A United States of Islam?

“The revolution was effected before the war commenced. The revolution was in the minds and hearts of the people; a change in their religious sentiments of their duties and obligations. This radical change in the principles, opinions, sentiments, and affections of the people, was the real American revolution.”

Thus was the view expressed by none other than John Adams – the first Vice-President in the history of the United States, later to be the country’s second ever President – when looking back at the American revolution against British colonial subjugation. As one of only two US presidents to have signed the American Declaration of Independence in 1776, he remains a figure enshrined in US history as one of its political and ideological founding fathers that was instrumental in creating the USA as it is today.

At a time when the Muslim world is up in flames, with cries of anguish echoing across the Islamic lands, from Syria to Burma and from Palestine to Kashmir, such a statement uttered two hundred years ago resonates louder today than it did to the newly created land of opportunity.

For the Muslim Ummah today has entered a new political era following the revolutionary Arab Spring. Decades old dictators, having kept power firmly in their own hands, have been shaken off and tossed aside, bringing in new faces to represent the Muslims in much of the Middle East.

But the winds sweeping in this political transformation have not subsided and rather continue unabated, with each week bringing new paradigms to the equation. Despite monumental upheavals in key strategic Middle Eastern countries, such as Egypt and Libya, the desire for a reform reflective of their wants and aspirations remains unfulfilled.

Replacing of dictators with democrats, that supposedly now representative the views of the people, has in effect produced no change whatsoever in the actual political framework of these countries. The reality is that the establishment, mainly made up of the country’s military figures and representatives of foreign powers – are still very much firmly in control. Therefore the same pseudo-colonial policies, which serve only the interests of these classes at the expense of the masses, remain in force.

In this backdrop, the political earthquake to hit this geostrategic nucleus of the world has now shifted its epicentre to Syria, a land from which change has traditionally gathered momentum and eventually engulfed its surroundings. It is here finally the Muslims have on the whole collectively seen through the false victories presented by nationalistic based democratic groupings, like the current Syrian National Coalition (SNC).

A decisive opportunity now exists for the Muslims to put forward a political platform that will finally deliver on a system that is reflective of Islamic rules and legislation from across the fields of economics, judiciary, social norms, ruling and education. Indeed the Muslims of Syria now remain committed in their stance to elect and account a leadership that will govern observing the sovereignty of the Almighty, as has been the case in this land and beyond for hundreds of years, albeit the contemporary period of direct and indirect colonial rule.

Under a non-nationalistic based Islamic ruling system, the land and people of Syria will suddenly find themselves in a very unique and powerful position. With the Arab Spring producing a domino effect throughout the region on the back of a common emotion, the emergence after nine decades or so of an Islamic political entity will have an even rapid and greater effect in transforming the political landscape throughout the Wider Middle East and eventually to as far afield as Indonesia to the East, the Maghreb to the West, much of Africa to the south and into Europe itself in the form of Turkey.

Such a seismic potential for change exists since the thoughts and emotions across the Muslim world are unified in their outlook and share a common origin which is Islam. Moreover, all other nationalistic based unity models, both interstate and intrastate, have failed to produce strong and cohesive political blocks that can go the distance. The brief Arab unions and republics formed in the sixties in the Middle East are testament to this, as are local provincial insurgencies like the Baluchistan separatist movement of Pakistan.

A political union drawing upon the Islamic heritage of the region will not just be an artificial entity based just upon temporary strategic benefit. Rather it will actually revert these countries back to their default position of existence, since traditionally these lands have always been unified under one political bloc for centuries, right up to the early part of the twentieth century.

Given the Muslims across the various Islamic countries today all have the same aspirations for themselves and their children – to develop into obedient and practicing Muslims, to turn to one Qibla, to travel to one destination performing the same rituals at least once in their lives, and in doing so worshiping the one God and in the manner prescribed by the final Prophet (saw), which they all believe in and follow in letter and spirit – for them then to look beyond their artificial boundaries by dissolving their borders and amalgamate once again into one strong unified community, will not be an alienating concept at all.

Whether it is a yellow cab driver in the streets of Tunis, Lahore or Jakarta, he will share the same grief and rage at witnessing the carnage and daily bloodshed across the Muslim world and will cite the same historical heroes from Islam, from Khalid Bin Waleed (ra) to Salahuddin (ra), as the personalities that are needed today to rescue the Ummah.

Therefore such a political unification across the Islamic world would not be something so revolutionary as it may appear on the surface, since unifying states across various forms of economic, judicial and political fronts is in fact a common practice amongst many contemporary global powers; the Soviet Union, European Union, United Kingdom and the United States of America – all have the term ‘Union’ or ‘United’ in them and they have all achieved this despite a lengthy and bloody history of internal strife. So if these powers have achieved unity, whilst having to overcome such gaping differences amongst their populations, then the Muslim world too can do so, and do so far more easily and efficiently since the Muslims already have an illustrious historical precedence of brotherhood and political unity.

And in such a larger, centralised political union lies great advantage for the Muslim world. Drawing upon the example of none other than the USA again, we find that when in 1776 the independence of America was declared in Philadelphia by America’s founding fathers, the newly independent states set out to begin a new life free from British and French exploitation under an umbrella of a loose confederation. But the shortcomings of such an alliance were soon exposed as these states still faced an existential threat from such marauding global European powers of the time, since individually they could not muster up the finance or might to resist these nations.

It was thus just thirteen years later in 1789, that the leaders of these states convened once more for yet another major milestone and proceeded to dissolve the earlier Articles of Confederation and instead ratified a strong central federation with a new United States constitution, ushering in the presidential republican system that exists till this day. It was only with such a cohesive union that this newly established entity became financially, militarily and politically strong enough to stand up to the then dominant powers of Europe and in time become a major global power in the world itself.

Today Muslim countries lie scattered and under subjugation in a similar fashion to the colonies of America prior to the formation of the United States. By themselves, they stand little chance in withstanding the might of Western powers, busy in the loot and plunder of their natural resources and strategic assets in conjunction with the corrupt puppet rulers of the land.

Thus only an Islamically based political unification, between the various countries of the Muslim world, would offer an excellent option of collating individual strengths into a superior collective strength. Such a strong central Islamic government would then have at its disposal the unified armies from across the Islamic world, and would control enough strategic geographical points and assets, such as waterways, ports, natural resources and industrial complexes, to withstand any foreign aggressor.

Indeed the shape, this unification of the Islamic states would have to take, would be where the idea of individual nationhood is done away with and instead where each state or group of neighbouring states would then function as an administrative province within this greater Islamic political authority.

Asif Salahuddin

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