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The Evils of Nationalism

Al-ʿAllāmah ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Bāz

This is an important warning against a disease that has adversely affected many groups who ascribe themselves to the noble task of daʿwah.

Everything which is outside the call of Islām and the Qurʾān, with regards to lineage, land, nationality, schools of thoughts and ways, then it is from the calls of jāhiliyyah. Perfect opposite is confirmed for Allāh – the Most High.

Al-ʿAllāmah ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz ibn ʿAbdullāh ibn Bāz

Indeed Islām has forbidden the calls of jāhilīyyah (the pre-Islamic days of ignorance) and there are many textual evidences which forbid all of the characteristics and manners of jāhilīyyah and their actions, except those (good and decent) practices which Islām agreed to. And there is no doubt that the call to nationalism is from these calls of jāhilīyyah, since nationalism is a call to other than Islām and an aiding of other than the truth. And how many ills, evils and serious wars has such calls of jāhilīyyah caused to their people, causing great harm to their souls, their wealth and their possessions. The consequences of such calls (for the Muslims) was a splitting up of their unity and a planting of enmity and hatred of each other in their hearts and a fragmentation and splitting between tribes and nations.

Ibn Taymīyyah (d.728H) – raḥimahullāh – said:2 “Everything which is outside the call of Islām and the Qurʾān, with regards to lineage, land, nationality, schools of thoughts and ways, then it is from the calls of jāhilīyyah. Indeed, even when the Muhājirs (those Companions who migrated from Makkah to al-Madīnah) and the Anṣārs (those Companions who aided and supported those who migrated) argued, such that one of the Muhājirs said: “O Muhājirs! (implying; rally to my aid).” And then one of the Ansār said: “O Ansār!” Upon hearing this, the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “Is it with the calls of jāhilīyyah that you call, and I am still amongst you!” And he became very angry at that.”3

And from the textual evidence pertaining to this issue is Allāh the Most High’s saying:

“And stay in your homes and do not display yourselves, like the display of the times of jāhilīyyah (pre-Islamic ignorance). But establish the Prayer, give the Zakāt and obey Allāh and His Messenger.”
[Sūrah al-Aḥzāb 33:33]

“When those who disbelieved placed in their hearts pride and arrogance the pride and arrogance of jāhilīyyah then Allāh sent down His tranquility upon His Messenger ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam and upon the Believers…”
[Sūrah al-Fath 48:26].

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “Whosoever leaves off obedience and separates from the Jamāʿah (united body) and dies, then he dies a death of jāhilīyyah. Whoever fights under the banner of the blind, becomes angry for ʿaṣabīyyah (partisanship and party spirit), or calling to ʿaṣabīyyah, or assisting ʿaṣabīyyah, then dies, he dies a death of jāhilīyyah.”4 Also in Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim (8/120), the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “Indeed Allāh has revealed to me that you should have humility, and that no one should act proudly and oppressively over anyone else, nor should anyone boast over anyone else.”

And there is no doubt that the call to nationalism is a call to ʿaṣabīyyah (partisanship and party spirit) and it is a call to becoming angry for the sake of ʿaṣabīyyah and fighting for ʿaṣabīyyah. And there is no doubt also, that the call to nationalism is a call to transgression, pride, and arrogance since nationalism is not a divinely revealed way of life that prevents its people from oppression and proud boasting. Rather it is an ideology from the time of jāhilīyyah which leads its people to boast about it and have ʿaṣabīyyah for it even if they are the oppressors and the others are the oppressed! So – O noble reader – consider this and the truth will be clear to you.

And from the textual evidences connected with this is what al-Tirmidhī relates from Allāh’s Messenger (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) that he said: “Let people stop boasting about their forefathers who have died, who are merely fuel for the Hellfire; or they will certainly be more insignificant with Allāh than the beetle which roles dung with its nose. Allāh has removed from you the party spirit of the days of jāhilīyyah and the boasting about one’s forefathers. Indeed a person is either a pious Believer or a wretched sinner. All of mankind are the children of Ādam, and Ādam was created from clay.”5

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) also said: “Indeed there is no excellence for an Arab over a non-Arab, nor a non-Arab over an Arab, nor a white person over a black one, nor a black person over a white one, except through taqwá(piety and obedience to Allāh).”6

And this accords with Allāh the Most High’s saying:

“O mankind! We have created you from male and female and have made you into nations and tribes, that you may know one another. Indeed the most noblest of you with Allāh is the one who has the most taqwá.”
[Sūrah al-Ḥujurāt 49:13].

So Allāh – the One free from all defects – made clear in this noble āyah (verse) that people have been made into nations and tribes so that they may come to know each other, not that they should boast and have pride over one another. And Allāh the Most High considered the most noblest of them to be the one with the most piety and taqwá. Likewise, the previously mentioned narration shows the same meaning, and guides to the fact that it is from the ways of jāhilīyyahto vainly boast and to have false pride for one’s forefathers and ancestry.

This is what the calls of jāhilīyyah lead to, whereas Islām is in opposition to this. Rather Islām calls to modesty, humility, taqwá and to having love for the sake of Allāh, and that the true and sincere Muslims are merely one of the categories of the children of Ādam (ʿalayhi al-Salām), and that the Muslims are a single body and a single structure; each part supporting the other and each part feeling the pain that the other parts are suffering as occurs in an authentic ḥadīth (narration) from the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam), that he said: “The Believer to the Believer is like a solid building, one part supports the other.” And he interlaced his fingers to demonstrate this.7

The Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) also said: “The example of the Believer in their mutual love and mercy is like the example of a body, if one part of the body feels pain, then all the body suffers in sleeplessness and fever.”8

O people! I call to you in the name of Allāh. Does your nationalism call you to these noble manners of mercy and kindness to the Muslims the Arabs and the non-Arabs and of having mutual sympathy and concern for them, and feeling pain at their pain? No, by Allāh! Rather it calls you to having allegiance with those who have evil character and it calls you to cultivating enmity and hatred for those who deny this false creed of nationalism. So beware, O Muslim who desires safety and salvation, and consider the reality of the affair with a fair consideration, without being prejudiced with party spirit and desires. Only then you will see the reality as it truly is. So may Allāh guide me and you to the means of safety and salvation.

And it is related by Imām al-Bukhārī in his Ṣaḥīḥ (8/137), that a young man from the Muhājirs and a young man from the Ansār quarreled. So the Muhaajir said: “O Muhājirs! (meaning: rally to my help).” And the Anṣārī said: “O Ansār!” So the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) heard this and said: “Is it with the call of jāhilīyyah that you are calling out, and I am present amongst you!” Even though the term Muhaajir and Ansārare two ascriptions which are beloved to Allāh the One free from all defects and He has praised these two groups with a very great praise, in His the Most High’s saying:

“And the first to embrace Islām from the Muhājirs and the Ansār, and those who followed them in goodness, beliefs and actions. Allāh is well pleased with them, and they are well pleased with Him. He has prepared for them Gardens of Paradise, beneath which rivers flow, to live therein forever. That is the supreme achievement.”
[Sūrah al-Tawbah 9:100].

Yet in the above incident, this ascription to the Muhājirs and seeking the help from them, and the Ansār and seeking the help from them, when the likes of this was considered to be from the calls of jāhilīyyah, then what about those who claim allegiance e to nationalism and seek help through that and become angry for that? Will this not be more fitting to be considered one of the calls from the days of jāhilīyyah? This is a matter in which there is no doubt, and it is one of the clearest of all matters.

And this is what has been established in the authentic ḥadīth (narration), from al-Ḥārith al-Ashʿarī (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu), that the Prophet (ṣallallāhu ʿalayhi wa-sallam) said: “I order you with five things which Allāh ordered me with: The Jamāʿah, listening, obeying, ḥijrah (migration) and jihād in the way of Allāh the Mighty and Majestic. So whosoever separates from the Jamāʿah by a hand span, he throws the yoke of Islām from his neck, unless he repents. And whosoever calls with the call of jāhilīyyah (the days of ignorance), then he is from the hoarded heap of Hell Fire.” It was said: Even if he fasts and prays? He said: “Even if he fasts and prays. So call with the call of Allāh which Allāh gave: The Muslims, the Believers, Worshippers of Allāh.”9

This ḥadīth is absolutely clear with regards to rendering futile the calls to nationalism. Its callers deserve that they should be from the heap of Hellfire, even if they fast and they pray and claim that they are Muslims. So what a severe threat and severe warning is given here; warning every Muslim from the calls of jāhilīyyah and warning them from entering into this even if such calls are adorned with false talks and enchanting speeches. Rather it is a deception and a blind following which leads it s people to the worst and most despicable of ends. And we ask Allāh for safety and freedom from that.


[1] Naqd al-Qawmīyyah al-ʿArabīyyah (pp.39-44), slightly edited
[2] Majmūʿ al-Fatāwá (3/456)
[3] Related by al-Bukhārī (8/137)
[4] Related by Muslim in his Ṣaḥīḥ (6/21), from Abū Hurayrah (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).
[5] Ḥasan: Related by Abū Dāwūd (no. 5116) and al-Tirmidhī (no. 4233) from Abū Hurayrah (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu). It was authenticated by Ibn Taymīyyah in Kitāb al-Iqtidāʾ(p. 35).
[6] Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by Aḥmad (5/411), and it was authenticated by Ibn Taymīyyah in Kitāb al-Iqtidāʾ (p. 69).
[7] Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 481) and Muslim (no. 2585) from Abū Hurayrah (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).
[8] Related by al-Bukhārī (no. 6011) and Muslim (no. 2586) from al-Nuʿmān Ibn Bashīr (raḍī Allāhu ʿanhu).
[9] Ṣaḥīḥ: Related by al-Tirmidhī (no. 2863) and al-Tiyālisī (no. 1161) and others. It was authenticated by Shaykh al-Albānī in his checking to Ibn Abī ʿĀsim’s al-Sunnah

Published: May 29, 2007
Edited: April 13, 2023


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