The Islamic world covers a huge geographic area populated by 1.2 billion Muslims. Unfortunately, it is characterized by tension, conflict, and disorder, all of which continue to threaten global peace and prosperity. All attempts to solve the region’s problems have so far failed. But a review of its history shows that a strong central authority, ruling according to the Qur’anic morality and tolerance, as well as respecting all people’s rights and belief systems, had enabled this vast region to live in peace. The Ottoman Empire was the most recent example of this. And now, it is time to bring about a new Islamic Union, for the current system, based upon nationalism, materialistic philosophies, and atheism can only worsen the current situation. Such an Islamic Union would enable the Muslim world to live in peace, both internally and externally, and allow the entire world to benefit from its vast natural resources.

One of the first things we notice when analyzing the state of the Islamic world is its many internal divisions due to deep-rooted distrust and disputes. Recent history has seen the Iran-Iraq war, Iraq’s occupation of Kuwait, and East Pakistan’s (Bangladesh) war of independence from West Pakistan. The civil wars and internal conflicts in Afghanistan, Yemen, Lebanon, Iraq and Algeria due to political and ethnic differences made it obvious that something is wrong with the Islamic world. In addition, very divergent religious views and models are being practiced in the Islamic world, because there is no central authority to determine what is and what is not compatible with Islam, establish consensus, and provide guidance to the general public. Catholics have the Vatican and Orthodox Christians have the Patriarchate, but there is no religious unity or central authority for Muslims.

However, solidarity is central to Islam’s character. After the death of our Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace), the Islamic world was for a long time led by the institution of khilafah, which provided religious guidance to the Muslims.

In our day, too, a progressive central authority could be formed. Establishing an Islamic Union and a central Islamic authority, based on democratic principles and the rule of law, would be major steps forward in resolving the Islamic world’s current problems.

As we progress through this book, we will analyze several aspects of this proposed Islamic Union, such as its ability to:

1- Reach all of the Islamic world. Therefore, it must be founded upon Islam’s core principles and not become the organ of a particular denomination or sect.

2- Support human rights, democracy, and free enterprise, and seek to achieve its mission of economic, cultural, and scientific development in the Islamic world.

3- Establish friendly and harmonious relations with other countries or civilizations, and cooperate with the global community and the UN on such issues as controlling weapons of mass destruction, terrorism, international crime, and the environment.

4- Deal with the minority rights of Christians and Jews, as well as foreigners who migrate to Islamic countries, consider their safety a priority, and value interfaith dialogue and cooperation.

5- Seek fair and peaceful solutions whereby both sides make compromises to end conflicts between the non-Muslims and Muslims in Palestine, Kashmir, the southern Philippines, and other regions. It must defend the rights of Muslims as well as prevent radical Islamic movements from driving the situation to into a dead-end.

Such a rational, considered, and just leadership will benefit the 1.2 billion Muslims who are struggling with so many problems, as well as all humanity at large. An Islamic Union founded upon Qur’anic principles will enable humanity to find peace and justice, and the good character prescribed by the Qur’an will deliver happiness. Since the era of the Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace), Muslims led the way in science, reason, thought, art, culture, and civilization, and produced many benefits for humanity.

When Europe was in its dark ages, Muslims taught the world science, reasoning, medicine, art, hygiene, and countless other subjects. In order to restart the rise of Islam, powered by the Qur’an’s light and wisdom, present-day Muslims have to acquire guidance based on the Qur’an’s morality and the Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) Sunnah (His example, or way of life).

How can this project be realized? We will investigate this issue as we proceed. Also, it must be remarked here that out of all Islamic nations, Turkey in particular has an important role to play, as it is the heir of the Ottoman Empire, the founder of such an Islamic Union which it ruled successfully for over 5 centuries. Turkey has the social infrastructure and state tradition necessary to fulfill the requirements of this important responsibility. Furthermore, of all Muslim states, it has the best-developed relations with the West and is therefore ideally placed to mediate the differences between the West and the Islamic world. Turkey also has a tradition of tolerance and harmony, and represents the Ahl as-Sunnah belief as the majority of Muslims believe, rather than a certain sect. All of this makes Turkey the most qualified candidate for leading the envisaged Islamic Union.

Finally, the solutions proposed here need to be implemented immediately, because the risk of a clash of civilizations between the Western and Islamic worlds is increasing by the day. Setting up the Islamic Union will cause this danger to disappear.

History proves that the coexistence of different civilizations is not necessarily a source of tension and conflict. A multicultural state does not experience difficulties because of existing internal differences, but because of its inability to manage those differences. Different cultures that exist side by side choose either conflict or peace and cooperation, depending upon their existing levels of tolerance and whether they can or cannot control those factors leading to intolerance. At present, some Westerners and Muslims prefer hostility and conflict over tolerance and harmony. Thus, misunderstandings and prejudices against Islam and the Muslims continue to present certain difficulties. On the other hand, Westerners feel unnecessarily threatened because of various misunderstandings. Therefore, a solution to these problems is needed urgently to avoid even worse conflicts and misunderstandings.

As this book will reveal, the Islamic Union will play an important role in preventing the escalating risk of conflict, for all Islamic countries will move together as one body.

INTRODUCTION

The Ottoman Empire’s collapse at the beginning of the twentieth century was a defining factor that determined the state of the Islamic world for the rest of the century, for many new countries arose from its ashes. However, none of them ever achieved the same degree of stability and contentment their people enjoyed during the Ottoman era.

At the beginning of the twenty-first century, many problems await a solution and many conflicts need to be resolved. The balances destroyed by the Ottoman collapse were never properly restored, and thus hotspots and highly sensitive areas—most of which happen to be in the Islamic world, were created. Some of these problems were overcome by temporary measures, whereas others continue to fuel conflict and tension until today.

Most of these conflicts directly affect lands densely populated by Muslims (e.g., Palestine, Kashmir, and others). Furthermore, the increasing assertions about the inevitability of a clash of civilizations, as well as aggressive anti-Muslim propaganda, make the Islamic world a target in the eyes of some circles. This attitude, in turn, causes unnecessary and artificial tension and anxiety in society. Such matters trigger the question as to which strategy the Muslims of the first twenty-first century should adopt.

To determine the correct strategy, one must have a very clear understanding of the Islamic world’s present condition and situation. At this point, our analysis of the contemporary Islamic world is presented below.

Islamic civilization, as represented by the great Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, was the dominant power in central and southern Asia, northern Africa, and southern Europe. The Ottomans ruled a large territory covering the Balkans, Anatolia, Mesopotamia, and parts of Arabia and North Africa; the Safavids ruled Persia and some neighboring territories; and the Mughals ruled much of the Indian subcontinent. However, Islam’s rule gradually shrank and weakened. First, the Mughal Empire collapsed and thus opened a new era for South Asian Muslims. The heir to the Safavid Empire, the Qajar dynasty, managed to survive until the 1920s, albeit without power or influence. Gradually, these lands came under British and Russian rule. Meanwhile, the Ottoman Empire, which was being weakened by the continuing loss of land and internal turmoil, finally collapsed in the aftermath of the First World War.

The collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the largest and most influential state in the Islamic world, led to historical changes in Islamic geography, particularly in the Middle East and parts of the Arabian Peninsula. Throughout the twentieth century, the nation-states formed by the invading European powers remained the source of the region’s tension and discontent. The Islamic world, which had given rise to great civilizations, began to withdraw into itself. Muslims in the Middle East, as well as in North Africa and South Asia, suffered oppression under colonial rule. Most of these countries managed to gain their independence only in the second half of the twentieth century. The struggle for independence was very bloody in some countries, such as in Algeria. Millions of innocent people perished, and countless people were left crippled by torture and persecution. Even after independence and the colonial powers’ withdrawal, these lands have not found peace and security. In short, a great part of the Islamic world spent the twentieth century enduring warfare, conflict, destitution, and abject poverty.

However, the world of Islam was not always like this.

The history of the past fourteen centuries reveals an altogether different picture: Humanity’s most brilliant cultural and scientific advancements were made possible by Islam. At a time when Europe was still shrouded in darkness, Muslims founded the most amazing civilization on the planet, and Islamic morality illuminated the world.

ISLAM ILLUMINATES THE WORLD

Islam was born fourteen centuries ago on the Arabian Peninsula. God’s revelation of the Qur’an to Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace), together with the morality of Islam, taught the violent, barbaric, and ignorant people of the region peace, reason, and civilization.

At the beginning of the seventh century, Arabia was one of the world’s most chaotic places. Many tribes lived on these lands, and each of them worshipped a different idol. They would declare war on each another, shed much blood, and even kill children for their misguided beliefs and idols. Their belief system exalted ruthlessness, hate, and violence instead of love, compassion, and kindness. Women were considered lower beings, and the poor and the slaves were ruthlessly exploited.

This dark and bloody world changed entirely with the arrival of Islam and its moral codes. Although the Arabs were the first to join Islam, many other nations soon embraced the light brought by its morality. The Qur’an’s revelation enabled Muslims to achieve unequalled progress in science, culture, thought, and art. With the revelation of the Qur’an’s first verse, the people of the region, who until this event had been stuck in a vicious circle of dark ignorance and bloody violence, were invited to read and think for the first time:

Recite: In the Name of your Lord Who created, created man from a clot of congealed blood. Recite: And your Lord is the Most Generous, He Who taught by the pen, taught man what he did not know. (Qur’an, 96:1-5)

The structure of Arab society began to undergo a complete transformation with the arrival of Islam. For instance, Arab tradition decreed the death of all prisoners of war, whereas our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), guided by God’s revelation, ordered such prisoners to be treated well and fed from the Muslims’ own rations. The following verse reveals these Muslim qualities:

They give food, despite their love for it, to the poor and orphans and captives. (Qur’an, 76:8)

The only thing required of such prisoners was that if they could read and write, they had to teach these skills to the Muslims. Perhaps for the first time ever, Arabia was witnessing compassion, forgiveness, and civilization. As a result, it experienced one of its greatest periods of cultural advancement.

As the years passed, Islam’s justice and high morality spread in waves across Arabia. The Muslims’ fairness, honesty, and determination attracted many Arab tribes. The mighty Muslim army marched on Makkah in 630. Its idolatrous Makkans feared the vengeance that the Muslims would wreak upon them as retribution for their past cruelty. According to Arab tradition, the men of the defeated tribe were killed and the women and children enslaved. But our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) reflected God’s mercy by announcing that no one in Makkah would suffer retribution and that no one was to be forced to accept Islam. This act of forgiveness and tolerance has attracted the attention of Western historians. In PBS documentary Islam:Empire of Faith, Michael Sells, a lecturer at Haverford University, relates our Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) virtue in the following way:

When Mohammed came into Mecca, he not only did not carry out a bloody revenge, but actually embraced the very Meccans who had fought him for three years and attempted to annihilate him. It was very shocking to the people in his milieu. So within the very founding of a religion, one finds episodes of great generosity, often extraordinary acts of kindness and mercy.1

The important thing was to free the Makkans of their false beliefs. Therefore, our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) headed straight for the Ka`bah, entered the holy mosque, and destroyed all of the idols inside. This event marked the end of idolatry and ended all of the cruelty, injustice, barbarism, and violence committed on its behalf. After being educated by the Qur’an, the Arabs replaced all of the pre-Islamic era’s injustice, exploitation, and blood feuds with a new order based on respect, love, compassion, and justice among all people.

This era was later known as the “Blessed Period.”

Tolerance, Justice, and Compassion in Islamic Morality

Islam’s rapid spread continued even after the Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) death. Within a few decades, Islam spread to all of Mesopotamia and North Africa, and reached Spain in the west and India in the east.

The Arabs, who had been tending their flocks in the desert just a few decades ago, were now the rulers of an empire due to the reason, culture, and awareness they had acquired through Islam. This was the fastest growing empire ever. Within 100 years, the Muslim empire spread over an immense area and firmly established itself. In this huge geographic area, many different religious denominations existed side by side. Most of them, however, were composed of Christians and Jews. The Muslims, as a general rule, were always very tolerant toward all religious groups in their lands, did not force people to embrace Islam, and respected every person’s freedom of conscience, for the Qur’an says:
There is no compulsion where religion is concerned. (Qur’an, 2:256)

Churches and synagogues were protected. At a time when enforced proselytization was a common practice, such tolerance was unique.

One of the most extraordinary examples of this tolerance was the conquest of Jerusalem. The patriarch of the city’s Church of the Holy Sepulcher feared that his church would be destroyed by the Muslims. Thus, Caliph `Umar visited the church and said that there was nothing to worry about. When the time for prayer came, he asked the patriarch for permission to leave so that he could pray nearby. The al-Aqsa mosque was built later on that very spot.

The Muslims gave Jerusalem one of the world’s most spectacular works of architecture: the Qubbat as-Sakhrah (Dome of the Rock), which was built on the rock believed to be the place from where Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) ascended to the heavens. The stunning motifs and golden dome of this architectural masterpiece reflects Islam’s sense of art and civilization.

In this environment of tolerance, non-Muslims were even given the democratic right to voice their complaints. During the Umayyad era, many Christians in Damascus (Sham) occupied important positions in the state bureaucracy and fulfilled their religious obligations as they wished. Some wrote even books that criticized Islam and Muslims without fear of retribution.

At the same time, Europe was governed by a dark fundamentalism and barbarism. The Catholic Church was oppressing the Jews and even Christians of other denominations. Forced proselytization, as well as torture and murder in the name of religion, were common. On the other hand, Muslims have always treated the People of the Book (Jews and Christians) with tolerance and compassion, for God orders this in the Qur’an.

The St. John church of Damascus is another example of this tolerance. The Muslims who conquered the region began to perform their Friday prayers in the church, and allowed the Christians to continue to use it for their Sunday services. Two separate faiths were sharing peacefully the same sanctuary. As the number of Muslims in the city grew, the Muslim leadership bought the church from the Christians with their consent. Next door, a mosque was built, and the décor of the forecourt buildings was enriched by Islamic motifs. Byzantine-era pillars were decorated with stunning examples of Islamic art.

Throughout the history of Islam, its tolerance toward Jews and Christians continued. Jews fleeing the terror of the Spanish Inquisition found refuge and tolerance on Ottoman soil. The source and reason for such tolerance was the morality of the Qur’an, for Muslims are told:

Only argue with the People of the Book in the kindest way—except in the case of those of them who do wrong—saying: “We believe in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you. Our God and your God are one, and we submit to Him.” (Qur’an, 29:46)

Muslims and Science

One of the lights of Islamic morality that illuminated humanity’s path was scientific thought. Pre-Islamic Arab and some other Middle Eastern societies had never been concerned with the universe and how nature came to be or how it works. But this attitude changed with the Qur’anic revelation, for God tells people to inquire into the origins of the heavens and Earth:

[People with intelligence are] those who remember God, standing, sitting, and lying on their sides, and reflect on the creation of the heavens and Earth [saying]: “Our Lord, You have not created this for nothing. Glory be to You! So safeguard us from the punishment of the Fire.” (Qur’an, 3:191)

This awareness started the scientific rise of Islamic civilization, and it then embarked upon a scientific journey like none ever seen before that time. Its powerhouse was Baghdad, capital of the Abbasid Empire and the Islamic world. Scientists, thinkers, researchers, and other scholars from all over the Islamic world came together in Baghdad’s famous Dar al-Hikmah (“House of Wisdom”) to research and investigate the secrets of God’s universe.

This awareness that Muslim scientists acquired by adhering to the Qur’an’s morality enabled history’s most rapid leap in scientific progress until that time. Open-mindedness, a wisdom Muslims are taught by the Qur’an, enabled them to analyze and then develop further the scientific achievements of other civilizations without prejudice. Muslim scientific records were full of observations, experiments, calculations, and research on various subjects. In the schools of science, women were entitled to the same education as men and made their own scientific contributions.

Muslim mathematicians developed the decimal number system and invented algebra and trigonometry. Muslim scientists were very keen on astronomical observations, and thus discovered and established the principles of modern astronomy. Muslim scholars calculated the moon’s orbit around Earth and recorded the formulas. The spectacular works of architecture throughout the Islamic world were made possible only by the scientific infrastructure put in place by the Muslims.

Some of the Muslims’ greatest achievements were in the field of medicine. Back then, ignorant Europeans considered illnesses to be a curse of evil spirits and so did not even have the concept of treating or actually curing the afflicted people. Muslim scientists, however, reached the research-based conclusion that illnesses were caused by tiny creatures invisible to the naked eye and that patients needed to be isolated from healthy people during their treatment. The world’s first modern hospitals were conceived in this way. Muslim hospitals had different wards for different illnesses, and Muslim doctors had scientifically developed methods of treatment. Muslims treated mental illnesses with music and therapy, while Europeans believed that the mentally ill were Satan’s slaves and so burned them at the stake. Muslim reference works on the human anatomy were so accurate that they were used for 600 years in Europe’s faculties of medicine.

A documentary about the world of Islam, prepared for the BBC by the commentator Terry Jones, says the following on the high scientific standards of Islam:

One philosopher from the town of Harran for example had already correctly calculated the distance from the earth to the moon. Well another had suggested that if you could divide the atom, you’d release enough power to destroy city the size of Baghdad. In this medical school built here in Damascus in 1154, doctors were already teaching anatomy, inventive medicine, hygiene surgery, the circulation of the blood, centuries before Harvey.2

Centuries before their European counterparts, Muslim physicians knew about blood circulation and took their patients’ pulses during their examinations. Childbirth took place under the most hygienic conditions possible at the time. Surgical instruments, as depicted in medical books of the era, are evidence of advanced medical knowledge.

Muslim scientists made important discoveries in optics and the nature of light. The first person to reveal the eye’s structure in detail was Ibn al-Haytham, whose extraordinary research on lenses cleared the way for the camera’s invention. Muslim physicians discovered the reasons behind sight impairments and performed successful cataract surgery 1,000 years before any European physician.

The great scientific heritage of the Islamic world made the European Renaissance possible. Christian scientists established European schools of science with the knowledge and methods acquired from Muslims. The light of Islam also illuminated them.

The Splendor of Islamic Civilization

One quality acquired from Islam’s morality is the high sense of art and esthetics. The Qur’anic depictions of Paradise are pictures of the highest quality, finest taste, and stunning grandeur. Muslims had this sense of art in their hearts, which is reflected in their work, and thus the lands they ruled became the world’s most modern and select regions. When Islam spread outward in all directions, it brought prosperity and development with it.

Muslims took civilization wherever they went. They designed an effective water purification system for the drinking water requirements of a Tunisian town. Water was stilled and purified in two large basins and then brought into the town by an enclosed pipe system. Only centuries later did Europeans began to concern themselves with such things. Muslim engineers in Syria designed a fantastic system of watermills to deliver water to the cities.

The capital of the Islamic world, Baghdad, was the world’s most splendid and modern city. Urban planning and architecture were stunning. A traveler visiting Baghdad wrote the following:

All the exquisite neighborhoods covered with parks, gardens, villas and beautiful promenades are filled with bazaars and finally built mosques and baths. They stretch for miles on both sides of the glittering river.3

Andalusia (Muslim Spain), another spectacular center of the Islamic world, gradually became Europe’s most modern and advanced country. Its capital city of Cordoba was full of amazing beauty with its clean, well-lit streets, libraries, hospitals, and palaces.

In the same era, such great European cities as Paris and London were filthy, dark, and neglected. As a result, European Christians visiting Cordoba were amazed and dazzled by the city’s splendor, culture, and art.

In Islam:Empire of Faith, Historian Sheila Blair of Boston College describes Cordoba’s splendor with the following words:

The city of Cordoba in the 9th and 10th centuries was one of the biggest and most exciting in Europe. We have descriptions by people coming and seeing all of these flowers everywhere this open streets, this wonderful light coming down. Northern cities were dark. Cordoba had running water. People lived in big houses. In contrast, in Paris, people lived in shacks by the side of the river.4
One of the few remaining examples of Cordoba’s grandeur is the Catholic cathedral located in the city center. Originally it was a mosque of an esthetic style that captivated the minds of those who entered it. Christian explorers who came to Cordoba were deeply affected by this splendor. In the tenth century, a Saxon nun by the name of Hrotsvitha described Cordoba as the ornament of the world.

One of Andalusia’s most spectacular buildings was the Alhambra palace, which was decorated with stunning examples of Islamic esthetics and art. Every detail reflected the same fine taste of Islam’s higher spirit. Its gardens were full of fountains powered by a system based on gravity. The Muslims who built it were inspired by the Qur’anic depictions of Paradise.

Here are some verses about Paradise:

They will have preordained provision: sweet fruits and high honor in Gardens of Delight on couches face to face; a cup from a flowing spring passing round among them, as white as driven snow, delicious to those who drink, which has no headache in it and does not leave them stupefied. (Qur’an, 37:41-47)

[They will be] shaded by spreading branches. (Qur’an, 55:48)

They will be reclining on couches lined with rich brocade, the fruits of the Gardens hanging close to hand. (Qur’an, 55:54)

[Gardens of Paradise are] of deep viridian green. (Qur’an, 55:64)

[They are] on sumptuous woven couches, reclining on them face to face. (Qur’an, 56:15-16)

[They are] Amid thornless lote-treesand fruit-laden acacias. (Qur’an, 56:28-29)

And wide-spreading shade and outpouring water and fruits in abundance never failing, unrestricted. And [they are] on elevated couches. (Qur’an, 56:30-34)
They will have Gardens of Eden with rivers flowing under them. They will be adorned in them with bracelets made of gold and wear green garments made of the finest silk and rich brocade, reclining there on couches under canopies. What an excellent reward! What a wonderful repose! (Qur’an, 18:31)

Islamic Civilization and the Ottomans

The Ottoman Empire, founded in 1299, was developing as one of the Islamic world’s greatest and grandest empires. The official Ottoman worldview, based on tolerance and justice, left its mark on the lands it ruled with its sublime architecture, textiles, calligraphy, and a perfected educational system envied by Europe. The sultans’ subtlety and taste in art was admired by Europeans, who were deeply affected by the Ottoman Empire’s splendor.

The Ottoman Empire was one of the largest and longest-lived empires. In fact, only the Roman Empire at its peak covered a greater area. However, it did not manage to preserve its size as long as the Ottomans did. Many countries that now form parts of Europe, North Africa, Central Asia, and the Middle East have historically important Ottoman monuments and artwork decorating their towns. Examples of Ottoman architecture and urban planning are still standing in many European cities (e.g., Sofia, Belgrade, and Sarajevo).

The Ottoman state and governing system was based on the Qur’an, and many present-day political scientists refer to it as one of the best state systems. Ottoman state diplomacy formed the basis of the modern era’s multi-track diplomacy.

Ottoman civilization had a direct impact on Western European culture: The Ottomans introduced rice farming to Hungry, the Habsburg envoy Busbecq introduced tulips to the Benelux countries after visiting Istanbul in the sixteenth century, the Italians acquired their fabric weaving and dying techniques from the Ottomans, and the Ottomans introduced the tradition of military bands to Europe.5

These historical facts show that Islamic morality played a leading role in the modern world’s development. From the very beginning of its revelation, Islam has served as a guiding light, leading humanity to truth, reality, and beauty. The Muslims took their morality with them wherever they went, along with tolerance, reason, science, art, esthetics, hygiene, and prosperity. At a time when Europe was sunk in dark dogmatism and barbarism, the Islamic world was the world’s most advanced and modern civilization. The values acquired by individual Europeans from the world of Islam played a fundamental role in developing European civilization. Historian Eugene Myers expresses this reality in the following way:

… From the late ninth century until the twelfth, Islamic influence on Western science and culture was great… The cultural importance of the work of Islamic scholars and translators for the development of science and humanities can hardly be overestimated… Thus, the roots of Western thought are a mixture of Greco-Arabic and Hebrew thought.6

On the other hand, one of the major reasons why the Islamic world fell behind in some respects was because it became estranged from the reason, sincerity, and open-mindedness taught in the Qur’an. We say this because the Qur’an is the greatest source of guidance leading humanity out of darkness of ignorance and into the light of true knowledge. As God revealed to our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace):

Alif Lam Ra. This is a Book We have sent down to you so that you can bring mankind from the darkness to the light, by the permission of their Lord, to the Path of the Almighty, the Praiseworthy. (Qur’an, 14:1)
Present-day Muslims should know the splendid past of Islamic civilization and honor the responsibility that comes with it. Let’s not forget that Muslims are the representatives of a sacred, glorious, and honorable heritage that built one of the greatest civilizations on Earth. Moreover, they have always been envied and admired in equal measure by the representatives of other civilizations or religious denominations. The famous Middle East expert Daniel Pipes speaks of the Muslims’ confidence in one of his articles:

Contributing to this internal confidence is the memory of outstanding achievements during Islam’s first six or so centuries. Its culture was the most advanced, and Muslims enjoyed the best health, lived the longest, had the highest rates of literacy, sponsored the most advanced scientific and technical research, and deployed usually victories armies. This pattern of success was evident from the beginning: in A.D. 622 the Prophet Muhammad fled Mecca as a refugee, only to return eight years later as its ruler. As early as the year 715, Muslim conquerors had assembled an empire that extended from Spain in the west to India in the east. To be a Muslim meant to belong to a winning civilization.7

Muslims today should not just bask in the glory of their past, but must work to help the Islamic world rise once again. Of course Muslims can build a similarly splendid and world-illuminating culture and civilization again, but not until they recreate the spirit of unity and solidarity that drove their predecessors. If they can establish a democratic, constructive, tolerant, and peace-loving culture that works only for the benefit of Islam and humanity and disregards personal interests, they can build the greatest civilization of the twenty-first century. Thanks to the core values of Islamic morality (e.g., love, compassion, sympathy, and tolerance), the despotic regimes ruling Muslim lands will fall; cultural and economic development will be achieved; Muslims suffering from oppression, cruelty, and even cold-blooded massacre will find peace and security; and a new “Blessed Period” will become a reality.

WHY AN ISLAMIC UNION?

Many contemporary philosophers think that the future of the Islamic world has a direct bearing on world peace and security, for it is potentially a serious power. Approximately one-fourth of humanity follows Islam, their lands contain rich natural resources, and the entire region has a great strategic importance. Until the Second World War, most Muslim countries were European colonies. Some of them had to undertake wars of liberation to gain their independence. This situation changed the look of Islamic geography. However, the real change took place after the cold war ended. Until then, the Islamic world was considered in terms of Africa, the Middle East and Asia; now, it has become more of a Eurasian affair with Albania and Bosnia to the west and Chechnya and Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan to the east. In the 1980s, Turkey was the only Muslim country represented in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). Now there are nine Muslim countries:Albania, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkey, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan.8

Such changes in the Islamic world’s demographic distribution have had an impact on the term “Islamic geography.” Until the beginning of the twentieth century, except for short-term invasions, Muslims for the most part lived on Muslim soil under Islamic rule. From the beginning of the twentieth century onward, Muslims have migrated by choice to Europe and America, where they gradually became significant minorities. Currently, Islam is the fastest growing religion in those lands. This increase has enabled these Muslims to play a more active role in Western society and politics.

Therefore, Islamic geography does not only refer to Muslim-majority or Muslim-ruled lands, but comprises a much greater area. From the Caucasus to Tanzania, and Morocco to Fiji, the Islamic world now stretches over a huge area and covers the lands that gave rise to the greatest civilizations in history. The region’s geopolitical, cultural, and geo-economic qualities place this geography on the agenda of international relations and world politics even today.

The crossroads and transit routes of world trade are located within this area. Considering that the canals and straights joining the Black and Mediterranean seas, the Mediterranean Sea with the Persian Gulf, and the Persian Gulf with the Indian Ocean are under Muslim control, the Islamic world’s importance in terms of global balance becomes better understood. Additionally, the world’s richest lands, in terms of such strategically important natural resources as oil and natural gas, are located in Muslim countries. The effective use of these resources represents a strategic opportunity for the Islamic world to increase its impact on world politics.

The current situation clearly suggests that Muslims will influence the developments of the twenty-first century in one way or another. However, what really matters here is that this influence must benefit the Islamic world in particular and humanity in general. The first thing that comes to mind at this stage is whether the Islamic world can play such a role, given its present condition. No doubt, Muslims have the necessary ability and awareness to shoulder this responsibility. However, looking at Muslim nations today reveals many problems, among them the lack of established democracy, the inability to keep up with technological progress, and an underdeveloped economy. An Islamic world preparing to play an active role in world politics must solve these and similar problems first.

The Islamic world’s disunity and fragmentation is an even more urgent and vital problem that must be resolved. The fact that the Muslims have not been able to create a powerful and active Islamic Union is a major contributor to many of today’s ills. When a strong Islamic Union is formed, such problems will either not arise or will be resolved far quicker than anticipated.
It must be stated here that the diversity found in the Islamic world, as well as the existence of various schools of Islamic thought, is not an issue in this regard. Likewise, unity does not equal the same practice or system. Rather, this diversity must be united under the umbrella of faith and on the basis of mutual tolerance and solidarity. Differences of thought, practice, or point of view are normal and common in all societies. Islamic morality requires that Muslims never forget that they are all brothers and sisters, irrespective of their differences. Whatever the race, language, nation, or branch of Islam one might follow, all Muslims are brothers and sisters. Therefore, such differences must be appreciated as a source of richness instead of as a source of potential conflict and fragmentation. Such a mistaken view only diverts one’s attention from the real issues and delays urgently needed and important preventive action.

Subsequent chapters will deal with the need for an Islamic Union and what it will mean for world peace from economic, sociological, and political perspectives. However, first we must investigate the process that led to the Islamic world’s disintegration and how this development can be reversed.

The Causes of Fragmentation

The Islamic world began to disintegrate during the early years of the twentieth century. Until then, Muslims of different sectarian persuasions, races, and languages lived together in harmony and safety under the rule of Islam, and they were strong.

One of the most destructive movements of the nineteenth century, radical nationalism, had a powerful impact on the Islamic world, for some Muslims fell under the influence of the Western ideologies imposed upon them. With the weakening and then collapse of the Ottoman Empire, the vast majority of Muslim lands were colonized by Europe and the Soviet Union. Before the colonialists withdrew decades later, they drew up artificial borders and thereby created many new countries. When combined with the radical nationalism disseminated among Muslims, the region turned into a quagmire. Ethnic differences became sources of conflict, and the different Muslim ethnic groups, who had lived in the same land until recently, suddenly found themselves living on different sides of these artificial borders. Soon, these artificial nations began disputing with each other over borders and other matters, and feelings of hostility arose. Some of these disputes even escalated into full-scale brutal wars, as in the Iran-Iraq war. A 100-year long period of instability had begun.

One’s love of nation, people, and independence is a proper and honorable feeling. However, nationalism becomes intolerable when love turns into fanaticism. If someone feels hostile toward other nations without due cause, he will, in the interest of his own country, disregard the rights of other nations or people. As a result, one country will seek to acquire or plunder another country’s land, and thereby become intolerable. Likewise, if people turn their love for their own nation into racism, claiming to be genetically superior, they will have developed an insupportable idea. It is also an error to turn nationalism into a racist ideology, for this damages the Islamic principle that “all Muslims brotherhood and sisters,” or to let animosity do away with it for good.

God points out this wrong attitude, known as “fanatical rage,” and reveals that it is an aspect of ignorance. In the Islamic context, ignorance means people and societies that are far removed from the true religion, as the Qur’an makes clear:

Those who do not believe filled their hearts with fanatical rage—the fanatical rage of the Time of Ignorance—and God sent down serenity to His Messenger and to the believers, and bound them to the expression of heedfulness, which they had most right to and were most entitled to. God has knowledge of all things. (Qur’an, 48:26)

The verse speaks of fanatical rage on the one hand and, on the other, that God gave believers serenity. The frame of mind of people who become angry and aggressive out of love for their own nation is against Islamic morality. The nationalism that developed in nineteenth-century materialist Europe was aggressive and radical. Unfortunately, this was the type of nationalism exported to the Islamic world and to many other lands, where it has caused nothing but conflict and political instability.

It is against Islamic morality to distinguish between people according to race or to allow ethnic differences to engender strife. Our Lord says in one verse:
O Mankind! We created you from a male and female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other. The noblest among you in God’s sight is the one of you who best performs his duty. God is All-Knowing, All-Aware. (Qur’an, 49:13)

God also reveals that racial and national differences are among His signs. These differences are not to be sources of conflict and hostility, but rather of richness and diversity:

Among His Signs is the creation of the heavens and Earth, and the variety of your languages and colors. There are certainly Signs in that for every being. (Qur’an, 30:22)

History is full of examples of Islam’s ability to resolve ethnic differences. Our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) warned his Companions to avoid tribal or racial separatism; dividing people according to race, sex, language, or clan; and distinguishing between people according to financial means. In his Farewell Sermon, he proclaimed: “O people! Verily your Lord is one and your father is one. All of you belong to one ancestry of Adam, and Adam was created out of clay. There is no superiority for an Arab over a non-Arab and for a non-Arab over an Arab, nor for the white over the black nor for the black over the white, except in [terms of] piety. Verily, the noblest among you is he who is the most pious.”9

The continuing conquests under our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) and the four rightly guided caliphs greatly expanded the borders of the Islamic world, and many different nations united under the flag of Islam. The Middle East, until then full of tribal wars and unrelenting blood feuds, found peace, and the inter-Arab tribal wars ceased both at home and abroad. Ongoing warfare between Christian sects was resolved peacefully, and tribes that had been mortal enemies learned to respect each other’s rights and lived under the Islamic flag.

Muslims of today must acquire the same outlook. In their mutual relations, faith and good character are important, not race, ethnic origin, language, financial means, status, or office. Love between sincere believers develops through their fear and awareness of and true love for God, and good deeds and a good character. If people dedicate themselves to the path of God, follow it in all their actions and behavior, and do good in the hope of acquiring God’s good pleasure and mercy, other believers will love and respect them. As a result, their skin color, race, or financial status will be irrelevant and have no bearing on the love others feel for them. The same criteria must be true for relations between Muslim nations, which must be based on the Qur’anic insight that Muslims are one another’s helpers and guardians.

One of the foremost reasons for the Islamic world’s current fragmentation is its lack of this consciousness, the disregard for Islamic morality, and the effect of irreligious ideologies and movements. Some intellectuals were misled by various European philosophies and ideologies, which were full of errors, and believed that introducing them into the Islamic world would aid its progress. The damage caused by this historic mistake are still visible today. Instead of the justice, devotion, compassion, tolerance, open-mindedness, and progressive thinking brought by the Qur’an’s values, the attempted imposition of false philosophies and ideologies have replaced the order and solidarity of the Islamic world with chaos and disunity. In some countries, models opposing the Qur’an’s values were developed in order to end the chaos. However, this only brought about despotic regimes that oppressed the people.

It is important to learn from these past mistakes when choosing a new strategy and to be aware of misleading manipulations and suggestions. History clearly shows that the Islamic world can rise again only if it returns to its own central tenets and values, the most important of which is Muslim unity and solidarity.

Example from History: The Islamic Union of
Salah ud-Din al-Ayyubi (Saladin)

The Islamic world’s stance against the Crusaders is an important example in this regard. When the armies of the First Crusade reached the Middle East, the Muslims were divided into fractions stemming from various disputes and arguments. This disunity prevented them from putting up an effective resistance, and so the barbaric European invaders were able to create an empire centered on Jerusalem after slaughtering the native population. However, decades later, the Muslim commander Saladin united the different Muslim groups under his command and defeated the invaders.
Nevertheless, defeating the Crusaders was not going to happen overnight. Saladin not only united the Muslims under one flag, but also started a scientific and moral awareness. The Encyclopedia Britannica says:

It was an essential part of his [Saladin’s] policy to encourage the growth and spread of Muslim religious institutions. He courted its scholars and preachers, founded colleges and mosques for their use, and commissioned them to write edifying works . . . Through moral regeneration, which was a genuine part of his own way of life, he tried to re-create in his own realm some of the same zeal and enthusiasm that had proved so valuable to the first generations of Muslims when, five centuries before, they had conquered half the known world.10

When this moral, scientific, and religious regeneration combined with political unity, Islamic civilization rose once more. Saladin, commanding a united Islamic army, defeated the disbanded and demoralized Crusaders at the Battle of Hattin in 1187 and freed almost all of the occupied Palestinian land, including Jerusalem.

One of the most prominent aspects of Saladin’s Islamic Union was that it represented the Qur’anic ideals of justice, moderation, and peacefulness. While best known for this military victory, Saladin was also very forgiving and just toward the Crusaders as well as all other Christians. Even though the Crusaders had inflicted unspeakable cruelty on the Muslims, Saladin exacted no revenge upon them, and no civilian was harmed when he freed Jerusalem. In addition, he maintained his authority over the radicals within his own ranks. Following the slaughter of 3,000 innocent Muslim civilians at Castle Acre, ordered by King Richard the Lion-Hearted, commander of the Third Crusade, some Muslims demanded revenge: They wanted to massacre Jaffa’s (today’s Tel Aviv) Christians. Saladin successfully calmed his soldiers down and extinguished their bloodlust, and so guaranteed the safety of Jaffa’s Christians.

In the end, Saladin brought peace to the Holy Land by granting the Crusaders some privileges and concessions. On 28 August 1192, the two parties agreed upon and signed a peace treaty. Saladin made a great gesture: He invited the Crusader’s commanders, who had killed thousands of Muslims in their quest to conquer Jerusalem, to stay there as his guests. Those Crusaders visiting Jerusalem were astonished by the Muslims’ great forgiveness, tolerance, and justice. On one occasion, upon learning that his former enemy King Richard was sick, Saladin sent his own physician to treat him, along with some ice to reduce his temperature. Saladin became a legend throughout Europe for his righteous character, which was based on the Qur’an’s values.

In short, Saladin’s Islamic Union gave the Muslims power and victory, as well as the opportunity to realize the justice, tolerance, and peacefulness central to Islamic morality. Muslims were moved to serve Islam, prevent some radical movements from spreading among Muslims, and live according to the Qur’an.

Eight centuries have passed since the time of that Islamic Union. Today’s Muslims need an Islamic Union for the same reasons as they did back then. Although the Islamic world is not under attack by a coalition army, as it was at the time of the Crusades, it is facing many threats. Furthermore, the Islamic world has fallen behind other civilizations in terms of science, technology, culture, art, and thought. Ever since the nineteenth century, the Islamic world has been seriously harmed by the many false ideologies and philosophies produced elsewhere, imported into its midst by misguided people, and spread among those who were not familiar with the Qur’an’s values. On the other hand, some radicals who claimed to represent Islam while doing their best to subvert its morality, often unknowingly helped those who were consciously sewing the seeds for later conflict.

For all of this to end, Muslims must rebuild their civilization so that it can once again guide the world, light the path, and deliver peace and justice. But if this vision is to become a reality, they must follow Saladin’s method: working for the rebirth of Islamic morality, knowledge, and faith, and achieving the Islamic world’s political union.

Uniting with Respect for Differences

The necessity for such a union is based not only on the need for a political solution to end the current situation; rather, and more importantly, unity is a requirement of being a Muslim. As in all areas of their lives, Muslims have to abide by the Qur’an’s values in their national and international policies. As this morality requires the Islamic world’s reunification as a priority, taking Islamic morality as the guiding principle will make this alliance possible, as well as long-lived and active.
Islamic morality requires Muslims to be conciliatory at all times and to be brothers and sisters in faith, as well as in solidarity and union. God commands the believers to: “not quarrel among yourselves” (Qur’an, 8:46), for doing so will only weaken them. Another verse commands the following:

Do not be like those who split up and differed after the Clear Signs came to them. They will have a terrible punishment. (Qur’an, 3:105)

It is impossible for Muslims who have common sense and conscience not to unite with other believers or to be engaged in an ongoing dispute with them. This is true on an individual basis, as well as on the level of communities and nations. God points out this fact in the Qur’an and forbids Muslim nations to be unfair or hostile to one another. The Qur’an states that those who engage in such harmful activity must be stopped, and instructs other Muslim nations to “make peace between them”:

If two parties of the believers fight, make peace between them. But if one of them attacks the other unjustly, fight the attackers until they revert to God’s command. If they revert, make peace between them with justice and be even-handed. God loves those who are even-handed. (Qur’an, 49:9)

Of course, there can be cultural, traditional, and local differences of attitude and practice between Muslim nations due to different views, interpretations, and schools of thought. Such things are natural. However, these differences should not lead Muslim nations to antagonize one another, end their mutual dialogue, and consider the other nation as foreign and hostile, instead of agreeing on their common values. Doing so only leads to intolerable situations.

God warns Muslims away from such mistakes and reveals the People of the Book’s (the Jews and Christians) errors in this respect as an example of what can happen. The Qur’an states in 98:4 that they were divided among themselves and went their own ways, even though they received Clear Signs to the contrary. Other verses state that the causes for this split were such evil character traits as envy, injustice, and rebellion against truth. The following are some of these verses:

They only split up after knowledge came to them, tyrannizing one another … (Qur’an, 42:14)

The religion with God is Islam. Those given the Book only differed after knowledge had come to them, envying one another. As for those who reject God’s Signs, God is swift at reckoning. (Qur’an, 3:19)

Jewish and Christian history is full of conflict because of this continuing disunity. Christianity’s first 16 centuries also can be described as the history of warring Christian sects. Even small differences in interpretation led to mutual accusations of heresy. Over time, the Catholic Church gained the upper hand and began to persecute other religious schools of thought that it considered heretical, such as Docetism, Montanism, Adoptionism, Sabellianism, Arianism, Plagiarism, and Gnosticism. The Catholic Church’s persecution of such religious denominations as the Cathars and the Bogomils from the eleventh century onward, as well as the century-long bloody war between the Protestants and the Catholics, coincide with the darkest era of European history. It is interesting to note that European civilization began to rise after this sectarian warfare ended. As political scientists acknowledge, modern Europe was only born after the various Christian sects agreed to mutual tolerance at the Peace of Westphalia in 1648.

People diverge in their religious practices and understandings because they do not practice morality, as commanded by God. This morality recognizes modesty. Those who distance themselves from this modesty perceive their own ideas as the ultimate truth, disregard those who think differently, and feel animosity toward them. Since they do not doubt the truth of their own views, they do not question themselves and so cannot improve themselves and find the truth. The Qur’an describes those who only value their own opinions in the following way:

They disagreed and split up, dividing into sects, each party exulting in what it had. (Qur’an, 23:53)

Muslims who fear and respect God, and who believe that they will have to account for their actions on the Day of Judgment, must be aware of this situation. Those who realize the importance of this matter must warn other Muslims about the dangers of disunity, fragmentation, and segregation, and work for Muslim unity under the Qur’an’s values.

Exemplary Muslims approach other people with love, compassion, and mercy, for they view all people as manifesting some of our Lord’s names and attributes. They consider all people who share the same belief, and who believe in the Qur’an, obey God’s commandments, and abide by the Sunnah of our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), as their brothers and sisters, and never forget that they are one another’s guardians. They must refrain from factionalism rooted in cultural, traditional, or differences of opinion and, instead of making an issue of them at every opportunity, must support unity under the Qur’an’s values. Muslims must support one another in this union and be tolerant and understanding when dealing with disputed matters. As we pointed out previously, sincere Muslims who are aware of this issue’s importance, as well as the Islamic world’s leading thinkers and intellectuals, are especially obligated to work resolutely for Muslim solidarity and unity. A solidarity based upon love, respect, compassion, and tolerance must be established in the Muslim world.

At its core, Islamic morality envisages religious unity and common values, rather than disputes and segregation. Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) showed the way for Muslims with the following hadith:

I have left among you the Book of God and the Sunnah of His Apostle. If you hold fast to them, you shall never go astray.11

We just have to abide by this advice. Our Lord commands all believers to follow the true religion and refrain from disunity. God says:

He has laid down the same religion for you as He enjoined on Noah: that which We have revealed to you and which We enjoined on Abraham, Moses, and Jesus: “Establish the religion and do not make divisions in it.” What you call the idolaters to follow is very hard for them. God chooses for Himself anyone He wills, and guides to Himself those who turn to Him. (Qur’an, 42:13)

Fostering a Sense of Unity

Unity requires awareness, devotion, allegiance, and loyalty. God prescribes unity for Muslims and reveals that Satan will attempt to create conflict in order to prevent this unity. Muslims are obliged to refrain from hurtful words, anger, disrespectfulness, and all other behavior that could damage this sense of unity when dealing with fellow Muslims. Each Muslim is required to be devoted to others, patient, work for the good of others, and loyal and true. All Muslims must adopt these superior qualities.

A good example of this is the relationship between those Muslims who emigrated to Madinah with our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) and those Muslims who were already settled there. The Muslims who pledged their allegiance to our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) in Madinah welcomed the Makkan migrants in the cause of God in the nicest possible way and took good care of them. These two different communities, which had no mutual tribal bonds, considered loyalty to Islam to be the only important yardstick. The Muslims of Madinah proved their loyalty by opening their homes, sharing their food, and considering the migrants’ needs before their own. Our Lord reveals their good conduct in the Qur’an:
Those who were already settled in the abode, and in faith, before they came, love those who have emigrated to them; do not find in their hearts any need for what they have been given; and prefer them to themselves, even if they themselves are needy. It is the people who are safe-guarded from the avarice of their own selves who are successful. (Qur’an, 59:9)

The exemplary and superior character demonstrated in this verse reveals how the relationship between two Muslim communities should be. Our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) describes solidarity in the following hadith:

Muslims are like one body. If the eye is sore, the whole body aches; if the head aches, the whole body aches.12

The love between Muslims and the absence of any ill-will are great gifts of God. The Qur’an says the following about this gift, which will be completely fulfilled in Paradise:

We will strip away any rancor in their hearts—brothers, resting on couches face-to-face. (Qur’an, 15:47)

Therefore, Muslims must act with the awareness that solidarity, fraternity, and a sense of belonging are gifts that must be protected by means of patience and strong will. The following verse also reveals the importance of this unity:

So heed God and put things right between you. Obey God and His Messenger if you believe. (Qur’an, 8:1)

Our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) states the importance of unity in the following hadith:

Do not envy one another, do not hate one another, do not turn away from one another, and do not undercut one another. Rather, O servants of God, be brothers…13

Muslims are always obliged to be forgiving, but if the other party consists of Muslims, the first party must be even more patient. They must remember that the second party consists of fellow Muslims, and that both parties fear God, obey the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace), and abide by the Qur’an’s definitions of right and wrong. All Muslims know that they must have only goodwill toward their fellow Muslims; that they should be considerate; and that they should respond with patience, compassion, and love when disagreements arise. The Qur’an reveals the prayer of Muslims for their fellow Muslims:

Those who have come after them say: “Our Lord, forgive us and our brothers who preceded us in faith, and do not put any rancor in our hearts toward those who believe. Our Lord, You are All-Gentle, Most Merciful.” (Qur’an, 59:10)

Just as Muslims are obliged to mediate in friendship between their each other, they are obliged to resolve any dispute between two Muslim communities. God says:

The believers are brothers, so make peace between your brothers and heed God, so that hopefully you will gain mercy. (Qur’an, 49:10)

Clearly, this mentality creates a very strong sense of belonging and unity, for our Lord states:

God loves those who strive in His Way in ranks like well-built walls. (Qur’an, 61:4)

This ideological struggle against irreligious philosophies and ideologies is a duty of all Muslims. No doubt, it is a historical mistake to develop a closed community struggling with internal affairs instead of shouldering the responsibility of this ideological struggle to bring light to an otherwise dark world. At present, humanity, especially the oppressed Muslims, is looking for a way out of this situation and is awaiting the arrival of a guidance that will bring peace, happiness, and justice to the world and remind all people of the true purpose of their existence. This guidance is the responsibility of the Islamic community, and all Muslims are obliged to act with awareness.

The fact that violence, terror, cruelty, fraud, dishonesty, immorality, conflict, and poverty are common proves that the world is full of “corruption.” In the face of this reality, many issues that have become a problem among Muslims lose their importance. All of this cruelty and degeneration feeds off the false systems established by those who deny God’s existence and unity and do not believe in the Hereafter. Therefore, people of conscience must unite in righteousness.

This unity will be one of the most important phases in the defeat of irreligious ideologies. Our Lord points out the nonbelievers’ alliance and reveals the necessity of Muslim friendship and solidarity in order to rid the world of cruelty. The Qur’an says:

Those who do not believe are the friends and protectors of one another. If you do not act in this way [protect each other], there will be turmoil in the land and great corruption. (Qur’an, 8:73)

Given that the Muslims have such a large responsibility, they must unite. If situations prevent them from doing so, they should consider the following questions:

“Is this issue more important than the unity of Islam?”

“Is it beyond resolution?”

“Is it acceptable to dispute with another Muslim community instead of working against irreligious ideologies?”

Everybody who answers these questions conscientiously will know that the higher priority is to refrain from endless disputes and to establish a union based on the Qur’an’s values.

Muslims must never forget that Satan is always working to cause enmity between Muslims in order to prevent their unity and solidarity. Our Lord warns believers of this danger:

Say to My servants that they should only say the best. Satan wants to stir up trouble between them. Satan is an outright enemy to man. (Qur’an, 17:53)

This verse advises Muslims to avoid directing hurtful, mocking, harsh, and accusing words against other Muslims and points out the need for decent conduct in the pursuit of unity.

The Qur’an also points out that such disputes and other damaging behavior impair one’s sense of belonging and weaken the Muslims’ power. Our Lord says:

Obey God and His Messenger and do not quarrel among yourselves, lest you lose heart and your momentum disappear. And be steadfast. God is with the steadfast. (Qur’an, 8:46)

As stated earlier, this is true for Muslim individuals as well as Muslim nations. If the Islamic world wants to erect a powerful, stable, and prosperous civilization that guides and illuminates the world in every aspect, it must act in union. The lack of such a union is responsible for the Islamic world’s discord and separation, the absence of a common voice, and the defenselessness of innocent Muslims. Countless poor women, children, and elderly people are desperately in need of rescue from oppression in Palestine, Kashmir, East Turkistan (home of the Chinese-ruled Muslim Uighur people), the southern Philippines (home of the Muslim Moro people) and many other regions. The responsibility for these people belongs to the Islamic world before anyone else. Muslims must never forget the Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) following words:

A Muslim is a Muslim’s brother. He does not wrong him or abandon him. 14

The Islamic world must put its various disputes aside and remember that all Muslims are “brothers” and “sisters” so that it can provide role models who reflect the true character of Islam and its ideals. This unity of the believers is a gift and grace of God. Sincere Muslims must thank our Lord for these benefits and obey His command “not to separate”:

Hold fast to the rope of God all together, and do not separate. Remember God’s blessing to you when you were enemies, and He joined your hearts together so that you became brothers by His blessing. You were on the very brink of a pit of the Fire, and He rescued you from it. In this way God makes His Signs clear to you, so that hopefully you will be guided. (Qur’an, 3:103)

Unity Will Make the Muslims Strong

As mentioned earlier, quarrels and disputes cause internal disintegration, which weakens Muslims’ spiritually. This is one of the many secrets that the Qur’an reveals to believers, and it points to another important reality: Just as disputes and quarrels weaken them spiritually, unity and solidarity strengthen them. God tells Muslims to unite and resist when they are wronged (Qur’an, 42:39). This divine order contains great wisdom. For instance, destroying irreligious ideologies will be possible only when the Muslims unite.

However, what truly makes the believers’ union so strong is their faith and loyalty. Since only genuine faith can engender true friendship and alliance, Muslims must love one another with a pure heart and for the good pleasure of God, without the slightest selfish interest. A union built on the strongest foundation known to humanity—the fear and love of God—will never shatter, unless God wills otherwise. Such a strong alliance will naturally give the Muslims rarely achieved power. With the following verse, God points out that success does not depend upon a group’s size:

How many a small force has triumphed over a much greater one by God’s permission! God is with the steadfast. (Qur’an, 2:249)

An Islamic union based on faith and devotion will provide Muslims with the necessary enthusiasm and willpower for great success.

In another verse, God reveals that although the deniers appear to be united, they have not achieved true unity:

Their hostility toward each other is intense. They are full of bravado in each other’s company. You consider them united, but their hearts are scattered wide. That is because they are people who do not use their intellect. (Qur’an, 59:14)

Irrespective of how solid a union appears to be, it is in fact very unstable if it is not built on sincerity and genuine intentions, for this means that it is based only on various interests. And, when any of these interests is threatened, the union will fall apart quickly. Since God has revealed this secret in the Qur’an, the Muslims’ union is not shaken by worldly losses; rather, it is strengthened. This awareness makes the union very solid. The great Islamic scholar Said Nursi uses the following example to explain why a union formed by sincere Muslims will be strong:

So we are surely in need of solidarity and true union, obtained through gaining sincerity—for the mystery of sincerity secures through four individuals the moral strength of one thousand one hundred and eleven—indeed, we are compelled to obtain it.

Yes, if three alifs [the letter “A” in Arabic which takes the shape of a single vertical stroke, like the letter “I” or the number 1] do not unite, they have the value of three. But if they do unite, through the mystery of numbers, they acquire the value of one hundred and eleven. If four times four remain apart, they have a value of sixteen. But if, through the mystery of brotherhood and having a common goal and joint duty, they unite, coming together shoulder to shoulder on a line, they have the strength and value of four thousand four hundred and forty-four. Just as numerous historical events testify that the moral strength and value of sixteen self-sacrificing brothers have been greater than that of four thousand.

The underlying reason for this mystery is this: Each member of a true and sincere union may see also with the eyes of the other brothers and hear with their ears. As if each person of a true union of ten has the value and strength of seeing with twenty eyes, thinking with ten minds, hearing with twenty ears, and working with twenty hands.15

The subjects we have explored so far show the need for Islamic unity and the nature of such a union. The rest of the book will deal with the features of this union.

WHAT KIND OF ISLAMIC UNION?

The First World War and the Second World War taught humanity a lesson in the form of wanton slaughter on a global scale, major European cities reduced to rubble, flattened housing estates, and genocidal concentration camps. The West, caught in the middle of these wars, drew a very important lesson from these tragedies: form alliances in order to have an efficient, easier, and quicker conflict-resolution mechanism. Other European countries had tried to form alliances in the past, but these were never long-lived either because of a conflict of national interest or for some ideological reason. This time, the West knew that the desired union had to be more than just an economic or a joint defense pact; it had to be a union established upon common cultural values. Obviously, this is a lengthy process.

These wars devastated Europe’s economy and industry. The survivors had to rebuild hundreds of cities, repair infrastructure, and reestablish a functioning education and health system. The war was over, but now the colonies were demanding independence. It appeared to be a hard job to create stability as well as a union amidst all of this chaos. The first step in this direction was the European Coal and Steel Federation, formed in 1951 primarily to serve and develop industry. This union eventually became the European Economic Community (EEC), then the European Community (EC), and finally the European Union (EU). Eventually, it became a strong union in which products, services, capital, and labor freely circulate between member states; a union having a common currency, compatible laws, and even state bureaucracies. Today, the EU is one of the major players on the international political stage.

The EU:A Possible Model for the Islamic Union

The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) has 56 member states and is the largest Muslim organization in terms of number of members and of geography. In addition, there are several regional military and trade alliances between neighboring Muslim nations, each of which fulfills important functions and represents a positive development. However, the Islamic world needs a more comprehensive union, one with permanent institutions empowered to take binding decisions, develop and implement common policies, represent the entire Islamic world, and produce solutions for all Muslims rather than just in a few regional hotspots. This union’s power must be economic, military, and social. The existence of such a union will create an environment of mutual trust and agreement so that a sense of solidarity will develop. Accordingly, the member states’ security concerns will be addressed, and the resulting extensive cooperation will result in higher standards of living in the member states. Acting as one body in all affairs concerning it, either directly or indirectly, this world will be able to develop strategies that are in the Islamic world’s best interest.

In the second half of the twentieth century, developments in Palestine, Bosnia, Kosovo, Nagorno-Karabakh, Kashmir, and Aceh brought an important truth home to the Islamic world. In these regions, where thousands of civilians lost their lives, countless children were orphaned and savagery and violence reached shocking levels, the West either did not react at all or was slow to take preventive action. Such indifference reminded the Muslims once more that all of them are responsible for protecting the rights of other Muslims and meeting their needs. Therefore, the Islamic world has be very responsive and proactive, for only united Muslim nations can guarantee the safety of all Muslims by speaking for all Muslims in the international political arena with one voice.

The Islamic world has to become one bloc in terms of military, politics, and economics. An Islamic world united from within will ensure world peace and prevent radicals from moving toward a clash of civilizations based upon their ideologies of self-interest and conflict.

The Islamic Union’s General Structure

The EU, a model for our proposed union, can be described as an entity in which member states’ sovereignty, system of governance, and state bureaucracy would continue their functions under the umbrella of a constitution based on “European culture.” Within this constitution’s framework, member states would cooperate in politics, culture, and economy, and a central legislature and administration would coordinate their cooperation and represent Europe’s interest as a whole.

The Islamic Union must have a structure that preserves member states’ independence, national borders, rights, and interests. Each sovereign state must strive to unite under a shared Islamic culture, develop common policies, and establish the legislative and administrative organs that will implement them. The purpose here is not to achieve a structural merger of states, but to unite behind common policies and interests in order to achieve the political power that such a union would have.

In such a union, the world’s Muslims will be in direct touch with one another, know each other’s problems intimately, and help one another. Separatism, factionalism, and fanaticism will be put aside for the principle of Muslim unity. The fact that the Islamic world has not been able to reach consensus among the different views, systems, and models that characterize its members has prevented it from acting in unity. The proposed Islamic Union’s call for unity will not be made according to race, economic condition, or geographical location, and all animosity arising from differences of race, language, or culture will cease under the umbrella of this union. Its members’ sense of unity will not be based upon the superiority of one culture, nation, or group over another, but upon the spirit of solidarity engendered by equality, tolerance, love, and friendship.

One of the primary reasons for establishing the Islamic Union is to create a central authority capable of directing the general Muslim population. For this reason, the central authority must have a structure that reaches all Muslims or, in other words, must be able to accommodate all different views under its umbrella. The Islamic Union must be based on Islam’s central tenets, receive practical as well as theoretical differences in views with tolerance and understanding, and successfully turn these differences into cultural diversity and wealth. These differences must not be allowed to obstruct the application of political will and joint action. All disputes between Muslim nations must be resolved, and their differences must be settled within the framework of this central authority. An Islamic Union that can manage its internal affairs will be able to resolve potential differences with other civilizations easily and to produce the joint policies that its central authority will implement and administer.

The Islamic world has many issues that need to be resolved and that are continuing problems for the international community: such political tragedies as Palestine, Kashmir, and Iraq; the ideological war on terrorism; and such social issues as underdevelopment, poverty, health, and education. These main topics are not regional or local matters; rather, they have a direct bearing on all Muslims. Given this reality, the Islamic world must achieve solidarity in order to resolve them. No one can suggest that what happens in Palestine concerns only the Palestinians, that the innocent Muslim Kashmiri civilians suffering from oppression should sort themselves out, or that starving children in some Islamic country are only the responsibility of the country in question. Muslims cannot accept this situation as a matter of faith.

However, Muslims have failed to form a strong alliance among themselves and so other—and non-Muslim—countries are offering solutions to these and similar problems. The proposed solutions, however, do not have the Muslims’ best interest at heart, or else offer only short-term solutions. In many conflict-riven regions, the Muslims’ relative weakness prevents them from having any real voice at the negotiating table. In addition, the so-called peace plans often incorporate certain clauses that do more harm than good. The Islamic world has an obligation to produce a joint action plan to safeguard the affected Muslims’ rights.

The number of issues awaiting resolution by the Islamic Union indicate that it will have a busy schedule. To function efficiently, it needs to have a permanent operational headquarters, form the legislative and administrative organs that will coordinate their activities (including their subdivisions), and ensure that these institutions will function properly. The infrastructure that will deliver the right decisions at the right time must be built, the union must inspire trust with its activities, and its members must be reassured that their rights are fully protected.

The Islamic Union must have the flexibility to adapt to changing political conditions and the foresight to develop appropriate strategies. The need for an active central authority that can take the initiative, instead of giving reflexive responses to world events or being content with either criticizing or voicing opinions, is obvious. This center must shoulder the responsibility for coordinating, supervising, and serving the interest of all member states equally. It must consider all developments objectively and be guided by the Islamic world’s demands. An Islamic Union that can arbitrate between member states, resolve their conflicts of interests, and protect Muslims in their dealings with other nations will increase the Islamic world’s cultural, economic, and political influence.

For the Islamic Union to become a united force and a unifying structure, it must protect modern social values, respect the human rights of all people, and be based on democratic principles. Not surprisingly, all of these values are central to Islamic morality.

A Peaceful and Harmonious Islamic Union

The Islamic Union must work to bring peace to all people, not just Muslims, and tolerant and peaceful in its decisions and practices. The core of Islam is the good morality revealed in the Qur’an, which requires Muslims to be friendly, gentle, compassionate, tolerant, just, understanding, patient, and devoted. Islam invites people to a peaceful world:

O you who believe! Enter absolutely into peace (Islam). Do not follow in the footsteps of Satan. He is an outright enemy to you. (Qur’an, 2:208)

Muslims are defined as people who obey God’s commands, try to practice the Qur’an’s morality diligently, make the world a nicer place, build it up, and deliver peace and happiness. They strive to do good, pleasant, and nice things for people, and make a great effort to reflect our Lord’s infinite compassion and mercy. God told His followers to be good to people, take an interest in his or her surrounding environment, and call people to the right path. The following verse describes the difference between people who have no positive effect on their surrounding environment and those who always try to do good:

God makes another metaphor: two men, one of them deaf and dumb, unable to do anything, a burden on his master, no matter where he directs him he brings no good. Is he the same as someone who commands justice and is on a straight path? (Qur’an, 16:76)

The message of this verse must guide the Islamic Union, which must be a platform for implementing Islamic morality’s understanding of devotion, unity, friendship, honesty, justice, loyalty, fidelity, and service. Islamic morality guarantees people’s freedom of thought and life, discourages tension and dispute between people, and even forbids suspicion, negative thoughts and words about one another. Our envisaged union must be formed by Muslims who operate on that basis and work for world peace.

The Qur’anic morality requires that Muslims refrain from war and conflict and resolve disputes by dialogue and agreement. The Qur’an considers war to be an unwanted necessity and a last resort that must abide by strict humanitarian and moral rules. Muslims are charged with always siding with peace and agreement, and fighting only in self-defense if attacked by the enemy. God reveals that it is evil-doers who begin war and that He does not like them:

Each time they kindle the fire of war, God extinguishes it. They rush about the land corrupting it. God does not love corrupters. (Qur’an, 5:64)

Our Prophet Mohammed’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) life shows that war is only fought for defensive purposes when all else has failed. The Qur’an was revealed to the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) over a period of 23 years. For the first 13 years, Muslims lived as an oppressed minority community under pagan rule. Many Muslims were physically tortured, some were killed, and others had their property looted. As a community, they were constantly exposed to humiliation and threats. Nevertheless, they remained peaceful and continued to invite the pagan Makkans to peace. When the oppression reached unbearable levels, the Muslims migrated to Yathrib (later Madinah), where they found freedom and friendship, and where they gradually established their own rule. Not even then did they declare war on the aggressive pagans of Makkah.

The nature of an Islamic society is measured and balanced, for people are invited to do good and commanded to refrain from evil. Surat al-Baqara 2:143 states that Muslims are witnesses as well as role models to people as a “middlemost community.” Another verse reveals that they are required to be an example of good for humanity:

You are the best nation ever to be produced before mankind. You enjoin the right, forbid the wrong, and believe in God. (Qur’an, 3:110)

An organization formed by Muslims who abide by God’s teaching is obviously required to protect and represent this good morality and show the Islamic Union’s way forward. It must first resolve intra-Muslim disputes and deliver peace to the Islamic world, oppose any movement that incites violence and war, and constitute a preventive force against all warmongers. Furthermore, it must cooperate with the international community on terrorism and international crime, as well as on matters of general concern (e.g., weapons of mass destruction), and even lead the fight against these threats.

A Generator of Solutions

We have briefly mentioned some problems (e.g., Palestine and Kashmir) that the Islamic Union could resolve quickly. Thus, once it is established, this union will have to shoulder huge responsibilities and become an organization that can generate realistic and appropriate solutions.

The current situation has a negative effect not only on Muslims, but also on many innocent people around the world. Untold millions continue to suffer from the curses of corruption, poverty, immorality, the unfair distribution of wealth, ruthlessness, tyranny, conflict, and injustice. Babies die because there is no food, children and the elderly are left to fend for themselves on the streets, refugees are forced to live in tents or barracks, and sick people cannot afford any medical treatment—all of these problems affect not only the Islamic world and the underdeveloped world in general, but also, to a lesser extent, the developed world.

Many innocent and needy people are waiting for a helping hand. The Muslims’ responsibilities in this regard are as follows:

What reason could you have for not fighting in the Way of God—for those men, women, and children who are oppressed and say: “Our Lord, take us out of this city whose inhabitants are wrongdoers! Give us a protector from You! Give us a helper from You!?” (Qur’an, 4:75)

The Islamic Union will resolve the disputes between Muslims and non-Muslims as well as conflicts between Muslims. Currently, even intra-Muslim disputes are being resolved by Western countries or international organizations under their control. Foreign powers, unfamiliar with Muslim history and culture, do not appear to be capable of delivering appropriate solutions, even if they do provide some little help from time to time. Muslim nations should solve their own problems, for then their problems will not be dragged into the international arena, the proposed solutions will be in their interest, and a united Islamic world will send out a message of power and stability. One of the Islamic world’s greatest troubles is its current inability to produce such common policies and effective strategies even on matters of direct concern.

The Islamic Union must find solutions for the Muslim nations as well as for all people seeking peace and security. Each nation has its own political, demographic, and economic problems, and different regions have their own regional problems too. Although each of these problems requires different solutions and measures, the fundamental problems and their solutions are everywhere the same. Much suffering and trouble is caused by the fact that the Qur’an’s morality is not practiced as it should be, which means that the required solutions are not devised according to its guidance. If just and realistic solutions are to be reached, such qualities as open-mindedness, flexibility, and free thinking, together with honesty, devotion, justice, and helpfulness, all of which are derived from the Qur’an’s morality must guide the Muslims.

There is an important link between solving economic problems and social morality. For instance, one of the greatest economic problems is social injustice, which is essentially a moral problem. There can be no social injustice in an Islamic society, for God requires that all surplus goods or wealth be shared with the needy and prohibits conspicuous consumption. Financial means should not constitute the basis for privilege and become a value shared by the few, for the Qur’an’s morality requires social solidarity and awareness of one another’s needs. Sincere Muslims have such a devotional character that they give their food first to the poor and the captives, even if they are in need themselves. They do so only to earn God’s good pleasure, for:

They give food, despite their love for it, to the poor and orphans and captives [saying], “We feed you only out of desire for the Face of God. We do not want any repayment from you or any thanks.” (Qur’an, 76:8-9)

The solidarity and cooperation between individuals can easily be achieved in international relations, for Islamic morality will guide the union’s member nations. It is intolerable that some countries enjoy exaggerated luxury while, in another country, thousands of newborn babies die of starvation. Every conscientious person should be disturbed by this situation.

Many charitable and international organizations are actively seeking to assist these poor and suffering nations. However, their efforts usually do not go beyond delivering aid packages to the affected regions. And, this aid often does not reach its intended recipients due to the failures of the underdeveloped nation’s system and their mafia or gang-type organizations. All of these must be eradicated, and a new mentality based on conscience and common sense must be nurtured through mass education campaigns.

When wastefulness is prevented, when solidarity develops and sharing is encouraged, and especially when people have learned to be guided by their conscience, such economic imbalances can be eradicated. The most suitable structure to implement these solutions will be the Islamic Union.

Private and Individual Rights Must Be Just and Respected

In a society shaped by true Islamic morality, individual rights and freedoms are very important. Personal rights and freedoms are guaranteed so that people can live a free and dignified life. God has revealed in the Qur’an that all people are equal in His presence, for superiority is based upon one’s awareness of God, and He commands Muslims to be just, tolerant, forgiving, and understanding toward people. Therefore, they must respect differences and be fair when evaluating them.

Our Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) practices in the first Islamic society (Madinah) have shown the way for all Muslims with regard to social structure and governance. The “Constitution of Madinah,” considered the Muslims’ first constitution, reflects an advanced level of understanding of law and exemplifies Islamic society’s sense of justice and individual rights. Under it, all people of whatever religion were given their fundamental rights and freedoms, and people’s property, life, family, and places of worship were safeguarded. With this agreement, everyone could live under one political entity and peace was brought to tribes that had been feuding with one another for many years. Outside of the Constitution of Madinah, the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) always treated the pagans fairly, honored their pleas for safety and protection and desired friendly and civilized relations between people.

Fourteen centuries ago, Islam brought such values as individual rights, law and order, equality before the law, and economic freedom to humanity. As Islam spread, the justice that prevailed throughout its domain became the envy of all nations. This sense of justice, which is still remembered today with respect and approval by many Western thinkers, led many people and nations to embrace Islam and welcome Muslim rule. Our Prophet Mohammed (may God bless him and grant him peace) practiced the Qur’anic system of justice in the best possible way, and his Companions and Muslims in general continued to practice this superior morality. This enabled the Muslims to become a community that achieved justice between people:

Among those We have created there is a community who guide by the Truth and act justly according to it. (Qur’an, 7:181)

Islam teaches freedom of thought and participation in government. A broad-based consultation process is one of Islam’s most fundamental social requirements, for God commands Muslims to govern by mutual consultation, namely, to discuss their affairs among themselves:

[Believers are] those who respond to their Lord and perform prayer, manage their affairs by mutual consultation, and give of what We have provided for them. (Qur’an, 42:38)

When action follows consultation, all individuals will have had an equal chance to voice their opinions and then to consider the matter from many different perspectives. This reduces the possibility of error and, therefore, results in an agreed-upon and appropriate decision.

The most important aspect of consultation is that each representative does his or her best to respect and understand the different viewpoints. Their main concern is to find the right ideas, rather than who proposed them. In other words, consultation’s main purpose is to make those decisions that are in society’s best interest. Islamic morality requires that Muslims not insist upon their own views, but adopt the view that is closest to their conscience and justice. Muslims must refrain from the insistence and pride inherent in thinking that “my views are the best, my views must be recognized by all,” for such behavior does not please God. Muslims must know that that there is always someone who knows more than they do, and that it would be a grave error to insist that their own ideas are the best:

Over everyone with knowledge is a knower. (Qur’an, 12:76)

The Islamic principle of consultation is a leading light for the Islamic Union, which must be built on a political culture of free speech without fear of recrimination, where their rights are safeguarded, and where everyone’s views are listened to with equal respect. In this way, its member nations will develop societies in which people respect each other’s views; where equality, justice, and freedom rule; and where oppression and injustice are eradicated. Such achievements will enable the Islamic world to guarantee the Muslims’ safety and happiness, and also will become the driving force of our world’s culture and civilization.

The Ultimate Goal: Developing the Islamic World

One of the Islamic world’s most serious problems is its general underdevelopment. Therefore, one of the Islamic Union’s priorities must be to develop the Islamic world by supporting the poorer countries and resolving their economic problems. This can be done by fighting poverty,—encouraging new investments, creating jobs,—achieving law and order throughout society, removing economic injustice and guaranteeing social justice, and strengthening international as well as regional cooperation and dialogue.

Problems and tensions within the Islamic world caused by financial inequality must be reduced. A union and cooperation between Muslim nations in the economic, political, and, most importantly, the cultural arenas will enable the underdeveloped nations to advance rapidly. Moreover, those that have the necessary infrastructure in place will be enabled to maximize their productivity. Such a union will benefit economic growth and scientific and technological development.
Economic growth will increase investment in science and technology, and technological advancements will fuel further economic growth. Economic development will raise educational standards, and society will develop in many ways. Under the umbrella of the Islamic Union, individuals will be able to travel freely without the obstacles of visas or borders, and a system of free trade and enterprise will drive the Islamic world’s rapid growth and development.

This development will naturally result in the Islamic world’s modernization and reaching the standards found in the developed world. While Islam’s economic principles diverge from the hedonism that dominates the majority of the West, free trade is just as essential to Islamic societies as it is to Western societies. Islam recognizes everybody’s right to private ownership and free enterprise, but Islamic morality places certain responsibilities on individuals in order to achieve social justice. The poor have a share in the wealth of the rich, but not in the form of enforced taxation. Rather, the rich give this share to the poor willingly because of their beliefs. Islam’s version of social justice is not achieved by central planning and enforcement, as socialism proclaimed but failed to deliver, but by the society’s dominant moral values. Islamic morality also prevents the rich from indulging in conspicuous consumption and extravagance.

The materialistic social model encourages consumption, selfishness, and the ruthless oppression of others by individuals who have lost their respect and love for their fellow citizens. Over the past two centuries, this social model has come to dominate the majority of the Western world and has eroded its traditional Judeo-Christian moral values. As a consequence, many Western countries are forced to fight widespread drug abuse, prostitution, corruption, gambling, alcohol abuse, and organized crime. Furthermore, weakening religious beliefs has created an identity crisis: Materialist philosophies, which assert that the purpose of life is to acquire material wealth and live a life of pleasure, cannot satisfy people’s spirituality and so end up creating a void of aimlessness. Under the banner of freedom, its adherents abandon themselves to their own selfish desires.

Islamic morality, on the other hand, frees people from all kinds of worries and anxieties that trouble their minds. Believers only heed God and seek to win only His good pleasure. Fully aware of their responsibilities to our Lord, they live by their conscience at all times and, as such, are content and well-balanced individuals. They offer their environment goodness and beauty. This morality frees people from the pressures of envy, excessive desire, fear of the future and death, and other attitudes and fears that are incompatible with religious morality. Freed of these negative characteristics, they experience the freedom and peace derived from submitting to God.

Therefore, the development and advancement encouraged by the Islamic Union will not be identical to the development envisaged by the West. During its period of development, the West experienced great social injustice. For instance, the driving force of development in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century England was ruthless exploitation. The working classes endured terrible working and living conditions. Children as young as 7 or 8 were made to work in filthy coal mines for 16 hours a day; many of them died before they were 20 years old. In the 1840s, the average life expectancy of coal miners fell to an average of 17 years.16 On the other hand, the rich lived in excessive luxury and extravagance. All industrialized Western countries went through these horrific experiences, and they built themselves upon the exploitation and oppression of millions of poor people.

The developmental model of a society dominated by Islamic morality will comprise social justice. The West suffered great injustice during its own development because its leaders adhered to materialism’s misconceptions of human nature. Islamic morality, however, requires people to be entrepreneurs and pioneers in all fields, as well as compassionate, selfless, and just to others. Throughout the rise of Islamic civilization, Muslims were world leaders in economics and very successful traders. However, the resulting wealth did not remain in the hands of the few, but spread throughout society. Such social aid institutions as charitable organizations, social complexes, soup kitchens, caravanserai (large inns), public baths, and libraries show that wealth and culture did not remain in the hands of a few Muslims, but were accessible to all. The envisaged Islamic Union must adopt this developmental model.

Another aspect of this developmental model is open-mindedness. Islamic morality requires Muslims to be open-minded or, in other words, that they maintain dialogue with other cultures and benefit from their achievements. For this reason, Muslim thinkers and scientists examined earlier Greek, Chinese, Roman, and Indian scholarly works, from which they acquired knowledge and then developed and enriched with an Islamic understanding. The Islamic world of today must examine other cultures, in particular those of the West, benefit from their accumulated knowledge, and then use and advance them further for their own—and humanity’s—benefit.

Trying to isolate the Islamic world from other cultures making it self-contained will not benefit Muslims. Islamic morality demands that technology be used to the full. For instance, Muslims must build their own film industry to teach humanity righteousness and goodness, as a counterweight to films that seek to impose a materialistic twist on Islamic morality. If some art trends contain negative influences, Muslims must produce a more beautiful and splendid art form. If people admire the impressiveness, cleanliness, comfort, and liveliness of cities, Muslims must build even better cities and make the world an even better place in which to live.

Surely Muslims can build a civilization comparable to the great Islamic civilization of the past, but to do so they must live according to the aesthetics and artistry, open-mindedness, moderation, and justice of the Qur’an’s values. Islamic art, culture, and civilization will not only bring prosperity to Muslims, but to all of humanity. The world’s greatest libraries, most stunning architecture, cleanest streets, the brightest lit roads, and best schools, universities, and hospitals will be built by Muslims, and all people will have equal access to them.

The rise of Islamic civilization is possible under the leadership of an Islamic central power, and the twenty-first century can be an enlightening one for the Islamic world. At a time when globalization is gaining momentum, Muslim nations must resolve their conflicts; enter into joint scientific, technological, and trading ventures; and combine their forces in the interest of all Muslims.
Finally, it must be stated that Muslims do not divide the world into two opposing poles: “Westerners” and “Muslims.” First, the majority of Western people are People of the Book and therefore share many of the Muslims’ moral and religious values. That is why many aspects of Western culture (e.g., freedom of belief, democracy, and family values) are central to Islamic morality as well. On the other hand, many people in the West have chosen Islam as their religion and continue to do so. Considering that the Qur’an’s values have so far not been made available correctly and comprehensively in the West, it is realistic to expect many more people to embrace Islam. Muslims must adopt this attitude to the West and its culture. Also, they must remember that some circles have been under the influence of materialistic philosophies for over two centuries, and that they still need to be freed from their prejudices. This is the responsibility of Muslims.

THE BENEFITS OF UNITY FOR MUSLIMS

Contemporary world politics make it necessary for nations to integrate into international unions in the interest of their own national security and economy. In these international unions, which are usually based upon geographic location, such factors as natural resources, trading blocs, and even cultural values play an important role. Many neighboring countries combine their resources under the auspices of such organizations, create defensive alliances, and cooperate on a wide array of issues. The goal of such unions is to preserve peace, control the arms race, resolve disputes through diplomacy, promote socioeconomic development, and protect fundamental human rights and democracy. At the present time, NATO, the OSCE, the EU, NAFTA, OPEC, ASEAN, the G-8, the D-8, and APEC are the foremost international political, military, and economic unions.

These institutions are subject to organizational reforms because of new members or a widening of scope. All of these organizations, formed in the aftermath of the Second World War, have contributed to creating stability and order in the world and have played a major role in global socioeconomic development. Member nations protect their economic and military interests, and also acquire a stronger regional and international position. Even the developed world perceives the necessity of such partnerships. The creation of free trade zones, regional trade agreements, abolished customs controls, and even a common currency (as in the EU) safeguard the future of member states. Defensive pacts enable member states to reduce military expenditures and to divert those resources to cultural and educational fields.

A similar organization will provide considerable benefits to Muslim nations. For those that are desperate for technological as well as economic development, the foremost step toward stability is the creation of a central organization or, in other words, a unified Islamic world under the auspices of the Islamic Union.

Economic Development and Increasing Prosperity

Economic cooperation is necessary on two counts: stability and development. Muslim nations must bring stability and solidity to their economies. Developing industries and making the required investments is vital, as is the need for a comprehensive development plan and the simultaneous development of education, economy, culture, science, and technology. While various sectors are developed technologically, the labor force’s educational levels and standards must be raised accordingly. Society must be motivated to become more productive, and the resulting economic cooperation will play a major role in eradicating poverty, illiteracy, the unjust distribution of wealth, and other socioeconomic problems rampant in Muslim countries. This partnership can be formed only by the creation of free trade zones, customs unions, and common economic areas.

Most Muslim countries have geostrategic importance as well as rich natural resources (e.g., natural gas and crude oil). These resources and strategic opportunities, however, are not being used effectively. In the Islamic world, 86% of the population’s living standards fall below $2,000, 76% under $1,000, and 67% under $500 per year. When the Islamic world’s total resources are considered,17 this is quite a paradox: Roughly half of the petrol consumed in the West is exported from the Islamic world, as is 40% of the world’s agricultural production.18 Many economists and strategists freely admit that the world economy depends upon the Islamic world’s oil and gas exports, in particular those of the Persian Gulf.19

The Persian Gulf holds two-thirds of the planet’s discovered crude oil reserves. Data obtained from research concludes that Saudi Arabia alone holds 25.4% of the world’s oil reserves, or 262 billion barrels. A further 11% is found in Iraq, 9.6 % in the UAE, 9.2 % in Kuwait, 8.6 % in Iran, 13% in other OPEC member states. The rest is distributed across the remainder of the world.20 Research commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy shows that between 2000 and 2020, oil exports from the area will increase by 125%.21 This means that the world will continue to meet most of its energy needs by imports from the Gulf region. Moreover, the Middle East has 40% of the global natural gas reserves; 35 % of these reserves are in the Gulf region.22 Algeria, Libya, and other North African countries have 3.7 % of the world’s reserves.

The Caucasus and Central Asia are also rich in oil, natural gas, and other natural resources. For instance, Kazakhstan has between 10-17.6 billion barrels of proven oil reserves, and its natural gas reserves are estimated at between 53-83 trillion cubic feet. Turkmenistan has between 98-155 trillion cubic feet of natural gas reserves, making it the fourth largest producer.23 Some other Muslim countries have valuable mineral resources. For instance, Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan are two of the world’s leading gold producers. Turkey has one of the world’s richest boron reserves, only recently discovered to be very important, and Tajikistan has the world’s largest aluminum producing facilities.

These advantages will become more important in the twenty-first century, which some have already christened the “energy century.” Energy is an essential element of modern society in terms of the military, industry, urbanization, and transport. Given that economic activity and manufacturing depend primarily upon energy, nations will do their best to achieve control over these energy resources. The Islamic world is not using its resources effectively, for many of its members lack the infrastructure and technology to increase the production and use their natural resources to develop themselves. Therefore, the resources’ contributions to the country’s economy are limited to export earnings. These countries do not have the means to process their own crude oil, use it in their industrial complexes, or to develop their industries. Worse still, some Muslim nations do not even have the necessary means to explore and research their natural resources or to discover and extract them. Explorations undertaken by foreign companies reveal that other Muslim nations have oil and gas reserves, but they cannot benefit from their resources.

Naturally, the ineffective use of natural resources is not the Islamic world’s only economic problem. However, solving this problem can begin the process of solving many other problems. The economies of Muslim nations contain differences in structure and functioning. Some nations’ economies depend upon mineral resources, such as the members of OPEC, while other nations’ depend upon agriculture. These differences are also reflected, to some extent, in their social structures, such as the widely varying degrees of rural and urban populations. Developing complementary relationships and helping each other in their respective areas of expertise can turn these differences into a source of riches. All of this will be possible with the Islamic Union.

Joint ventures and project partnerships will be an important step in the right direction, for they will enable countries to benefit from one another’s experiences and the income earned from investment projects will benefit all of the participating countries. Such mutual financial support is compatible with Islamic morality, for helping the needy and having a sense of social responsibility are important characteristics that Muslims strive to acquire. Many Qur’anic verses remind Muslims to watch over the needy.

Society’s internal cohesion must be extended to international relations. As international cooperation within a partnership cannot be one-sided, employment and income levels will rise in both countries. For example, one country will produce oil and another one will process it, and agriculturally dependent countries will be able to import the food they need from agriculturally developed countries. A manpower-poor country will be able to help out a manpower-rich country that does not have enough jobs for its people. Rich countries can invest in poor countries to the benefit of both. Sharing know-how and experience will increase prosperity, and all Muslims will benefit from technological developments.

Joint ventures that realize the Islamic world’s unification of opportunities and means will enable Muslims to produce hi-tech products. The Islamic common market will make it possible for Muslim-made products to be marketed in other Muslim countries without the hindrance of customs, quotas, and other cross-border obstacles. The marketplace will grow, the market share and exports of all Muslim nations will rise, industrialization will speed up, and economic development will bring progress in technology. When all of this comes to pass, Muslim nations will operate as a consortium against other investment groups and will become an important part of the global economy.

The living standards and wealth of Muslim nations will increase, and their existing inequalities will disappear. Some free trade agreements are already in place between countries in the Gulf, the Pacific Rim, and North Africa. Trade agreements signed by Turkey are already operational in the Islamic world. Bilateral cooperation exists in some regions; however, their scope must be widened. Such cooperation will safeguard the rights and interests of all Muslim nations and lead to all of them becoming developed—a result from which all of them will derive a far greater benefit than if they do not cooperate with each other.

All of these can be realized only under a central authority’s leadership and coordination. Achieving this will be possible if Muslim nations adopt the Qur’an’s values and the Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) Sunnah, or, in other words, if they adopt Islamic culture. The Islamic Union must lead the way to this cultural awakening, as well as the resulting political and economic cooperation.

Mutual cooperation among Muslims, part of the Islamic code, must be adhered to by all Muslims, for God commands people to refrain from avarice and to guard the needy and support one another. In fact, destitute people have a due share of the believers’ wealth (Qur’an, 51:19). As the Qur’an proclaims:

Those of you possessing affluence and ample wealth should not make oaths that they will not give to their relatives, the very poor, and those who have migrated in the way of God. Rather, they should pardon and overlook. Would you not love God to forgive you? God is Ever-Forgiving, Most Merciful. (Qur’an, 24:22)

He who has plenty should spend from his plenty, but he whose provision is restricted should spend from what God has given him. God does not demand from anyone more than He has given it. God will appoint ease after difficulty. (Qur’an, 65:7)

Our Lord also reveals that believers are one another’s guardians (Qur’an, 9:71). The word “guardian” conveys such meanings as friend, helper, mentor, and protector. It also expresses the importance of cooperation and solidarity between Muslim nations. The cooperation that will arise from this fraternal awareness between Muslim nations will bring prosperity and wealth to Muslims and eradicate poverty, an important problem of the Islamic world. Societies that follow the Qur’an’s values will not experience famine, destitution, and poverty. Muslims will develop their nations by following rational and long-term policies, establishing good relations with other nations and people, valuing trade and development, and learning from other cultures’ experiences. This was so in history and, God willing, under the Islamic Union’s leadership it will be so once again.

Creating Peace and Security

Instability does not affect a given region alone; rather, it has a negative impact on the world as a whole. The Islamic world is one such region. Therefore, Muslim nations should not be considered as separate and independent entities. Tensions in the Middle East are felt in North Africa. Events in the Caspian region affect the future of the Middle East. What happens in the Persian Gulf has a direct bearing on Southeast Asia, which means that such apparently regional conflicts, troubles, and tensions are felt throughout the entire Islamic world. Naturally, the same is true for peace. For example, solving such long-term conflicts as the Arab-Israeli war would have a positive effect throughout the Islamic world.

Throughout the twentieth century, a major part of the Islamic world remained locked in continuous warfare, conflict, and instability. The resulting waste of resources nearly brought economic development to a stand-still, caused living standards to drop to rock-bottom, and most importantly, cost the lives of millions of Muslims. Even now, intra-Muslim disputes and conflicts continue and engender tensions from time to time. Wars and conflicts between Muslim and non-Muslim nations are a great source of instability and discontent. One significant benefit of the Islamic Union is the role that it will play in delivering peace and security to the Islamic world. The Islamic Union must resolve intra-Muslim disputes and conflicts, as well as overcome the wars, conflicts, and tensions between them and non-Muslim countries, by peaceful and reconciliatory means. For example, an Arab-Israeli peace would have the following benefits for the Islamic world:

• Peace would enable each country to reduce military expenditures and divert financial resources to wealth-creation in society. As all Muslim countries would be members of the joint defense pact, they would achieve greater security and stronger defenses with a smaller budget. Investments now being made in the arms industry and technology could be channeled into educational, scientific, and cultural development. Consider the following facts: The total arms expenditure of Middle Eastern countries in 1991, when the Gulf war broke out, was $70.7 billion. Arms spending dropped to $52.2 billion during the following years, but soon began to increase again. Military spending stood at $61 billion in 2000 and $72 billion in 2001.

• Present instability and conflicts in the Islamic world cause many of the region’s doctors, engineers, academics, scientists, thinkers, and writers to migrate to the West, where they continue their work, for they do not feel secure in their home countries. Research reveals that this migration from Arab countries has cost the Islamic world $200 billion. In fact, 450,000 of these migrants are college or university graduates.24 An environment of peace will eliminate internal tensions and end this migration. As a result, the work and skills of highly educated individuals will primarily benefit Muslims.

• Peace also will enable Muslim nations to share their accumulated knowledge and expertise, combine their forces in every area, and help one another deal with their shortcomings. As a result, these nations will become far more effective in pursuing their national development plans.

• Economic development will gain momentum. At present, there are many disputes among Muslim nations, especially those involving borders, which only intensify economic problems. For instance, the source of the difficulties experienced in transporting and exporting trade goods is unsafe transport routes. This also is true for water, which is a major cause of conflict in the Middle East. Such conflicts could be resolved if Muslim countries would cooperate and resolve their disputes peacefully.

• Differences of culture and ethnicity will become a rich resource in an environment of peace, one that is characterized by tolerance and dialogue. People will be more open-minded and productive, and such a diverse cultural mix will enable the rise of a new civilization.

• Peace also will strengthen Muslims living outside of the traditional Islamic world. Islam is one of the fastest growing religions in many non-Muslim countries. If these ethnically diverse groups of Muslims unite, they will further the spread of Islam and enable themselves to make a stronger cultural impression on their societies. The effectiveness of individual efforts made by small and separate Muslim communities is incomparable to the combined intellectual efforts made by a united alliance. Muslims of course will preserve their national identities; however, they will become a much stronger force if they act as one body guided by Islamic awareness and morality.

• A peaceful Islamic world will become a model for other countries, and existing conflicts will be resolved peacefully according to the example set by the Islamic world. Muslims will be living examples of finding peace and security when the Qur’an’s values are practiced. In addition, they will bear witness to the fact that Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance. Peace in the Islamic world might even guide many people to Islamic morality.

Rebuilding a Spectacular Civilization

With the establishment of the Islamic Union, peace and security will take hold, economic problems will be resolved, and a massive cultural advancement will take place, for there will be growing budgets for education, science, and culture. In this way, Muslims will build a new civilization that will serve as a role model for the rest of the world. Practicing the unity and solidarity commanded by the Qur’an will cause its values to have a direct impact upon all Muslims’ everyday life, art, decoration, fashion, medicine, science, and technology. Friendship and fraternal feelings will prosper, peace and order will rule social life, people will find more time to reflect and conduct research, and they will be more free-thinking and open-minded when they do so. Environments free of chaos, destitution, and troubles are places in which new ideas take shape, new products emerge, beneficial inventions are made, and continuing progress is achieved. The Islamic Union will create such an environment throughout the Islamic world.

In the book’s first part, we examined the history of Islamic civilization. This civilization is an indicator of the environment in which future generations of Muslims will live. History shows that Muslims who practiced the Qur’an’s values built a strong civilization that lasted for many centuries. In the Qur’an, God commands people to reflect, observe, and notice subtle details. Muslims are asked to ponder the beings in their surrounding environments, reflect on the order in which they live, and try to comprehend the wisdom behind it all. Our Lord says:

Have they not looked at the sky above them, how We structured it and made it beautiful, and how there are no fissures in it? And Earth, how We stretched it out, cast firmly embedded mountains onto it, and caused luxuriant plants of every kind to grow in it—an instruction and a reminder for every penitent human being. And We sent down blessed water from the sky and made gardens grow by it, and grain for harvesting and soaring date-palms with layered spathes. (Qur’an, 50:6-10)

Those who live by the Qur’an’s values, who contemplate without coming under the spell of dogmas, false beliefs, or prejudices, ponder whatever they witness from all angles. As a result, they can see and consider ahead of their times. These qualities enable them to invent beneficial items for humanity and devise systems that ease the burdens of life and increase human comfort. The Islamic Union will open a new chapter in science and technology for the Islamic world, and, having acquired this vision, Muslims will build a civilization that produces science.

One area in which the Muslims’ subtle thinking and deep awareness shows itself is art. At the core of art lie the abilities to reflect, notice subtleties, enjoy what is seen, and convey the resulting joy to others. The artistic awareness of someone who believes in and practices the Qur’an’s values is of a superior nature, because Muslims consider art to be a godly form of beauty, and works of art as objects that reflect God’s power and might and the magnificence in creation. In the Islamic world, artists are inspired by the beauty of God’s creation and thus produce works of art that are both inspired by the Qur’an’s values and have unequaled depth, talent and intellect. With the formation of the Islamic Union, far more works of art will be produced that reflect the Muslims’ sense of art, cities will be made more beautiful, spectacular buildings will rise, and the quality of life will increase immensely.

Islamic nations will be known for their cleanliness, order, works of art, cultural achievements, and technological developments. Their inhabitants will benefit from the means and comforts provided by technology, for prosperity, wealth, and beauty will dominate every aspect of life. Muslims will always meet with beauty, for their homes, gardens, house decorations, clothing, music, entertainment, theaters, cinemas, paintings, and conversations will reflect their inner spiritual beauty.

For all of this to take place, however, a great awakening must occur. False traditions, social structures, and mentalities that hold Muslims back must be removed and replaced with a Qur’an-based vision and morality so that the union will be rational, decisive, vibrant, and open-minded—just as it was with the first generations of Muslims. Islam does not require abstinence from the world; rather, Muslims are required to comprehend the world’s true nature and then light the path for all people to follow. It is the Muslims’ right to enjoy the blessings of this world. Those who believe sincerely and live by God’s commands will experience all of the beautiful things that God has revealed in the Qur’an, one of which is a good life on Earth, as follows:

What is with you runs out, but what is with God goes on forever. Those who were steadfast will be recompensed according to the best of what they did. Anyone who acts rightly, male or female, being a believer, We will give them a good life and will recompense them according to the best of what they did. (Qur’an, 16:96-97)

Introducing Others to Islamic Morality

“Let there be a community among you who calls to the good, enjoins the right, and forbids the wrong” (Qur’an, 3:104). One of the Muslims’ important duties is to command goodness, prevent evil, and call people to Islamic morality. However, the present chaos and disorder in the Islamic world prevents Muslims from fulfilling this duty, even though many non-Muslims have an increasing interest in Islam and the Qur’an’s values. God’s existence and oneness, the basic tenets of Islam, our Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) life, the Qur’an’s commands, and how Islamic society should be structured have now become common topics in the West. As interested people naturally direct such questions toward Muslims, Muslims must be able to represent Islam in the best possible way. In the West, this means through professional audio-visual productions, conferences and meetings, and publications. Moreover, on an individual basis they must serve as role models to the people with whom they come into contact.

The Muslim Union is also necessary to resolve many problems caused by people’s remoteness from religious morality. Circles that oppose religious morality work to make irreligion prevail and often coordinate their actions so that they can move forward in unison. Irrespective of how much their alliance is based on self-interest, their coordinated action makes it much easier for them to achieve their targets. Although every system of thought that opposes religious morality is destined to be defeated, Muslims must nevertheless engage these systems in a great ideological struggle to defeat them. For this reason, one of the Muslims’ most urgent responsibilities is to drop their internal differences so that they can spread the Qur’an’s values and invite people to the path of God. Our Lord reveals the believers’ responsibility in this regard in the following verse:

Those who do not believe are the friends and protectors of one another. If you do not act in this way (protect each other), there will be turmoil in the land and great corruption. (Qur’an, 8:73)

The formation of the Islamic Union will increase the pace of all efforts made to spread the Qur’an’s morality. As in many other areas, such a combined effort will be rewarded many times over, and true knowledge will reach all people far more quickly and in a much better manner. At present, Muslims are making individual as well as combined efforts to explain and spread Islam. However, the Islamic Union will make these efforts more practical and systematic. Furthermore, some people who claim to represent Islam but display aggression and crudeness, which are not part of Islam, will be defeated; true Islam will be defined; and the erroneous stereotypes created by certain people will be destroyed.

THE U.S. THE MIDDLE EAST AND THE ISLAMIC UNION

The 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon marked a turning point and the beginning of a new world order. Some experts predicted that this attack would lead to greater conflict and violence, while a majority of voices pointed out that America’s response and future policies must be measured and just.

In the aftermath of the attacks, America began a large-scale offensive against terrorism. Most countries and international organizations supported this effort, which, in essence, is a military operation directed against terrorism and all organs that support it. At present, despite some partial successes, this war has not met its objectives or achieved a conclusive victory.

One of the primary reasons for this failure is that the American strategy is based mainly on military operations to the exclusion of any educational or cultural measures. Military measures, such as removing regimes that support terrorism, cannot defeat terrorism, for terrorism is a socio-psychological and ideological problem. Such a military-only strategy creates tragedies in which countless innocent people lose their lives, as well as the radicalism that, in turn, becomes yet another factor feeding terrorism. Only an intellectual war can effectively diffuse the terrorists’ propaganda and eradicate terrorism. Military operations should be used only when appropriate.

For this reason, the war on terrorism must be conducted within the rules of international law and by the use of peaceful but effective measures. Every activity that ignores the law and human rights, especially when it is causing civilian deaths, will cast a shadow over this war, even if it began as a just cause. It is important for the American leadership to remember such facts when determining its strategy, for it is the psychology and ideology of terrorism that must be destroyed. The so-called “Islamic terrorism” thought to be behind 9/11 feeds off radical groups that interpret the Qur’an wrongfully. The true morality of Islam must replace such warped interpretations of religion, and people must be taught this Qur’an-based morality instead of the misrepresentations leading to terrorism.

America’s efforts to solve the problem from the outside will not succeed. Since the problem arises out of an erroneous view of Islamic morality, its solution must come from within the Islamic world. Muslims must assist in replacing these mistaken views with the correct understanding of Islamic principles and prevent those who misunderstand Islam from acting upon their rage. Thus, American policy should support a solution from within the Islamic world. As we have stated all along, forming the Islamic Union is the only realistic solution.

It is in America’s best interest to adopt this approach, not to mention within the best interest of the Islamic world and the world in general. Those who think otherwise should reconsider, as they might well be dragging the world into a bloodbath. The American leadership also must be careful not to be distracted by such misrepresentations that lead them to identify Islam as a hostile religion and culture. The people behind such distortions are strategists and ideologues who wish to see a bloody war between the West and the Islamic world. They are doing their best to present American anti-terrorism policies as a war on Islam. Some commonsense announcements by the American leadership, which rejects the idea of a war between the West and Islam, have had positive effects; however, they need to be seen by the global community as affecting American policies.

How Can America Help Achieve Global Peace?

In the aftermath of 9/11, the Bush administration announced a new national security and foreign policy strategy. One week after the terrorist attacks, President Bush revealed the framework of this strategy in his speech to the nation. Known as the “Bush Doctrine,” it proclaimed, in effect, that America would engage in preemptive strikes in order to defend itself. While such attacks may sometimes be justifiable, in actuality it meant the beginning of a new era. This strategy was hammered out under the prevailing psychology in the immediate aftermath of the attacks, drawing heavily on President Bush’s patriotic feelings. Some hawkish circles in the country promptly suggested that this new strategy should target almost all of the Middle East and that the nation must be prepared to stomach a 20-year war in the region. Less provocative circles pointed out such an approach’s inherent flaws and asserted that it risked escalating terrorism. Before examining the potential risks, it is necessary to clarify the meaning of “preemptive attack.”

America, the world’s only superpower, quite naturally should have political interest, as well as a strategy, in different parts of the world. Besides, American military intervention has had some positive results. For instance, in the 1990s, American diplomatic and military intervention targeting Serbia, which first attacked first Bosnia-Herzegovina then Kosovo, played an important role in stopping Serbian aggression. The important question here is whether or not such American policies are compatible with international law, and whether they are just and conciliatory, in compliance with human rights, and fairly protect the rights of each group.

In international relations, precautionary defensive measures by individual countries are usually received with a degree of tolerance. Of course, every country wants to defend its existence and future, and therefore develops strategies for this purpose. However, this defensive approach should not allow unjustifiable intervention into other nations’ affairs. The most successful and safest strategy for a country to adopt is one that seeks to preserve peace and happiness. Peaceful strategies lead people to prosperity and security, and every attempt to disrupt the peace and prevailing order is very dangerous.

Within the American leadership, those who advocate preemptive attacks are proposing a very risky strategy that far exceeds any country’s legitimate rights of self-defense. According to this flawed mentality, which is trying to prepare the ground for all kinds of attacks, the assertion that “they might become a threat in future” is the perfect excuse. However, turning to military means alone to resolve disputes cannot succeed, as history has shown over and over again.

According to this flawed logic, international relations depend not upon law, but upon power. These people would like to see America show off its power and clearly demonstrate to its opponents that the nation is still going strong. The Bush administration’s hawks believe, mistakenly, that America can maintain its superior military might only through war, and that therefore it must always be the one to strike first. However, not all members of the Bush administration share this dangerous attitude. From time to time, the hawks gain the upper hand in American politics. However, many bureaucrats as well as advisors advocate a measured and peaceful policy.

All countries, especially America, must strive for peace and protect and support it at all cost. Circles that push the ideas that “might is right” or “the use of force will solve the problems in direct proportion to its use” are, in reality, driving their country into a dead-end situation. One aspect of this is the risk of escalating terrorism. Many strategists point out that America has begun to lose its economic as well as political power. American military might may well have its advantages, but the ongoing threat of war, as well as the continuous state of alarm and readiness for war trumpeted by the hawks, will deal a serious blow to its economy.

Furthermore, if this country is always at war somewhere in the world, people will no longer perceive it as the guardian of human rights, democracy, and freedom. As a consequence of its hawkish policies, America will become a nation feared by, instead of respected by, the world community. Even if some military objectives are achieved, America will suffer economically and damage its international image. So, it would only be a very limited success for the country. In reality, the American government also does not want to end up in such a situation, and so it must be cautious and measured when taking the hawks’ flawed views into account and do its best to follow rational policies.

Moreover, these circles should consider the example they are setting for other nations and calculate the potential costs of other countries behaving in the same way to protect their interests. It is fairly obvious what kind of chaos and conflict the world would experience were such nuclear-armed countries as Russia, China, India, or Israel to adopt the strategy of preemptive attack. Even just the possibility of such a scenario represents a great threat.

Clearly, America has the right to protect its national interests and defend itself against potential threats. The international community respects this, especially after the 9/11 tragedy. This right, however, can be used to benefit America and the world at large if its use complies with international law. The most important mechanisms for preventing this strategy from descending to the level of a personal war are international law and the broad consensus of the international community reached within its framework. If these mechanisms are ignored, the proponents of this strategy will lead America into a crisis and will represent a threat to world peace.

America must reconsider its strategy in the light of all the above concerns. The way to world peace and stability cannot be aggression and violence, but common sense, fairness, and caution. The primary strategy for its war against terrorism must be to support cultural activities. In order to defeat every ideology that considers violence to be a solution, human relationships a source of personal gain, and aggression legitimate, the conditions that give rise to terrorism must be fought. The widespread acceptance of religious morality, which demands tolerance, conscience, love, and compassion instead of evil incited by anti-religious ideologies, will provide lasting solutions to terrorism and many other social ills.

Appropriate cultural programs can be implemented by American cooperation with non-governmental organizations, many of which are currently working on such issues. This is an encouraging sign, no doubt, but lasting solutions require state backing and a widening of these efforts’ scope.

Besides, the American government must not forget that Christianity’s central tenets oppose war and hostility. God forbids people to incite chaos or endanger peace and security. If America respects religious beliefs, it must become a role model for all people by seeking to bring peace and security, not fear and apprehension. Those members of the Bush administration who often perceive the need to mention their Christian faith must not forget that Jesus commands them to be ambassadors of peace: “Blessed are the peacemakers.” (Mathew 5:9).

American religious leaders have called upon the Bush administration in this regard. In a letter (50 signatories) to President Bush in the days before the American invasion of Iraq, the National Council of Churches (NCC) gives important messages:

We write out of concern that those same precious gifts [of God] may be damaged by actions being contemplated by our nation.

We, leaders of American churches and church-related organizations, are alarmed by recent statements by yourself and others in the Administration about pre-emptive military action against Iraq for the expressed purpose of toppling the regime of Saddam Hussein. Understanding that Mr. Hussein poses a threat to his neighbors and to his own people, we nevertheless believe it is wrong, as well as detrimental to U.S. interests, to take such action.

We oppose on moral grounds the United States taking further military action against Iraq now… Military action against the government of Saddam Hussein and its aftermath could result in a large number of civilians being killed or wounded, as well as increasing the suffering of multitudes of innocent people.

… As Christian religious leaders responsible for millions of U.S. citizens we expect our government to reflect the morals and values we hold dear—pursuing peace, not war; working with the community of nations, not overthrowing governments by force; respecting international law and treaties while holding in high regard all human life.25
The Devastation Caused by War

War is an evil that always brings pain and tears to the warring parties and causes terrible losses. Religious morality requires that people resolve their disputes peacefully and in a conciliatory manner. Those who live according to religious morality refrain from such harmful attitudes as hate, revenge, and anger. Instead, they adopt a tolerant and forgiving stance. When people are distanced from religious morality, an environment conducive to internal and mutual communal conflict develops. Accordingly, the two world wars were evils brought about by irreligious ideologies. The First World War caused devastation from Europe to the Middle East and killed more than 10 million people, while the Second World War, which, like the first, had no valid justification, ended in horrific bloodshed costing 55 million deaths. The survivors witnessed levels of cruelty rarely seen in history, and millions of innocent people perished in concentration camps.

Sadly, these two world wars and the resulting devastation still have not convinced many people just how terrible a disaster war actually is. The Second World War did not end conflict and war; instead, new ones broke out all over the world, killing continued, and the political ambitions of the few killed millions of people, crippled untold thousands, destroyed entire cities, and devastated whole nations. Wars have also caused serious psychological damage to the survivors and damaged the spiritual well-being of an entire generation. Wars produced people who experience anxiety attacks, shake uncontrollably, and suffer from sheer fear just by hearing the word “bomb” or seeing a uniform. Some of them have remained schizophrenics for years because of the terror they have witnessed, and others have failed to readapt to society.

Those who believe that war can solve problems only have faith in military solutions. Those who plan new wars, particularly in the Middle East, must remember previous human tragedies and abandon their dangerous plans. The cost of invading Iraq reveals another dimension to such affairs.

Thoughts on the Cost of Invading Iraq

Many statistical studies conducted in America about the costs of invading Iraq reveal that besides the direct costs, there are serious other implications that need to be considered. For instance, the study by Senator Joseph Biden, chairman of the U.S. Foreign Relations Committee, puts this cost at $100 billion. Biden also stated that another $50 billion would be needed to rebuild Iraq, and that the total cost would be more like $150 billion. At present, it appears that the invasion was successful and that everything has been contained within the estimated limits. However, this will not cause the tragedies experienced during the war to be forgotten and does not justify using these resources for this war instead of the American people’s prosperity.

The $100 billion cost is not considered a significant amount by the hawks in the Bush administration. However, it is three times the education budget for children aged between 0 and 12, four times the country’s foreign relations budget, and able to cover the health costs of all American children without health insurance for 5 years. This is indeed a thought-provoking fact: That this amount of money is spent on an invasion that costs the lives of thousands of people instead of used to increase the living standards of all Americans. However, given that these estimated costs have been calculated based on ideal conditions, many retired military and defense experts say that the costs will spiral, considering the potential risks of the post-invasion period.

Past American wars have shown that the costs of these wars far exceeded the planned amount. For instance, the Secretary of the Treasury in Lincoln’s cabinet estimated the cost of the Civil War for the North would be $240 million; in fact, the actual cost was 13 times higher ($3.2 billion). In the 1966 budget, $10 billion was earmarked for the war in Vietnam, which was expected to end in the summer of 1967. But the war continued until 1973, at a direct cost of between $110 and $150 billion.26 In addition, 47,000 American soldiers died on the frontline, another 11,000 soldiers died in various circumstances, and a total of 303,000 soldiers were injured. More than 1 million Vietnamese civilians lost their lives, 225,000 Vietnamese soldiers were killed in the war, and 570,000 were injured.27

These examples reveal that the cost of warfare can spiral out of control when things do not go according to plan. Therefore, all future wars and invasions must be prevented, for the human and financial losses on both sides can increase dramatically. Moreover, a democratic, peaceful, and moderate order cannot be created in the Middle East by means of war, as the Bush administration is intent on doing. Even if military success is achieved, it is next to impossible to create a lasting peace and order in this way. Winning a war on the battlefield is not necessarily enough to control and rule a region politically. And, what usually happens after any invasion is a very good proof of this.

The Middle East rests on precarious balances. History proves that it is highly unlikely that foreign powers will maintain these balances justly or fairly, or achieve an order that is acceptable to the region’s very diverse population. Only a power that shares the region’s culture and civilizational ethos can do this. This must be a central authority that unites all Muslim nations, one that reflects and represents their will. This authority is the Islamic Union, which will not only resolve the problems in the Middle East, but also all problems between the West and the Islamic world. Therefore, the West, especially America, must support the formation of the Islamic Union, which will unite all Muslim nations under a peace-seeking, tolerant, and constructive umbrella and cooperate with it. In this way, America will find a reliable political union with which to maintain dialogue and cooperation, a union stretching from Morocco to Indonesia.
Many American strategists and thinkers have pointed out this fact, and William Nordhaus, a renowned economist and professor at Yale University, states in the “conclusions and suggestions” section of his report, titled: “The Economic Consequences of a War with Iraq,” the following:

From a political point of view, unilateral actions, particularly those taken without support from the Islamic world, risk inflaming moderates, emboldening radicals … in those countries.28

Who Is Behind the Invasion?

It is an interesting question to ask why America invaded Iraq despite the clearly visible damage and negative impact that such an act would engender. Many strategists think that this invasion had been planned well before 9/11, and suspicions concerning the Bush administration’s claim that Iraq had, and possibly intended to use, weapons of mass destruction began to be heard.

This military action is part of America’s new Middle East strategy. Those who developed this strategy had decided already in 1997 that America had to hit Saddam and remove him from power. The first signs of this emerged in 1997, when a group of strategists in Washington, under the influence of the Israeli lobby, formed the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) think-tank to advocate for occupying Iraq. The foremost names of PNAC, later to become the most influential people in the George W. Bush administration, were Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld and Vice President Dick Cheney. Even if they had originally set out to create a stable world order under American leadership, they acquired the belief, assisted by the Israeli lobby, that a war in the Middle East was necessary. Had they made a comprehensive evaluation, they soon would have realized that such a belief was mistaken. If the purpose was to create stability, it is obvious that war never brings about stability and order. To the contrary, it destroys the existing order and brings about nothing but loss. It is a historic fact that stability can be achieved only by preserving peace.

An article titled “Invading Iraq Not A New Idea For Bush Clique: 4 Years Before 9/11, Plan Was Set,” published in the Philadelphia Daily News under the name William Bunch, stated the following:

But in reality, Rumsfeld, Vice President Dick Cheney, and a small band of conservative ideologues had begun making the case for an American invasion of Iraq as early as 1997— nearly four years before the Sept. 11 attacks and three years before President Bush took office.

An obscure, ominous-sounding right-wing policy group called Project for the New American Century, or PNAC—affiliated with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rumsfeld’s top deputy Paul Wolfowitz and Bush’s brother Jeb—even urged then-President Clinton to invade Iraq back in January 1998.

“We urge you to … enunciate a new strategy that would secure the interests of the U.S. and our friends and allies around the world,” stated the letter to Clinton, signed by Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, and others. “That strategy should aim, above all, at the removal of Saddam Hussein’s regime from power.29

But what was the reason for PNAC’s members to be so persistent about bringing down Saddam? The same article continues:

While oil is a backdrop to PNAC’s policy pronouncements on Iraq, it doesn’t seem to be the driving force. [Ian] Lustick, [a University of Pennsylvania political science professor and Middle East expert], while a critic of the Bush policy, says oil is viewed by the war’s proponents primarily as a way to pay for the costly military operation.

“I’m from Texas, and every oil man that I know is against military action in Iraq,” said PNAC’s Schmitt. “The oil market doesn’t need disruption.”

Lustick believes that a more powerful hidden motivator [for war] may be Israel. He said Bush administration hawks believe that a show of force in Iraq would somehow convince Palestinians to accept a peace plan on terms favorable to Israel.30

In short, the real architects behind the invasion are Israel and its American allies. At this stage, it once again becomes apparent that America’s Middle East policy is heavily influenced by Israel. Some radical Zionists acting in Israel’s interest exercise great influence over America’s decision-making mechanisms and convince Washington to act according to Israel’s Middle East strategy. Moreover, they do so while claiming that American and Israeli interests are identical, despite the fact that American interests in the Middle East are not compatible with supporting radical Zionists in Israel. Just by doing so, the US manages to affront the entire Arab world. Its interests would be better served by persuading Israel to moderate its policies and make peace with the Arabs, with itself serving as a just mediator.

This same Israeli influence can be seen in the planning stage of the invasion. The Israeli lobby misdirected the strategists who would come to hold influential positions in the Bush administration so that they would see the “need” to invade Iraq. However, this has caused new tensions in the region and gradually opened the way for a military action that caused the death of many innocent Iraqi civilians.

Irrespective of how much these strategists talk about American interests, in reality they are defending Israel’s interests, because it is not in America’s interest to fight with the entire Middle East and to offend and alienate its people. America does not have an anti-Islamic ideology and strategy, as some circles claim. As we stated before, America was one of the greatest allies of the Balkan (e.g., Bosnian, Kosovan, and Macedonian) Muslims who were exposed, during the 1990s, to Serbian atrocities. The only American “frontline” that negatively affects the Muslim masses is in the Middle East, due to the incredible power certain officials, who are staunch Zionists and pro-Israeli, exercise over American foreign policy. Once these officials are freed from such manipulation and thus enabled to assess the Middle East without bias, fairer policies will be developed.

This is the reason behind the American strategy of rearranging the Middle East, which the Bush administration enacted after 9/11. Israeli radicals, playing upon Israel’s long-standing fear of annihilation, have long sought to rearrange the Middle East to make it a more controllable and safer region for Israel. With this goal in mind, they have exerted their influence over America and manipulated its Middle East policy for decades.

In reality, it is not in Israel’s interest to be in conflict with the Islamic world either. Jews, Christians, and Muslims have the right to worship as they wish in these lands, but the Israeli leadership’s policies oppress Muslims and worries Christians and even Jews. It would be far better for the Israelis, as well as for all Middle Easterners, if Israel withdrew from the Occupied Territories and made true peace instead of being in a constant state of war with the entire Middle East. This permanent atmosphere of war inevitably hurts Israel, for it then becomes the target of the very radicalism that its own policies have created. And then, innocent Israeli civilians are exposed to attack and live in constant fear. Therefore it is necessary, also for the safety of the 4.5 million Israeli citizens, to intellectually fight the radical Zionist philosophy that seeks to perpetrate war in the Middle East as well as to incite a clash of civilizations.

Zionism, a racist, chauvinistic, and oppressive ideology, aims to force non-Jewish residents from Palestine or even to kill them for the sake of the Israeli state. However, the ongoing lack of knowledge and misinformation combine to prevent both Jews and Christians from realizing the truth about Zionism. It is the responsibility of every person working for world peace to show Zionism’s danger to humanity at large. Genuinely religious Jews, along with conscientious Christians and Muslims, must unite to invite everyone to the righteous path. When people come to realize the truth about the fascist, social Darwinist, and oppressive ideology known as Zionism, this large obstacle to world peace will be removed, and people who now advocate violence will become defenders of peace.

Jewish Religious Leaders Call for a Fast for Peace

Ever since the beginning of the Iraqi crisis, religious leaders from all over the world have made genuine efforts for peace. One such effort was made by Rabbi Waskow, a leader of the peace organization Shalom, which calls upon people to fast for peace. Many religious leaders of various denominations joined in and once more demonstrated that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam are all anti-war:

We call upon Americans to fast:

To reflect, to seek a truer peace, to pray

In the name of the God of compassion, Who commands us to seek peace and justice…

God calls on us all to seek peace and pursue it.

Yet with deep concern we see the danger that neither the government of Iraq nor the government of the United States is taking this calling as its primary goal…

God calls us to love our neighbors as ourselves, to love the stranger and the foreigner, to do nothing to others that would be hateful to ourselves…

God calls us to feed the hungry, house the homeless, clothe the naked, heal the earth, free the mind and spirit…

God calls us to reflect—to think, to feel, and to pray before we act.

Yet we see that with no evidence of any imminent and urgent danger, our government is rushing into a war that threatens to bring death to many families—”our own” as well as those who live in another country. A war that may engulf in rage and destruction an entire region of the world, one that all our traditions hold especially dear…

At this moment of great danger, we turn toward God…31

Saddam Hussein’s True Ideology

From the first day of the Iraqi invasion, the stated main goal was to remove Saddam’s regime. Such a strategy, irrespective of the offered justifications, cannot be implemented successfully by military means. The lives lost during the invasion prove that this choice was wrong and that it should have never been made. However, it is also clear that Saddam was a dictator who was damaging to the region and whose regime needed to be removed.

Saddam Hussein is just one of many people who, in the 1960s, were led astray by Arab socialism, which was sweeping through the Arab world at that time. Arab socialism fused extreme fascism with a fanatic third world leftist agenda supported by the Soviets. Stalinism, the Soviet version of communism, stamped its mark upon the worldview of Arab socialists, who developed aggressive, oppressive, and provocative policies. Saddam was a leading Ba`th Party militant, the embodiment of this erroneous ideology in Iraq. In his youth, he organized and carried out attacks on political organizations and individuals opposed to the Ba`th movement through the Jihaz Hanin (the Apparatus of Yearnings) terrorist organization. Following the Ba`thists’ first coup d’etat, an interrogation unit was formed under Saddam’s command and subjected its victims to horrific torture. It was known that Saddam even devised new torture techniques.

Under the influence of the Stalinist ideology in which he fervently believed, he became a ruthless and merciless dictator known for his cruelty. In 1980, he ignited a bloody 8-year war by invading Iran; 2 years after that tragedy ended, he invaded Kuwait. He was violent with all domestic groups and individuals that he considered potential threats, as his chemical weapons attack on the Kurdish village of Halabja (northern Iraq) proved: 5,000 innocent people died. And, this was just one of his regime’s crimes against humanity.

All of this clearly proves that Saddam was not fit to rule Iraq. People expect their leader to deliver peace, security, happiness, and prosperity, as well as peace and stability both to their neighbors in particular and the world in general.

Now that Saddam and his regime have been removed from power, the post-invasion strategies are crucially important. It is not enough to portray Saddam as a tyrant for a lasting peace to appear in the Middle East. What is needed is an analysis that can correct the conditions and ideologies that led him to tyranny. What made Saddam a bloody dictator was the Ba`thist ideology and the fascist culture that sought to resolve all issues with force or even bloodshed. A comprehensive education campaign and enlightened policies are needed if the Arab world is to be cleansed of this ideology and culture, both of which must make way for a civilized generation and people who are compassionate, loving, and humanitarian, as required by Islamic morality. In a society that practices this morality, such problems will not be encountered.

It must not be forgotten that this provocative ideology and culture does not just exist in Baghdad, but also is found in many other regions—often under the guise of religion. Its real solution lies in telling people of the true religious morality in an effective way.

Achieving Law and Order

It is highly probable that the Iraqi invasion will cause wide-ranging and prolonged instability in the Middle East. It appears as if circles with influence over American policy want to rearrange the whole Middle East, and even the Caucasus and Southeast Asia, if necessary, by war. Some members of the Bush administration express the view that “America could take action against ’40-50 countries’,” by which they divulge such plans.32 Irving Kristol, a PNAC participant, argued that “it is always a positive sign when the American people are prepared to go to war,33 which is another example of this mentality. All of this means that even those who devise these plans will probably not live long enough to see the end of this continued state of war.

This state of war, which will drag the world into pain and destruction, will rock the world order and deeply affect the people in the region and mankind as a whole. As we pointed out earlier, America and all other nations have the right to protect their national interests and to take precautions against situations endangering their security. But like all nations, America, as the only superpower, must use this right on the basis of ensuring world order and peace. The national security strategies of all countries, especially America, must comply with international law in order to prevent arbitrary actions. Also, when issues like terrorism threaten world security, multilateral cooperation and international alliances increase the chances for peace. Reducing tension and resolving conflict by supporting moderate and democratic forces, instead of trying to suppress violence with violence, must become the way forward. If we want to make the twenty-first century one in which all people’s prosperity and security are guaranteed, all leaders must drop any ambition of creating a world order in which only the strong rule and have rights by means of continuous warfare.

Both America and other Western nations, as well as all Muslim nations, want potential threats to world peace to be eliminated, wish for economic stability, call for the strengthening of democratic regimes, demand an end to human rights abuses, seek to end all forms of tyranny over people’s lives, and seek a better quality of life and an equal share of world’s rich natural resources. Some strategists portray Muslims as the intended targets, which, in addition to affronting the entire Islamic world, is an equally dangerous and flawed strategy. People who interpret religion wrongfully are susceptible to myths and false beliefs and become extremists by moving against the grain of religion. Such people, who can be found among Muslims, Jews, and Christians, are all a great danger to world peace. Removing this danger is only possible by preventing extremism and forming an alliance of all moderate, peace-loving, civilized, and sincerely religious people. Only such an alliance can weaken the influence of those who present war as the only option and believe, erroneously, that it guarantees security. Thus, even more bloodshed, tears, and financial losses will be prevented.

In order to create this alliance, Westerners need to abandon their prejudices, come to really know and understand the Islamic world, and formulate joint policies that will help it develop. All parties can eradicate mutual misunderstandings by means of educational and cultural programs, for radicalism is the result of ignorance. While these educational projects will enable the West to understand Islam better, the myths and false beliefs anchored in the Islamic world will be done away with so that mutual tolerance and understanding will take root. Hate, anger, and malevolence will be replaced by peace, tolerance, and security. The resulting culture of peaceful coexistence will lead to peace between different civilizations, and cultural sympathy and interaction will deliver social progress, contrary to the claims of those who advocate a clash of civilizations.

Clearly, the Islamic world needs a culture of tolerance just as much as the West. From time to time, some Muslims come under the influence of bigoted views that make them hostile to people of other religious denominations or ethnic groups, even though this is against the Qur’an’s morality. Throughout history, Islamic societies were centers of justice and tolerance, especially at the time of our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace). Ever since that time, history has been full of examples of oppressed Christians and Jews seeking refuge in Muslim lands, known for their compassion and protection. Bearing this in mind, especially at a time when peace is so badly needed, Muslims need to develop exemplary models based on the prophetic Sunnah and the Qur’an’s values. These models will develop the Islamic world’s core values and deprive all foreign powers of their ability to claim that they will bring stability and democracy to the Islamic world. Rather, the Islamic Union will lead the way.

Muslims and the People of the Book

In the Qur’an, God calls Jews and Christians the “People of the Book” and reveals in detail how the Muslims should interact with them. From the birth of Islam onward, tolerance and mutual understanding between Muslims and the People of the Book have usually been very good, for even though their holy books and some of their beliefs have been tampered with, they still have many moral values and concepts based upon divine revelation. The Qur’an encourages respectful and civilized conduct between Muslims and the People of the Book. For example, Muslims can eat their food and vice versa, and Muslim men can marry their women (Qur’an, 5:5). These rules show that it is possible for individuals belonging to these three religious communities to have friendly and neighborly relations, bond as relatives, and accept each other’s invitations to share a meal.

Our Prophet, (may God bless him and grant him peace), was always just and compassionate to Jews and Christians and sought to establish an atmosphere of mutual tolerance and love among all members of these divinely revealed religions. During his lifetime, he made agreements and gave assurances that the Christians and Jews could practice their religions freely and continue their existence in autonomous communities. In the early years of Islam, some of the Muslims who had endured Makkan oppression and cruelty sought refuge with Negus, the Christian king of Ethiopia, with the Prophet’s (may God bless him and grant him peace) blessing. On the other hand, the believers who migrated to Madinah with him developed a model of coexistence that became an example for all succeeding generations. In the period of Islam’s growth, this entered history as an example of Muslim tolerance and justice toward Jews and Christians.

For instance, the text of an agreement dictated by our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) and written down by the Christian Ibn Harris b. Ka`b and his fellow Christians stated: “The religion, churches, lives, chastity and goods of all Christians living in the East and the West are under the protection of God, the Prophet and all believers. None of those living by Christianity will be forced to turn to Islam. If any Christian is subjected to any killing or injustice, Muslims must help him.”34 And then read this verse from the Qur’an: “Only argue with the People of the Book in the kindest way, saying, ‘We believe in what has been sent down to us and what was sent down to you.” (Qur’an, 29:46)

Numerous accounts relate that our Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) attended Jewish and Christian wedding receptions, visited their sick, and hosted them generously. When the Christians of Najran visited him, he spread out his cloak and asked them to be seated thereon. His marriage to the Egyptian Christian Maria is an example of this mentality. Following his death, the good treatment accorded to the People of the Book had at its heart the same tolerance that the Prophet (may God bless him and grant him peace) had shown toward these two communities throughout his life.

Source: al-shia.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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