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Wednesday, May 31, 2023

“Allah created Arabs as masters of the world”: what a Jordanian MP’s views tell us about Muslim attitudes

Jordanian MP and former minister Dr. Mohammad Nouh Qudah has claimed that “Allah created Arabs as Masters of the world” during a talk show on Kuwaiti channel Iqra TV.


In the clip of the TV program posted by MEMRI (Middle East Media Research Institute), a US-based non-profit which primarily monitors press in the Middle-East, the MP says –

“When the Arabs received Islam, it came with the idea that they are the masters of the world. Today, some people want us to manufacture planes, cars and trains and then compete with Europe and America. But this is not the purpose for which we were created. When Allah created us as “people and tribes” (as the Quran says), He endowed us Arabs with thought and guidance and He created the other peoples as students who follow our guidance. They are the ones who should work. This way, our thought and their work complement each other, and this is how the world is built.

This is why God said in the Quran: ‘….and We raised some of them above others in ranks.’ We are the masters of the world. I am not saying this out of a sense of superiority. No, no. I say this as a way to put things in order. This is why God sent the message to the Arab nation. He instilled in the Arabs traits of leadership that he did not bestow upon others. I say to my brothers who watch us from Europe, America, or elsewhere: Go to any school, where there are children. Look at the way the children move, and you will notice that the Arab children are different from the children from the rest of the world. It shows! Take them on a trip, and you will see that the Arab children are different.

This is not about castes, about racism, or about discrimination. I am talking about traits and different genes that Allah instilled in the Arab nation, when He sent down his message. So Allah created us Arabs to be preachers who deliver His message to the others.”

Arab supremacism and racism

Deeply ingrained racism in the Arab world is now an open secret. The legacy of Arab slave traders and the violent spread of Islam by Arabs and Turks has left its mark on the psyche of Arabs and others in the Muslim world. As this Dw.com article says –

“In parts of the Arab world, Black people have been described in everday speech as “servants” or “slaves,” and this perpetuates long-lasting stereotypes.

For centuries, many Arab nations were involved in the slave trade, capturing people in Sub-Saharan Africa and using them as unpaid workers themselves or selling them to European slave traders. In many periods of history, slaves were also made to serve in the army. In his book “L’Esclavage en terre d’Islam” (“Slavery in the Land of Islam”), the Algerian anthropologist Malek Chebel writes that “from dynasty to dynasty, century to century, slavery became a Muslim reality.”

And this racism is not limited to just Black people. South Asians and others face institutionalised discrimination in the Arab world, where many of them work as migrant workers. This 2017 article informs us:

“Many Arab countries have maintained the kafala – or sponsorship system – which ties the legal status of low-wage migrant workers directly to their employer, giving the latter power to take away workers’ passports, withhold their salaries, and subject them to harrowing abuse. In Arab countries where kafala isn’t applied, refugees and non-Western migrants are routinely abused by the state, their host community…

..In places, such as Qatar and Kuwait, more than 90 percent of the labour force is imported from South and Southeast Asia and Africa…Recruiters do their part to lure workers by propagating false promises of a fair wage and a day off each week. It’s not until many workers arrive that they realise they’ve been trafficked into performing slave-like labour which they would have never consented to…

…Domestic migrant workers – generally women – are even more vulnerable. In Lebanon, they are excluded from basic protections under the labour law. And like elsewhere in the region, many are locked indoors and routinely subjected to starvation, rape and death. The female head of the household is sometimes the perpetrator, or in the very least, complicit in the abuse.

A senior Egyptian official allegedly called sub-Saharan Africans “dogs and slaves” during a diplomatic visit to Kenya.”

Many cases of Indian women and men, mostly Muslims from Telangana and other states, being lured to Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries for work and then being exploited as sex slaves or slave labor have come to light.

Impact of such supremacism on other Muslims

It is thus not surprising that many social scientists today consider Islam as a form of Arab imperialism, with Turkey and Iran (Shia) forming the second and third poles grappling for supremacy in the Muslim world. South Asian Muslims come very low down on this social ladder, and hence many Pakistani and Indian Muslims desperately try to claim Arab ancestry. In fact, within sub-continental Muslims too, there is a divide between the Ashraf class who trace their lineage to foreign conquerors, and the local converts i.e. Ajlaf who have been considered inferior since the time of the Delhi Sultanate.

Such supremacist attitudes and talk of being ‘masters of the world’ echoes with the ‘master race’ rhetoric of Nazi Germany. And the results have been similar – while the entire world knows about the Holocaust of Jews by Nazis, not many know about a similar genocide which happened in 1971 where 2.5 to 3 million Bengalis (mostly Hindus) were murdered by the then West Pakistani state which wanted to ‘purify’ East Pakistan (today’s Bangladesh). As this columnist explains

“The prejudice against Bengali Muslims has a long history and was quite prevalent long before Pakistan emerged as an independent state. Muslim intellectuals, elites and politicians, which belonged to northern India, had the picture of a Muslim as tall, handsome and martial in character. These characteristics were applicable only to Muslims of northern India.

As Bengali Muslims didn’t fit into this prejudiced and racist picture, therefore they were ignored at best and when even allowed to come closer, were considered inferior. Bengalis were shunned despite their political advancement and strong resentment against oppression and tyranny. A large portion of Bengali Muslims was converts from Hindu low castes. The ‘noble borns’ of Bengal claimed foreign ancestry (Syed, Afghan, Mughal). The majority of Bengali Muslim population which had customs common with Hindu peasantry and had a proud sense of their language was not considered as ‘proper Muslims’ by some Bengali ‘nobles’ and almost all of West Pakistan. This perception later influenced the official decision to ‘Islamize’ and ‘purify’ East Bengali culture in Pakistan after 1947.”

So while the left historians in Bharat claim that Islam spread because of its ‘egalitarianism’ vis-a-vis ‘hierarchical and discriminatory’ Hinduism, the reality throughout Muslim history has been totally different. And the worst discrimination in the Muslim world has always been reserved for the kafir, the unbeliever, especially the ‘idol worshippers’. So while East Bengalis Muslims were liberated from the West Pakistani yoke by a Hindu-majority Bharat, it comes as no surprise that the same Bengali Muslims are today persecuting Hindus in their country.

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