Anwar al Awlaki: a question about the method of establishing Caliphate
Question: Salam Alaikum. What I understand from your lectures is that you believe the method to re-establish Caliphate is through Jihad. Can you respond to this?
Another view that is being addressed to the Ummah is the concept of fighting the rulers and that through military struggle Islam will return to the world stage. Again this is based upon a particular Hadith.
It has been narrated from many sources including Imam Muslim that the Prophet (saw) said, “Do not challenge the people of authority unless you see explicit Kufr of which you have clear proof from Allah (from Islam)..”
Ibn Kathir in his Tafseer states that if the Caliph reverts to the rule of disbelief, he would be fought until he returned to the implementation of Islam and the Sharia.
Ibn Hajr in his Fateh al-Bari also states that if he becomes a Kafir, or changes the Sharia he should be fought and removed.
This view is also mentioned in Nayl al-Awtar and supported by Imam Shawkani. That is, if the ruler rules by other than the Sharia he is fought until he either repents or is removed.
However that is the only situation that it applies to i.e. the ruling of a Caliph who resorts to the Kufr ruling and disobedience to Allah. It does not relate to the Caliph becoming tyrannical and also does not relate to his personality becoming corrupt. In which case obedience to him is binding and the Muslims should still pray behind him and fight Jihad behind him.
However, these Ahadith are not connected to the current situation. They are all connected to revolt and rising against the Caliph and are titled under the subject of “Khurooj min al Khaleefah” i.e. “rising against the authority of a Caliph or an Imam”.
The current situation is not that of the Caliphs who used to rule by Islam and then turned away from Islam. The current problem is also not merely related to removing a ruler by killing him. Rather, entire systems of Kufr have been implemented over Muslims for over 76 years, none of the rulers have ever ruled by the Sharia and none of them are Caliphs within a Caliphate.
The systems that they are applying are either monarchies or Capitalistic with some sort of democratic framework. Hence, the reality isn.t that of removing a bad Caliph within an Islamic State.
The reality is of uprooting an entire Kufr system, including it’s ruler, to again establish Dar ul-Islam. The current rulers are not comparable in any way to Caliphs who have introduced one Kufr law into the Caliphate. Hence these Ahadith, which have always been understood in the context of Dar ul-Islam i.e. where Islam is implemented and the Muslims possess the security, do not apply upon the current situation.
The reality which they address is that of removing a Caliph who rules with Kufr within the Islamic State, not that of uprooting an entire Kufr system merely by fighting and killing the ruler of that system.
The only situation that is comparable from the evidences is the establishment of the Islamic State for the very first time by the Prophet (saw) and the struggle which he (saw) went through in order to establish this State and change Dar ul-Kufr to Dar ul-Islam.
This is the struggle which he (saw) referred to in the Hadith of Hamza and as is illustrated in the Books of Sunnah and Seerah. As that is the only instance in which a complete system of Kufr existed and was changed to a complete system of Islam. So the matter is regarding the changing of a system, not merely a ruler.
The Ahadith of fighting, apply to changing a ruler i.e. a Caliph who has gone astray not a system, only the struggle of the Prophet (saw) in Makkah applies to the changing of a system. So military struggle is not the method of re-establishing the Caliphate.
– Also, can you give me your views on Hizb ut-Tahrir?
Most Islamic groups that were founded after the fall of the Caliphate recognize the importance of re-establishing al Caliphate again.
There was a time during the decades of the eighties and nineties when the Salafi’s, Ikhwaan, Jamaat Islami, HT, Jihad groups and even some of the sufi’s talked about Caliphate.
Since then and because of the fact that the West has made it clear that it doesn’t like that idea and would not tolerate it, some groups have backed off completely from any talk of Caliphate while others toned it down.
Only a few remained steadfast in their call to establish the Islamic system again.
The proposed methods that Islamic groups presented for re-establishing al Caliphate are:
- Through tarbiyyah and then somehow when our condition changes the Caliphate will be re-established again. While others say we will do tarbiyyah until the ummah is ready and then we will fight the enemies of Allah.
- By reaching to power through participating in the democratic system.
- The HT method of raising the awareness of the ummah of the importance of Caliphate, educating the Muslims on politics, and searching for nusrah.
- Fighting in path of Allah in order to establish the religion of Allah.
– The proponents of the first method have never given the ummah any benchmark to when we have done sufficient tarbiyyah to move on to the stage of implementation and therefore will remain in a perpetual state of tarbiyyah while negating the duty of Jihad.
They also miss the point that tarbiyyah is within one generation and not multigenerational. Meaning the change that Rasulullah brought which started with dawa and ended with jihad was within the lifetime of one generation.
It all happened within 23 years. Every other successful change in the ummah occurred within one generation. History is a testimony to this.
– The promoters of change by participation in democratic elections started out by stating that democracy is kufr and we do not believe in it but we are using it as a vehicle to reach to power and after we reach to power we will implement Islam.
This is what I heard from every single leading member of Ikhwaan in the late eighties and early nineties. I clearly remember the public discussions that were held on this issue because the Salafi’s back then were very much against Ikhwaan on this point.
I also remember clearly the private discussion I had with some of the shuyukh of ikhwaan who would reiterate the same point again and again: Democracy is un-Islamic and we are participating in elections but our intentions are to change the system from within.
There are three problems with this method:
First: It is a deception and a lie to use democracy and claim to be adherents to the democratic system but not believe in it.
Now deception is acceptable against the enemy if the Muslims are in a state of war with the them. The problem is that the particular groups that are involved in the democratic process do not believe that they are in a state of war with the disbelievers but believe that there is a covenant between the Muslims and the disbelievers.
So if we are in a covenant with the disbelievers then it is not allowed to use deception against them and it is not allowed to lie to them. That’s the first problem.
The next problem is that when you repeat a lie long enough you end up believing it. For those who knew these groups from the eighties it is strange for them to see how much they have changed over time.
Now they are saying and I have heard this more than once from their prominent members that now we genuinely do believe in the democratic system:
“We believe in the ballot not bullet. And if the ballot decides that a secular or disbelieving party wins we will accept that.”
As Muslims we should not subject Islam to the whims of the people, “if they chose it we implement it, if they don’t we accept the choice of the masses”.
Our position is that we will implement the rule of Allah on earth by the tip of the sword whether the masses like it or not. We will not subject Sharia rule to popularity contests. Rasulullah says:
“I was sent with the sword until Allah alone is worshiped.”
That path, the path of Rasulullah, is the path we should follow.
The final problem is that the Muslims’ method is not a method of infiltration. Muslims do not try to infiltrate the system and work from within. It is just not our way. It is the way of the Jews and the hypocrites but not the way of the Muslims.
We are honest and straightforward with friend and foe. We make our intentions open and we declare our dawah publicly, “For you is your religion, and for me is my religion.”
We do not want to infiltrate the system whether in America or in a Muslim country. The Jews are the ones who have infiltrated every government they lived under whether it was al-Andalus and the Ottoman Caliphate or the Western governments of today.
They have a hidden agenda, we don’t. The Jews and their brethren, the hypocrites, tried to infiltrate the government of Rasulullah and were exposed by Quran:
“And a faction of the People of the Scripture say [to each other], “Believe in that which was revealed to the believers at the beginning of the day and reject it at its end that perhaps they will return [i.e., abandon their religion]”
So they would become believers and come in to the community only to leave it at the end of the day. Allah also talks about the hypocrites who would sit among the believers and convey what they hear to the Jews.
Therefore for those who say that we should be involved with the system and change it from within are not following the path of the Muslims and if their character is that of a Muslim they would fail because infiltration just doesn’t work with Muslim behavior.
But if they do succeed in infiltrating the system then that is proof that their character has become that of the Jews or the hypocrites and not that of the Muslims.
A point related to this is that those who come from Islamic backgrounds and have spent a long time working within the political systems of today end up becoming politicians, with all the negative meanings of the word: deceptive, changing colors, materialistic and Machiavellian in their methods.
They may have been bred in the Islamic movements’ strong tarbiyyiah programs but after a while in the political arena they become the wolves they were trying to change.
I have seen this with my own eyes happen to people that I know and as one leader of the Islamic movement in Yemen said: “We send them as sheep into a world of wolves only for them to come back to us as an eaten up skeleton.”
If you want a live example of what working from within the system produces look no further than Sudan and Turkey. The ruling parties in both countries started out as Islamists only to end up just like everyone else in their rotten and corrupt environments.
Regarding the method of HT which you specifically referred to in your question, I first came in contact with HT members from Jordan in the early nineties and found them to be argumentative but well-mannered and polite.
My first understanding of the Hizb was from them and they were core members of the group.
HT has played an important role in raising the awareness of the ummah to the matter of Caliphate. They also played a role in countering the false idea that politics and political awareness have nothing to do with Islam. However the method of HT to re-establish Caliphate is simply not going to work.
To wait for nusrah until it arrives is to wait for a miracle.
Tribes or military generals that are supposed to give nusrah and establish the religion of Allah are not going to be won over simply by discussions. They will only be won over when they see a group of believers living by what they say and sacrifice all that they own for the sake of Allah.
This is what will inspire others to join.
The two success stories of powerful people giving nusrah to the religion are some of the former officers of the Iraqi baath regime who joined the insurgency and the former president of Chechnya, Dudayev, who was a high ranking officer in the Soviet army.
Both these successful examples of nusra were not won over through debates, demonstrations and pamphlets but by them seeing a living example of men struggling in the path of Allah.
This leads me to the forth method of re-establishing Caliphate and that is through Jihad fi sabilillah.
The argument that you presented against this is that the only similar situation to our situation now is that of Rasulullah establishing an Islamic state first and then fighting Jihad.
You are neglecting a serious difference and that is when Rasulullah established Madina there was no Islamic land that was invaded.
Isn’t this a serious and major difference?
Today the Muslim world is under occupation and the statements of our scholars are clear that it becomes fardh ayn on every able Muslim to fight to free the Muslim land. When something is fardh ayn it is fardh ayn.
You cannot theorize or hypothesize otherwise. The ruling is clear and the implications of it are clear. So even if you do not believe Jihad to be the way to establish Caliphate you must agree that Jihad is fardh ayn and that is not where HT stands.
Also the jihad which is fardh ayn and is Jihad al dafa (defensive Jihad) does not require the one who wants to participate to seek the permission of the Imam, parents, husband, slave owner, or lender.
Also why should we argue on this point when we see the evidence of it in the real world.
The two most successful examples, even though far from perfect, of Islamic rule in this past decade were the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic courts in Somalia.
In both countries only these Muslim fighters brought peace, security and rule of law in both countries. Both movements reached to power not through elections or debates but through war. They did not fall because they were failures but they fell because the ummah failed them.
However, even though a battle here and there were lost but the war is not over.
If you follow the current events and look at them with an attentive eye you would realize that it is the enemy who is bleeding to death not the Muslim fighters. Pretty soon the scales will tip.
Because confusion usually surrounds what is meant by Jihad whether it is the Jihad al Nafs or Jihad of the sword I do not exclusively mean one or the other and I do not exclude one or the other.
What I mean by Jihad here is not just picking up a gun and fighting. Jihad is broader than that. What is meant by Jihad in this context is a total effort by the ummah to fight and defeat its enemy.
Rasulullah says: “Fight the disbelievers with your self, your wealth and your tongues.”
It is what Clausewitz would refer to as “total war” but with the Islamic rules of engagement. It is a battle in the battlefield and a battle for the hearts and minds of the people.