The Caliphate delusion: the political construct that bears no relevance in the modern world

Ghaffar Hussain writes: I first came across the term Caliphate or Khilafah back in 1992 when, as a young teenager, I attended a lecture organised by a local Islamist group. The term was a reference to a global Muslim empire that would have a single ruler for life, referred to as Caliph, and implement a single interpretation of shariah. This empire would also be expansionist and seek to aggressively stretch its borders through warfare until the entire world fell under its domain.

The Caliphate, it was argued, was necessary because, theologically, it was an Islamic obligation and, politically, only such an entity could protect Muslims around the world, under siege as they are from non-Muslim enemies.

Furthermore, the return of the Caliphate was foretold in scripture and had existed up until 1924 until it was destroyed by European imperialists who felt threatened by Muslim unity and power. Prior to 1924, it was argued, a thriving Caliphate had ushered in a golden age of Islam in which science, art, philosophy and economic prosperity flourished as Muslims implemented a divine ruling system.

At the time it was a compelling narrative, especially since it weaved theology, geo-politics and grievances young British Muslims were experiencing at the time. It also had a feel-good factor to it because essentially it blamed all the contemporary failings of Muslim societies around the world on Western conspiracies and the lack of a Caliphate.

As such, it was very empowering in that it gave young Muslims delusions of grandeur, it made us feel relevant and important at a time of mass disenfranchisement. [Continue reading…]

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