A lot of us are very quick to identify and respond to nationalism, particularly when it becomes racism. We don’t hesitate to call out the white nationalist or the KKK as we should, but oftentimes we turn a blind eye when some of us Muslims do it to “other” races or ethnicities. The very idea that we should establish countries based on race and/or ethnicity is historically new and is problematic in many ways. It will inevitably lead to unjust wars and sometimes genocide.
My thoughts on that have developed after a recent trip to Istanbul. I was struck by the glorious mosques and hearing the adhan echoing beautifully throughout the city. My fitrah compelled me to rush to the nearest mosque to worship Allah SWT. Living in a non-Muslim country, over time, you might stop realizing the importance of these spiritual practices, the effect they have on your contentment. How the absence of it can slowly erode your iman and corrupt your fitrah.
This brings me to my main point: despite still being visibly religious, Istanbul overwhelmed me with the nationalism I experienced throughout the city. The amount of Atatürk pictures and flags with his face I saw were blinding. Even shopkeepers with hijab or otherwise “Muslim” looking attire were proudly showcasing the Tāghūt who fought to take away the very rights they enjoy as believers. The propaganda of secularism was shockingly obvious.
What puzzled me the most was that people who were otherwise very friendly at the beginning of our interaction changed their whole demeanor after they found out I was Kurdish. Some laughed sarcastically as if the name of my ethnicity was a joke of some sort, others froze for a second and continued by ignoring me, not responding to me as if I was not even there from that moment on, and switched to conversing only with my wife who isn’t Kurdish.
This might come across as just personal, but the situations I encountered are more than that. Nationalistic ideas are rooted in many predominantly Islamic countries, not only in the West as many of us presume.
I want to highlight the fact that I am simply using Turkey as an example here. Obviously, most Turkish people are not racist, Alhamdulillah!
We Muslims are meant to be one Ummah. And we are, for the most part. However, the growing monster of racist nationalism throughout the ummah has been dividing already weakened unity. Turkey is one of many examples of such events, where the tactics of the Kuffar have succeeded to a certain extent to divide and conquer the Muslims. As each day passes, the Muslims are encouraged to accept the fact that we don’t have a proper Islamic country or Khilafah. They want us to not even aspire for it, rather to just accept this status quo.
“O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made you peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed, the most noble of you in the sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Aware.” — The Holy Qur’an 49:13