Of Wolves and Caliphates (Part 1)

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In the name of Allah most Gracious most Merciful

When I was 8 years old I came across two interesting chapters in a school book. One chapter was about Muslims being brothers to each other. Muslims do not care for borders that divide the Muslim world and it does not matter where a Muslim is from. This was a fascinating idea for me. The child in me began to dream of the amazing connection a person can have with so many other people all over the world. The chapter ended with the emphasis that the current sociopolitical order of borders and divisions within the Muslim world was wrong. It ended at this strange notion and did not elaborate further on this idea. There were no details given as to why divisions of this nature had happened within Muslims.

The second chapter was about Mustafa Kemal. The person known as Ata Turk or “The Father of Turks”. It gave some details as to how Turks love him and how valiant and brave he was in face of adversity. It continues to amaze me why these two chapters were side by side in the same book. While the idea of Caliphate and what Kemal did in Turkey are total opposites of each other.

The Communist Invasion:

Perhaps there was a reason for the government of Retired General Zia ul Haq to push ideas of pan Islamic unity on the psyche of the children of Pakistan in those days. The Soviets had invaded Afghanistan in 1977. There were genuine fears in Islamabad that the Soviets were not going to remain in a landlocked country and one day may decide to make a push for the warmer Arabian Sea. Pakistan Army did not have the numbers to withstand a full scale Soviet attack. This is why a decision had been made to utilise the situation in Afghanistan and fight a proxy war against the Soviets with the help of Americans for money and weapons and Afghans as foot soldiers. However the Afghans were not the only fighters in this war against the Soviets. Muslims from all over the world arrived in huge numbers to resist the Communist military adventure in Afghanistan. Arabs and non Arabs alike. Naturally it helped to have a curriculum in schools that focussed on the idea of Muslim unity. Until 1986 the campaign against the Soviets was not achieving much but with the arrival of the Stinger Missile Soviet gunships started falling from the skies like moths. After years of fire rocketing Afghan towns and with their economy in taters back home, the Soviets lost heart and retreated, humiliated and defeated. Soon, the communist experiment failed completely with the collapse of the Soviet Union.


Decades have passed since those days. 15 years ago while searching frantically for some answers to some troubling philosophical questions, I came across a website by the group Hizb ut Tahir. These guys were talking about something I had read years ago. A Caliphate that obliterates the artificial divisions and borders between Muslims. A noble thought of unity amongst Muslims with a mechanism of a State that shines as an beacon of Islamic civilisation. I was obviously hooked. Throughout all these years I have been a vocal supporter of the idea of a Caliphate and remain to be so till this date. Take any problem facing the world today and there are answers in this concept of Islamic State that can solve those problems. Even the ones that the media attributes to Islam can only be solved by the Caliphate like the so called Islamic terrorism. An answer to the problems of an ongoing Western crusade in the Muslim world, corruption within political institutions, economic inequality and poverty, drugs, destruction of the nuclear family, petty celebrity culture, decline in arts and sciences in the Muslim world… the Caliphate had a viewpoint on these issues. Not just in the historical sense but also holding tremendous promise for the future.

This three part series is a quick look at those who claim to stand for the idea of Caliphate. It is a harsh criticism. This is not for those who reject the idea of Muslim political unity under the Islamic State as I have mentioned in other articles Caliphate is an obligation upon Muslims. So if you are not working for the Caliphate in some capacity please do not quote this article.

Keep in mind that the purpose of this writing is to discuss whether people and organisations who call for the Caliphate are fit for the purpose of Muslim leadership or not. I have looked at the these groups from various angles and I am very briefly going to mention their good points. Most of this is a criticism that they rightly deserve. This is not an effort in I am holier than thou. However leadership of Muslims is a very important duty and whenever it has been given to the wrong type of people in our history it has caused problems for all mankind not just Muslims. So in order to help this sacred trust of leadership of the Umma I present the following to the readers.

The Beginning: ISIS

It is but natural that the Muslim world is saddened by the hijacking of such a noble idea by a bunch of murderers that call themselves ISIS. People know about ISIS only for the past couple of years as the world media started giving the group special attention after it announced the re establishment of the Caliphate in June 2014. However ISIS, ISIL, Daesh or now so called Islamic State are not new comers on the geo political scene of the world. This group arose directly in response to the US invasion of Iraq. It flourished due to the policies of the sectarian government the US setup in Baghdad and has apparently become the biggest Frankenstein monster that faces the world today.

In reality ISIS was previously ISI or Islamic State in Iraq under the leadership of Abu Musab Al Zarqawi. An offshoot of Al Qaeda  Initially ISI focussed their military campaign against the US invaders and because of that they increased in popularity inside Iraq. Everyone knew that the Americans were lying about their reasons for going to war… the never existing WMDs. American government tried to tell the world that their mission in Iraq was to feed the hungry and bring the people medicines and supplies, the majority of people in Iraq however hated the Americans and the British even more than they hated Saddam Hussain. They could see the Americans were destroying Iraq and humiliating their people. Perhaps Americans still don’t realise this but they shall be stained and haunted by Iraq, Afghanistan, Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo Bay till the end of times.

After Americans started buying loyalties by paying various tribesmen, ISIS began losing support of the local population. At the same time ISIS started operating with a vicious sectarian mindset and labelled and attacked other Muslims who did not agree with them as disbelievers. Abu Musab Al Zarqawi was originally from Jordan. He ordered suicide bombings in Amman Hotels in 2005. The bombers struck three hotels and killed about 60 people. Those killed included wedding participants at Raddison SAS hotel and the famous Mustafa Akkad the director of the movie The Message along with his daughter Rima at the Grand Hyatt. If readers don’t know about those attacks they would perhaps know about a woman Sajida Al Rishawi who was one of the would be suicide bomber and the wife of the first attacker Ali Al Shimari. She was executed by the Jordanian government as a revenge killing for the burning of the Jordanian pilot Muath Al Kasesbeh by ISIS earlier this year.

So this is the history of the group that now claims to be the Caliphate. Killing Muslims attending a wedding. What purpose did it all serve? Which Islam allows such actions? As I write this it is the month of November 2015 and ISIS continues to label other Muslims as disbelievers, attempts to spread fear amongst all its opponents and kills people left right and centre in the most horrific manner despite Islam’s teaching that killing an innocent human being is one of the worst sins possible. I have even seen reports of ISIS killing Alawi women and children execution style which is completely forbidden by Islam.

There are two things of utmost importance in understanding ISIS. The first is their claim of being a Caliphate. The second is the apparent support they are getting from various parties inside Syria.

ISIS is not a Caliphate:

An Islamic State is two things. Firstly it is a State. Secondly it is a State that operates according to Islam. Remember that ISIS called themselves a state even when they had no territory. So to argue against them now about not possessing a State becomes a weak point because they have control over an area of land the size of Britain with a population of 8 million people living under their militia’s rule.

The Conditions for a Caliph:

The Shariah puts seven conditions for a person to be a Caliph.

The Caliph must be.

1. Muslim
2. Male
3. Mature
4. Sane
5. Just
6. Free
7. Competent

Some people add an 8th condition for a Caliph that he must be from the tribe of Quresh. This is not a core condition rather the Prophet saw gave a recommendation considering Quresh were the most respected and powerful tribe amongst the Arabs. Furthermore the Prophet also ordered Muslims to follow their leader appointed on them even if he was from Habsha in Africa and not even good looking!!!

However, ISIS did nt even take a chance there and declared Al Baghdadi from the tribe of Quresh. Just how does one establish one’s link to the tribe of Quresh after more than 1400 years could be a fascinating study for genealogists!!!

But lets ask the question. Does Baghdadi fulfil these criteria to be considered a Caliph over all Muslims? Let me draw your attention to condition 5. A Caliph has to be just.

I don’t have to tell you this but Al Baghdadi seems to be a very unjust character. One of the first things that ISIS did upon declaring a Caliphate was that they declared every single rebel fighting against Bashar’s regime to be a heretic and a non believer unless they pledged their allegiance to Baghdadi as their Caliph. They went to the extent of declaring the wives of the rebels to be taken as war booty in case they refuse to accept ISIS authority. The rift between ISIS and the rest of the rebel groups seem to have taken a violent course ever since two ISIS fighters killed an injured rebel soldier from another faction. They claimed that they had killed an enemy soldier and a Shia but that was not the case in reality. Upon this the other faction asked ISIS leaders to establish a neutral court to judge upon this case. ISIS refused such a court and the matter escalated into a total animosity between ISIS and the rest of the rebel groups. This is pure injustice. A stronger group violating the rights of another Muslim who was killed wrongfully. Instead of accepting their mistake ISIS went so far as to declare the entire rebellion as non believers!!! To God we belong To God we return.

Moving on from an individual assessment of this dodgy character Al Baghdadi who by the way was in a US jail in Iraq around 2005, let us see what ISIS has been doing inside their so called state.

In fairness, they have been trying to organise themselves like a State based on Islamic governance. They have setup courts, outlawed interest on loans and established gold based currency. They are running public utilities, charging taxes. They have even bulldozed parts of the border between Syria and Iraq attacking Sykes Picot and they have a standing militia of at least 30,000 soldiers. But does that make them a Caliphate?

Absolutely not. An Islamic State is defined by its Islamic character. In an Islamic State the Ameer of all Muslims, the Caliph is a servant of Muslims not their master. This point is very important to understand. Today I ask you. Can you imagine someone taking Al Baghdadi or one of his top official to court over a wrong doing? Just the thought of it brings to my mind an image of such a fool who tries doing something like that getting shot… or drowned… or burnt… or crucified. Whereas in the Caliphate our second Caliph Omer Farooq RA was taken to court 12 times while he was in office!!!! This issue of accountability is clearly linked with the condition of a Caliph being just!!!

It is also important to note that the Islamic State does not require every Muslim to pledge allegiance to them. There have been times when even some companions of the Prophet saw did not give the pledge to the elected Caliphs  but they were never declared outside the fold of Islam or killed like what ISIS has been doing.

Caliphate upon the method and mercy of the Prophethood is not about killing other Muslims. What happened to the mercy that is the hallmark of Islam? Surely the scum from the Army of Bashar Al Assad should be shown no mercy. That is not what I am discussing here. Had ISIS been sincere in protecting Muslims, their lives and their dignity, they would never have backstabbed the revolution of Syria. Instead they would have sent thousands of their soldiers to assist the other rebels in Syria. Focussed their entire energies against the Bashar regime. They would have stood shoulder to shoulder with the rest of the rebels as their brothers. Yet in the midst of all the bloodshed when Muslims needed shelter from the barrel bombs of Bashar, they betrayed the people of Syria and focussed on grabbing and consolidating power for themselves. This brutality of ISIS against other Muslims is going to be their downfall eventually. Or… the leadership of this militia is taken over by someone who is sane and just and he reverses all the insanity and injustice that has been carried out by ISIS.

The manner in which ISIS is seeking pledge from Muslims is exactly the same in which Mawviyah the 6th Caliph of Muslims took pledge for his son Yazeed. By Force! Yazeed was not a legitimate Caliph because the pledge of allegiance has to be given to a person by free will and choice. Forcing the pledge invalidates it. ISIS has done exactly that. They are forcing people to give Baghdadi the pledge of allegiance.

ISIS has harmed efforts of Muslims who have been struggling to bring back a righteous, just, socio-political and economical order… a Caliphate on the method and mercy of the Prophethood. Today one cannot even talk about the Caliphate without someone ignorant of these matters labelling the person as an ISIS supporter.

Finally… one cannot help but notice how ISIS has been allowed to rampage freely inside Iraq and Syria. They have held open air parades brandishing the military hardware they have taken from the Iraqi Army yet not a single bomb dropped on them at that time. Russia has been pounding rebel groups sandwiched between ISIS on one side and Bashar regime on the other and has mostly refrained from attacking ISIS positions. There have been confirmed news reports that ISIS has sold oil directly to Bashar regime itself!! Most recently the Israeli defence chief Moshe Ya’alon stated that Israel is not too worried about Islamic State. You put two and two together there. 🙂

In short ISIS go out of the fold of Islam for two reasons.

  1. They kill innocent Muslims.
  2. They call other Muslims as Kafir.

This is important to understand as their basic core creed has problems. Their mode of thinking is like the Khawarij who equated Sin with Disbelief!!!!

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