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Why So Much Hype Over Khilafat among Indian Muslim Intelligentsia?


By Dr Shabbir Ahmad, New Age Islam

1 Sep 2014

It all started with the announcement of Islamic caliphate by the leader of ISIS, Abu Bakr Baghdadi in Mosul on June 30 this year. While the world watched with shock and surprise, some sections of the Muslim media and intelligentsia went overboard, exclaiming, “Wow, the Islamic Khilafat has finally arrived after 90 long years.”

Urdu newspapers flashed banner headlines:

“Abu Bakr Baghdadi Declares Khilafat”.

“Baghdadi Calls for Unity among the Muslims of the World.”

“Khalifa Abu Bakr Baghdadi Asks Allegiance From All The Muslim Countries Of The World.”

However, few Urdu newspapers bothered to write on Abu Bakr Baghdadi’s background as a terrorist associated with Al Qaida in Iraq. Few Urdu newspapers bothered to give details of bomb blasts and murders committed by him before he declared himself a caliph.

Simply, that was not important. What was important was the fact that he had established the Khilafat that was a dream of every Muslim since the destruction of the institution of Khilafat in Turkey in 1924.

Indian Urdu media showed a heightened degree of excitement over the Khilafat of Abu Bakr Baghdadi. Columns were written expressing expectations of Muslims with the newly established caliphate. One columnist defended the ISIS caliphate by saying that Muslims were wrong to expect it to be a caliphate like Khilafat-e-Rashida.  It meant that if they were doing something which apparently seems to be in violation of Islamic teaching, they should ignore it as they were trying to establish a Khilafat.

There were other columnists who opined that the Khilafat of Abu Bakr Baghdadi was fulfilling the aspirations of the great personalities of Islam. However, these columnists chose to ignore the order of Abu Bakr Baghdadi that all the girls of his Khilafat should undergo genital mutilation. They also ignored the fact that the fighters of ISIS were going door to door asking if there were any unmarried girls in the house. Girls were forced to marry the fighters because it was a "duty" of the girls to marry "holy fighters," they said.

The columnists and journalists also ignored that fact that they killed Yazidis, Christians and Kurds because they were non-Muslims. They were especially ruthless to the Shias because they were apostates according to Baghdadi, their Khalifa.

After all, such minor transgressions deserved to be ignored when a greater and nobler mission was to be achieved.

Amidst all this, a renowned cleric of Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow, Maulana Salman Nadvi crossed all limits. He shot off a letter to Baghdadi greeting him as Amir ul Mumineen and Leader of Muslim Ummah. He was all praise for him for defeating the ‘tyrant’ Nuri Al Maliki.

The Urdu daily Aag, Lucknow first broke this news which was picked up by the media at large.

A progressive Islamic website New Age Islam wrote an editorial lambasting the Maulana for creating hype among the Muslims about a terrorist organisation like ISIS and misleading the Muslim youth. Soon after, the website also found a letter written by him to the ruler of Saudi Arabia in which he had made some suggestions to the Saudi government. Among the suggestions, one was that the Saudi government should form a confederation of all the Jihadi and terrorist organisations active in various countries and stop calling them terrorists as they were fighting for a noble cause. The other suggestion was that the Saudi government should not depend on Israel and the US to deal with (read kill) the Shias and other Rafidi sects. He said that five lakh Muslim youth from Indian sub continent would be provided by him on a single call or appeal. The letter was posted on Maulana’s Facebook page, the website claimed.

The next day, Maulana Salman Hussaini Nadvi found himself in the thick of a controversy. Times of India, First Post, the Dawn, and Karachi published news and articles quoting on Maulana Nadvi’s letter to "Ameerul Momineen" Khalifa Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, and his bizarre offer and suggestions. Islamic groups and personalities in Lucknow and Mumbai condemned Maulana’s letters and declared that Maulana’s statements did not reflect the views of general Muslims of the country.

However, amid the hype created by the Urdu media and Maulana Nadvi, some Muslim youth from Maharashtra embarked on a journey to Syria and Iraq. One was reportedly killed recently in Syria.

During all this period, the Dawat, Jama’at-e-Islami’s official publication played a very negative role in this matter. It regularly published editorials and articles that glorified and praised the so called Khilafat of the ISIS ignoring its sectarian and communal ideology that was the cause of the killings of innocent people in their captured territory.

In fact it dedicated an entire issue to the Iraq-Syria crisis in which editorials and interviews were published. Views of Jamiat-e-Ulema Hind secretary were also published in which he said that the ISIS were doing a good job and even if they were demonstrating some ruthlessness in dealing with opponents, it was permissible as in war everything was fair.

Dawat also wrote an editorial condemning those who had held a press conference in Delhi and Mumbai denouncing the atrocities the ISIS was committing against Muslims and non-Muslims alike in Iraq and Syria.

Later, in one of the editorials, it said that Muslims should not condemn the ISIS because they were fighting for a noble cause.

Why has Jama’at- e-Islami been supporting the ISIS?

The answer is: They support this ideology of murder, violence and rape in the name of establishing an Islamic state or Caliphate. In 1971, during the Bangladesh liberation war, Jama’at- e-Islami cadre and leaders were in the forefront of mass killings of supporters of Bangladesh, both Muslims and non-Muslims. Lakhs of people were killed and an equal number of women were systematically raped by the Pakistani army and Jam’at Islami and Al Badr Razakars. Some of them have been handed death sentence and life sentence by the War Crimes Tribunal set up by Sheikh Hasina government. After the creation of Bangladesh, Jama’at Islami was banned in Bangladesh and many leaders, ideologues and workers of Jamaat fled to the UK, Pakistan and Middle East and propagated their extremist ideology in their respective countries. That is showing the results now in Pakistan, Middle East and UK. All the three countries and regions have become the hotbed of terrorism and Takfiri ideology.

So when the ISIS shot to prominence, the Jamaat found them their natural ally and so out rightly supported them ignoring the killings, mass murders and rapes by them. To them, everything is OK as long as a group is trying to establish Islamic Caliphate in a country.

Khilafat was abolished in Turkey by Mustafa Kamal in 1924. Before that, it had been weakened and reduced to a symbol by the European powers. In India, Mahatma Gandhi made it a political issue which was not accepted by the Muslim masses of India at large. Some Muslim leaders espoused the cause of reinstating Khilafat. Maulana Shaukat Ali and Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar even wrote a letter to the Turkish National Assembly to restore the Khalifa and Khilafat.  Poet and philosopher Iqbal too did not give it much importance. He wrote:

Agar Mulk Hathon Se Jata Hai Jai

Tu Ahkam-E-Haque Se Na Kar Bewafai

There were Islamic revolutions in a few countries after the Second World War where Islamic governments were established. In 1947, Pakistan came into existence. It was created a country for Muslims. Prominent Islamic scholars like Maulana Abul Ala Maududi, Maulana Shabbir Usmani and others were in Pakistan. They did not push the idea of establishment of Khilafat in Pakistan on the lines of Khilafat-e-Rashida. All they wanted was an Islamic government based on Islamic Shariah.

In Iran, Ayatollah Khomeini led the Islamic revolution in 1977and an Islamic government was established under his patronage. But it was a democratic government led by the Spiritual leader. It was a Presidential form of government with a western Parliamentary system. The Ayatollah did not advocate a Khilafat in Iran.

Most recently, the Sunni Islamist Ikhwan ul Muslimeen came to power in Egypt, though later it was toppled by the military. They too established a Presidential form of government under Parliamentary democracy. Ikhwan are known for their radical and hard-line views on many issues concerning Muslims and their objective is to establish a government based on Shariah. But they did not mention Khilafat in their party manifesto.

This is because the Quran does not specify Khilafat as a form of government for Muslims. All it stresses is good governance, honouring human and religious rights to all the communities living under its rule. The form of government can be any based on Islamic and Qur'anic principles.

It is a paradox then that though none of the political and ideological outfits of Muslims envisages the establishment of Khilafat as a part of Islamic political structure; they create hype over Khilafat and support Jihadi organisations in the name of Khilafat which does not exist in their book of ideology. Isn’t it interesting?

A scholar of Islam based in Delhi, Dr Shabbir Ahmad occasionally writes for New Age slam.