Can an Islamic caliphate survive in today's Mideast? As the Muslim militant group ISIS advances in Iraq and Syria

The Monitor’s View: Can an Islamic caliphate survive in today’s Mideast? As the Muslim militant group ISIS advances in Iraq and Syria, its chances of establishing a strict Islamic theocracy will be weakened by its inherent flaws.


Iraq’s second largest city fell to a powerful militant group Tuesday, a stunning development that could quickly lead to the creation of a strict Islamic state in the heart of the Middle East.

This army of Muslim warriors, known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), has already taken hundreds of square miles in both Iraq and Syria, and now threatens Baghdad. As the group consolidates its rule and starts to govern millions of Muslims, it could come close to finally restoring the medieval-era caliphate that was once envisioned by the late Al Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden.

The region has recently seen other Islam-defined regimes, such as in Iran, Egypt, Turkey, and Gaza. But this emerging state would be very different. Its fighters are multiethnic, recruited from many countries to fight in Syria’s civil war. Now they are united by a religious fervor to also take over Iraq and break the colonial-era boundaries of the Middle East’s current states. And they show no interest in allowing even limited democracy, as in Iran.

The leader of ISIS, who calls himself Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is little known. But his military success over the past year indicates he is a shadowy, savvy, and savage ruler. His brutality even caused the current Al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, to break with the group.

By taking the Iraqi city of Mosul – in only a four-day battle – the group may have won the capital for its anticipated caliphate. It so far faces weak military resistance from the Iraqi regime of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has alienated the country’s Sunni minority with his Shiite-dominated and authoritarian rule.

While the world may be alarmed at the possibility of an almost borderless Islamic theocracy, especially one that might export terrorists, such a concern must be tempered by the possibility that such a regime would be inherently flawed and create the seeds for its own collapse.

Up to now, ISIS has relied on extortion rackets and oil smuggling to raise money. Such corruption erodes its legitimacy as a pious ruler. While little is known of its social demands on those it now rules, chances are they will offend moderate Muslims. An estimated 500,000 people fled Mosul as the group advanced on the city. Its implementation of strict Islamic law and cultural purity will not sit well with a region that is growing accustomed to constitutional order under secular rule of law and feeling the influence of the Internet.

The group also largely defines itself by what it opposes – Shiites, Israel, the West, and nonreligious Arab leaders. Such hate is no basis for creating any cohesion among the people it governs. And its record of killing innocent people through terrorist acts violates an understanding of the Quran adopted by almost every Muslim.

In other words, the world must be cautious rather than fearful as it orchestrates a response to this unusual Middle East threat. Patience and wisdom, rather than war, may help bring the downfall of a group whose ideas are devoid of substance.


Categories: Asia, Iraq, Syria

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2 replies

  1. The Muslim World can choose between the above ISIL version of Khilafat and the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community’s version:

    World Muslim Leader explains true Concept of Khilafat
    Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad delivers weekly Friday Sermon from Frankfurt

    Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad (may Allah be his Helper) delivering the Friday Sermon from Frankfurt, Germany
    On 6 June 2014, the World Head of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, the Fifth Khalifa, His Holiness, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad delivered his weekly Friday Sermon from the Kalbach Sports and Recreation Centre in Frankfurt. Almost 5,000 Ahmadi Muslims attended the sermon, which was televised live across the world on MTA International.


    During his hour-long address, His Holiness addressed the differences between the Institution of Khilafat (Caliphate) and secular or other forms of leadership.

    His Holiness categorically rejected the accusation that Khilafat could be considered similar to a dictatorship. He said that whilst worldly interests and a desire for power consumed dictators, the Khalifa of the Time had entirely spiritual objectives.

    Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:

    “Whilst worldly leaders have secular goals, the purpose of Khilafat is to draw the attention of all people towards fulfilling each others rights. It is to instil a spirit amongst Ahmadi Muslims of giving precedence to their faith over all worldly matters and Khilafat makes every effort to peacefully establish the Unity of God in the world.”

    Continuing, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:

    “Let me make it clear to every Ahmadi Muslim, every youth and every person that Khilafat and dictatorship have no link whatsoever… There is no compulsion in religion and so when a person willingly and entirely of his own volition accepts Ahmadiyyat then for the sake of the religion it is necessary to fulfil that pledge.”


    Speaking of the unique relationship between the Khalifa and Ahmadi Muslims, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:

    “Which leader or dictator is there who keeps a personal connection with each of his citizens? On the other hand the Khalifa of the Time maintains a personal connection with Ahmadi Muslims from amongst every race and from all parts of the world. It is Khilafat alone that cares for and feels the pain of every Ahmadi Muslim and prays for them.”

    Speaking of his own love and connection with the members of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community across the world, Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:

    “Before sleeping at night there is no country of the world that I do not visit in my imagination and no Ahmadi for whom I do not pray whilst sleeping and whilst awake. I am not doing any favour because this is my duty and may Allah enable me to ever increase in assuming my responsibilities. The only reason I have said this is to make it clear that there can be no comparison between Khilafat and other worldly or secular leaders.”


    His Holiness said the Quran emphatically enshrined principles of religious freedom stating “There should be no compulsion in religion” and so every person had a fundamental right to choose their faith or belief.

    During his sermon, His Holiness also responded to a question of a non-Ahmadi German who had seen a quote given by the Second Khalifa suggesting that ‘victory’ in Germany would lead to a victory in Europe.

    Hazrat Mirza Masroor Ahmad said:

    “Generally speaking the German people are intelligent and wise and so they understand that the missionary and humanitarian works of the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community are all conducted so that people become aware of the true and entirely peaceful teachings of Islam.

    Let it be clear that the word ‘victory’ does not in any shape or form mean that we, God forbid, intend to use force or to take over any government. First and foremost we declare that there is no compulsion in matters of faith and that religion or belief is a matter of a person’s heart. Our success will never be based on force but instead will be achieved by winning people’s hearts and minds by highlighting Islam’s true teachings.”

    Friday Sermon 6th June 2014 with 12+ translations


    Further Information:

  2. CALIPHATE IN THE LATTER DAYS, A PANEL DISCUSSION is schedule for Au 28 at the Castro Valley Library from 1 PM to 4.30 PM. Panelists include: Prof. Ameena Jandali, Prof. Abdul Jabbar, Rabbi Dr. Harry Manhoff, Imam Bilal will explore the reasons why ISIS is engaged in the terrorist activities in Iraq, Syria and beyond and possible solution.

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