The Republic of Rumi: A Novel of Reality
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The Republic of Rumi: a Novel of Reality

Chapter 23

Pillars of Nationhood


By Khurram Ali Shafique

There is no god except God, and Muhammad is His Messenger. This is the basic statement of Muslim faith, and Iqbal derives two pillars of Muslim nationhood from this:

    1. Unity of God (There is no god except God)
    2. Prophet-hood (and Muhammad is His Messenger)

The first pillar: Unity

The Mughal Emperor Alamgir is offering prayer in his camp. A tiger appears and attacks him. Rather than disrupting the prayer, Alamgir takes out his dagger and smites the beast.

“Fear of God is the only caption to faith whereas in every other fear there is the seed of contradiction and unbelief,” says Iqbal. “Whatever evil lurks within your heart can be traced back to fear. Since it is weakened when zeal is high, it is most happy in disunion.”

The second pillar: Prophet-hood

“The purpose of Muhammad’s mission was to found Freedom, Equality and Brotherhood among all human beings,” you are informed by an inscription nearby.

Brotherhood

The Arab army has overthrown the Persian Empire. Jaban, supreme commander of Persian armies, is captured by a Muslim foot soldier who doesn’t know him. Jaban obtains pardon for his life without telling him who he is. Superiors find out the truth and bring the matter before Bu Ubaydah, the commander of Arab armies.

“Friends, we are Muslims,” says Bu Ubaidah. “We are strings upon one lute and have a common melody. It is still the voice of the masters even if it comes out of the throats of slaves. A promise given by an individual is as good as treaty signed by the entire nation. O followers of the Holy Prophet, the blood of Jaban may not be spilled by any Muslim sword.”

Equality

Sultan Murad, the Ottoman emperor has found fault in the work of a mason who was assigned to build a mosque. In a fit of rage, he cuts the mason’s hand.

The poor man files suite and the king is summoned. The judge recites from the Quran: “There is life for you in retribution.” The emperor trembles, folds back his sleeve and takes out his hand to be cut off. The plaintiff is overcome with commotion and recites another verse from the Holy Book: “God bids you to act with generosity as well as justice.” Then he adds, “I forgive in the name of God and the Prophet.”

Freedom

Early Muslims chose their rulers through consensus but now a caliph has nominated his son, Yazid, to succeed him. He demands allegiance.

Husain, also known as Shabbir, is grandson of the Prophet and the son of Ali. With just seventy-two companions (including women and children) he sets out to take on the usurper but is ambushed in Kerbala, a place on the bank of the Euphrates in the Syrian Desert.

He is slain along with most of his companions but he has managed to draw out the sword of No-god and with its blade write on the sands of Time: “Except God.”

DISCUSS

  • How are the Unity of God and prophet-hood of Muhammad relevant to your quest for Joseph?
  • Kings were usually held in contempt in ‘The Secrets of the Self’. Why are they being presented here as heroes?
  • Is there a connection between “brotherhood” as defined here and the kind of power attributed earlier to Bu Ali Qalandar (Chapter 9)?

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The two “pillars” of Muslim nationhood are (1) Unity; and (2) Prophet-hood. The purpose of the Holy Prophet’s mission was to establish (a) equality; (b) brotherhood; and (c) freedom.
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