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Islamic Society (05 Dec 2016 NewAgeIslam.Com)

Why Pan-Islamism Is the Biggest Roadblock for Muslims' Integration with Modernity

By Arshia Malik

December 05, 2016

Pan-Islamism is a political movement advocating the unity of Muslims under one Islamic state – often a Caliphate - or an international organization with Islamic principles. As a form of religious nationalism, Pan-Islamism differentiates itself from other pan-nationalistic ideologies, for example, Pan-Arabism, by excluding culture and ethnicity as primary factors towards unification.

I started searching for the role of Muslims in 1947 in the formation of Pakistan and came up with the Hijrat of 1920. This lead me to the book Pan-Islam in British Indian Politics: A Study of the Khilafat Movement, 1918 By M. Naeem Qureshi. Which further brought up Jamal al-Afghani and his famous disciple Muhammad Abduh, who surprised me, or at least his Wikipedia entry did. His views on Islam seem very modern and liberal and he was definitely called an infidel according to his biographers, by his contemporary Muslims and both teacher and disciple fell in and out of favor with various Sultans and Kings of the then fragmenting Ottoman Empire, and the Middle East and Central Asia.

Their zeal for Pan-Islamism was in response to the hegemony of European Colonialism that they saw in their travels to various Muslim lands. But then they did not stop at just criticizing the West. Muhammad Abduh, in fact, went further and advocated that:

''...the two greatest possessions relating to religion that man was graced with were independence of will and independence of thought and opinion; and because Western civilization was based on these two principles, it had progressed to a much happier stage in the evolution of mankind."

Pan-Islamism went through its various stages, starting from the early days of Islam as a ''religious concept'' and moved on to become a ''modern political ideology'' in the 1860s and the 1870s at the height of European Colonialism when Turkish intellectuals began discussing and writing about it as a way to save the crumbling Ottoman Empire, according to the Oxford Islamic Studies site. From becoming the ''favoured state policy'' as a ''defensive ideology'' directed against European political, military and economic, and missionary penetration in the East, ruling bureaucratic and intellectual Pan-Islamist elites of the fast-becoming obsolete Ottoman Empire, sought to pose the Sultan as a universal Caliph to whom Muslims everywhere would owe allegiance and obedience.

It is this very nature of Pan-Islamism, of excluding culture and ethnicity as primary factors in its goal of 'Ummah' unification that I object to. As much as its early advocates continue to surprise me as I explore the translations of their writings, it is this core principle at its heart which stands out as a sore to seculars like me who live in places where a myriad of Islam is seen, followed and believed in. No doubt, the early advocates of Pan-Islamism wanted to offset military and economic weakness in the Muslim world by favouring central government over the periphery and Muslims over non-Muslims in dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire after the Great War (World War I), but to me this ''socio-political solidarity'' which seeks coordination through political and economic cooperation internationally has now become an important ''political tool'' for the recruitment of extremists and terrorists in the perceived foreign aggression post-World War II.

Muhammad Abduh's conclusions from his vast array of works do not convince me that he was a true liberal and believer in social justice, even though both Jamal al-Afghani and he faced opposition not only obviously from the British rulers and diplomats but also from their own fellow compatriots and other Muslims, even down to what, we may in modern times call, inspiring their personal trolls to declare them as infidels. Abduh's quote, “Muslims suffer from ignorance about their own religion and the despotism of unjust rulers'', could very well fit into what I often call the ''Misgovernance of Kashmir'' - a term taken from the champion of Kashmiris, Robert Thorpe, a young British Army Officer who arrived as a tourist in the Valley in 1865 and wrote his first-hand observations in his book Kashmir Misgoverned and was probably poisoned because of it and lies buried in the Christian Cemetery in Srinagar.

Another quote attributed to Adbuh is uncannily similar to what independent observers post 90s started speaking of when they visited Muslim lands and their writings/observations came in the public domain due to social media networks, for example, the works of V. S. Naipaul, Salman Rushdie, Pico Iyer, Hari Kunzru, Rabih Alameddine, Aatish Taseer, Kenan Malik, the various documentaries about the Middle East showing life as it truly is and the latest popular Ali A. Rizvi on his life in Saudi, Pakistan and in Canada straddling three civilizations. The quote goes: ''I went to the West and saw Islam, but no Muslims; I got back to the East and saw Muslims, but no Islam.''

Why I am still suspicious of these two revolutionary men is because no evidence was found in their works and activism to show that they leaned towards favouring political democracy or parliamentarianism. According to both their biographers and research experts like Nikki Keddie on al-Afghani and Mark Sedgwick on Abduh, both of them were no dangerous fanatics or religious enthusiasts and belonged to the broadest schools of Muslim thought, holding political creed akin to pure republicanism. They were most obsessed with “the overthrow of individual rulers who were lax or subservient to foreigners, and their replacement by strong and patriotic men, rather than Constitutional, Civil Law and Social Reform". For me the test for a true liberal and emancipator is what they think of women's rights and I am sure they both would have failed my test in the 1800s.

Also the fact that their actual intentions of liberating men from enslavement, providing equal rights to all, abolishing the monopoly of the mullah's (religious scholar's) exegesis, and advocacy for abolishing of racial discrimination and religious compulsion was suppressed and hijacked by latter-day organisations such as the Muslim World League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference. Their agenda of modern Pan-Islamism projected these two as the founding fathers of the Wahhabi/Salafist ideologies (indoctrinating strains of Islamic thought, jurisprudence, interpretation and philosophy culminating in the formation of the barbaric and brutal ISIS) by linking them with leading Islamists such as Sayyid Qutb, Abul Ala Maududi, and Ayatollah Khomeini who actually stressed their belief that a return to traditional Sharia law would make Islam united and strong again (an early Islamic Kharijite extremist concept which practised Takfir) is what brings me back to the ''hijacking of movements by Islamists'' for their own agendas as has been done in Kashmir since the 90s.

What could have been a simple protest against the high-handedness, interference, and pampering of India of the ruling elite turned to be a Pak-sponsored armed revolt which left a generation dead, disappeared and maimed for life, physically and mentally. The 'Tanzimat'' reform period in the Ottoman Empire has a similar disgruntlement echoing when secularization of the leadership, so that the Christian population would feel more a part of the Empire, through the promotion of a sentiment of equality for all citizens, and would be less likely to agitate for the right to self-rule; led to the formation of a constitution and a legislature. This was being achieved and had been achieved to some extent in Kashmir after 1947 but for the corrupt rule of the elite dynastic party the NC.

Similarly, the West needs to be careful who it chooses as ambassadors from the Muslim communities, now with the mass migration of Muslims into the West. For in the example of these two, one can see how organizations like CAIR/Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas can operate among the white-guilt-ridden Western countries. A much better example is to be found in my initial starting point of the role of Indian elite Muslims of the 1940s who were responsible for the Khilafat movement and found a supporter in Gandhi too. That is to be explored next.

Arshia Malik is a Srinagar-based writer and social commentator with focus on women issues and conflict in Kashmir. She makes her living as a school teacher and is an avid collector of literature. She is currently writing a book about her life as a female in Kashmiri Muslim society

Source: nation.com.pk/blogs/05-Dec-2016/why-pan-islamism-is-the-biggest-roadblock-for-muslims-integration-with-modernity

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islamic-society/arshia-malik/why-pan-islamism-is-the-biggest-roadblock-for-muslims--integration-with-modernity/d/109283


  • read it again. i am not saying. you are imagining.

    the wise are those who doubt.

    the fools are those without a single doubt. or even the capacity for doubt. like you and others who are sure, that the koran is divine. i am not sure. so that makes you the fool according to the quotation. not me.

    another major characteristics of fools is writing their own dictionaries. their language goes by the name of gibberish.

    like for instance arguing that kaffir are oppressors, while the whole muslim world disagrees. or arguing that ridda wars are not apostasy wars. they are.

    fools are also those that argue knowledge of arabic is immaterial for doing tafsir.

    fools are more importantly those whose articles are totally ignored by koranic scholars and arabic experts.

    its time you asked for a refund of your college fees. alternatively you can run your own youtube channel - like the nouman guy.

    By hats off! - 12/10/2016 4:26:54 AM

  • So you are saying that you are wondering whether it is you  who is actually the fool?You show a glimmer of some intelligence after all!
    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/10/2016 1:06:27 AM

  • "I wonder why an atheist is struggling with the question unless he is unsure of himself"

    The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wise people so full of doubts.

    By hats off! - 12/9/2016 8:35:17 AM

  • you don't understand what you are writing about. so naturally your readers cannot understand it either.

    hint: no one apart from one other gentleman ever bother commenting on your drivel.

    go figure!

    By hats off! - 12/8/2016 9:38:09 PM

  • How little you understand! You are not asked to provide the criteria for either the falsifiability test or for the Testable Prediction. The Quran has provided it. Now go and falsify the claim if you can or prove the Prediction wrong. I am sure you wouldn't have any idea of what I am talking about. Go read the article three times. Maybe then you may understand a little of what is being said. Since I cannot understand it for you, please excuse me if you are still unable to get it.

    I wonder why an atheist is struggling with the question unless he is unsure of himself. Maybe you are and that is why you talked about Pascal's wager. That, in my opinion, is a negative approach and will not get you anywhere.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/8/2016 10:08:08 AM

  • it is impossible to provide falsifiability criteria to person who has no idea of either falsifiability or criteria.

    even then it was shown that the golden principle was created by humans and it was not divine.

    then you dropped your illogical drivel.

    By hats off! - 12/8/2016 7:23:06 AM

  • How mixed up you can be! Why would I bother about what anyone thinks about punishment for apostasy in Islam when I can find out from the source book, the Quran? I do not need Bernard Lewis or anyone else to interpret any book for me. He is a historian and can only talk about history. 

    You infer precept from practice, rely on wrong authorities for the wrong things, did not think that logic was anything but two premises and a conclusion, had no idea about the method of research in the sciences, could not find a single example to satisfy the falsifiability test and yet have the gall to talk!

    The charge of Islamist supremacism against a person who is arguing that kafir does not mean non-Muslim and Muslim does not mean only the followers of Prophet Muhammad is on the face of it a false one. You appear to be driven to incoherent madness by your Islamophobic frenzy.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/8/2016 4:46:54 AM

  • like you will never believe divine revelations are lies perpetrated by power hungry prophets suffering from auditory hallucinations, i will never believe that divine revelations are in fact divine. they are too human to be mistaken.

    that makes two of us.

    the prophet's favorite wife is supposed to have remarked to the prophet "allah seems to be ever ready to bring revelations to satisfy your wishes"

    while beliefs need to provide proof, disbelief is not obliged to provide proof. disbelief can only point out fallacies of in your arguments. plenty of them have been pointed out.

    disbelief is after the fact. belief is the fact. in fact unfounded fancy beliefs are the cause of war of conquests and unspeakable barbarism to spread their "beliefs". read the prophet's letter to pervez khusro to know what i am talking about.

    disbelief is not obliged to provide any proof, but as they say, allah has closed your heart to reason and set a seal upon it. your salvation is in blind belief propped up by fallacies and misquotations.

    just go back and read what your hero bernard lewis says about the punishment for apostasy in islam.

    burden of proof is a highly sophisticated concepts that blind islamist supremacists can never understand. blame allah for that.

    even their fictitious god cannot ever grasp at its most peripheral fringes.

    by simply providing links to illogical and incoherent 'articles' you are proving nothing.

    i could provide links to other 'articles' that claim the opposite of what you claim in your incoherent and illogical 'articles' of faith - not reason.

    but i realize pseudo-scientist apologists of islamist supremacism do not have the necessary understanding of either logic or common sense to understand these 'articles'.

    By hats off! - 12/8/2016 2:45:12 AM

  • God not only shows the way to validate/invalidate the claims the scriptures make but also tells us who will never believe no matter what signs or proofs are provided.

    If you care to read the Quran, you will realize that there is nothing that you say that has not been said before and answered.

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/8/2016 1:16:30 AM

  • the fact that no arabic scholar or koranic scholar on this site has ever bothered to comment on the 'articles' is a mighty hint - provided you can take it.

    ghair muqallid is just another strawman.

    if some text claims that it is divine the burden of proof is on the text that makes the claim. burden of proof is a complex thing that god finds very difficult to understand.

    the one who makes a certain claim has the duty to provide proof. god does not understand this simple rule. talk about creating the universe!

    mistaking personal conviction for proof is strong evidence of defective scholarship

    By hats off! - 12/7/2016 7:05:06 AM

  • Hat Off says “divine revelations are fiction. god does not talk to people. he never has. and precept always drives practice. tribal culture is far benign in comparison to religions in search of world domination. the argument that the koran is divine because the koran says it is divine - is the classic model of circular argument.”

     See how mixed up and confused he is! What really is his problem? Whether the Quran is divine revelation or not? How is this question relevant or important to an atheist? His problem is that he isn’t sure of himself!

     It is only Hats Off who entangles himself in his circular arguments. The Quran not only says that it is a revelation from God but provides the criteria for the “falsifiability” test and the criteria for making the “Testable Prediction” and seeing whether such a prediction comes true. The Quran provided the scientific method to disprove any claim even before science discovered/adopted this method! Read:

    Science and Religion

     If tribal culture is benign, then why does Hats Off confuse benign tribal culture with religion? It is not benign tribal culture that this Islamophobe is confusing with religion but abhorrent tribal customs and practices.

     When my own article What Is Kufr And Who Is A Kafir In The Quran? (Full and Revised Text of the New Age Islam Series on the Subject) traces the development of Islamic ideology over the centuries and says that kafir has come to mean non-Muslim in Islamic ideology, and if dictionaries which reflect the meaning as per current usage say the same thing, and yet if I say in my article with evidence from the Quran that its meaning in the Quran is not “disbeliver = non-Muslim”, then the only way to disprove what I say is with the help of the verses from the Quran only. What could be simpler than proving wrong my claim that the Quran does not use kafir to mean "disbeliever =non-Muslim" even in a single verse when there are hundreds of verses which contain this word?

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/7/2016 5:02:18 AM

  • Using human rationality as a filter for revelations is what most intelligent believers do. What blind believers or frenzied haters of religion do is a totally different matter. We cannot find a formula that will suit all three groups.

    By Ghulam Mohiyuddin - 12/6/2016 11:48:48 AM

  • no they haven't been rebutted.

    they cannot be rebutted because divine revelations are fiction. god does not talk to people. he never has. and precept always drives practice. tribal culture is far benign in comparison to religions in search of world domination. the argument that the koran is divine because the koran says it is divine - is the classic model of circular argument. try again.

    market research and null hypothesis fell flat. re-writing the dictionaries didn't work. islamophobia is not an argument. ghair muqallid is abroad.

    let us see what the future brings.

    By hats off! - 12/6/2016 6:43:25 AM

  • Hats Off, Your Islamophobic talking points mixing up tribal culture with religion and precept with practice have been rebutted many times. 

    By Naseer Ahmed - 12/6/2016 3:56:06 AM

  • Divine guidance is anti-women, anti-rationalist, deeply harmful and one of the major sources of immorality among the believers.

    Non-believers can be immoral, but they do not have the fig leaf of divine sanction. It’s entirely their responsibility. But for those with uncontrollable egos and megalomaniac propensities, divine guidance is the perfect fig leaf for doing the unspeakable and the unthinkable.

    Divine guidance is what made a person like Abraham willing to behead his own son. People who hear voices are more likely carry out what their auditory hallucinations tell them to do. However unspeakable it might be.

    It is the engine that drives desperate ideas into despicable action. Examples are legitimization of sex slavery, Jizya, of Aurat and Ghairat, anti-Semitism and hatred of idol worship and other poisons.

    Divine guidance is a mask for justifying the vilest and meanest components of human propensity for lust, power, oppression and money.

    It provides an excuse as well as background for people with poor self control to act out their fantasies.

    By hats off! - 12/6/2016 2:26:16 AM

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