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The fourteenth tribe

2013-04-09
April 9, 2013

And I, stateless Cimmerian …

(“La Canzone Senza Nota”)

The tragedy of Caucasian Muslims in the West and suggestions for moving beyond their current lack of tribal identity

 

PRELUDE

As we are all perfectly aware, the Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, is alive by Allah’s Life.
He is concerned about each and every member of his ummah. Ummah is a supra-nation, a trans-nation, an arch-nation many nations related by blood, language and culture converge into. Every day, every moment he, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, is harīs, eagerly solicitous with regard to us all.
When a prayer of blessing is sent upon him, he comes to know the name of the Muslim who sent it as well as the name of his father.
We do not exist as isolated individuals.
We are part of family structures, tribal aggregates and national units.

It is indisputable that the Tunisian ar-Rassā` has regaled our Muhammadan nation with one of the very best works on love for him, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, through affectionate attachment to his, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, names.
At the beginning of that splendiferous book, he mentioned a real life event which occurred to another savant and gave him fresh impetus to finalize his authorial project on the elucidation of the meanings and secrets stored in his, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, multiple names.
Here is what he had to say on it:

“Part of what fortified my hope, answered my entreaty, Allah willing, rectified the facets of my intention which had become corrupted, acceded to my quest by the blessing of this Prophet, and rewarded me for my support of him [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam] which I resolved on providing, thereby inducing the listeners to increase their love for the master of the Messengers, implanting in them hankering for the attributes defining the beloved of the Lord of the worlds, and urging them to serve and support him [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam] at all times and regardless of circumstances, is what was mentioned by the blessed reader of this book, for whom success, properness and correctness from Allah is expectantly hoped:
Allah, glory to Him, made him stop his undertaking to read this book at the rightful time and place. After he had commenced reading it on a Friday, something prevented him from carrying on with that pursuit after he had performed the Jum`ah prayer. That contingent obstacle was the cause of his seeing the Messenger of Allah, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, who pointed him to something which Allah, glory to Him, willed him to be alerted to. He wills and we will not. Nothing comes to pass unless He wills it.
The said reader, may Allah the Exalted steer him to the right way, said in that regard:
The slave in dire need of his Master, hopeful of His pardon and mercy, the sharīf on his mother’s side Mansūr, known as-Sūs al-Arbasī, who teaches [Sahīh] al-Bukhārī by reading it out at the Zaytūnah Mosque in Tunis, the safeguarded city, says:
‘I was standing in prayer during the last third of the night of as-Sabt [= from dusk on Friday to dawn on Saturday]. We were in the month of Sha`bān of 881 AH. It was as if I was entering the Jāmi` Mosque, while the book of the mentor, jurist and virtuous owner of correct belief Abū ‘Abdillāh Muhammad ar-Rassā`, may Allah perpetuate his blessing, titled Tadhkirah al-Muhibbīn fī Asmā’ Sayyid al-Mursalīn, was in my hand. I was intending to read it in the Tawwābīn area, and while I was in the proximity of Bāb al-Bahw, one of the entrance doors of the building (= the Jāmi` Mosque), with the intention of walking inside it, a man pushed me from the back and said to me inquiringly, ‘Where do you want to go?’.
‘I want to read this book’, was my reply to him.
He then asked me, ‘Are you going to read it while the Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, is sitting here? He then pointed at him (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam), so I turned and lo! The Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, was sitting by the front part of the noble wing and was reading in it the book At-Targhīb wa at-Tarhīb [by al-Mundhirī]. The Companions, may Allah be pleased with them, dressed in white robes, were surrounding him, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam. On his (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam) head was a turban topped by a veil. He (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam) was clad in an ihrām, one extremity of which was hanging over his head while the other extremity was hanging over his right shoulder.
I came forward shyly, and he (Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam) indicated with his blessed hand that I should sit down. I then sat down in front of him.
When I was firmly seated he, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, said: “Here is the house, Allah willing.” I looked and lo! The toe of his right foot was bare and openly visible. I thus bent down to it and kissed it, moving backwards thereafter. When I was seated again, the Messenger of Allah, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam , instructed me: “Read.
I asked him. ‘Messenger of Allah, what should I read?’.
He said to me in reply: “Read the Qur’ān.” I inquired from him what exactly I should read from the Qur’ān, and he explained: “Read «[d]ark-eyed, secluded in cool pavilions. So which of your Lord’s blessings do you both then deny?» [Sūrah ar-Rahmān: 72-73]”. I accordingly read that, after which I kept quiet.
He then said to me: “Read.” Once more I asked, ‘Which passage should I read (now)?’.
He replied: “Read «Angels will enter in to welcome them from every gate: ‘Peace be upon you because of your steadfastness! How wonderful is the Ultimate Abode!’» [Sūrah ar-Ra`d: 23-24]”. I read that, and as I was through with it I (again) kept silent.
Messenger of Allah, what is the meaning of these āyāt?’, I inquired from him.
He answered me as follows: “As for the first pair of āyāt, its meaning is plainly manifest. The third one means that they (= the addressees of the glad tidings and invitation from the Angels) helped Allah, glory be to Him and may He be Exalted!”.
I said to him, ‘Messenger of Allah, in which way did they help Allah?’. “By lending support to His Dīn and defending His Law, by word, deed and a decisive tongue: That is part of helping the Dīn of Allah”, was his [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam] response.
He then pointed by his blessed hand to the aforesaid book (of ar-Rassā`), which he was holding. As soon as I had heard his last words, I had fallen into silence, so he [Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam] instructed me, “Read!”.
I began by reading the introduction of the book, and one of the people who were present at the scene hinted at me to face the qiblah. I conformed to courteous etiquette in the presence of the Messenger, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, lest I faced him sideways, so I turned slightly, whereupon he, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, said: “Allah the Exalted has said: «[A]nd make your houses a place of worship and establish salāt and give good news to the mu’minūn» [Sūrah Yūnus: 87]”, whereupon I read the introduction of the (said) book”.
I subsequently came to the following passage in the book I was reading from:
“The slave in need of his Lord, who acknowledges his deficiency and sinfulness and is fearfully apprehensive about His possible blame and censure, Muhammad b. Qāsim ar-Rassā`”, without mentioning his noun of ascription, whereupon he, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, asked me: “Where is his noun of ascription?”. I replied, ‘Messenger of Allah, it is not written here.’  
He said: “It has to be mentioned”, so he personally wrote it in.
I then read in his presence the introduction of the book and its prefatory address, and when I reached the author’s statement: “I have titled the work: The Reminder of the lovers concerning the names of the master of the Messengers”, reading after that the supplication immediately subsequent to that statement, the aforementioned person gestured to me with his hand that I should keep quiet, and so I did.
The Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, stood up, and once he did so I asked one of the men who were seated around who the person who gestured (to me) by his hand was.
The men I thus addressed replied, ‘He is az-Zubayr b. al-‘Awwām.’ He then said to me, ‘Do you know who is the man who pushed you back from entering the building?’. I replied in the negative, whereupon he said to me, ‘He is Shaykh Abū Muhammad al-Marjānī [A co-national of both the protagonist of the dream and ar-Rassā`, he was a Sufi and mufassir. Ar-Rassā` passed away in 894 AH. Al-Marjānī, born in Alexandria but with Tunisian origins, lived between 633 and 699 AH when he died in Tunis].’
I understood what that meant, and I was weeping. I immediately lighted the candle and checked whether the author’s noun of ascription (ism an-nisbah) was written down or not. I could not find it written in the book. By Allah, I did not remember whether prior to that it was included or not, but after that I inserted it in its right place”.

We could pause to highlight many a luminous truth from this true anecdote, such as his, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, mention of the fact that love for his person (symbolized by the “toe”, as the part is often used to mean the whole with potent expressive effect) was the real homeland, but we should not digress from our subject:
We are ascribed to some cohesive social group we belong to, and we should not ignore that ascription, that nisbah correlating us to a communal identity.

Allah says in His Book, addressing the whole of humankind, mu’minūn and kuffār:
«Mankind! We created you from a male and a female, and made you into peoples and tribes so that you might come to know each other» (Sūrah al-Hujurāt: 13).
Without having to fall into the insidious traps of exaggerated clannishness / populist partisanship and the ethnic discrimination it nurtures, and without at all undervaluing the dominant hierarchical criterion which is individual taqwā, the sad reality confronting us “Caucasians” living in West-dominated countries is that we have screened our hearts from submitting to the truth embedded in this noble Sign.
We have constructed no integrated social unit bonded by loyalty, group consciousness and the solidarity ethos which ramifies from it.
If we fail to gain our identity as tribe or people, we are unknown, tribes and nations disavow us, and we are incapable of beneficially knowing the “other”. Other vis-à-vis what?
Ta`ārafū in the āyah is a verb of mutual interaction (in the tafā`ul form) which presupposes (on two sides) self-knowledge and the capacity on that basis to know others.
Self-knowledge presupposes an interiorized and exteriorized identity which defines that particular self, and brings it into relief so that it can be set apart from many other selves it interfaces with.

Let us open a couple of books at random from my private library for the sake of a quick check-up:

1.    The Imām and majestic Shaykh Shamsud-Dīn Muhammad b. Abī Tālib al-Ansārī. He was born in Damascus, and was knows as Shaykh ar-Rabwah ad-Dimashqī. We thus know that he traced his lineage to the Madinan Helpers, was from Damascus, and actually took over the mantle of leader of teachers in ar-Rabwah, one of the individualized suburbs of Damascus.
2.    The superb hāfiz of hadīth, known as Ibn al-Qattān, ‘Abu’l-Hasan ‘Alī b. Muhammad b. ‘Abdi’l-Malik b. Yahyā b. Ibrāhīm b. Yahyā al-Kinānī al-Himyarī al-Fāsī al-Maghribī. We are given insight into several ancestors in his lineage, and we are told that he was associated with Banū Kinānah, had Yemeni ancestry tracing back to the forefather Himyar, and was a Moroccan specifically connected to his city of Fez.

When tribal membership was not based on direct blood ties, it ensued from clientage (al-Makhzūmī bi’l-walā’, we might for instance read). As a result of manumission, freedmen and their progeny became absorbed into a tribe (with all its solidarity structures, including access to communal land) via walā’.
Yahyā b. Sallām (124-200 AH), the excellent precursor of at-Tabarī and Ibn ‘Atiyyah in the art of clarifying the meanings of the Book by recourse to carefully sifted out exegetical statements transmitted from the vanguard of early commentators (He mastered that art by drinking knowledge from some 20 Followers): He was associated first with the city of al-Basrah (though born in al-Kūfah) and then with Ifrīqiyyah (Tunis and surroundings). He was at-Taymī by clientage (walā’), which traced him to the specific tribal clan of Taym Rabī`ah.
He was therefore a dependable pillar of sound tafsīr for all subsequent generations. In order for his talent as genial polymath to flourish, he needed supportive belonging to a supportive clan he was affiliated to and thus integral part of.
Muslims did not live as stray dogs, as loose creatures unrelated to an identifiable human aggregate they could draw patronage from.
The exception, rare as exceptions are by definition, were pariahs who generally took up the wild life of intrepid banditry, such as the rough-edged sa`ālīk of Jāhiliyyah or Umayyad Islam, some of whom composed fascinating poetry of unequaled eeriness (ash-Shanfarī, Ta’abbat Sharran, Tahmān b. ‘Amr al-Kilābī) amid unspeakable sadness and unhappiness.

 

 

A HOUSEHOLD’S AUTHENTIC NOBILITY
IS CONFINED TO ITS CHAMPIONING EMBODIMENTS OF GROUP CONSCIOUSNESS

“Clanism”, “tribalism” and “nationalism” all create “communitarism” whenever accompanied by group consciousness and social cohesion. Then ‘asabiyyah sprouts forth.
That impulse is intrinsic to the human species. Man is a social being innately.
‘Asabiyyah, which is the formative bond of human society and the basic motive force of history, is not a mere disjointed web of blood relations. As the cohesive mainstay of a human aggregate, its lifeblood, it stands for the underlining conscience that it possesses its own specificity and collective aspirations. It is the primal tension animating it.
Secular Germans nowadays have it, and so did the Umayyad rulers in Greater Syria. Correlation underpinned by sameness characterizes Bengali tradesmen settling in Western regions, as it propelled the steps of Spanish conquistadores in the Latin America of yonder.
It can be divorced from or mobilized in support of a dīn, more relevantly for us, the Dīn.   
We ceaselessly pray for the kinsmen, the identifiable Āl, of both Ibrāhīm, peace upon him, and Sayyidunā Muhammad, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam.

Muslim historians, unlike us displaced orphans in the West, were fully awake to that simple but profound universal truth.
Ibn al-Azraq, one of our greatest political scientists, said what follows [I am going to display his vision in point form for the sake of easier apprehension]:

•    ‘Asabiyyah originates solely out of mutual cohesion through blood lineage or what is akin to it.
•    The reason why ‘asabiyyah is established by lineage is due to the fact that, in the main, the natural propensity of blood kinship is for humans bonded by it to hasten to each other’s assistance, including by resort to weapons, so as to prevent harm or destruction from befalling any one of them.
•    When blood kinship is strong and deep cohesion results from it, the most effective incentive to reciprocal support is automatically created. Even when it is more distant, knowledge of that correlation is enough to urge kinsmen to protect each other, for the sake of escaping the social stigma of seeing oppression affecting relatives with impunity.
•    As for ‘asabiyyah through what is akin to common lineage, it stems from a relationship of clientage (walā’) or a pact of alliance [Clientage presupposes of course a network of associated freedmen, which is not subsistent in our age].
•    Pride, in fact, incentives the human self who witnesses the wronging of neighbours, close relatives or tribal kinsmen to intervene on their side and on their behalf.
•    Lineage gives rise to bonding cohesion, companionship, mutual support and natural (as opposed to unnatural) pride fostered by a sense of belonging and identity.
•    As the Prophet, Sallallāhu ‘alayhi wa-sallam, has declared: “Learn your lineages to the extent they help you keep ties with your blood relatives.”
•    Leadership is exercised over affiliates to a shared ‘asabiyyah on the basis of lineage.
•    The nobility of a household (named after the noblest ancestor) is authentically and literally applicable to affiliates to a shared ‘asabiyyah, and only metaphorically to others. When ‘asabiyyah, which is the benefit consequential on blood lineage, arises in a pure ancestral soil, the advantage it occasions is multiplied, and it is entrenched more firmly by tracing and listing the noblest forefathers within that genealogical continuum.

Ahmad b. Fāris (the great linguist, as quoted from Mu`jam Maqāyīs al-Lughah):
Qāf-Bā’-Lām
“This trilateral root has only one sound source-signification. All the words derived from it equally point to a thing facing something else, whereupon this source-signification ramifies into various interconnected semantic branches”.
A tribe, a qabīlah, has a face whereby it faces other communal faces.  
One semantic branch which is of concern to us:
“The qabā’il of a head are its sectional parts, between which matters run. Each such part is in fact turning forward to the other in mutual engagement, whence the appellation “tribes of the Arabs” (qabā’il al-‘Arab)”.

‘Ayn-Sād-Bā’  
“This trilateral root has only one sound source-signification, which denotes fastening something by something else of a circular or rounded shape. Different semantic branches then ramify from it, all ultimately traceable to a single analogy joining all of them.
For instance:
“The ‘asabah are the people related to a man by paternal or avuncular blood ties (= through his father or the descendants of his paternal uncle). It is also used to describe whatever rotates around a thing and surrounds it, so that the thing is tightly bound by it”.
As the said author mentions elsewhere, the twigs of a tree are tied so that its foliage can spread abundantly.
A gathering bond, which compresses so as to delineate a steady shape, is needed before subsequent expansion. You gather before you extend in multiple directions.   
‘Asabiyyah is the nerve-ligament of any consciously self-identifying group.

 


 

 

THE TRIBE THAT NEVER WAS:
CONTEMPORARY MUSLIMS OF RŪMĪ ORIGIN

If one looks at the Somali Muslims who have settled in South Africa, he will notice how in a matter of few decades they moved from sparse individuals who migrated to such uncharted territory, as solitary trailblazers, as advanced sentinels, to a very cohesive, largely self-functioning village. First established in Johannesburg, the village has now been reproduced in other key cities of that country.  
They marry a lot within their nation (a sha`b comprising various tribes in Qur’ānic terms), they do business, pray and remember Allah together, they interact regularly in nearby houses, cafeterias, shops and centers within the same district or a cluster of neighbouring areas, and communicate with one another in their mother tongue, thereby preserving a common culture alongside an integrating identity we can palpably experience when coming across them.
An inbred ‘asabiyyah they spontaneous prided themselves upon fused them into a vibrant component of the country’s multi-ethnic fabric, far more vibrant in that respect than the fragmented local Blacks.

Theirs is a genuine quality life in dunyā and Dīn alike.


In the West, we find three dominant layers:

•    The Muslims from traditional Islamic lands, with a well-embedded inherited ‘asabiyyah. They have been unfairly targeted for defending a pronounced separate identity, but that is no negative which can be held against them. If Muslims indigenous to the West lack their tribal homogeneity, they can only have themselves to blame. The additional lamentation voiced against them is that they do not embrace other tribes of Muslims residing in the same countries. That complaint is justified. Those Muslims from inherited Islamic backgrounds lost a wonderful chance to enhance their significance by concluding more or less formal alliances with other defined human aggregates; and many descendants of theirs, in their disorientation, have turned against such pronounced tribalism imported from distant fatherlands. However, which tribe of Western Muslims, with its identifiable face, could be probed by them as possible partner to strike an alliance with? What could mutuality of advantages be grounded upon?
•    The said disorientated offspring of Muslims who settled in the West from traditional Islamic lands. They have turned as we said against the well-trodden ancestral path, but have logically failed to set up a distinct functional tribe with the indigenous Western Muslims they associate with or marry into. The best of them are caught in no man’s land, and only affiliation to divisive ideological groups or fashionable teachers establish a sense of “tribal” belonging with the indigenous Western Muslims they prefer to get guidance from as close companions. The “shaykh” turns into a novel substitute for and equivalent to the noblest forefather of one’s household Ibn Khaldūn would have deemed to act as identifying bond. An ancestral founder of a formless global tribe within the increasingly alienating global village. A planetary face without distinguishable own lineaments. As for the worst exemplars from this second layer, they end up abandoning Islam as such, partly or altogether, along with their abandonment of cultural legacy.
•    The indigenous Western Muslims. They have dismally relinquished the task of begetting new tribes successfully bonded by common lineage, culture, language and shift from the darkness of kufr to the light of īmān. Yes, that shared existential journey from secularism to Islam does supply an important connective element. Beyond that, however, members of this layer have either disparaged the tribal impulses in Muslims from traditional lands, or have succumbed to the temptation of seeking a sense of belonging in organizational factions and charismatic figures: Futuwwah defined entirely by membership of a group, with its peculiar mottos, slogans, uniforms, style, rituals and celebratory events, held together by the ideological father. The hadrah as a kind of circular glue which fastens the existential gyrations of group members.

It is a conspicuous truth that adherence to a general ‘aqīdah (Ash`ariyyah, Ahl as-Sunnah etc) or a juristic school (Shāfi`ī or its like) does not provide the cementing bond which underpins a viable tribe and civilization. Each futuwwah club will automatically play down elements of supra-ideological togetherness (such as ethnic identity) in favour of all that fortifies the prominence of the distinctive badge which confers on it identity. Contrast and segregation naturally prevail.
No civilization has prospered on the basis of ideological bonds.
Only the knitting element of a shared lineage and all that comes with it is able to accomplish that.
At present, the same soundless note is played with an illusion of a luscious variegation of notes.
The crisis of identity is so marked that in social networks etc we are faced by the phenomenon of numberless European Muslims who eye us with the amorphous, undifferentiated faces of the same spiritual mentors or ubiquitous Palestinian flags.

Contrary to recent delusional myths, affiliation to a social unit stitched together by ties of kinship (subordinately by ties of clientage or formal alliance) is a strengthening factor. It is a plus, a positive which extends multifarious benefits and advantages.
Mercy, rahmah, lies at the basis of the womb, the rahim.
Allah has said that He has derived from His Name a name for the maternal womb.
The maternal womb is warm and warming. It is affectionate.
It is merciful.
A mother genuinely loves her children regardless.
She cares for them. She feeds, defends and assists them through thick and thin.
The ideological womb is cold.
Ideological bonding, and the affiliation it inspires, oscillates between frigidity and actual cruelty.
Communism can be as cruel as the spiritual ideologues who father the futuwwah clubs currently mushrooming among Western Muslims (precious as their role has hitherto been in offering an element of societal grounding as opposed to unmitigated dispersion).
They have a tendency to pit adepts against their families of origin and their tribal connections. Ideally, they isolate them from such uterine structures completely, so that those adepts are left without home or family other than the club and its head, close aides and agenda.  
A tribe, most of the times, will stretch its emphatic hands of support to the prodigal sons who previously turned against it and the values it embodied.
An ‘asabiyyah fastened by ideology is merciless.
If you distance yourself, it quickly disavows you and repudiates all ties with you. Castro’s gunmen hunted you down abroad, while ideological bands consign you to the inward death of indifference and ostracism.
Every ideology, be it socialist or “hānī”, will be natively hostile to solid family nuclei. Every ideology (including the secular State, with its institutional impersonality) is idealistic and insensitive to fitrah.
A natural tribe will avoid the sight of your devastation, were it not for the stigma society would otherwise clothe its members in, as Ibn al-Azraq pointedly observed: It will step in and assist.
You are still part of its circle in a substantial rather than an accidental sense.
Since we are instructed to imbue ourselves with Allah’s Attributes, we must stop undervaluing the realities which spring to life through stable uterine cross-lines.

 

 

Time has come to regain vital human space.
Portuguese Muslims, Ukrainian Muslims or Finnish Muslims must intentionally set about developing tribes (eventually integrated in a people) by marrying each other and cultivating a coagulating ‘asabiyyah centered around the conjunction of a) a common journey from kufr to Islam in the West, b) kinship fostered by direct blood ties, linguistic sameness, cultural affinity and so on. Better still if further consolidated by a shared madhhab, narrowly or broadly (e.g. a taste for the legacy of the Islamic West, specifically in the Mediterranean, which is a taste or inclination strongly ingrained in my being, for instance).
Bosnian Muslims living in Ireland, or Chilean Muslims residing in Austria, must deliberately aim at forming, nurturing, preserving and toughening a tribe, within the Irish or Austrian Muslim people respectively), one which grants them stable identity and cohesion to effectively impact on the human landscape around them, locally, nationally, continentally (where federations of local Muslim tribes and peoples can evolve) and internationally. Only then history in the making can cascade from us.
Tribal togetherness will result in self-pride and in proud accomplishments: Centers, awqāf, mutual solidarity schemes, creative solutions to the social upheavals of this age, etc. That will incidentally give birth, in instinctive and unconstrained ways, to leadership by gifted chieftains from within the tribe. They will be able to surface since there is a network of support and thus empowerment. They can then free their time, energies and talents for projects of collective upliftment. They are unable to do so if they are dependent on charitable grants from traditional Muslim tribes or are fenced in by precarious backing conditional on loyalty to an ideology, since it might at any time turn its back on them and make them despondent outcasts.

I met on the Net a woman who had embraced Islam from my paternal homeland, and whose sole dream was to relocate to Senegal and be ingurgitated by an external tribe, thereby laying to waste the seed she was carrying of an enriching new tribal identity: Islam of recent coinage + descent from a specific branch of the Rūm.
That attitude can no longer be countenanced.
Association with an established tribe through marriage is probably the closest one can now get to the former institution of clientage.
Though an adoptive association of that nature is not devoid of benefit, and it additionally tempers a widespread orphan-like sensation, it de facto assigns to Western Muslims the status of “mawālī” (freedmen) in their own countries. Besides, they are not absorbed into an acquired tribe. They are still viewed as strangers and not entitled, in particular not by right, to share in valued communal amenities belonging to the tribe.

 

 

Muslim savants (muhaddithūn, historians, genealogists, political scientists, anthropologists, litterateurs and so on) had no difficulty in grasping the semantic indication carried by the word Rūm, including in the famous Prophetic narrations about the faith-testing ordeals of the last cycle of time.
Apart from the narrower identification with Byzantines and tumbling Byzantium, the Rūm was for them an immediately intelligible term standing for the fair-skinned Caucasians inhabiting the lands north of the Abode of Islam.
In An-Nihāyah fī Gharīb al-Hadīth wa al-Athar, Ibn al-Athīr does not even bother to define it, since it was no anomalous word calling for extrinsic lexical aid. The African linguist Ibn Manzūr, in Lisān al-‘Arab, matter-of-factly referred to the Rūm as “a well-known human stock; the singular is called Rūmī. Their lineage is ultimately traced back to ‘Īsū, a son of Prophet Ishāq, peace upon him”.
Though I’m not in possession of first-hand scientific corroboration, I personally believe that the character of the source-ancestor must have left a critical imprint on his progeny.
There is a discernible common feature: The Caucasian people of Europe, the gringos etc, are very intelligent and fond of intellection, methodical and with an organized mind. They are very creative and innovative. They conceive far-reaching visions and plans. They have huge collective and individual aspirations. They are ambitious. They expand into new lands, they build empires, and they dazzle and mesmerize with their brilliance, so they attract both admired emulation and rancorous hatred. They are uncompromising in the pursuit of their goals. They can spread oppression, injustice and tyranny as nonchalantly as they export technical advancement. They are exploitative. They are self-centered (Eurocentric is a typical descriptive): They conquer territories as outsiders, but do not merge with the local population, unlike the Muslim armies of our blessed jihād in the past. They lay their hands on glittering gold, yet the gold they project themselves and their civilization to be is an artificial one which drives both them and their admirers insane, exactly as it is happening with the artificial money and wealth they have constructed.

We cannot however escape the ties linking us as Western Muslims to that ancestry.
Ours is not a self-deprecating trek to a Senegal by which we punish ourselves for the excesses of unenlightened descendants from that common genesis.
A discriminating element we can see again and again among “Caucasian” people who embrace Islam, Muslims of the Rūm, is a yearning for what the civilization they grew up in has rejected in the spectacular glow of its self-absorption: Revelation, spiritual afflatus, a Law that lays down clear parameters of behaviour to halt at, hence devotion to mercy and justice beside pure instrumental ability.
It is accordingly unfair, on the part of Muslims from traditional lands who have migrated away from Dār al-Islām while preserving tribal or national identity, to condemn these Muslims of the Rūm and the dominant inclination one perceives in them:
They are intellectuals, visionary thinkers, academics, analysts, who in their deep soul-searching have cast off the boundary-free imperial appetite gripping the rest of their race. They opted for Islam precisely because of that inner quest.
They cannot be demonized for the fact they are not part of the influential elite of that race, which naturally closes ranks in protection of its vested interests and way of life.
«We desired to show kindness to those who were oppressed in the land, to make them leaders, to make them inheritors and establish them firmly in the land» (Sūrah al-Qasas: 4-5).
They cannot be demonized for not being, generally, adroit traders or effectual organizers. The same contemplative spirit which spurred them onto adoption of the Dīn of truth makes them tilt towards the side of intellectualism.
Among us, however, we must start realizing who we are, where we come from, what are our strengths and weaknesses (so as to vigorously address the latter), and where we want to go, across the healthy route of a genuine ‘asabiyyah our Eastern brothers have always taken care to cultivate.
That way, moreover, the individuals outside Islam in our original families would be faced by a tangible human organism from their same stock.
The language and food in our homes, mosques, gathering sites, recreational centers etc must be those of the local Muslim Rūm.
If the nearest mosque in Amsterdam communicates in Turkish or Urdu, the constructive step is to put up another mosque which blends with the country and suits our indigenous tribe.
 
The peril for us, nay, the poison, comes precisely from the side of intellectual depth, due to our natural attraction for that domain.
A most valuable antidote is to come down to earth, the maternal supra-womb, and fertilize it by indigenous Islamic tribes; to talk less of the common language of Mātūrīdiyyah or Naqshabandiyyah, and more about unification through mother tongues.
Chieftainship is no mirage we need to seek out in distant lands or surrogate patriarchs.

 


 



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