Editorial: Lunacy in The Middle East
Official Magazine of the Woking Muslim Mission, Shah Jehan Mosque, Woking, UK
The Islamic Review (UK), November 1980 Issue (Vol. 1, No. 2, p. 4)
In the last fortnight of September 1980, Iraq invaded Iran and a lunatic war ensued. This conflagration has brought to the surface many hidden factors which should serve as eye-openers to those in the Islamic world who believe that considerations of religion should take preference over all other considerations. President Saddam Hussain’s proclamation,
“We are the sword of the Arab people”;
the Iraqi claim that King Khalid of Saudi Arabia phoned Saddam Hussain to express support for Iraq’s battle against the enemies of the Arab people; Saudi Arabia’s contradiction of that claim (after the Iranian threat to blow up the oil fields of all those states which sided with Iraq), explaining that King Khalid’s phone call had expressed only his
“concern and good brotherly feelings for Iraq and a prayer to God Almighty to grant what is best for our Arab and Muslim world”;
King Hussain’s declaration of support for Iraq; and the Western media’s reports that the Western intelligence officers believe that the Saudis, at least in the early days of the war, covertly cooperated with Iraqi forces to the extent of permitting them the use of base facilities and transit rights for war planes — all betray the preference for Arab nationalism over Islam by the respective parties. It seems lunacy has taken hold of most of the leaders in the Middle East, so that they have embarked upon a path which has rent the much-needed Islamic solidarity in pieces. This overwhelming mood of Arab nationalism is most probably the cause of the impotence of the Islamic conference in helping to avoid an armed conflagration between the two Muslim nations.
Nationalism, a product of the political philosophies evolved by man, though considered a virtue by a majority of its worshippers, has in fact proved to be the worst enemy of humanity. The genie of nationalism has served to divide humanity into races and nations which hate one another; in their march for advancement and their passion for more and more material comforts and worldly pelf and power, they seek to destroy one another, not being bound by any moral code. The passion for national aggrandizement makes the sense of right and wrong completely disappear in international affairs. Smaller nations become victims of the tyranny of more powerful and more advanced nations. Might is right, even in today’s world as it was in the savage state. The two world wars and armed conflagrations in various regions of the world thereafter — which left populous cities and towns in ruin and desolation, changed fertile lands into barren wastes, killed hundreds of thousands of the healthiest youth, maimed even greater numbers for life, destroyed the happiness of millions of homes, and plunged vast sections of humanity into misery and affliction — are the trophies which this creed of nationalism has presented to the human race during this century. The future holds no better promise if we do not learn to cross these artificial barriers, which are the brainchildren of men devoid of seeing, to the horizons beyond the territorial, linguistic, and racial limits. As against this divergence generated amongst the human race by nationalism, Islam offers the greatest civilizing force the world has ever known or is likely to know. Fourteen centuries ago it was Islam that came to the help of a civilization whose very foundations had collapsed, and that set about laying foundations and rearing an entirely new edifice of culture and ethics. A new idea of the unity of the human race as a whole, not of the unity of this or that nation or race, was introduced into the world; an idea so mighty that it welded together nations which had warred with and hated one another since the world began. It not only cemented together the warring tribes of Arabia but it established a brotherhood of all the nations of the world, joining together even those who had nothing in common except their common humanity. It obliterated differences of colour, race, language, and geographical boundaries, and even differences of culture. It united man with man as such, and the hearts of those in the Far East began to beat in unison with the hearts of those in the farthest West. Indeed, it proved to be not only the greatest but the only force uniting humanity, because whereas other religions had succeeded merely in unifying the different elements of a single race or a single nation, Islam actually achieved the unification of different races and nations, and harmonized the jarring and discordant elements of humanity.
The conception of humanity as one nation, notwithstanding the diversity of races and colours and languages and outstepping all geographical boundaries, is Islam’s unique contribution to human civilization. The Quranic teaching that
“all men are a single nation” (The Holy Quran, 2:213)
is the only panacea for the poison of national jealousies and hatred. It is the only message of hope for the future survival of mankind, which is presently torn into nations fighting one another…. And when a war breaks out between two nations professing adherence to Islam over a dispute about a waterway — a natural resource not produced by either of the two — then what else than lunacy can it be called? One wonders why they could not agree to call it “Shat al Islam” (a waterway of peace) rather than calling it “Shat al Arab” or “Shat al Faras” after their nationalities. And one wonders, why could not King Khalid remind Saddam Hussain and the Iranians of the Quranic teaching,
“And a believer would not kill a believer except by mistake” (The Holy Quran, 4:92),
rather than simply expressing brotherly feelings for Iraq? And above all, why could the Saudi king not pray to God for the good of “Islam and Arabs” rather than for the good of “Arabs and Islam”? May Allah grant us the wisdom and courage to uphold the teachings of the Holy Quran rather than fulfilment of our low worldly desires.
Acknowledgment: A major portion of this editorial has been borrowed from Maulana Muhammad Ali’s book, The New World Order.