Continuing our discussion of the necessity of the ascension of the Muslim Statesman who possesses the knowledge of The Comprehensive Understanding of Islam; and further why said ascension is a threat, or perhaps a perceived as such, to the notion of American Exceptionalism, we again draw attention to the work of Tariq Ramadan. He states in Western Muslims and the Future of Islam:
It is Muslim thinking that is stalled these days: the tools are available, and the work to be done is the double task of reading sources and interpreting the world. It must also be remembered that it is not a question of understanding the world better in order to adapt to it, but, at a much deeper level, through this contact with the changing realities of the world (scientific, social, political, and economic), it is a question of rereading the scriptural sources themselves with a new eye. In doing this, it is essential to remember that the corpus of the Sharia is a human construction, and some aspects of it may evolve just as human thought evolves and just as some aspects of the Qur’an and the Sunna were revealed over time. This is precisely the meaning of the Prophetic tradition that ‘God sends to this community, every hundred years, someone to renew its religion’. This renewal is not a modification of the sources but a transformation of the mind and eyes that read them, which are indeed naturally influenced by the new social, political, and scientific environment in which they live. A new context changes the horizon of the text, renews it, and sometimes gives it an original purport, providing responses never before imagined.
As al Farabi has stated, the Muslim Statesman is for the polis, what a physician is for the body. In the modern context of our contemporary times, the Ummah in its entirety, is the polis. It is the body politic by which only a political doctor, with the appropriate remedies for the social diseases from which it suffers, can administer. The greatest illness of the Ummah is its post-colonial thoughts of itself, which has divided it, thereby robbing the Muslim of the practice of cooperation and his true identity. In other words, founded in European colonialism, American Exceptionalism, has altered the Muslims view of himself, his Communal Obligations to Allah(SWT), and made the Ummah an isolated, inept, set of partitions where Islam Deen wa Dawalat is relegated to the individual, if at all.
I repeat that the greatest illness of the Ummah remains its colonial and post-colonial psyche and self-image, which has divided it, thereby robbing the Muslim of the practice of mutual aid and cooperation. Imam Zaid Shakir once said that the Cartesian method is similar to the Islamic, save the Muslim states: I believe, therefore I am. Colonial and post-colonial policy and events, approaching one hundred years in the making, have made the unnatural, social construct of Algerians, Tunisians, Libyans, Jordanians, Iraqis, Saudis, Kuwaitis, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, etc; it has taught some to speak French and others English. It has made British and French culture something to be imitated as the means by which one is civilized in the modern context. Moreover, as the United States of America ascended to one of two dominant superpowers, prior and during the Cold War, followed by it being the sole superpower; the nations of the Ummah have fallen under its dominion, in particular Egypt, Jordan, and the oil-producing Gulf States. The Islamic notion of I believe, therefore I am degenerated into I was born, therefore I am or I belong to this nation or that. Although, it must be stated as simple fact, that the mindset of the Ummah prior to significant colonial policies and events of the West, made the conditions by which said policies and events were possible.
The British government would never have been able to separate Egypt and Sudan without the Sudanese Nationalist movement, which was based on the desire of the Sudanese tribes to gain substantial power over their nation. Bangladesh and Pakistan fought a war that led to Bangladesh’s secession largely founded in Pakistan’s 1947 refusal to acknowledge Bengali as an official language, in addition to Urdu. In both cases being Sudanese or a true Pakistani was more important than being Muslim. The tribal notion of Badnami within the Indian subcontinent and its Diaspora, or similar tribal practices within Arabian tribes, particular in the Gulf, have been present in the Muslim mindset for centuries prior to the onset of European colonialism. Indeed, this psyche or mindset allowed the condition for European colonialism to flourish first in India, and then following World War I, the rest of the Muslim world. The British would never have been able to literally make Arab monarchs, without their prior assistance against the Ottoman Empire. The tension between the Ottoman and the Arab, the notion of Arab Nationalism; both reveal Muslim oppression of his brothers and how the social sickness of tribalism has destroyed the last unified Muslim state. Independent of its extreme inequities and large problems, it was the last unified Muslim state, and its collapse was vital in the subjection of the Middle East and the Muslim world by the European powers of Britain and France. Every problem that exists today in the Muslim world, including Israel/Palestine is rooted in the tribal nationalism. Whether it is on an individual or macro-level, the political illness of tribal nationalism, which existed prior to large-scale European colonial policy and events, made the conditions of the divide and conquer strategy of the West possible. As a people, the Muslim has NO ONE to blame but himself for the miserable condition in which he finds himself. He forgot the essence of The Holy Qur’an, Surah 49, ayat 13; or perhaps better stated, he simply ignored it and surrendered to the idols of his lineage, traditions, customs, thereby turning his back on Allah(SWT). Indeed, he has no one to blame but himself and his forefathers for his rejection of The Comprehensive Understanding of Islamic Teachings. It is true that uniqueness and difference amongst human beings is not a social disease, until it is coupled with the infections of a notion of superiority, exclusivity, hierarchal power acquisition; all of which has created the conditions by which the Ummah was divided. These dividing walls, or lines in the sand, has pitted brother against brother. It allows families to deny halal, Islamic love between two Muslims because his family’s language is Urdu, while hers is Bengali. Or alternatively because he is too dark-skinned to marry a sister who is light. There are tremendous benefits to tribal customs when they are successfully applied, yet more often than not said customs both deny individuals to their Allah-Derived Right to life. It is not mere breathing, eating, and procreating that makes life worth living, but Wallahi it is liberty that fosters contentment to the soul. According to al Farabi, the Muslim Statesman is concerned with setting the social, political, economic, and cultural traditions by which the individual will choose that which is Correct, Honorable, Islamic, and engenders health and equilibrium to his soul. The primary concern of the Muslim Statesman is simply this: the Ummah must be reunited.
Muslims must see themselves as one people, united by faith and destiny, and in the short term, make state-sponsored endeavors towards a cooperation that has impact on the citizens of the Ummah. This cooperation over time will lead to a Federation and a single Muslim government. In the spirit of al Farabi’s statesman/physician comparison, the minor surgery must be performed prior to the body being made strong enough to survive the major. It is within the Muslim Statesman’s understanding that the Ummah is too psychologically ill and culturally, tribally bound to move to support the institutional framework of Union at this time. If an Arab woman from Kuwait cannot marry the American convert, merely because she is Kuwaiti and he, American-if this Muslimah and Muslim cannot build a household because of the divides of tribalism-then how can it be expected that Kuwait, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and all nations and people of the Muslim world can construct a vibrant civil society that will lead to a stable, commercially viable, Dar al Salaam that is at peace with itself, and a sound member of the international community. No, it is not the time for Union. First the Muslim Statesman must build the framework by which simple mutual cooperation via, cultural exchange, commercial trade, and the political-economic investment of, at the minimum, a tertiary economy, can be constructed. The dialectical theologian must move amongst the people of the Ummah, and provide clarity as to what it means to be a Muslim in the 21st century. The Five Pillars of Islam are Immutable, Eternal Commands by Allah(SWT) and His messenger (SAAW). They will never change, nor will The Command of hijab, the separation of men and women in prayer, halal foods, the prohibition of alcohol and all other intoxicants, and all the other things by which Allah Has Made Halal or Haram. No one can attempt to alter these and be considered a Muslim Statesman or a dialectical theologian. This type of individual who seeks to call people to do other than what Allah and His messenger (SAAW) have Commanded is not amongst us, and should rightfully be shunned.
It is the dialectical theologian, another construct of al Farabi’s, who has the task of engaging in Ramadan’s transformation of the minds and eyes if the Muslims. Inshallah, we will stop here and discuss the role of the dialectical theologian at another time.
Isma’il ibn Bilal