Muslims should be confident in discussing the Khilafah in today’s Britain

The Ottomon Caliphate was abolished on 3rd March 1924

Abdul Wahid explains why it is important for Muslims to discuss the concept and reality of the Khilafah in today’s Britain.

Some years ago I received an unexpected call from a relatively young Imam who is now one of the more prominent anti-Islamic voices in the lucrative counter-extremism industry. He had left behind his youthful dogmatic phase and was in the latter part of his confused stage – and would soon embrace the “dark side”.

The day before he had been asked about Muslim organisations calling for the restoration of the Khilafah in the Muslim world during a TV interview, and had phoned to tell me first hand that he had said they ought to disband, because their ideas were irrelevant in Britain today. I asked him that if British politicians and pundits regularly discussed the political future of the Muslim world, was it “irrelevant” for Muslims to voice an Islamic political alternative? He conceded that it was not.

But there are many other reasons why we should be discussing this noble Islamic institution.

The relevance of “Khilafah” discussions

Firstly, it is an Islamic obligation to rule by what Allah has revealed; under one ruler, who looks after people’s affairs by Islam, carries Islam to the world, and secures the Islamic lands.

The Khilafah has been considered an established obligation confirmed by proofs from the Qur’an and Sunnah – with scholars reaffirming the obligation in every one of the past fourteen centuries– notwithstanding the handful of revisionist academics doing contortions with Islamic jurisprudence.

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Secondly, disenchanted Muslim youth are struggling to reconcile secular liberal values with their belief. Young Muslims should be taught about the great Islamic civilisation that developed under Khilafah.

So great that those who don’t necessarily subscribe to the belief of Islam are forced to mention its greatness and its contribution to the world. Carly Fiorina praised it, President Obama recognised it, and Tony Blair choked on it – though without mentioning the Islamic polity that allowed those great Islamic values to be actualised.

Thirdly, it is important we learn the lessons of its demise so as not to repeat the same mistakes – whether the failure of looking to Islam for solutions to contemporary problems and mimicking capitalist states instead, as a result of neglect of the Arabic language and closing the doors of Ijtihad; or the intellectual, political and economic colonialism that ultimately allowed a military dissection.

Fourthly, we should be willing to voice what Muslims living under oppression are often not able to do – that increasing numbers of Muslims across the world want the return of the Khilafah. In Syria, many from the mainstream opposition to the Assad regime – who also oppose ISIS – want Khilafah. Polling evidence consistently shows that across the world, Muslims want more Islam in public life, not less. Even in Turkey, 93 years after the abolition of Khilafah, the desire for more Islam is growing whilst Kemalism is dying.

Fifthly, the Caliphate, Islamic governance, Shariah, Jihad – all have been demonised as part of an ideological war on Islam. The British government’s Prevent policy silences Muslims from discussing many important issues. The ensuing silence for fear of being labelled “extremist” has left a dangerous vacuum that can be filled by internet chat and “Shaikh Google”.

The result is that young Muslims have no guidance on these issues and can be misled into believing that Khilafah either means a vague responsibility for people to look after the planet – or the pretensions of a self-appointed fighting group who claim they “rule” over a warzone that is in a constant state of flux. Certainly, they do not hear from the mimbar that the claims of a single group to anoint their leader as an overlord without a valid bayah is illegitimate from Islam, as is their claim of “statehood” when there is no control over a secure land that can really be called a state.

Sixthly, Khilafah is the vehicle that realises Islam’s solution to the problems of the Muslim world. Muslims in Britain undoubtedly care for their brothers and sisters suffering in or fleeing from war zones; living under occupation or in poverty; or under corrupt governments. They usually express their concern with acts of charitable aid. However, to seek a solution would be better. Islam came with solutions to all these problems and more. Its armed forces are supposed to protect the people, not be mobilised against the people, as is usually the case today. There is enough military strength in the Muslim world to liberate Palestine, remove the Assad regime, stabilise Yemen and rescue the Rohingya Muslims – but there is no political will.

The Muslim world and beyond

Lastly, it is not just Muslims that need Khilafah, but the world that needs an alternative! The scope of the Khilafah – and Islam generally – is not only the problems in the Muslim world – but also problems that confront the world as a whole, because the scope of Islam is the whole of humanity.

Whether it’s global poverty, economic instability, political insecurity, the violation of people’s basic rights, environmental damage, the threat of a global pandemic or eradicating malaria – all of these twenty first century struggles are the struggles Muslims wish to be a part of because they recognise Islam came to guide humanity – Muslim or non-Muslim – towards solving these complex issues.

Most Muslims are unaware of Islam’s solutions to any of these, so follow socialist or capitalist solutions, not aware of the alternative – or even the responsibility on our collective shoulders.

Allah (swt) says that this Ummah is the “best Ummah” – a collective role that can only be realised with a unified leadership. So, when it comes to Muslims caring for matters that transcend borders, it is the Khilafah that is the prescribed Islamic method to address things that cannot be solved by individuals or weak nation states.

Their causes are systemic problems in the international order – and they require a state present in the international arena to address them according to Islam, and to challenge the hegemony of global capitalism that has caused so much harm for so many. 

It is bizarre that people think it is “reasonable” or “realistic” to call for an adapted form of western liberal secularism for the Muslim world – which has nothing to do with the beliefs of the people and history of the region – instead of the system that gave dignity and civilisation for so long.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s alone and do not necessarily reflect those of 5Pillars.

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