Islam: universal religion or Arab tribalism

By: Jon Clay

“It is claimed that religious unity is also a factor in the formation of nations. Whereas, we see the contrary in the Turkish nation. Turks were a great nation even before they adopted Islam. This religion did not help the Arabs, Iranians, Egyptians and others to unite with Turks to form a nation. Conversely, it weakened the Turks’ national relations; it numbed Turkish national feelings and enthusiasm. This was natural, because Mohammedanism was based on Arab nationalism above all nationalities.”
Mustafa Kemel Atatürk, first president of Turkey and militant secularist.

Kemel Atatürk was writing in the aftermath of the Ottoman Empire’s fall, when many Arabs had sided with the British against the Ottoman rulers. Islam did not provide a sufficiently strong bond for unity beyond countries then, and I shall argue that it does not now. The international Muslim brotherhood is biased towards Arab interests. There are currently a variety of forces who are attacking Islam: some are secularist, some are based on other religions, some just believe in human rights. What appears to be lacking is criticism of how Islam elevates the interests of the Arabs above the interests of other nations, and defines the moral duties of Muslims largely in terms of service towards Arab goals. I expect that it is not uncommon to hear such sentiments amongst Berber nationalists in Algeria or Zoroastrians in Iran, but the oppressive governments of these countries prevent their voices from reaching the internet or the universities of the West. We should look to Turkey and Atatürk’s teachings to understand how secularism of Islamic countries have been attempted: Atatürk made great mistakes but we can learn from these.

Ibn Warraq wrote that the reason why Mohammed became a historical figure is because he united the warring Arab tribes behind one doctrine: that of Islam.[1] From there, he was able to redirect Arab aggression outwards towards other tribes and countries. We read in the Qur’an of the massacre of Jewish tribes. This was the beginning of the Arabic expansion: they moved outwards from the peninsula that has their name until they occupied most of North Africa and south-west Asia. The ethics of Islam are thoroughly tribal: the insider has rights, but the outsider must be kept in submission or even killed. Muslims are allowed to give evidence in court, may hold public offices, may share in the spoils of war and are not charged interest when they borrow. All of these privileges are denied to dhimmis. This is akin to the tribal doctrine of Nazism or of any type of imperialism. The difference is that the Arab interest is dressed up as the interest of God.

There are many similarities between Judaism and Islam, but there is a huge difference: Judaism does not wish to convert any gentiles whilst Islam wishes to convert, enslave or kill all kaffirs. I have no doubt that Orthodox Jews believe that God is on their side, but it is not common that this uncritical self-belief interferes with gentile interests. On the other hand, the interest of Islam is irreconcilable with anything that is not Islamic. Islam wishes to conquer the world, and make it all bow in submission to Mecca five times per day. The Arabic legends about Jinns must be embraced worldwide. The definition of “murder” must not criminalise the Arab tradition of honour killings anywhere in the world. It wants the entire world to learn the Arabic language in its 7th century form, to dress in the Arabic way and to consider it a holy duty to travel to Mecca at least once in a lifetime. The victory of Islam would be the victory of the 7th century Arabic mindset against all other forces.

The Left is normally adept at identifying historical cases of oppression for certain. Almost everyone in this country is aware that it was Britons who massacred the natives of Tasmania and that it was Britons who sent slave ships from Africa. Educated people are also aware to a lesser degree of the crimes of other European countries. Partly due to World War II attitudes, the crimes of the Japanese Empire are also within common knowledge. What is missing from this list? The crimes of the Arab empires! Whilst we all know that Australia was not originally White, how many people know that Algeria was not originally Arabic? If you ask the average Westerner, they would probably answer that it was always been Arabic. This is wrong; Algeria is a Berber country historically. So too is Morocco, Libya, Tunisia, Niger and Mauritania. The Berber peoples were dispossessed of their lands and forced to convert to Islam. There is a gold mine of academic research that could be done on this area, but no-one is interested. People go through life hearing about the crimes of the West and occasionally of Japan. They do not associate Arabs with empires but only with religion. It is time for us to realize that Islam is the mother of all smokescreens: the dressing up of Arabic interests in a language that is associated with ethics. We all know that the old Communist nations were not really pursuing the interest of the global proletariat even though their propaganda also claimed to be. So too, those Arab countries that claim to be serving their religion and their god are often concerned only with their own self-interest, and are indifferent to the suffering of non-Arab Muslims.

This is most readily illustrated by the recent case of Kosovo independence. It is quite strange to think that this small nation in Europe was created by America, Britain, France and several other non-Muslim nations. At present, the only Muslim countries who have recognized Kosovo are Afghanistan, Malaysia and Turkey. It is significant that there are no Arab nations who have yet recognized its independence. More than two months have passed now, so caution should no longer be an excuse. I understand that readers might have sympathy with the Serbs in Kosovo; the British government’s report on the human rights situation in Kosovo might shock some. What I want to focus on is why there is such apathy to the fate of Kosovo in the Arab world. Arabs claim that Islam is for everyone, yet they focus all of their international efforts on Palestine. Not only that: they expect all Muslims to focus all their efforts on Palestine.

In Bosnia, civil war raged between 1992 and 1995. Most estimates suggest that Muslims died in the largest numbers. What did the Arab countries do to support their Muslim brothers? Nothing. In contrast, Greeks and Russians came over to fight for the Serbs. The government of Serbia at the time was still Marxist and anti-religious, yet the Serbs were the most highly-committed of all the sides in the war. Greece, a long-term member of N.A.T.O., turned a blind eye to the paramilitaries who operated on their shores. The Srebenica massacre was committed by Greeks as well as Serbs. What does all this show? It shows that unity amongst Orthodox Christians is stronger than amongst Muslims. Why is it that Greeks go to fight for Serbs but Arabs do not go to fight for Bosniaks? Because Arabs have no interest in saving Bosniaks, and Islam has always placed the Arab interest above all else.

I live in Britain. Before the recent crisis in Tibet, all the international crises that made British news concerned Arabs in some way. At universities, there are posters and graffiti for “Free Palestine!” and “End the Israeli Occupation!” Students marched against the Israeli war against Hezbollah. Why does no-one ever march for Darfur? When North Korea threatened South Korea with war, why did no-one march in support of South Korea or spray graffiti to say “Free North Korea!” It is strange how well Arab interests are represented in Britain, which does have a particularly large Arabic population. It seems as if most Muslims in Britain, who tend to be from either Africa or the Indian subcontinent, are more interested in fighting the Arabs’ struggles than they are in fighting for struggles in their own parts of the world.

Older readers might remember the civil war in Sri Lanka, where many Muslims were killed by both the Buddhist government and the Tamil Tigers. I would argue that Bosnia was essentially Sri Lanka Mark 2. The Sinhalese government attempted to mobilize the Muslim population to fight against the Tamils, and there are some reports of Tamil villages having been razed by Muslim forces. The reaction of the Arab countries was much the same as it would be today: they did not care what happened to the Sri Lankan Muslims. If this fighting had been in Lebanon or Palestine, all Arab governments would immediately take sides and alter their domestic policies to fight the Arabs’ enemy.

This is further illustrated in how Muslims accuse their critics of being Jewish or Zionist even if they have never uttered a syllable on the Israeli situation. Robert Spencer, who ranks alongside Ali Sina as the most heroic critic of Islam in the world, is of Greek ancestry. When you bear in mind the historical antipathy between Greeks and Muslim Turks, between Greeks and Muslim Albanians, between Greeks and Muslim Bosniaks – you would expect this Greek nationality to be enough for Muslims to ridicule. However, Robert Spencer must be painted as Jewish: it is not enough for him to belong to a people who have squabbled with the Turks – he must belong to a people who have squabbled with the Arabs. Similarly, when the website SikhWiki was launched, a website Sikhs2Muslims claimed that it was really run by Jews.[2] The religion of Sikhism was largely founded to fight against the Islamic Mughal Empire; in that way, Sikhism could be seen as existentially anti-Islamic. But even this is not enough! For SikhWiki to be truly detestable, it must be Jewish.

My final example before I write a conclusion is the exploitation of Pakistani and Indian Muslims in Dubai. In these poor parts of South Asia, rich businessmen promise a life of luxury on building sites to fellow Muslims – but they are lying. These men go over to work 12 hours a day, sometimes without being paid and work dangerous jobs with no health and safety regulations. Once there, it is practically impossible for them to get the money or the cooperation to return home. They are like slaves. Perhaps even worse: they are like interns in one of Stalin’s forced labour camps. Why do Arabs treat their fellow Muslims in this way? Do they not want to show pity to their fellow Muslims? Moreover, where is the outcry over this? Why are there no marches in Western cities over this exploitation? There is no doubt that there would be marches if this exploitation were being done by Whites or Jews or even Japanese. Why do the Arabs get a free ride?

The current situation in Turkey demonstrates that Islam cannot easily be removed from a national culture. However, Turkey is better off for having had Atatürk. The progress that it has made in civil rights and secular culture may seem modest compared to Europe but it is still better than the rest of the Middle East. Other Islamic countries need a dose of Kemalism. It is time for Pakistanis to stop cheering on Arab interests even though the Arabs would never support them against India. It is time for Iran to move away from the 1979 revolution and restore its Persian heritage. There are some Muslim groups, such as the Kosovans and the Kurds, who now look to America more than the Arabs as their protectors. This is not to say that all is perfect in those areas: the Kurdish authorities in Iraq are yet to allow criticism of Mohammad to go unpunished.[3] Still, reform takes time, and Western ideas of liberty should move to the Kosovans and Kurds within a decade.

The reverse side to this is that Islam works strongly to the advantage of Arab governments. Islam allows Arab governments to command fifth columns in other nations to work for their goals. Muslims across the world see it as their moral duty to support Palestine and to hate Jews, when it is really the mere self-interest of the Arab nations. Do Arab governments even believe in Islam? The House of Saud engage in gambling and consumption of alcohol, and send their children to Western universities. Gaddafi made several public criticisms of Islam in his early years[4] but later reverted to the image of a Muslim; I doubt that he sincerely believes in Islam. This suggests that Arab governments are going to fight every inch of the way to keep Islam strong, for their interests depend upon it. It is going to be a long struggle to bring these regimes down but we have brought down Communism before. When Communism fell, no-one fought to defend it despite all the decades of propaganda that it was a superior system. The people of Eastern Europe were overjoyed to embrace democracy and capitalism. Events in Iraq suggest that there are presently a much larger proportion of people who are prepared to defend the Islamic order. The best method of attack would be to liberate the non-Arab Islamic countries first by showing that Islam is not only false but based on submission to Arab interests. Once there have been successes on this front, Arab leaders will be isolated. They may become paranoid and even more cruel towards their people, but they cannot maintain this for ever. Eventually, Islam will fall as well. It will join Communism, Nazism and all forms of imperialism in the dustbin of history.

[1] Ibn Warraq, Why I am Not a Muslim, p.344
[4] Daniel Pipes, The Rushdie Affair: the Novel, the Ayatollah and the West, p. 79-80 as quoted in Ibn Warraq, Why I am Not a Muslim , p.7


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