There is a perception that Islam is the glorification of Arabs and their culture and customs.
Well, it is not.
It is neither Arabism nor worship of Arabs.
Never once does the Noble Word exhort its reciters to follow the Arabs and their manner of living.
The Noble Quran makes a clear and decisive distinction between the dynamics of language and race. The former cuts through racial, ethnic, tribal, and national differences. However, the latter is fixed and cannot be appropriated.
I can possess native fluency in English, but that does not mean I can also physically become an Anglo-Saxon.
In extolling the Arabic language* and admonishing** the Bedouin conduct, Islam states a fascinating feature embedded within human beings, which is as follows:
Anyone can master any language.
Therefore, one sees a non-Arab of ANY race/ethnicity reciting the Quranic verses as beautifully and effortlessly as an Arab.
It can be said that Islam is the only system that balances the particularity and universality of human existence.
It prevents a particularity from eating its own self. Also, it stops a universality from enveloping and destroying a particularity.
“Indeed in that is a lesson for those of vision.” [3:13]
*: see Quran 12:2, 13:37, 16:103, 41:3 **: see Quran 9:97, 9:98, 49:14
The Indian Constitution begins with a fascinating sentence.
Article 1: India, that is Bharat, shall be a Union of States.
Now, doesn’t it imply that there is also an “India” that is not Bharat?
As the word “India” refers to the land or lands around the River Indus, it then follows that a territory whose official name is the “Republic of India” should also contain the said river.
However, that is not the case. The mighty River Indus runs through the “Islamic Republic of Pakistan” rendering it more Indian than the one currently called the “Republic of India “.
Hence, I think the very first article of the Indian Constitution subtextually addresses this inconsistency. I am not sure the framers consciously took that step. Their intention was to introduce a term originating locally as the word “India” was how foreigners began referring the vast territory straddling between the Iranian plateau and the Gangetic plains.
So, firstly, Pakistan is an India that is not Bharat and that which contains the River Indus. It is the child of this ancient river which binds its constituent parts together.
Secondly, it is an acronym. P stands for Punjab, A for Afghania [the Pashtun lands in the North West], K for Kashmir, S for Sindh, and –tan for Baluchistan. Although it was added to make the pronunciation easy for the reader, the letter I can be taken as a representative of the word Indus.
Thirdly, the word “Pakistan” also signals towards the Persian/Farsi and Sanskrit heritage. “Pak” is a Persian word which means “pure”. It is cognate with the Sanskrit term “pavaka” (पावक). The other component, that is “-stan”, is a Persian suffix which means “place”, “abode”, “station”, etc. It is also cognate with the Sanskrit word “sthan” (स्थान).
Lastly, Pakistan can be seen as a protest against the notion that Delhi is the political and cultural centre of gravity of the region between the Khyber Pass and the Bay of Bengal. It is perhaps the most powerful centrifugal force that resists the gravitational pull that emanates from the centralisation tendencies of the Gangetic plains. And I might add that it doesn’t matter who sits in Delhi.
Of “East Bengal”, “East Pakistan”, and “Bangladesh”:
Here, one may raise an extremely pertinent question. What to make of Bangladesh which, until 1971, used to be known as “East Pakistan” and was governed as a sovereign territory of Pakistan?
Well, until the promulgation of the constitution of 1956, this territory was known as “East Bengal”. It was carved out of Bengal as a Muslim majority region. The founding father of Pakistan, Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, had endorsed the scheme of a United Sovereign Bengal but the Nehru-led Indian National Congress rejected the proposal. According to S.K. Majumdar, the measure would have depleted the fortunes of the financiers of the Congress Party.*
My own assessment is that a United Bengal in the East coupled with a Pakistan in the West would have not only encouraged several other centrifugal tendencies, Bengali nationalism would also have shaken the foundations of Congress-backed “Indian Nationalism”. Therefore, the Congress Party that was seeing things from Delhi stood for the division of Bengal, and when after the conflict in 1971 Eastern half of Bengal declared its independence from Islamabad, New Delhi did not try to incorporate it into its own province of West Bengal. Paving the way for a sovereign Muslim-majority “Bangladesh”, the Republic of India undermined its own secular nationalistic credentials and upheld a sort of nationalism the basis of which was religion [in this case Islam].
So getting back to the theme at present, a sovereign territory separated by a thousand-mile of foreign land was a bizarre arrangement to begin with. Bengal should have been allowed to decide its own destiny. Nevertheless, this does not mean that I endorse or sympathize with the foundational fantasies of “Bangladesh”. It is not “Bangladesh” as long as West Bengal remains a part of India. Presently, it is a land of Muslim Bengalis whose political elite brandished linguistic chauvinism but insisted on frontiers drawn on the basis of religion.
* S.K. Majumdar Jinnah and Gandhi: Their Role in India’s Quest for Freedom [pg. 273]
God: I fashioned this world out of one and the same clay; You made Iran; Ethiopia and Tartary. From mere earth I made steel, pure and without alloy; You fashioned sword and arrowhead and musketry. You made the axe, with which you felled trees grown by me, And fashioned cages for my singing birds, born free.
Man: You made the night; I made the lamp that lights it up. You fashioned clay; I made of it a drinking cup. You made the wilderness, the mountain and the steppe; I fashioned garden, orchard, avenue and scape. I change dread poisons into panaceas, and I am the one who fashions mirrors out of sand.
“The tongue is a beast; if it is let loose, it devours.”
“As intelligence increases, speech decreases.”
“Take wise points from wherever they may be, because if a wise saying is in the bosom of a hypocrite it flutters in his bosom till it comes out and settles with others of its own category in the bosom of the believer.”
“The worth of every man is in his attainments.”
“Whoever abandons saying, “I do not know” meets his destruction.”
“I love the opinion of an old man more than the determination of a young man.”
“The hearts get weary as bodies get weary; so look for beautiful wise sayings for them (to dispel their weariness).”
“The lowest form of knowledge is that which remains on the tongue and the most superior form is that which manifests itself through (the action of) the limbs and the organs of the body.”
“When you hear a tradition test it according to the criterion of intelligence not that of mere hearing, because relaters of knowledge are numerous but those who guard it are few.”
“He who acts solely according to his own opinion gets ruined, and he who consults other people shares in their understanding.”
Deemed ye then that We had created you for naught, and that ye would not be returned unto Us?
[Surah Al-Mu’minun: 115] Translation: Muhammad William Marmaduke Pickthall
The Noble Qur’an uses the terms In-saan [انسان] and bash’ar [بشر] to refer to a human being [man and woman].
They are often used interchangeably but they, nevertheless, have differences.
Bash’ar is a more empirical description. It is concerned with the outward appearance. It is the superficial and material account of a human being.
Now, as far as In-saan is concerned, it signifies a more profound and higher state.
The word shares its roots with the word Nisyaan [نسيان] which means forgetfulness and amnesia.
It is said that In-saan is a being who is in a state of forgetfulness with regards to its purpose.
So, when a Bash’ar is aware of his/her lack of knowledge and forgetfulness and strives to overcome it, he/she attains the rank of In-saan.
The Self is called Nafs (نفس).
It has three categories:
Nafs Ammarrah [نفس أمارة] : The part of self that entices Man to follow his lust and baser instincts.
Nafs Luvammah [نفس اللوامة] : The part of self that admonishes Man to review, repent, and mend his ways.
Nafs Mutma’innah [نفس المطمئنة] : The highest level of self whose bearer finds satisfaction and bliss in absolute submission to the Ultimate Reality [الحق].
The primordial condition on which every human being is born is called Fitrah [فطرة]. It is a kind of operating system, a software which in its uncorrupted and undefiled form helps Man to establish a connection with Allah Almighty.
“The Perennialists claim to be saving religion from the onslaught of modernity, but by adopting a pluralist epistemology, and especially one that is applied to the truths at the core of a given religion, they are sacrificing its most essential element: sacrality; for if religion is deprived of its exclusive claim to absolute truth, then it is deprived of its sacrality and sacrosanctity and can no longer claim to be sacred. This, of course, is precisely the loss that the Perennialists claim to be avoiding. Ultimately, the whole movement is a modernist reaction which is supposedly against modernity. Again, you can’t make this stuff up!”
Arash Najaf-Zadeh (The European New Right – A Shi’a Response: A Radical Critique of Alexander Dugin, E. Michael Jones, and Alain de Benoist, pg. 131)
It begins with an etymological description of the word ‘nation’ and how a people precede a state not vice versa, and, therefore, “one cannot define the nation by reference to the state”, which is a valid point.
It then lists four arguments in support of ethnonationalism.
The argument from particularism
The pragmatic argument
The argument from fairness
The argument from diversity
Let us analyze each one separately.
“Argument from Particularism”
In the “argument from particularism”, the author describes nation as an “extended kinship group”. And since we prioritize our family and its interests over others, the same can be said in the context of a nation.
The subtext is “evolutionary” that sees Man as a descendent of ape-like ancestors whose behavior should be studied within the parameters of empirical sciences.
To quote from the essay:
One sees that in nature, animals keep to their own kind. They move together in groups based on their shared characteristics and look after their own group. Humans are in physical terms really just a very intelligent species of primate, and the same basic principles and laws apply to them as to every other animal.
Now, here is a problem.
Whereas it can be said that animals “do move together in groups based on their shared characteristics and look after their own group”, they do not do this under some order of morality and ethics.
Besides, intra-group infanticide and killings are regular occurrences within the animal kingdom.
The exigencies of leading a pack often result in ruthless massacres of potential rivals irrespective of their age and stature.
A lion does not think twice before attacking a little cub.
Would a particular human ethnic group benefit if it adopts such savage in-group competition where heads of families clash violently among themselves? They would extinct themselves with their own hands.
It is the moral and ethical framework that governs the parameters of human relationships.
Why should a son/daughter listen to his/her father/mother?
Why should he/she respect his/her elders?
Why should a man look after his children?
Why should a mother take care of her newborn?
Why should she not abandon her offspring?
Why should she not have the right to kill them?
Why should I show kindness to those younger than me?
Why should I be gentle towards my co-ethnics?
Why should I be respectful towards other ethnicities/races?
In essence, a moral argument for ethnonationalism can only be raised on moral and ethical foundations, which I do not think the “evolutionary” perspective can provide.