BOOK: The Centrality of the Khilafah in Islam

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The Messenger of Allah صلى الله عليه وسلم said: ‘Verily, the knots of Islam will be undone one by one. Whenever one knot is lost then the people grabbed onto the one which came after it. The first of these knots will be the Ruling and the last will be the Salah.’ [Reported by At-Tabaraani]

Mustafa Kamal, forced the National Assembly to separate the Sultanate from Caliphate (Khilafah), attempting to create a constitutional Khaleefah, according to the republican system, where he is just the symbolic figurehead and has no political power. Following this, in 1922, ‘The Caliphate and National Sovereignty’ (Hilfet ve Hakimiyet – milliye) was published by the Turkish Grand National Assembly, justifying the dispossession of the Khilafah of all political powers, leaving him only ‘spiritual powers’. It started the early shoots of secular liberal thinking about this matter saying:

‘The Prophet’s neglect of discussion of his political succession shows its secondary importance. The Caliphate is therefore a matter for the Muslims to organize themselves. Only clear texts of Quran and hadith are, properly speaking, of religious law; all else is only the ‘law of Ijtihad’ on which there is little consensus. In these the government is free to choose what is temporally most expeditious. The caliph’s authority resembles that of a president of a republic, resting on a general delegation of authority.’ (p.5)

Ali Abdul Raziq (1888-1966) was an Azhari cleric, influenced by the orientalists D.S. Margoliouth and T.W. Arnold during World War One. He unleashed a propaganda campaign to discredit the Ottoman Caliphs saying: ‘The Prophet never tried to establish a government or a state; he was a messenger sent by Allah, and he was not a political leader.’ ‘There is no basis for the Khilafah in the Qur’an and Hadith’…..‘Allah does not impose upon the Muslims a specific type or form of government, but they are free to choose what is better for the welfare of their society at any time.’ Abdul Raziq was roundly denounced by Al-Azhar University and his arguments comprehensively refuted.

Despite the efforts of a brutal despot like Mustafa Kemal, who effectively seized power by force, or Abdul Raziq who failed to convince his contemporaries of his corrupt arguments, and a legion of colonialists and their efforts, the understanding of the Khilafah as an Islamic obligation has remained undiminished, even though it also remains, as yet, unfulfilled.

Now, as the demand for Khilafah rises across the Islamic world, we see the British government proposing a policy that argues that belief in Khilafah is “extremist”. Suddenly, a plethora of “nobodies” have started writing that there is no such thing as a Khilafah system, that it is a historical relic of the past or have asked the extraordinary question ‘Who needs an Islamic State?’.

The truth of the matter is that the Khilafah is a unique system, different from any other in terms of its political philosophy, form of government and its stated aims for the simple reason that its source is divine and not manmade, whether by Western liberal thinkers of the Enlightenment or their intellectual subservients from the so-called Muslim liberal thinkers.