I believe – and I know and I have seen with my own naked and sinful and nearly blind eyes – that what the Qur’an says is not theory empty of fact, but it is truth itself. It is not a blind and tentative groping after a vague and nebulous reality, but reality itself.
In one word, what the Qur’an says is Haqq – truth – wrapped in divine radiance and shielded from human eyes and grasp by their ignorance and foolishness.
But often Qur’an places and posits these things at such high level of abstraction and universality that many times the most useful way to get a practical handle on them is to treat them as broad theoretical statements and then start finding their real-life applications in a systematic manner.
So, here is Qur’an’s summary statement on why human groups fight and why they, in the pursuit of their worldly goals, often tend to reject truth and cover up facts.
Baghyam bainahum, says the Qur’an.
And here is my extended paraphrase of it: in order to subjugate, control and dominate one another and in order to commit aggression against one another.
And this happens not always out of ignorance or in the dark, but – mark the words of the Qur’an – after things have become quite clear to them. In other words, they generally know what the truth is and then, in their effort to conquer, control and dominate others, they turn their back on truth – and on facts; and on knowledge which they themselves possess.
Hear the Qur’an now: Illaa mim ba’adi maa jaa,ahumul ‘ilm.
How much more clear can or does it get?
Muslim Failure to Articulate Answers
It was all too often the Muslims who remained ignorant of some of these things, not the non-Muslim elites and leaders, whether “secular” or so-called religious. That was because Muslims, over years and centuries, had generally managed to separate themselves from the Qur’an.
As time went by, Muslims and the Qur’an drifted farther and farther apart. As a result, Muslims lost touch with the positions and teachings of the Qur’an with regard to various critical situations that confronted them in life.
With the march of time, and vicissitudes of history, Qur’an and Muslims became strangers. They became like two ships that quietly pass each other on a dark, silent sea.
Consequently, Muslims were not quite successful in developing an effective strategy on how to approach, reach and educate non-Muslim masses about Islam. It did not help matters that Muslims themselves fell prey to the dominant tide of inter-group rivalry and competition.
They began to act more and more like bearers of the flag of “Muslim Nationalism,” rather than conducting themselves as the messengers of liberty, justice, equality and truth to all of humanity that they were supposed to be.
They often allowed Muslim Nationalism rather than Islam to be the motivation and guiding force behind their dealings and contacts with the non-Muslim world at the broadest levels.
Muslims, thus, ended up becoming just another party to a fight among various contending human groups, all focused on worldly spoils of land and wealth and power and domination. They stopped being that very special group of dedicated humans whose purpose in life was to end human rivalries on earth and build a better world for all – Muslims as well as non-Muslims.
So, Muslims ended up being as clueless as the rest of the world. They neither had answers to the problems of a suffering, contentious humanity, nor were they able to articulate them with any degree of clarity or effectiveness.
Islam or Muslim Nationalism:
Muslims Must Make a Choice
Here is a simple fact about Islam: Islam cannot strike root in a heart that is clogged with the blind worship of race, tribe or territory. Cobwebs of blind loyalty and devotion to all kinds of false gods need to be first cleared from the human heart before the light of divine truth can penetrate it.
From this point of view, Muslim Nationalism, as a blind and unquestioning worship of the Muslim people and all things associated with them, is as much contrary to Islam – and as much a hindrance to the discovery and embrace of the truth of Islam and of truth in general – as all other forms of Nationalism, Chauvinism and Jingoism, whether tribal, territorial, linguistic, cultural, gender-based or racial.
That is why Muslims must make a choice between Islam and Muslim Nationalism. I am not talking about all the petty localized, tribal, territorial and geographical brands and species of Nationalism which Muslims have embraced over the past century or so. I am talking about their overall loyalty to “Muslims” themselves, regardless of whether or not a Muslim act or posture or fact was in keeping with or contrary to the truth of Islam.