Reviving the Caliphate


Moshe Sharon


Outpost - Jan 01, 2008



In an interview with Karby Legget, published in the December 23-26, 2005 Wall Street Journal, Hassam al-Masalmeh, the leader of the Hamas group in the municipal council of Bethlehem, described a tax that would be imposed selectively in the Islamic state which is to be established on the ruins of Israel. He said: "We in Hamas intend to implement this tax someday. We say it openly-we welcome everyone to Palestine but only if they agree to live under our rules."


Al-Masalmeh was referring to the tax which non-Muslims, throughout Islamic history, have had to pay in order to receive the status of dhimmi, namely a "protected" inferior minority. Failure to pay this tax, called jizyah, denied the non-Muslim (mainly Christians and Jews) this "protection," and put his life and possessions in jeopardy. This tax, or tribute, was imposed in accordance with the Koran (Surah 9 verse 29) which says: "Fight those who were given the Book (i.e. Jews and Christians) until they pay the tribute out of hand and have been humiliated" and according to Muslim law-the Sharia.


Hamas is a terrorist movement directed by Islamic ideology, faithfully practicing Islamic law. Far from representing a small fringe group, it is an integral part of an ever growing movement of Islamic revival which appeals to an ever growing number of Muslims who believe that Islam is destined to establish itself as a world state in which the implementation of Islamic law will assure the superiority of the Muslims and the inferiority of Christians and Jews ("infidels").


From the time of Muhammad, Jews and Christians have been regarded as the enemies of Islam. The Egyptian-born Abu Hamza al-Masri, a Muslim cleric, is currently being tried in Britain on charges of incitement to murder. Al-Masri was head preacher until 2003 at the Finsbury Park mosque in North London, which has been linked to several terrorist suspects, including the suspected Sept. 11 plotter Zacarias Musawi and the "shoe bomber" Richard Reid. In a 90-minute video recording of a lecture shown at his trial (January 17 2006) al-Masri was seen telling his supporters that the Jews and Christians were on a list of the enemies of Islam, and as such the targets of Muslim enmity.


In the same vein, Shaykh Abd al-Aziz Fawzan Al-Fawzan, a Saudi professor of Islamic law at al- Imam University urged Muslims to show "positive hatred" towards Christians because they are infidels, for they say that Allah is one in a Trinity and they worship Jesus. He also added that whoever says that he does not hate Christians is not a Muslim.


What has all this to do with religion?


It has to do with Islam. Islam is not a religion as most Westerners understand it. For the Western media and apologetic thinkers, Islam is comparable to Christianity, and Muslim groups in the European and American countries are religious communities. These definitions entitle them to all the "religious services" available according to local laws. Accordingly Muslims demand and receive the support of the state for the building of mosques and state subsidies for religious functionaries, for special Muslim schools, and even for the establishment of an Islamic University (in Rotterdam, The Netherlands).


Had Islam been a religion in the usual sense of the word, namely a system of beliefs and rituals centered on the relation between man and God, then the demands of the Muslim communities in the Western world to enjoy the same services as other religions would be justifiable.


But Islam is not a religion in this "narrow" sense. It is much more than that. It is a system of law; it is a social and political system; it is a way of life. Islam has full control over the behavior of the individual, the society and the state. It deals with war and peace; it defines the relations between the Moslems and the rest of the world; and as we saw, it also determines the attitude to non-Muslims who are unfortunate enough to come under Islamic rule. The particular nature of Islam is best described, concisely and accurately, by a famous tradition which says:


"Religion and the state are twins." This means that there is no difference between the sacred and the secular in Islam, there is no such thing as the separation of state and religion. It follows that a community of Muslim believers is regarded as the army of Allah whose main raison d'Étre is to fight the enemies of Allah, in order to bring as much as possible of the world under the rule of Allah, that is to say under the jurisdiction of an Islamic government guided by the Koran, the tradition of Prophet Muhammad and the Islamic Sharia.


Westerners have the tendency to use Western terminology in order to describe Islam, which causes them to misunderstand it entirely. A few examples will suffice to demonstrate this misconception.


1. "The mosque is the church of the Muslims." This is a mistake. The mosque is not only a house of prayer. It is a combined religious, social and political institution; the church is only a house of worship. The mosque has always represented the authority of the ruler as much as the authority of Allah's law. The oath of allegiance to any new ruler was taken in the mosque, but rebellions also began in mosques. The sermon in the mosque encouraged obedience to the ruler as much as it gave vent to grievances and fomented revolutions.


2. "The Koran is the Bible of the Muslims." Wrong! There is a huge difference between the Bible, created over several millennia, containing a variety of literary styles and a variety of messages, and the Koran, created by one man in one style and containing a few facets of a limited number of messages.


3. "Friday is the Sabbath of the Muslims." Incorrect! There is no day of rest in Islam, and Friday is only the day of public prayer, and the time for public sermon.


4. "Jihad, Holy War, is a war against evil inclinations." This is how the apologists of Islam present Jihad in politically correct language to innocent Westerners. The Holy War (what an oxymoron!) is a real war, not a virtual one; it is a bloody affair - the eternal war of Islam against the non-Muslim world until its conquest.


These few examples, illustrating the misconceptions of the West, suggest that Islam is better defined as a civilization. This civilization most fully realized itself within an empire that was created by Jihad, Holy war, conquering the lands of other people and reducing them to insignificant minorities. Today the great dream of the Muslims is to renew the empire and to revive the ethos of Jihad. Israel is the obstacle in the Middle East to the recreation of the Islamic Caliphate-the imperial body stretching over huge tracts of conquered territories and, as in the glorious past, responsible for keeping the spirit of Jihad kindled and actual Jihad-war in the path of Allah-active.


The caliphate is not a dream but a plan of action. It is a goal to be achieved. This is the message coming from Bin Laden's al-Qaeda, from the doctors at universities, and from preachers in mosques throughout the world of Islam. The achievement of this goal begins with weakening the Christian enemy state from within by using its own legal institutions and liberal media, by playing the victim, by terrorizing its civilians, by suffocating its economies; in short by waging a multiple-front Jihad.


Iran's plan to achieve atomic power, the Jihadist declarations coming from the Palestinians and al-Qaeda's various offshoots, and the open hostility of the Muslims in England, France, Holland and other European countries to their hosts, the education of Muslim children from kindergarten on to cherish the idea of martyrdom and to wish for martyrdom (shahadah), are all part and parcel of the age-old Islamic agenda.


Whether the caliphate dream can be realized only time will tell, but there is now a huge anti-Western power active as it was in the Middle Ages. So the threat is no longer theoretical, or a romantic Islamic dream as most of the Western media presents it. It is the real thing, because Islam, the army of the Faithful, has positioned itself once again against the House of War, the term reserved for that part of the world which is not yet under Islam. Conflict has always been the best habitat for Islam. Now, once again, Islam is revitalized by a new exciting conflict, toying with a seemingly helpless Europe.


By regarding Islam simply as a religion, the Europeans are enabling the Moslems to use the funds of Western states to build the infrastructure of an Islamic entity in each state as a bridgehead for conquering it from within. But what is more disturbing is that the billions of dollars which stream from the EU to Muslim terror groups under various disguises are nothing less than Jizyah money paid by the dhimmis of Europe to the Muslim rulers. Like the Jizyah, the money that the non-Muslim had to pay to secure some degree of security for himself, so also European money is the collective Jizyah paid by the Europeans in the (false) hope that it will secure for them the protected status of the dhimmi.


Moshe Sharon is Professor Emeritus of Islamic History at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. January 2008