The House of David

"dawnbreak in the west"

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Patriotism is racist

By the time Islam crystallised, the antique national states were so dead they weren't even a conceptual memory anymore. I do think that an Egypt, say, once existed; but its heirs the Copts were not going to rise again. At least not successfully.

In the Islamic newspeak, there were races, and there were religions (called millets: Lewis, 38); but these had no sovereignty, and therefore their political expression had no Divine approval. If Africans (say) revolted, they deserved the sword, or the whip in the case of subsaharans. The only way the Ottomans could even conceive of, say, the Queen of England was to hail her as shaykha and hakama of the Nazarenes first, queen of the English wilaya second (p. 39). Islam could coexist (temporarily!) with a Christendom, but not with an England.

For a Muslim court, Islamic regions of independent sovereignty were a step above Elizabeth's Pirate Island. They still weren't accepted as nation-states, but they could be dealt with as "kingdoms" (mamlaka) for as long as their kings could resist invasion. (False kings were mutamallik: p. 98.)

When European nationalism came to the near East, old words were pressed into uneasy service. At that point the poetic watan, formerly a birthplace, became the patriotic Homeland (pp. 40-1, 64).

posted by Zimri on 13:52 | link | 0 comments

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