20 September, 2018

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The Caliphate: What Does It Mean To Muslims Of Today?

By Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Dr. Ameer Ali

Since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or IS in short named its captured territory and polity as the Caliphate there had been a chorus of admonition, condemnation and denigration of the institution of the caliphate from political leaders, journalists, Islamic organizations and even academics. They all seem to have agreed quite justifiably that the IS’s caliphate is neither a replica of its medieval predecessor nor a modernised version of it but an artificially concocted moniker adopted for convenience to win popular legitimacy for its criminal enterprise.

Even before IS, Osama bin Laden, called for an Islamic caliphate in his public messages to the umma. Likewise, one of the primary objectives of Hizb al-Tahrir, a non-violent Islamist organization founded in 1953, is to resurrect the caliphate and return to the rule of shariah. Earlier to that, the Muslim Brotherhood fathered by Hassanal Banna of Egypt in 1928 also envisioned the caliphate as the final destiny of political Islam. In short, although as a multi-ethnic and transnational empire the Islamic caliphate disappeared after 1924, as a concept and vision it has outlived that historical institution and since IS’s declaration that concept has entered into the popular political lexicon raising much anxiety and heat.

In reality the spirit of nationalism and creation of the nation-states in the wake of decolonization and liberation movements have divided the Muslim umma now more than ever before. Religion has proved again and again a failure to unite the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual umma. The break-up of Pakistan into Bengali speaking and Urdu speaking countries and the political turmoil and division in Iraq and Syria along ethnic and sectarian lines are glaring illustrations of the failure of Islam as a religion to unite Muslims. In this context even to contemplate a project to bring the fifty-seven countries that form the OIC under the umbrella of a transnational caliphate is impracticable in the extreme.

Yet, in the weekly sermons on Fridays the imams of practically every mosque rarely fail to pray for the souls of the earliest four caliphs of the seventh century and to remind the faithful of the glories of at least the Abbasid Caliphate. A number of independent surveys conducted internationally show that the belief in a shariah based governance in a politically united umma under a caliphate is widely prevalent not only in majority Muslim countries but also amongst their diaspora elements in the U.S., UK, EU and Oceania. What does keep this belief alive? Does the caliphate today have a different connotation from what it meant in the past?

There is a view that resonates among a group of Muslim intellectuals that the caliphate at present represents not a project for the recreation of the dead medieval polity but a metaphor representing the yearning amongst Muslims to reorder the postcolonial world designed by the former masters of colonialism and managed by today’s imperialism. To be precise, it points out to the loss of a centralized Muslim power and influence in the making and management of the world order.

Historically, it is true that at every step in the making of this order the Muslim world had no participation at all. To start with, the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia that gave birth to the family of nation-states and laid the edifice for the evolution of current political order was solely the effort of warring Christian factions and their supporting rulers of Europe. Later, after World War I at the Paris Conference of 1919, which led to the League of Nations, there was no Muslim leader except the British picked Prince Faisal from the Hijaz, which later became Saudi Arabia. After a prolonged and bitter remonstration by the French, Faisal was allowed to address the conference in which he demanded full independence to a unified Arab territory, but at the end his plea was rejected and the former Ottoman territories were carved out between the French and the British and the Mandatory System was created. The roots of today’s convulsion in the Middle East (a geographical nomenclature innovated by the colonialists) could be traced back to this colonial grand conspiracy.

Again after the Second World War, when Israel was implanted by the British and its allies the Arabs were kept in total darkness and their protests were ignored. Even today at the United Nations though there are more than fifty Muslim countries represented in the General Assembly not one of them has a place in the Security Council. The Muslims feel frustrated if not livid that they who form nearly one-fifth of humanity have no place in the most powerful decision making body in the world, a concern already was raised by the former President of Iran Mahmoud Ahmadinejad when he address the UN in 2012. It is the lack of a strong Muslim power, in the wider perception of the umma, which Islam and its followers being mocked around all around the world.

Outside the UN, there is China, Israel and India, all armed with nuclear weapons, to raise their concern on behalf of the world Chinese, Jews and Hindus respectively and the world cannot afford to ignore their concern. Who is there with that sort of strength and influence, the Muslims ask, to speak for them? Even the Catholics when they face trouble anywhere in the world have the Vatican to speak on their behalf and the world listens. Thus, in the world arena the Muslims feel they have been orphaned after the elimination of the Caliphate. There is therefore a thirst and hunger amongst the umma for a strong Muslim super power that can stand at par with the other such powers and be counted on the world stage. There is none at the moment. Will there be one in the future?

The caliphate need not be a transnational hegemon as it was originally, but instead can be any one country or union of countries but with economic strength, political stability, democratic freedom, tolerance for dissent and above all an indigenously developed technological and military strength. What matters is not the name but the stature of that polity. IS hijacked the name but in essence it is a criminal enterprise that will wither away eventually. To the 1.6 billion Muslims the hanker for a caliphate or super power will still remain and there will be several experiments and failures until the law of probability makes one to succeed. For that to happen the existing rotten Muslim regimes pandering to the wishes of their Western masters should be got rid of.

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Latest comments

  • 2
    11

    Caliphet is already established, your argument of criminal enterprise should refer to the states which are bombing Islamic territory. Even if the grand mufti of al-Azhar declares a caliphet the kafir states will attack. Lack of historical knowledge seem to be a problem for writers, who live in western states and have British American perspectives, Malcolm x called these type of intellectual bent people the house slave, read sura baquara and learn, without listening to paid imams and muftis who live in the west, and shackled in there brain.

    • 7
      4

      Please follow tuition classes for English and Logic to improve your comprehension skills. Until then, please refrain from commenting.

      • 2
        1

        Ouch……Nasty!!

    • 2
      3

      DaeIS manipulates Islam to brainwash angry young Muslims, who have little knowledge of Islamic theology and jurisprudence. Therefore, the Muslim scholars are obliged to respond with a counter-narrative that elucidates the reality of Islam and its commitment to tolerance. There exists a plethora of proofs that demonstrates DaeIS’ actions do not represent Islam and its claims are based on clear fallacies.

    • 3
      1

      Dr. Ameer Ali

      RE: The Caliphate: What Does It Mean To Muslims Of Today?

      “Since the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or IS in short named its captured territory and polity as the Caliphate there had been a chorus of admonition, condemnation and denigration of the institution of the caliphate from political leaders, journalists, Islamic organizations and even academics. They all seem to have agreed quite justifiably that the IS’s caliphate is neither a replica of its medieval predecessor nor a modernised version of it but an artificially concocted moniker adopted for convenience to win popular legitimacy for its criminal enterprise.”

      “In reality the spirit of nationalism and creation of the nation-states in the wake of decolonization and liberation movements have divided the Muslim umma now more than ever before. Religion has proved again and again a failure to unite the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual umma. The break-up of Pakistan into Bengali speaking and Urdu speaking countries and the political turmoil and division in Iraq and Syria along ethnic and sectarian lines are glaring illustrations of the failure of Islam as a religion to unite Muslims. In this context even to contemplate a project to bring the fifty-seven countries that form the OIC under the umbrella of a transnational caliphate is impracticable in the extreme.”

      So, they want the Caliphate. The Muslim Civilization and Islamic science expanded during the Abissaid era, because the Abissaids were of Persian stock more than Arab, unlike the Ummayads, and the Persians were more intellectually superior to the desert tribal Arabs.

      1.) Thank you for bringing this Wahhabi Iblis-Satan issue to the surface. This is a very good summary. However, you missed the crucial part of it. ISIS, is Not Islamic. It is Iblisic. Walks like a duck, squawks like a duck, and therefore is a duck, the Iblis Duck.What you see is Arab tribalism of the 7th Century.

      2.) These need to be explained to the Muslims, so that they understand the True nature of Satan, and the Satan infected Wahhabi and their clones, ISIS. That is what the Muslims, who have common sense need to do. They have let the Iblis infected Wahhabis, Salafis and their clones to command the Muslims.

      3.) ISIS stands for Iblis (Ibees) State of Iraq and Syria. Iblis is the Devil, Satan, Lucifer, Shaitan, The Horners, Mara all combined, the bad and ugly. The Quran warns about the Evil Iblis, Shaitan, Satan over 25 times. The Hadith of Najd warns about the Iblis appearing from the region of Iraq and Syria.

      Hadith of Najd

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hadith_of_Najd

      “There will appear earthquakes and afflictions, and from there will come out the side of the head (e.g. horns) of Satan.”

      4. al-azhar cleric about wahabis/salafis

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAvWmZfGjTU

      5. ISIS and their Wahabi Agenda

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eaxgD2HxV2M

      Published on Jun 20, 2014
      Militant group the Islamic State of Iraq & Syria (ISIS) has seized large parts of northern Iraq, including the city of Mosul and Tikrit, unleashing wave instability in the region. Currently, nearly 40 Indian workers are believed to be held hostage in Mosul.

      In part-one of a two-part interview, Manjeet Kripalani, Executive Director of Gateway House, interviews Professor M.D. Nalapat, Director of Geopolitics at Manipal University, about the rise of ISIS and their Wahabi agenda.

    • 2
      1

      Dr. Ameer Ali

      The Caliphate: What Does It Mean To Muslims Of Today?

      “The caliphate need not be a transnational hegemon as it was originally, but instead can be any one country or union of countries but with economic strength, political stability, democratic freedom, tolerance for dissent and above all an indigenously developed technological and military strength. What matters is not the name but the stature of that polity. IS hijacked the name but in essence it is a criminal enterprise that will wither away eventually. To the 1.6 billion Muslims the hanker for a caliphate or super power will still remain and there will be several experiments and failures until the law of probability makes one to succeed. For that to happen the existing rotten Muslim regimes pandering to the wishes of their Western masters should be got rid of.”

      True, Western Colonialism and Imperialism played havoc in Africa, Middle East, India, SE Asia and China. There was the great game in the Middle East and Central Asia. World War 1 was a Colonial war. Both Germany and Turkey Lost.

      After World War 1, the USA did not want to do anything with the Colonial Powers and the League of Nations.

      World War 2 was also a Colonial War. Fortunately the Axis powers were defeated, thanks to the USA entering the scene.

      However, there is a misconception among the Muslims, that the Caliphate Model of 1,300 years ago is the solution to their problems. However, the Muslims are widespread, and diverse. The Arabs are a minority among the Muslims.

      What really happened was that that the Age of Enlightenment and Age of Reason. that was flourishing in the Islamic Civilization and Islamic Science was cut short around 1,200 AD, when the Muslim philosophers and Scientists were downgraded by the Ulama. They did so by claiming that Revelation is Superior to Observation and Reason, and Ghazali, was one of the movers here.

      The Wahhabis and ISIS are different versions of the same theme in the 21st century. Revelation is above reason and observation. The Sun goes around the Earth, Adam and Eve, Noah’s Arc etc. So, the Muslims need to get to The Age of Enlightenment and Reason.

      References:

      1. Islam and science https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_science

      Muslim scientists and scholars have subsequently developed a spectrum of viewpoints on the place of scientific learning within the context of Islam, none of which are universally accepted.[12] However, most maintain the view that the acquisition of knowledge and scientific pursuit in general is not in disaccord with Islamic thought and religious belief.[9][12]

      2. Al-Ghazali

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Al-Ghazali

      Al-Ghazali has been referred to by some historians as the single most influential Muslim after the Islamic prophet Muhammad.[11] Within Islamic civilization he is considered to be a Mujaddid or renewer of the faith, who, according to tradition, appears once every century to restore the faith of the community.[12][13][14] His works were so highly acclaimed by his contemporaries that al-Ghazali was awarded the honorific title “Proof of Islam” (Hujjat al-Islam).[1]

      Others have cited his opposition to certain strands of Islamic philosophy as a detriment to Islamic scientific progress.[15][16] Besides his work that successfully changed the course of Islamic philosophy—the early Islamic Neoplatonism that developed on the grounds of Hellenistic philosophy, for example, was so successfully criticised by al-Ghazali that it never recovered—he also brought the orthodox Islam of his time in close contact with Sufism.

      It became increasingly possible for individuals to combine orthodox theology (kalam) and Sufism, while adherents of both camps developed a sense of mutual appreciation that made sweeping condemnation of one by the other increasingly problematic.[11]:14–16

      3. Neil DeGrasse Tyson – The Islamic Golden Age: Naming Rights

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WDiY5PNczzg

      4. Arabs question centuries-old tradition of cousin marriages

      Inbreeding Decreases IQ and make off spring weak.

      http://www.dawn.com/news/707896/young-arabs-question-centuries-old-tradition-of-cousin-marriages

      At least half of all Gulf Arab marriages are between cousins, with at least 35 per cent of Qatari marriages between first cousins, according to current research by the Centre for Arab Genomic Studies based in Dubai. In Saudi Arabia, the number ranges from 25 to 42 per cent while in the United Arab Emirates, it is between 21 and 28 per cent.

      “You’ve got to weigh the social advantages with the potential genetic disadvantages.”

  • 8
    4

    Nowhere in Quran are the names of the 4 first caliphs even mentioned.

    • 5
      3

      You are dumb. Caliphs came after the Quran’s revelation was completed. Comprende?

      • 2
        2

        So why is it religion?

        • 1
          2

          It’s not religion, it’s a historical fact.

      • 3
        1

        Your three thumbuppers are dumb too!

  • 4
    0

    I remember those wonderful stories of the great Ottoman Caliphate that was run by the Sultan from old Istambool. If any believer stepped out of line, he would have the local bimbash, or muttawa, come round and give him a whack across his backside to bring him into line. That way, every one behaved for 7 centuries.

    In these days, there are plenty of rulers in Islamic countries who should be able to get up and speak for Islam, but they are all in hock to one western country or another and are afraid to say the wrong thing because their money and investments might suffer. Sunneth!

    • 3
      4

      Today the Khalif is the Shekel. If anyone stepped out of line to degrade the Shekel, its cronies will come round and give him a whack across his backside. Does not matter even if he is Obama; only the punishment will be harsher.

      It is now well known that Cheney, Bush and other cronies of the Shekel engineered the destruction of the Twin Towers in NYC on 11th Sept 2001 – 9/11. You should watch this video, 9/11 Trillions, Follow the Money, to comprehend how powerful the Shekel is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n3xgjxJwedA

  • 4
    1

    ///Religion has proved again and again a failure to unite the multi-ethnic and multi-lingual umma. The break-up of Pakistan into Bengali speaking and Urdu speaking countries and the political turmoil and division in Iraq and Syria along ethnic and sectarian lines are glaring illustrations of the failure of Islam as a religion to unite Muslims.///

    I think the writer has failed to understand the difference between Muslim and Islam in current term..he just replace Islam into muslim issues rather muslim nations issues to give more weight to the article.however the writer has completely misunderstood Islamic principles. Islam is for peace but the significant number of followers are not loyal and handpick Islam but it doesn’t mean the Islam fails… and no people themselves being separated but the ruler wanted to do that.! Islam dose not ask to unity in institutions and states hence islam guide to being them with individual identity (“we have created them with groups, race…etc allah says”) but it ask them to unite in following the Religion .

  • 4
    0

    “For that to happen the existing rotten Muslim regimes pandering to the wishes of their Western masters should be got rid of.”

    How?

    By whom?

    With whose assistance?

    And finally who decides – Allah or America or Mr Ameer?

    Islamic logic:

    According to your religion I have the freedom to practise my religion.
    According to my religion and I have the freedom to kill you. Therefore according to your own religion I have the freedom to kill you.

    • 3
      3

      Socrates, Time to reach for that cup of hemlock, before you hurt yourself.

  • 6
    2

    Almost all religions do not take their scriptures literally on the basis that times then were different, except Islam. The Muslims refugees thrown out of Iraq, Syria etc. find a helping hand in Europe but as soon as they are established they demand the establishment of Shariah Laws, violating these nations constitutions. E.g. The right to beat your wife or treat women unequally. What is wrong with these idiots. These idiots do not have an ounce of gratitude except wanting to spit on the hands that gave them shelter and fed them.

    • 3
      0

      Well said.

      Anything that contradicts their beliefs is forbidden. Anyone who follows what they reject is an apostate and must be killed

  • 1
    5

    If they ask for Sharia Law, it is for their own governance and not to impose it on those outside their faith. All Muslims wherever they are, live according to the Sharia, whether you like it, aware of it or not. It is a complete way of life from the time they are born, through life’s journey on earth and until they die and are buried. These are a set of God’s laws which much be adhered in order to fulfill their religious and life obligations, first to themselves, then their responsibilities towards spouses, children and also their own parents, kith and kin, extended families, neighbors, country and then the world. Abstaining from substance abuse like liquor and drugs, observing proper dress code, avoid dealing with money on interest, no sex outside of marriage, etc., was not meant to destroy mankind but to benefit all of humanity by addressing many of the issues that society has to face on a daily basis. Even the punishment for disobeying the laws, criminal offenses, and laws of inheritance (where distribution of wealth on sudden death without a Last Will), marriage and divorce laws, are all embodied in Sharia Law, unlike any other religion in the world. This is to reduce ambiguity in interpreting the laws and make it clear-cut and easy for anyone to follow. The problems faced by those refugees crossing over to European countries are due to human failures in good governance and not of their own making. It will definitely have future ramifications of a greater presence of a Muslim population in Europe, but who are we to judge Allah’s hand in all of His manipulations, just like the toppling of our own MR government and sending BBS packing at the last elections.

    • 0
      0

      Marwan, what type of moron are you. The beauty of Western democracy is that you are free to believe whatever rubbish you want but you are not free to impose it on others. They have freedom to practise any religion but your Shariah Laws forbids it and the punishment is death or perhaps beheading. Females are treated unequally from birth to their grave as a rule in Shariah Laws but criminal in all developed countries, including Sri Lanka. The Qu’ran written in archaic Arabic is subject to as many interpretations as there are different sects and it is blasphemous to doubt any of the questionable doctrines as the punishment is beheading. All you morons are brainwashed into accepting these medieval barbarism. If you think all these should be allowed in the 21st century, you need your head examined.

  • 2
    3

    In the last two hundred years of world history, the best criminal enterprise was carried out by the British:
    1. Opium war in china more than 3million chineese were killed
    2. Bengali famine- more than a million died
    3. even in Sri Lanka- Uva province sanctions- 300000 died
    not to mention slavery, indent labour when slaves became expensive to feed.
    America is new to the game. Vietnam/cambodia/Korea/Afghanistan and Iraq
    may be 10million deaths plus or minus a million/
    Russia has been killing there own citizens same as china commuinst rule 10-20 million .
    So terrorism and being terrorist are nothing for the above nations one time or other.

  • 6
    0

    Do you know if in the 21st century any other radical faith system forces people to convert or kill them? Is that what you want for Sri Lanka? You are a rabble rouser who is brainwashing people into attacking and hating fellow citizens in nations like India and Sri Lanka with this sort of inflammatory hate speech

    Anything that contradicts their beliefs is forbidden. Anyone who follows what they reject is an apostate and must be killed. Is that what you want?

  • 4
    2

    Can someone give me at least one reason why non Muslims should not try to eradicate Islam from the face of earth?

    • 0
      0

      Because the label “Muslim” does not always identify the believer, nor does the unbeliever have to be a non-Muslim.

    • 2
      1

      Socrates

      “Can someone give me at least one reason why non Muslims should not try to eradicate Islam from the face of earth? “

      Do you want to replace Muslims with Mahawansa Following Sinhala Buddhists, or Pope following Catholics?

      Tamil Hindus, Protestants and Jews may not like that.

    • 0
      1

      Because there won’t be anyone left to civilize you.

    • 4
      0

      Socrates,

      If we ‘eradicate’ Islam, what will happen to the thousands of Sunneth-Kaka’s?

  • 1
    1

    An otherwise informative and scholarly analysis that predictably degenerates into narrow Islamic fundamentalism. The UNO is a highly respected and enduring secular body that has admirably served the cause of peace and global unity for nearly 7 decades. It should not be made into a religious outfit. The UN Charter is quite clear about it. Therefore, to lament “Who is there with that sort of strength and influence, the Muslims ask, to speak for them?” is unfortunate. The world is also aware “they form nearly one-fifth of humanity” NOW. How they reached this number almost “suddenly” albeit by unnatural means is a matter of great concern to the whole world.

    To date, it is only the Hungarian PM who had spoken his mind on the dangers in their doorstep although the rest of Europe is aware that the Clash of Civilisations Dr. Samuel Huntington envisaged in the 1980s – is already here. Angela Merkel and others will soon follow in speaking their minds within the limitations of diplomacy.

    Over a decade ago more than one Arab scholar of international repute was to claim “the next Crusade has already begun” The attacks on the New York World Trade Centre (Sept 11) was actually a secret of a massive global conspiracy that came out far too sooner. Western Powers are reportedly resolved this should not be allowed to happen again. This is why the main architects of that carnage – Bin Laden, Afghanistan, Saddam Hussein, Gaddaffi and their co-conspirators have all been “suitably dealt with” The undeclared global war between the two civilisation continues in low intensity globally.

    As to “The break-up of Pakistan into Bengali speaking and Urdu speaking countries” perhaps the Writer erred in stating Bengali that really should be Punjabi. As to Pakistan, it has chosen to destroy itself from the time that crafty Zia-ul-Haq unnecessarily made Pakistan into a theocratic State. Since then the country has rapidly spiralled downwards which neighbouring India – that chose to remain secular – is now a regional power moving towards the status of a world power. Interestingly, until recently there were more Muslims in India than in Pakistan.

    Dr. B.I. Passe

  • 2
    0

    so..what i see is a great debate..of friends and foe of Islam…it is based on almighty God..Allah…..all the killings and massacres done by Allah,s name..it seems that ,Muslims,,shouts..Allah Akbar..just before killing somebody..meaning to please the god..Wahhabi culture and medial way of of ignorant desert life style cannot implement on modern society…this is the origin of all the problem…why Muslims kills Muslims…why. displaced Muslims choosing western countries…kafir states to settle down..all these religious..arguments are useless and baseless….humanity is humanity…god never does anything to upheld their lively hood.. .to prevail..peace among them….

  • 2
    0

    Well at least the for now Saudi Arabia’s Faisal bin Hassan Trad has been named as Head (or is it Behead) of a Panel of independent experts on the UN Human Rights Council.

    So we can look forward to a brave new world (Caliphate) with Saudia Arabia as a beacon of light.

    [Edited out]

    • 4
      0

      sbarrkum

      “So we can look forward to a brave new world (Caliphate) with Saudia Arabia as a beacon of light.”

      You may not know this, we have our own Caliphate in this island, its the Islamic Republic of Kattankudy.

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