“United we Stand, Divided we Fall”: A Winning Solution for Peace through Justice
by Dr. Robert D. Crane
The Prophet, salla Allahu ‘alayhi wa sallam, cautioned us to remember his words: “It is easy to break a single twig but difficult when it is bundled with others.” The same is true of people. Divided they are weak and vulnerable; united they are strong and unassailable. This is why the ethnic and religious groups in the Fertile Crescent of the Middle East should respect their differences and unite in a federation or confederation or similar alliance with a common purpose. This is also why the Shi’a of Lebanon and the Sunnis of Palestine must never forget that together they and they alone hold the keys to the formation of a federation of persons and peoples, including practicing Jews and Christians, in the Holy Land.
The Shi’a, Kurdish, and Sunni nations in the Fertile Crescent deserve independence as states, as do all nations that have a common sense of their history, common values for the present, and common hopes for the future. This was the definition of a nation by the renowned French philosopher (and most of his life a secret Muslim), Rene Guenon, sixty years ago.
Big size does not make for great strength, nor does small size make for weakness. False nationalism that looks inwardly in solipsistic egotism, rather than outwardly in solidarity, i.e., introvertedly rather than extrovertedly, makes for weakness. True nationalism, which is a sense of community based on the sacredness of the individual person under the sovereignty of God, is the beginning and cornerstone of strength.
The Europeans knew that the great Islamic civilization was already moribund because the focus of the intellectuals, what few still existed outside the Sufi orders, had lost this sense of solidarity in submission to Allah. They focused on the externals in an obsession for survival, rather than with a mission as khulafa’a Allahi to bring justice to the world. And the Sufis generally preferred to remain hidden in order to protect themselves from their fellow Muslims.
Given these sad facts, the European colonialists saw that it would be easy to conquer the entire Muslim world by dividing Muslims up into little states or by packing them together in artificial states so that they would fight each other rather than the occupiers. How could the colonialists lose. They did not. They won.
The chaos in Iraq comes from seeking stability through imposition of the status quo, especially through foreign conquest, with all of its injustices. Belief in stability as an ultimate value or goal is always self-defeating, just as is the pursuit of material power, because by themselves both are false gods. In the creed of the Shi’a five ultimate values or goals have been elevated to the status of essential beliefs. The first of the five is loving awareness of Allah. The second is justice based on truth, which derives from the first.
The five elements, goals, or ultimate principles can best be understood and carried into practice through a set of procedures in a holistic process. One task of this subordinate process is to apply the principle of subsidiarity not only to political power but to economic power through the decentralization of ownership in productive wealth, while respecting the property rights of already vested private ownership.
Subsidiarity is a core principle in the moral theology of justice. In this paradigm of thought the ultimate authority does not begin in the sovereignty of the state but in the sacredness of each human person in submission to the sovereignty of God. God is at the top of the chain of authority, followed at the next lower level by the individual person, and then in successive lower levels by the family, community, and nation. This inverts the standard paradigm where the state is at the apex in the chain of command and persons are at the bottom. In solving problems one starts at the top in the pluralist universe created by God and moves down the chain only as cooperation in community is needed to achieve results, with appeal to the state with its monopoly in the power of coercion only as a last resort. This minimizes the role and power of centralized government and maximizes the role of individual persons and communities.
This accords with the idea that sometimes “small is beautiful.” If smallness of political size were ipso facto bad, then we better start eliminating Switzerland, Belgium, Denmark (some now advocate this), the Netherlands, Portugal, and a bunch of countries in Central America and Africa. Perhaps even England is too small, compared with the United States, though the English did figure out eventually how to unite the “British” isles into a United Kingdom, and then become a fifty-first state of its upstart progeny in America.
Based on the conviction that big is better, the materialist mindset of Western secularists, who do not regard anything as sacred, especially if it gets in the way of pursuing physical power, has been absorbed by the victims of imperialism. It is time to reintroduce the core of all the world religions, which is awareness of the sacredness of every individual person and of everything that God has created, directly or indirectly, including nations and religions, as legitimate manifestations of Al Haqq, a wonderful Qur’anic term that means simultaneously God, truth, and human rights. This is a central teaching in the revelation of the Qur’an, so we should not deny it by buying into the polytheism of materialists who want to create one world order by eliminating nations in order to atomize humanity under their own polytheistic pseudo-sovereignty into a meaningless glob.
The secret to power in Iraq is independence for the three basic nations in a confederation, and within each one autonomy of any component parts in a federation. Many leaders in Iraq, both “religious” and “secular,” have argued that the beginning of solidarity should be privatization of the oil in the Fertile Crescent in equal shares of voting stock to every citizen of this region, with ownership in perpetuity and an equal share to be issued for every baby at birth. Decentralization of economic power produces decentralization of political power, just as centralization of ownership produces tyranny. If every person in the Fertile Crescent had an equal share in its principal natural resource, every one would have a stake in the political confederation that made this possible.
This proposal did not survive vetting by the occupying power in Iraq, even though it has been thoroughly studied by professionals in America, including the Hoover Institution’s Charles Wolf, who published his findings in his Wall Street Journal article of November 23rd, 2005, “Shareholders Don’t Shoot Each Other.” Wolf is Senior Economic Adviser and Corporate Fellow in International Economics at one of the half dozen most prestigious think-tanks in the world. A detailed presentation by the Center for Economic and Social Justice is available online at http://www.cesj.org/thirdway/paradigmpapers/iraq-nationbuilding.htm .
The secret to power in the Holy Land that joins three continents and over most of the last five thousand years has provided the fulcrum for inter-civilizational enrichment is solidarity among Muslims. Their leadership in an ideologically bankrupt world is the only way to introduce both economic and political self-determination as the practical essence of justice, so that all the persons and peoples who live in this pivotal region can enjoy the human rights designed by God.
America could and still can help the Muslims, Christians, and Jews build this New Middle East. But, first the academicians, think-tankers, and policy advisers in Washington must learn from the Muslims that freedom and democracy can have meaning only to the extent that they serve not as ends in themselves but merely as means to justice. President Bush has never even mentioned justice except as a synonym for vengeance. For the vast majority of the six billion people in the world, freedom and justice no longer have any meaning except as mimetic weapons for imperial conquest.
Justice is the missing dimension in American foreign policy. The pursuit of justice is the only effective means to undermine resort by the materially weak to terrorism. The commitment to justice is also the only means to combat the terroristic counter-terrorism of the materially strong, which gives rise to the vicious and escalating cycle of mutual self-destruction.
The fraud that almost all the peoples of the world perceive in Washington’s calls for freedom and democracy consists in the failure to see them as essential means to justice. Separating freedom and democracy from justice by pursuing these means as independent goals elevates them above justice and denies their higher purpose. This, in turn, ignores the essential teaching of every one of the great world religions and denies the validity of all divine revelation since the beginning of humankind.
During the height of the classical Islamic civilization, centuries of the best minds in history developed a set of universal human responsibilities and rights known as the maqasid al shari’ah or essential and universal goals of jurisprudence. Although the formulation of these goals is flexible, they all start with the maqsud known as haqq al din or acknowledgement of God as the ultimate source of truth and authority. The other six can be divided into three sets of two. Each of them sets forth a primary principle of responsibility and a subsidiary set of objectives, the observance of which effectuates a corresponding human right.
The first set consists of haqq al nafs, which is the duty to respect the sacredness of the human person, and haqq al nasl, which is the duty to respect the nuclear family and human community at every level all the way to the community of humankind. The second set is haqq al mal, or the duty to respect and universalize access to private property, and haqq al hurriya, which is the duty to respect and implement institutions that make possible the political freedom of self-determination. The last set is haqq al karama, which is the duty to respect human rights, including religious freedom and gender equity, and haqq al ‘ilm, which is the duty to respect knowledge, with its subsidiary set of objectives embodied in freedom of thought, speech and assembly.
Justice is considered to be the Will of God as best humans can understand it with the help of divine revelation (wahy) and natural law (Sunnatu Allahi) These maqasid in combination may be considered to define the meaning of justice in classical Islamic thought and in the creed of those who follow the Shi’i path. The Muslims, Christians, and Jews residing in the geographical pivot and spiritual center of the world now have the opportunity through a strategy of hudna to build a model of justice for the future of humankind.
The Muslims especially are obligated, because divine revelation commands them to do so:
“Oh you who have attained to faith! Be ever steadfast in your devotion to God, bearing witness to the truth in all equity; and never let hatred of anyone lead you into the sin of deviating from justice. Be just: this is closest to being God-conscious. And remain conscious of God: verily, God is aware of all that you do.” Surah al Ma’ida 5:8
Nowhere is this more succinctly expressed than in the sixth surah of the Qur’an:
“The Message of your Lord is completed and perfected in truth and in justice,” Surah al An’am 6:115.
This is the source, essence, and purpose of every kind of jihad:
“Strive with it (divine revelation) in a Great Jihad,” Surah al Furqan 25:52 (this third jihad, the intellectual jihad, is the only one mentioned in the Qur’an).
Reliance on divine help is the greatest source of power and dwarfs the arrogant pretensions of the pharoah:
“Say: ‘Oh Allah! Lord of Power, You give power to whom You please, and You strip off power from whom You please. You endow with honor whom You please, and You bring low whom You please. In Your hand is all Good. Verily, over all things You have power” Surah Ali Imran, 3:26.
“Allah creates what He wills. When He has decreed a plan, He but says, ‘be’, and it is.” Surah Ali Imran 3:47, also Surah al Nahl, 16:40, and Miryam 19:35, “Kun, fa yakun.”