Islam and Nationhood: Part III

This is a three part series. Read Part I and Part II

Maulana  Madani  suggests  that  on  issues  of  common  concern  Muslims  and  non-Muslims  members of a particular Qaum (Nation)  can and indeed  should  work  together.

This means, he  says, Indian Muslims must  join  hands with non-Muslim Indians on the basis of  belonging to the same Qaum (Nation) and work together for the unity, freedom and prosperity of the country. In seeking proper Islamic legitimacy for this argument, Madani draws upon the practice of  the prophet. When the prophet migrated from Mecca to Madinah, he writes, he entered into an agreement with the Jewish tribes of the town.

According to the terms of the  treaty, the Muslims and Jews of Madinah were to  enjoy equal rights, including full freedom of religion. They were also to jointly work for the protection of Madinah from external foes. 

“By  composite  nationalism  I  mean  here  ‘Nationalism,’ the foundation of which was  laid  down  by  Prophet  Mohammad  in  Madina. That is to say, the people of India as Indians, as a nation united (despite  religious  and  cultural diversity),  should become one solid nation and should wage war against the alien power that has usurped their natural rights. It is incumbent upon every Indian to fight against such a barbaric regime and throw off the shackles of slavery. It is important not to interfere in another’s religion – rather all nations  (communities) living in India are free to practice their religion, live by its moral  values and act according to their religious traditions. While maintaining peace  and tranquility, they should  propagate their  ideology, follow their culture,  promote civilization and protect their personal law. Neither should a minority  interfere in the personal affairs of other minorities or the majority, nor should  the majority  strive  to  assimilate  the  minority into itself”.

According to Maulana Madani, Islam is a flexible religion. He said:

As  far as I have delved into the Islamic jurisprudence, it can co-exist  peacefully with non-Muslims, it permits commerce with them, join ownership of  properties and borrowing and lending with them. Muslims can also live and interact with non-Muslims. They can share in their happiness and sorrows. They can drink water from the same tap and eat in the same plate”.

My own study of Islam shows that the basis of nationhood in Islam is not Islam itself, as is generally understood.

At no place in the Qur’an and Hadith has it been said that Muslims must become one nation. On the contrary, what the Qur’an has said is “All Muslims are brothers to one another, (49:10)”. Thus the relationship between Muslims is not based on nationhood; it is rather based on brotherhood.

While being divided into several nations, countries and states they are brothers in faith. Hence, what can be demanded from them is that they should keep themselves aware of the circumstances of their brothers, help them in their troubles and tribulations, support those who are oppressed among them, give them preference in economic and social ties and under no circumstances close their doors on them.

However, what cannot be demanded from them is that they give up their nation states and national identities and become one nation and one state. Just as they can create separate nation states, in the same way if they have the freedom to follow their religion, they can live in the capacity of citizens of non-Muslim states and adopt their nationality.

None of this is forbidden by the Qur’an and Sunnah.

The Quran itself says

"O mankind, indeed we have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted"(Quran, 49:13)

Here Islam made tribes as the basis of one's recognition and not religion.

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Hi, this may be interesting you: Islam and Nationhood: Part III! This is the link: https://clarionproject.org/islam-and-nationhood-part-iii/