ISLAMIC UNION, OUR AGE AND PROPOSALS
1. DEFINITION, SCOPE, CONTENT AND RUDIMENTS
Islamic union (İttihad-ı İslam); means from the smallest to the biggest, the simplest to the most complex, the lowest level to the highest; the Muslims uniting, assisting each other, being in cooperation and consultation and as a collective body towards enemy. The meeting of three Muslims or the whole Islam world (inshaAllah) being united and unified may both be regarded as Islamic Union.
Islamic Union is the unity of hearts, opinions, forms; it is the ideal of obtaining a unity of forms by the unity of hearts being transformed into the unity of opinions. Muslims can never survive without being independent and free, and the condition of independence is union, getting rid of contempt, by itself, requires unity. Being in union, protecting, establishing and attaining unity mean besides being in the command of Koran and Sunnah, obeying historical, geographical and sociological rules, in other words the rules of the world.
Predominantly, Islamic Union is the idea and action of solidarity. Unity, by all means is realized by helping, sharing, consulting solidarity and understanding. It means faithful people undertaking responsibilities, obligations and problems together. Facing consequences, pain and suffering together is on the basis of sharing what is obtained. Unity has an expansion which can enlarge from two Muslims helping each other, from small communities to races, cities to countries. It involves cooperation and association from small to big, individual to society, society to state.
While mentioning this ideal, it is not right only to mention bringing together all Muslims on earth under one government, nor does that fit reality. Ideals are achieved step by step. However it will not be meaningful for one to look at the horizon if they cannot go beyond one simple barrier. Action must be taken with the awareness that ‘the biggest target is in the closest and smallest circle, and the smallest target is in the largest and most remote one’. Of course Islamic Union is a major ideal, it is in the biggest circle but this happens gradually and step by step completes itself.
It surely is not easy to establish this ideal. However right, powerful, or even blessed it may be, if belief, self-sacrifice, determination and patience do not exist; knowledge, consciousness and contemplation are inadequate; necessities of actual and real are neglected, if all these do not transform into action, struggle and effort, it is not even possible. We are discussing the angle of knowledge and contemplation, reminding the ideal, warning against the danger, searching ways and systems which best fit our age.
Aspects and Fundamentals
The issue of Islamic Union has four aspects: 1. Aim and ideal, 2. Knowledge and contemplation, 3. Action and thrust, 4. Government, politics and high level organizations.
Union is an ideal and an aim, it is Red Apple; but it involves accesses from the tiniest devotedness of Muslims to the highest level associations. This is a command of Koran and Sunnah already; it is the application and heritage. It is a must of intellect; the aim history, geography and sociology-that is- science suggests, a succession of aims gradually growing. It requires considering the upcoming bigger moves at each step, coming ranges at each range and then reaching them.
No assertion can be successful unless it is based on knowledge and consciousness. To be able to realize union goals we need assistance of science like history, geography, sociology, anthropology, demography, ethnography, law, political science and international relations. Contemplation means strong analysis of problems under the light of knowledge and through the evaluation of these dissections forming solid synthesis- that is- solutions. In defeat or victory, easy or though times only contemplation can enlighten our way. Thin rays of thought shows out flowing ways, daunting works of development and growth can only be enabled by lights of knowledge and opinion. In every step, when running or standing, science and contemplation are our most important direction.
It is nothing but pure dream to expect to reach the goals without endeavours, sacrifice, action, undertaking risks, having determination and firmness, that is without leaps and action. Everyone from the youngest to the oldest, have things to do. In spite of the negative sides of the present condition there are definitely things to do. On the other hand, leap and action do not necessarily mean doing big work service. A big amount of effort that looks small, added to one another become huge and sweep away whatever comes across. Furthermore our duty is to show effort and attempt, we may not be able to see the results of our hard work, even if we do not- our children will see them inshaAllah.
Islamic Union action is also politics; it is the subject matter of government and international politics. Looking at present and the world history, we see that small states either disappear or join one another and get bigger and earmark world history. Rome and Byzantium were united big states, old Egypt was a united-state, the Hittite, Babylon, or Mesopotamia were united states too, so was old Iran. Old Greece was made up of many kingdoms joined under the name of Delos Union. The first Islamic state in Madina is an important example of a united state growing from a city state; the Umayyad and Abbasid were united states too, the Seljuq and the Ottoman were big Islamic Unions. The super states of the new era France, England, Russia and finally USA are united-states, too (USA stands for United States of America and this fact is quite noteworthy). European Union has different characteristics but it is a union, a union that enlarges member countries politically, materially and spiritually. Today the need for uniting is much higher. Especially Muslims need uniting more than ever.
The greater statesmen make their nation and states, the bigger, sagacious and hero they, themselves get. Ebu Muslim Horasani was an Islamic Union hero. Salahaddin Eyyubi was a dauntless sovereign of this appeal. Kılıçaslan, Celaleddin Harzemşah, Yavuz Sultan Selim, İdris-i Bitlisi and many others were great and wise statesmen of this kind. The last one to represent this policy in the governmental base was Abdulhamit Han the 2nd. This blessed Sultan saw Islamic Union policy as the biggest rescuer to the collapsing Ottoman Empire and working for this aim, was able to extend the life of the Empire. In fact the main idea and goal of an Islamic state is Ittihad-ı Islam. Abdulhamid the 2nd wanted to save the state by turning it to this origin and first base, but he was alone and he was not able to pass this policy and ideal to the intellectuals, bureaucracy and military. The result is known: The last great Islam state vanished fifteen years after Abdulhamid the 2nd. And the biggest period of crisis and mortification started.
2. HISTORY AND ISLAMIC UNION
Most of our contemporary Muslims are in hesitation about the concept of Islamic Union. The tough conditions of our day may even drive some of them into despair. However, it is much more possible for a historically proven experience to occur once more, than a sociological first-time happening. If we cast an eye over the history of Islam, we can immediately see many examples of Islamic Union. We believe these cases will put our hesitant, even hopeless brothers into ease and inshaAllah will inspire them to show efforts for our union. In this context, let us share some examples starting from the Asr-ı saadet (the era of happiness in the time of our prophet ‘pbuh’):
* Before Islam in Yesrib of that time, there was a merciless hostility between two tribes bred from the children of two brothers, Evs and Hazrec (the war between them lasted more than a hundred years); Jews fuelled the enmity between the tribes and they were successful at that. When Islam came to Yesrib and made it Medina, it not only merged and joined the people, but also strengthened them against the ignorant and stubborn of their own public and even saved them from defeatism of the Jews who kept disrupting. (Even if Jews in Medina tried to drive a wedge between the Evs and Hazrec, they no longer succeeded and ceased to exist.) Not only Evs and Hazrec- that is Ensar- but also Muhajirin gained real power and unity and this took Muslims to China on one side and France on the other in a short time. This is the biggest and fastest unity the world has ever seen, there is nothing similar and it is definitely magnificent. Medina Islamic State is the first sample of Islamic Union, it is the first state and Muslims took it as model throughout the history of Islam and they displayed new samples too. Let us remember some of these:
*In Andalucia, one of the most gorgeous and yet tragic pages in the history of Islam, when the Umayyad dynasty ended tavaif-i mulk (direct domains) period started and Muslims lost their unity; a major siege against them was performed by Christians. In these hard times Murabıts centred in Northern Africa and later Muvahhids came to the rescue of the Umayyad, and protected their brothers by beating Christian armies in two major battles. When the last Andalucian Islamic State Beni Ahmer was beaten, the Ottomans transferred the Muslims in there to Northern Africa and even to Anatolia and saved them from the cruel.
* In the Malazgirt War, which made Anatolia an Islamic land once and for all; (as stated in the history books related to the period) Mervanis which is a Kurdish state and their Sultan Nizamuddin surrendered all their force composing of ten thousand soldiers to Alparslan by letting the Seljuqi Sultan move on their land. This was the first step of the inseparable union between the Kurds and the Turks and they were never split again.
*Anatolian Seljuqis also faced Crusade attacks three times. Kılıçaslan 1st, Sultan Mes’ud 1st, Kılıçaslan 2nd; fought Crusaders in spite of the size of their armies and the difficult conditions and tried to protect the people of Islam.
* Salahaddin Eyyubi, by the political act he started against the Crusaders who were now a big danger for Islam; united Kurdish, Turkish and Arabian armies around the same goal. Salahaddin took his outstanding place among the greatest heroes of Islamic Union by saving Jerusalem from Christians.
* In a period when Jengiz Khan and pagan Mongols swept away Islamic countries like some horrible flood, Jelaleddin Harzemshah was not able to stop Mongolian attacks completely but at least delayed the spread towards the west.
*Mamluqs who were resisting to the Mongolian armies burning away Baghdad and many Islamic countries defeated Mongols decisively in a place called Ayn-Jalut. They moved the caliphate in the Abbasid Dynasty who escaped from the massacre of Hulagû and took refuge in Egypt and protected them. They cleaned Antioch and the surrounding places by defeating Armenians and Crusaders.
*Germianids were a beyliq, a state; had land and sovereignty. Germianid Yakup Bey, conversed with Murad 2nd and informed him that he left his country to him after death. It is even stated that he said “I would rather be a private in the Ottomans than a Bey in the Germianid”.
*Timur Khan, in order to spread Islam and ensure unity among Islamic countries, wanted their rulers to obey him via writing letters. He even sent money and gifts to some of them. Timur Khan wrote to the Ottoman Sultan, Yıldırım Bayezid a few times, wanted to be allies. But the beys of the beyliqs which had been eliminated by Yıldırım, have been sending complaints to Timur Khan about the Ottoman Sultan, with false and exaggerated information; some other beys escaping from Timur Khan took refuge by Yıldırım Bayezid Khan; Timur Khan wanted him to return these Beys but Yıldırım Bayezid Khan refused. Afterwards, Timur Khan made it to Anatolia and in a war in Çubuk Prairie near Ankara, beat the Ottoman army and enslaved Yıldırım. Later Timur Khan delegated Anatolia to its old owners and went back to his country.
Timur’s policy and its results are controversial: that he laid low Altın-Orda State resulted in the empowerment of Moscow Knez under the yoke of that state and later came to bother the Muslims in Ottoman, Iran and Turkestan. The fact that he started an unnecessary war with the Ottoman and beat them delayed the conquer of Istanbul for a century and thus changed the course of world history; Ottomans ruled for 500 years after Timur, but his state collapsed right after he died. The victories of Timur put him in history as a jahangir. However, they also caused him to eternally own a few mournful pages of the history of Islam.
* Yavuz Selim, got to grips with state affairs beginning from his succession period, worked for the union of Islam with all his might. He fit many great accomplishments in his short sovereignty, after accomplishing a union in Anatolia, formed the biggest union of Islam by conquering Egypt and taking in hand Caliphate after long centuries. His son Suleiman the Magnificent enlarged this union towards both east and west.
* Hayreddin Barbarossa Pasha was in fact a head of state. He conquered Algeria and formed a state though small; his name was read in the khutba. But as he was aware that a small state would not last long in a hazardous place like the Mediterranean, he annexed it to the Ottoman. And this is one of the biggest examples of Ittihad-ı Islam.
*The loss of the Crimean, rather leaving it to the curatorship of Russia, is one of the biggest events in the collapse of the Ottoman because the Ottoman now had to discontinue with Ittihad-ı Islam and give away one Muslim state to the unbeliever. A land of Islam was lost and Muslims were left high and dry. Thus, the union started to fall off and it could not be helped.
* Kûtu-l-Amare victory is an Islamic Union victory, too. The Ottoman Army won a great triumph against the English on April 29, 1916 after a battle fought for more than two years in Kût Region in Southern Iraq. Thanks to this triumph in which 418 officers, and 13.300 soldiers were taken as captive, the English entry into Iraq, Syria and Anatolia, has been obstructed. The self-sacrificing support of the Arabian tribes has a great role in the winning of the victory. Among these tribes there were even members of the Shia Branch. (The Shiite men of religion in Necef, Karbala called the public for fighting with the Ottomans.) In other words, Turkish, Arabian, Kurdish, Sunni and Shiite Muslims fought all together against the English in this battle. (This victory is only one proof of how mistaken the empty rhetoric of “The Arabs stabbed the Turks in the back” is, which has been made up by the English to set against the parties.)
There are definitely many other positive and negative examples; we only gave a few here. It would be a seriously meaningful service if the History of Islamic Union was written and all samples explained and commented on one by one. A historian, of course, also has a duty of jihad and service. Is this not one of them then?
History also shows us clearly that the issue of Islamic Union is not only some thesis or utopia. Yes; this union sometimes shattered and Muslims had real hard times, but these bitter events are all lessons for us. Moreover why would something that happened once not happen again? Maybe this is the greatest lesson to be taken from history, pertaining to Islamic Union.
New Times, New Unions
History is in the past, let us come to present. Let us take a look at what situation Islamic Union is in now.
After seventeenth century the Ottoman was weakened with pressure coming from the North, west and even South and in the First World War this last great Islamic Union was defeated. The world of Islam was beaten politically, militarily and economically, in other words in almost every field. Winners, that are the west, could not enjoy this victory because it ate its own children and the Second World War turned the winners into a kind of losers. In the two block-worlds called Cold War that came into existence between USA and the Soviet Union, Islamic countries took some breath; many countries won their independence, nation-states were formed. These states were just problematic from the point of population, borders, economy and administrative segmentation; perhaps this was wanted this way. Because the borders (e.g. Iraq-Syria-Saudi Arabia, Egypt-Libya-Sudan, Algeria-Mauritania-Mali-Nigeria etc.) were drawn artificially with rulers. The formed states did not have economic independence; they were dependent on colonialist countries economically. The people, villages and hordes of new and neighbouring states were segregated in a meaningless way; these would later on be used to form new problems. In conclusion, the victors of the First World War did their best to stop possible recovery and reunion of Islamic countries; so the winners could continue their own competition securely.
Let us mention the important ones of the positive or negative union cases in the world of Islam now. Of course the political scientists, historians and international relations experts, who embrace Islamic Union, will analyze these issues and those not written here in a better and deeper way but, may this be the introduction.
*Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan (after the first agreement in Geneva in 1935) signed a foursome treaty in the Sadabad Palace in Tehran. These countries warranted by the treaty that they would continue to be allies, not interfere with the internal affairs of one another, consult with one another on issues concerning all parties, not do counter-attacks to one another and respect the preference of mutual borders. The political and psychological reason that made the Sadabad Treaty important was that it emphasized the independence of these countries that recently were saved from colonial and semi-colonial periods. (The legal existence of the treaty lasted till the new regime in Iran implied its repeal in 1979.)
*John Foster Dulles, the American Minister of Foreign Affairs, who visited the mid-western countries in May 25-27, 1953 stopped by in Ankara and expressed the importance of the formation of a defence organization in mid-west against Soviet expansionism. Turkey saw to this issue and condensed the efforts. In February 24, 1955 “Mutual Cooperation Treaty” was signed between Turkey and Iraq. With this treaty Baghdad Pact was established. But the signing of the Baghdad Pact caused reactions from the other Arabian countries. As a first reaction, Egypt and Syria agreed on cooperating in a way to leave Iraq out. But Bagdad Pact was corresponded positively by America. In April 5, 1955, England joined the pact, which made it even stronger. The number of members rose to four when in September 23, 1955 Pakistan joined. In November 3, 1955 Iran attended as well. Thus despite the opposition of Arabian countries, Bagdad Pact was established and it gained strength. US did not officially become a member not to provoke too much reaction from the Arabian countries but struggled to empower the pact by stating to help members in military, technical and economic aspects. The formation of the Baghdad Pact as opposed to the Soviet Union threat made Turkish-Soviet relations even tenser. Furthermore the intercourse between Turkey and Arabian states other than Iraq started to progress in a negative way. In July 14, 1958 there was a revolution in Iraq. In March 24, 1959 Iraq officially stated to leave the pact. After Iraq left, the centre of the pact moved to Ankara. In August 18, 1959 the name of the Baghdad Pact was changed to ‘Central Treaty Organization’, shortly CENTO. The organization that lasted for 20 years this way, ended in act with the abandonment of Pakistan and Iran in March 12, 1979.
* In 1947 Pakistan (as the eastern and western Pakistan) gained political independence. But they departed in 1971 and western Pakistan became an independent state in the name of Bangladesh.
* After in August 21, 1969 (an Australian Jew named Dennis Michael Rohan, tied to the order of Church of God) tried to swaddle Masjidil Aqsa, as a result of the occurring discomfort and reaction in the Islam World, about 50 Islamic countries coming together in Rabat, the capital of Morocco in September 1969 decided to form the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). (Our views on the biggest organization of the Islamic world whose name and the emblem were changed in 2011will be dealt with under a separate title later on.)
*In 1958, Syria and Egypt united under the name United Republic of Arabia, in 1961 Syria declared the union off. In 1958, Iraq and Jordan united under the command of King Faisal to form Federal Arabian State. In 1963, ‘United Republic of Arabia’ federation was declared a second time between Egypt, Syria and Iraq; in 1972 Egypt and Libya stated they were to unite. But all three attempts failed.
*In 1974 Arabs laid an oil embargo on USA and other countries who were allies with Israel. This embargo which shook the world economically showed that if needed Islamic countries were able to act together.
*In 1980 Islam Games which were held in İzmir in 1980 and put off till 2005, were held again in Saudi Arabia after 25 years and only men competed. In 2009 Games in Iran, there was controversy on the attendance of sportswomen with hijab but 6 thousand sportspeople in 15 branches from 53 countries joined. Turkey is a candidate for the games expected to turn into Olympics and be held in 2013.
*In April 1990, a union treaty was signed between the two Yemens and unification was realized in May 22, 1990. The treaty foresaw that the time till November 22, 1992 would be taken as a transition and after that an election would be held and administrative structure would thus be designated. In the transition period problems existed at both parties and they turned into gunfight and Yemen was tumbled into a new civil war. Although Southern Yemen declared independence in May 12, 1994 Northern Yemen governors did not accept that and took the whole Yemen under control capturing Aden, the capital of Southern Yemen.
*In Russia (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics at the time) Radical Communists launched a coup against Gorbachev in August 16, 1991. New declarations of independence followed the developments. In August 30, 1991 Azerbaijan; in August 31, 1991 Uzbekistan and Kyrgyzstan; in October 27, 1991 Turkmenistan; in December 16, 1991 Kazakhstan held referendums about independence and in the end the stated countries won their independence. (Naturally the Islam world was caught out for these developments; they could not make an important union offer for the Turkic Republics; found no way out other than being dragged on the heels of USA and even helping American plans about the region.)
*D-8 (Developing Eight) is an organization that Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Malaysia, Indonesia, Egypt and Nigeria came together to form. These countries have an important place because of their natural resources, big population and potential markets. After a series of preparation meetings following the ‘Developmental Cooperation Conference’ in October 22, 1996; at the governors’ summit held in Istanbul in June 15, 1997 the foundation of D-8 was officially stated. (The organization was realized with the efforts of Professor Dr. Necmeddin Erbakan, the Turkish Prime Minister of the time; after he left the government the organization was deleted from the agenda; after 2002 the Ak Party government resurrected D-8 and moved the centre to Istanbul.) It may be seen as the Islamic model of G-7, which was formed by the richest countries of the world. [G-7 (Group of Seven) is a forum founded in 1975 by important industrialized countries to form coordination of the economical politics. It is composed of Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, England and USA.]
There are of course other events and institutions that relate to the idea of Islamic Union; we have given information on general basis. The unifications mentioned above are not organizations theoretically and politically prepared for in a serious way. They are either sudden precautions taken against enemy threat or they happened with the effect of major negative events, or they are up to a person and not institutionalized or they occurred with outer forces. But even in the worst times we always had efforts to unite. Yes, they are not as desired or they turned into fiascos but the union ideal and practice have always existed. Because the idea and ideal of ‘union’ is inherited in our genetics, it is almost our soul within. We always sought the union but have yet to achieve it.
Islamic Union, that is union or coordination of Islamic countries does not mean isolation from the world; nor does it imply opposing the world. It signifies to face the globe more powerfully and having voice. Relations with the west will be protected. Contact with western and northern countries will be developed. It is surely normal that Islamic countries associate with other states and it should even be encouraged. For instance Turkey is to get into the European Union. The deceased president of the Turkish Republic, Turgut Özal had established the Black Sea Economic Cooperation Organization. Organization of African Unity is a consortium founded in 1963 renamed as African Unity in 2002 composed of 53 countries, whose main aim is to develop solidarity and cooperation within African states, the foundation of which presents an active role of the Islamic countries in Africa and that role still continues.
The idea of Islamic Union is not against Turkic or Arabic union either. Why should Arabs not make Arabic a world language? Why should Turks not relate with Turkic republics or other Turkish communities in the world; for instance why should they not try to make Turkish a world language? The examples may be expanded for other Islamic countries. Only, these have got to be plugged into Islamic Union. And it must not be forgotten that racism is one of the biggest calamities for Islamic countries, it should well be kept in mind that it is the major dissension and instigation that will not bring us together. It must be known and always remembered that the west is still using the devil of racism to divide and dismember us.
The Muslims of the world now should take the idea of union seriously because history is flowing faster now. Because now in the unipolar world the rival is only one and it has been declared as Islam. Because now USA and its allies are putting in circuit their ominous plans one by one; there is no day when a Muslim country is not occupied, bombed, shattered or troubled.
Muslims have been living the biggest crisis of their history for two hundred years that is for sure. But how unsuitable the conditions, time and background may be, there are many duties to accomplish, we may even say that if the union issue is not our primary concern, then we are really destroyed.
3. ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION OF ISLAMIC COOPERATION
The Organization of Islamic Conference, which started new leaps, changed its 42 year-old name in the 38th Islamic Conference of Foreign Minister meeting in Kazakhstan and became the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. At the same time they changed their emblem and accepted a plain but impressive icon (prepared by Raciha İpek Öke from Turkey).
Let us remember shortly the biggest organization of the world after UN, Organization of Islamic Cooperation:
Organization of Islamic Conference (the name then) is the international organization founded in Rabat, the capital of the Kingdom of Morocco in September 25, 1969 by Islamic countries that came together to react to the burning of Masjid-i Aqsa in August 21, 1969 by a Jew. On the date of the first conference, March 1970, its structure was designated; general Secretariat and administrative head office were established. Jeddah, the capital of Saudi Arabia became the centre of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation till Jerusalem was taken back.
The official goals of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation are to: 1. Enhance and consolidate the bonds of fraternity and solidarity among the Muslim States, 2. Safeguard and protect the common interests and support the legitimate causes of the Muslim States, 3.Enhance political, economic, cultural, scientific and social cooperation among member states, 4.Protect places holy for Muslims, 5.Support and defend Palestinian people’s struggle and rights for independence, 6. Eliminate all kinds of colonialist understandings (see official site of OIC: www.oic-oci.org).
The top enterprise of OIC is the ‘Islamic Summit’ held every three years, with the attendance of Head of States. The second level enterprise is the Islamic Conference of Foreign Minister which ministers of foreign affairs attend. Third is General Secretariat of Islamic Conference. General Secretariat actuates the decisions that the higher levels make. The service given at the General Secretary chair lasts four years. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu who is in charge now, is the first elected General Secretary. The official languages General Secretariat uses is Arabic, English and French.
These committees exist in OIC: Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation (COMCEC; see www. Comstech.org), Committee for Scientific and Technological Cooperation (COMSTECH; see www.comstech.org), Committee for Information and Cultural Affairs (COMIAC), Permanent Finance Committee, Jerusalem Committee, Islamic Committee for Economic, Cultural and Social Affairs.
Subsidiary organizations of OIC are: The Statistical, Economic and Social Research and Training Centre for Islamic Countries (SESRIC, located in Ankara; see www.sesrtcic.org); The Research Centre for Islamic History, Art and Culture (IRCICA, located in Istanbul, see www.ircica.org); The Islamic Centre for the Development of Trade, , (see ICDT, located in Casablanca; see www.icdt-oic.org); The Islamic University of Technology, (IUT, located in Dhaka, see iutoic-dhaka.edu); The Islamic Fiqh Academy, (IIFA, located in Jeddah, see www.fiqhacademy.org); The Executive Bureau of the Islamic Solidarity Fund, (ISF, located in Jeddah, see www.isf-fsi.org).
Specialized institutions under OIC are: Islamic Development Bank (IDB, located in Jeddah, see www.isdb.org); The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO, located in Rabat, see www.isesco.org.ma); the International Islamic News Agency (IINA, located in Jeddah, www.islamicnews.org.sa); The Islamic States Broadcasting Organisation (ISBO, located in Jeddah, see www.isboo.org).
Affiliated institutions are: Organisation of Islamic Capitals and Cities (OICC, located in Jeddah, see www.oicc.org); Islamic Committee of the International Crescent (ICIC, located in Benghazi); Islamic Conference Youth Forum for Dialogue and Cooperation (ICYF-DC, located in Istanbul, see www.icfy.com); Islamic Shipowners Association (OISA, located in Jeddah, see www.oisaonline.com); Islamic Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI, located in Karachi, see www.icci-oic.org); General Council for Islamic Banks and Financial Institutions,(CIBAFI, located in Manama, www.cibafi.org); Federation of Contractors in Islamic Countries, (FOCIC, located in Morocco); Islamic Solidarity Sports Federation (ISSF, located in Riyadh); World Federation of International Arab-Islamic Schools, (WFAIIS, located in Jeddah, see www.wfais.org); Islamic Academy of Science, (IAS, located in Jordan, see www.ias-worldwide.org); International Union of Muslim Scouts (IUMS, located in Jeddah); Federation of Consultants in Islamic Countries (FCIC, located in İstanbul, www.fcic-org.com); Emergency Computer Intervention Team (OIC-CERT, located in Malaysia).
There are four Islamic Universities established in Niger (The Islamic University in Niger, see www.universite-say.ne), Uganda (The Islamic University in Uganda, see www.iuiu.ac.ug), Malaysia and Bangladesh and financed by the organization.
Our Propositions about OIC
1. The biggest organization of Islamic states is the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. One of the foundation aims is Palestine, but it has no success about Palestine yet. Islamic countries occupied since 1969 have had no serious attempts. Five countries have the veto right (USA, England, France, Russia and China) in United Nations (UN) and no Islamic country has such a right. OIC should certainly and by all means strive to get that right for itself or a big and active member.
2. The reason why OIC cannot be successful is that it has no leader. (The leader of UN is USA and it definitely works for it. In important decision making USA takes the veto countries on its side and gets what it wants.) Because it cannot make a powerful leader of its own or establish a leading organization (e.g. because it has no security council as in UN) it cannot produce important solutions about Islamic countries. That is why it should adapt a new decision making mechanism and a new processing style in which active Islamic countries (Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Iran, Pakistan, Malaysia, Indonesia) have the veto right.
3. In October 2003, Abdullah Gül, the Turkish Minister of Foreign Affairs of the time said in the OIC meeting in Malaysia “We cannot get anywhere with watch, look-see policy. Let us establish an Islamic Power of Peace”. But since then no step on this issue was taken. Islamic Power of Peace, the core of which will be formed by Islamic countries with the veto right, has to be established as soon as possible and it should intervene with the problems among Islamic states. If the goal of OIC is to”safeguard and protect the common interests and support the legitimate causes of the Muslim States”, then Islamic Power of Peace is indispensable and should be realized soon.
4. In case of catastrophes in Islamic countries such as occupation, earthquake, flood, hunger OIC should meet urgently and should help such states before others. (They should show the same sensitivity in case of catastrophe in other countries of the world as well.)
5. Persian and Turkish should be added to the officially used languages of the Secretary General (Arabic, English and French).
6. Jeddah, the capital of Saudi Arabia has been held as the centre of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation until Jerusalem was saved. But Jeddah is far from the world centre and is not a big metropolitan either. Moving the OIC centre to Cairo or Istanbul would be much better and raise the activity of the organization.
The only solution we have on Islamic Union is of course not OIC. OIC is the biggest existing, the highest level but the loosest organization. Yes, OIC has to be strengthened. But there is work to do, ideas and solutions to produce till it gets to the top. We have stated and are stating some and will produce more. But ours may sometimes be too theoretical. However, we all are interested in realizations now. We desire Islamic Union to enter the area of real politics. That is why political scientists, experts on international relations have great work to accomplish.
4. ISLAMIC MOVEMENTS, INTELLECTUALS AND SOME PROPOSITIONS
Unfortunately Islamic movements in various places of the world are unaware of each other today. Connection and contact and even cooperation between these should be formed. The most necessary one is in the field of ideology. Others are little informed of the solution suggestions and approach styles found by different movements, for the problems of Muslims and the world. The thinker, activist or intellectuals who lead and direct Islamic movements are not much known outside their own countries, their views and propositions are not heard of. This is a major defect. We, Muslims cannot be excused for being ignorant of each other. For that reason I have further recommendations:
*I am thinking of a magazine. I have a dream for a periodical to be printed a million copies having ideas and articles about Islamic action explained with justification and propositions. I am imagining a magazine in which for instance, a Turkish text would be translated into Islamic languages like Arabic, Persian, Kurdish, Urdu, Malay and world languages such as English, French, German, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese; and be sent to all Islamic organizations, foundations, associations and bodies; newspaper, magazine, radio and televisions; universities and professors and Muslim intellectuals. What an amazing effect it would have among Muslims. It would at least show that there is will-power and determination for Islamic Union.
*Islamic printed press and audio-visuals must closely follow the Muslim world; and Muslim intellectuals should be in an effort to inform about Islamic movements. Printed press and audio-visual broadcast that can address the whole Muslim world must definitely be founded. Detailed and thorough interviews should often be made with the leaders of Islamic movements and effort must be given on introducing their views and propositions. In all Islamic countries, or at least in strategic and critical ones, trained and experienced reporters should be located. Newspapers, magazines, etc. published by Islamic movements should sufficiently and effectively be introduced, translations should in due course be made and they should be published.
*Efforts must be spent on the gathering of a widely participated Assembly of Islamic Intellectuals where the leaders of Islamic movements and intellectuals who have a desire for Islamic Union, would be able to discuss and exchange views, propositions and solutions on Islamic World. (This would perhaps be the consultative and propositional committee.) This assembly could be held as a series of conference and symposiums in the capital of an Islamic country. It should definitely not be forgotten to take representatives of Muslim minorities all around the world. We would like our country to earn the honour to be the pioneer and leader of this issue.
*Work and attempt on the re-identification of Hajj, as larger than the worship dimension with the meeting, welding, discussion and analysis of Muslim scholar, artist and intellectuals; special quota should be spared for Muslim intellectuals; it should be struggled for them to meet in Hajj period and discuss about the important issues of the year, publish their solution and suggestions as a proclamation.
*Making use of the tariqat from the point of Islamic Union should not be neglected. Tariqats form the spiritual basis of Islamic Union. Because the tariqats are comprehensive, they are over races and geographies. Furthermore because Sufism is wide-ranged and many-sided, they can play an important part in the conveying and union of Islam, this has been so in the past. They still carry on with these functions but no one is aware. For instance the Kaadiri and Nakhshi-Khalidi traditions in our south-eastern part have already united some of the Muslims in Turkey, Syria and Iraq. (This is an example concerning Anatolia; tariqats keep uniting Muslims in many parts of the world.)
*It should be strived to realize major organizations that would be the means for Islamic countries to meet and cooperate. Industry Exhibitions of Islamic Countries like the Izmir Fair, Islamic Festival of Arts and Culture like Istanbul Festival may be organized. As a side activity of such major organizations, panel and symposiums should be arranged and conversation and discussion on major political, cultural, artistically, economical issues of Islamic Union and Muslims should be enabled.
* We have this many associations and organizations, if someone attempted to gather the effective intellectuals and organize a conference entitled as “How can Islamic Union be formed?” they would have made a great job. Such an organization with well-prepared agenda on issues such as what this union would give the Muslims, what kind of solutions it would bring to the problems in the Islamic and the whole world, would at least show that we are getting the lead again. Islamic Union may not be formed right away but steps and distance would have been taken. Is this too little?
5. TWO ENDS OF CRESCENTS: NORTH AND SOUTH
a) Caspian is an Islamic Sea
“Black Sea Economic Cooperation” organization was founded with the initiative of deceased 8th President of the Turkish Republic Turgut Özal, it grew with the participation of Balkan, Caucasus and Turkic Republics of Middle Asia. In my opinion this organization was lacking. It would have been a much powerful and active organization if it was “The Organization of Black Sea and Caspian Economic Cooperation”. It could have been strengthened and turned into an active organization with the joining of Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Even though the Ottomans tried joining the Caspian and Black Sea via a canal they were not able to achieve. The realization of this project, which was a product of an extremely prescient and great idea, would have completely saved Caucasia, Iran and Eastern Anatolia from the wickedness of Russia. History has such great opportunity and possibilities that however much comment you make further on, would never come at hand again. The movement and struggle of Sheikh Shamil is one of these too. The war of Sheikh Shamil, who the Ottomans could not support as much as needed because of the major problems they then, had and who was not able to achieve for this reason to some extent, which could have saved the whole Caucasia but ended with defeat is one of the most sorrowful pages of the history of Islam.
At this point, I would like to remind of the Caspian Sea issue too, it is also closely related to the topic, more over it would be a good example and trial area. The Caspian Sea, which got more important because of crude oil, is an extremely strategic sea as it is also the key point between Asia and Europe. Russia wants to treat the sea, surrounded by Daghestan, Azerbaijan, Iran, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, and Russia (the largest sea salty and surrounded by land), as a lake and thus sit at the table of petroleum. The Caspian is not even a sea, it is an ocean, in Persian it is called The Ocean of Caspian, Turkics on the north call it the Mediterranean. Even though the Caspian Sea, which took its name from the Khazar Turks that settled around and founded a big state, became a Turkish sea many times; after the Turks became Muslim, turned more into an Islamic sea. To neutralize Russia, that has few shores, in the Caspian, we should take it as an Islamic sea and make a big action via media and diplomacy. For this I propose to form The Organization of Black Sea and Khazar Economic Cooperation.
b) Islamic Union and the Mediterranean Progress
The Mediterranean is the first international, interreligious and cross-civilizations sea that the Muslims faced. When Muslims turned to the east and the west, they met the Mediterranean in the west and in a period of a century, they almost completely surrounded the Mediterranean. They had conquered from Palestine to Antalya, past Egypt and Northern Africa like lightning, invaded Spain and a part of France. The goal was to take Istanbul on one side and Rome on the other, that is two centres of Christianity and history, and open them for Islam. This progress of the first Muslims gives us the main and general contour of Islamic history. Muslims never gave up completely conquering the Mediterranean. This success in the first centuries of Islam was repeated in the Ottoman era and it became an Islamic sea. Now we do not have a say for the Mediterranean even though Muslims possess more than half of it in area.
The Mediterranean is the gate of Islam opening to the west and the whole world. And this is a place where all civilizations were tested. It is an inner sea of the Middle-west, in other words the heart of the world. It is at the top of the places all religions choose to widen. Globalization, communication, the merciless developments in the weapon technology, etc. cannot completely change the world. The Mediterranean is one of the precedent regions and will remain so till the end. Why is the 6th American fleet in the Mediterranean? Why does Russia first think of the Mediterranean when “going down to the warm seas”? Because it is in an extremely strategic location, is able to address three continents and the world, and the historical background is known to the whole world. The ruler the Mediterranean can be considered as the ruler of the whole world. That is why it is an area of high importance and priority in Islam’s interaction and come to terms with the West. The Mediterranean region is in need of more attention, solution suggestions, and progress of Muslim intellectuals.
From this angle, I propose a Mediterranean Union of Economy project. (Mediterranean Games already exist, that is the sportive side of the issue is there.) It would be able to cause important conclusions for this project, which would first be evaluated as an economic union, to be suggested by Islamic states and especially by Turkey. Because the number of Islamic and other states having a shore in the Mediterranean is almost equal and (all but Islamic ones) are a member of EU. If the Europeans are not in this union, it would not be a surprise for Islamic states to reach a bigger union that could include Africa too. Even if they accept that, this should not be ignored and should be well considered. Furthermore, if they accept joining the Mediterranean Union of Economy, the state of Turkey and the other Islamic countries could become stronger. In other word, Muslims will benefit from the Mediterranean Union (of Economy) project in both conditions. Naturally, preparation should be made; the historical and intellectual background should be studied in detail and presented to the public opinion of Mediterranean countries. Mediterranean Union of Economy project should be proposed and declared in the alliance and cooperation of at least three Islamic states, Turkey, Egypt and Algeria. At least Turkey and Egypt should be able to move together, for this, appropriate opportunity and environments exist between these two states. (This proposition was published in our Yüce Devlet Dergisi (periodical) in 1995.)
It can be stated that EU, France better to say, has such a project and France wants to take Turkey not in EU, but in the Mediterranean Union. Why not? This could have two effects: If Turkey accepts that offer; they will win France and thus prevent the opposition in EU. The latter and the most important is they will have the chance to obviate the French hegemony over Islamic states in Africa.
I would like to communicate this event to shed light on the issue: In the Antique Era there was a formation called Delos (sea) Union. A union was formed based on the association of cities making use of the holiness of a temple on an island in today’s Greece; the Delos Union, which would later on be under the rule of Athens, was the biggest organization of the time. Reminding of this union in the Antique Era, the plausibility of the Mediterranean Union could be raised and another island, for instance Cyprus, could be proposed as the centre. Cyprus is an ideal place for such a union with its historical and strategic importance. In fact Cyprus is an issue of Islamic Union. Turkey, alone, cannot outstrip EU and USA; they should put in circuit OIC, effective Islamic states. A very delicate and powerful policy should be applied.
6. ONLY SOLUTION: TO UNITE
Who Unites He Wins
USA, given the name, is a united states. It is composed of 50 states and a federal region; the population is over 300 million, the area is 9.629.091 kilometre square.
Russia is a federation, it is composed of 83 federal regions; it is the largest country in the world with an area of 17.075.200 km2, the population is 145 million. (Russia is also the founder and governor of The Commonwealth of Independent States.)
China is composed of states and autonomous regions; the area is 9.640.821 kilometre square, it is the most crowded country of the world with a population of more than 1.133 billion.
Great Britain is a united kingdom; affiliated states, protectorates, countries under guardianship, condominiums (the joint control of a state’s affairs by other states); (moreover Commonwealth of Nations has 16 members. United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Cyprus, India, Pakistan, Ceylon, Ghana, Malaya Federation, Nigeria, Sierra Lione, Tanganika, Trinidad-Tobago, Jamaica, Uganda; the area of Commonwealth is 34 million kilometre square, population is 667.043.528.)
Germany is a federal republic; it is composed of 13 states and 3 free cities.
France is a Unitarian state but it has bilateral agreement countries in the field of defence (Overseas Collectivities “Collectivités d’Outre-Mer, in short COM”).
United Nations (UN) is a political and economic organization composed of 27 member countries, the land of which is mostly in Europe; it addresses a population of nearly 500 million and the total area covers 4.422.773 kilometre square. NAFTA (The North American Free Trade Agreement) covers USA, Canada and Mexico; these countries are almost integrated in foreign investments as well as in foreign trade.
These short pieces of information about the area, population, and the unions they made and the systems of 5+1, that is the five countries having the veto right in the UN Security Council and Germany explains why these countries are very powerful and active in world politics. Almost all of them are United States, their area and populations are many times more than most of the other world states.
Is “United Nations” fair?
After World War II the prevailing countries formed UN. USA naturally got the lion’s share as the winner of both world wars. Russia, retreating from the First World War and prevailing in the second; England prevailing in the first and saved by US in the second; France defeated in both wars; China not prevailing in both wars took their places in UN Security Council and world politics. (England established League of Nations after World War I but as they did not want to give shares to anyone, they are sort of causer of World War II.) As Germany was defeated in both wars, they were first waved aside; after the others gathered, united and formed UN, their efficacy raised.
Why was France admitted to Security Council: Because it represents the Catholic world. USA and England represent Protestantism; Russia Orthodoxy; China Taoism and Buddhism-that is the eastern religions. As obvious, all three religious sects of Christianity are in the Security Council; a representative of Islam as the biggest religions of the world is not there.
China represents Asia; USA, America; Russia, both Europe and Asia; England and France represent Europe. The continents Africa and Australia are not in the Security Council.
USA, the biggest representative of the west, rules the world via the United Nations system. USA has behaved more rationalistic and pragmatist than England, taking four states near them, have brought their rulership to a more powerful status in front of the West and the World. But this system is one-sided as it does not respect the justice of representation from the point of both religion and geography. Those who are not fair are cruel; those who are cruel are bound to collapse one day. But oppressive systems and barbarians do not collapse by themselves. Then this question emerges: Who will stop this cruelty?
This system is the biggest obstacle in front of the joining of Muslims, UN Security Council system, the global quintet gang. They are United States, when the time and place comes, they do grow in size; which is not enough; they even raise their power forming new political and economic unions.
But they never give the Islamic countries the opportunity to unite. They even try to split the present states more. For instance they have divided Sudan in half, they even want to divide it into three (We remind that Sudan and Egypt were not departed in the time the Ottomans collapsed and Turkish Republic was formed.) They also want to divide Iran, Turkey and the other Islamic states into two. The reason of all the trouble in all Islamic states is either USA or both USA and England; or France, or Russia or China. To those who say that is not right, we will reply “Go, make some research, dwell on it, go a little deep”.
The other members of the gang ignore the torture and oppression they make on the Muslims living under their rule (while they make some real fuss if one individual of their public is slightly hurt). For instance have you ever heard a real condemnation of the oppression made on the Muslims of Eastern Turkistan by USA and western governments? Have you ever witnessed the Chinese, Russian, French, German governors or presses mention the unbelievable torture made by American and English soldiers in Iraq?
Is Turkey very comfortable themselves? Who stands behind the PKK discord of thirty years, right-left encounters of 70-80 years, the 1960, 1971 1980, 1996, etc. strokes?
Only Solution: Uniting
It is an evident fact that Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, Turkey or another Islamic country cannot stand against the global oppression by themselves. There is no probability that they can oppose unless they unite. They cannot help being exploited unless they unite. They cannot get wealthy unless they unite. They cannot be comfortable unless they unite. Then whatever they do, they should seek formulas of union.
Saying “Afghanistan belongs to Afghans, or Libya belongs to Libyans” maybe could mean something in the Cold War period but now does not make a cent. It is high time we said “Afghanistan belongs to Afghans and Muslims; Libya belongs to Libyans and Muslims, etc.” Is the size of the oppression and torture in Afghanistan and Pakistan not unbelievable already? Haven’t the 1, 5 million people in Iraq died for nothing? Do not the severity of hunger and colonization in Africa mean a thing for the Muslims? Do not the oppression in Eastern Turkistan, Kashmir, Moro, Arakan and Patani deserve a little effort to be stopped? Whatever the religion and language of the oppressed people are, is it not a must of Islam and humanity to run for help?
That is why we should start criticizing UN Security Council in the field of ideology and media while seeking and finding out even the slightest chance of union between Islamic countries; start expressing that it is not fair, that it does not represent the world from the point of religion and geography.
Racism is the biggest inner obstacle in front of Islamic Union; a big betrayal put within us by the West. We should not miss a slightest opportunity to show that the racism evil constitutes a major obstacle to prevent us from uniting. We should do the best we can, in order to convince our brothers.
You first unite in the soul and the heart, in mind and perception, the conscience to act together, with science and knowledge, with hard work and self-sacrifice.
Muslim intellectuals in anyplace around the world should do a lot of hard mental work on whether the union will be by federation on confederation system, state or autonomy or a different style. Even every day, even every moment…
The name of the union does not have to be “Islamic Union”, there is no harm in playing politics, till we get mightier. But it is now inevitable to seek and find ways to unite against the enemy while the oppression is getting unbearable.
Let us answer now what we asked above: It is only Muslims who are to abolish global oppression. Almost all others are integrated to this system by heart, become complicit to the oppressors. It is only Muslims to never accept the system of global oppression and oppose to it. As they are not strong enough yet, maybe they cannot raise their voice but it is only Muslims who can prevent and even stop cruelty.
Not only their brothers, but also all oppressed people even all nature is waiting for Muslims. Because the greedy West has harmed the environment as well as the Muslims and humanity and it now has to be stopped.
Islamic Union is the most important matter for Muslims, we have inherited this great auspicious assertion from our ancestors, we must always try to find new solutions with knowledge, good manners, pure love and sincerity and we must strive to realize them. If we spend energy and effort with good will and sincerity, we strongly hope that our Rab will again condescend us this kind deed of union as Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in Medina; Umayyad, Abbasid, Seljuqi, Mamluk, and Ottomans and other Islamic states in Asia, Europe and Africa many times had been
Yes, it is hard and laborious to unite, it makes one spend a big deal of effort and energy; requires patience and self-sacrifice; needs thinking and planning big. But there is no other cure.
Did Sultan Saladin not send away Crusades from Jerusalem? If we also join Arabs, Turks, Kurds, Circassians and other brothers and gain power, we can achieve too.
Did the Almohad and Almoravid not help their brothers two times with great inconvenience, pass from Maghreb to Spanish peninsula and win to great victories?
Did the Memlukis not defeat the Mongolian army in Ain Jalut and saved the Islamic world from this implacable trouble
Did not Sultan Mehmet the Conqueror move the cannonballs on land and conquer Constantinople?
Then if we are one and together, work all day and night, show efforts with taqwa and morality, we may attain many conquers.
7. ISLAMIC UNION IS NOT AN UTOPIA
It is neither a dream with the side looking at the future, nor an epic looking at the past.
As it happened repeatedly in our past, it is not an epic either. History is full of numerous examples of Islamic Union. As it is within possibility for something that occurred even once in the past to happen today or tomorrow, Islamic Union is not a dream either.
Yes, Islamic Union is an ideal. It is a major, powerful and fruitful action. It is the target and work. It is the aim and effort. Islamic Union is a goal enclosing every moment of ours, is a job covering every day. It is the desire of our heart.
It is dialectic; out idea of Union is a way of thinking. It is a matter of mentality. It is our short, medium, long-term action plan. Is an action enclosing every moment of ours, Islamic Union. It is our prior agenda.
It is the job of heroes to work for uniting. It is the blessed effort of the lion-hearted. Is the job of the knowing and experienced, Islamic Union. It is a work that those with strong knowledge of history, those based on qualified and correct information can achieve. It is the ideal of enlightened hearts that can hear the sound coming from the depths of history. It is the effort of great minds that can perceive the desire of faithful hearts all around the world. Is the target of great men, men-like men that can hear the sound or silence of the oppressed, Islamic Union?
If you cannot bear standing against the cruel, you have got to unite. What can we do but not unite, against the organized cruelty and betrayal? You will sit hands tied, and do nothing but moan. Our brothers and sisters in Palestine and Gaza, Kashmir and Pakistan, Eastern Turkistan, Patani, Moro, Arakan and many other countries will be mercilessly murdered and you will be able to do nothing but wean. Children and women are shedding tears too, are you going to sit and do the same thing as them?
The pain of Bosnia is still very fresh and we yet have not forgotten. The sorrow of Chechnya is still going on; it is even not a matter of forgetting. The occupation in Iraq is continuing. And we keep sitting, the most respectable thing we do is to cry… Like children and women…
Islamic Union must be established as soon as possible; whatever it needs must be done. We have to form this union to bring justice, benefaction and integrity to our local regions, to the Islamic world, and even the whole world.
/// This article is written by Haydar Murad HEPSEV and translated from Turkish by Sevgi Demir; published as booklet in 2015.