Political Islam Considers Arabism Its Enemy

When several Islamist parties came to power in the Arab world, they branded those who disagreed with them as apostates, damaging the unity of the Arab nation.

al-monitor A partially burned copy of the Quran is seen next to dead members of the Muslim Brotherhood, Cairo, Aug. 15, 2013. Photo by REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh.

Topics covered

political islam, muslim brotherhood, islamists, egyptian revolution, arabism, arab spring, arab nationalism

Oct 24, 2013

Political Islam has waited a very long time for its chance to reach power and implement its project: turning its dream of an “Islamic state,” or the caliphate, into a reality. The caliphate has been dead for a long time. It was abolished by the Ottomans, who ruled under its name for four centuries, only to revert to being secular Turks.

Political Islam got a boost from the Arab revolutions, in which it played a minor role. Then, out of necessity, it sided with the interim governments, which succeeded the old tyrannical regimes after they quickly fell. Those regimes collapsed with their leaders either fleeing the country (in Tunisia’s case) or opposing the winds of change to the death, such as former Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Gadhafi acted arrogantly until the last minute, refusing to recognize the people and their revolution. He was captured and killed in a way so gruesome that it was more of an insult than a victory to the Libyan rebels, especially since there’s evidence that foreign forces (especially the French) were the ones who prevented Gadhafi from fleeing and handed him over to an angry crowd, which then killed him.

And now, political Islam is destroying the communities that once accepted it. Those communities assumed that political Islam had learned its lesson from its long sojourn in the opposition. But political Islam proved that it was unworthy of the people’s confidence. Many people once enthusiastically voted for the Muslim Brotherhood and put them in power in the hope that they would bring about an era of friendship, equality, justice and prosperity.

In Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria and Iraq, all the Islamic movements want is to reach power. The means to reach power depends on the circumstances, and the circumstances often allow them to use “democracy” to reach power. If the Islamists fail in their democratic practice or face significant opposition, they resort to religious edicts for jihad, even though they are not in the land of jihad nor in the land of nusra, which is a doctrine requiring Muslims to support their co-religionists in other countries.

The Muslim Brotherhood lost Egypt because of their haste. They monopolized everything and excluded others, including those who played decisive roles in the revolution. During the revolution, the Brotherhood negotiated with the regime and postponed its downfall to seize power. They sought to be alone in power to revive Islam and abrogate the historical treaty made by the Arab messenger with the Christians, and even the Jews in Medina, after he emigrated there to escape persecution. 

The Islamists of the 21st century refused to recognize those who joined Islam before them, Muslims who are not Brotherhood members, citizens of other religions and followers of other Islamic sects who do not adhere to Brotherhood ideology, which believes in the caliphate and the absolute authority of a “just” ruler.

Of course, the Islamists considered nationalism and Arabism heresy. They considered communism to be atheism and a departure from Islam, and thus punishable by death.

Instead of preaching their beliefs, as other Muslims have done, those Islamists, whose actions and funding are secret, have called others apostates. They also called the Christians apostates and attacked and destroyed their churches.

This type of political Islam has ended the enmity toward Israel, with its leaders leading a campaign of subterfuge. They acted friendly toward Israel and showed willingness to cooperate with it politically and economically. This type of political Islam didn’t confront Israel on the political and economic issues that have caused Egypt flagrant harm. Israel “humiliated” and challenged the rule in Cairo. The latter responded meekly, declining to protest or respond.

This type of political Islam, specifically the Muslim Brotherhood, absolved the United States of “imperialism” and of seeking to dominate the region’s people and control their natural resources. Instead, this political Islam sought to ally with the United States and even supported its policies.

Political Islam treated “Arabism” as its first and last enemy, thus taking the same side as the forces of foreign domination, like the United States and the foreign forces that occupy Arab land, specifically Israel, which militarily occupies Palestine and part of Egypt (Sinai) by preventing the Egyptian army from exercising its sovereign rights over its land. Israel also occupies, politically and economically, Jordan, and it still occupies Syrian territory, the Golan Heights, which Israel annexed. Moreover, Lebanon would still be threatened with occupation were it not for the resistance which liberated the land from the occupier. Were it not for the resistance, all of Lebanon would be hostage to Israel, which always seeks superiority to the entire Arab nation.

Political Islam acted as if its first enemy in all Arab lands were nationalism and its second enemy Arabism, whether when directly applied or in its intellectual-political manifestation: Arab nationalism.

By this logic, political Islam finds itself in a political alliance with the United States and even the (colonial) West in general, and allied with the Zionist entity by necessity. It behaves as if it is, together with all these forces, in an open war with the idea of ​​Arabism as a universal identity for the people of the ummah or nation.

Political Islam intersects with the entities that want to tear apart the national affiliation of the people of the one ummah. Political Islam threatens the religious and national minorities, which in turn threatens the unity of the ummah.

Egypt was a revealing model. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood provoked Muslims by accusing them of apostasy for not being Brotherhood loyalists and for not accepting the Brotherhood’s absolute dominance. The Brotherhood also created an enemy of Christians, the original Egyptians, for no reason. The Brotherhood did not hesitate to provoke Shiites by denying their Muslim identity and accusing them of apostasy.

The Brotherhood missed a chance to be one the ummah’s political elites. They lost the state without helping Islam. They behaved like separatists, monopolists and dictators. It was as if they came from another world. They were bound to lose.

Their greatest accomplishment is that they lost at breakneck speed. And for that, we must thank them.

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More from  Talal Salman