Independence ended the sovereignty of European powers over their territories; however it did not produce states afresh.
Despite the rhetoric, the new states were nothing more than new branches based on a trunk planted during the colonial days.
The colonization of Muslim lands started with India, the scramble for Africa and the division of Ottoman lands following the First World War. The era ended after the Second World War when Britain and France withdrew from most of their territories. Islam received harsh criticism from the colonialists and their scholars instilling a sense of inferiority in the local elites and rising bureaucrats including even those who opposed colonialism.
For Muslims with a world outlook, territorial limitations had been irrelevant. Colonial territories however did little to unify their peoples to create national societies or cultures. Their focus was in defending their territories against other colonial powers or reducing the burden of ruling. The former led to promotion of the sanctity of boundaries leading to permanent borders. The latter prevented the creation of lasting identities seen in the diverseness and tensions in states including Lebanon, Iraq, Indonesia and Nigeria.
These sovereign states diverted the mode of loyalty of the subjects from universal to teritorial values. Moreover the new secular law contributing to the assertion of territorial sovereignty, replacing the ecumenical character of Islamic sovereignty - as well as a reformulation of the Islamic political paradigms, including those being discussed in this paper.
The deliberate manipulation of diversities to strengthen their rule created increasingly fractured societies, meaning tensions and wars were inevitable. Civil wars in Sudan, Iraq, Malaysia, Pakistan, Nigeria, Kenya, Tanzania and Chad are but a few. Territorial disputes involved Morocco, Algeria, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Syria, Lebanon Palestine, Malaysia and Singapore.
The colonizers encouraged and invested in education and educational institutions for those who would run the machinery of state. Over time they influenced generations of Muslim leaders and intellectual developments in the Muslim lands. Famous institutions included University of Punjab, University of Malaya, and Atchison College in Lahore.
The elite sent their sons to schools in Eton, Harrow, Oxford and Cambridge in England or in Paris and Amsterdam. Iqbal studied at Cambridge and Heidelberg Universities as well as Lincoln's Inn where Jinnah received his law degree. Many of the North African liberation movement leaders were students in North African French schools and Paris Universities.
Amongst the militaries officers would be trained at places such as Sandhurst and Saint Cyr or officer schools modelled on their European counter parts such as Quetta Staff College in Pakistan.
The pervasive impact of education introduced the Muslim world to western literature and philosophy. Figures such as J S Mill and Rousseau and over time, Sartre and Camus, became models for dissenting intellectuals just as Lenin, Castro, Mao and Che Guevara captured the imagination of activists.
The colonialists generally focused on domination to ensure legitimacy and security. The colonial state was highly centralised utilising institutions with a European flavour; the police, judiciary, military and bureaucracy being key repositories of its authority. The institutions were not designed for society – for instance, the bureaucracy was designed not to maintain order but to ensure the smooth running of government and economy.
This structure allowed a European minority to rule vast territories, managing the economic flow of resources and goods between the parent state and its territories. These institutions, embedded in subsequent states determined the basis of the state, its character and its relationship with society and other states. States such as Pakistan replicated the colonial state in set up and function as well as how they envisioned their own roles, with Jinnah the first governor-general and the India Act of 1935 being law of the land until 1956. In Turkey, the law was secularized based on the Napoleonic Code, the Muslim calendar abandoned, the script Latinized, polygamy prohibited and in 1928 the constitution was even amended to remove the statement that Turkey was an Islamic state
Military and Police Forces
The military, intelligence and police forces were trained to provide support to their colonial masters The training ensured soldiers, and more importantly the officer corp, internalized the military ideas and political values of the colonial administration, resulting in an over-preoccupation with order and impatience with politics of the masses.
Militaries were trained not for external war but for preservation of internal order, giving them a perceived right to interfere in politics to restore order The size of the militaries was usually based on the interests of the colonisers and Muslim states inherited omnipotent militaries, too large for their population sizes and economic strengths.
The colonial policy of recruiting amongst minorities was due to their closeness with the colonial order and willingness to help suppress the dominant community as well unresponsiveness to religious calls like Jihad.
The legacy of the Mutiny of 1857 shaped thinking resulting in Alawis dominating the Syrian army and Punjabis in the Pakistani army The forces having fought with their colonial officers up to independence institutionalised attitudes of mistrust and cynicism of those who fought for independence.
Indonesian generals remained wary of Sukarno, removing him with the pretext of Communism. Even left-leaning junior officers who overthrew their senior officers to join the anti-imperialist struggles did not resolve the tensions between military and civilian orders, leading to military takeovers in Egypt, Libya, Iraq and Syria.
The pervasive nature of the intelligence services (mukhabaraat) is still widely felt throughout the Arab world, stifling discussion, preventing political dissidence and quashing criticism. The experiences of those who suffering from these institutions are widely known and reported.
Like the military, the bureaucracy was moulded in the ethos of colonial culture, sharing the same political outlook Due to their power over the state machinery, politicians would have little control over them lest they disrupt the workings of state As such, they had major input into state formation, ensuring continuities in the ethos and mode of operation of the state before and after independence.
In Pakistan the bureaucracy eclipsed the political elite in managing the country, replacing Mohammed Ali Jinnah and Liaqat Ali Khan after 1951 by senior bureaucrats Ghulam Muhammad and Iskandar Mirza, both having risen through the bureaucracy under the British.
The quality of the bureaucracy was generally determined by the investment the colonial power made in its administration, the Indian Civil Service being exemplary, whilst those of the Arab Near East and Libya being underdeveloped Many lost their independence and their pre-eminence declined resulting in the diminishment of their political role.
The Malaysian judiciary has a similar history as do most post-colonial British territories The judiciary had the interesting effect of instituting particular patterns of political activity in the body politic of the pre and post-colonial society, allowing courts to become avenues for political activism.
Governance - Politics of Identity
Colonial rule was often only possible through the manipulation of divisions in society, ethnic, linguistic and religious. By accentuating social differences, they institutionalised them by treating communities differently in the eyes of the law, at polling booths, in how resources were allocated and in recognition of religious rights etc.
This encouraged the politics of identity at the cost of development of uniform civil societies. In India, this resulted in the All-India Muslim League in 1906 that lobbied for separate electorates for Muslims and Hindus with similar reactions in Malaysia, Nigeria and Palestine Elections in colonial rule provided a critical political framework that shaped the conception of communities of their relation to power at the centre as well as their own identity and self-definition.
The subsequent state leaders (usually from the colonial military or bureaucracy) would continue manipulating social divisions even as they spoke of national unity - Iraq being a case in question.
The importance of certain geographic locations to colonising powers (eg, North West India to the British for supply of troops) or where the colonisers arrived late (eg, the French agricultural relationships with Syria) meant that they developed patronage networks, which have left indelible marks in future state-society relationships.
The state emerged as paternalistic and society came to see patronage as a function of state - this contributed to Malays remaining aloof from commercial activities expecting the state to guarantee economic and social standing.
Variations of how the colonial administrators ruled their vassal populations accounted for the different experiences in state formations post-colonialism.
In Algeria and Libya colonial rule was direct while in Morocco, Tunisia, Malaysia, Java and India local elites were used The Dutch in Java, utilised the local elites to resolve labour shortages, entrenching their socio-political positions, creating dependencies between the peasantry and elite (the Dutch permitting exploitation and impoverishment for their own ends) The British carefully controlled 250 princes in India to control a third of the Indian population – they controlled the rest of the population by manipulating landowners, local chiefs and grandees.
Symbiotic relationships resulted, entrenching the positions of these local elites, who favoured compartmentalisation of policy in favour of a uniform national political arena This allowed them to control segments of the polity and negotiate with the centre. In Pakistan this trend is still visible today with the landowning class controlling politics at all levels and resisting land reforms.
The power of the monarchy in the Gulf States and Brunei and tribal chiefs in East Africa and Nigeria is reflective of these British policies The Algerian experience with direct French rule to ensure integration into France and exploitation through commercial gain for their settlers resulted in centralised rule – local elites and leaders were seen with hostility, a reflection of the post-colonial Algerian landscape.
Colonialism's structural expressions continue to reproduce themselves in a fashion that perpetuates this power relationship.
New Muslim elites are largely products of superimposed structures, resulting in polarization and bifurcation between elites and masses. Muslim intellectuals, imbued with the Western discourse of rationality, entered political life as natural allies to elites and colonialists. The masses fell back on their own values to protect themselves from the new class which sought to pattern life along Western lines.
Without social cohesion, the State is unable to deal with strains, penetrate society and regulate social relationships. In the absence of an overarching consciousness that unites and merges its subjects at all levels of the social scale in a commonly accepted meaning and criteria of validity, there can be neither strong societies nor strong states.
The current regimes across the Muslim world cannot be seen as simply "Muslims" as this fails to take into consideration the institutionalized colonial values, foreign ideologies, systems, agendas and outlooks, visible today across the organs of the modern states, their constitutions, policies, administration and organizations along with the resulting tensions.
Cleveland, W (2004) "A History of the Modern Middle East"
Esposito, J (1999) "The Oxford History of Islam"
Hitti, P (1970) "History of the Arabs"
Lewis, B (1997) "A history of the Middle East"
A party thrown by the then Shah of Iran, originally bought to power by the Americans, helps explain the why.
In 1971 the Shah threw a party for heads of state and royalty across 69 countries in Persepolis, the ancient capital of Persia. The celebration was the 2,500th anniversary of the Persian empire created by Cyrus the Great.
No expense was spared with over $100 million being spent on the celebration - 50 gold threaded suits cost $1,000 each, colored light bulbs cost $840,000.
French designers were commissioned to design and plan a tent city to host the event in over 160 acres of desert. Fifty luxury apartments surrounded by Persian tent cloth in a start pattern around a central pattern were built to look like the original city. It took over a year to construct, consuming over 23 miles of silk, carpets and marble. He imported one and a half thousand trees and vast numbers of flowers and songbirds from Europe to create an artistic effect with chefs through to bakers flown in from the Parisian restaurant Maxims - which was temporarily shut down for the two week party.
Over 250 Mercedes-Benz limousines were purchased just to transport guests to and from the airport. A banqueting hall was decorated with Bohemian crystal chandeliers with food served on Limoges china.The tablecloth itself took 125 women six months to embroider. A special cellar was built to house 2,500 bottles of champagne, 1,000 bottles of Bordeaux and 1,000 of Burgundy.
The tribe at the Persepolis was forcibly removed from the region, over 2,000 critics were rounded up and arrested, the region was sealed off by the military by barbed wire and even the University of Tehran, over 400 miles away, was closed for the celebration.
The gala feast on 14th October to celebrate his wife's birthday lasted five and a half hours with the menu in Persian and French. It contained the following:
The following day, 4,000 soldiers paraded for the guests, donning different costumes, representing armies of the Iranian empires through its history.
In Iran and abroad the Shah was condemned for such extravagence amidst the hardship his people and the people of the region were suffering
Journalists discussed his wife Farah's sumptuous dresses and jewels and the diamond-studded collar of the pet dog of the Emperor Hailé Selassié of Ethiopia, which, outclassed jewels worn by many of the Queens and First Ladies in attendance.
Iranians were shocked by the quantity of alcohol consumed, the scandalous low-cut dresses and the Shah's praising of Cyrus the Great with little to no mention of Islam.
The Shah soon realised his celebration had backfired. When the Ayatollah Khomeini condemned his party, he angrily replied, "Should I serve heads of state bread and radishes instead?"
However, the damage could not be undone.
For a number of royal dynasties in attendance, the writing was already on the wall.
Within two years the Greek and Afghan monarchies were abolished. Hailé Selassié was deposed and murdered by Ethiopian revolutionaries and the Islamic Revolution of 1979 terminated the Shah's rule, ending the Pahlavi Dynasty.
Great answers start with great insights. Content becomes intriguing when it is voted up or down - ensuring the best answers are always at the top.
Questions are answered by people with a deep interest in the subject. People from around the world review questions, post answers and add comments.
Be part of and influence the most important global discussion that is defining our generation and generations to come