TRIBALISM REVISITED – IS NATIONALISM HALAL – CAN I BE A PROUD TURKISH – ARAB MUSLIM – “KHUTBAH ON ASABIYYAH”

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

Alhamdulillah,

Nationalism is a concept alien to Islam because nationalism calls for unity based on family and tribalistic ties, whereas Islam binds people together on the `Aqeedah, that is belief in Allah (swt) and His Messenger ﷺ. Islam calls for the ideological bond.

Grouping the Muslims on tribalistic lines is clearly forbidden. It is narrated by Abu Da’wud that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“He is not one us who calls for `Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for `Asabiyyah or who dies for `Asabiyyah.”

And in another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ referring to nationalism, racism, and patriotism said:

“Leave it, it is rotten.” [Muslim and Bukhari] and in the Hadith recorded in Mishkat al-Masabih, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“He who calls for `Asabiyyah is as if he bit his father’s genitals.”

Also, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, narrated by At-Tirmidhi and Abu Dawud,

“There are indeed people who boast of their dead ancestors; but in the sight of Allah they are more contemptible than the black beetle that rolls a piece of dung with its nose. Behold, Allah has removed from you the arrogance of the Time of Jahiliyyah (Ignorance) with its boast of ancestral glories. Man is but an Allah-fearing believer or an unfortunate sinner. All people are the children of Adam, and Adam was created out of dust.”

Also, the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“Undoubtedly Allah has removed from you the pride of arrogance of the age of Jahilliyah (ignorance) and the glorification of ancestors. Now people are of two kinds. Either believers who are aware or transgressors who do wrong. You are all the children of Adam and Adam was made of clay. People should give up their pride in nations because that is a coal from the coals of Hell-fire. If they do not give this up Allah (swt) will consider them lower than the lowly worm which pushes itself through Khara (dung).” [Abu Dawud and Tirmidhi]

There are many examples in the Seerah where the Messenger of Allah ﷺ had rebuked those who upheld nationalism. One 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 ﷺ, he ﷺ 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 honored you thereby and made a clean break with paganism; delivered you thereby from disbelief; and made you friends thereby?”

When they heard this they wept, and embraced each other. This incident clearly highlights how the Messenger of Allah ﷺ rebuked any forms of tribalism. Allah (swt) then revealed,

“O you who believe! Fear Allah as He should be feared and die not except in a state of Islam with complete submission to Allah. And hold fast, all of you together, to the rope of Allah (i.e. Qur’an), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude Allah’s favors 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 Al’Imran (3); ayah 102-103]

It is narrated by Qatada that Ibnu Abi Hathim said that in the verses quoted above Allah (swt) has ordered the Muslims to hold fast to the book of Allah, His Deen, and to his covenant, and He has forbidden the Muslims to divide amongst themselves and to dispute with each other.

In another incident, Jabir ibn `Abd Allah al Ansari, narrated what happened at the watering place of al Muraysi which led to the Munafiqun stirring up the traces of `Asabiyyah and seeking to destroy the unity of the Muslims. He said:

“We were on a raid when one of the Muhajirun kicked one of the Ansar. The Ansar said, `O Ansar! Help me! (calling his tribe) and the Muhajir said, `O Muhajirun! Help me! (calling his tribe). The Messenger of Allah ﷺ heard them and said, “Why are you stirring up something which belongs to Jahilliyah?”

The Messenger of Allah ﷺ did not deal with the situation only by speaking to his men, but he walked with the men all that day until nightfall, and through the night until morning and during the following day until the sun distressed them. Then he halted them, and as soon as they touched the ground, they fell asleep. He did this to distract their minds from what had transpired.

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 ﷺ declared,

“Salman is from us, the ahl al-bayt (the Prophet’s family).”

This statement of the Messenger of Allah ﷺ disassociated all links based on lineage and tribal considerations.

It was 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 and Abu Dharr said to Bilal, “You son of a black woman.” The Messenger of Allah ﷺ was extremely upset by Abu Dharr’s comment, so he (saaw) 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.

These incidents 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 come from different tribes. The Messenger of Allah ﷺ also said,

“The believers, in their love, mutual kindness, and close ties, are like one body; when any part complains, the whole body responds to it with wakefulness and fever.” [Muslim],

“The faithful are like one man: if his eyes suffers, his whole body suffers.” [Muslim],

“An Arab is no better than a non-Arab. In return, a non-Arab is no better than an Arab. A red raced man was not better than a black one except in piety. Mankind are all Adam’s children and Adam was created out of clay.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of Abu Musa]

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 tribalists ties should ever break their unity.

Furthermore, Allah (swt), says,

“The Faithful are but brothers…” [Surah Al-Hujurat (49): ayah 10]

And the Messenger of Allah ﷺ said,

“The Faithful are to one another like [parts of] a building – each part strengthening the others.”

and

“Every Muslim is a brother to a Muslim, neither wronging him nor allowing him to be wronged. And if anyone helps his brother in need, Allah will help him in his own need; and if anyone removes a calamity from [another] Muslim, Allah will remove from him some of the calamities of the Day of Resurrection; and if anyone shields [another] Muslim from disgrace, Allah will shield him from the disgrace on the Day of Resurrection.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim, on the authority of `Abd Allah ibn `Umar]

Some people claim that the Messenger of Allah ﷺ approved of nationalism because during the migration to Madinah, he  ﷺ said about Makkah with tears in his 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 ﷺ love for Makkah was based on the noble status that Allah (swt) has given to Makkah, and not because he 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 (swt). 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 ﷺ therefore has nothing to do with nationalism. If Rasoolillah ﷺ and the Muhajireen amongst the Sahabah (raa) were tied to the homeland (of Makkah), they would have settled in Makkah after it became part of the Islamin Governing System. It was One State.

والله تعالى أعلم

وصلى اللهم وسلم وبارك على نبينا محمد وعلى آله وصحبه والتابعين

أخوك أبو ناصر


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