Inside Arab and Muslim Nations

Recent public revolution movements in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen and Jordan, remind us the otherwise when U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton accused Iran of trying to insitate new conflicts in the Middle East, Arab and Muslim nations should first consider the Ottoman Sultan Selim the Grim. In 1512, Selim came to power by overthrowing his father and murdering his brothers and nephews to eliminate possible pretenders to the throne. Even though he was a skilled politician, Selim was very fond of fighting and instigating wars. Selim, who expanded the leadership branch of Sunni Islam, conquered the Safavid Empire in Persia, known for its Shia Islam. He then attacked and defeated other Islamic regions and kingdoms throughout Syria, Palestine, Egypt, and North Africa.

For his brutality, he was known as Selim the Grim. But just as terrible, Selim slaughtered other Muslims, something the sacred Quran forbids to do. Such conquests and fighting, along with trying to control the wealth and grain of Egypt and all the Mediterranean outlets of the eastern trade spices, textiles, and jewels, actually weakened Ottoman power in the long-term. It also caused great resentment, producing even more divisions among Islamic regions and between Muslims. At the same time, the Quran cautions against offensive wars and the killing of innocent men, women and children. It only encourages fighting to defend one’s faith and homeland.

With their rich histories, cultures and communities, and with their resources, business ventures and regional locations, Islamic and Muslim kingdoms and republics could become one of the most formidable political, economic and social blocs in the 21st Century. Regrettably, some have allowed the Western Powers to divide and conquer and to undermine Islamic unity and the Islamic faith. Some have also allowed themselves to become susceptible to arms and military agreements, and to become economically dependent on the United States. Other Islamic nations and regions are still reeling from the Cold War and decolonization, and have therefore displayed fear and mistrust.

If Arabs and Muslims are to secure a just peace, they will have to forgo The Selim the Grim Syndrome and his axiom: “A Carpet is large enough to accommodate two sufis, but the world is not large enough for two kings.” U.S.-led sanctions against Iran, with regards to its nuclear enrichment program for peaceful civilian uses, will have to be confronted and challenged. The recent talks held in Turkey between Iran and the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France, and Germany, will have to be promoted and continued. A complete U.S.-NATO troop withdrawal from the Middle East and Central Asia, specifically Iraq and Afghanistan, will have to be initiated by an Islamic-Arab bloc.

U.S. military and political intelligence, which has a lengthy history of erring, or of being used to either manipulate nations to seize their resources or start preemptive wars, will also have to be rejected. Arab and Islamic nations will have to apply more pressure against Israel, so that stalled peace talks the Palestinians can resume, and so that a disaster of human proportions can finally be resolved. If Arab and Islamic republics unite, they can use their influence to persuade the United Nations to again recognize a Palestinian State and to undo previous wrongs. Meanwhile, a greater push for regional trade, military pacts, and cultural and educational exchange programs that emphasize toleration and understanding, will only serve to benefit the future of Islam and its adherents.

Still, and in order to avoid The Selim the Grim Syndrome, or absolutism, Muslim leaders will need to provide greater opportunities for the practice of Islamic values and rights. Islamic ethics and liberties, which are based on God’s will and his will for humankind, should be encouraged. The role of Islam is not to deny or repress human nature, but to provide guidance in permitting the fulfillment and liberty of God’s intention for each human. Respect for conscience, shaped by societal and family principles, and esteeming individual rights and happiness, within the larger context of the umma (community), will help prevent more revolutions and bloodshed. While the Quran emphasizes compassion, good works, and economic opportunities, it warns against ignorance, greed, and violence

When one considers the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Qatar, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Jordan, Kuwait, Iraq, Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Indonesia, and many other nations in Africa and other parts of the world that are heavily influenced by Arabs and Islam; such nations and their leaders and peoples can capitalize on this historic moment. It is a historic moment, in the sense that, the U.S. and Western Powers are in decline, some even on the verge of collapsing. In this political and economic vacuum, a new and more life-giving and life-sustaining organization can appear. Instead of a devastating syndrome that has caused division and bloodshed, perhaps Arabs and Islamic republics and kingdoms can offer a new remedy. A remedy that encourages healing and vitality through unity.

Dallas Darling (

(Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John’s Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas’ writings at and

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