When we look at the world, we see power blocs in opposition to each other, and wonder what difference would be made if there was a Khilafah (Caliphate) state in the mix. First, let the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) be taken out of the equation, primarily because it has taken itself out. The OIC has reduced itself to being a tool for Saudi foreign policy, and because Saudi Arabia itself has subordinated itself so thoroughly to the USA, it is merely a sort of support to US foreign policy.
If one was to revisit Samuel P. Huntington’s theory of a ‘Clash of Civilizations’, one would come up against a gap. He postulated the West as dominant, but saw it having to face competition from the Confucian and Islamic civilizations. However, while there is a leading Western state, the USA, and a leading Confucian State, China, there is really no Islamic state in the sense that it would be able to compete with the USA, even to the extent that China can. Huntington’s analysis has been strongly challenged, and is certainly not infallible. But it is also true that a Khilafah State would validate it to the extent that there is presently no state representing the Islamic civilization, or acting as its core. The Khilafah State should not come into existence because it must compete, but once it exists, it will inevitably compete if it is to meet the basic criteria of providing its own security itself, and of implementing the Islamic systems.
Apart from any consternation that might be produced by the Khilafah’s rejection of the capitalist system, the avowed purpose of the state is Dawah and Jihad. It will be upsetting for the upholders of a world order based on the establishment of peace (only if that peace coincides with the wishes of certain capitalist countries), because it will reject the principle of non-interference in other states. It may seem paradoxical, but such a state will not be so hypocritical as to claim non-interference while interfering to further its own interests. The Khilafah state will be easier for the rest of the world to understand, for it will have very clear policies towards the remaining states. The Muslim states, those which have been ruled by Muslims at any time in the past, will have to be brought into the fold of the Khilafah. The non-Muslim states, such as the imperialist states, like the USA, the UK or France, will have to be deemed kafir harbi (belligerent kafir), and though actual fighting will be determined by the Khaleefah as Amir of Jihad, peace with such states will only depend on two things: the existence of an agreement, and their treatment of Muslims within and outside their borders.
It may be predicted that the Khilafah State will be more effective than the present arrangement of the OIC’s 56 states at dealing with the problems arising for Muslims. The first issue that the Khilafah state will be bound to handle will be that of handling Muslim states which do not obey it. States which do not accept the Khilafah and which do not implement the Islamic systems are considered to be in a state of rebellion, and are to be fought until submission. Once that submission is made, they are to be treated differently than the land of the kuffar, where fighting is to continue until Muslims establish their systems there.
The problem of the Muslims at the time when the Caliphate was abolished was colonialism. The three biggest Muslim populations outside the Caliphate were in India (where they were a minority of the population), Indonesia and Central Asia, which were respectively British, Dutch and Russian colonies. The Khilafah had conceded substantial territory in the Balkans, but the hiving off of the Arab lands under the Sykes-Picot Agreement, whereby Britain and France had agreed to partition the Arab lands between themselves, still awaited the end of World War I and the abolition of the Caliphate. The defeat of Turkey in World War I had posed two problems for Muslims. First was the abolition of the Caliphate. Then was the Sykes-Picot agreement, which, among other things, gave Palestine which was part of the Syrian Wilayah to the UK, the only part of that Wilayah which did not go to France, and which was meant for establishing a state for Jews. The last powerful Ottoman Caliph, Sultan Abdul Hamid II, had refused to give the Zionists any land holding in Palestine. Instead, the British acted to make it possible.
When the UK left Palestine in 1948, leading to An-Nakba, which was one of the great human tragedies after WW II, it had already given independence to India in 1947, out of which it had carved Pakistan (from which would be created Bangladesh in 1971) as a Muslim state. Decolonization proceeded apace after that, and not just the Arab lands, but also the sub-Saharan African countries also became independent one by one, including the Muslim lands. The creation of the OIC in 1969 attempted to organize this enormous expansion of Muslim states that were freed (at least technically) from colonial rule. This came a little after two defining events: the 1967 Six-Day War, as a result of which Masjid Al-Aqsa passed into the control of the Jewish entity, then the incident of fire in Masjid Al-Aqsa, which caused a wave of anger in the entire Ummah. The governments, often monarchical or dictatorial, all owing allegiance to either the USA or the USSR, needed to show that they were doing something. However problems for Muslims proliferated. The original post-Caliphate problems, of Palestine and Kashmir, have not been solved, and to that have been added those of North Cyprus, East Timor, and South Sudan, while both the Rohingya and the Uighurs are facing a new round of repression. In India, Muslims are facing a new round of repression.
One reason why the present system is out of sync with the feelings of Muslims is that these newly created nation states in Muslim lands started to pursue their own interests. Many of the rulers controlling these states have conflicting interests. A prime example is Saudi Arabia, which has committed an investment of $15 billion in an Indian oil refinery. That has created a lobby in Saudi Arabia for continued good relations, even better relations, with India. The Saudi government must balance this against those who want Saudi Arabia to challenge India for its treatment of the people of Kashmir. In this way, all governments must balance the various pressures exerted on it by its citizens, and come up with a single policy. In that respect, the Khilafah will behave like any other state. The government will formulate policy according to how the Khaleefah works out the wishes of the Ummah, as there will be a single will operating throughout the State and the Khilafah will be much more powerful than most, if not all, of the states where problems arise for Muslims, the Khalifah will probably feel no hesitation in dealing with these issues promptly, and thus burnish its credentials within the Ummah.
One of the most significant freedoms the Khaleefah will have in dealing with the affairs of the Ummah will be that he does face an election (for the bayah), but not retirement (at least, not a compulsory one created by a term limit). As his term is limited by his life, he is as unknowing as anyone of its expiry, and there is no taking of actions that will help in his being re-elected. No foreign power will be able to offer him any help in any election, because he won’t be facing any. There will be nothing to offer him in staying in office. He may fear criticism from abroad, but if it is not well-founded, such as criticism of his government’s human rights record, he will ignore it. He cannot be induced to follow any foreign agenda. Because of that, the Ummah would find itself more comfortable with rulers in the Khilafah State than it is at present. One of the major hidden issues the Khaleefah will have to handle will be the large Muslim diaspora in foreign countries. It is a safe assumption that many will return to the Khilafah when it is reestablished, but it is an equally safe assumption that many will remain where they are. An important factor in determining the Khaleefah’s attitude towards them will be his attitude towards the country they live in, which will in turn be determined by the freedom Muslims have in following the Shariah. The Khaleefah will also have to factor in the pressure the diaspora generates on him through its relatives still in the Khilafah, and the possibility that that pressure originates in the moves of the government of the country they are in. At the same time, that country will have to take account of the pressure that may be exerted on it to allow the Shariah to rule the lives of Muslims.
The citizens of the Khilafah state will find having a person head the government who considers himself bound by the rules of the Shariah a considerable improvement over one who is either a dictator or who also makes the laws as he wishes. The institution of the Mazalim will prove an eye-opener for the citizen, who will find the Khilafah a considerable improvement over the bureaucratic states of today. Even the West would benefit, or at least the ordinary man, if not the governments. The governments might object to no longer having control over rulers, but the man in the street would probably welcome the centralized authority over all of Muslim affairs. As an example, we will probably see the end of militant groups taking matters in their own hands, because the Khaleefah is the Amir of Jihad, and thus the only person who can declare Jihad, while in the present situation individuals or groups declare jihad, and this will not be possible. This will resolve the issue of militancy in Islamic lands to a large extent. At present, it should be remembered that much of the support for militancy in Islamic lands is because there is no authority which can pronounce on its validity. It should be remembered that the Khaleefah does not just determine whether a group of people must be fought, but when. He might agree with Islamic militants that Americans, or the French, or the East Timorese, are liable to be fought, but if he determines that the time is not ripe, they cannot impose their own judgement. Moreover, organized Jihad by the State is most likely to produce the results which most of the militant groups in the Muslim World have desired but mostly failed to achieve.
It is perhaps because of the multifarious advantages that the Khilafah brings for Islam and Muslims that the European powers worked so hard for its abolition. The restoration of the Khilafah (Caliphate) on the Method of Prophethood is not just a Fard, but the only platform by which Muslims can fulfill their most important and most pressing goals.
Afzal Qamar – Pakistan