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A Commentary on our Previous Article on this Verse: "If God Were to Increase the Provision to His Servants, They Would Transgress on Earth" (Quran 42:27)
Crisis of Belonging


Crisis of Belonging

Was published in Arabic in October 23, 2015

Translated by Ahmed Fathy


He said to me: In the West countries, power is shared within successive presidents. For instance, in the USA, Bush is succeeded by Obama who will be succeeded by another president soon enough. Why in Arab countries rulers do not get removed from their posts?

I said to him: The difference between both cases of the West countries and the Arab countries is similar to the difference between modern bathrooms and old, rural ones. To change the former, this is easily done; you loosen some bolts and remove the old tools and equipment and install new ones. As for changing the latter, they are to be completely destroyed.

He said: Your analogy is degrading indeed!

I said: This is the difference between 'clean' democratic change in the West and 'dirty' changes in the rule of the countries of the Muhammadans.

He said: You are right. I see what you mean; it is enough we hear nowadays about them.

I said: Rulers in the countries of the Muhammadans are treated as if they were deities: dominating and controlling everything with supreme power. Such rulers desire that their absolute power is to be bequeathed to their sons, even within republics! If such nations revolt against their rulers, the armies of such rulers would squash revolutionaries to pieces mercilessly. Internal fights ensue with the aid and incitement of external powers, both regional and international. This has occurred in the cases of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, and Yemen. In some cases, the state collapses as happened in Somalia. I expect the same upheavals to occur very soon in Sudan, the KSA, and Algeria.

He said: Tyranny is the main cause, I presume.

I said: Tyranny is the major difference between the third world countries and the first world countries. For instance, Israel is in a state of war since its creation; yet, it has not fallen or collapsed. It is the strongest state in the region. It has the highest levels in scientific advances, individual income, and GNP, despite the fact that its inhabitants are less than those in (the low-class densely populated) Shubra District in Cairo. Israel is the unique democracy in the Middle East since its creation. It holds democratic elections. Israeli democracy is the oldest and most firm in comparison to its neighboring countries which suffer corruption and tyranny. Israel had several presidents. When the wife of Yitzhak Rabin has been discovered to have an American bank account, as this is against Israeli laws, Rabin tendered his resignation. Compare this to what happens regularly in the countries of the Muhammadans: corruption on all levels and millions of stolen money annually in public with no shame!

He said: But they have parliamentary and presidential elections.

I said: They are mere tools or a façade to reinforce corruption and tyranny, not democracy and transparency.

He said: How is that?

I said: Before speaking about tyranny and democracy, let us tackle the culture of tyranny and that of democracy. Before applying democracy, its culture is to be taught and ingrained within citizens' minds at home, schools, universities, workplaces, streets, etc. Without such type of education, dictatorship dominates and reigns behind a façade of democratic mottos. Corrupt people in that case rule nations and compete in how to steal as much money as possible, as the case in Iraq. In Sudan and Afghanistan, military people and corrupt political parties swap posts and rule: revolt followed by coups. In the previously mentioned countries, democratic mottos and façade exists along with elections; mere notions to be manipulated to control and neutralize the ignorant nations who choose their worst individuals to represent them in the parliament and presidency.

He said: What is the starting point of the culture of democracy and that of tyranny?

I said: In a word: belonging.

He said: What on earth do you mean?!

I said: Let me pose a question to you: To which so you belong? Do you belong to your homeland, tribe, and creed? According to your answer, I will know the level of the culture of democracy inside your mind.

He said: Please do not embarrass me! Explain your point further.

I said: Tyranny and corruption have several types of belonging that are deceitful and corrupt with demagogy; certain political and cultural terms like ''the inspired leader'', ''the leader of the nation'', "points of power", "masters", "shepherd and his cattle", ''retinue'', ''decision-making circles'', ''elite'', etc.

He said: What are the types of belonging that express, create, and maintain tyranny?

I said: First of all, belonging to a homeland...

He said: What! You deny patriotic feelings!

I said: No; let me explain. In the culture of democracy, homeland is not a geographic region or a locality; rather, it is all citizens within a country: a state owned by all of them. Egypt has over 95 million of citizens; patriotism, i.e. feelings of belonging to homeland, is to be distributed among them equally: there should be no masters and slaves. All of them are citizens with the same duties and rights regardless of skin color, race, creed, or lack of it, social status, economical status, marital status, etc. Each of them is just an Egyptian citizen. In that case of equality, belonging to homeland is belonging to higher values of democracy, liberty, justice, human dignity, and human rights. In that case, the sense of belonging in each citizen will make him/her feel the ownership of homeland as a safe haven that ought to be defended as one defends oneself and one's rights. This is my ideal of belonging to a homeland. This is patriotism. This type of belonging is found in modern Western democracies and in Israel.

He said: What about belonging to one's homeland within the culture of tyranny?

I said: In the culture of tyranny, a nation is subdivided into masters and slaves. Masters are a hierarchy with honorifics, privileges, and levels. The most tyrannical of all, the rulers, identify themselves with the homeland. If anyone opposes them in their opinions, they are deemed as traitors who conspire against the nation! People should belong to rulers who represent the homeland! Do not expect from oppressed and marginalized slaves who are deprived of their rights to defend their homeland in which they own virtually nothing. That is why a tyrant's army does not win. If it does, this victory is over another weaker tyrant! I do not favor this type of deceitful belonging!

He said: What are the other types of belonging?

I said: Belonging to a tribe or a race. This type excludes the other who differs from one. I mean outsiders who do not dwell within the same tribe and do not belong to the same race, within one country. For instance, Arab nationalism, or the so called Pan-Arabism in the 1960s, has led to the marginalization of racial minorities who live in Arab countries but speak another local language of their own beside Arabic, and have their own culture, like the Amazigh, the Kurds, the Nubians, the Chaldeans, and the Syriac people. Belonging to a tribe or race instead of belonging to a country threatens to disintegrate a given state or leading it to collapse. Minorities are dealt with unjustly as a result of that threat. Head of the tribe is usually a tyrant of a lesser extent in comparison to rulers. Such heads, like rulers, are identified with the tribe; if he is criticized, then all the tribe is insulted by traitors and outsiders! The same applies to whoever criticizes a ruler in the third world.

He said: What is the other type of belonging?

I said: Belonging to a creed/doctrine, which is usually man-made and fabricated by mortals. Belonging here is to clergymen of ecclesiastic hierarchy, who identify with a given creed/deity. This is another worse type of tyranny; if one criticizes clergy, this is similar to insulting creed or God! This is a scandalous falsehood, of course. This is applied now in the KSA and Iran. Anyway, in such a case, religious persecution and coercion of others is the daily mot d'ordre in such countries. Hence, once one loses that type of belonging in such countries, the sentence is death for such heresy or apostasy! Clergy is so corrupt everywhere that they claim controlling everyday life and the Afterlife as well! Shame on them!

He said: Is there another type of belonging?

I said: The last one leading to tyranny is Marxism, with its struggle against capitalism and bourgeoisie. At first, Marxist ideology and theory has called for the belonging to the working classes under the motto of justice for all. As usual, communist states have become tyrannical; with one ruler who controls the lands, individuals, all assets and possessions, etc. as the case in the former USSR, and now in Cuba and North Korea.

He said: What are the results of such corrupt types of belonging?

I said: Such types of belonging are facades to hide tyranny of tyrant rulers, along with other tools to defend such rulers: military armies, security forces, police state, etc. that is why when a tyrant dies, like Tito in former Yugoslavia, civil wars and political unrest ensue. This state has collapsed and disintegrated into other small independent states that assert the absolute nature of the belonging to a certain race and creed. Yugoslavia has been under a volcano that erupted after the demise of Tito. This has occurred in a similar manner but with slightly different circumstances, in Libya when Gadhafi has been ousted and killed. He ruled Libya for more than 40 years. He tried several types of belonging: Pan-Arabism, Wahabism, Liberalism, Africanism, etc. and Libya now is facing the danger of being disintegrated into three or more small countries due to tribal belongings which is stronger than belonging to one Libyan nation. Post-Saddam Iraq may face a similar type of disintegration, after being unified due to tyrannical rule of Saddam.

He said: What is the similar element in such examples?

I said: The existence of a tyrant ruler who has made use of corrupt types of belonging to reinforce his power and hegemony and to sustain his post as a ruler for the rest of his lifetime. When such tyrants are ousted, all people of all types of belonging (to creeds, ideologies, doctrines, etc.) engage in a struggle for power. Hence, a given country collapses and falls, but sometimes goes on behind a façade that covers tyranny and corruption. Corrupt clergymen and politicians compete in stealing money, as in the case of post-Saddam Iraq.   

He said: But Lebanon is different: there are more liberty and democracy in Lebanon in comparison to other Arab countries.

I said: Lebanon is a mosaic tableau of cultural diversity of doctrines, creeds, races, ideologies, etc. without a majority. It holds a variety of minorities. Such variety helped France to create Lebanon, to serve French political interests. Racial and cultural diversity aids a democratic country, but it is a curse in dictatorships. Lebanon is created within democratic rule; that is why it has evaded coups and upheavals, unlike the cases of Syria and Iraq. Both suffered many coups and upheavals that led eventually to the ruin of both countries.

He said: What you say about Lebanon is great.

I said: Yet, Lebanese democracy has been on the level of leaders of sects. A Lebanese citizen's only belonging is to such leaders, not to the whole of Lebanon. What a shame. This state of affairs is the catalyst of the 15 years of the Lebanese civil war. This is the proof of the corruption of such type of belonging in Lebanon, despite the democratic margin in this country.

He said: You have saddened my heart! Please tell me briefly what is the right type of belonging on which real culture of democracy is based?

I said: The Islamic belonging applied in the USA, Canada, Europe, and Japan.

He said: What do you mean exactly?

I said: Belonging to the higher values: absolute liberty in matters of creed/religion, freedom of expression and in thought, traveling, moving, and political activism, and justice for all on the political level (political participation), and in courts: no one is above the law: all citizens are equal before the law. Socially, a state is to aid all the needy: the poor, the ill, the handicapped, etc. a state is owned by all citizens on equal footing. Citizens should feel secure, with rights and duties, and that their dignity is maintained. There should be no rulers: but elected authorities from people and by people to serve people under the supervision of people via independent, civil, free mass media.

He said: This is theoretical nonsense, I suppose, that is never applied anywhere.

I said: This has been realized in Yathreb during the life of Prophet Muhammad. This is realized in all West countries and in Israel. By the way, who has more inhabitants: Arab countries or Israel?

He said: Israeli citizens do not exceed 6 million, whereas all Arabs in all countries exceed 300 million.

I said: Israeli citizens are free individuals enjoying all rights and owning the state: such state cares for their lives. If an Israeli dies elsewhere, they care to bring the body to be buried in Israel. All Israeli citizens compete in the defense of their country and in defending their belonging to it. As for Arabs from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean, with the addition with Pakistan, they form hundreds of million people apparently, yet the real rulers are tyrants and corrupt wealthy business men and clergymen who are 'real' citizens. The rest of their nations are oppressed individuals. How can you compare six million Israeli citizens with about hundreds of 'real' Arab citizens? The former are stronger and more victorious.

He said: What about the Pan-Arabism motto of (one Arab nation from the Persian Gulf to the Atlantic Ocean, with one eternal message)?

I said: You make me burst out laughing! This is sheer falsehood, as you may know, given the current conditions of Arab countries.                      

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