Friday, 31 January 2020

Jurisdiction and Borders

What makes a country?

This interview with the late Sir Roger Scruton sheds a lot of light on why Brexit is happening, and how the Anglosphere is different from European countries, but the point he makes at 34:45 is what stands out.

He defines his country as the land "where our jurisdiction operates". He then explains that the national idea is that "territorial jurisdiction" is what must be defended against religious or quasi-religious jurisdictions, such as the Universal Doctrine of Human Rights or indeed the Revealed Law. He says the law is defined by the land in which it operates. There's nothing "blood and soil" about the matter. 

Imam Muhammad Saeed Ramadan al-Bouti, may Allah have mercy on him, when explaining how al-Madinah was different to Makkah when the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, settled there, boiled it down to three things:
  • Al-Madinah was the first territory that Muslims ruled over, i.e. they had "territorial jurisdiction"
  • There was a a system of governance in place, with the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, as the ruler
  • There were people residing in that territory
As the Imam explains,  this is why martial combat (i.e. jihad) was legislated in al-Madinah; once in al-Madinah, the Muslims had something to defend and fight for. This is the first Dar al-Islam. 

The Muslims in Makkah had none of these, and thus Allah did not legislate martial combat during that period.

I do not know how much Sir Roger Scruton knew about Islam or the Revealed Law, but he does seem to understand that what unites people, at the most fundamental level, is shared beliefs and ideas. An ummah consists of people who share the same beliefs and ideas, e.g. Muslims, Jews, Christians, Americans, Pakistanis etc. It is not blood and lineage (e.g. a qawm, such the Arabs, the English, the Punjabis etc.) or soil and birthplace. The Muslims gathered under one territorial jurisdiction in al-Madinah because they believed in Allah in His Messenger, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, not because they had all been born in al-Madinah (rather, some were born there and other were migrants) or because they had familial links to the city. At the same time, there were hypocrites and disbelievers that were very much native to the city and were vehemently hostile to new Muslim governance. It is not blood and soil that unites people.

And Allah the Exalted knows best.