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#3rdMarch1924 – 93 years without the Caliphate

[For a detailed historical insight into the fall of the Caliphate watch the video above, 1914; The shaping of the Modern Muslim World by Sheikh Yasir Qadhi]

 

“We must put an end to anything which brings about any Islamic unity between the sons of the Muslims. The situation now is that Turkey is dead and will never rise again, because we have destroyed its moral strength, the Caliphate and Islām.”

“This bold statement, or rather stark warning, was allegedly made by the former British Foreign Secretary, Lord Curzon, at the House of Commons after the Lausanne Treaty of 1923, when the Ottomans were defeated in World War One. The reason why Lord Curzon’s statement should be taken with so much weight (if it is true) is because it correlates with the following ḥadīth of Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam):

“The knots of Islām will be undone one by one, each time a knot is undone the next one will be grasped, the first to be undone will be the ruling and the last will be the prayer.”[2]

Today marks 93 years since the destruction of the Ottoman Caliphate, heralding arguably the darkest chapter in Islamic history after the death of Rasūl’Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam). The Ummah continues to suffer from the after-effects of this calamitous event, for the very reason, which Lord Curzon mentioned – the Muslims currently have no collective “moral strength”, which is embodied in the form of an inclusive Islamic polity. The Middle East and North Africa were subsequently carved up between Britain and France, as Mark Sykes and Francois Georges Picot planned the future of the former Ottoman territories with a pen and ruler. What followed since was an uninterrupted chain of secular dictatorships and petrol rich sheikhdoms. Many of these regimes came to power via military coups, dressed up as pseudo-liberators, whilst the Gulf monarchies unashamedly enjoyed the fruits of their forefathers’ betrayal during WW1.

The history lesson aside, the concept of the Caliphate, and the general Muslim populous’ desire for it, continues to be maligned by academics, journalists, Western policy makers and governments. Secular liberals and modernists, both Muslim and non-Muslim, from across the political spectrum, appear to have adopted the attitude of Lord Curzon, but with rehashed rhetoric that a Caliphate is simply incompatible with the modern world, rendering it barbaric and despotic. The irony is that they all seem to conveniently forget that for over a thousand years Islamic civilisation under successive Caliphates, from the Umayyads to the Ottomans, led humanity in science, philosophy, arts and technology. Furthermore, agenda-driven critics and muscular ideologues also overlook that not only did every Caliphate have the trappings of a modern state, but they were the beacon and example of modernity for their relevant period in history. Again, I cannot do justice in explaining Islām’s contribution to the world as we know it today, when libraries are filled with books and historical testimonies of non-Muslims who substantiate this undeniable fact.

Also read: The Caliphate Chicken & Egg

However, it must be stated from the onset that the Caliphate is not regarded as a utopian state, conceptually or in practice. This was never the case when Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) ruled over Madīna, or when the Khulafāh Rāshidūn (Rightly Guided Caliphs) expanded the Caliphate, or those that came after. In fact, when the Caliphate entered hereditary rule and kingship, there were cases of internal corruption, theological deviation and infighting. Rather, this polity is what followed the end of Prophethood, and the practical manifestation of Allāh’s (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) divine law on Earth. This is evident in the following ḥadīth of Rasūl’Allāh (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam):

“The Prophets used to manage the political affairs of Banī Isrāīl. Whenever a Prophet died another Prophet succeeded him, but there will be no Prophets after me; instead there will be Caliphs, and they will number many”. The Companions asked: what then do you order us? He (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) said: “fulfil allegiance to them one after the other. Give them their dues. Verily Allāh will ask them about what He entrusted them with”.[3]

The virtues and societal conditions sought from the Caliphate, deduced from the classical scholars after scrutinising the Sharīʿah, is to establish social justice, to protect the honour and property of its citizens, and the preservation of the Islamic way of life. Now this may be a sour grape for the intolerant ‘tolerant’ who stubbornly comprehend the Islamic system through the lenses of a secular paradigm, assuming that liberal democracy is the default benchmark against which every governing system should be compared to. But there is also a political context to this ideological objection of the Caliphate, and that is the conflation of Europe’s systematic separation of the ‘Church and state’. This period of secularisation, which is symbolised in the era known as the ‘Enlightenment’, has never occurred in the Muslim world during the existence of a Caliphate, nor would it be befitting.

Those that attempt and conflate Islām and western Christianity under the arbitrary term “religion” invariably superimpose the pre-reformation Christian historical baggage onto Islām. The fact of the matter is that Islamic history is not plagued with the same repressive church-like institutions that stifled human advancement, and the classical Islamic governance already secured the rights that the Enlightenment sought to secure, and more. The notion of a Caliph is an employee that represents and is accountable to the people, and Islamic history shows a level of accountability that we still have not yet seen in Western politics. Despite this, there were attempts during the 19th century to minimise the legislative powers of the Caliph, and to modernise certain aspects of the declining Ottoman Caliphate, to make it more ‘palatable’ with its thriving European contemporaries; but the idea of a systematic separation of “religion and state” was unthinkable.

Additionally, Islām’s worldview that was represented by the Caliphate had always clashed with other empires it encountered; from the Persians, Byzantines, Mongols, Crusaders, right up to the imperial powers of Europe. Hence, after the destruction of the Caliphate on 3rd March 1924, Christian Europe had successfully eradicated the only superpower that it had been in a constant state of conflict with for nearly a millenium. Of course, Europe had suffered centuries of bloody internal wars, but the fight against the ‘Mohammedans’ was a unique one due to the cultural and religious dissimilarity.

After the downfall of the Soviet Union in 1989, Francis Fukuyama had arrogantly stated that humanity had reached the “end of history” – implying that liberal democracy was the only natural form of government to have survived the testing waves of global change.[4] Fukuyama was clearly naive in his assessment of the world, because he assumed that in the absence of the Caliphate, the Islamic mind would also be non-existent – he was grossly mistaken. The 9/11 attacks, and the subsequent US-led ‘war on terror’ that followed is a testimony to this. After the invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the rise of armed groups in Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan, it became unavoidably clear that the desire for the return of the Caliphate was very much existent. The Arab Spring, or what remains of it, is another example of the Islamic sentiment of the general Muslim masses in wanting Islām to play a greater role in society. Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, and more evidently in Syria, are prime examples of this. The revolutions which spread like wildfire in 2011 initially began as a grassroots movement, in order to attain self-determination in a region, which had been ruled by Western-backed dictators for decades. Unfortunately, with the interference of Western powers and their regional proxies, the sincere efforts of those who lost their lives during the uprisings, had been sidelined and forgotten by political opportunists in search for power. Naturally, cosmetic changes were made to the ‘new’ post-Arab Spring countries, but in nearly every case, the oppressive regimes and state apparatus remained.

The emergence of the group known as ISIS, which claimed to have restored the Caliphate on 29 June 2014, was a dream come true for the West. The former chief of the British Armed forces, Sir General Richard Dannatt, justified the occupation of Afghanistan, and Britain’s involvement in the war on terror by stating that it was to prevent:

“…the historic Islamic caliphate, running through south Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and up through south and south-east Europe.”[5]

Lo and behold, the West had at last found its medieval Caliphate in the form of ISIS, which in reality was a doctor’s sick note to continue its destructive foreign policy in the Middle East. The criminality of ISIS has been used as a stick by Western politicians to beat the Muslims with, and a tool to demonise the noble concept of the Caliphate. The media continues to refer to ISIS as an “Islamic State”, knowing that the majority of Muslims, including likeminded groups who share the same goal, have unequivocally rejected their claim to the Caliphate.

The abhorrent actions of ISIS cannot be used to pressure Muslims into rejecting the concept of the Caliphate for two very simple reasons. Firstly, there is a unanimous consensus amongst classical and contemporary scholars within Sunni Islām, that the Caliphate is the ideal form of governance for Muslims, and to work for its re-establishment is an obligation. However, Muslims will inevitably differ in the methodology of how the Caliphate should be restored due to theological and political differences, but the scriptural evidences and scholarly works emphasising its importance is too overpowering. Secondly, the fact that Rasūl’Allāh’s (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) burial was delayed until a Caliph was appointed could not have been a more significant indication of how serious the Companions (raḍiy Allāhu ʿanhu) took the matter of the Caliphate. “The aforementioned reasons, coupled with the dire situation the Muslim world is currently in, as a result of seeking liberation by adopting failed secular ideologies, the only real option remaining for the Ummah is to return to a system which, for all its previous mistakes, protected Islām and safeguarded its citizens from harm.

Those who are adamant that the Caliphate is incompatible with the modern world, and to anticipate its return is a romanticised idea, need to appreciate from an Islamic perspective, that the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) has prophesised its permanent return,[6] and Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has promised the Muslims authority on Earth.[7]

Source: www.islam21c.com

Notes:

[1] Musnad Aḥmed, ḥadīth no.31

[2] Saḥīḥ Muslim

[3] https://ps321.community.uaf.edu/files/2012/10/Fukuyama-End-of-history-article.pdf

[4] http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2009/dec/20/faces-2009-richard-dannatt-tory

[5] Musnad Aḥmed, ḥadīth no 273

[6] Al-Qur’ān, 24:55

This article was originally published in 2015 and updated in 2016

About Dilly Hussain

Dilly Hussain is the deputy editor of British Muslim news site 5Pillars. He is also a political blogger for the Huffington Post and a features writer for Al Jazeera specialising on human rights. He regularly appears on Islam Channel, Russia Today, BBC Look East, BBC South and BBC radio stations discussing Middle East and North African politics, as well as domestic stories concerning British Muslims.

32 comments

  1. The blueprint of the modern Middle East was etched out of an artificial geo-political design. It was shaped to be inorganic to the region for perpetual destabilization. The problem is that we confront a great deal of ignorance when left to the discovery of how developments happened over a due course of history. Nations consisting of distinct ethnicities mutually competing for self-determination are disinterested in artificial trusts of unity that ultimately work for their disadvantage. The plight of the Kurds and Assyrian Christians are fitting examples due to their inability to achieve equal inclusion in states based on the centrality of one prevailing ethnicity. Arab nationalism was inspired by British and French statesmen, Sykes-Picot specifically, as a direct application of divide and conquer.

    What if the Arabs knew their national identities were drawn up by outsiders that had nothing but their exploitation at heart? The truth is a weighty proposition because it describes a world of neglected proportions. In an age defined by information, we no longer have the luxury of blissful ignorance. Curiosities can be channeled through the internet in ways where we can achieve an individually inspired fact finding mission; yet, can we accept the truth for what it is without denying or forsaking its un-deniability? The concept of the nation-state system leads to war which is a component of destabilization. Unitary systems based on the centralization of power through the localization of authority is an alternative.

    The basis of the Khilafah is just that, but is derived from a different tradition where there never was a conflict between religion and science as is the ongoing case with the Judeo-Christian world. Unions of peoples and nations are based on ideas, shared principles, and a common heritage; thus, why is it so unfathomable to revisit the foundations of the Khilafah?

  2. My Allah restore our beloved Khalifah State Ameen. WAA iSLAMAAH!

  3. This article is excellent indeed,very nicely broughtin, reading this will make us to the machinations of western and European machinations in bringing down caliphates.But we muslims are pessimistic about the hadith of our prophet pbuh ,at the end inspite of the best efforts of the forces of the past and present continiously trying to destroy islam and muslims,we have full faith in our prophets prophesy even for last day of the existence of this planet earth a full fledged CALIPHATE WILL BE ESTABILISHED.INSHA ALLAH.

  4. Those who are adamant that the Caliphate is incompatible with the modern world, and to anticipate its return is a romanticised idea, need to appreciate from an Islamic perspective, that the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) has prophesised its permanent return,and Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has promised the Muslims authority on Earth.
    This is something there is no doubt in.

    • There is a great deal of doubt about it. Nonmuslims, to begin with, don’t believe a word of those claims.

      • The Hell Fire shall have its fill…

        • …another thing many people are sceptical about.

          • There is still time. Islam in its essence is easy to follow and simple.
            Surah HUD AL Quran.
            “And wait, indeed, we are waiting.And to Allah belong the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth and to Him will be returned the matter, all of it, so worship Him and rely upon Him. And your Lord is not unaware of that which you do.”
            Verse 122/3

            • Jzk brother for your comment.

              ‘Anticipate, indeed we are anticipating too. And to Allah belong the unseen [aspects] of the heavens and the earth and to Him will be returned the matter, all of it, so worship Him and rely upon Him. And your Lord is not unaware of that which you do.’ Quran(122:3)

  5. In regards tto the ” Christian baggage”? What utter nonsense, Islam suffered the same problems as Sufis and other Islamic clergy began to renounce scientific discovery lest it undermine their religion. Al- Ghazaali and his friends killed scientific advancement in Muslm nations. The same thing happens with the Catholic Church. Thing is the West had reformation and enlightenment while Muslim countries are still retarded and backwards

  6. Those who are adamant that the Caliphate is incompatible with the modern world, and to anticipate its return is a romanticised idea, need to appreciate from an Islamic perspective, that the Prophet Muḥammad (sall Allāhu ʿalayhi wa sallam) has prophesised its permanent return,and Allāh (subḥānahu wa taʿālā) has promised the Muslims authority on Earth.

  7. Little known facts about the caliphate mentioned within this article:
    -throughout history there was hardly a time when the caliphate was United. In fact there were many caliphs at the same time. This fact is rarely mentioned.
    – 100 years b4 the end of the ottoman caliphate islamic dress code was banned!
    – the caliphate was destroyed after it decided to back Germany during ww1
    – many caliphs were drunkards
    – Hussain Allah be pleased with him was martyred under the guise of the ruling caliphate
    – the last caliphate which the article eulogises was run by predominantly hanafi sufis – they would be labelled as mubtadis by the majority who actively push for its return.

  8. Excellent article.

    [Those that attempt and conflate Islām and western Christianity under the arbitrary term “religion” invariably superimpose the pre-reformation Christian historical baggage onto Islām. The fact of the matter is that Islamic history is not plagued with the same repressive church-like institutions that stifled human advancement, and the classical Islamic governance already secured the rights that the Enlightenment sought to secure, and more.]

  9. Islamic religion already buries its own grave in the desert where it came from. Enough of oppression and injustice done in its name – it’s the worst thing to commit grave sins and say it’s in God’s name.

  10. Salam. Ibn Taymiyah was imprisoned for ten years and died in prison for defying the governing caliph of the time and insisting that the caliphate is not a military institution and not even a political construct, but rather is the consensus of the wise persons and scholars on the meaning of justice in an umma that consists of many autonomous communities. Wa Allahu ‘alam. Fi aman Allah.

  11. Inam ullah Mir

    Jazakallah khair very nice article..thanks fr sharing…Allah bless whole Ummah wd peace n prosperity & protect us frm hypocrites & enemies of Islam & their nefarious designs…Ya Allah rahem

  12. Abdihamid. Mire

    I read this article but before we talk anything else we hv to corected ourself

  13. “We must put an end to anything which brings about any Islamic unity between the sons of the Muslims. The situation now is that Turkey is dead and will never rise again, because we have destroyed its moral strength, the Caliphate and Islām.”[1]

    [1] https://www.gov.uk/government/history/past-foreign-secretaries/george-curzon

    Asalaamu Alaikum. You quoted the above with the reference shown, the reference given does not have the quote anywhere on the page which I find disappointing. I’m pretty interested to know the source of this quote as I have searched it before and it appears to be fake.

    • Mr. Hussein does say Curzon “allegedly” said this.
      As he is also alleged to have said it in the House of Commons- where, as a peer, he could not speak- it looks even more like something someone thinks he should have said but didn’t.

  14. It was narrated by Ahmed in his Musnad, from Al-Nu’man b. Bashir, who said:

    “We were sitting in the mosque of the Messenger of Allah (saw), and Bashir was a man who did not speak much, so Abu Tha’labah Al-Khashnee came and said: ‘Oh, Bashir bin Sa’ad, have you memorized the words of the Messenger of Allah (saw) regarding the rulers?’ Huthayfah replied, ‘I have memorized his words’. So Abu Tha’labah sat down and Huthayfah said, ‘The Messenger of Allah (saw) said ‘Prophet-hood will be amongst you as long as Allah wishes, then He will lift it up when He wishes to lift it up. Then there will be a Khilafah on the way of the Prophet, and it will be as long as Allah wishes it to be, then Allah will lift it up when He wishes to lift it up. Then there will be an inheritance rule, and it will last as long as Allah wishes it to, then Allah will lift it up if when He wishes to lift it up. Then there will be a coercive rule and it will last as long as Allah wishes it to be, then Allah will lift it up when He wishes to lift it up. Then there will be a Khilafah on the way of Prophet-hood.’ Then he was silent.”

    [Ahmed]

    • 1- The authenticity becomes somehow questionable when an extra person is added to the narration. (The translator)
      Words are different and the meaning is whatever the translated decided to write.

      2- the word khilafah is left untranslated on purpose, other types of ruling systems are. Gives the impression that the hadeeth is a ‘khilafah’ hadeeth. Whereas if we translate the word khilafah, which can be translated easily, the hadeeth becomes a prophecy about the different ways that muslims will take leading succession one after the other.

      3- also to put it simply, the hadeeth in arabic never uses the word khilafah as a defined word or proper name. The hadeeth -translation- doesn’t say ‘THE’ khilafah. . . It merely says ‘a’ khilafah. Any good arabic speaker will understand it as ‘a successorship’

      4- not translating a specific word can easily fool people who don’t know the original meaning/ words. The will see that not translated word as a concept, that is foreign hence they will ask what it means? Leading to a free for all approach to explain it according to personal agendas

      5- many people and scholars define and speak about ‘the khilafa’ principle in many ways, yet some sects seem to shove it down our throats as if there’s only one way to look at it and understand it. History taught us not to fall for things this easily. And our expensive scholarship has given the whole idea of chasing worldy power and leadership a very low priority in it’s list of things to be done to achieve the pleasure of God.

  15. Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam said “At the head of every one hundred years, Allah will send to this nation one who will be a reviver for it its Religion. ” Sunan Abu Dawuud, Kitaab ul-Malaaham, hadeeth no. 4291
    Only nine more years to go inshallah and we may get a true leader after all.

    • ty for this great reminder

    • 1- The authenticity becomes somehow questionable when an extra person is added to the narration. (The translator)
      Words are different and the meaning is whatever the translator decided to write.

      2- the word khilafah is left untranslated on purpose, other types of ruling systems have been translated. This makes the word stand out and gives the impression that the hadeeth is a ‘khilafah’ hadeeth talking about its return. Whereas if we translate the word khilafah, which can be translated easily, the hadeeth becomes a prophecy about the different ways that muslims will take leading succession one after the other.

      3- also to put it simply, the hadeeth in arabic never uses the word khilafah as a defined word or a proper name. The hadeeth -translation- doesn’t say ‘THE’ khilafah. . . It merely says ‘a’ khilafah. Any good arabic speaker will understand it as ‘a successorship’

      4- not translating a specific word can easily fool people who don’t know the original meaning/ word. They will see that -none translated- word as a concept, that is foreign hence they will ask what it means? Leading to a free for all approach to explain it according to personal agendas

      5- many people and scholars define and speak about ‘the khilafa’ principle in many ways, yet some sects seem to shove it down our throats as if there’s only one way to look at it and understand it. History taught us not to fall for things this easily. And our expensive scholarship has given the whole idea of chasing worldly power and leadership a very low priority in most cases amongst things to be done to achieve the pleasure of God.

      6- and the thing that most people forget is that after centuries of Islamic development and expansion of the shariah, after the emergence of different schools of thoughts and progression of different usul in many directions, after rulers came one after the other and to many respects declared herasy on previous schools… Who will we allow today to rule us all? .. will he be a hanafi, a shafiee, a deobandy origin, a sufi, a saudi salafi…? To give an example, a shafiee will deem certain maaliki economic/ finacial views as impermissible!!.

      To think that all of us will be united under one ‘quran and sunnah’ version of the shareeah is very naive and ignorant to say the least..

    • 1- The authenticity becomes somehow questionable when an extra person is added to the narration. (The translator)
      Words are different and the meaning is whatever the translator decided to write.

      2- the word khilafah is left untranslated on purpose, other types of ruling systems have been translated. This makes the word stand out and gives the impression that the hadeeth is a ‘khilafah’ hadeeth talking about its return. Whereas if we translate the word khilafah, which can be translated easily, the hadeeth becomes a prophecy about the different ways that muslims will take leading succession one after the other.

      3- also to put it simply, the hadeeth in arabic never uses the word khilafah as a defined word or a proper name. The hadeeth -translation- doesn’t say ‘THE’ khilafah. . . It merely says ‘a’ khilafah. Any good arabic speaker will understand it as ‘a successorship’

      4- not translating a specific word can easily fool people who don’t know the original meaning/ word. They will see that -none translated- word as a concept, that is foreign hence they will ask what it means? Leading to a free for all approach to explain it according to personal agendas

      5- many people and scholars define and speak about ‘the khilafa’ principle in many ways, yet some sects seem to shove it down our throats as if there’s only one way to look at it and understand it. History taught us not to fall for things this easily. And our expensive scholarship has given the whole idea of chasing worldly power and leadership a very low priority in most cases amongst things to be done to achieve the pleasure of God.

      6- and the thing that most people forget is that after centuries of Islamic development and expansion of the shariah, after the emergence of different schools of thoughts and progression of different usul in many directions, after rulers came one after the other and to many respects declared herasy on previous schools… Who will we allow today to rule us all? .. will he be a hanafi, a shafiee, a deobandy origin, a sufi, a saudi salafi…? To give an example, a shafiee will deem certain maaliki economic/ finacial views as impermissible!!.

      To think that all of us will be united under one ‘quran and sunnah’ version of the shareeah is very naive and ignorant to say the least..

      I’m sure people will have a response to this somehow, but the fallacy is -from experience- that each person will have a different one.. and people can’t unite even on that

  16. Assalaamualaikum,

    MashaAllah very good article. Please check the article for missing “h” letters.

    JazakAllah khair

  17. Nusrat Shaikh.

    Maa’shAllah tabarakAllah a very good piece of writing.
    We need to look to ourselves if we ever want return of the Caliphate. That is to say that we need to better our knowledge and practice of our deen. Then things will fall into place inshaAllah TaAllah. Unfortunately you have a whole array of so called Muslim leaders who side with the Western interpretation of their own deen and give up their
    lands, stock and barrel to the ‘enlightened and helpful’ western powers in the form of ‘ terrorists’ control and economic aid !!!
    May Allah swt guide our leaders and make them fear the responsibility of their stations. Aameen

    • As salam alaikum brother/sister – no matter how much we “look to ourselves” the Caliphate will not be restored this way. The very people who are preventing the Caliphate are the despotic scholars and rulers.

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