Allow me to make a prophesy about the Islamic caliphates
Reader comment on item: What Do Jihadis Want? The Caliphate
Submitted by Prashant (United States), Mar 18, 2017 at 23:36
Dear Dr Pipes, I think the thought of Caliphates and Caliphs are an Islamic day dream. Common Muslim people who are entertaining the idea of a caliphate do not know what it means. Consider the example of the Istanbul tailor that you quoted in the above article. I will reproduce the quote from your article:
"I won't live to see it, and my children won't, but one day maybe my children's children will see someone declare himself the caliph, like the pope, and have an impact."
This tailor thinks that the caliph will be like the pope. If such is the case, Muslims can make the caliphate today. What can be wrong with having a religious leaders who is elected by the other clergies, exerts no political power and mostly talks of good and moral things?
Unfortunately, the idea of a Caliphate proposed by the likes of bin Laden, Zawahiri and, possibly, by the original Islamic doctrine is not so benign. In this version of the Caliphate Muslims rule the land and "let the non-Muslims live in the land in peace". This version of Caliphate is a no-no by almost any standard of modern and/or moral living that one can think of.
But the title of my message is about making a prophesy. So let me keep my promise. My prophesy is: if an Islamic Caliphate ever comes to be its first Caliph will either be murdered or his death will lead to a blood bath.
I am not wishing anything bad to any one. I honestly am not. My prophesy is a self-evident truth with ample historical evidence. Didn't the early Islamic caliphates created after Muhammad's death exhibit the exact behavior stated in my prophesy? As you correctly pointed out the Shia and Sunni divisions (and the centuries long fight between the two divisions) is based precisely on the question of succession. What was historically true in the past will, unfortunately, remain true in the future.
And I do not need to depend on historical evidence to make my prophesy. You see, the Islamic doctrine do not precisely define how caliphs will be elected and replaced. It seems that any one who can claim the throne can become the Caliph (the current ISIS chief is an example). And once some one becomes a Caliph, the Islamic doctrine does not specify how the transition of power from one Caliph to the next will occur (so much so that even Muhammad forgot to appoint a successor to himself). So the only way to replace a Caliph will be either by murder or natural death and a subsequent usurpation of power. Both of these methods entail violence.
So my prophesy is almost certain to come true. The only way to make it false is to think democracy. A democratic Caliphate may be peaceful. But, then, it wont be an Islamic! It will need to separate church and state. It will need to allow free thought and free expression of ideas. It will need to allow as many rights to apostates and Kafirs as to the believers. It will be like the US democracy and will be a CINO (Caliphate In Name Only). Therefore, no matter how we proceed, the path to Islamic Caliphate is doomed. My prophesy is a very bad news for the current chief of ISIS. But what can I do. I am helpless.
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