In its January to March 2010 issue, Hamdard Islamicus published an article written by AKU-ISMC alum, Nadia Amin Rehmani (Class of 2008) in Vol XXXIII No1. The article discusses the Qur’anic term Ummah as a fundamental concept within Islamic thought and examines its use in the Qur’an along with its multiple other meanings. Commonly translated and understood as ‘Muslim community’, the term Ummah has assumed different meanings through its historical evolution. Beginning with the early formative use of the term in the Qur’an and Hadith, other meanings have come about through the term’s development in legal and political thought and finally, through its use as applied to the concept of the nation.
The term is considered from a philological and semantic point of view with an analysis of how the concept of Ummah is used in religious and socio-political perspectives, from normative and non-normative points of view. Rehmani’s central question is whether the term is primarily a religious or a social and political notion. It is argued that the term has its foundation in the religious context which later unfolded into social and political realms. It has been considered important for the unity of Muslims since the formative period but has been variously interpreted over time. Even today, Muslims adhere to the notion of the Ummah both religiously and emotionally and the word transcends territorial boundaries into a frontier-less brotherhood of men and women.