Beirut (AsiaNews) - Abu Bakr al Baghdadi's announcement of the creation
of an Islamic Caliphate reveals a sense of hopelessness. His proclamation was
strongly ideological, but to usher in this new era of a worldwide caliphate, he
had to overturn an entire area: not in Syria, where ISIS will probably be wiped
out by Bashar Assad's army, but in Iraq's weak underbelly, the Sunni area where
the government did not have a strong army. And there he drew a halt and issued
this presumptuous statement.
The very fact they no longer refer to themselves as "ISIS" in
which the words "Iraq and Syria" were present, but simply
"Islamic State", as if it were a global entity, is ridiculous from
the practical point of view. At the same time, it reveals the ideological
dimension of the project to restore the caliphate of Baghdad, regarded as the most
brilliant period of Islam.
But the majority of Muslims no longer dream of the caliphate, nor an
empire without borders.
Most are simply attempting to live in a nation, so much so, that for
years now the Kurds have been attempting to give birth to their own independent
1. The end of the
Caliphate and the birth of the
the Caliphate dates back to
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the
founder of modern Turkey. On 1 November 1922, he deposed the Sultan Mehmet VI,
and 18 days after Abdülmecid Efendi was elected Caliph, for a short
period. Ataturk founded the
Republic on October 29, 1923 and
after being elected president, proclaimed the definitive abolition of the Islamic Caliphate on March 3, 1924.
This symbolic decision was a shock to the entire Islamic world.
Especially following the decisions
taken by Ataturk, particularly the secularization of the state and the de-Islamization of society: equality of the sexes; prohibition of the use
of the Islamic veil in public places;
prohibition of the fez and the turban; ban on beards for
public officials; adoption of the
Latin alphabet in place of
Arabic; the Gregorian calendar year
instead of the Hegira; of Sunday as a public holiday; of the metric system, etc..
Since then, many groups have tried to revive the
caliphate. In 1928, a project led by the Imam
Hassan al-Banna azharita Rashid Rida, gave birth to the "Muslim Brotherhood" with
the precise purpose of restoring the caliphate. After pro-longed discussion and a series of
studies into the feasibility of establishing a new caliphate in Egypt or
Saudi Arabia, they themselves concluded
that "it is no longer possible to have a caliphate" and changed
course: we need to Islamize the
various countries and governments,
introducing sharia as our constitution.
This was especially successful in
Saudi Arabia, which does not have
a constitution, just sharia. In other countries, legislation was enacted "inspired" by sharia. Nowadays, it is well-known that the majority of Muslim countries,
especially the developed countries, are not headed in
this direction and do not apply sharia as an ideal.
2. Who is Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
terrorists, the new "Caliph" has a new "war name". He is no longer called Abu
Bakr al-Baghdadi. His real name is
Ibrahim Awad Ibrahim
Ali al-Badri al-Samarrai, who
was born in Samarra in 1971. His full name of war is: Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi al-Husseini al-Qurashi.
This name, for any
educated Muslim, is
already a program in itself. Abu Bakr is the name (or
more precisely the kunyah) of the first caliph, that is, of Muhammad's first
successor. Al-Baghdadi evokes the
period's most famous Islamic caliphate,
the Abbasid, whose
capital was Baghdad (750-1258). Al-Husseini
refers to Hussein, son of Ali and Fatima,
the daughter of Muhammad, the most revered figures in Shiite Islam. Finally, al-Qurashi,
refers to the tribe of Mohammed,
originally from Quraysh. According to a
hadith the legitimate caliph must be a
descendant of Muhammad. The
latter two names (two nisbah) mean that he is the rightful caliph par
excellence, which satisfies both Sunnis and Shiites.
3. The Caliphate, the dream in the midst of a Muslim world in turmoil
The caliphate is a dream, and refers to the Caliphate of Baghdad, the
Abbasid caliphate. It is no coincidence that Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is Iraqi. He
has tried to implement this project before with al-Qaida, but had to break away
from it. The other fundamentalist groups have broken away from him and fought
him in Syria. Indeed, almost all governments have decided to fight him:
Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, Iraq ... his only remaining allies are the oil
nations - Qatar and others - because they share his idea of the caliphate, but
to create diversions, distractions in the Arab world .
In any case, the caliphate no longer responds to what the Arab Muslims seek. Even
Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood - the majority of which is by no means terrorist despite
being quashed by the new Al Sissi government - have disavowed him.
Those familiar with al Baghdadi say he is not capable of leading a great
movement and is unable to get along with anyone. With the little support he receives,
it is very possible that his ambitious plan to conquer the world will end in
nothing. The only thing that the Islamic Army (IA) possesses is strength: its
militants would be nothing without the weapons that the oil countries and the
West have given them. But these weapons cannot withstand an army. The IA looks
like the victor because it attacks easy targets, regions weakened by the last
three years of war and terrorism. They also dreamed of taking Libya, but nobody
4. The decline of the Arab
any case, the proclamation of the Caliphate shows where the Islamic world is heading.
Three conclusions emerge from al-Baghdadi's
proclamation: first, "We want to restore
the greatness of Islam"; Second, "the West has reduced the Islamic world to nothing, killing people, making widows ..."; third, "we
will forcibly take back our leadership".
This is the typical mythical discourse
of the fundamentalists: first we were very good, then
we were depleted, now we will regain power by force.
Here's how Abu Bakr depicts the decline of
the Islamic world in his tirade:
"The Islamic Ummah
seeks your jihad with hope. Your brothers in
many parts of the world are being
inflicted with the worst forms of torture. Their honor
is violated and
their blood is shed. Prisoners
are moaning and screaming
for help. The orphans
and widows lament their fate.
Women who have lost their babies cry. Mosques are desecrated and shrines are violated. The Islamic nation awaits your jihad with
hope. You have brothers in all the corners of the earth who are suffering: in
China, India, Palestine, Somalia, Arabian Peninsula, Caucasus, the Levant,
Egypt, Iraq, Indonesia, Afghanistan, Philippines, Ahwaz, Iran, Pakistan,
Tunisia, Libya, Algeria and Morocco, both in the East and in the West ... ".
He began with a very acceptable observation: the decline of the
Arab and Islamic world, recognized
by intellectuals and people from all walks of life. It is enough to compare any
given Muslim nation and a Western counterpart in the arena of economics, politics, human rights, justice,
social life, care for the weak and the poor, to see that the Islamic world is in the midst of
a period of decline. Even where we have billions and are richer than
anyone (think of the Arabian
oil), the educational level is very low and the contribution to world civilization is null!
This is where the
seeds of the dream are born. This dream of rebirth, however, finds no support in wealthy Muslim nations,
the oil countries, uninterested
in any integral human
development. Reflecting on this, the Arab world must recognize the following: we have money,
but it is the hands of a few; we have the numbers, with hundreds of millions of people,
but we only know how to make war.
5. Rebuilding a culture of openness
In fact, the only way to regain our dignity is to culturally reconstruct
our concept of the Arab and Muslim person, to rethink the laws we apply to
human rights, to strengthen them and move in the direction of an open culture,
which sympathizes with the whole world. Instead we see the spread of a culture
of division, which is a step backwards.
We should look at the Abbasid Caliphate and ask ourselves: where did its
greatness stem from? It came from the union of all parts of the ancient Muslim empire.
From the cultural point of view more than the Arabs, the Iranians, Afghans,
Balkh, Syriac-speaking Christians have contributed to its greatness... It was
an open vision that gave space to all, all the while giving priority to the
Arab Islamic world.
Today's culture is based on the human rights of the people and solidarity
between peoples. And what do we do? We try to justify and regress to a way of
life from the past (seventh century), typical of a Bedouin desert region: this
cannot be a solution for the twenty-first century.
6. Islam's ideological error
The Islamic world's error is an ideological one. It leads to ideological
wars: cultural, religious, historical, but never based on the real needs of the
The Arab people seek solutions to basic needs; equality between men and women;
between Muslims and non-Muslims; rich and poor (the poor in the Arab world have
never had a voice!).
Instead of taking the best of modern civilization and assimilating it, we try
to find the solution by going backwards.
The cause of this error is ideological, but the West is also partly responsible:
it must improve relations with the Arab world. We see the West as an immoral
place, without values. It is partly true. The West is seen as the global leader,
but it uses weapons and the law of the fittest to impose its dominion. Looking
at these elements, the Muslim world rejects the Western project, as too
"human", and hopes in a "divine plan" that is sharia.
In reality, Sharia law has nothing "divine" about it: it is the
sedimentation of Bedouin tribal rules from the ninth and tenth centuries, and has
nothing to do with the Koran, which dates to the seventh century, or with the
Unfortunately, although this idea is shared by most of the population, the
political leaders, especially the richer ones, continue to keep alive the idea
of Sharia law as something "holy", defending the Bedouin and the
desert culture, in so far as they are descendants of that era. But they are not
and will never be a model for the Muslim world.
7. Israel, Islam and the "conspiracy" theory
The crisis in the Islamic world was exacerbated with the establishment
of the State of Israel, an unfair creation because born in the territory of
another State that bore absolutely no responsibility for the Holocaust. The
defeat of 1948 and then in 1967 showed the extent to which the Arab world (and
the Islamic world) was late, and sparked all the Arab revolutions and the
animosity towards the West, as well as the hatred for Israel (and for some
against Jews and Christians).
But this creation is now a historical fact and there is no turning back. To usher
in any hope of increased international cooperation, we have to work for a
solution to the Israeli-Palestinian issue. This entails, for both Israelis and
Palestinians, the decision to seek a just - though never perfect - solution, because
both have been wronged, but both have also inflicted injury.
Faced with this military-political situation, many of us see the hand of Israel
(and the U.S.) in everything that happens in the Middle East. Even in the
creation of the IA, which many suspect is an attempt to divide the Arab world
and reshuffle the cards in the region.
I do not support this "conspiracy" theory because it weakens us even
more by removing all responsibility for our misfortune from our shoulders. And
if this theory is true, then we are nothing more than stupid Arabs: in the end
who wages the wars in the region, in the Arab world? We do. And even if we let
ourselves be duped so easily, our responsibility would remain.
The fact that this division of the Arab and Islamic world strengthens to those
who are enemies of the Arab world, is evident. But fostering division and war
is bad politics because it eliminates peace for all, even for Israel. Israel
will continue to expropriate territories from the Palestinians, but in doing so
it will soon mean that Israelis and Palestinians will eventually be swallowed
up within the one state, thus the warring factions will end up becoming a domestic
problem. The only way forward is collaboration.
The adherents to the "conspiracy" theory accuse the United States and
some European countries of facilitating this genocide inside the Islamic world.
Again, the fault is ours. The problem began among ourselves in Syria because
the government of Damascus, as well as dictatorial, is a government of the
Alawite minority. A political and social problem internal to Syria, has turned
into a religious war between Sunnis and Shiites, a war that dates back to the
However, the solution proposed by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi also dates back to the
seventh century, when Muhammad set about fighting all the Arab tribes who did
not believe in God (and his mission), organizing more than sixty raids (=
Ghazwa) in a ten years (622-632) according to the oldest biography of the
Prophet of 'Islam, Kitâb
al-Maghâzî ("Book of History and Campaigns"), by al-Wâqidî.
Conclusion: Rebuilding Arab society with
you really want to rebuild the
Arab society, a few fundamental choices are needed:
1. We Arabs
must learn to live together on the
basis of shared values, without
going to war because of religious differences. And secondly, we
need to think about solidarity in the countries and the region. It is unacceptable that there are super-rich
Arabs and people
struggling to survive and these differences encourage wars.
2. At another level, regional
collaboration is needed, especially with Israel, for
peace with the Palestinians. Every
step towards peace in this sense may also facilitate
relations with the West.
3. Another urgency
is that Arab nations must prepare constitutions inspired by justice, equality, human rights, peace, without
making any distinction between the
sexes or religions.
4. Finally, societies
need to eradicate corruption. Our
countries are drowning in
corruption. In Egypt, for instance, many people do not go to the hospital because they know that every service, even the most simple, requires a small bribe. For surgery,
a daily pill,
an injection you have to pay,
otherwise you will not receive any care!
The caliphate has none of these 4
principles. So it
will not succeed, indeed it will only reinforce discrimination based on standards established more than 1000 years
ago. The vast majority
of Muslims want to live according
to true and current values; only
the Salafists want to go back to the Middle Ages!
The solution is to enter into a vision of international inter-Arabian collaboration,
to build a new civilization, incorporating the positive elements of modernity and the values contained in Islamic
tradition. If the Arab world fails
to do so, it will only regress,
and - what is
worse - it will do so in the name of religion, namely Islam. The time
has come to save Islam, by fighting against religious fanaticism.