Faith vs. Nationalism

In Islam, unity is based on Faith, not terroritory, blood, language, family or race as in nationalism.

Starting with the concept of nationalism, some may differentiate between nationalism and patriotism. While the former is linked with an 'ideology,' the latter is based upon sentiments. But a careful analysis proves this notion to be quite incorrect. Nationalism is associated with sentiments just as much as patriotism. There's little difference between the two.

Nationalism can be briefly defined as 'group instinct' or the 'love of home'. In human life, the story of nationalism begins from an accident of nature/birth, not from man's conscious will or choice. The modern era of mass emigrations gives 'nationalism' a still more superficial touch, involving little beyond a change of documents.

Most importantly, unity based on race, land, blood etc. is related to man's lower instinct and not his distinctive characteristics which make him the superior species.

The basis of human collective life has been under question since long .. whether it should be founded upon geography, race and language or on the basis of belief and intellect.

Thus, what is the difference between the Ummah (pan-Islamic unity/community as elucidated in the Noble Quran) and nationalism?

To define oneself in terms of ethnic identity of one's geographic or other heritage is not the ideology of the Noble Quran. Ethnic and territorial identities are bound to lead to racism, provincialism, bias and discrimination. That's inevitable. But the ideology of unity based on Faith leaves no room for any such superficial conepts or priorities. The true concept of Faith has a tremendous bonding power by eradicating polarisation and conflicts originating from other issues or sources.

A system must be envisioned as an integral part of the foundation of life as conveyed by the Quran. All Prophets in the past who came with the Divine Message highlighted the importance of unity based on belief and faith, the height of which was attained by Islam in establishing a nation of conviction called the Islamic Ummah.

The other system was that of paganism which based unity upon geographical boundaries, color, language, race, family, tribal and political power. All ancient, pre-Islamic 'civilizations' like that of the Arabian peninsula, Babylon, Persia, Greece, Rome etc. based their unity on the above factors. Such an ideology is distinctly in line with Satanism. Satan considered himself superior because he was created from fire, which is the equivalent of the human concept of superiortiy based on race and blood.

Humans have two natural tendencies the lower and higher instincts. The lower instinct makes them do things without careful thinking. This, along with various spontaneous desires, also include attachment to land, blood and wealth. Allah Almighty has endowed humans with a higher instinct too. This is the intellectual side which enables them to reflect. As explained by, man's intellectual nature includes his "intelligence, self-awareness and belief, faculties which are unique to him and also the desire for perfection, knowledge and the ideal." This higher instinct, if enhanced to its maximum, can control and transform the lower instinct.

The difference between these two inherent human tendencies exposes the flaws of the school of nationalism and the distinct superiority of the school of the Prophets, consisting of the instructions of the Divine Power.

Quoting a fine excerpt from, "In the school of the prophets, the determining factor and criterion has nothing to do with territory, blood, food or sex; but it is rather man's belief, ideology and ideals which originate from his awareness, intellect and knowledge, which give him an exalted position among creatures and enable him to dominate the world. So long as he is bonded to such things as land and blood, he remains at the animal level, but once he steps higher towards belief and ideology, he attains the human level. .. That is why we reject nationalism, communism and all other futile 'isms' and turn to the Divine School which is based on belief, a search for perfection and man's unique quality."

Thus, nationalism helps to demote man to the animal level by weakening his faculties and making him shallow. On the other hand, unity based on Faith helps to enhance man's animal instincts into something much higher and more meaningful.

"Nationalism is an infantile disease. It is the measles of mankind." - Albert Einstein