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Who is afraid of a rising Middle East Khilafa, the Arabic word for Caliphate? Lots. Muslims like Shia, Kurds, most Sufis, Alawis, sundry Arab secularists. And Arab Christians of course. All fearing their lives, women, sacred buildings and properties being treated as war loot. Western leaders too are shaking in their boots: good!

A nemesis is unfolding. A sort of retributive justice, maybe of divine origins. A paying back for the 2003 illegal, unjustified aggression on Iraq. Engineered by the two scoundrels, Bush and Blair. But the roots of evil reach far back. To WWI, the catastrophic, suicidal, mad all-European conflict so many fools are enthusiastically celebrating in Britain.

ISIS is the murderous Jihadist organisation that fights for a Caliphate in ‘the Levant’ – actually Sham, a term covering Iraq, Syria and other swathes of Arab land. The last Caliph, the Ottoman Sultan, ruled over them till 1917. The victorious Allies artificially invented the current Middle East borders – Iraq being at the time three different Ottoman provinces or vilayet. France and Britain arbitrarily created the countries they carved out from their conquests. (The Kurds later were ferociously bombed into submission by the British – chief artificer Bomber Harries, eventually of Dresden reputation.) Britain especially responsible for Israel, the ‘Jewish home’ in Palestine of Balfour Declaration infamy. The Allies shared the booty. Now ISIS and other Islamists are hitting back – a resurgent Khilafa in the making. Do you dig the nemesis?

Retribution, yes. It may well take the form of martyred Iraq breaking up into three parts, as my friend Dr Tim Furnish suggests. A Kurdish, US-friendly North, a Sunni Caliphate in the middle and a Shia state in the South. Well, they were originally three vilayet, weren’t they?

‘The Caliphate is a valid Islamic concept’, a Mufti of Bosnia once declared. Historically, he was right. Politically too, perhaps. Nonetheless there were at times two or three khalifa reigning in different areas of the Muslim world. True, many Caliphs were incompetent or worse but that cannot invalidate the idea, any more than Caligula or Nero could negate the Roman Empire. And if it is OK for former, pseudo-Christian nations to unite in something like the EU, why should be wrong for Muslim nations to combine in a Caliphate? What is sauce for the goose…

‘The EU was established consensually, while ISIS wants to force the Caliphate violently on unwilling folks’. Alas, Europe too after WWII was violently taken over by the apostles of democracy and human rights. Call it ‘liberation’ but it was by force of arms and national borders were adjusted accordingly. No one ever took a poll in Germany, Italy, Hungary, Slovakia, Croatia and other countries asking the people whether they wanted to be ‘liberated’. The Axis had plenty of supporters. So the Jihadi guys, I suppose, could claim that they represent the true will, the soul of the Arab Umma, the community of believers. If only they weren’t so fond of slaughtering their prisoners…groan.

Yet, those most truly terrified of ISIS are the poor West and its degenerate representatives. Wholly natural. Their a priori dogmas demand a strict or effective emasculation of religion. Its real exclusion from public life, the economy, the market, the law & all the things that matter. With the Christian churches they have succeeded pretty well. Sunday morning religion or ‘thought for the day’ threaten no one. Islam is the harder nut to crack. That religion also has its happy, well-remunerated quislings, eager to pick up the crumbs of parliamentary power and ministerial posts, jobs in the media and the like. It is crusty chaps like the Jihadis who refuse to play the democratic, establishment game. They frighten to death Cameron, Hollande, Merkel, Obumble, all that depressing gang. Indeed, they should.

An extraordinary, anonymous piece posted on Facebook illustrates the gap between Zeitgeist thinking and at least some Islamists. The writer lists a number of putative Sharia legal notions, like jihad, polygamy, child marriages, hudud punishments and so on. He then points out how a Muslim who was to engage in such practices is ipso facto made a criminal in the West. And he is right. Jihad, often considered like the fifth pillar of Islam, is a duty for a pious believer. But now PM Cameron is prepared to pursue the British Jihadis who are heading back home from the Levant. Hhmmm… Pity they did not fight for a US approved and dollar-powered jihad. Bin Laden and his ilk were kosher, sorry, halal heroes when they combated the evil Soviets in Afghanistan. Hypocrisy? Yes, as well as old, cynical realpolitik.

Polygamy and child marriages are definitely Western untouchables. To many, as inconceivable and as loathsome as slavery. To be fair, there are Muslim jurists who hold diverse opinions on them. The anonymous fellow claims that amongst the Prophet’s companions polygamy was the rule, rather than the exception. True or not, the Qur’an has only one or at most two verses in which plural marriage is mentioned and it is more by way of permission than anything else. But Sharia law is more than the Qur’an and Salafis prioritise various Sunna hadiths and customs as normative. Still, important not to tar all Muslims over with the same brush. There is a range of scholarly opinions amongst the ulama. The Caliphate boys are only one strand.

Horror of the rising Khilafa engenders odd bedfellows. Iran, formerly part of an ‘axis of evil’, appears now, wonder of all wonders, as a potential ally in stopping ISIS & Co. Of course, that will only embitter and inflame the sectarian strife running through the Middle East and the vast world of Islam: part of a plan? Will the Caliphate be reborn from its ashes, like the phoenix?

Last modified on Friday, 20 June 2014 11:18

Frank Gelli I am an Anglican priest and cultural critic and commentator. I have BA in Philosophy, MA in Christian Ethics, MA in Islamic Studies, PGCE in Religious Education and Oxford Certificate in Theology. I have been a journalist & drama critic in Italy and England.
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