Lutfi Rahimi

Islamic State (Caliphate) vs Islamic State (Caliphate) of Iraq and Syria “ISIS”


Dr Ahmad Al Raisoni[1]

Translated by Lutfi Rahimi


Mustafa Kamal –Attaturk- ended the Ottoman caliphate reign in a military coup and established republic Turkey in the second decade of the 20th century, first of its kind in the Islamic world, it dazed and bewildered many Muslims. This uncertainty gave rise to the quest of re-establishment of Caliphate and thus far majority of modern Islamic movements in one way or another is linked to this pursuit. The collapse of Ottoman caliphate fastened the emergence of these movements around the Islamic countries, i.e. Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Jamat Tableegh & Jamat Islami in India, Jamat Noor in Turkey. After that Hizb Tahrir entertained all its efforts in re-establishing of the Islamic Caliphate too. In other words, these movements’ establishment and continuum was inexplicably intertwined with the subject of Caliphate, some wanted to re-establish it and others wanted to correct the mistakes that led astray on the first place. Both Hiz Tahrir and Muslim Brotherhood wanted to re-establish the Caliphate as an alternative political framework for Islamic countries whereas, Jamat Noor and Tableegh gave priority to reforming Islamic teachings.

The second generation of the Islamic movements laid off the re-establishment of Caliphate discourse, instead they stressed over specific objectives such as legitimacy of the government, its independence, maintaining justice and creating effective governance. The most obvious examples of them started in Turkey and Morocco with their respective Justice and Development Parties, and Reform and Development in Mauritania. Furthermore, in Egypt, Sudan, Libya, Algeria and other countries similar movements kept coming to existence. Although these movements have their own unique structure and ideological preferences but Turkey and Mauritania are the leading examples. In a nutshell, both first and second generation of Islamic movements have their own crowds.

The emergence of ISIS and Caliph Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi has attracted much media attention and has brought back the discourse of re-establishing the Caliphate back to the mainstream. This forced the Islamic Scholars Council under Yusuf Qardawi to call the ISIS movement illegitimate and see it lack the right conditions to establish Caliphate. The point to be noticed from the announcement made by the council was that “It’s all Muslims desire to re-establish Caliphate today if possible instead of tomorrow....” The most important reason for those who support the idea of re-establishment of the Caliphate comes from a Hadith that Ahmad reports from Huzaifa. The paraphrased of the Hadith says that Successorship (Khilafa) will continue among people until God has decreed, then dictatorship and kingship will follow until God has decreed, then dictator Sultans will follow until God has decreed, then a Successorship (Khalifa) based upon prophet’s values will follow.

First, this Hadith has its own weaknesses and expert’s opinion is that it’s a “Hasan-ul Asnaad” Hadith, therefore it cannot be used to derive orders “Ahkam” about important issues such as re-establishment of Caliphate. Secondly, there is a second Hadith higher in ranking compare to the first hadith that Safina narrates from the prophet. The hadith says; "Successorship (Khilafa) after me shall last for thirty years. After that, there will be kingship."

Thirdly, both of these narrations do not ask ‘command’ Muslims to do something or vice versa. In other words, Muslims do not have a responsibility to do something about the issues raised in the text of the hadith. If someone claims that god has bound him to take up arms in order to establish caliphate, his/her claim doesn’t have an Islamic/religious base. S/he is a liar and wants to achieve his own desire under the guise of religion. They have to proof to us and all Muslims that where God has asked Muslims to establish Caliphate.


ISIS and Caliphate:

There are features that the true Caliphate was established upon after the death of the messenger of Allah, which allows us to carry out a comparison with any group proclaiming to re-establish a Caliphate.

1-      All Muslim and other minorities were living under the reign of the true caliphates at that time. Muslims were happy from their political decisions and their management of the state affairs. The so-called ISIS doesn’t even incorporate a thousandth of Muslim population and all those living under ISIS do not think of them as legitimate caliphate.

2-      At the time of true Caliphates, after days of negotiations, Shura between elders including men and women the next caliphate was going to be appointed. For instance, Omar Ibn Khatab said if a Muslim obeys another without considering the Islamic Consensus, he/she could be killed if necessary (Bukhari). We don’t know who obeyed Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, who chose him, who it was negotiated with and what is their status among the Islamic Ummah. If a few of his friends have obeyed him, he may be able to speak for them alone, however it’s impossible to introduce him as the caliphate of the Muslims.

3-      The process of transfer of power at the time of true Caliphate used to take place in an absolute transparency and freedom. There were no fears of being killed or forced to speak otherwise. ISIS wants to attract media attention instead and make as much noise as possible, by beheading people and public killings. It’s fundamentally against the principles upon which the true caliphate was established. Imam Malik used to give fatwa about less important issues than this. He believed that a divorce taken place under fright doesn’t take place; similarly obedience (Bay’at) under fright doesn’t bring legitimacy.

4-      The true caliphate was trying to bring progress to life and make everyone’s lives better whereas ISIS is promoting internal war among Muslims and bringing calamity.  


History has witnessed many of these leaders and rulers who tried to display splendid gardens of Eden and use religious disguise to gather crowds but in reality they have brought terror and death to humanity. The commandments of Sharia are deeply linked to kernels and meanings not merely to appearances and forms. Muhamad Tahir Ibn Ashor in his most important book ‘the Objectives of Islamic Sharia” expands on the meaning of the above statement. He explains that Islamic rulings do not deal with the outer structures and fantasy names; contrary, the rulings most stress the object/substance of the issues. Likewise, in the topic of our discussion, politics and legitimacy of the Islamic state, Allah has bounded us to do justice, to be kind, to discuss (shura) issues in order to prevent dictatorship and establish an effective government. Allah has encouraged the politicians and statesmen to think of others before themselves, treat everyone equally and do not become arrogant. Allah has asked politicians to protect the public ownerships (bait ul -maal) and do not misuse and abuse their power. They are encouraged to help the weak, stop the cruel, be just in distributing natural resources, and bring peace and security to the community, regardless of their religion. These are some of the pillars and fundamental objectives that Islamic Sharia binds us to follow. If these objectives are achieved under a caliphate, we accept its legitimacy. If these pillars and objectives are not achieved, we will be hostile to such caliphate. If these fundamental objectives are achieved under a different political regime to that of the caliphate, we accept the legitimacy of this regime too. In this manner, we would have achieved our target and that’s what Islamic Sharia commandments asks from us; to achieve justice, peace, security, equality, etc…Islamic Sharia has never bounded Muslims to establish “Khilafa” nor does it ask to establish a particular type of regime. In another word, Islamic law doesn’t ask us to call the ruler as a Khalifa, and the regime an Islamic Khilafa.

[1] The original text is in Arabic. He is a famous Faqeh from Morocco. He is also the deputy head of the Islamic Scholars Council. He is famous for his theories on Objectives of Fiqh.

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