Partners in Cruelty – The Rulers of the Muslim World
At the beginning of this month, some nationalist Hindu academics in India wrote a letter to Prime Minster Modi, complaining about Islamic political writers being taught at the Aligarh Muslim University.
The university, which was founded in the late 1800s and has a reputation for producing Muslim intellectuals, removed the writers from their curriculum, quickly caving in to the nationalist pressure. This is a small microcosm of what is ongoing in India, where attacks on Muslims for their diet, family practices, marriage and divorce laws, historic places of worship, and even their lives are under constant threat. This is in addition to the decades of brutal suppression of the Muslims in Kashmir at the hands of the Indian Army.
East of the border, in China, the Chinese Communist Party has sustained its campaign of forced interment of Uyghur Muslims, “re-educating” them to give up their deen, as well as reports of forced labour, involuntary sterilization and even organ harvesting. The coordinated and state-sanctioned nature of this brutality was recently underlined by a hack of the police server which indicated that Uyghur Muslims were being arrested for having a beard, dressing traditionally, or merely guilt by association.
All of this cruelty towards Muslim minorities is, of course, happening in the backdrop of yet another attack on Gaza, and the further desecration of Masjid al Aqsa which was stormed by Zionist settlers again recently.
It is easy to look at these events and feel a sense of resentment towards the regimes committed to hating Islam and Muslims. Beyond this wave of anger, it is easy to feel profoundly powerless and unfocused in our ability to do anything that would meaningfully help our brother and sisters who are suffering.
But futile anger followed by learned defeat cannot be our response to this level of suffering. As Muslims, as the followers of the Beloved Messenger (saw) what should our response be, and where should we focus our efforts?
It is expected that the disbelieving elites, the leaders of kufr systems, will be in conflict with the Muslims. If the minority community headed by the best of leaders, RasulAllah (saw) was persecuted, how can we expect to be treated any better. If the entrance of Musa (AS) in the court of Firawn, armed with nothing other than the clothes on his back and a staff that would prove the authenticity of his message, could grab the undivided attention of one of the greatest tyrants on Earth, then who are we to expect a bed of roses as we try to live by and covey this deen? Facing brutal oppression in service of the deen is the legacy of the prophets (as).
This is because whenever the verses of Allah (swt) are conveyed to a society, and the people are called to worshipping Allah (swt) alone, abandoning man-made power structures and systems, the powerful men who made and benefit from those systems will lash out. Islam removes unchecked power from the hands of the elite.
The Islamic system, by tying the economy to the actual production of real goods and services that are distributed amongst the people, prevents the wealthy from amassing money through usury and hoarding. The Islamic system, by linking social privileges and positions with responsibilities to each other and to society as a whole prevents the elite from seeking to fulfill their every lavish or perverse desire. And the Islamic justice system, which holds that each person is equally accountable for their willful crimes while enabling mercy for those who are deserving of it, prevents the rich and powerful from being unaccountable.
It is entirely expected that India’s ruling elite will oppose Islam. This is a ruling elite who uses a mixture of outlandish mythology and unmasked bigotry to confuse and distract their people from the brutality of the Capitalist system through which they are exploiting them. They do not want people to remember the system of Islam which ruled the Indian subcontinent for centuries, making it a prosperous and tolerant society.
The Chinese regime is equally cruel to the Muslims, both the Hui Muslims across China, but especially the Uyghurs in East Turkestan, who have been fighting for independence from both Imperial China and the communist experiment since the 1800s. The Chinese Communist party, which has already effectively capitulated to the demands of global Capitalism after being unable to sustain its own system, insists on keeping the Uyghur people and their land for itself due to its interest in resource development and regional influence.
The Zionist state is of course nothing more than a colonial outpost, brutally maintaining its military presence in the region after being armed by the global superpower to protect American interests in the region.
It is also no surprise that the so-called “international community” has not come to any meaningful rescue of oppressed Muslims. The international community, in the form of the UN, World Bank, IMF is designed to maintain the global influence of the Capitalist nations. And global Capitalism recognizes that while it has eradicated and uprooted any other alternative to its socio-economic system, the one system that can still take root in the hearts and minds of vast portions of the world in resistance to Capitalism is the system of Islam. This is why this same international community carved up the Muslim lands into impotent and unstable nation states and continues to impose Western liberal Capitalism in the Muslim lands. The international community is not institutionally designed to help us.
In summary, we can expect the brutality of the disbelieving political leaders, and the indifference and hypocrisy of the international community. Protesting, campaigning and petitioning for the sake of the attention of these leaders and institutions is ultimately futile.
What is harder to grasp then, is who the Muslims can turn to. Who can we petition, and from whom can we expect aid for the oppressed across the Ummah?
A Bought Ruling Class
It is natural for Muslims to look upon the governments we see ruling the Muslim lands to intervene on behalf of the Indian and Kashmiri Muslims, the Uyghurs, and the people of Palestine. After all, when Muslims are in trouble, we are asked to rely upon those in authority:
“O believers! Obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority among you. Should you disagree on anything, then refer it to Allah and His Messenger, if you ˹truly˺ believe in Allah and the Last Day. This is the best and fairest resolution.” [TMQ 4:59]
And RasulAllah (saw) tells us:
“Only the Imam is a shield, behind whom you fight and you protect yourself with…” [Muslim]
The problem here is that the ruling elite we have in the Muslim world is not committed to implementing the system of Islam. They maintain their power by serving the interest of the ruling Capitalist elite and reserve their contempt and violence for the Muslims who demand to be ruled by the revelation of Allah (swt), and the example of His Messenger.
In fact, the Capitalist elite, and regional tyrants like India or China, would not be able to maintain their oppressive economies and brutal militaries without the support of these Muslim rulers.
India receives a large chunk of its global remittances from the Muslim world, in particular the Gulf countries. China is eager to expand its regional network of trade and influence through the the Belt and Road initiative but is surrounded in both land and sea by Muslim nations.
The Zionist state meets a large portion of its energy and construction needs via Turkey and is eager to build a gas pipeline with Turkey. And the Americans rely heavily on the Muslim countries like Pakistan, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to gather military intelligence, operate military bases, torture prisoners and provide fuel. They would be blind, speechless and immobile in the Muslim world without active collaboration from our collaborator rulers.
What this indicates is that the Muslim countries are not powerless victims at the hands of the global superpowers, rather the rulers of the Muslims lands are active participants in perpetuating Capitalist brutality. At the turn of a switch, these same rulers could cripple India’s economy, ground China’s regional ambitions, leave Israel scrambling for basic resources, and impede US hegemony, all without firing a single bullet.
Instead, we have the rulers in Pakistan denying the Uyghur genocide, and the Arab countries affirming China’s authority to do what it wants with its Muslim population. We have the rulers in Turkey, while condemning the US and Israel, using its armed forces to meet NATO goals in Syria, and forming energy agreements with the criminal Zionist state. And we have the Gulf countries normalizing relations with Israel as well.
It is changing this sellout ruling class that should be the focus of our anger and activism.
Channeling our Anger
We need to be serious about changing the condition of the Ummah. Our Beloved Messenger tells us:
“The parable of the believers in their affection, mercy, and compassion for each other is that of a body. When any limb aches, the whole body reacts with sleeplessness and fever.” [Bukhari and Muslim]
It is part of this seriousness to focus the limited time and energy we have in this life to that which is aligned with our goal.
It might be cathartic to write angry letters to secular politicians, or converging at the embassy of some disbelieving government, but if our goal is to have legitimate Islamic leadership that will meaningfully advocate on behalf of the Muslims, then let us focus on that. Instead of calling on the UN to condemn Modi or Xi, why not demand an Islamic leadership in the Muslim lands that will frustrate their economies and supply chains to the point where they will be forced to treat the Muslims better?
Instead of protesting in front of the Israeli embassy, why not work to create leadership in Turkey that will stop supplying the Zionists, and a leadership in Egypt that will lift its portion of the blockade to Gaza.
Ultimately, it is also part of this seriousness to recognize that while these steps are simple, they are by no means easy. It requires more than a cosmetic change in the Muslim world.
Rather it requires a radically different approach to ruling, one that is committed to uniting the Muslim lands under the rule of the Quran and Sunnah, as opposed to maintaining the pitiful statelets that the Ummah is currently divided into.
This will entail hardship, and a serious adjustment. But there is no other path to making the Ummah independent and fulfill our purpose of establishing the vision of Islam in our lands and spreading its light to all those who seek its guidance or protection all over the world.
“And so We have made you believers an upright community so that you may be witnesses over humanity and that the Messenger may be a witness over you.”