The Muslim world survived the Crusades of Christendom, but did it survive Secularism?
The Year is 1303, Arwad Island, the last Crusader outpost in the Levant (Al Sham) has fallen to the victorious forces of the Mamluks. The Franks are evicted, and the Arab populations are celebrating. The cheer goes up in hundreds of towns ‘liberation!’ and ‘Independence!’ and thousands of people cheer wildly at the end of the fall of the last staging post for Crusader invasions over a bitter last 200 years.
What if history went a little differently? Let’s say that the powerful and fanatical Frankish armies had so impressed and awed the levantine Arabs, that many had converted to the same (intolerant medieval) Christianity of the Franks, in whose name Franks had invaded the levant in the first place. Over generations only a small minority of Muslims were left. The Arab population, although mostly following the religion of the Crusaders, hated how the Franks treated them as second class citizens, and rose up – but were repeatedly defeated and suppressed by superior Frankish military until the Franks realised they couldn’t hold the Levant forever, and decided to put in charge the most Frankish-like Christian levantine Arabs they educated, and then left the Levant to a Catholic Christian Arab people.
Say you lived as a Muslim at that time, and despite the Franks having left and the now-Catholic Christian Arabs cheering this, would you feel it was a cause to celebrate? Would you say the Muslims had won? Is the threat to Islam in the Levant now over?
Say you raised the issue with the Arab society at the time and publicly announced “come my fellows, the Crusaders have gone, let us come back to our former religion?”, but most of the people saw you as following something strange and outdated saying “Islam was in the past, look how powerful Christendom is, surely it is the future for mankind- you wish to take us backwards to that?! We still believe in ‘one’ God, so no need to become Muslim, verily your call is an extreme one!”. Of course, your natural response would be to wonder why the Christian Arabs are celebrating the Franks leaving if they follow the same religion as them, and wilfully submit themselves to the international spiritual authority of a Pope all the way in Rome. How would they think themselves independent? What would they say? Would they say “We celebrate because the land is merely under the rule of Arabs, and not foreign Franks, so celebrate with us our ‘independence’, and cease your call to extreme and outdated beliefs!”? Probably.
However, if this happened would you say the Muslims had won the crusades? Would you say the Islamic lands of the Levant had achieved independence?
No of course not.
The purpose of the Crusades was for conquering the Levant in the name of Christendom, not for the purposes of spreading a Frankish colony. If the Levantine populations had all mostly converted to Christianity, the purpose of the Crusades would have been a success, and Islam would now be held hostage by the Christian majority against the remnant Muslim minority. Of course, history never turned out like that, but as it turned out, this unfortunately wasn’t the last Crusade the Muslims were to face.
After a cultural and political revolution, Catholic Christianity was usurped from its position of power in Europe, and replaced with the Secular ideologies emerging during what European Secularists anachronistically call their ‘Enlightenment’. The Europeans launched a new ‘Crusade’ around the world, including into the Muslim world, but this time not in the name of a spiritual religion, but a materialistic one…Secular Liberalism. This new religion did not grant its ‘holy’ fighters forgiveness of sins like the Catholic Church promised its fighters, but rather it promised more material rewards in the form of the acquisition of land and property which were being ‘underused’ by the ‘uncivilised’ (i.e.non-Liberal) people outside of post-‘Enlightenment’ Europe.
Because it was a war based upon a materialistic faith, the Western powers didn’t take to using the word ‘crusade’, instead, they would call it Colonialism or Colonization. However a Crusade it was, just for a different faith than they had done before. Its aims were simple, conquer land and strip lands of resources for the colonialist country’s benefit, and engage in the exploitation and ‘re-education’ of natives with Secular Liberal values, by FORCE if necessary, until they are ‘civilised’ into submitting to Secular Liberalism before they could merit a regime of (more cost-effective) ‘self-rule’.
As the famous Liberal Philosopher John Stuart Mill wrote:
‘It is, perhaps, hardly necessary to say that this doctrine is meant to apply only to human beings in the maturity of their faculties…we may leave out of consideration those backward states of society in which the race itself may be considered as in its nonage….Despotism is a legitimate mode of government in dealing with barbarians, provided the end be their improvement, and the means justified by actually effecting that end. Liberty, as a principle, has no application to any state of things anterior to the time when mankind have become capable of being improved by free and equal discussion. Until then, there is nothing for them but implicit obedience …But as soon as mankind have attained the capacity of being guided to their own improvement by conviction or persuasion [i.e. by embracing Secular Liberalism]…compulsion, either in the direct form or in that of pains and penalties for non-compliance, is no longer admissible [i.e. needed] as a means to their own good, and justifiable only for the security of others’
[On Liberty, 1869]
As Muslim lands were overtaken, their education systems were stripped away and replaced with Secular ones teaching subjects via the prism of a Secular worldview, until the youth in these lands matured to take over administration positions within the newly fashoned government.
Slowly, and without realising, the Muslim populations had they societies re-engineered, until any real ability to perform objective Islamic jurisprudence and understand the Islamic political system became lost to the minds of the Muslims. As elders died, young Muslims grew up having no understanding of how Islam actually solved real life problems, and unwittingly embraced the Colonialist insistence that religion only deals with ‘spirituality’ and doesn’t address life’s affairs. This led a whole generation converting to the first stage of Secular thinking.
Thereafter, the West withdrew [most of] their armies from Muslims lands, and granted control to ‘natives’ they could trust, which had embraced Western teachings and made the West the object of their emulation. This occurred while former Western overlords had ensured that a new state apparatus was solidly in the hands these most loyal native students. After ensuring the Muslims lands were divided from eachother to eliminate the any manifestation of their previous community identity [i.e. the political unity of the Ummah], they then re-engineered a new Secular identity for each artificial area [Nationalism], and gave their new ‘children’ their newly-created ‘country’ to them all wrapped up in a little bow (and flag). And like a Christian taking communion bread given by a Priest, many Muslims readily ate it.
Of course, there would be no Roman Pope as a spiritual authority for these new converts to Secularism. Instead, Western culture, and the former colonial country would serve as a ‘Papal authority’ for the people of the former colony, giving them ‘guidance’ into their morality, culture and outlook, and maintaining economic and ‘friendly’ ‘relations’ with their ‘children’ after they left [i.e. ‘neo-colonialism’].
Currently the Muslim world is filled with the children of Colonialism, leaving only a small group of Muslims who have stubbornly held on to the desire to implement Islam in political life, despite the degraded intellectual understanding of it due to the colonial era. These individuals are derogatorily called ‘traditionalists’, or ‘conservatives’ by the Secularists, and of whom the Secularists regularly use as examples to make fun of as ‘ignorant peasants’.
In all this, the Western powers spent a great deal of time to achieve the most important goal in their strategic geo-politics, namely the successful separation of Islam from politics, and the separation of the word ‘Islam’, from the original meaning of Islam.
While the original meaning of Islam included a comprehensive way of life that informed and fashioned entire political systems, laws and rules, the ‘new’ Islam would just be a ‘spiritual religion’. So the old Islam was renamed as ‘Political Islam’, or ‘Islamism’ to make the people of the current time believe it was an aberration from the ‘normal’ (spiritual only) Islam. Thus, a Muslim that seeks to implement the political aspects of islam is called a ‘radical Muslim’, whereas for 1,300 years, his beliefs would have been no different from the description of merely a normal Muslim.
However, there is a growing group of Muslims who have rediscovered this holistic Islam, intellectualised themselves and educated themselves to have a good understanding of modern technology and politics, and they sought to revive the Ummah, and reestablish the Caliphate, undoing the work of colonialism, and re-unifying the Muslim world.
This group, whom are derogatorily called ‘Islamists’, or ‘extremists’ by Secularists, are those the Western colonialists fear and detest the most, representing the one group that can potentially unravel and eventually completely reverse the work that took the Western powers centuries to build. Thus, the ex-colonial powers instigate their most loyal lackeys in the Muslim world, who they put in power, to busy themselves night and day suppressing, killing and torturing these Muslims, in the name of the ideology of their former colonial masters.
I used to think that the Muslim lands were so lucky to have rid themselves of colonialist armies, and have ‘won’ their ‘independence’. This was until I realised the horrible truth, the Muslims have not yet won against the last Secular Liberal ‘crusade’, and right as we speak , Muslims calling for Islam are being killed, tortured and oppressed by the ‘loyal natives’ of the former colonial masters, and the unwitting children of colonialism who call themselves Muslims, all the while believing that what they are doing is ‘necessary’ for ‘stability’ and not against Islam.
The fight now, is not with guns, or swords or bombs, but with ideas, arguments and thinking, for the children of colonialism do not know any better. The approach of the Islamic revival is to be patient with mentally colonized Muslims and understand the reality behind their mindset. As it reported in a hadith:
Narrated ‘Abdullah: As if I saw the Prophet talking about one of the prophets whose nation had beaten him and caused him to bleed, while he was cleaning the blood off his face and saying, “O Allah! Forgive my nation, for they have no knowledge.” [Bukhari]
The mentally colonialised Muslims in the Muslim world, are not hateful of Islam, or shariah, indeed they hold great love for these – the problem is, that most Muslims simply do not know what Islam or the shariah actually says – or how it can actually give real and sensible solutions to the requirements of society and political issues. So though they feel Islam should play a role in ‘guiding’ Muslim society, they have absolutely no idea how to do that, and are scared that Islam’s involvement in politics would lead them to regress back technologically and economically, or become a highly brutal state which uses religion falsely to justify its oppression of its people, while making it a means of privilege for another new elite.
It is not low Iman (faith), or human weakness of Will that stops mentally colonised Muslims from undoing Colonialism by re-establishing the Islam and unifying with their forgotten brothers and sisters in the other artificially separated lands, they simply are ignorant of how to do it, what it would look like, or why Nationalism is wrong in the first place.
Mentally colonialised Muslims do not need preachers, or lessons in Taqwa (God consciousness) or Ibadah (ritual worships) or being taught positions on obscure theological doctrines, but rather they need to have someone kickstart their longtime latent capacity for rational thought, and some to educate them in a holistic/original Islam, showing how Islam can and should be applied in life’s affairs – as intended by the Prophet (saaw).
All actions come from thoughts, and if we want to change people’s actions, we must change the thoughts they carry that affect these actions.
‘Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves’. [Quran 13:11]
The battle for the liberation of the Muslim world, against the last Crusade, isn’t over yet, the fight back continues…the only question is, will you serve?