Q: would it be too much for me to ask you for a blog post on the Islamic State and this establishment of the caliphate?
Khilāfah [Caliphate] was established from the beginning of Islām, so it is nothing novel, but yes it is novel to our era. We have completed a full 9 decades of the first time in the history of Islām when the world has not seen Khilāfah. As such, it is understandable that Muslims think of this as something new and expect guidance. I regret that I cannot provide clear cut answers to a situation that is so nebulous, but I do hope to share some food for thought that this declaration entails.
An Essential Institution of Islām
في حديث عبد الله بن عمر عن نبي الله صلى الله عليه وسلم أنه قال [من خلع يداً من طاعة لقي الله يوم القيامة ولا حجة له ومن مات وليس في عنقه بيعة مات ميتة جاهلية
‘Abdullāh ‘Umar رضي الله عنه narrates that the Prophet صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم said, “He who withdraws a hand from obedience [to the Khalīfah] will meet Allāh on the Day of Resurrection without any proof [for his disobedience] and he who dies without the pledge of allegiance [to the Khalīfah] around his neck, dies the death of pre-Islāmic Ignorance .” [Muslim]
If nothing else, the declaration on 1st Ramaḍān 1435, has at least broken the silence and apathy of Muslims on the essential institution of Khilāfah, abolished by Jewish Ataturk on Monday 28th Rajab 1342 (3rd March 1924) and aided by the Satanic Saudi regime at the Makkah Conference two years later. This institution’s importance can be gauged from the actions of the two greatest, most pious and most learned Muslims upon the departure of Muḥammad Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم from this world, i.e. Abū Bakr رضي الله عنه and ‘Umar رضي الله عنه. It would be expected that these two distinguished personalities who bore him such love as we can never imagine, would have attended to the following as ultimate priorities:
· Washing the body of Muḥammad Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم
· Shrouding the body of Muḥammad Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم .
· Arranging the funeral prayers for Allāh’s Messengerصلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم .
However important these may be, the command of Allāh’s Messenger صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم took precedence to their personal feelings. They hastened to establish the Khilāfah before any of the above three stupendously important deeds. In my view, no amount of academic wrangling can match the singular example of Abū Bakr رضي الله عنه and ‘Umar رضي الله عنه in their haste to establish the Khilāfah.
If nothing else, at least the symbol
The Khilāfah of course did not remain in its pristine form, and did not always fulfil the functions of succession to Allāh’s Messenger صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم . Let alone all the duties of tending to the political, spiritual, social, welfare, military, education etc needs of the Muslims, there were times when the Khalīfah functioned in nothing but name. Nevertheless the Muslims recognised the command of Allāh’s Messenger صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم and the practical benefit for a single symbolic leader. Notably when the Mongols massacred Baghdād and the last ‘Abbāsī ruler, al-Musta‘ṣim, in 1258 (with Rāfiḍī collaboration), a relative of al-Musta‘ṣim fled to Egypt. There the generally accepted greatest living scholar, ‘Izzuddīn bin ‘Abdis Salām – Allāh’s mercy be upon him – pledged allegiance to him as the new Khalīfah. Understand that this Khalīfah had zero political function. His only function was to continue the office so that it would continuously run for 13 centuries. The Khalīfah only gained practical powers when the Turks assumed the office in 1517.
Not that it can be claimed that we were united before, but the degree of pettiness our fights have gained would have been tempered by the unifying figure of the Khalīfah. Thus when scholars of the Indian subcontinent sensed the danger the Khilāfah faced a century ago, they initiated the Khilāfah Movement to defend the institution by their word, deed, blood and wealth. On the other hand, ask why the Rawāfiḍ have never raised this issue since their 1979 revolution in Iran. Anything which will lead to the victory of the Sunnah (Islām) is not in their interests.
Allāh is not in need of the perfect pious to implement His will
I have not pledged allegiance to Abū Bakr al-Baghdādī, for want of information and direction. Yet I must say that the objections that the declaration is invalid and must be recanted, appear to me to be nothing more than one-liners giving no theological references. Some statements seem tinged with panic, ego and personal interests. It might be that the declaration is in fact invalid. Yet I want substance and not ego when making a religious argument. Furthermore, where were these scholars when they allowed the Jewish and Saudi plan of eliminating Khilāfah to go unchallenged for almost a full century?
What can the possible scenarios be?
· The declaration is valid. The Islāmic State is composed of the righteous and must be assisted. The CNN reports of atrocities are lies and it is immature of certain Muslims to condemn without verifying the facts on the ground, in a land they have never been to.
· The reports are correct, but distorted, not explaining actions for which there may be validity only comprehensible to those living there.
· The Islāmic State folk are really bad guys.
Even if the third scenario is true, and we are to disassociate from them, I would ask Muslims to reflect on the possibility that since they have done nothing to restore the Khilāfah for almost a century, might it not be that Allāh choses His instrument to wake us up, even if the instrument appears wrong to us? A good deed is not nullified because the performer is bad. A charity worker is indeed a hypocrite if he abuses his wife, but can we deny that he was the instrument to fill the bellies of the hungry? Consider the following:
عن أبي هريرة رضي الله عنه …. لا يدخل الجنة إلا نفس مسلمة وإن الله ليؤيد هذا الدين بالرجل الفاجر
Abū Hurayrah رضي الله عنه narrates that Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم ordered Bilāl رضي الله عنه to announce, “None but a Muslim soul will enter Paradise, but indeed Allāh can strengthen this religion via the sinful man.” [al-Bukhārī]
Rather than our favourite pastime of fault finding, I would say that Muslims should instead discuss their forgotten obligation of restoring the Khilāfah. Indeed in Sūrah al-Isrā, Allāh calls Rasūlullāh صلَّى الله عليه وسلَّم , ‘abd, “His Slave”. Four verses later He refers to the pagan Babylonians by the same word, in plural form, “Our Slaves,” simply because they were His instruments of punishing the rebellious Israelites. So let us not lose track of the real issue, simply because the instruments are imperfect or even bad people.
A more recent example is Tanzania. Oman ruled her with a harsh hand and treated the land as nothing but a means of acquiring slaves. Thus the name of Oman, Arabs and Islām stank in the nostrils of the locals. Germany expelled Oman, ended slavery and built infrastructure making transport to the interior possible. Muslims were no longer slavers and travelled to the interior to preach Islām. Islām spread more rapidly under Christian German rule than under Muslim Omani rule! Allāh fulfils His will as he wishes, not as we think to tell Him.
Allāh alone knows the future, but from the signs the Ḥadīth mention, it seems that time is running out. The Ḥadīth commands us to join with the Syrians when such time comes. Are we witnessing the preliminary events in our lifetime? Allāh knows best.