|Tahrir Square, the center of the Egyptian Revolution|
People say: What is in a name?
I think Shakespeare's Juliet asked that question and then went on to give a rather sweet reply herself.
But my answer to that question is somewhat different from Juliet's.
To Juliet the name did not matter. For, it was the name "Capulet" that was the source of her sorrow and misfortune.
On the one hand, she, a Montague, loved Romeo, a Capulet, with a love that hurt as only true, divine love could.
On the other hand, each one of these two names, Montague and Capulet, was anathema to those in this equation that did not wear it.
That meant so long as she was a Montague, and Romeo a Capulet, their love was, with the certainty of death, headed for heartbreak.
For, neither family would let a member of the hated other family become a part of theirs.
Hence, Juliet's youthful eagerness to get rid of all names, so her beloved Romeo will bear the hated Capulet moniker no more.
Exactly what a spirited young woman in love would do - anytime anywhere.
But my answer to that question is different.
What is in a name you say?
My answer is: History and identity, not just of individuals and groups, but of entire nations and societies and cultures.
That is what!
Name of nations and societies is often the key to their past as well as to their present and future.
It is the code to their identity. And to their conduct and character in this world.
And some would say to their destiny.
It is the name that tells us who nations, societies and cultures are; where they came from; and how they are likely to behave in this world.
And also to some degree how they may end up: whether in the landfill of history or in the vanguard of nations, societies and cultures on the march.
That, if you ask me, is part of what is a in a name. And there is much more in a name after that.
That is perhaps why God Almighty himself gave the name Muslim to Muslims.
He named you Muslims, says the Qur'an: Huwa sammaakumul Muslimeen! A very special and unique distinction conferred on a nation or society by God.
The custom of this world is that owners and masters brand names, numbers and identities of their choosing on their possessions.
Muslims are those who opt for slavery to their master and maker, God Almighty, in lieu of slavery to their own fellow humans.
That, then, is part of what is in a name: Nations' past, present and future.
Their very identity and destiny.
Middle East, did you say?
Middle to what?
And East to whom?
To Britain, "Great" in terms of all the lands it had conquered and colonized and plundered and all the peoples of the world it had subjugated and enslaved?
Or to a host of European countries, with similar credentials and accomplishments, such as Belgium, France, Italy, Netherlands and Spain?
So, just an appendage to someone else's identity and a convenient shortcut to others in their often bloody march to fulfill their own personal, national and racial desires, dreams and ambitions?
Middle East! What a name to name someone!
And what a story of stolen identity, adulterated history and compromised destiny does the expression "Middle East" tell!
And how happily the slaves embrace and flaunt that name!
And even translate it in their own languages through mostly unthinking, uncaring and uncultured translators, many of them without any care or respect for their culture, creed, history or geography.
Ash-Sharqul Awsat! That is what they call it.
Exactly what it says, no matter how mindless it may sound: Middle East.
Just like translating "overseas" to Maa Waraa-ul Bihaar, don't you think? Even if you are only going from Kuwait to Iraq.
And how happily and proudly slaves embrace and flaunt the names and identities their owners and masters slap on them.
To the so-called Middle East, this name "Middle East" means a loss of their true identity and history as independent nations, societies, tribes and people with their own culture and character.
Shu'ooban wa Qabaail, as the Qur'an called them.
What most people don't know is that your name - your true identity - is often the first target of those who wish you ill: those who have designs on you and what you have and want to steal that from you.
Those who want to steal your wealth.
Or your land.
Or something else you may possess.
When people want to demonize and destroy people and places and things, they often begin by destroying their identity.
And their name.
They give them a name of their own choosing, rather than call them by the original name that these people and places had chosen for themselves.
So, the Middle East has been a favorite playground of the Colonial marauders of Europe for a long time.
And in this bloody, ruthless and evil game of nations, everything belonging to the Middle Eastern people has been fair game: their culture; their creed; their religion; their history; and their way of life.
And their wealth; their natural resources; and their land.
Not to say their very name and identity.
That is right. Now do you see what is in a name?
Poor Juliet was not expected to know all this. Besides, even if she had known, she would gladly have sacrificed all this for Romeo.
But not you and I. We are supposed to be a bit more hard-headed than that.
We are supposed to see through the wicked and evil game that others play with our names and identities and destinies.
One of the greatest triumphs of the Colonizers came when they convinced elements of the Middle East Muslim population that the Muslim Ottoman Turks were their enemy and got them to revolt against them.
The Middle East Muslims then stabbed the Muslim Ottoman Turks in the back under British Colonial direction and leadership.
This resulted in the dismantling of the unifying Muslim Ottoman Turkish political umbrella and the dismemberment and splintering of the Muslim nations, societies, tribes and groups in the region.
The Colonial British and the French then carved up the Muslim Middle East region into protectorates and principalities and ruled them either directly or with the help of their stooges and proxies whom they placed in control.
All this was during and after World War I.
The picture gets a bit more complicated during and after World War II.
Independence movements rocked much of the world. Many new nations were born and many old nations were swept away by the tide of history.
A dominant pattern that emerged throughout the Middle East was that this region by and large remained under Colonial domination and tutelage even when many other nations of the world became independent and free.
But now the Colonizers ruled the Muslim Middle Eastern region by proxy: either through a succession of military dictators whom they had trained or nurtured, or at least tacitly approved, or through hereditary quislings whom they supported and protected.
What we call the Middle East is a region with great history and culture and resources. The key to its future is to be able to shake off the tyrannies that shackle it and suck its blood and be truly free and democratic.
The key to Middle East's success, then, is for it to be free.
The current turmoil in the Middle East is not about jobs and bread. It is about the fight of the people of the Middle East for their basic humanity, liberty and dignity.
And Middle East will be free from its Colonial masters and their native stooges and proxies, when the people of the "Middle East" will rise up, as they are doing now, and will get rid of all their tyrants, military or hereditary or civil.
The Middle East will be free when its people are able to start their life over in a transparent, tranquil, peaceful and fair and democratic political structure with freedom, justice, equal rights and dignity for all.
And when, to paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, every Middle Eastern man, woman and child will reclaim their basic and "inalienable rights," with which each and every single one of them is "endowed by their creator."
Or as Umar, the second ruler of Islam after Prophet Muhammad, Sallallahu Alaihi wa Sallam, put it, they are able to regain their natural state of freedom with which their mothers gave birth to them.
Waladat-hum ummahaatuhum ahraaraa!
That is the Promised Land of the people of the so-called Middle East.
And now that they have started their March to Freedom, the people of the so-called Middle East cannot afford to stop it before they reach the Promised Land.
And those of us who are watching from the sidelines, the least we owe them - nay, the least we owe ourselves and posterity - is to wish them Bon Voyage and God Speed!
And remember them in our most fervent and heart-felt prayers.
And say to them: Nastaudi'ukumullaha Alladhee Laa Tadee'u Wadaa-i'uhu!
Meaning: We leave you in the safe and sure hands of God who knows how to take care of those who are left in his care.
Dr. Pasha is an educator and a media specialist. To contact Dr. Pasha please visit www.islamicsolutions.com.