Nationalism is a concept alien to Islam because it calls for unity based on family and tribalistic ties, whereas Islam binds people together on the Aqeedah, that is, belief in Allah and His Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam). In other words, Islam calls for the ideological bond.

Grouping together on tribalistic lines is clearly forbidden.

It is narrated by Abu Dawud that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “He is not one of us who calls for asabiyyah, (nationalism) or who fights for asabiyyah or who dies for asabiyyah.”

And in another hadith, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) describes the one who calls for nationalism as being like the worm that crawls in the bottom of the dung, and in the hadith recorded in Mishkat al-Masabih, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said “He who calls for asabiyyah is as if he bit his father’s genitals.”

There are many examples in the seerah where the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) had rebuked those who upheld nationalism.

On one occasion a party of Jews conspired to bring about disunity in the ranks of the Muslims after seeing the Aus and Khazraj within Islam. A youth from amongst them was sent to incite remembrance of the battle of Bu’ath where the Aus had been victorious over the Khazraj, and he recited poetry to bring about division between them. As a result there was a call to arms. When the news reached the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam), he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “O Muslims, remember Allah, remember Allah. Will you act as pagans while I am present with you after Allah has guided you to Islam, and honoured you thereby and made a clean break with paganism; delivered you thereby from disbelief; made you friends thereby?” When they heard this, they wept and embraced each other. This incident clearly highlights how the messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) rebuked any forms of tribalism. Allah then revealed,

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam. And hold fast together all of you to the rope of Allah, and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favours on you; for you were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace you became brothers; and you were on the brink of the pit of fire, and He saved you from it. Thus Allah make His signs clear to you that you may be guided.” (Surah Ali Imran, 3 : 102-103)

It is transmitted by at-Tabarani and al-Hakim that in one incident some people spoke very lowly about Salman al-Farsi. They spoke of the inferiority of the Persian in relation to the Arabs, and upon hearing this the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) declared, “Salman belongs to ahl al-bayt [the Prophet (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam)’s family].” This statement of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) disassociates all links based on lineage and tribal considerations.

It is also transmitted, in two different versions, by Ibn al-Mubarak in his two books, Al- Birr and As-Salah, that some disagreement occurred between Abu Dharr and Bilal, Abu Dharr said to Bilal, “You son of a black woman.” The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) was extremely upset by Abu Dharr’s comment, so he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) rebuked him by saying, “That is too much, Abu Dharr. He who has a white mother has no advantage which makes him better than the son of a black mother.” This rebuke had a profound effect on Abu Dharr, who then put his head on the ground swearing that he would not raise it until Bilal had put his foot over it.

The incidents above demonstrate that tribal ties have no place in Islam. Muslims are commanded to stick together and not to disassociate themselves from each other just because they comes from different tribes.

The Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) also said, “The Muslims are like a body, if one part of the body hurts, the rest of the body will also suffer” – meaning that the Muslims, whether they are of Chinese, African, European or Asian origin, are one Ummah and they cannot be separated from each other. No tribalistic ties should ever break their unity.

Some people claim that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) approved of nationalism because during the migration to Madinah, he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said about Makkah with tears in his (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) eyes, “You are the most beloved land of Allah to me.” However, this saying has nothing to do with nationalism, and this can be seen from the full saying which people often do not quote, “You are the most beloved land of Allah to me because you are the most beloved land of Allah to Allah.”

The Messenger of Allah’s (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) love for Makkah was based on the noble status that Allah has given to Makkah, and not because he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) was born there. All Muslims should have this love and affection for Makkah because it is the most beloved land in the sight of Allah. After all, the Muslims pray towards Makkah and go there to perform hajj there as it houses the Ka’ba. The above saying of the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) therefore has nothing to do with nationalism.

Not only does Islam forbid people from grouping on nationalistic ties, but it also prohibits the establishment of more than one state, whether these states are based on nationalism or otherwise. The only state that is allowed for the Muslims is the Islamic State, which is a state that is governed exclusively by Islam. Allah addressed the Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam),

“And rule between them by that which Allah revealed to you, and do not follow their vain desires away from the truth which came to you.” (Surah al-Ma’idah, 5 : 48)

“And rule between them by that which Allah revealed to you and do not follow their whims, and beware (be on the alert) that they may deviate you away from even some part of what Allah revealed to you.” (Surah al-Ma’idah, 5 : 49)

The speech of Allah to the Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) is a speech to his (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) Ummah unless specific evidence comes to restrict this. In this case, there is no such restriction, and so it becomes obligatory for the Muslims to rule according to Islam. And ruling according to Islam leaves no room for nationalistic constitutions whatsoever because what is applied, and what forms the criteria for judgement, is the Book of Allah and the Sunnah of the Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam).

Ruling according to Islam can only be achieved in one state, with one Khalifah.

It is reported in Sahih Muslim that Abdullah ibn Amr ibn al-‘As narrated that he heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) say, “He who gave the bay‘ah to an Imam, giving him the clasp of his hand and the fruit of his heart has to obey him as long as he can. If another comes to dispute with him (his authority) strike the neck of that person.”

Abu Said al-Khudri narrated that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said, “If a bay‘ah is taken for two Khalifahs, kill the latter one.”

And Arafaja said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) say, “If someone comes to you when you are united over one man and wants to break your strength and divide your unity, kill him.”

This unity of the Muslims was clearly highlighted in the document that the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) wrote when he (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) established the Islamic State in Madinah. In this document, which was to regulate the relationships of Muslims and non-Muslims in the Islamic State, the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) said regarding the Muslims, “Allah’s covenant amongst them is one” and “Believers are brothers to the exclusion of others” and “The peace of the believers is indivisible. No separate peace shall be made when believers are fighting in the way of Allah.” These statements serve to indicate that Muslims are one body and they are not to be treated separately.

Furthermore, the obligation for having one state, and not many nationalistic states, also comes from the Ijma’ of the Sahabah. When the Messenger of Allah (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) died, the Sahabah convened to discuss the appointment of the Khalifah in the courtyard of Bani Sa‘ida. One person had proposed that the Ansar should elect their own amir and the Muhajirin their own, but Abu Bakr narrated the hadith that forbids the Ummah from having more then one leader. So the Sahabah never allowed more than one ruler and their consensus is a legitimate evidence for us.

Islam therefore leaves no room for the Saudi state, an Egyptian state, or a Pakistani state. Islam calls for one state with one ruler where all Muslims are tied together by the Aqidah of Islam. And this is a matter decided by Islam to which we must submit to, for Allah says,

“It is not for a believer (male or female) that when Allah and His Messenger (Sallallahu a’laihi wa sallam) have decided a matter that they should have any choice in the matter.” (Surah al-Ahzab, 33 : 36)

And those who still uphold nationalism, remember what Allah says,

“Those who oppose Allah’s order have to be warned that a calamity may strike them or a painful doom may fall upon them.” (Surah an-Nur, 24 : 63)





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