A motherland is for all

Recently, I watched the movie entitled ‘Saladin’, the Egyptian version of the story about the fall of Jerusalem from the hands of the Crusaders to the Muslims, a story that was apparently based on some actual and historical context. I was drawn to what the protagonist in the movie by the same name said. Or rather, the dialogue or script attributed to, or assigned to the actor playing Saladin, the hero in the movie, drew my special attention. It triggered me to write this article.

Religion is for God

The good and bad human.

Specifically, the words spoken by Saladin were as follows: “Religion is for God. Motherland is for all.” As portrayed in the movie, Saladin said those words after the fall of Jerusalem at his hands to indicate his ethos and ruling philosophy — that all religions would be allowed to be freely practised under his rule and that the City of Jerusalem would be opened to all, something like a universal city for all.

The essential meaning of those words was, as I deduced, that religions and spiritual beliefs are matters pertaining to the relationship of man with God and hence, it is a matter between man and his chosen God. There should be freedom of beliefs and the practise thereof and that the nature and form of that belief is a matter between the believer and his God, and not necessarily something to be governed by or dictated through the Ruler or let alone other lesser men in his realm. Also, it implied that no one should be forced to believe in a certain religion, creed or form of worship against his will.

In other words, in matters of religion, to each his own, and his belief and his conception of God, will be as he chooses to believe in or as his chosen religion may prescribe. At the intellectual level, one can quite understand such a perspective and it can be argued that in the public space, it may be important to subscribe to such an ethos or notion of political doctrine. Especially, in a country which is very multiracial, multicultural and multireligious.

Motherland is for all

Statue of Liberty

The second part of the statement is more interesting to digest and reflect upon, especially in the socio-political context. A ‘motherland for all’ is a powerful and necessary statement that needs to be made part of the political and social ethos, and constant discourse, for any country or nation. It is submitted that ideally, it should be the motherhood statement adopted by each and every country, especially with respect to all of her citizens, irrespective of race, religion, creed, colour or origin. So that to each and for every citizen, their country is indeed their motherland in all sense of the word and the sense of acceptance and belonging is real and powerful.

All the members and the citizens of the motherland should have equal opportunities and will have a share of the benefits, tangible or otherwise, that are available to every citizen in the country. No one single group, individual or community is monopolising or seen to be monopolising an unequal share of the benefits and opportunities. That is likely to be a recipe for inherent instability and potential disaster.

Pronouncement versus reality

Looking at the two limbs — The Religion Ethos and the Motherland Ethos — perhaps the United States of America is the country closest to being deemed the manifestation of its proclamation and pronouncement of, and the formal subscription to, the ethos of freedom, democracy and equal opportunities: And as well as the separation of State and religion. The US also actively portrays itself as a country for all, a haven for, and a vanguard and fighter in the cause of freedom and democracy, where such values are taken as being lived and are solidly entrenched in the very fabric of the society.

Intending immigrants of all races, ethnicity, cultural background are welcomed to the United States to realise the American Dream. Well, they used to be welcomed at one time but not so anymore. And if we look closely, sometimes it can be a case of “indah khabar dari rupa” where the words spoken or the perceived reputation are beautiful but only in name, and certainly not in reality. The reality is far different from the perception, a classic case of “indah khabar dari rupa”!

The paradox of realising or living the declared national ethos is an interesting phenomenon to watch or observe. The reality is always lagging behind the declared intention or the formal import of national philosophy. Wherein lies the fault and blame can be attributed to in a million reasons, figuratively speaking that is. But perhaps, the answer lies in just one word, which as usual is the root cause of the problems, intractable issues, source of conflicts, blindness as to what is needed to be done, unmitigated greed, and so on, and the birthing of unfair practices and policies. And that one word is “human-nature”, in the form of the egoistic self.

The bounties of Motherland.

Challenges of the egoistic self

Human nature in the form of the egoistic self is the most difficult to tame. It’s an unruly horse, more like a wild and powerful stallion, which not many riders can overcome, let alone master, and put under control. Every human is such a rider. And that is perhaps why religions exist — to tame the wild nature and egoistic tendencies of man. History is replete with examples from the past and amongst the most famous, or rather notorious examples was perhaps, the Egyptian Pharaohs or King of Kings, as we learnt from stories and recorded accounts.

Man aspiring for the Godhead

A depiction of the mask of Tutenhamen.

The stories and narratives of the Pharaoh are mentioned in the religious texts or traditions of the Abrahamic religions. We even have movies made by people who depict the man-king who aspired to be a God.

Recently, I read accounts in some reports or news items about new detailed findings on the Pharaoh where scientists are using modern technology to uncover minute details of the mummified remains which have been preserved in pretty good shape in all these years.

Maybe, there are lessons to be learnt from this artefact from ancient history. Important lessons for modern man. Undoubtedly, the preservation of the corpse over such a long time is for a purpose. There is a rhythm and rhyme somewhere. Perhaps, it is a lasting and powerful reminder and a lesson to be learnt and not to be ever forgotten. Nor to be emulated by nascent and aspiring modern Pharaohs.

The future and prospects for the ending

Heeding the lessons of the past, learning from our collective mistakes, building on the good we may have done, and so on, may beget some hope that one day the world will finally see the transformation dreamt of — that the whole world will be truly a motherland to all, not just one or some countries on earth. A time when peace on earth will happen. That day will or may come. That’s what many believe and dearly hold on to. Or the day will never dawn for such a future. But for the moment, we should persevere in the search for the truth, to strive for a better world. To realise the meaning behind the statement, ‘Motherland is for all’.

The writer is a regular contributor to this newspaper and covers a wide range of subjects delivered through storytelling and mainly fictional narratives. The views expressed or implied in this article is the writer’s own and do not necessarily represent that of the paper.

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