On choosing Popes and Caliphs

Published: March 22, 2013
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The writer retired as professor of physics from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

The writer retired as professor of physics from Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad

A new pope was elected in the Vatican this month on March 13, 2013. Born in Argentina as Mario Bergoglio, he is now the 266th head of the Roman Catholic Church. The pomp and glory, the global publicity, the weeping crowds and the race to the finish held the world transfixed. One hundred and fifteen red-robed cardinals had been locked away for two days in the Sistine Chapel, the home of all the Papal Conclaves since 1858. They judged the needs of a 21st-century church tarnished by scandals of child abuse by pastors and priests, cases of bank fraud, support for murderous dictators and declining church attendance in the US and Europe. Eventually, white smoke rose from the Chapel signalling that the holy old men had agreed upon a successor for Pope Benedict XVI. They hoped that their selection would somehow revive an ancient and powerful institution that claims direct succession from the apostles of Christ.

A consensus at electing popes hasn’t always been that easy. History: Pope Gregory X established the Papal Conclave in 1274 after it took the cardinals nearly three years to choose him as the successor to Pope Clement IV. Locking the cardinals in a meeting and gradually decreasing their food rations was seen as good way to expedite agreement on a new pope. Three voting cardinals died during the process. Such is life.

What enables the quick consensus on electing popes in modern times? Simple: the pope’s role has become largely ceremonial since 1536. No head of state need obey his orders. For Catholics, he is an icon of piety and chastity standing above the sordid politics of the world. While they are expected to live and breed according to the dictates of the Church, they do not consider them to be infallible any more. Today, increasing numbers of Catholics are moving away from the Church because of its stand on birth control and divorce. Nevertheless, though with much lessened powers, the new pope speaks for 1.2 billion Catholics.

Who should speak for the 1.5 billion Muslims today? This question is difficult because the Islamic world has been without a caliph ever since Kemal Ataturk eliminated the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924. Earlier, a caliphate had been the norm. Today, several Muslim groups are marketing the idea that restoring ancient glories is contingent upon reviving the caliphate. But this is a prescription for fratricidal conflict.

The problem is that the caliph is generally understood to be both the spiritual as well as temporal leader. The Egyptian scholar, Taha Hussein, was unusual in suggesting that Islam permits the two aspects to be separated. This strongly conflicts with the views of Maulana Abul Ala Maududi or Sayyid Qutb and those who have been influenced by them. In 2001, Osama bin Laden called upon Muslims to “establish the righteous caliphate of our ummah”, a man who would lead and organise the ummah. A Sunni, he would enforce a single Sharia. The bewilderingly many extant sects and schools of thought would have to vanish, either by persuasion or by coercion. Since Shias obviously cannot be persuaded, they (and others) would have to be subdued.

More significantly, the caliph would be the commander-in-chief of all Muslim forces belonging to an Islamic superstate that would supercede the authority of Muslim national states. He would authorise jihad, both defensive and offensive, in forms ranging from actual combat to space wars, cyber jihad, economic sanctions, oil boycotts, making treaties, and dealing with the World Bank and the IMF. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons would be at the caliph’s command. So would oil from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf. If any Muslim country defied his orders, waging war would be an option.

The “Arab Spring”, assisted by the US, has revived the hopes of caliphate-seeking militant groups. Corrupt and dictatorial secular rulers have been ousted in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Libya and Yemen. Meanwhile, Syria is in upheaval and may also be “liberated” soon. Further raising hope is that, according to a Pew global survey, 84 per cent of young Pakistanis consider themselves Muslims first and Pakistanis second.

Had a procedure for choosing a successor to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) been prescribed, history would have been different. A consensus cannot even be imagined. Where should the caliphate’s city be: Makkah, Istanbul, Islamabad, or Jakarta? And what would prevent competing individuals from laying claim? Edward Gibbon, a famous historian, observed that in the 10th century, the caliphate was “disputed by three caliphs … who reigned at Bagdad, Cairoan and Cordova, excommunicated each other and agreed only in a principle of discord that a sectary is more odious and criminal than an unbeliever”.

Race, colour and ethnicity would be insurmountable problems: imagine that the caliph, chosen howsoever, was a Bengali or a Sudanese. Would he be acceptable to Kuwaitis? Or, if Egyptian, would Indonesians be comfortable? The Saudis would surely insist upon the caliph being their national and, quite possibly, a Qureishi. The superstate’s official language will be Arabic. To understand the implications of this, just look back to the early days of united Pakistan when Urdu was declared to be the official language of the state!

Today, a global caliphate can only be created through violence. The Hizbut Tahrir, which seeks this goal, sees mutinies and insurrections as the solution. Its website calls upon Pakistan’s armed forces to rise against its leadership. Brigadier Ali Khan and his colleagues will surely not be the last officers convicted of sedition.

It is a hard enough question, answerable only by God, to judge who is truly a pious Christian or Muslim. But when the power to make war also depends on the answer, it becomes impossibly difficult. So, the 13th century cardinals locked up by Pope Gregory X would have starved to death rather than arrive at an agreement! Attempting to elect a caliph today would pit Muslim against Muslim in bloody conflict. Although there is zero chance of the caliphate’s revival, this goal nevertheless looms large in the consciousness of those committed to seizing state power and to fundamentally transforming the societies they take over.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 23rd, 2013.

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Reader Comments (65)

  • Khan Jr
    Mar 22, 2013 - 11:41PM

    Hmm…Probably according to our “national ideology” tekhaydars the next Caliph ought to be be an Arabic-speaking, India centric, Pakistani (preferably in uniform).

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  • Falcon
    Mar 22, 2013 - 11:47PM

    A thoughtful take on a complex issue.

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  • Zalmai
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:05AM

    “Where should the caliphate’s city be: Makkah, Istanbul, Islamabad, or Jakarta?”

    Pakistanis cannot resist placing themselves in the middle of every discourse. Islamabad is not as important as it thinks it is.

    How you can you group yourself with Mecca and Istanbul, the former the birthplace of Islam and the latter the seat of the Ottoman empire. If Islamabad and Jakarta is on the list then why not add Kabul, Tehran, Cairo, Baghdad, Lagos, New Delhi, Fez and many other cities in the Muslim world.

    As an Afghan I would want nothing to do with Arabs or their Caliphate. Recommend

  • Mj
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:06AM

    The aspirations of a renewed global caliphate among West-based Muslim youths, and to some extent among youth residing in Muslim-majority countries, is nothing but a pipe-dream. They have been fed a steady diet of mirage of a supposedly golden age presided over by righteous leaders. Little do they know that the golden age was beset by infighting, family and clan rivalries, sectarian conflicts, conquests, and imperialism. The invasion of nearby civilizations of Byzantium, Persia, Spain, and Hind surely led to much wealth, prosperity, and exposure to new ideas in Muslim areas at the cost of natives of those regions. That is not to say that all was doom and gloom. Intellectuals, and their works, were held in high regard and rational thinking was relatively accepted, provided that the masses were not riled up by heresy and rejection of dogma.

    It is disingenuous to claim that the Mongol invasion was the sole reason for the decline of the caliphate and muslim society. It was all but inevitable due to a return to conservative literalism and ritualism, and squashing of Mutazilites and rationalists,. Another oft-neglected fact is that most caliphates were dynastic in nature, with son replacing father on his death. It can hardly be claimed that the institution of caliphate was anyhing but rule and exercise of power in the name of the divine agency.

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  • Kanwal
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:08AM

    Why in the world we the muslims could possibly need a caliph? Things are already so bad wven withoit one or striving to get one. I guess we are better without this new problem.

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  • faraz
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:15AM

    The four righteous Caliphs were selected/elected by four different methods; hence there is no system. After 2 major civil wars which resulted in thousands of deaths, the Caliphate culminated into a dynastic monarchy. Umayyad monarchy faced dozens of rebellions and major civil wars in its 90 years rule. Finally the Umayyad family was massacred by the Abbasids. Abbasids family established its rule which on paper lasted for 5 centuries, but in reality for just 2. It was taken over by Buyids, Seljuk and Fatimid. Similarly, Ottoman Empire was a Turkish monarchy; they treated Arabs like third rate citizens. These monarchies were no different from any other monarchy of the world. It was a family affair; father appointed son/brother or any other male member of the family as next ruler. Monarchs were arbitrary rulers and mullahs were subordinate to them

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  • expaki
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:25AM

    I would have VOTED as my KHALIFA to Zahid Hamid, assistant KHALIFA general Gul of ISI..

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  • Anwar Hasan
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:27AM

    It will be the day Muslims will choose a single leader.

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  • toticalling
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:36AM

    The world will carry on regardless whather there is a pope, caliph or not. WE see more and more people in west who are happy without folllowing a faith. Richard Dawkins’s book’s popularity is a proof, if one was needed.
    The current pope has a clean past and he is the first non European pope.- Good luck to him. I rrespect him, although I have no faith in any faith.

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  • huh
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:36AM

    There is so much wrong in this article I don’t know where to begin.

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  • Riaz Ahmad
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:36AM

    Let us face reality of history; ummah never existed even in the glory days of Islam; it has for ever remained a utopian ideal. Its only existence is in fake and sanitized history contrived by the theologian mindset. Umayyed power was dynastic and entirely in the hands of the Arabs, every non Arab Muslim was a second class MAWALI. It was this discrimination that lead to the establishment of Abbasid dynasty in alliance with the Persian Muslims, this monarchy was also dynastic. Khalifa by definition has to be the most capable, upright, honest and pious amongst the Muslims, this definition is incompatible and contrary to a khalifa being a dynastic monarch; this is precisely what happened in history after the four rightly guided Khalifas. The four rightly guided khlifas were not elected by people, they were SELECTED by the peers through consensus and compromise; even then Arab factional tribalism lead to their murder; so how can one justify the idea of the existence of Ummah when it never took root even amongst the most pious.
    The Greeks never dream of going back to the days of Alexander; neither do the British to the days of queen Victoria. The Mongolians do not aspire to go back to the days to Genghis Khan, nor do the Chines want to go back to Ming Dynasty. The Japanese have no desire to go back to the days of Samaria Shoguns or the Magi revolution . Never came across a Frenchman who wants to go back to the days of Bonaparte Napoleon.
    It begs a question why it is unique to the Muslim mindset to go back to the past when every one is going forward. Every period of history that bestowed glory on a sect of people was a product of the unique set of conditions and circumstances at that time and place.

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  • Dr Dang
    Mar 23, 2013 - 12:41AM

    Author is comparing Apples & Oranges .

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  • Mar 23, 2013 - 1:28AM

    Brilliant article once again. It is this Utopian view that somehow the Caliphate would solve all of the world’s problems. There are two things wrong with this sentiment. One, the caliph will be human; fallible, prone to the maxim absolute power corrupts absolutely. Two, like the professor mentioned self egregious Muslims who “proclaim” they are “better” than other Muslims would never accept a man who does not fit their definition of being a “caliph”.

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  • Fifi
    Mar 23, 2013 - 2:10AM

    Choosing a Caliph was never a good choice!

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  • Rex Minor
    Mar 23, 2013 - 2:10AM

    Professor, as a man of science, you of all the people should know that the world has always been moving from order to disorder, the present does not exist as we write, we already know how to travel towards future but have not yet learned the technoloy to rturn, if we wish.
    There are too many speculatve assumptions in the article, besides the religion with poltics creates a chemical reaction.

    Rex Minor

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  • Awais Mujeeb Ahmad
    Mar 23, 2013 - 2:12AM

    Nice

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  • Muhammad Ziad
    Mar 23, 2013 - 3:17AM

    “Although there is zero chance of the caliphate’s revival, this goal nevertheless looms large in the consciousness of those committed to seizing state power and to fundamentally transforming the societies they take over”.

    Does this statement hold true for Afghanistan as well dear professor ?

    There is 90% chance, they are the state itself and surely they really don’t have to ‘transform’ the society.

    I really don’t have time for this rebuttal, just like you won’t have time when I write an article after 40 years but just to correct you when the mongols invaded , there was a brief period when caliphate seized.

    Hardly 90 years have passed since the caliphate, we shall see what the world will look like after 40 more years. The question is , will you be there to observe it ?

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  • asim
    Mar 23, 2013 - 3:32AM

    Confusing..what is the purpose of the article? Seems to high light ” leadership crisis” in the muslim world. But compared badly with pope example who is religious leader not a political.

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  • Sara
    Mar 23, 2013 - 3:50AM

    Good article. Not sure if the Arab spring was assisted by the US. The US government actually took quite a while to even acknowledge it.

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  • bball
    Mar 23, 2013 - 3:58AM

    Yes, the return of the Khalafat is almost impossible, as is the desire of the author to outlaw all religions from the planet. The pope, no matter how ceremonious, is followed and covered by millions around the world. The live coverage that this story receives in the world’s media, both print and electronic, has been unmatched by any other stories in several years.

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  • Anon
    Mar 23, 2013 - 5:06AM

    The type of Caliphate that you have sketched here is more feasibly an idea of an OIC. An Islamic Union based on the Islamic ideology. It would be a parallel contender of US and the EU union and could emerge as a third power in terms of creating a balance. More especially to counter the atrocities to the Islamic States.
    The existence of Pope is just symbolic and for good will and can not be compared to Caliphate which is a governance system. Popes travel, do sermons, but none of them have ever had any influence on the state policy (atleast in current times, in middle ages they were politicized by Kings that led to the blood shed). As far as this symbolism is concerned then we also have the Imam e Kaaba which performs a similar role. And as an argument to your point where racism and Saudi superiority would be influential in Caliphs selection, note that Pope Mario is the first Pope ever elected from outside Europe in the history!

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  • Mard-e-Haq
    Mar 23, 2013 - 6:16AM

    “…according to a Pew global survey, 84 per cent of young Pakistanis consider themselves Muslims first and Pakistanis second.”

    Does this mean that 84 per cent of young Pakistanis agree to the eventual repatriation of hundreds of thousands of stranded Pakistanis in Bangladeshi refugee camps? After all, they are Muslims too.

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  • amir
    Mar 23, 2013 - 6:18AM

    whatever you say.Allah has His own plans. you dont know when the tides will turn.

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  • Mar 23, 2013 - 7:02AM

    So basically anyone can be Khalif!

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  • Nou
    Mar 23, 2013 - 7:52AM

    At 40, I am absolutely convinced that we are doomed….there is no salvation or chances of any better future in our living time.
    Dr Sahib, it’s been a good 20 or so years that I have been listening or reading you… How can you – a man of science “realistically” hope for any improvement .

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  • m omar
    Mar 23, 2013 - 8:20AM

    A good attempt by Dr. Hoodbhoy showing the big picture. I wish I had been taught by Professors like you.

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  • Zulfiqar Ali
    Mar 23, 2013 - 8:48AM

    The Author has clearly mentioned the failed ways of governance. more specifically, gone are the days when we used to rely on popes. In case of Muslims, the recent “Arab Spring” has clearly decided that people want ” Participatory Democracy ” where they can share their role more independently.

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  • Gp65
    Mar 23, 2013 - 9:19AM

    @toticalling:
    There have been a few Popes from Africa and some from Syria though most have been from Europe.

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  • adeel
    Mar 23, 2013 - 9:37AM

    So the point of this article is???

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  • Darioush
    Mar 23, 2013 - 9:58AM

    @faraz:
    You have wonderfully encapsuled the spate of Islamic history.

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  • Zainab
    Mar 23, 2013 - 10:52AM

    What century are we in?
    Last time I checked we had an accountable republic, not sacral kingship. . .

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  • Dilip
    Mar 23, 2013 - 1:01PM

    Sir Zaid Hamid is surely one of the most appropriate candidate in Pakistan. His thought processes are beyond comprehension. He has a vision of radio Pakistan beaming out of new Delhi etc etc etc.

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  • ashar
    Mar 23, 2013 - 1:57PM

    Although there is zero chance of the caliphate’s revival, this goal nevertheless looms large in the consciousness of those committed to seizing state power and to fundamentally transforming the societies they take over”.

    The above is not your evaluation but your desire. while Caliphate is going to revive one day with the only difference that the people implementing it would be true Muslims.

    Those who are apparently representing Islam are not the true reps. but it does not mean that the only true Religion has lost its people. They are there and they will be there when the time would come. Till then your articles will provide an opportunity to people to express their hatred of Islam through their comments.

    you are a contributor.Recommend

  • Tas
    Mar 23, 2013 - 2:14PM

    If I understand correctly, the author through a series of arguments is conveying the idea that there is something fundamentally wrong with the mindset and ‘consciousness, of the Muslim world and apparently, there is no solution. Furthermore, no consensus can be reached between the hundreds of religious outfits, each one of them with its own agenda. So, the only way left is keep looking to the past and glorifying it.

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  • Historian 1
    Mar 23, 2013 - 2:34PM

    @ Adeel: Point of the article is that ” Muslims have no unity to elect one single religious leader compared to christianity to look forward to and to seek guidance”. Very simple indeed.

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  • Pakistani1
    Mar 23, 2013 - 3:33PM

    The author is becoming paranoid with each passing day. I have read many of his recent articles, each one being more nonsensical than the other. I wonder what vendetta he harbours against patriotic people or those with some leaning towards Islam

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  • Toticalling
    Mar 23, 2013 - 4:04PM

    @Gp65: I meant the first non European pope in modern times. I am not aware of any black pope.

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  • A. Khan
    Mar 23, 2013 - 4:59PM

    What hope is there if selecting a khalifa when fights break out at the local mosque over who should be leading the daily prayers ? But there is no harm in continuing to dream this as long as it is done while asleep at night and no one is hurt.

    Personally I feel having an all empowered single leader is a recipe for corruption and mismanagement.From a religious perspective, it might be fine, We might even celebrate our eids on the same day,

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 23, 2013 - 5:03PM

    Sir bngalis got no problem reading and writting english the queen lang then why they had problem with urdu which is local indian lang same goes to indian congressi peoples???
    and there is no problem if khliph become from Habsha or bangla.

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  • quantum
    Mar 23, 2013 - 5:30PM

    @author

    200 million shias don’t have the concept of man made Caliphate ? Will that person selected as Caliph carry out Shia persecution that is happening in Pakistan and other holy Arab land ?

    Will the Caliph apologize to shias and Muslim in general for the tragedy of Kerbala and Shia syed persecution, that drove them to far corners of the world. I hope this message get posted.

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  • quantum
    Mar 23, 2013 - 5:34PM

    @ Faraz

    Many would disagree with your assertion of 4 righteous caliphs. Who is a righteous caliph ?

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  • Adj ud Icator
    Mar 23, 2013 - 5:53PM

    This man deserves a Fellowship in Arts

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  • expaki
    Mar 23, 2013 - 7:46PM

    @Dilip Sahib, really think of a pride you too will have as an Indian, that Khalifa Zahid Hamid is from our sub continent and not an Argentinian.

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  • expaki
    Mar 23, 2013 - 7:50PM

    @Zalmai sahib, you can have a Kabuli Khalfia, why not ;-) but jut keep him there -)) I for one will appreciate that more than anything.

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  • No!!
    Mar 23, 2013 - 10:35PM

    @Ali Tanoli

    If I ask the same question , why pakistanis didn’t choose Bangla as national language ? We used to provide the lion share of resources and we had more population at that time.Unlike Urdu , Bangla is primitive and didn’t arise from battle field . Urdu is not a pure language.
    Though we accept something , we maintain our identity .

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  • Fareed
    Mar 23, 2013 - 11:28PM

    Caliphate will indeed be a reality in near future, simply because the masses in Muslim world demands Caliphate. “People want the down fall of Regime” is the salogan of Arab spring. Secular dictators fell like domino s and their down fall were celebrated by street. A sincere Islamic state emerging in one of Strong Muslim country will surely be the last nail in the coffin.

    Question of electing a Caliph, good governance, accountable Caliph and peoples representatives etc has a detailed institutional answer in Sharia text. Just to share Two interesting facts of an extensive political system of Caliphate : One,The time limit for electing and giving Bayah to a new Caliph is 2 days and 3 nights. This Islamic law removes the inherent instability witnessed today during democratic transitions. Two, policy making and implementation are separated in a Caliphate unlike in today’s Pak democracy where bureaucratic inertia creates immense problems due to pressure of both policy and implementation on bureaucracy. In Caliphate , administration in central while the Policy is Decentralized.

    Last, Pl z don’t equate Christianity’s brutal history with Islamic State. While the West was suffering in dark ages , Islamic world thrived in Science, culture, diplomacy etc. due to unification of religion and state.

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  • Munzir Zafar
    Mar 24, 2013 - 12:04AM

    All in all, I appreciate the concerns put forward in this article. But, since “staying united” is an obligation on Muslims and “Sharee’ah” does indeed requires exclusivity as a basis of legislation, I see the caliphate as an obligation on all Muslims, as it is the only practical mechanism to fulfill the two obligations. So, we must deal with issues and differences, or we will stand guilty on the day of judgment. Here is my answer to two of the main concerns in the article:

    “The bewilderingly many extant sects and schools of thought would have to vanish, either by persuasion or by coercion. Since Shias obviously cannot be persuaded, they (and others) would have to be subdued.”

    The Caliph doesn’t belong to any one sect. Nor the constitution (or Sharee’ah) belongs to any one sect. Each law that is adopted is based on the strength of evidence. And difference of opinion (which is small when it comes to governance, economic, social and penal issues) is to be resolved by the one who is elected by people. This is, in principle, the same that happens in secular systems i.e. one law is imposed on all society, irrespective of whether people agree or disagree with it. The only difference in a caliphate is that this law is based on well-thought out, studied, discussed, debated evidences by people who are well-versed with the reality of the issue as well as the Islamic evidences related to the issue. While in a secular system, the basis is just the whims and will of the majority — a clear recipe for manipulation, trickery, injustice and hijacking by ones who hold the most influence in the society.

    “Where should the caliphate’s city be: Makkah, Istanbul, Islamabad, or Jakarta? “

    I don’t see how that is a problem. This has never been a problem in our history. The seat of caliphate can be changed according to the ease of management. Nothing in the Islamic jurisprudence prevents that from happening.

    “What would prevent the competing individuals from laying claim”

    I admit this has, in practice, been a problem. The only thing that is given as a solution to this problem is for the one who has been given the allegiance first is treated as the caliph. Anybody who lays claim after that is not to be recognized by the Muslims. And this is based on the several Ahadith. This in practice is only possible if the Khaleef selected first has the authority to subdue the resistance by the other claimants. However, if the other claimants enjoy significant power and authority, this could lead to wars (as was the case with Hazrat Ali and Mu’awiyah). But this problem is present even in secular systems. The state always has to exercise its writ with regards to people who do not accept the authority of the state. This is possible, if the state has the moral and physical authority to do so. If not, then the rebellion can succeed, and the government can topple — something that we are witnessing right now in Syria. So, the secular systems also do not have a solution in this regard, except the use of force.

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  • T R Khan
    Mar 24, 2013 - 12:52AM

    You cannot choose or elect a khalifa. A khalifa succeeds a khalifa or a Messenger of Allah.

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  • Ali Tanoli
    Mar 24, 2013 - 1:02AM

    @No!!
    i will say one word only why bangla peoples did not object or told quaid azam during partition time and i guess Husain shaheed suherwerdy was when he said make seprate country for bangalis muslims in first hand.

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  • Luciferous
    Mar 24, 2013 - 1:47AM

    @Ali Tanoli: “Sir bngalis got no problem reading and writting english the queen lang then why they had problem with urdu which is….”

    Only a person lacking even a rudimentary understanding of neurobiology of human learning and cognitive development would come up with such a pearl of wisdom.
    I am in awe!

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  • laila
    Mar 24, 2013 - 8:04AM

    //It is disingenuous to claim that the Mongol invasion was the sole reason for the decline of the caliphate and muslim society. It was all but inevitable due to a return to conservative literalism and ritualism, and squashing of Mutazilites and rationalists,//
    Mythology!
    The demise and decline occured in 1924 when the Ottomans were defeated in WW1 and the lands were carved up causing them to go over a fiscal cliff when trade routes were ruptured and massive economic problems ensued. Add to that oversized bureaucracies and militaries the rest is history!

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  • mehar ali
    Mar 24, 2013 - 9:42AM

    @Falcon:
    Isn’t the whole Muslim world waiting for a Mehdi/Messiah?

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  • fatima
    Mar 24, 2013 - 10:42AM

    @Zalmai:
    My dear Afghani brother, Islamabad represents the only Muslim nuclear power and is thus the only reason why Muslims have any standing in the world. therefore to ignore Islamabad when/if bringing about a caliphate would probably not be the wisest of decisions.
    just putting it out there. otherwise i see no place of the caliphate in the modern era. attempting to bring something like that about in today’s day and age would only create and fuel further disputes.

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  • Maulana Tharra
    Mar 24, 2013 - 11:01AM

    @Ali Tanoli: Sir bngalis got no problem reading and writting english the queen lang then why they had problem with urdu which is local indian lang same goes to indian congressi peoples???

    Ignorance is bliss.

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  • Maulana Tharra
    Mar 24, 2013 - 11:24AM

    @Ali Tanoli: @No!! i will say one word only why bangla peoples did not object or told quaid azam during partition time and i guess Husain shaheed suherwerdy was when he said make seprate country for bangalis muslims in first hand.

    What a great communicator; concise, crystal clear, cogent and to the point!

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  • Khalid
    Mar 24, 2013 - 11:53AM

    One thing that is mentioned in the article but never got the required emphasis is that since 1526 the pope is merely a ceremonial head, and it is this era following that the west got ascendancy. So it was the seperation of religious from temporal that gave the stimulus to the western ascendancy. Moreover, in terms of worldly affairs, the things were decentralised as can be evidenced from many number of western nations.

    So the proponenets of Khilafat should learn this very important point…

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  • Ahsan Baloch
    Mar 24, 2013 - 1:03PM

    Dubai, Dubai plzzz make it dubai..

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  • sure?
    Mar 24, 2013 - 1:16PM

    @fatima: “My dear Afghani brother, Islamabad represents the only Muslim nuclear power and is thus the only reason why Muslims have any standing in the world.”

    Not Zalmai but would like to respond. Islamabad has nuclear weapons – yes. But ask yourself this : Is it able to maintain sovereignty over its own land in FATA? Think NWA, think Tirah valley. IsTTP able to attack at will at a time and place of its choosing anywhere in Pakistan?

    Your former President who ruled unchallenged for 9 years needed permission of a foreign power (KSA) to come back because the man that most people likely to become your next PM and your COAS take their orders from there. http://tribune.com.pk/story/525539/backdoor-deal-saudi-clout-paving-way-for-musharrafs-return/

    Your brotherly country of Kuwait does not even issue visas to any Pakistani. Bahrain uses Pakistan army to oppress its majority Shias. Until recently, UAE had leased Shamsi airbase and further rented it out to USA who flew drones from your own territory to bomb your own citizens.Afghanistan accuses of fomenting terror in their territory and Bangladesh has just recently sought an apology from Pakistan.

    You say that Muslim world has standing due to Pakistan’s bomb. First ask yourself this. Does Pakistan even have standing within Muslim world?

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  • Afghan Maihan
    Mar 24, 2013 - 1:23PM

    @Fatima

    The Islamic world looks at Pakistan as a converted, confused and unstable nation that is still grappling with its distorted identity and sees its nuclear status as a liability.

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  • Foreign Leg
    Mar 24, 2013 - 10:06PM

    @Gp65: In the history of the Roman Catholic church, Pope Francis is the first pope from outside Europe. The Roman Catholic church has not been very representative and has Cardinals for tiny churches in Italy and at one time only had one Cardinal for a large country like India (now this is up to 5 and form a voting bloc). The Black Popes and those from Syria have been from the Orthodox churches, Coptic, Greek, Syrian, etc. and some of these churches predate the Roman Catholic church.
    .
    To the other readers: The Pope was not a ceremonial head in the past and had enormous wealth due to imposition of tithe (1/10 of income to be paid to the church), payments for redemption of all sin (I forget the correct term for this), etc. The Pope also had tremendous power and could lead people into war such as the Crusades.
    .
    The version of the Pope in the Roman Catholic church that one sees today is largely ceremonial (though the Pope still wields most power than all other religious heads). This was a deliberate decision because people resented the authority of the Church and felt that the church took them backward during the Dark Ages. The Renaissance (in which Islam, as it was practiced then and which was more liberal, spurred the need for change) saw more impetus on science and less on the Church.

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  • gp65
    Mar 25, 2013 - 11:02AM

    @Foreign Leg: I agree with most of what you said – especially about the ROman Catholic Church not being very representative. I would also agree that most of the Popes were from Europe. Nor for that matter did I indicate that there had been a black pope – just that there had been some from Africa and some from Syria.

    I stand by that. Please see the attached list. IT clarifies that this does not refer to Coptic Popes and when you see the description it will also become clear that this refers to the Catholic Church.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Listofpopes

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  • expaki
    Mar 25, 2013 - 6:36PM

    @T R Khan: yes sir, I really admire strength of their faith, who knew , what is waiting for
    them, but they did accept KHIALFAT. All Mighty ALLAH has HIS own plans.

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  • Simple Pakistani
    Mar 25, 2013 - 9:46PM

    Funny thing is that Professor is writing whole article on the issue of Caliphate in a newspaper that is mostly read by educated lot and elite of Pakistan yet he says that there is 0% chance of the revival of Caliphate! Isn’t it ironical! Why there is a need to write article on a issue when there is 0% chance of its coming! I think what is worrying professor are the discussions about Caliphate in his own circles!

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  • expaki
    Mar 25, 2013 - 11:44PM

    @T R Khan Sahib, you are right, but I insist voting for my KHALIFA to Zahid Hamid, if nothing else, at least it will prevent GAZWA e HIND.

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  • Sajida
    Apr 6, 2013 - 5:30AM

    There was never a global Caliphate. Just Muslim Empires, of which ottoman’s were last one.
    This whole Caliphate ideal is a result of the ill educated Wahhabis infecting Muslim countries with their petrodollars. They want to rule from their countries, meanwhile they ruin Muslim countries by inflicting Jihadis starting with Afghanistan, then on to Bosnia/Kosovo, Iraq, Libya, /Mali, Nigeria and now Syria.

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