The dawn of the penultimate year of the millennium has ushered in an unified Europe under a common currency, the euro. Nearly half a century after the original idea was conceived, the western Europe has now succeeded in its monetary integration. Indications are that the Germany-led economic union, if it came through, will as well be followed by a more broad-based political and security union raising the prospects of the “United States of Europe” And Europe is expected to inch forward to the ultimate revival of the glorious pax Romana of yore to escape from the clutches of the present pax Americana. Shattered by the catastrophic devastations of the two world wars fought on its soil within a span of a quarter century, and to avoid an imminent third, Europe thought it best to do away with the very idea of the nation-states itself which were the root-cause of the earlier genocidal hostilities. They were as well guided in their endeavour by the considerations of forging a common European market would be able to stand its ground against the dominant US and emerging Asian economies. Now the Euroland has exceeded the US to metamorphose into the single largest block in foreign trade and commerce and the second largest in economic output accounting for a fifth of the World’s gross national product. The move is also likely to accelerate the growth of pan-European conglomerates and consortia in infrastructure and service sectors which are the monopolistic havens of the US multinational corporations. Given the hysterical nationalistic psyche of the people of each member state, it was not that easy for them to surrender their beloved currencies and individual economic sovereignties in favour of the Frankfurt-based European Central Bank. But they sacrificed their respective sovereignties for a collective cause; to acquire political clout commensurate with their combined economic might rather than playing second fiddle to the US hegemony which offends their sensibilities every now and then. Europe has united with an eye to the material benefits that accompany it even though it is a deeply divided continent along the linguistic, cultural and nationalistic lines with the vague term “Christianity” being the common bond between them. Here again they are divided among Catholics, Protestants. Anglicans, Eastern Orthodox et al, with each of them undergoing multiple sub-divisions further displaying the facade of a separate faith in itself.
The Ummah has a lesson from the European experiment. Besides, the world at large is witnessing nationalism fast receding and giving way to internationalism. The Muslim world and particularly the Arabic one had a glorious past largely remaining united as a single governing block from the times of the Umayyads and Abbasids to the all encompassing Ottoman Turk Caliphate until the forced disintegration of the latter at the hands of the victorious Anglo-American forces in World War I and the later creation of tens of miniature Arab states from its ruins. As a result of this western collusion to divide and subjugate the Ummah, the latter is a deeply divided house today even though it is immensely monolith by faith. Even though it constitutes a phenomenal 22 per cent of the population of the world with more than 46 sovereign countries at its disposal, it carries little weight in world affairs. Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt did try to unify the Arabs in 1958 by initially forging a confederation of Egypt with Syria christened as the United Arab Republic and later integrating Yemen into it under a new name United Arab States, thereby raising the expectation of a unified Arabia. But the anticipation was very short lived. Besides the inherent contradictions, the alliance fell victim to the machinations and back-door manoeuvres of the Judeo-Christian world which was worried about the safety of Israel in the wake of a pan-Arabian integration. Today we still have the Cairo-based Arab League founded in 1945 and which includes all the 22 Arabic speaking countries of the Muslim world which have come together to promote close political, economic, cultural and social relations among member states. Organisation of Islamic Conference, based in Jeddah, is another, more broad-based and representative of all the 46 sovereign Muslim countries of world which took birth in 191 with the objective of promoting Islamic solidarity and cooperation in economic, political, cultural and scientific spheres among the member states. But these two premier organisations of the Muslim world lack the necessary leverage to implement their own resolutions. They command the respect of nothing more than mere pressure groups in contemporary politics which pass resolutions in the form of appeals to the international community. It is high time that the Ummah and particularly the Arab world escaped from the shackles of the Anglo-Saxon world and emulated the best of the west to forge a broad-based union among themselves in at least the subjects which matter for their very survival, defence, economy and external affairs. Donald J. Johnston, the Secretary-General of the premier Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) has recently stressed its importance in International Herald Tribune saying; “While lasting freedom, peace, prosperity and security must be defended through military prowess, they can be acquired only through economic cooperation and development.” We already have such precedents in other parts of the globe in the form of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation of the capitalist west, the erstwhile Warsaw Pact of the Communist East and Organisation of American States of the Americas which have defence pacts between them to regard any aggression against any of their member states to be the one against all warranting a united retaliation. In terms of external affairs and economy we have the precedents of the European Union and OECD, an alliance of North America, Western Europe and the Pacific region. In an age of conventional national geographies becoming history in favour of strategic economic and defence alliances, led chiefly by the US and Europe, the Ummah can overlook its imminence only to its further insignificance and irrelevance.