Modern Nations and Islam

Courtesy Reuters

A MOST unforeseen development of modern history has been the metamorphosis of the immense Moslem community, stretching from the Dutch East Indies to Morocco and from the Mediterranean to the tropical forests of Africa, which in response to Western influences has broken up into a number of modern countries. Already 14 separate Moslem states crowd into the Assembly of the United Nations or stand on its threshold. African and Asian leaders wish at least six others to join them tomorrow. How will these new arrivals behave in the international council chamber? Will they maintain separate individualities? Will they be governed by their particular interests, or will they instead form a compact group dominated by religious or ethnic considerations? Will they join forces with neighboring racial groups? These questions pose a major problem for the West. It is not simply a question of the existence in the Assembly of a permanently close-knit group which would usually be in a position to tip the scales as it wished; the balance of power in the West is also at stake. For in practice the vast territories occupied by Islam, with their strategic areas and potential resources, are of such importance that indirectly they may determine the future of the Atlantic community.


The national concept is totally alien to Moslem civilization, and in each of the modern states recently created it still seems an "heretical innovation" to orthodox Moslem jurists. The modern nation which we take as our model in talking to the East is a segment of humanity, enclosed in precise frontiers, where men live free and equal under the law without distinction of race or creed, legislate for themselves and develop a consciousness of their own historic destiny. Its core is the state, organized according to orderly administrative techniques, which by reason of its structure is adapted to the economic and social developments necessitated by increases in population and the competition of other nations. Its vitality provides

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