‘West has no problem with what kind of state you establish in the name of Khilafah but they fear the fusion of Islam and democracy.’
(This article is translation of an article titled “Khilafat Aur Jumhooriyat” wriiten by Ata ul Rehman published in Tarjuman ul Quran, July Issue)
Firstly, let us think about the term “khilafat”. In the Quran it is used in place of what we call in English a ‘vicegerent’ – “You Lord said to the angels, ‘I am appointing a vicegerent on earth’ (Surah baqarah 30)”. Most scholars of Islam have translated the word “khalifah” as “viceroy” i.e. a ruler exercising authority in a colony on behalf of the sovereign. He is accountable for his authority before his sovereign, and the authority given to him is not limitless – he only has partial authority.
A Khilafah is such a state which is established by servants of Allah who have firm belief in His sovereignty and do not exceed in his given authority. So, pages of history are witness to the state which was formed on this basic principle and which historians call “khilafah.” This was established by the Prophet (saw) wherein, sharia was imposed upon Muslims and all those who were subordinates of the state.
Historically, this was named as “khilafah” after the death of Prophet (saw) and when a successor took charges of governance after the masses had pledged their allegiance to him, and Abu Bakr (ra) got to be called the “Khalifat ul Nabi”. Here another meaning of the Arabic word “khalifah” comes before us; “one who takes place of other.” When a leaf after completing its life falls off from a tree, another leaf takes its place, in the spirit of the Arabic language that is also called ‘khalifah’.
When Abu Bakr (ra) took the reins into his hand, he was not a prophet in the Prophet’s place. But he just sat on the throne of a state which was established by the Nabi (pbuh). After his death, Hadrat Umar (ra) took over the charges. He was also called as “khalifat ul nabi” but later on he was given title of “ameer ul mumineen” i.e the ruler of the Muslims. Citizens who did not accept Islam but subordinated to the state, the protection of their lives and properties and even of their dignity and honor was guaranteed by the state, however their separate identity was established.
You may say that “khilafat is not an Islamic term, but how would you ignore the verse of Quran which says, “(And they are) those who, if we give them authority in the land, establish prayer and give zakah and enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong” (Surah hajj 41). Meaning that apart from worshipping, they help the needy and promote high human values.
In a known history charges of state and governance have been given to so many groups and nations who did not establish Salah or system of Zakah but for Allah only that state is acceptable which fits His set standards. When Abu Bakr (ra) took the charges of governance, he established the system for Salah and waged the war against those people who refused to pay Zakat. These were citizens of the state and lived within the boundaries.
Another thing, i.e. “sanctity of boundaries” is being talked about strangely. State is the name of a group of people or a homeland of a nation. In your individual life you get a piece of land to live your family with – you establish your house in it – doesn’t it’s sanctity lie in you? Would you allow anyone to violate it? State, be it Islamic or un-Islamic, khilafat or monarchy, is a secure home for its citizens. It has boundaries. Its security is the responsibility of the whole state. Boundaries are subjected to expansion and compression.
The era of khilafat which started from Abu Bakr (ra) and ended up after Ali (ra) is called “Khilaft e rashida.” Muslims consider it as golden period.
After this, monarchies of Muslims came forth. As a result the standardized principle of choosing a ruler by pledging allegiance under free will was now no longer followed. Under monarchy, the son asked for allegiance in place of his father. Even in many cases while the father was alive he tried to hand over his charges to his son by hook or crook. The collective conscience of Muslims did not call them “ameer ul mu’mumineen”. Although the rulers of Umayyadis and Abbassyds did use this as title and insisted others to call them by it but Muslims throughout their history called them monarchs.
In place of Abbassyds, Ottomans took the place of state power. They used to call themselves as “Sultans.” There state during 500 years of climax was called as Ottoman Empire in which there used to be post for a Shaykh ul Islam and Islamic laws of Hanafi jurisprudence were implemented. In late 19th century this empire got weakened internally which led to its disintegration. Their external defense got weakened while fighting against Russia. All European powers became foe of its very existence. Then only did the then Sultan of Turkey used this title of “khalifah” for himself, otherwise actually there was monarchy in place. However it was symbol of power of Muslims all over the world.
It clearly means that in 1400 years of history, the years of khilafah extend from Abu Bakr to Ali. The match of Islamic principles and worldly requirements could be seen in this era and that too with perfection. Muslims consider it as an ideal era and if they seek renaissance of the values upon which this khilafah was established then it is not any inappropriate dream. Now the requirements are quite different due to the different conditions at institutional and social levels, which are now in place to run the political system and state. However, despite these timely changes, Deen is still same and the manifestation of the state based on religious and worldly principles of Khilafah is wish and desire of every Muslim.
A great thinker of the secular world namely Plato gave a concept of ‘utopia’ some two thousand years ago. It never came into existence. But the struggle of the west has always been to reach its climax of utopia. Although they experimented so many things on ideological and practical fronts but they always kept the acquisition of utopia in mind. Though our scholars talk so much about “ijtihad” extensively, but on knowledge and ideological fronts, the case is different. There is consensus upon the fact that in khilafah there is the democratic spirit. When this was lost everything became heritage, which resulted in monarchy and kingdom. Contrary to modern secular democracy, in the democracy of Muslims, Allah is the sovereign – this is what khilafah was.
West has no problem with what kind of state you establish in the name of Khilafah. They fear the fusion of Islam and democracy. They do not wish to see a system in the Muslim world, established by the wish and desire of Muslims, because by this Islam and Muslims would be compatible with each other, which would resurrect actual Islamic Democracy. Even if not named as khilafah but the spirit of shu’ra and khilafah would be embedded in it. This is the reason that when, 25years back, an elected govt of the Islamic Front was to be established in Algeria, the West came up with all its wit and power of oppression. Thousands of people were killed to let throne into hands of pro-French and pro-American dictatorship. In 2013, Muhammad Morsi, the first elected president in Egypt, was ousted by the military. He wasn’t allowed to function even for a year. The US, a few European countries and Muslim monarchies openly supported the dictatorship in order to avoid the flourishing of Islam and democracy.
Even in Pakistan this experiment was time and again made unsuccessful. After so much of struggle we made a constitution manifested upon the principles of Islam and democracy, which was so many times suspended. US supported and backed every military dictator. But the soul of Western imperialist powers was satisfied when Abu Bakr Baghdadi violated the concept of “khilafah” by establishing so called “khilafah.” By the activities of ISIS and its like-minded groups, it became easier for anti-Islamic forces to label Muslims as terrorists. Some intellectuals without any necessity are busy in discussing whether “khilafah” is an Islamic term or not. As a nation, as a scholar and politician our attention should be to change the system democratically and not in condemning the democracy, spoil the spirit of shu’ra in Islam.
Author can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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