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Price 1 Kelsey Price Zackery Heern Trends in Modern Islam MID E 4148 Research Paper November 24 2010


In the most simple, raw context, pan-Islamism is merely of a form nationalism that is more religion-centric than most movements. Such nationalism can be summarized in the belief that “humanity is naturally divided into nations, that nations are known by certain characteristics which can be ascertained, and the only legitimate type of government is self-government� (Kedourie, 1). Despite that pan-Islamism is deeply rooted in Islamic beliefs, the true movement is a statement on the social, economic and political state of the Arab world than any theological movements. Indeed, although pan-Islamism was, to an extent, founded on the ideal of an Islamic state and the mujahid movement, its purpose and function is considerably comparable to various counterpart nationalist movements in Europe during the same time period. Thus, it becomes necessary to examine the differences between European nationalism and pan-Islamism and how such differences led to a more prominent fundamentalist movement in the Middle East when compared to that of Europe. Nationalism, and to a large extent, pan-Islamism can be defined in numerous ways. On one hand, nationalism can be understood as the attitude that the members of a nation have when they care about their national identity, and the actions that the members of a nation take when

Price 2 seeking to achieve or maintain self-determination (Miscevic). However, such a definition of nationalism is limited because it fails to preclude notions of a nation-less state or what, under such terms, constitutes a nation. Forms of nationalism, especially pan-Islamism raises questions regarding the concept of what is a nation or national identity, which in such a context can be understood as common origin, ethnicity or cultural ties. Pan-Islamism in particular further begs the question as to whether self-determination, under the larger category of nationalism, must be analyzed within the context as to whether full statehood with complete authority over domestic and international affairs, or something less is required (Miscevic). However, within the 19th century, the self-determination aspect of pan-Islamism can be understood of freedom from imperialistic powers such as Britain. Pan-Islamism is largely rooted in the need in the Islamic revival that began in the early 18th century. Early movements led by Mohammad ibn Abdul Wahhab, Syed Ahmad Barelvi and Vahid Bihbihani all emphasized the belief that socio-moral revival of Islamic society required political action and jihad (Hasan, 1074). Later such movements were expended upon by others such as Syed Ahmed Khan and Ahmed Urabi who then used such beliefs to defend the Islamic world from the polemical and hostile imperialism of the West in the 19th and 20th centuries. Nationalism also arose in Europe during the 19th century in part due to perceived aggression by empires. In Prussia the catalyst of new-found nationalism can be attributed to the Napoleonic occupation and the wars of liberation (Berdahl, 69). Other nationalist efforts during the time can also be attributed to perceived imperialistic threats, such as the Italian unification movement during the mid-19th century. It should be further noted that during the fundamentalist 20th century pan-Islamist movement that al-Banna attributed the development of pan-Islamism to European imperialism.

Price 3 According to al-Banna, this awakening of nationalism among the Muslim people is the result of the destruction of the Islamic umma by the Europeans. Al-Bana wrote Although [European colonisation of the Muslim world] led to the development of local nationalism, with each nation demanding its right to freedom as an independent entity, and while many of those who worked for this revival purposely ignored the idea of unity, nevertheless the outcome of these steps will be, without a doubt, consolidation and resurrection of the Islamic empire as a unified state embracing the scattered peoples of the Islamic world and bearing its message. There is no nation in the world held together by same kind of linguistic unity, joint participation in material and spiritual interests, and similarity of suffering and hope that hold the Muslims together (Al-Banna, 24). German nationalism and pan-Islamism are similar in that, historically, both movements lacked formal boundaries. Pan-Islamism lacked borders because empires boundaries and regimes were refined numerous times over the past 500 years, making it difficult to establish any formal political or natural borders. As with the pan-Islamism movement, German nationalism was also faced with the difficulty of establishment a movement without natural borders and political boundaries that have changed constantly over time (Polhsander, 23). The debate over what constitutes a German was rampant in the 19th century. National identity in this case could not be established by language, as the Swiss spoke German but identified themselves as a nation of their own. Furthermore, the numerous German states were comparable to the multiple nations and empires in the Islam world, varied and difficult to unite under one language or ethnic identity. After all, there were Danes in Schleswig-Holstein, Poles in West Prussia and Masurians in East Prussia (Pohlsander. 23). Similarly, throughout the Islamic world, there were Turks, Indians, Arabs and Persians窶馬one of which who could be united into one singular ethnic identity. Indeed, nationalism in an European sense and nationalism in a pan-Islamism sense both grew in a place and time where ethnographic and

Price 4 political borders did not necessarily coincide or exist. The should be considered “in terms of becoming rather than being” (Polhsander, 24). The rise of pan-Islamism as well as European nationalism, in particular German nationalism, during the 19th century can be paralleled to the ever-changing political world order and structure cause by rapid imperialist expansion (Keddie). According to the American Historical Review, “It would appear, indeed, that Pan-Islamism has always had either behind it or paralleling it the imperalistic policy of some European power whose aims and interests at the moment seemed to coincide with those of Islam or of some Moslem potentate” (Lee). Furthermore, Addresses to the German Nation, a founding work in German nationalism scholarship, was a response to French imperialism and their occupation of Berlin in the early 19th century. German nationalism and pan-Islamism were both defined by self-determination from imperialist powers. Johanna Fitche wrote Whatever has lost its independence has at the same time lost its power to influence the course of events and to determine these events by its own will. If it remains in this state its age, and itself with the age, are conditioned in their development by that alien power which governs its fate. From now onwards it has no longer any time of its own, but counts its years by the events and epochs of alien nations and kingdoms. From this state, in which all its past world is removed from its independent influence and in its present world only the merit of obedience remains to it, it could raise itself only on condition that a new world should arise for it. The creation of which would begin, and its development fill, a new epoch of its own in history. But, since it has once fallen under alien power, this new world must be so constituted that it remains unperceived by that power, that it does not in any way arouse its jealousy; nay more, that the alien power itself is induced by its own interest to put no obstacle in the way of the formation of such a world. Now if, for a race which has lost its former self, its former age and world, such a world should be created as the means of producing a new self and a new age, a thorough interpretation of such a possible age would have to give an account of the world thus created (Fitche, 2-3).

Price 5 Fitche’s thoughts on independence are similar to those of Jamal ad-Din Al-Afghani. In his first recorded speech Afghani argued in favor of the creation of the Islamic nation or milla through the borrowing of methods from Western and European culture and through revivalism of the golden age of Islam (Keddie, 22). However Afghani, put considerable more emphasis on religion than Fitche. As a whole, both philosophers emphasized independence and language. Afghani in particular wrote on the importance of language stating In the human world the ties that have been extensive … have been two. One is unity of language which nationality and national unity consists and the other is religion. There is no doubt that the unity of language is more durable for survival and permanence in this world than unity of religion since it does not change in a short time in contrast to the latter. We see that a single people with one language in the course of a thousand years changes its religion two or three times without its nationality, which consists of unity of language, being destroyed. One may say that the ties and the unity that arise from the unity of language have more influence than religious ties in most affairs of the world (Keddie, 23). Islam is such a prominent feature in pan-Islam in comparison to other political nationalist movements in the 19th century primarily on the basis of philosophers, such as Afghani, and their abilities to use religion as a political movement. Although by definition, nationalism is not an ideology, but rather offers a form of representation through he joining of state, territoriality and culturally. Islam is an ideal ideology on which to gain such joining of territory of culture. Religion, more specifically, Islam, “offers an institutionally specific way to organize this modem form of collective representation, how a collectivity represents itself to itself, the symbols, signs, and practices through which it is and knows itself to be. Religious nationalism is only a viable option when the collectivity has a religious basis in common” (Friedland, 138). It should be noted that the pan-Islamism movement did not gain significant strength in countries such as Iraq that are divided between Shi’ia and Sunni groups.

Price 6 Other prominent Muslims further emphasized the importance of Islam in the Muslim community. In Muhammad Rashid Rida’s earliest writings at the end of the 19th century he argued religion, was not responsible for the Muslims' state of political and territorial affairs (Haddad, 254). He blamed, instead, the temporal and religious leaders of the Muslims-the umarad and the Culama—as well as European rule. Rida further emphasized the role of the Culamd in magnifying the differences between different Muslim sects and schools of law, which, as a result, made it difficult for Muslims to execute Islamic law over their European rulers. Rida further believed that until the Islam community could use modern technology and science, the West would continue to dominate them militarily and politically. Muslim nations must unite under one government and religion in order to compete with the West (Agostan and Masters, 484). Rida’s call for Islamic reform was not unlike the calls for German unification in the 19th century. Within Rida’s proposal, he suggested “This reform is consistent with the creation of an Islamic society, under the auspices of the caliph, which will have a branch in every Islamic land. Its greatest branch should be in Mecca, city all over the world and where they fraternize at its holy sites” (Rida, 766). Rida’s caliphate reform proposal is similar to proposals of German unification in the late 19th century. They differ in that Rida lacked popular state support for his caliphate reform, where as the creation of the new German imperial office in 1971 was viewed a necessity to stop Austria and French aggression. Problems that arose for both pan-Islamism and German nationalism during the 19th century included multi-ethnicity as well as multiple languages in the region as to which the movements were confined to. For example, in the debates at Frankfurt in 1848 Joseph Maria von

Price 7 Radowitz pointed out that the territorial boundaries of Germany were being endangered by “our conception of the national principle.� Limiting nationalism to language, he warned, had cost Germany a part of Posen; it had led the Czechs to seek autonomy in Bohemia, the Italians to demand a segment of the Tyrol, and it had put the future of Schleswig in doubt (Berdahl, 69). Such questions over language and ethnicity also plagued pan-Islamism, particularly panIslamism in India and Iran. Pan-Islamism often came into conflict with the nationalist movements rising in the region at the same time. In India, for example, pan-Islamism could be seen in direct conflict with Indian nationalism, primarily because pan-Islamism in the 19th century, by the very nature of the movement, excluded non-Muslim communities. However, India had a large Hindi population, making it difficult for India as a whole to develop a strong national identity under British rule. Afghani sought to overcome such limitations by proposing that a religious identity did not exclude national links with other faiths. In India, Afghani specifically demanded Indian Muslims make common cause with the Hindus in what pertained to national interests (Hassan, 1076). Indeed, by calling for Hindi-Muslim unification, Afghani sought to eliminate the division between nationalism and pan-Islamism, though his efforts were not necessarily effective. His efforts, however, did manage to address the limitations of national identity under the appeal to an effective basis for solidarity against the foreigner, whereas such limitations were never addressed in German nationalism during the 19th century and later would be a contributing factor to Germany’s basis for invading Poland and Austria. Language was often a limitation in both pan-Islamism and German nationalism, although for contrasting reasons. In Germany, as Radowitz illustrated, language and ethnicity did not always align for purposes of political boundaries. In Switzerland, German was spoken, but the

Price 8 Swiss were clear not German nationalists by any definition or means. Indeed, it could be considered that a significant number of non-Germans spoke German, and such language limitations would resurface in the 20th century during World War II. In the Islamic world, however, a difference language problem exists. Not all Muslims spoke Arabic. As a result, many 19th century reformers of the pan-Islamism movement began supporting Arabic revivalism as well. Consider the efforts of Syrian Sheikh Tahir al-Jaza'iri (in 1870s and 1880s. Al-Jaza'iri, believed the most effective way to unite a people was by educating them concurrently in "the culture of modernity and the culture of religion.� He convinced Midhat Pasha, the governor (vali) of the province of Damascus and one of the well-known TurkishOttoman bureaucrat reformers, to make Arabic the language of instruction in the new state schools. However when Al-Jaza’iri and his followers were replaced in 1885, Sultan Abdulhamid ordered that Turkish be used instead, which limited the ability of different language groups to unite under a singular, Islamic empire (Haddad, 202). Although, in essence, pan-Islamism is merely of a form nationalism that is more religioncentric than most movements, it differs form other nationalist movements in the 19th century, particularly German in how it addresses divisions and differences in defining national identity. Both movements largely grew out of response to French and British imperialism, but German national identity was defined heavily by language whereby pan-Islamism put considerable more emphasis on religion. Pan-Islamism and its mujahid movement had a purpose and function comparable to various counterpart nationalist movements in Europe during the same time period, but were ineffective in their ability to achieve unity because of the language and ethnicity differences that were to difficult to overcome. Pan-Islamism was more effective in uniting a larger population than smaller European nationalist movements, but faced more difficulties in

Price 9 overcoming language, ethnic and cultural differences. In this regard, German unification was considerably more effective the pan-Islamism in the 19th century.


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Pohlsander, Hans A. National Monuments and Nationalism in 19th Century Germany. Oxford: Peter Lang, 2008. Print. Rida. "al-Islah al-dini," pt. 1, al-Mandr 1 (1898): 766. Wendell (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1975), 13-39.

19 Century Nationalism: The Rise of European Nationalism and Pan-Islamism  

Paper examining the differences between European nationalism and pan-Islamism and how such differences led to a more prominent fundamentalis...

19 Century Nationalism: The Rise of European Nationalism and Pan-Islamism  

Paper examining the differences between European nationalism and pan-Islamism and how such differences led to a more prominent fundamentalis...