POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE NATIONALISM

There are some prerequisites for the realisation of the Islamic Unity. One of these is to base on the principle of Islamic Nationality and to refrain from Negative Racism and Tribalism which are the root-causes of Disunion and Disintegration. Al-Ustaz Bediuzzaman authored many articles regarding this matter for warning and guidance, some of which are taken herebelow:

THIRD TOPIC OF THE 26TH LETTER

In the Name of Allah, the Merciful, the Compassionate.

O mankind! We created you from a single pair of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that you may know each other. (Quran, 49-13)

That is, "I created you as peoples, nations, and tribes, so that you should know one another and the relations between you in social life, and assist one another; not so that you should regard each other as strangers, refusing to acknowledge one another, and nurturing hostility and enmity,"

This Topic contains seven Matters.

FIRST MATTER

Since the elevated truth expressed by the above verse concerns social life, I have been compelled to write it in the tongue, not of the New Said, who wants to withdraw from social life, but of the Old Said, who was involved in the social life of Islam; it is written with the intention of serving the Qur'an of Mighty Stature and forming a shield against the unjust attacks against it.

SECOND MATTER

In order to explain the principle of "knowing and assisting each other" which the verse indicates, we say this:

An army is divided into divisions, the divisions into regiments, the regiments lnto battallions, companies, and then into squads, so that every soldier may know his many different connections and their related duties; then the members of the army may truly perform a general duty governed by the principle of mutual assistance, and their social life be guarded against the attacks of the enemy. This arrangement is not so that divided and split up, one company should compete with another, one battalion be hostile to another, and one division act in opposition to another.

In just the same way, Islamic Society as a whole is a huge army which has been divided into tribes and groups. But it has a thousand and one aspects of unity. Its groups' Creator is one and the same, their Provider is one and the same, their Prophet is one and the same, their qibla is one and the same, their Book is one and the same, their country is one and the same; alI the same, a thousand things are one and the same.

Thus, this many things being one and the same requires brotherhood, love, and unity. That is to say, being divided into groups and tribes is for mutual acquaintance and mutual assistance, not for antipathy and mutual hostility.

THlRD MATTER

The idea of nationalism has greatly advanced in this century. The cunning European tyrants in particular awaken this Idea among Muslims in negative fashion, so that they may divide them and devour them.

Furthermore, in nationalism is a thrill of the soul, a heedless pleasure, an inauspicious power. For this reason those occupied with social life at this time cannot be told to give up the idea of nationalism. However, nationalism is of two kinds. One is negative, inauspicious, and harmful; it is nourished by devouring others, persists through hostility to others, and is aware of what it is doing. It is the cause of enmity and disturbance.

It is because of this that the Hadith states:

Islam has abrogated what preceded it, and put an end to the Tribalism of the Ignorance State. (Bukhari-Ahkam 4, Imara 36,37; Abu Dawood, Sunna 5; Tirmidhi-Jihad 28, Ibn-i Majah-Jihad 39)

And the Qur'an decrees:

While the unbelievers got up in their hearts, heat and cant - the heat and cant of Ignorance - God sent down His tranquillity to His Prophet and to the believers, and made them stick close to the command of self- restraint; and well were they entitled to it and worthly of it . And God has full knowledge of all things.(Quran 48-26)

Thus, the above Hadith and Verse reject in definite terms any negative nationalism and racialism. For the positive, sacred Islamic nationhood leave no need for them.

What race is there that has three hundred and fifty million (now 1.2 billion) members? And which racialism can gain for those who subscribe to it so many brothers - and eternal brothers - in place of Islam? Negative nationalism has caused untold harm in history.

I n S h o r t : Due to their combining some ideas of nationalism with their politics, the Umayyads vexed the World of Islam, and in addition drew many calamities on themselves. Also, the European nations have advanced the idea of racialism much this century; the ghastly events of the Great War showed how harmful for mankind is negative nationalism, as well as the perpetual and ill-omened enmity of the French and Germans.

And with us, in the Second Constitutional Period (1908-1909), - like the "many tongues" at the destruction of the Tower of Babel, known as the "ramification of peoples," which resulted in their being divided and scattered - various refugee societies known as "Clubs" were formed, chiefly by the Armenians and Greeks, due to the idea of negative nationalism, which were the cause of division. And from that time to now, the state of those who have been devoured by the Europeans due to those Clubs, and of those made wretched by them, has demonstrated the harm of negative nationalism.

And as for the present, when the peoples and tribes of Islam are most in need of one another, arid each is more appressed and more poverty-stricken than the others, and they are crushed beneath European domination, to regard one another as strangers due to the idea of nationalism, and to consider one another to be enemies, is such a calamity that it cannot be described.

It is quite simply a lunacy like turning one's back on dreadful serpents so as not be bitten by a mosquito and struggling with the mosquito - due to the idea of nationalism, to attach no importance to the European nations, which are like huge dragons, at a time when with their insatiable greed their grasping hands are open, indeed, to in effect help them and to nurture enmity against fellow-citizens in the Eastern Provinces or brother Muslims to the South, and to take up positions opposed to them, is extremely detrimental and dangerous.

In any event there are no enemies among those to the South so that they should be confronted. What comes from the South is the light of the Qur'an; the light of Islam came from there; it is present among us, and is found everywhere.

Thus, to be hostile towards those fellow Muslims is indirectly harmful to Islam and the Qur' an. And hostility towards Islam and the Qur' an is hostility of a sort towards the lives in this world and in the Hereafter of all those fellow-citizens. To think one can serve their social life in the name of patriotism while destroying the foundations of their two lives, is not patriotism but stupidity!

FOURTH MATTER

Positive nationalism arises from an inner need of social life and is the cause of mutual assistance and solidarity; it ensures a beneficial strength; it is a means for further strengthening Islamic brotherhood.

This idea of positive nationalism must serve Islam, it must be its citadel and armour; it must not take the place of it. For there is a hundredfold brotherhood within the brotherhood of Islam which persists in the Intermediate Realm and World of Eternity. So however strong national brotherhood is, it may be like a veil to it. But to establish it in place of Islamic brotherhood is a foolish crime like replacing the treasure of diamonds within the citadel with the citadel's stones, and throwing the diamonds away.

And so, O Sons of this Land, who are the people of the Qur'an! Challenging the whole world, you have proclaimed the Qur'an as its standard-bearers, not for six hundred years, but for a thousand years since the time of the Abbasids. You have made your nationhood the citadel to the Qur'an and Islam. You have silenced the whole world and repulsed awesome attacks, confirming the verse:

Soon Allah will produce a people whom He will love as they will love Him, humble towards the believers, and stern towards the unbelivers, and will fight in the way of God.(Quran 5-54)

Now you must refrain from succumbing to the stratagems of Europe and the dissemblers who imitate them, thus confirming the meaning at the beginning of this Verse; you must be frightened of doing such a thing!

A Noteworthy Situation: Being the most numerous of the Islamic peoples, wherever throughout the world there are Turks, they are Muslims, They have not become divided into Muslims and non-Muslims like the other peoples. Wherever there are Turks, they are Muslims. Turks who have abandoned Islam or who are not Muslims, are also no longer Turkish. Like the Hungarians. Even among small peoples there are both Muslims and non-Muslims.

O my Turkish brother! You watch out in particular! Your nationhood has fused with Islam and may not be separated from it. If you do separate them, you wiIl be finished! All your glorious deeds of the past are recorded in the book of Islam's deeds. Since these glorious deeds cannot be effaced from the face of the earth by any power, don't you efface them from your heart due to the evil suggestions and devices of Satan!

FIFTH MATTER

Embracing the idea of Nationalism, the peoples awakening in Asia are imitating Europe precisely in every respect, and on the way sacrificing many of their sacred matters.

However, every nation requires a dress suitable to its particular stature. Even if the material is the same, the style has to be different. A woman cannot be dressed in a gendarme's uniform. And like an elderly hoja (Muslim teacher) cannot be cIothed in the dress of a tango-dancer, blind imitation also very often makes people into laughing-stocks. This is so for the following reasons:

F i r s t l y : If Europe is a shop, a barracks, Asia is like an arable field and a mosque. A shopkeeper can go to the bafl, but a peasant cannot. The situation of a barracks and that of a mosque cannot be the same.

Moreover, the appearance of most of the prophets in Asia, and the emergence of the majority of philosophers in Europe, is a sign, an indication, of Pre-eternal Divine Determining that what will arouse the Asian peoples and cause them to progress and to govern, are Religion and the Heart. As for philosophy, it should assist religion and the heart, not take its place.

S e c o n d l y : It is a grievous error to compare the religions of Islam and Christianity, and to be indifferent towards religion like Europe. Firstly, Europe has its religion. The fact that European (Western) leaders like foremost Wilson, Lloyd George, and Venizelos, are bigoted in their religion like priests, testifies that Europe has its religion, and is even bigoted in one respect.

T h i r d l y : To compare Islam with Christianity is a false comparison and wrong.

For when it has been bigoted in its religion, Europe has not been civilized; it has become civilized on giving up its bigotry.

Furthermore, religion caused three hundred years of war amongst them. And since it was the means of despotic tyrants crushing the common people, the poor, and thinkers who were in their power, they all felt a temporary disgust at religion.

However, in Islam, history testifies that apart from one occasion, religion has not been the cause of internal war.

Also, whenever the people of Islam have adhered in earnest to their religion, they have advanced proportionately, achieving great progress. Witness to this is the greatest master of Europe, the Islamic state of Andalusia.

And whenever the Islamic community has been slack in religion, it has fallen into wretchedness, and declined.

Furthermore, since Islam has protected the poor and the common people with compassionate measures like enjoining the payment of Zakat (Obligatory Tax) and prohibiting usury and interest; and since, in accordance with phrases like,

So will they not think, * So will they not reason, * So will they not ponder on it,

It has called on and encouraged reason and knowledge and protected scholars, Islam has always been the stronghold and place of recourse of the poor and the people of Learning. There is therefore no reason to be vexed at Islam.

The underlying reason and wisdom of Islam's differing in various respects from Christianity and other religions is this:

The basis of Islam is the pure affirmation of Divine Unity; it attributes no actual effect to causes and intermediaries, affording them no value in regard to creation and position. Christianity, however, since it has accepted the idea of Jesus being the Son of God, it gives some value to causes and intermediaries; it cannot break egotism. It quite simply ascribes a manifestation of Divine Dominicality to its saints and great ones, thus confirming the verse:

They take their priests and their anchorites to be their lords in derogation of God.(Quran 9-31)

It is because of this that, together with maintaining their pride and egotism, those Christians who occupy the highest worldly ranks are religious and bigoted, like the former American president, Wilson.

In Islam, the religion of pure Divine Unity, those in the highest worldIy positions either give up their egotism and pride, or they give up their religion to an extent. For this reason, some are neglectful, or even irreligious.

SIXTH MATTER

To those who exceed the bounds in ideas of Negative Nationalism and Racialism we say this:

F i r s t l y : The face of the world and especially this country of ours (Ottoman State) has since ancient times seen numerous migrations and changes of population. In addition, after the Centre of IsIamic Rule was set up in this country, other peoples were drawn to it, and settled here.

As a consequence, only when the Preserved Tablet is revealed will the races truly be distinguished from each other.

So, to construct movements and patriotism on the idea of true race is both meaningless and extremely harmful. It is for this reason that one of the Leaders of the Nationalists and those who support Racialism, who is very neglectful toward reIigion, was compelled to say: "If language and religion are the same, the nation is the same."

Since that is so, what will be taken into consideration will be relations of language, religion, and country, not true race. If the three are the same, that certainly is a strong nation. And if one is absent, it is still within the bounds of nationalism.

S e c o n d l y : I shall describe as examples, two of the hundreds of advantages the Sacred Nationhood of Islam has gained for the sociaI life of the sons of this land:

T h e F i r s t : What enabled this Islamic state, while only numbering twenty or thirty million, to preserve its life and existence in the face of all the large states of Europe was the following idea, which arose from the light of the Qur'an in this State's Army: "If I die, I shall be a martyr; and if I kill, I shall be a ghazi."

They met death with complete eagerness and longing, laughing in its face. They always made Europe tremble.

What in the world can be shown that will give rise to such elevated self-sacrifice in the spirit of a simple-hearted soldier? What patriotism can be instilled in its place? What can make him willingly sacrifice his life and all his world ?

T h e S e c o n d : Whenever the dragons (large states) of Europe have dealt a blow at this Islamic state, they have made three hundred and fifty million Muslims weep and cry out. So in order not to make them weep and suffer, those Colonialists have drawn back their hands; they have lowered them, even while raising them to strike.

What power can be established in place of this constant moral support which in no way may be belittled? Let them show it! Yes, that huge moral (Spiritual) Strength must not be offended by Negative Nationalism and independent patriotism.

SEVENTH MATTER

We say to those who display excessive patriotism in negative Nationalism:

If you truly love this nation and are compassionate towards it, be patriotic in such a way that the compassion is directed towards the rnajority of them. For if you serve the temporary heedless social life of the minority, who are in no need of compassion, in a way that is the reverse of compassion for the majority, that is not patriotism.

For patriotic works performed with the idea of negative racialism may be temporarily beneficial for two out of eight. They receive the compassion arising from that patriotism, of which they are not worthy.

While the remaining six out of eight are either elderly, or sick, or afflicted with tribulations, or are children, or are weak, or are pious people thinking seriously of the Hereafter; these people want a light, a solace, compassion, in the face of the life of the Intermediate Realm (Barzah after death) and the Hereafter, towards which they are turned, rather than worldly life; they are in need of a blessed, patriotic hand.

What patriotism would permit the extinguishing of their light, the destruction of their solace?

Alas! Compassion for the nation, Self-sacrifice for the nation, where are they?

Hope in Divine Mercy must not be lost. For Almighty Allah will not cause to perish through temporary set-backs the Magnificent Army and Mighty Community of the People of this Land, whom He has employed for a thousand years in the service of the Qur,an, appointing them as its standard-bearer. He will once again kindle that Light and cause them to continue their duty.

He (the Turkish Army) will not strike with his Sword at his own foot, he will strike at his foe's. He will make it servant to the Quran. He will rejoice the World of Islam that shed tears. *

(The Letters, 26th Letter, Bediuzzaman Said Nursi)

* This last sentence was written by Ustaz Nursi with his own hand-writing in the Ottoman Manuscript of this treatise.