Hence, political unity was never fully accomplished in the past, at a time when society was organized in a simple fashion and religion assumed a greater importance in all affairs of life. That makes the task of pan Arab unity in the contemporary socio-political context even more improbable. In the word of al-Husri, “it will not be possible to realize political unity in this century, when social life has become complicated, political problems have become intractable, and science and technology have liberated themselves from the control of tradition and religious beliefs.” (al-Husri, p.151) In this context, modern proponents of Islamic political unity across Arabia will have to pay attention to historical evidence as well as geographic constraints. Also, the author prudently warns, “whoever opposes Arab unity, on the pretext of Muslim unity, contradicts the simplest requirements of reason and logic, and I unhesitatingly say that to contradict logic to this extent can be the result only of deceit or of deception.” Hence, in al-Husri’s view, aspiring for Islamic Brotherhood (a notional construct) is a more feasible and practicable goal than Islamic unity across Arab and beyond.
In The Future of Culture in Egypt, author Taha Hussein looks into the particular case of Egypt. Hussein’s approach is slightly different from the other two authors, in that, he sees culture as a powerful characteristic that unifies a group. To this extent he regards it to be as important as religion (if not overlapping with it). In trying to figure where Egyptian culture starts to deviate from the contrasting Western culture, Hussein notes “the essence and source of Islam are the essence and source of Christianity. The connection of Islam with Greek philosophy is identical to that of Christianity. Whence, then, comes the difference ni the effect of these two faiths on the creation of the mind that mankind inherited from the peoples of the Near East and Greece?” (Hussein, p.8) This sort of deep inquiry has implications for the question of nationality in Arab geopolitics. The analysis offered by Tara Hussein also brings a measure of balance to the study of religion in Arabic countries, as he analyzes its founding and function as a necessity within the historical realm.
In conclusion, the three authors whose texts were analyzed for this exercise – Sayyid Qutb, Sati al-Husri and Taha Hussein, all offer interesting perspectives on the role and relevance of nationality, religion and culture in the contemporary Arab scene. They all espouse erudite interpretation of the current problems facing the region and offer liberal resolutions. These solutions have at their core a philosophy of tolerance, cooperation and compassion toward the larger Islamic Brotherhood, which transcends the confines of Arabia and includes the global Muslim Diaspora.
Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, Unity Publishing Co, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, 1981
Sati al-Husri, Muslim Unity and Arab Unity, Arab Nationality: An Anthology, p. 147-153.
Taha Husein, translated by Sidney Glazer, The Future of Culture in Egypt, p.1-9.