Lutf blogs: As Muslims around the world start the month of Ramadan, ISIS, a group of Salafist militants have announced the re-establishment of Khilafah, the Islamic form of government as idealized by the orthodox Muslims.
One Abu Bakr Baghdadi has been chosen as the Khalifa (Caliph) who is in the process of accepting the Bay’ah, the pledge of allegiance from his followers. He is now the head of state and the undisputed religious leader of this new country being carved out of Iraq and Syria.
Baghdadi uses the same name as the first Khalifa of Muslims, Abu Bakr, who was elected as the leader of the faithful after the death of the Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him). He was followed by three more caliphs, Umar, Uthman and Ali. After Ali’s assasination, Muslims could never agree on a single leader. Khalifa became a title used by various dynasties who ruled the Islamic world until the fall of the Ottomans in the last century.
It is no surprise that a Khalifa has emerged from amongst the militants. If anything, it has taken them two decades longer than it should have. Usama bin Laden was rumoured to be accepting the bay’ah from Al-Qaeda recruits in the build-up to his call to arms against the West. He was never proclaimed as the Khalifa. There must have been some theological expediencies as Al-Qaeda was trying to appeal to a broad spectrum of Sunni sects. ISIS have discarded all such shackles.
Political Islamism has always been fantasizing about Khilafah for a long time. Even Gandhi had joined theIndian Khilafat Movement in early 1920s. Qutb and Maudoodi, the two major 20th century ideologues for political Islamists saw Khilafah as the only viable solution for returning the Ummah to its glory days.
Hizb-e-Tehrir, the torchbearers for the return of Khilafah have also issued a statement defending their beliefs and mildly disagreeing with the violent group’s methods of achieving what they have been dreaming for decades.