Identity, Nationalism, and Denial

Imagine that your brother Donny lives with you in your house. You’ve always been told Donny is a good guy. He loves helping others, feeding the poor, and works hard for his money.

Then one day someone tells you otherwise about Donny: that he’s actually a drug dealer, feeds on the poor, destroys communities, and, worst of all, he’s using your basement as a base of operations for his drug ring.

Instead of checking the basement and asking Donny if this is true, AKA fact checking for accuracy, you immediately go into denial. “No, Donny would never do that!” You get offended. He holds your same last name. How dare they insult your family name!

If you can’t tell by now, this is a parable to your own identity. Perhaps you identify as French, or British, or American, or Thai, or Chinese, or Mexicano, or something else. Donny here represents your nationality.

If you’re French, imagine if you just learned about your nation’s history of colonialism and brutality against Africa and Vietnam. The millions of people who had their land, religion, wealth, self-governance, and freedom stolen out from under them in places like Algeria, Vietnam, and West Africa, leaving thousands of innocents dead. That France still feeds off its former colonies, over 15 countries, by abusing their currencies, stealing their land and natural resources, and installing brutal dictators to abuse their subjects. Their military has intervened 30-60 times in Africa since 1960.

Now you can say “Donny wouldn’t do that,” but then you’re like the bystanders during the Holocaust. Or you can admit to the undeniable fact that Donny AKA France here has a whole lot of wicked skeletons in the closet, though they’re not your personal fault nor doing. Regular French citizens should learn about what their government is doing and demand just treatment and fair trade with the world. Then Europe’s shores won’t be swarmed by migrants fleeing postcolonial policies.

Or perhaps you’re an American and you never heard about the long list of American interventions and imperialism in Latin America. Perhaps you never heard of Miami rice and how America trashed the Haitian economy, throwing thousands of rice farmers into desperate poverty, followed up by a violent coup. Perhaps you never heard that USAID doesn’t actually help the poor, but oppresses the poor.

You may react that Donny AKA the United States would never do that. The flag always evoked emotions of pride in your heart during the national anthem at football games (which makes great advertising… which other nations find bizarre). You identify as “American.” So you feel like you, yourself, are being criticized.

But the reality is, The US government has a whole lot of wicked deeds that most folks are unaware of, and they have serious repercussions for everyday Americans. American imperialism inadvertently caused many of America’s wars, so our sons can go die overseas to fight unnecessarily in order to subjugate innocent people. Is that what we really stand for? Are we serving the interests of the American people, or a tiny group of rich fat cat lobbyists and corporate war profiteers?

That flag may represent “freedom” and “pride” to everyday folks, but those emotions are simply what keeps you loyal to the state, overlooking its criminal activities (like CIA drug trafficking and arming terrorists) at home and abroad. If we claim to love freedom, then we must demand our own government to respect the sovereignty of other countries, as we expect others to do to us. We must not allow corrupt business practices to abuse other countries. We must demand an end to crop subsidies which only serve as a tool to control global food supplies, drive down prices so farmers in other countries cannot compete and America has more influence over them, all the while destroying the environment at home and abroad.

The question that needs to be asked is simple: is it patriotic to blindly follow your country out of nationalism, permitting its crimes to continue? Or is true patriotism opening our eyes and demanding a just and fair government?

Many people turn to communism as an alternative. But with 100 million dead in 100 years, it’s pretty clear Marx and his acolytes have no idea what they’re doing either. Communism in reality is just a fake ideology to brainwash the masses into starting a revolution. It’s just power and greed, often worse than what it replaces. Even China is following suite in American imperialism.

The Best Identity

This is why Islam is the best identity. Your identity is submission to God. No nation is perfect when founded on unsound principles. Islam is perfect, when properly understood and implemented. It gives you the highest standard to shoot for. It teaches us to learn from other cultures, but take the good and leave the bad, because no culture or country has got it all. We have the greatest predecessors to look up to and learn from, like Umar ibn Abdil-Aziz. His reign was so righteous and taxes were so low that the zakat distributors couldn’t find any poor to give zakat to, so they went around using it to free slaves. And Sheikh Abdul Qadr al-Jazairi, the Algerian freedom fighter who saved 10,000 Christians from a mob. Abraham Lincoln sent him two pistols in honor of his actions.

Islam gives you the highest morality in economics and business, proven to work time and again when properly implemented. It is far more sustainable than Western greed-based business practices, which are more akin to a pump-and-dump than an honest, legitimate economic policy. It teaches you personal standards to live by and what rights others have upon you to maintain a functional society. It gives you something concrete to believe in and source your beliefs from. It has no history of greedy and abusive colonialism, rather it improved every land it went in every domain: economic mobility and free trade, stronger economy, more freedom (religious, political, judicial), safety, security, and more.

Righteousness (al-birr) is not in turning your faces towards the east or the west. Rather, the righteous are those who believe in Allah, the Last Day, the angels, the Books, and the prophets; who give charity out of their cherished wealth to relatives, orphans, the poor, ˹needy˺ travellers, beggars, and for freeing captives; who establish prayer, pay alms-tax, and keep the pledges they make; and who are patient in times of suffering, adversity, and in ˹the heat of˺ battle. It is they who are true ˹in faith˺, and it is they who are mindful ˹of Allah˺.

Quran 2:177


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