Question # 238: Assalam u Alaikum Wa Rehmatullahi Wa Barakatahu. How much below post true with regards to the ideology of nationalism. Is loving country not allowed in Islam. Are the below hadiths to be literally taken. It says: ‘Nationalism is a concept alien to Islam because nationalism calls for unity based on family and tribalistic ties, whereas Islam binds people together on the Aqeedah, that is belief in Allah (swt) and His Messenger (saaw). Islam calls for the ideological bond. Grouping the Muslims on tribalistic lines is clearly forbidden. It is narrated by Abu Da’wud that the Messenger of Allah (sallallahualaihi wassallam) said, “He is not one us who calls for Asabiyyah, (nationalism/tribalism) or who fights for Asabiyyah or who dies for Asabiyyah.” And in another Hadith, the Messenger of Allah (saaw) referring to nationalism, racism, and patriotism said: “Leave it, it is rotten.” [Muslim and Bukhari]’
Bismi-llahi r-raḥmani r-raḥīm,
Assalamu ‘laikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh,
All praise and thanks are due to Allah (سبحانه و تعالى), and peace and blessings be upon His Messenger (صلى الله عليه و سلم).
First of all, we implore Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) to help us serve His cause and render our work for His sake.
Shorter Answer: The general definition of patriotism refers to the emotional attachment to a nation which an individual recognizes as their homeland. Such an innate compassion and love that a Muslim feel towards his/her country or countrymen, is acceptable in Islam. However, if loving one’s country means a) supporting and overlooking its wrongs and defending its sins and aiding its aggression, b) feeling of pride and superiority to others based on one’s nationality leading to racism, or c) an ideology that goes against Islam teachings or Muslims unity as a nation all over the world leading to division among Muslims, then such nationalism is absolutely forbidden. In fact, loving one’s country by supporting its good qualities or ideals and striving to improve its negative ones, aiding one’s neighbors, and actively serving in various positive forums in one’s communities is absolutely warranted.
Long Answer: The general definition of patriotism refers to the emotional attachment to a nation which an individual recognizes as their homeland. This attachment also known as national feeling or national pride, can be viewed from different features relating to one’s own nation, like ethnic, cultural, political or historical aspects.
This part: “emotional attachment to a nation which an individual recognizes as their homeland”; in other words, an innate compassion and love that a Muslim feel towards his/her country or countrymen, is acceptable in Islam. Prophet Muhammad (صلى الله عليه و سلم) was born in Makkah, when he was expelled out of it, it is reported that Abdullah Az-Zuhri said: I saw the Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) while he was standing near Makkah and saying, “By Allah, verily, you are the best and most beloved land to Allah and had I not been driven away from you I would not have left you.” (Sunan At-Tirmidhi, graded: Sahih (authentic) according to At-Tirmidhi) In another hadith, once when the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) looked at the mountain Uhud, he said the following: “We love Uhud and Uhud loves us.” (Bukhari and Muslim). This shows the Prophet’s love for his dear land and its mountains and stones.
However, the following associated aspects are discouraged in Islam:
- National Pride emerging from superiority feeling in comparison to others based on one’s association to some nation or some race. This generates racism – In tribal societies, that was the norm, whereby people used to boast of their identification based on their own tribes, which led to battles/wars in name of tribalism. The same situation can be applied to countries, where people boast about being from one country and brag about their superiority over others. The most important point in Islam is this attachment should not lead to racism.
- The argument over nationalism in Islam takes place when it is defined as the political ideology that goes against Islam teachings or Muslims unity as a nation all over the world. The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “The example 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.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim) So, if a Muslim living in Country ‘A’ and some Muslims are going through turmoil in Country ‘B’, the Muslim in Country ‘A’ should be concerned with the sufferings of Muslims in Country ‘B’. However, if the so-called “nationalism” leads to division among Muslims, this is not supported in Islam. Otherwise, Muslims will be standing against one another like tribes of Jahiliyah. The following ahadith explicitly explain this aspect:
- Jubair ibn Mut’im (رضي الله عنه) reported: The Messenger of Allah (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said, “He is not one of us who calls to tribalism. He is not one of us who fights for the sake of tribalism. He is not one of us who dies following the way of tribalism.” (Sunan Abi Dawud, Grade: Sahih (authentic) according to As-Suyuti)
- Abu Huraira (رضي الله عنه) narrated that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “Whosoever fights under the banner of the blind, becoming angry for partisanship (‘asabiyahe., tribal-ship), calling towards it, or supporting it and then dies, he dies a death of (one in) the Days of Ignorance (Jahiliyah).” (Sahih Muslim)
- Lastly, if one turns a blind-eye to injustice and wrong committed by a government because of one’s origins or nationality, that is a great sin and this as well is not supported in Islam. Hence, supporting one’s countrymen in their mischief and oppression, is considered to be the call and enthusiasm of pre-Islam paganism, in which some threatening texts have been narrated:
- In a long hadith, narrated Al-Harith Al-Ash’ari (رضي الله عنه) that the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “…And whoever calls for the enthusiasm of the pre-Islam paganism, he will be fuel to Hell-fire”, they said: “Even if he keeps on his prayers and fasting?”, he said: “Even if he keeps on his prayers and fasting and claims that he is a Muslim” …” (Jami` at-Tirmidhi, Graded Sahih)
- Masrouq quoted Abdullah who said: The Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: “He is not one of us who slaps his cheeks, or tear apart his garments, or call for the enthusiasm of the pre-Islam paganism” (Reported by Muslim)
In fact, Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) says in the Qur’an: “O mankind! Lo! We have created you male and female, and have made you nations and tribes that ye may know one another. Lo! the noblest of you, in the sight of Allah, is the best in conduct. Lo! Allah is Knower, Aware.” (Soorah Al-Hujurat, 49:13) We believe we are created nations and tribes. But, boasting about it and being racist based on it, causing this to divide people, should not be the case.
Ibn Taymiyyah said: “Everything that is foreign to the call of Islam and the Qur’an, with regards to lineage, land, nationality, schools of thoughts and methodologies, then that is from the calls of the Days of Ignorance (jahiliyah). Once the Muhajireen and the Ansar argued, such that one of the Muhajireen said: ‘O Muhajireen!’ (meaning, come to assist me) And one of the Ansar said: ‘O Ansar!’ Upon hearing this, the Prophet (صلى الله عليه و سلم) said: ‘Is it with the calls of Jahiliyah that you cry out, while l am still amongst you?!’ (Reported by Al-Bukhari) And he became very angry at that.” (Majmoo’-ul-Fatawa)
So, in the end, it comes down to interpretation. if loving and defending one’s country means supporting and overlooking its wrongs and defending its sins and aiding its aggression, feeling superiority to others based on one’s nationality, or reactions/non-reactions leading to division among Muslims then this is absolutely forbidden in Islam. But if loving and defending one’s country means supporting its good qualities or ideals and striving to improve its negative ones, aiding one’s neighbors, and actively serving in various positive forums in one’s communities, then this kind of patriotism is warranted and, in at least some aspects, required of all of us.
(Most part of the above reply is based on various articles from the internet and fatwa by AMJA Permanent Fatwa Committee)
Allahu A’lam (Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) knows best) and all Perfections belong to Allah, and all mistakes belong to me alone. May Allah (سبحانه و تعالى) forgive me, Ameen.