By Femi Abbas
Can Islam be said to have been redefined? Can the Muslims who are now engaged in violence, terrorism and suicide bombing be called followers of Prophet Muhammad (SAW)? Which law or regulation in Islam allows for indiscriminate killing and maiming of innocent people? Is there any true correlation between Islam as a religion of peace and suicide bombers who claim to be Muslims?
Is the current pervading suicide bombing and reckless violence in various regions of the world a religious or political engagement? Are all those engaged in suicide bombing and wanton destruction Muslims? Why are the Arabs in the forefront of these violent activities? And what consequences will these have for Islam in the short and long run?
These are some of the questions agitating the minds of most Muslims in the world today and which are still begging for answers.
When, at the inception of Islam, the Qur’an described the “pre-Islamic Arabs as a people with great intensity for recalcitrance and hypocrisy” they quickly retorted saying that the reference was to rural Arabs. At that time, over 80% of the Arabs were rural dwellers. Today, more than 1,400 years after that divine assessment, when over 80% of them are urban dwellers, it has become manifest that Arabs are Arabs urban or rural.
To those who are not familiar with the Arab history before the advent of Islam, it may look like an irony that the religion of Islam originated from among such people. But those who understand the workings of Allah (SWT) will know that revealing Islam to mankind through the Arabs was a deliberate divine policy. If that religion had not emerged through a stubborn race like theirs, the Arabs would have been its bitterest enemies. Besides, Allah’s design for Islam as a religion was to make it a social movement springing from the very grassroots to the topmost echelon of human aristocracy. That Islam came to mankind through a people with such Qur’anic description, therefore, could not have been an accident or a mistake.
If Islam had come to life through the courts of monarchs or the class of aristocrats, it would have grown into a religion of masters and servants. And in that case, Mosques would have been according to status while the whims and caprices of the rulers and the lords would have formed the bulk of that religion’s laws and regulations. Thus, justice would have been according to the wishes of those monarchs and lords in a situation of cash and carry.
It is not strange that Arabs are what the Qur’an calls them. Stubbornness as a trait is not peculiar to the Arabs. It is common to all peoples in desert areas. Even their animals like camels and donkeys share the trait. The Jews, the Southern and central Asians as well as the North Africans are also of similar nature.
The divine logic in driving Islam into the world though the Arab deserts is to convince mankind that even stone-hearted people like the Arabs could be softened by this non-such religion. Despite the emergence of Islam through them, the Arabs have never been able to part with their natural obduracy which was the premise from which Prophet Muhammad (SAW) began the propagation of his divine mission.
Arabs and Jews are brothers from the same father (Prophet Ibrahim) but different mothers (Hajah and Sarah). They share many traits of recalcitrance and obduracy in every aspect of their lives. Just as the Jews rejected Prophet Isa (Jesus) who emerged from amongst them so did the Arabs deny Prophet Muhammad (SAW) even after they had accorded him the status of a truthful and trustworthy personality. But for the fact that his message eventually brought fame to the Arabs and elevated their status in the committee of nations they would never have accepted that message.
Incidentally, Prophet Muhammad (SAW) was the only Prophet from the Arab line. All other known Prophets after Prophet Ibrahim (Abraham) either through Judaism or Christianity were Jews. Thus, the Jews can be said to be the world’s most luxurious race in divine prophet-hood. Yet, no Prophet was ever really acceptable to them. The fact that a few of them hold on tenaciously to Torah (revealed to Moses) today is only due to an historical prophesy which enables them to hope for survival in the land of Judea.
Today, the entire population of all the Jews in the world is 13.3 million people. But less than 7% of this population is religiously Jewish. The rest only answer the name Jews politically. In other words, despite the emergence of hundreds of Prophets from its blood, this race seems to be pathologically apathetic to religion. It can therefore be described as a race in a permanent state of war with God.
In this case, the Arabs are hardly dissimilar from the Jews in their thoughts and in their actions. That the idea of the ongoing suicide bombings in the world originated from the Arabs is not strange. Hardly had Prophet Muhammad (SAW) died when the Arab Muslims returned to their pre-Islamic barbaric brigandage. Of the four rightly guided Caliphs who succeeded Prophet Muhammad as Heads of State, only one (Abubakr) was not killed in office and that was probably because he ruled for only two years. The other three, Umar bn Khattab, Uthman bn Affan and Ali bn Abi Talib were all murdered gruesomely as Heads of State by no other people than fellow Arabs. And thereafter, the polarisation which beclouded the Muslim Ummah was such that bred what can be called an indelible enmity especially between the Sunni and the Shi’a sects.
It may be fashionable today for the Arabs to say that by resorting to suicide bombing they are fighting a vengeance war against the Western hegemonic oppressors who aided the Jews to occupy their land in Palestine. But how many of those oppressors are dying in those suicide bids compared to Arabs women, children and the elderly? The truth is that such powers like American, British, French and others had not risen when the Arabs were killing their leaders in the struggle for power.
But for such senseless brigandage, the whole of Europe and even America would have fully embraced Islam as their State religion and the world would have had a better posture today. At least, the Arab Muslims ruled Spain for about 500 years from 750 CE to 1258 CE during which period countries like France, Italy, Germany and Britain had their first contact with intellectual civilisation. If Islam was truly the Arabs’ objective of struggling for power, what Islamic achievement did they gain during their half of a millennium rule over Spain? And why were they eventually sent packing from that country bags and baggage?
It is true that in their own usual pursuit of capitalism, the Westerners are causing ripples in the various brooks of the world this does not justify the killing of innocent people as is now the case. Besides, Islam condemns in all ramifications the act of committing suicide which it terms as a crime against self and against the Supreme Creator of lives.
If the Arab ingenuity had not been encapsulated in greed and self-centeredness the intellectual hierarchy of the world today would have been different. Arabs like power as much as they like wealth. And these, against which Islam preaches passionately, have always been their bane as well as the main hindrance to the true propagation of Islam across the world.
Because Islam originated from the Arab domain where the two foremost sanctuaries in Islam are harboured, and because that religion was revealed in their language, the leadership of Islam is globally conceded to them. But rather than rising to the status of Islamic leadership, they placed premium on Arabism and turned Islam into a pun on the chessboard of their greedy politics.
Today, what matters to the Arabs is Arab rather than Islamic affairs. That is why virtually all the Arab countries are more related to Arabic and not Islamic names. Topmost Islamic bodies like Muslim World League and the likes are moribund because the supposed Arab Muslim leadership is malfunctioning. The only global Islamic body known to be functioning today is the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) and that is because the Arabs need the population of that body to checkmate any unpalatable Western policy against the Arabs at the United Nations level. To the great delight of the West, the wealthy Arab Muslims of today are spending their enormous resources in purchasing and acquiring football clubs in Europe even as their brethren in non-Arab parts of the world are wallowing in abject penury, squalor and degradation.
In one of the articles once published in this column, ‘THE MESSAGE’ had analysed the population strength of the Arabs compared to that of the Jews. In that article, the population of the Arabs was put at 333.3 million while that of the Jews was said to be 13.3 million worldwide. Only 4.7 million of the latter population is resident in Israel. Yet, the achievements of the Jews in terms of intellectualism and material wellbeing were almost 27 times those of the Arabs. In otherwise, population strength plus enormous wealth does not help the Arabs to develop in concrete terms even as those Arabs are virtually indifferent to Islam which brought them into limelight in the first instance.
The summary of all these is that the Arabs are the real enemies of Islam. They are the ones using their wealth to boost the various economic activities of the West including stock exchange, Hotel and tourism as well as sports and games. The greatest puzzle about the Arabs is their mutual enmity in which no Arab country wants to tolerate another. Egypt and Algeria are sworn enemies just because of rivalry in soccer game. Saudi Arabia and Yemen are in perpetual warfare merely on some primordial issues which had pitched the one against the other before the advent of Islam. Iraq and Kuwait are two neighbours that can never sleep with their two eyes closed. Syria and Lebanon have ruled an indelible demarcation line between them. Libya and Sudan have had to go to war across their common border a number of times. Morocco and Algeria will rather choose the gallows than settle a seeming permanent rancour between them. How can there be unity?
Based on sheer religious sentiment, many Nigerian Muslims think that by pitching tent with the Arabs on the Palestinian issue they are pitching tent with Islam. This is far from the truth. The problem of the homeless Palestinians is humanitarian rather than religious. And that problem is fueled more by the Arabs than the Jews.
How many Nigerian Muslims know that the siege on Gaza Strip which began in January 2009 was not by Israel alone. It was a clandestine connivance of Israel and Egypt supported and supervised by the Western allies. Since that time till this very moment, Egyptian forces are there laying siege on Gaza Strip from the Sinai end. Why? Are Egyptians not Arabs? Why should they tighten the noose of death on their fellow Arab brothers? But that is the Arab nature for you. If you see them in any solidarity, it is for the purpose of hatching a treachery against a particular party or interest.
Besides Egypt which responded physically to the call of America for a joint attack on Iraq in 1991, which other Arab country did not contribute financially to that attack? Is Iraq not an Arab country? Until the rest of the Muslim world learns how to manage the Islamic affairs in the current millennium without the involvement of the Arabs, the 1.5 billion Muslims in the world will continue to rigmarole in perpetual spiritual wilderness.
With a population of about 1.2 billion, the non-Arab Muslims can conveniently pilot the affairs of Islam successfully without any recourse to the Arabs. From the experience of many years, it has become clear that the 333.3 million Arab population (Muslims and non-Muslims) adds only a little significance, to the progress of Islam and using the past to judge the future, it is unlikely that this insignificant population can make any difference in the years ahead. Indonesia alone has a Muslim population that is almost equal to that of the entire Arab Muslims who reside in 23 countries. Yet that Asian country has better effect on the plain of Islam than all the Arabs put together.
The only pillar of Islam which links the Arabs directly to the rest of the Muslim world is Hajj. And that is because the sanctuaries in Makkah and Madinah are situated in Saudi Arabia. It is only in time of Hajj that most Muslims do remember that Arabs are part of the Muslim world. This shows that without Hajj, the Muslim Arabs would have had little relevance to Islam.
Arabs love power and they will do anything, including suicide bombing, to cling to power directly or indirectly. That is why democracy in the Arab world knows no voting. It is a mere matter of nomenclature. Once installed, an Arab Head of State will remain in power till his death. He will even want to be succeeded by his son. That is why the current King of Jordan and President of Syria are the Heads of States in their respective countries. With the ongoing trend, it is possible that Presidents Hosni Mubarak of Egypt and Muammar Gaddafi of Libya will be succeeded by their first sons just as it happened in Morocco.
One is not opposed to leadership by succession if that will ventilate a peaceful atmosphere but it should not be by imposition. That will grossly contradict the position of Islam which made the second Caliph, Umar bn Khattab, to reject the nomination of his son as his successor. He even cursed the man who did the nomination accusing him of nursing an ulterior motive. The analysis here is just to show the extent to which the Arabs returned to the love of power, even at the expense of Islam, after the first four Caliphs.