Nationality is not a virtue which one can obtain by working and wishing. Nationality is the unity of advantage of those who have been born and grown up in the same country. It is a favour gained from birth without working for it. One should be thankful to Allâhu ta’âlâ who has endowed this favour upon him. And one is thankful by endeavouring for the continuation of the endowment and for being much more helpful to others. Islam is the integral part of Turkish nationalism and orders that one should work for the continuity of this nationalism and for being more helpful to others, that one should love others and render the same rights also to the fellow-countrymen of other religions and that justice and social rights should be shared equally. Those who live in the country where the above-mentioned orders and national duties are undertaken should be proud of their nationalism and pray for their ancestors, ghâzîs and martyrs who bequeathed this favour to them. They should love and respect their national anthem and flag which are the symbols of this unity and happiness of theirs. They should obey the laws and government that directs them and works for their welfare, and they should pay their taxes willingly. For those who love one another as such, not disturbing the members of other religions or sects or doing harm to them is not a defect but a virtue for nationalism and shows that Islam, the religion we belong to, is the righteous religion and that Muhammad (’alaihi ’s-salâm), our exalted prophet, is the blessing over all the worlds of beings. The word ‘nationalism’ is not a meaningless, out-of-date word as it is used by the governing minority in some technologically advanced countries, e.g. in East Europe, especially in Russia. Those who exploit the people believe in and are attached to it only as much as the irreligious are attached to morals. A person needs to be among one’s nation so that he may lead a comfortable life. He has to live in a society so that it may protect his existence, rights and needs; this is what civilization means. And this society is his own nation. We have already said that men should live in society in order to protect the rights which one cannot gain by himself. Living in a society requires reciprocal help and sacrifice. Let us study the matter to see whether one would rather sacrifice one’s life for one’s religion or for one’s nation.
A nationalist may think this way: the feeling of dying for the nation should be in common. It should be considered an injustice for one person to die while another person enjoys living. The profit of the nation is necessary for my own profit. If I sacrifice myself in that way, I will be sacrificing the real purpose for the sake of the means. I, first of all, think of myself. I cannot sacrifice myself for another person. If self-sacrifice is for receiving fame and reputation, who on earth wants to be annihilated for temporary fame and honour? No one knows on what hill and in what dale the soldiers who, in an army of millions, died for their nation, are, and their names have been wiped out from the hearts of people. Those men sacrificed their possessions along with their lives. To be more clear, they are, on their account, in a pitiable condition, rather than being praiseworthy. If the self-sacrifice I would render for the nation would not be appreciated and, in addition, if I would be deemed guilty because of those who envy me, what would become of me?
In nationalism, there is no thoughtful or logical reason that forms the power of self-sacrifice in man. Nor can self-sacrifice based on unreasonable feelings receive its reward. Especially the progressives and exploiters, who govern the nation, will never sacrifice their lives for the sake of such feelings. It happened so in communist countries. As it was witnessed in the Second World War, those who had fought in the battlefield and won honour were executed by shooting when they came back lest they might seize the power. As for the people, they do not have the idea of sacrificing their lives for one another. The feeling and mania of nationalism in reformers, who try to imitate Europeans to the extent of adoration and who suppose their every idea, every deed to be the very truth and the very happiness, are, imitative in this mania as well. Men have adhered to the occupational, professional and sectional bonds, i.e. to nationalism, which they invented with their minds and thoughts, more firmly than they have to racialism. If we put aside the swindler politicians who use nationalism as a means for their own advantages, the remainder’s nationalism results by hearing and imitating. It is seen that religious men also join in this imitating.
The thirteenth âyat of the sûrat al-Hujurât declares that human beings, the descendants of the same parents, can be graded only according to their fear of Allâhu ta’âlâ, and there cannot be racialism in Islam. Some put forth this âyat in favour of parting Muslims into nations and say that Islam is not against parting into different nationalities and all should be respected. However, to divide Muslims into separate nationalities means to pave the way to racial conflicts.
The hadîth, “On the Day of Judgement Allâhu ta’âlâ will say: ‘O men! I chose a family, a lineage (having common religious qualities, e.g. fear of Allâhu ta’âlâ). You chose another family (you emphasized racial considerations). I said, he who fears Me more is more valuable. You did not give up saying, “He is so and so’s son. For this reason, that man is superior to this man.” Therefore, today I exalt My family and debase your family. You should know very well that My Lovers are those who fear Me,’ ” explicitly shows how Muslims should be.
Fiqh books write that man and woman to be married should be suitable for each other and add the races and nationalities to this criterion. This may make one suppose that racialism and nationality also are important in Islam. Yet the fact is that in nikâh every kind of suitableness, right or wrong, between the man and the woman are considered. If it were permissible to break the nikâh done with the consent of the both sides because of racial and national difference, then it would be rightful to suppose so. Since all the different nations world over are trying to exploit other people to their advantages, we, too, have to care for our own nationality. We, too, have to defend our nationality against our enemies. To do this does not mean to attach a special importance to nationality, for the notion of nationality is based on sentiments, rather than on a scientific essence. Georgy Zaidân, the author of The History of Islamic Civilization, writes that the idea of nationalism existed in the beginning of Islam and that even the policy of Hadrat ’Umar (radiy-Allâhu ’anh) was based on this idea. He puts forth Hadrat ’Umar’s (radiy-Allâhu ’anh) endeavours not to leave any polytheists on the Arabian Peninsula as an evidence to prove to this. However, those endeavours were for a national unity based on religious unity.
In Christian religion there is not a reasonable principle left. It has taken the shape of superstitions and complicated ceremonies. Moreover, Christians belonging to the same faith, even to the same sect, have been living under the administration of different governments. For this reason, European governments looked for another bond. As a result, religious unity developed into the feeling of nationalism in Europe. Islam, establishing commercial, industrial and social order, includes the idea of nationalism. There is no need for establishing an additional concept of nationalism among Muslims. For this reason, it is written in all books teaching elements of the religion, “Religion (dîn) and nationality (milla) are the same.” Moreover, it will be quite right to say that the Europeans’ suspicions against Islamic religion arise from the fact that there is also a feeling of nationalism in every rule of this religion. If Muslims do not disunite, they will, by getting use of the fact that Islam represents nationality, find a way to overpower many nationalities that have not become firm on the earth.
From Islam’s representing nationality, lingual unity also occurs to the mind, and since the adhân and the Qur’ân are recited in the five daily prayers of salât each day in Arabic in all Muslim countries, it provides for this unity. It is for this reason that in order to separate a nation from Islam and annihilate the unity of Muslims, the enemies of Islam try to change the language, grammar and alphabet of that nation. And the severest blow to be inflicted on a nation’s religion comes through this way. As a matter of fact, Muslims in Sicily and Spain have been Christianized with this method. And now, Russians use this sharp weapon to annihilate the îmân in Muslims of Turkistan. Their dungeons, electric furnaces, expulsions in Siberia and merciless massacres cannot be as effective as this sharp weapon. Celâl Nûrî Beg recommends Arabic as a common language for Muslims in his book Ittihâd-i Islâm.Yavuz Sultan Selîm Khan endeavoured for this purpose, and the religious books have been disseminated in Arabic in all Muslim countries in the course of history. Arabic has become a religious language in all Muslim countries. The hadîth says that everybody will speak in Arabic in Paradise. The purpose is not aimed at making every Muslim nation Arabic. While the English language becomes a common language in many countries, no government opposes it. Today it has become a strong necessity for a man of knowledge and science to know one, and even more foreign languages. The Hadîth says, “He who learns the language of a race protects himself against their harm.” It is for this reason that as our youngsters learn Arabic, so it is necessary and useful for them to learn European languages. This may enable them to perform many services which in turn will bring them rewards in the Hereafter. The reason why, for many centuries, Europeans have looked upon us as foreigners is not the difference of national feelings but their not knowing the religion of Islam.
The Hadîth says, “If you do not try to bring the wicked amongst you to the right course, that is, if you do not perform al-amru bi’l-ma’rûf wa ’n-nahyu ’ani ’l-munkar, Allâhu ta’âlâ will give upon you so bad calamities that in order to get rid of them even the entreaties to Allâhu ta’âlâ of the good ones among you will no longer avail.” The 110th âyat of the sûrat âl ’Imrân commands Muslims to perform al-amru bi ’l-ma’rûf wa ’n-nahyu ’ani ’l-munkar. When Yavuz Sultan Selim Khan said to the non-Muslims under his rule, “Either become Muslims or I will put you to the sword,” Islamic scholars said that this would not be right, that is, they performed an-nahyu ’ani ’l-munkar. So, the Sultan gave it up. There may be eccentric people who consider his behaviour wrong. Indeed, this behavior of that honoured Sultan, who yielded to the religious scholars and understood that these unfair, groundless religious feelings could not be of Islam, is worth praising. The difference between religious ideas and feelings and national ideas and feelings appears on such delicate points as this. National thoughts of the irreligious may neglect right and justice, but Islamic thoughts cannot, for the virtues such as right and justice are within the boundaries of Islam.
Islam has contributed a high, pure feeling of justice to mankind. After the First World War, courts of justice were established in Istanbul in order to exile and kill the guilty Armenians, but the muftî of Boghazlayan, his hand on his chest full of îmân and his beard wet with tears, opposed the officials in the courts who had tortured the Armenians. Of old, Europeans, thinking that some bigoted Turks could be dangerous for non-Muslims, used to become hostile against real Muslims. By the way, today’s progressives call Muslims, who carry out Allah’s commands and abstain from prohibitions, e.g. those who perform salât and who have their wives and daughters covered when going out and who do not have alcoholic drinks, “bigots”. However, ‘bigotry’ or ‘obstinacy’ means ‘holding to one’s own sect and opinion and refusing others’ right words that are not agreeable with his’. A person who persistently defends an unright thing is called “bigot”. Bigotry is a bad habit which Islam rejects.
When our master Rasûlullah (’alaihi ’s-salâm) was asked what Islam was, he said,“Islam means to esteem Allâhu ta’âlâ’s commands great and to pity His creatures.” Muslims who walk on the luminous path which Rasûlullah (sall-Allâhu ’alaihi wa sallam) points out in this hadîth know that it will deserve a severe punishment in the next world to meddle with others’ rights no matter of what race, nation or religion they are. The above-mentioned behaviour of a muftî shows obviously that no one will suffer harm from Muslims. Though in Islam working is for the benefit of individuals and of the society, Muslims’ purpose is a divine thing which is above this usefulness. It is natural and necessary to think of advantages, yet it is a shame, a defect and bad egoism to consider it superior to every purpose and one cannot escape this egoism by considering national feelings to be above everything. A person who behaves with such national feelings thinks that he also is of that nation and therefore he behaves more or less egoistically. As for the purpose that motivates Muslims, it is purer and nobler. Above all, every Muslim who works for Islam, for Allâhu ta’âlâ, behaves with great love and sacrifice. Advancement of his nation will be easier and firmer. It will not harm other nations. Muslim means one who takes his each step for Allâhu ta’âlâ and does all his reckonings within the consideration of His approval. Such a person cannot do any harm either to himself or to anybody. In contrast, those who abandon the religion and Allâhu ta’âlâ and who think of nationality devoid of religion may not, at least sometimes, behave rightfully and fairly against other nations. To be religious means to be for everybody as in the French proverb, “Chacun pour soi et Dieu pour tous.” The sixty-forth âyat of the sûrat âl ’Imrân says, “O Jews and Christians, who say, ‘We believe in Allah’s book’! Come to the word [îmân, six principles of îmân] on which we have no disagreement.” We refer this difference between the nationality that provides religious freedom and that does not to the arbitration of humanity!