by Zafar Bangash (News & Analysis, Crescent International Vol. 45, No. 1, Jumada' al-Ula', 1437)
Living in an Islamic state or striving to establish one is the religious obligation of every Muslim. This desire is especially strong among committed Muslims because it is based on a Prophetic hadith (saying) as well as the Prophet’s (pbuh) Sunnah. He (pbuh) established the first Islamic State in Madinah. The noble Qur’an commands all Muslims to obey the Messenger (pbuh) and follow his example (3:30, 4:59, 4:80, 33:21). Thus, striving to establish the Islamic state is part of the Muslims’ obligation in life.
Muslim scholars have written extensively about what constitutes an Islamic state, how it is to be established and what functions it must perform. This also explains why there was such a strong reaction among Muslims to the abolition of the khilafah — even though it had been reduced to a shell of its original — in the early 1920s in Turkey. Within a few short years, al-Ikhwan al-Muslimoon (Muslim Brotherhood) emerged in Egypt in 1928 with the aim of establishing the Islamic state (khilafah). Other movements — such as the Jama‘at-e Islami in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent and Hizb al-Tahrir in Jordan/Palestine — emerged soon thereafter. All these movements made clear that establishment of the khilafah (Islamic state) was and remains a fundamental duty of Muslims.
Living in an Islamic state or striving to establish one is the religious obligation of every Muslim.
In Islamic terminology, the ruler of Muslims is called a khalifah. This title emerged after the noble Messenger (pbuh) left his earthly abode to join heavenly company. His successor was called khalifah al-rasul (successor to the Messenger of Allah – r), but it ultimately came to be called simply khalifah and has ever since been part of the Muslims’ lexicon. Every informed Muslim is aware of what it means.
True, the khilafah was subverted into mulukiyah (hereditary kingship) by ambitious individuals and clan leaders but the concept has been etched in the collective memory of Muslims ever since. It is this shared memory that the terrorist group, Da‘ish (aka as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, ISIL; or the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham, ISIS; or simply the Islamic State, IS) has exploited. Did the terrorists conceive of this idea on their own? Ample evidence exists to prove that their Western masters, supporters, and financiers led them to this. The background of the terrorist group’s head man, the self-styled khalifah, Ibrahim al-Samarrai’s (who has adopted the name Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) also confirms this. While at Buca Camp in Baghdad, after the notorious torture camp at Abu Ghraib was shut down following revelations of horrendous torture and sexual abuse of prisoners, Samarrai was allowed to mix freely with other prisoners.
The timing of ISIS’ emergence is important.
No other prisoner at the camp was afforded such privilege. What was special about al-Samarrai (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) to warrant such favoritism? He went about recruiting other prisoners right under the noses of the Americans (or with their approval, even coaching). This appeared to be part of the American plan to destabilize the region. Al-Baghdadi also recruited a large number of disbanded Ba‘thist soldiers nursing a grudge because they had been made redundant and the privileges they had enjoyed under Saddam’s regime simply evaporated. The Ba‘thists became eager recruits for al-Baghdadi’s Western-backed campaign. It was a totally unnatural alliance: secular Ba‘thists who had throughout their lives hounded Islamic activists and committed Muslims suddenly became bosom pals of the self-styled “Islamic State.”
The timing of ISIS’ emergence is important. Osama bin Laden was “officially” declared dead in May 2011 (other reports say he died in 2006 or even as early as 2001). Regardless of the exact date of Osama’s death, once the Americans officially announced it, there was need for another bogeyman to continue the so-called war on terror. This is nothing but a war on Islam but this time Western think tanks and policy-makers came up with a more enduring strategy. When an individual dies or is killed, he is removed from the scene permanently. An organization is much more enduring and complicated, hence the idea of the “Islamic State.” It also acts as a magnet for disgruntled and alienated Muslim youth in Western societies where they face endemic racism and discrimination.
By conceiving of this idea, it has achieved at a stroke a number of Western objectives. Ever since the Sykes-Picot Treaty (1916) and the Balfour Declaration (1917) were imposed on the Muslim world, especially the Muslim East (aka the Middle East), committed Muslims have been struggling to demolish these colonial-imposed plans. They want to undo the colonial-drawn borders dividing Muslims into nation-states like animals in a zoo. While a thin veneer of nationalism, imposed from the top, exists in all Muslim societies, beneath the surface the ethos of Muslim culture remains strong. It is this sense of solidarity that has been successfully exploited by Western policy makers, especially the imperialists and Zionists, in creating the so-called “Islamic State” in parts of Iraq and Syria.
Al-Baghdadi’s “Islamic State” project is more powerful and enduring than Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaeda outfit because the latter did not have any territory under its control. Osama was a guest on someone else’s land (Afghanistan) and while the Taliban provided him sanctuary, he was not entirely free to operate as he wished. Further, he was dependent on donations from wealthy donors in Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and other places. Unlike al-Baghdadi, he did not have a direct source of income. The self-styled Islamic State has occupied large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria where a number of major oil fields exist. Crude oil from these fields is smuggled through Turkey to international markets thus earning enormous revenues for the head-choppers and organ-eaters.
The fact that al-Baghdadi’s “Islamic State” has been so successful can be attributed to a number of other factors as well. Several Middle Eastern regimes, notably Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Jordan and Qatar are supporting and financing al-Baghdadi’s project. These would still not have made the project so successful, were it not for the direct and indirect backing of the US and Zionist Israel.
The takfiri project (thus named because they brand any Muslim they disagree with as kafir and, therefore, subject to execution) was conceived long before it erupted on the scene in June 2014. According to WikiLeaks documents, as early as 2005, the US had launched plans to destabilize the regime of Bashar al-Asad.
Further, in one of the Defense Intelligence Agency documents circulated among various government agencies including CENTCOM, the CIA, FBI, DHS, NGA, State Department and others in 2012, there is an astonishing admission that an “Islamic state” is desired in Eastern Syria to effect the West’s policies in the region. To quote from the formerly classified report dated August 12, 2012, “The West, Gulf countries and Turkey that support the [Syrian] opposition… there is the possibility of establishing a declared or undeclared Salafist principality in Eastern Syria (Hasaka and Der Zor), and this is exactly what the supporting powers to the opposition want, in order to isolate the Syrian regime…” Could the US and its allies’ position on the establishment of the takfiri state be any clearer?
The ISIS/ISIL takfiri project also confirms that nationalism does not appeal to the Muslim masses. Only Islam is a strong enough force to mobilize them for any cause. The imperialists and Zionists have realized this and are using it to advance their own strategic objectives in the most cynical manner.
The legitimate aspirations of Muslims for social and political justice have been harnessed to create mayhem and chaos in the Muslim East. Since Syria is an important component of the resistance front against Zionist Israel, it has been targeted because the Zionists have failed against Hamas and Hizbullah despite repeated attacks. This is part of the stillborn “New Middle East” project that the toothy former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice infamously claimed at the height of the Zionist onslaught on Hizbullah in July-August 2006. Iraq, Libya, and Syria lie in shambles, thanks to the takfiris’ rampage.
The ISIS/ISIL takfiri project also confirms that nationalism does not appeal to the Muslim masses.
Unfortunately, even some sincere Muslims have been sucked into the vortex of this Western-Zionist-Saudi created mayhem. The Muslims’ concern springs from their sympathy for fellow Muslims. This is admirable. To show empathy for and alleviate the suffering of Muslims is an Islamic obligation but that is no excuse to become part of the imperialist-Zionist project for regime change in Muslim countries, especially when the alternative is so horrific. Can any sincere Muslim truly say that the takfiris would be a better alternative to Bashar al-Asad in Syria despite his many faults and indeed even past crimes?
What the takfiris have also done, to their lasting shame and that of their backers, especially in the Muslim world — Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan etc. — is to present a horrible image of Islam. On the one hand, the takfiris’ crimes are successfully exploited by the imperialists and Zionists to demonize Islam and Muslims, and on the other, they put off many Muslims from the very idea of the Islamic state. They would rather not have head-choppers and organ-eaters as their rulers even if the present crop is grossly incompetent and terrible.
One only has to look at the mayhem in Libya to understand this. Are the Libyans better off today than they were under Mu‘ammar Qaddafi despite all his antics, eccentricity and yes, oppression?
If there are Muslims who believe that an Islamic state can be established on the skulls, bones and blood of innocent Muslims, then they had better examine their understanding of Islam. The killing of any innocent human being, much less a Muslim, is expressly forbidden in Islam. Those who hold a contrary view know either nothing about the teachings of Islam or they are agents of the enemies of Islam.