387[long_live_palestine] Why Islam? An Arab Perspective
- Jan 8, 2000-Why Islam?An Arab PerspectiveBy Adel AltaherAs simple as the question seems to be, the answer is simply not. Indeed, I spent many years researching and analyzing different political ideologies and philosophies, until I was able to shape an understanding of the “political Islam” concept.I worked for so many years with all my efforts to unite the masses of the Arab nations. I tried and hoped to erase the colonial virtual borders that were drawn on a map, but planted deeply into our minds. The Arab nation has grown to be divided into pits and pieces. Each part of it is a separate nation to which people identified themselves. Arabs still have preserved the common language, the same cultural and traditional image, but one vital element was missing. The feeling of unity and the pride of our nationhood were shattered to Palestinian Arabs, Egyptian Arabs, Moroccan Arabs, Saudi Arabs, and so on. Consequently, the economical power, which is the backbone for our progress and development, has been divided unevenly. For instance, a small country like Kuwait with a one million in population enjoys a high level of wealth, while on the other hand, a large country like Egypt with a 65 million in population that have exhausted the countries economy. Not to forget that maintaining many armies to defend these virtual borders is much more costly, in comparison with having one large army. Just imagine the resources that are owned by the Arabs if it was simply controlled by the Arabs. We have all the means to be a leader in every economical aspect.The importance and the need for Arab unity are not negotiable issues, but how to achieve that unity? What factors should derive to such unity? Moreover, what principles should make that dream achievable? These elements need to be thoroughly thought.Should it be the principle that revolves around the Arab race and Arab blood? However, how would that differs us from the Zionist regime? I understand that all Arabs have the same language, culture, history, and tradition. Surely, these elements will make things much easier to relate to one another, but how for these elements to be utilized to become a strong factor to break the barriers implanted so deep into our minds without becoming another racist movement? How can we feel the same pain, share the same dream, and become one body where each part complements the other?My initial personal approach in activism was through an economical socialist theory, which was implemented by the eastern block of Europe. The theory sounds great, and it is a one strong ideology to be used to unit the masses of the Arab world. Unfortunately, the theory lacked the practicality element, especially when dealing with humans. Reality is completely different than writing a book derived from some imagination or a dream. The theory's short come resulted from the unfeasibility to create a society with only one economical class. That is because not everyone has the same skills, desires, or shares the same dreams and ambitions. The theory is so powerful, but simply can not be implemented on human kind. Surely, its implementation came so natural between insects of the same kind, as in the Ants and Bees social structures, but for humans the proposed system needs to acknowledge human’s needs and behavior. The success of the Zionist party was the realization of these factors. It implemented the social structure that was backed and moderated by the Jewish religion.Through my research, I was looking for theory or a formula that would fit the Arab world puzzle. A theory that could acknowledge the human behavior, the economical structure at the social and state level, and an ideology that Arabs can relate to and accept. The ideology has to be strong enough to organize the internal Arab society, but still has to relate to the whole world in general, so the Arabs would not be isolated from the rest of the world.Viewing through history to analyze this Arab identity, it was not difficult to conclude that Arabs are tribal in nature. The old nomadic way of life has supported such a structure, and in the more settled areas such as in the farming communities, the family unit was the most dominant, but it is another form of the tribal nature of the Arabs. Loyalty amongst Arabs was for either the tribe or the family. Therefore, the proposed system or the ideology that can unify Arabs has to acknowledge this fact. The traits that Arabs have adopted from their way of life, nomadic or farming, such as pride, dignity, generosity, sacrifice, patience, and many others of which stubbornness is one, have to be key factors in the proposed system.Analyzing the Islamic Era of the Arabian history, I was extremely fascinated by the speedy transition of events that lead the Arab world from a shattered nomadic and sub-farming communities to become a civilization of its own. The one thing that fascinated me most is the internationalization of the ideology. Islam started amongst the Arabs, but did not close its doors in the face of other nations. It acknowledged all ideologies that existed; related to all sub-communities within the society; and built a structure where everybody can live in harmony. The Arabs had no civilization, or never constitute a powerful element before that.When Islam was first introduced to the area, the first thing it preached was the value of life. Islam prescribed people’s relations to each other, and eliminated the law of the jungle. Islam reshaped the identity of the Arab tribes and created out of them, in a very short period of time, an Arab nation. Arabs felt proud and privileged in having this divine teachings arise amongst them, which surely influenced their lives and made out of them an undeniable entity amongst other nations.The circle of Islam grew so fast, as it was found appealing by other groups and communities who followed the path of Islam. Other nations that existed at that time felt threatened and intimidated by the constantly growing power of this newly born nation, of which Arabs constitute the majority. Arabs and all other Muslims constantly sacrificed their lives in battlefields to assure the nondiscrimination and the freedom of worship for Muslims and other religious groups such as Christians and the Jews.Islam formed an undeniable power through its followers, to which other Nations made sure to maintain on good terms. This made it easier for Muslims to spread the true teachings of Islam all around the world, and established the largest empire ever existed through History.Arabs have played a major part in introducing Islam to the world and in building the foundations for the Islamic empire, Nevertheless, numerous credits have been achieved by non-Arab Muslims who took the leadership on many occasions, and history has documented their achievements. Today, to my disappointment, it seems that Arabs with their historical accomplishments have mastered some severe case of arrogance, in which they have forgotten where were they, and what have they become without Islam.If we have a system in which workability has been proven, and its stability is assured, then why not use it? As for its continuity, that depends on how willing are we to hold on to anything?It comes to my mind a dialogue took place more than a thousand years ago between an Arab-Muslim commander and the Emperor of Persia. The Emperor spoke down to the commander undermining his Arab identity, and he described him as a Camel and Sheep keeper. He further criticized that Arabs are willing to kill each other over a Camel. The Commander answered by confirming every thing the Emperor said and told him: "We were even worse than that. We used to make our Idol gods from dried fruits that we ate while we were drunk, but with Islam GOD has made us a Great Nation."
Another historical incident comes to my mind as the second Khalifa Omar was approaching Jerusalem on the back of a donkey. His dress had so many patches, so he was asked to wear something more presentable and to be escorted by a platoon to impress the Jeruslemites, who were used to seeing Emperors and Kings demonstrating their might. Omar answered angrily: "We Arabs have become strong for we held our pride in Islam and not unto material things."Where are the Arabs of today from the Arabs of the Pre-Islamic Arabia? I personally have failed to see a difference. If any thing, I see us Arabs in a much worse situation than where we were before the rise of Islam. Why not proclaim what is rightfully ours? Why not rebuild the civilization we once had? Why not get united and go back to GOD, and why not follow the path of Islam?