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Nice to Hear from a real Historian

Reader comment on item: Caliph Ibrahim's Brutal Moment

Submitted by Alex (United States), Aug 6, 2014 at 22:13

To my knowledge, this is only the second article by a prominent Islamic historian writing in English to treat the topic of the newly declared caliphate (Bernard Haykel also wrote an article on the topic).

Does Dr. Pipes have any clue why so few experts have lent their expertise to this incredibly tempting moment for doing so? To add a couple of points where I partially disagree.

First, I don't think the Islamc State's main appeal to fellow jihadists or Islamists is based on the revived glory of the Caliphate, even if IS have mentioned things such as the Caliphate of Harun Alrashid in their propaganda. The main appeal seems to be one based on loyalty to a shared cause. Caliph Ibrahim and other senior IS figures have stated that loyalty to the IS and the new Caliph are a general obligation on Muslims (fard kifayah) that has been neglected in recent history, as well as the goal for which jihadists have claimed they strive. In short, not displaying loyalty to the new Caliph means disloyalty to both god and a shared cause. These seem like pretty powerful arguments to me, and they will not depend necessarily on the actual material success or destructive power of IS.

My second contention would be that the political culture identifiable in the new Caliphate is distinctly modern--specifically totalitarian. The sermon that the Caliph Ibrahim gave on the first of Ramadan in Mosul contained a very unusual disclaimer that those who swore loyalty to his Caliphate should expect the rewards of jihad --meaning those of the afterlife-- rather than any worldly gains. This idea of constant mobilization and obscurantist dedication to a cause without material standards for judging it's progress does not match the very real empires and wealth associated with past notions of the caliphate, at least in my understanding.

Submitting....

Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

Daniel Pipes replies:

Why do university-based historians not discuss the caliphate? Perhaps because they are consumed with such questions as "DAMES EMPLOYÉES AT THE SUEZ CANAL COMPANY: THE 'EGYPTIANIZATION' OF FEMALE OFFICE WORKERS, 1941–56" or "INTO THE DARK: POWER, LIGHT, AND NOCTURNAL LIFE IN 18TH-CENTURY ISTANBUL". These are two articles from the current issue of the International Journal of Middle East Studies. See file:///Users/danielpipes/Google%20Drive/International_Journal_of_Middle_East_Studies_Volume_46_Issue_03.pdf

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Note: Opinions expressed in comments are those of the authors alone and not necessarily those of Daniel Pipes. Original writing only, please. Comments are screened and in some cases edited before posting. Reasoned disagreement is welcome but not comments that are scurrilous, off-topic, commercial, disparaging religions, or otherwise inappropriate. For complete regulations, see the "Guidelines for Reader Comments".

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