In the West, the Arabization of Muslim communities has occurred with government assistance, which, through imposed policies of multiculturalism in the name of diversity, has effected the destruction of South Asian culture.
by Samuel Westrop:
Britain’s multiculturalism policies have imposed Islamist leadership upon Britain’s Muslim communities and brought about the destruction of South Asian culture.
British suicide bomber and jihadist, Abdul Waheed Majeed, in his last moments before ramming a truck laden with explosives into a Syrian prison, posed in a white Islamic tunic and black scarf for the cameras. Asked by the cameraman to say a few words in Arabic before his “martyrdom,” Majeed replied: “Sorry? I can’t speak. Everyone asks me that and … I’m not a very good speaker.”
Abdul Waheed Majeed (left), of Crawley, England, poses for photographs moments before driving a truck-bomb into a prison in Aleppo, Syria. (Image source: Jabhat al-Nusra video)
Majeed, like a large number of British Muslims, was not an Arabic speaker. He was of Pakistani heritage. About 70% of British Muslims are, in fact, South Asian. A mere 6.6% are believed to be of Arab descent. And very few British Muslims can actually speak Arabic.
Nevertheless, British Islam is firmly focussed on the Middle East. The poet Hamza Beg, writing in the journal of a taxpayer-funded organization, Asfar, noted: “Since 1999, Pakistan, for example, has had a military coup, a purported return to democracy, and the assassination of the leader of the opposition, Benazir Bhutto. However, an entire generation of British-born Pakistanis have been more interested in Israeli incursions into Lebanon, the occupation of Palestine, and the war on Iraq. How has this occurred and what does it mean?”
British Muslims, Beg continued, have rejected “their parents’ cultural understanding of Islam as a religion. British-Pakistani Muslims have become Muslims first, and are losing patience with the Pakistani practice of the religion embedded in Sufi traditions.”
“In rejecting a culturally conditioned Islam,” Beg concludes, “Muslims in Britain have given up their equal footing and fallen prey to Arab imperialism.” Indonesian scholar Azyumardi Azra refers to this process as “Arabization.”
In a similar story, one South Asian blogger in the United States writes, “Why hasn’t South Asian poetry, art and dress impacted any of the large American Islamic organizations of today? Why are nearly all Muslim converts distinctly Arabic in appearance, style, and culture? … This idea of Arabization of tongue and culture, of course, has been devastatingly successful, and fed right into the weaknesses of the colonized South-Asian inferiority complex. Hence South Asia began marginalizing their own culture only a few decades after the Saudi’s [sic] began the propaganda machine. The rich colors of the South Asian woman have been discarded…”
Over the past century, Arab-focussed Islamists have attempted to homogenize Islamic cultures outside the Middle East. This process initially occurred in South Asia – Pakistan, Bangladesh and parts of India.
The Indian academic Baladas Ghoshal blames the “Wahhabi creed” of Saudi Arabia, which, he claims, has attempted to purge South Asian Islam of its cultural practises and emblems, and has instead imposed a “pure and ideal form of Islam to be followed by Muslims all over the world.”
Wahhabis, Ghoshal writes, believe that the “adaptation of other customs, traditions and cultures in its path toward the expansion of the religion had only led to aberration and corruption of original and pristine ideas of Islam. It is only through the practice of mediaeval [sic] Arab traditions and way of life that the evil eyes of other religions can be kept at bay.”
Islamist movements in South Asia also adopted these efforts at Arabization. In the 1930s, ideologues such as Abul Hasan Nadwi – part of the radical Islamic Deobandi sect, which later gave birth to the Taliban – attempted to establish in India a single, unique Islamic identity based on “pure Islam.” According to Nadwi, this meant dressing like Arabs, speaking Arabic and reading the Arabic language press. Islamic revivalism, Nadwi claimed, required “emphasizing its affinities to his Muslim confreres in the Middle East.”
Islamist groups such as Jamaat-e-Islami have since adopted these ideas; they claim that culture cannot exist outside of Islam and that Pakistani Muslims were part of the “Arab nation.” The Jamaat-e-Islami ideologue, Abdul Ala Mawdudi, has said that culture destroys the “inner vitality” of Islam: it “blurs its vision, befogs its critical faculties, breeds inferiority complexes, and gradually but assuredly saps all the springs of culture and sounds its death-knell.”
Over the past decades, since Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates have distributed vast amounts of money to non-profit groups and schools run by South Asian Islamist movements, Jamaat-e-Islami, for example, set about purging Pakistani and Bengali Muslims of their cultural ideas. The Muslim writer Sazzad Hussainobserved the consequences of Islamist-led homogenization of his culture in the Indian state of Assam:
“The Islamist fundamentalist has one very distinctive characteristic—the denial of modern nation-state identity of Muslims to form a uniformed ‘Islamic’ identity at the cost of local tradition and cultural practices. … These days the Muslims of Assam are not identified as Assamese Muslims or Muslim of East Bengali descent. Instead they are merely homogenized as ‘Muslims’ … The use of Burqa and Hijab are alarmingly rising among the Muslim women in Assam. The ankle length Thaub, a Bedouin male dress and the red and white chequered headgear Kaffaiah are now in fashion for many Mollahs and Maulvis [clerics] and Madrassa students in Assam. It has reached to such an extent that this red-white or green-white chequered Kaffaiah is now replacing the Phoolam Gamocha, the symbol of Assamese culture…”
“Arabization and Islamization,” Ghosal writes, “are inseparable parts of a single cultural ideal.” In the West, and particularly in Britain, the loss of South Asian identity to the pervasively unifying label of “Islam” is readily apparent. The change of Muslim dress, some British Muslims believe, is a telling sign of this Islamization. Muslim cultures in the West, some claim, became Arabized before parts of the Muslim world itself. Pakistani writer Bina Shah has written:
“Growing up in Pakistan, I’d never seen anyone wear a hijab …. It was only in the late 1980s that I saw my first hijab, worn by the mother of a Pakistani-American girl from Peoria, Illinois. Saudi-Wahabi social influence filtered to Pakistan and much of the rest of the non-Arab world throughout the next two decades, thanks to a campaign that attempted to export the kingdom’s religio-social values to its would-be satellite states. Slowly, more and more women started to wear the black burqa and the tight hijab.”
The Islamization of Western Muslim communities has occurred with government assistance, which, through imposed policies of multiculturalism in the name of diversity, has effected the destruction of South Asian culture.
British multiculturalism has encouraged British society to exist as a federation of communities in which each minority community was not required to adopt the values of the majority. This inverse segregation only served to chain particular communities to their self-appointed community groups. Among Britain’s South Asian community, these groups were Islamist-run. Consequently, multiculturalist polices served to homogenize a community whose very diversity it had promised to preserve.