Time was when most Muslims used to worry about their Islamic Identity.
Islam, interpreted in a very broad, inclusive and proactive sense, defined who the Muslims were; what they did; and what some of their fundamental orientations and priorities in life were.
Muslims were by and large grateful, happy and proud that God’s mercy had rescued them from their mindless enslavement to narrow and often pagan tribal, ethnic, regional, linguistic, nationalistic and materialistic identities of the past – what the Qur’an calls “Jaahiliyyah” – and given them instead an overarching new identity of global and timeless dimensions of the kind that no one can imagine and nothing can rival, and called it “Muslim.”
It was he, God said in the Qur’an, who gave you, the Muslims, the new identity of “Muslimeen.”
Huwa sammaakumul Muslimeen, is how the Qur’an phrased this fact.
Paraphrase: “It was he who gave you the name Muslims.”
And that glorious and comprehensive new identity, and a faithful and robust adherence to its implications and responsibilities on the part of Muslims for generations, took the Muslims – and the world – from one success, achievement, glory and joyous experience to another.
And it served them well for one glorious century after another for a very long period of time.
But Muslims, being human, began to get weary and confused about their divinely conferred identity of “Muslim.” And they started craving a new outlook on life.
They began to secretly covet some of the excitement and fun that other people around them, many of them non-Muslims, seem to be having.
“Why can’t we be like all these other people,” they asked themselves, “because they seem to be having so much fun?”
And they began to act a little bit like the Jews had acted with Moses, may God bless him, after he had rescued them from captivity in Egypt.
The Jews had remained more or less devoted to the worship of one God even during slavery in Egypt.
But freshly saved from bondage by Musa, Alaihis Salaam, and free to roam the earth without fear of persecution, they saw how the pagan communities around them worshipped all kinds of idols.
And the Jews then said to Moses, God bless him: “Moses, can you make some gods for us to worship, as these other people have their own idols to worship?”
And then God’s punishment overtook them.
So, the Muslims too walked down the same path of stark idolatry and Shirk and Kufr that Jews did after their miraculous escape from the tyrannical clutches of the Pharaoh.
Buffeted by winds of rapid change around them, demoralized by repeated military and political setbacks, and yet, paradoxically, overtaken and dazzled by the instantaneous flooding of their coffers with incalculable new wealth, many of them started looking for ways to replace or graft their divine “Muslim” identity with all kinds of other Arab and non-Arab identities.
While some Muslims did all this fairly crudely and blatantly, some others did it with a great deal of subtlety and sophistication.
But by and large, the farther and faster the Muslims wandered off from their God-given identity of “Muslim” – and from their commitment to human equality and universal peace and justice inherent in their Muslim character and tradition – and re-embraced old Pagan (Jaahiliyy) values and identities based on the blind worship of race, ethnicity, language, tribe and territory, and the parochialisms and fanaticisms associated with them, from which God had miraculously rescued them, the more decidedly did God Almighty pry away from their dying hands the scepter of leadership that he had given them and condemned and cursed many of them to a life of humiliation, shame, dishonor and helplessness.
Everyone could see it except the misguided Muslims themselves.
The Qur’an summarizes this state of Fall from Grace in two words: Dhillah and Maskanah – humiliation and lowliness.
As time went by, every passing day brought evermore flagrant new evidence of Muslims in different parts of the world trying to break away from the identity of “Muslim” that Islam conferred upon them and seeking refuge, glory and honor – ‘Izzat, as the Qur’an calls it – in the same old Pagan ways, culture, connections and identity of race, territory and tribe from which God had so miraculously set them free 1400 years ago.
And the Qur’an clearly warns – And how sad and terrible and hopeless that warning sounds! – that there is only one source for all glory and honor and that is God All-mighty.
Listen to the following words of the Qur’an and see how clear and conclusive they are: A-yabtaghoona ‘indahumul ‘izzat?
Paraphrase: “Is that where they expect to find honor and name and fame and dignity for themselves?”
And then the Qur’an answers its own question in the following words: Fa-innal ‘izzata lillahi jamee-‘aa.
Paraphrase: “Surely, all honor and glory belongs to Allah and it is from him that it is all derived.”
Elsewhere in the Qur’an Allah All-Mighty states the same truth in the form of a general principle: Man kaana yureedul ‘izzata, fa-innal ‘izzata lillahi jamee-‘aa.
Paraphrase: “Whoever is looking for honor and glory, they should know that Allah is the only source of all name, fame, honor and glory.”
Will all Muslims, punch-drunk on their new bedazzlement with sundry Arab and non-Arab Identities, wake up while there may still be some time left on the divine chronometer and reclaim their true “Muslim” and Islamic Identity so that they may still be saved from the most terrible and irreversible wrath of their God, which is sure to come if they continue on their dubious paths of self-delusion and self-destruction?