Wednesday, 28 November 2007

Is Pakistan Ready for the Caliphate (Khilafah)?

“They hope to establish a violent political utopia across the Middle East, which they call a "Caliphate" -- where all would be ruled according to their hateful ideology.” “I'm not going to allow this to happen -- and no future American President can allow it either.”
President George W Bush

They demand the elimination of Israel; the withdrawal of all Westerners from Muslim countries, irrespective of the wishes of people and government; the establishment of effectively Taleban states and Sharia law in the Arab world en route to one caliphate of all Muslim nations.”
Prime Minister Tony Blair

After lecturing about freedom and democracy, Bush and his ilk have the audacity to dictate to the Muslim masses as to what form of government they can adopt. How does this reconcile with Bush’s constant rant about promoting freedom in the Muslims world? It can only mean one thing - the Muslims will be ‘free’ as long as they confine their choice to western secular values! This should be obvious even if you are a shortsighted moderate or a long-sighted ex-Islamist serving penance!

Therefore, we see the militant US enforcing secular values using threats, sanctions, and military force; concurrently it stifles popular political movements. This magnitude of duplicity must surely be classed as one of the miracles of this high-tech era! The Caliphate is equated with a hateful ideology, as if Islam gave birth to the heartless Capitalism or militant nationalism (Nazi ideology and its variants). Islam does not uphold the concept of a master race or a chosen race or the material interest of a nation above anything else; such ideologies are the sources of systematic genocide and hate.

As Pervez Musharraf set the election date (January 8, 2008), many are debating as to which direction Pakistan will go. Will it be secular democracy or military dictatorship or Islamic parties gaining strength like the recent cases in Palestine, Egypt and Turkey? How a Muslim majority country like Pakistan views the notion of the Caliphate. In theory, any Muslim nation should be inclined to the concept of being unified by a single Caliphate. This is what was demonstrated by Prophet Muhammad (SAW) when He replaced the tribal bonds with the Islamic belief, manifested in the Islamic State. This continued under the successive rulers (Khalifs), and as the Islamic state expanded it unified people of different races and colours, there were no colonies, no slave camps no systematic genocide or deliberate acts of state terrorism against innocent civilians.
It is interesting that many Pakistanis continue to believe their country was established to uphold Islam. This is a misconception. It is doubtful that the founding father, Muhammad Jinnah was even a Muslim; he was either a Parsee or the more popular view that he was born into the heretical Shiite sect of the Ismaili Khoja. His second marriage to a Parsee is illegitimate under Islamic law; his habit of eating ham sandwich and drinking wine is further evidence of his distance from the basic Islamic values at a personal level, so how can one expect such a man to call for the establishment of an Islamic state. In fact, Jinnah opposed the Khilafah movement led by the Shukat Ali brothers, whilst it was supported by Mahatma Ghandi who was a Hindu, how ironic. Jinnah’s vision was to create a secular Muslim majority state and not an Islamic state governed by Sharia laws; this can be seen from his statement to the constituent assembly on the 11th August 1947:
“You may belong to any religion caste or creed - that has nothing to do with the business of the state. In due course of time, Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the state.”
Since its inception the political fault lines in Pakistan have always surfaced, as it has constantly alternated between military and civilian rule. With the passing of time tension along ethnic lines have increased as different groups are calling for autonomy, further compounded by the secular and religious forces pulling in different directions. In contrast, India with far greater levels of diversity of ethnicity, religion, and language has demonstrated political stability and economic progress and it looks set to become a major power.

After the events of 9/11, Parvez Musharraf surrendered instantly in response to the threats made by the US for cooperation, and signed up to Bush’s war on terror; aided the brutal bombing of Afghanistan, gave the Americans a freehand to incarcerate anyone to the notorious camp-x-ray. This is an irony since Pakistan was created to provide security for Muslims. It was an ideal opportunity to teach the West about the meaning of true democracy, as Parvez Musharraf could have put the issue of providing US bases to bomb Afghanistan to the Pakistani masses or the parliament, before giving the Americans a free hand.

Parvez Musharraf continues to use the excuse of preserving the security of Pakistan, yet anyone with an ounce of intelligence can see that the US has been busy scheming to disarm (neutralise) Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Simply because the US will not tolerate any Muslim country having nuclear weapons, for the same reason it has been busy preventing Iran from developing nuclear technology. This is part and parcel of its so-called strategy of war on terror, which is a war on Islamic values and the entire Islamic world. Yet, the simpleton moderates continue to believe that the war on terror is directed at the handful of people hiding in the mountains of Afghanistan.

Instead of debating issues of security, economic prosperity, social cohesion, foreign occupation, the various parties are fighting to secure power on superficial slogans, petty criticisms of others. All points to the fact that, the major parties vying for political power is about securing their interests; further corroborated by their past track record. With Musharraf retiring from his army post, the return of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, the showdown for January election is on but the result is a forgone conclusion, a choice between secular democracy and military dictatorship, thus continuing the cyclical process of alternating between military and civilian rule. Altering the faces without a radical reorganisation of the political system and economic wealth, nothing will have changed, thus the masses in Pakistan are despondent.

The only alternative to the current system in Pakistan is Islam - and that raises the inevitable question of what the current Islamic movements can offer. It is highly unlikely that Pakistan will make the leap towards the Caliphate in this upcoming election, but the Islamic parties can begin to muster support on the road to establishing the Caliphate.

With limited resources available, the groups should be efficient and focused on the objective. The ordinary masses may be in favour of Islamic rule or they may not be hostile to it. Therefore a significant effort must be directed towards the power structures within Pakistan, which consists of the armed forces and secular elite, the latter being the most influential. It is imperative for the Islamic parties to make the collective effort to de-secularise the secular strata of Pakistan and the key members of the armed forces. This is necessary to secure power.

Instead, the Islamic movements are often busy fighting each other to gain followers from rival groups to join their ranks. Some are unfortunately intolerant to the extent that it has no capability to accommodate even legitimate difference of opinions, some even go to the extreme of killing fellow Muslims as is seen in the frequent Shia-Sunni feuds; this sort of behaviour is often exploited to alienate the masses form the more capable Islamic groups.

Failure of the Islamic movements can also be attributed to their idealism and detachment from the reality. For example, those calling for the Khilafah are still insisting on non-participation in the election process, as it would legitimise system of democracy. Participating in election is no different to giving obedience to the secular laws or paying taxes; all such acts are participation within the system, thus gives it legitimacy. There is nothing to prevent anyone from participating in election making clear that the manifesto is to implement Islam, and it will not be subjected to any kind of referendum in the future.

Another major reason for participation is to build leadership for the group, and in particular, its ideas, to an extent this has been demonstrated in the election results in Palestine, Egypt and Turkey where the Islamic movements have started to gain. These are perhaps the small milestones to the long road of building the Caliphate. Make no mistake about it, the establishment of the Caliphate will require a collective effort, therefore groups have to function within that framework and not the mindset that they have a monopoly on the issue.

The Muslims in Pakistan are in need of a better alternative because the current system has failed and this is self-evident. However, when will the Islamic parties begin to organise themselves and make a collective effort towards the long road of the Caliphate, change the destiny of Pakistan?

Yamin Zakaria
London, UK
Copyright © Yamin Zakaria 2007