Refute the false claim of a caliphate to fight the appeal of Daesh

Refute the false claim of a caliphate to fight the appeal of Daesh

Samar Fatany

The Council of Senior Scholars has condemned the killing of the Russian ambassador in Ankara. The scholars said that from a jurisprudence — fiqh and Shariah — point of view, the guarantee of the safety of ambassadors is underlined by the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah and agreed upon by the Ummah.

Meanwhile, a terrorist attack in Jordan left 19 dead, including five terrorists. In Berlin a terror attack killed 12 and injured 48. Sadly, terrorists continue to radicalize Muslim youth and are spreading fear and horror everywhere.

In order to effectively fight Daesh (the self-proclaimed IS) and the terrorist threat, scholars in the Muslim world should expose the false Daesh caliphate in order to reduce its appeal and expose its distorted ideology.

The goal of Daesh, Boko Haram, Al-Qaeda, Ansar Al-Sham and other terrorist organizations is the formation of an Islamic caliphate or government. They consider an Islamic caliphate an essential condition for a society to be Islamic and seek the return of the Islamic world to the medieval age. They base their claims on a distorted interpretation of the Holy Qur’an and the teachings of the Prophet (peace be upon him). There have been many initiatives to expose the falsehood of the self-proclaimed caliphate of Daesh; however, they have not been effective and lack scholarly arguments.

In 2014, over 100 Muslim scholars and clergymen from all over the world released an open letter to Daesh leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, accusing the self-proclaimed caliph and his army of war crimes, violation of fundamental principles of Islam and perversion of the rules of morality and Shariah law.

“Who gave you authority over the Ummah? Was it your group? If this is the case, then a group of no more than several thousand has appointed itself the ruler of over a billion-and-a-half Muslims,” the document stated.

It also included details of acts of Daesh that are prohibited in Islam such as the killing of the innocent, prisoners and emissaries (journalists included), denying women and children their rights, the reintroduction of slavery, torture, disfiguring the dead and destroying graves, harming or mistreating believers of other religions of the Scripture, starting armed insurrection, attempting to establish a caliphate “without consensus from all Muslims,” as well as issuing fatwas without proper religious education.
This letter is one of many condemnations of Daesh by Islamic leaders and ordinary Muslims. However, global experts assert that the most effective ideological critics of the terrorists should come from within the Muslim community.

Meanwhile, according to historians and political theorists, the idea of establishing an Islamic state based on the Holy Qur’an and the Sunnah is incorrect, as neither presents a model for such a state. Islam has firm positions regarding justice and oppression; however, it does not have any model for an “Islamic State.” Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) asked his followers to run their societies based on their collective wisdom and consultation.

During the era of Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) what existed was the Ummah, a community of Muslim masses. German sociologist and philosopher Ferdinand Tönnies explains that medieval “societies” must be considered as communities to be distinguished from modern societies. Society is the invention of the modern era.

Some political theorists support the argument that in medieval times governments did not have borders but civilian centers. Andrew Vincent argues that the town of Madinah in the Arabian Peninsula in which Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) lived in the 7th century CE with a small population did not have a government. “Societies of the 7th century were tribal, sparsely populated and simple, the existence of a government, as we understand it today, did not exist.”

Muslim scholar and philosopher Imam Fakhruddin Razi explains that although the Prophet (pbuh) was wiser than all the people, he believed that in many cases the people know better. He quotes the Prophet (pbuh) as saying, “You know your life’s affairs and I know your religious affairs.” Al-Zamakhshari also quotes the Prophet (pbuh) saying, “Those who consult with and seek advice from others find the best path.” And, the Holy Qur’an says, “They [the believers] employ consultations among themselves” (ash-Shura 38). The Holy Qur’an also says, “There is no compulsion in religion.”

There has been much research with regard to the concept of a worldwide caliphate. However, researchers and historians ask: How can anyone say there is a concept of a caliphate in Islam when this system was never established? No caliph was appointed by God and during the time of the Prophet (pbuh), there was no caliphate ruling the world. These are just a few facts out of many that can expose the false claims of a caliphate. A more scholarly debate among scholars in the Muslim world could reduce the appeal of Daesh and end the spread of the radicalization of Muslim youth.

Samar Fatany is a radio broadcaster and writer.
She can be reached at