Saturday, 7 April 2012

Recently I read Adrian Hastings' book "The Construction of Nationhood - Ethnicity, Religion and Nationalism". In it, the author discusses the historical role of religions in shaping a sense of nationhood. Tracing the history of nation formation in Africa, he points out that Christianity, and in particular the translation of the Bible into one of the local languages, was often a key stimulus to a sense of collective identity that later matured into nationhood. Islam did not have this effect. What he had to say about Islam generally was interesting.
Christianity has of its nature been a shaper of nations, even of nationalisms; Islam has not, being on the contrary quite profoundly anti-national. A great deal of vague discussion about the relationship between religion and nationalism is blighted by the easy assumption that every religion is likely to have the same sort of political effect. It is not so.

...Not only was the explicit model of Islam together with its early history opposed to anything like a multitude of nation-states, unlike Christianity, it was also opposed to linguistic diversity. Its culture was not one of translation but of assimilation.

...The Muslim attitude to the Qur'an made translation almost impossible. For the religion person it has to be read, recited out loud five times a day, or listened to in Arabic. In consequence the whole cultural impact of Islam is necessarily to Arabise, to draw peoples into a single world community of language and government. And this is what it did. Even the language of Egypt disappeared before it, except as a Christian liturgical language. Nations are not constructed by Islam but deconstructed.

...The following quotation from Kalim Saddiqui expresses the specific Islamic approach to the nation with the starkest clarity. In terms of history it may be a simplification, but in terms of Islam's central political and religious ideal it is entirely accurate.

Today we come face to face with perhaps the greatest evil that stalks the modern world - that of nationalism ... The path of the Ummah and that of the Islamic movement within the Ummah ... is blocked by nation-states. These nation-states are like huge boulders blown across our path by the ill wind of recent history. All nation-states that today occupy, enslave and exploit the lands, peoples and resources of the Ummah must of necessity be dismantled.
Source: "The Construction of Nationhood - Ethnicity, Religion and Nationalism" by Adrian Hastings

Reading this, it's perhaps easier to understand why Socialists and Muslims get along so well. Take out the references to the "Ummah" and the last quote could well have come from a Marxist.

I think Hastings' account of the interplay between Islam and nationhood is very insightful. Where nations do not exist, Islam does not stimulate them into existence. Where they already exist, Islam disintegrates them. Looking around Europe today, we can see the distintegrative effect Islam is having on the nations already estabished there.


DP111 said...


I have regarded Islam as a corrosive liquid that dissolves the glue that holds a nation together. Civil wars are a common result of Islamic invasion. Lebanon and Bosnia are recent examples. Nigeria in the near future, and Europe and America in the not too distant future.

Christianity OTH makes a nation where none existed, by bringing out the best in the people of that region that share a common language and culture, or restoring a broken empire of force, and bringing about nation states with a common faith but different languages, as in Europe. The EU and its Marxist leadership quite naturally regard Islam as a friend, and Christianity as its mortal foe.

Multiculturalism, and the fatuity of our political elite, is just bringing the day of reckoning closer.

DP111 said...



Passer by said...

What is interesting is that according to Pew Poll, muslims (unlike christians) consider themseves Muslim First, citizen of their country Second not only in Europe and the US, but in muslim countires as well.
Islam also replaces national identity with arab identity, for example people who convert to Islam are required to use an arab name (usually the name of some famous muslim of the early times of Islam). Prayers should also be performed in Arabic and the only "real" Qurans are in arabic.
If France, for example, becomes a muslim country, french names as we know them today will disappear.

DP111 said...


Thanks for pointing out Adrian Hastings' book.

His thesis that Christianity is the reason for the birth of nationalism and the the modern nation, does make sense.

The caliphate was always the priority of the ummah. It is this reason that bin Laden bemoaned the fall of the Ottoman empire, and advocated the re-birth of the caliphate - an empire under one law - that of sharia.

However, Britain, the ultimate nation state, destroyed the Ottoman empire, and replaced it with nation states, basing them loosely on racial and tribal allegiance.

The result, as a knowledgable Muslim bemoans, "are like huge boulders blown across our path by the ill wind of recent history".

Indeed they are.

Quite unwittingly, Christianity, has stymied re-unification of Muslim states.

DP111 said...


This article I believe is appropriate in the larger context of the present thread

The legacy of socialism

Anonymous said...

Islam attacks the nation-state from the bottom; globalism (the ideology of free trade capitalism) attacks them from the top.

Socialism's relation to nationalism is more complex; whilst Marxism sought to undermine it in favour of international proletarian solidarity, the Soviets and the Chinese were not averse to relying on it whenever it suited them to do so. There's also National Socialism of course, - one of whose exponents argued:

"The greatest tragedy of all was that the more the capitalists wagged the Union Jack, the more the Labour men got to hate it, until they finally fell into the grave error of regarding nationalism and capitalism as
synonymous. Exactly the reverse was true." (William Joyce, Twilight Over England, page 30)

One could also argue that today we're seeing old-fashioned nation-states like France and Japan, eclipsed by the rise of new 'civilization-states' like India and China. Perhaps the long-term challenge for Europe is how to form a civ-state out of a number of nation-states.



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