Written August, 2004.
Last held by the Ottoman Prince abdul Mejid II, the Caliphate has been empty
since its abolishment in 1924. Caliphate (khalifa
) literally means "Successor of the Prophet", but the position of primary Caliphate is
that of ruler of a unified Islamic nation. It is the goal of Al-Qaeda and the various terrorist organizations working either under the umbrella of
Al-Qaeda or in concert with it to fill this void. And if Al-Qaeda has their way, the position will be filled by a Wahabbi Caliphate, Osama bin
In order to understand that the militance and radicalism perpetuated by groups such as Al-Qaeda and the Islamic Front of Salvation is not
representative of modern-day Islam, one must come to understand that just as there are different "denominations" of Christianity, there too is
such in the Islamic religion. Just as the Catholicism that fueled the Crusades was not indicative of all Christian believers at the time, the
fanatical Islamists do not represent all Islamic believers.
The radical Islamic beliefs followed and taught by Al-Qaeda are considered part of Islamism. Islamism is a broad term encompassing all forms of
Islamic fundamentalism. Included in these movements are the Shi'ites, certain Wahhabis (in particular in Saudi Arabia), certain Deobandis (in
India), the Taliban, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Hamas, the Hizbulla, Islamic Jihad, Jama'at Islamia and Sunni Islamists. Al-Qaeda represents a
conjoining of the Saudi Wahabbis, via Osama bin Laden, and the Sunni Islamists.
Unlike the tolerance and coexistence which can be found in the modern -day Islamic world, Islamists believe that Islam requires a theocratic
political structure which dictates all aspects of life. They believe in an Islamic state in which all are governed by Sha'ria, which is Islamic
law, with strict observance of the Qur'an and religous observances. They believe there should be no foreign presence ( nonbelievers) within this
Islamic state, and that this unified Islamic nation should be ruled under a re-established Caliphate. In order to re-establish the unified Islamic
nation and the Caliphate, Jihad is necessary to free the believers of Islam currently ruled by "non- Islamic" rulers. (To be clear, a
"non-Islamic ruler" is defined as any ruler who is not currently ruling his country in accordance with Sha'ria.) Any country previously under
Islamic rule should be brought back under Sha'ria and the Caliphate by Jihad. This Jihad, they believe, is mandatory and actually can be viewed as
a sixth pillar of Islam, according to the Islamists.
The ultimate goal of al-Qaida is to establish a Wahhabi Caliphate across the entire Islamic world, by working with allied Islamic extremist
groups to overthrow regimes it deems "non-Islamic" (ie non-Wahhabi Islamist).(3)
The organization's main immediate goal is the overthrow of what it sees as the corrupt and heretical governments of Muslim states, and their
replacement with the rule of Shari'a (Islamic law). Al-Qaeda is intensely anti-Western, and views the United States in particular as the prime
enemy of Islam. Bin Laden has issued several "fatwas" or religious rulings calling upon Muslims to take up arms against the United
In order to understand the regions that could fall into the category of "previously ruled by Islam" it is necessary to examine the boundaries of
the prior Caliphates.
First the Arab Empire of c. 750:
And the Ottoman Empire of around 1580:
But it should be noted that substantial regions of India also can be considered previously under Muslim rule and therefore fall into the regions
targeted in a Caliphate-driven Jihad.
?If the disbelievers occupy a territory belonging to the Muslims, it is incumbent upon the Muslims to drive them out, and to restore the land
back to themselves; Spain had been a Muslim territory for more than eight hundred years, before it was captured by the Christians. They [i.e., the
Christians] literally, and practically wiped out the whole Muslim population. And now, it is our duty to restore Muslim rule to this land of ours.
The whole of India, including Kashmir, Hyderabad, Assam, Nepal, Burma, Behar, and Junagadh was once a Muslim territory. But we lost this vast
territory, and it fell into the hands of the disbelievers simply because we abandoned Jihad. And Palestine, as is well-known, is currently under the
occupation of the Jews. Even our First Qibla, Bait-ul-Muqaddas is under their illegal possession.? - Jihaad ul-Kuffaari wal-
As pointed out by Dr. Nayyer Ali in an article written in June of 2004 in the PakistanLink, the Jihadis have evolved from the heroic fight against
invading Soviet forces in Afghanistan in the 1980's through a phase of "fighting the corrupt regimes" in the 1990's that targeted the Egyptian
government, the Saud Family, and the rulers in Sudan. By the late 1990's the focus of attention of Al-Qaeda, the prominent jihadist force in the
region, had become "the presence of US forces in Saudi Arabia, the sanctions on Iraq, and the occupation of Palestine."
But according to Dr. Ali, after 2001 the jihadist movement transitioned to nihilistic tactics aimed at any one who opposes it, including westerners,
Shias and moderate Muslims. They have been consumed with the teachings of Khomeini, Mawdudi and Qutb and the goal of re-establishing the Khalifa
which will rule with Sharia.
In an August, 2002 review of Peter Bergen's Holy War Inc: Inside the Secret World of Osama bin Laden
Parshotam Mehra states:
Bin Laden has two principal grouses against the USA. First, the very mention of the name, he admitted, provoked "disgust and revulsion." To
start with, by aligning itself with the Saudi regime, Washington had committed "an act against Islam." He was determined to unseat the Saudis and,
by implication, beat down the Americans.
That was not all. The USA was responsible for all those killed in Palestine, Lebanon and Iraq. It was against these acts of "aggression and
injustice" that he had declared jihad. The end-goal was to drive Uncle Sam away from all Muslim lands.
Bin Laden was convinced that the end of the Cold War and the eclipse of the Soviet Union had made the USA "ever more haughty and arrogant." Not
that this deterred him in the least. His answer to globalisation was the restoration of the Khalifa and the caliphate. Which, ominously, was to
begin from Afghanistan with the swath of green eventually spreading all the way from Tunisia to Indonesia. [Emphasis added]
At any given time, the Khalifa may be chosen in three ways:
1. By selection. The Khalifa is selected by a group of the best, most Islamically knowledgeable people in the society (not by a general vote of
everyone). This groups is called the Majlis-Ash-Shura (Arabic for "consultative council"). The members of the Majlis-ash-Shura are chosen from
experts who are learned in Islam, and they in turn choose the Khalifa.
2. By nomination. The current Khalifa may nominate his successor, the next Khalifa (as Abu Bakr did with Umar). The people have to accept him
just as in the first case.
3. By force. If the current Khalifa forces some one on the people to be the next Khalifa, but that person is righteous, the people must accept him
as long as he remains righteous. Similarly, if there is no Khalifa (again, the situation today), it is permitted for someone to forcibly seize
power and declare himself the Khalifa if he guarantees to abide by his responsibilities under Islam.(8)
It is worth pointing out that bin Laden has assured himself two of the legitimate avenues to Caliphate by establishing his own maglis al
(Consultation Council) within Al-Qaeda, thereby insuring the council's choice to either be himself, or some one approved by him and/or the
leadership of Al-Qaeda. But lest this peaceful plan should fail, there is always force.
It is part of Islamic tradition that the title of Khalifa may be attained by conquest if the incumbent is not fulfilling his duties -- or if
there is no incumbent. Under shari'a law and hadith, the umma (the consultative assembly of the elders of Islam) is required to recognize as
Khalifa anyone who is able to fulfill the duties of the position and demonstrates the sanction of Allah by mobilizing the Dar -al-Islam in successful
jihad. Jihad, here, is interpreted broadly; a war of consolidation that united a substantial portion of the Dar-al- Islam under a fundamentalist
Islamic theocracy would do it.
In other words, since 1924 the position of Caliph has been waiting for a Man on Horseback. Or, for you science-fiction fans out there, a Muad'Dib.
The Ayatollah Khomeini could never quite make this nut; first, because he was not a plausible warlord, and second because he's part of the 10%
Shi'a minority branch that disputes the Khalifal succession. The next Caliph, if there is one, will have to belong to the 90% Sunni majority.
Osama bin Laden has behaved precisely as though he intends to fill that role. And in doing so, he has frightened the crap out of the rulers of the
Arab world. Because he's played his religious and propaganda cards very well in Islamic terms, barring the detail that he may well be dead and
buried under rubble in an Afghan cave.
On 9/11, bin Laden took jihad to the symbolic heart of the West more effectively than any Islamic ruler has managed since the Siege of Vienna was
broken in 1683. By doing so he caught Arab rulers ( especially the Saudis) in a neat theo-political trap. They have been encouraging hatred of Israel
and the West, and hyping the jihadist mythology of fundamentalist Islam, as a way of diverting popular anger that might otherwise focus on their own
corrupt and repressive regimes. But Bin Laden has trumped and beaten them at this game. He has acted out the Koranic duty of jihad in a way they
never dared -- and in doing so, seized the religious high ground.
The sheikhs and ayatollahs now have a dilemma. If they support jihadism, they must either start a war against the West they know they cannot win or
cede their own legitimacy to the Caliph-claimant who is leading the jihad. But if they come out against jihad, bin Laden or his successor can
de-legitimitize them simply by pointing to the Koran. The possibility that the semi-mythical "Arab street" would revolt behind local
Khomeini-equivalents hot to join al-Qaeda's jihad is quite real.(9)
But we need not rely on the words of authors, analysts and pundits concerning the claims of bin Laden's goal being al Khalifa. We can rely on the
words of the jihadists themselves.
In Bin Laden's Sermon for the Feast of the Sacrifice
published by MEMRI on March 5, 2003, the following statements are made by bin Laden
Prayers and blessings of peace upon our Prophet Muhammad, who said:'I was sent with a sword in preparation for the Day of Judgment when God alone
will be worshipped with none beside him. He assigned me a livelihood under the shadow of my spear and he assigned humiliation and lowliness to those
who disobey my command. He who makes himself resemble a community of people, is one of them.'He also said: 'Expel the idolaters from the
One of the most important positive results of the raids on New York and Washington was the revelation of the truth regarding the conflict between
the Crusaders and the Muslims. [The raids] revealed the strength of the hatred which the Crusaders feel towards us, as the two raids peeled the
lamb's skin off the back of the American wolf and revealed the hideous truth. The whole world awoke from its slumber, and the Muslims were alerted
to the importance of the [Muslim] principle which states that positions of alliance or hostility may be taken [only] for the sake of Allah. The
spirit of religious brotherhood among Muslims was likewise strengthened, which constitutes a great step forward along the road towards uniting
Muslims under the banner of monotheism in order to establish the rightly-guided Caliphate, God willing.
This speech, in fact, is rife with reference to the "Nation of Islam" and to the previous Caliphates.
But bin Laden is not the only Islamist leader to bluntly state the intentions of Al-Qaeda to establish the Caliphate. An article on the modern day
meaning of "jihad", written by the Islamist Sheikh Omar Bakri Muhammad, who is leader of the Al-Muhajiroun movement, rejected the Al-Qaeda
definition of jihad as calling for the "violent removal of 'impious regimes' in Muslim countries" along with the jihad against all that is
Western, declaring this definition un-Islamic.
Sheikh Bakr states:
"The question of whether Jihad can be used to remove existing regimes is a relatively new issue which must be addressed. The Muslim Ummah
has never before been in a position where we are divided into over 55 nations each with its own oppressive kufr [infidel] regime ruling above us.
There is no doubt therefore that the vital issue for the Muslims today is to establish the Khilafah [caliphate]. Allah (be He praised) makes it
clear in the Qur'an that there is no compulsion in the Deen ["religion", i.e. Islam] hence we do not fight the Kuffar [infidels] to become
"There is also ample proof from the sayings and the actions of the Messenger Muhammad (may Allah pray for Him) that non-Muslims have sanctity for
their lives unless they are at war with the Muslims either determined by the Khalifah (Caliph) in his foreign policy or ( as in today's situation)
they are violating the sanctity of Muslim land, honor or life. Much advice has also been given by the Messenger Muhammad (may Allah pray for Him) on
Jihad which makes it clear that this duty is pro-life as opposed to anti-life, such as not killing women and children, not killing the elderly or
monks, not targeting the trees or animals, etc..."
"Hence, although foreign forces occupying Muslim land are legitimate targets and we are obliged to liberate Muslim land from such occupation and to
co-operate with each other in the process, and can even target their embassies and military bases, there is no divine evidence for us to fight
against Muslims who are part of the regimes in Muslim countries as a methodology to establish the Khilafah. Rather, we urge our Muslim brothers in
Islamic Movements who are engaged in this violation of the Shari`ah to look at the evidences and follow that which is based on Yaqeen (indisputable
legal knowledge) and may Allah (be He praised) guide us all to the best."
Significantly, Sheikh Bakri argues that the well-known Islamic concepts of Dar Al-Islam versus Dar Al-Harb no longer apply. This means that
the implicit obligation of Muslims to wage war on Dar Al- Harb ("The Abode of War," i.e. territory ruled by non-Muslims) is no longer applicable.
Sheikh Bakri argues that the concept of Dar Al- Islam implies the existence of a Khilafa (Caliphate) and that because there is no Khilafa nowadays
(since the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate in March 1924), there is no Dar Al-Islam and, consequently, no Dar Al-Harb.
Sheikh Bakri's contentions bear the importance of the establishment of the Caliphate to legitimize the jihadis' efforts.
In an interview with Al-Hayat
in January 2004, Nabil Sahrawi (a.k.a. Abu Ibrahim Mustafa) who holds a leadership position in the Salafi
Group for Da'wa and Fighting in Algeria, stated:
'The rulers of the Muslim lands today are a gang of apostates [and] criminals, the most evil creatures created on the face of the earth,
whose crimes are known to all, and they are a paradigm of treachery, deceit, misleading, and repression. How many commitments have they given their
people, only to then fill their graveyards and prisons with them? They have replaced Shari'a law, and they rule Muslims with the laws of Europe and
America. They have shed blood and violated the religious prohibitions. They have wasted the property of the Muslims on forbidden things. All that
interested them was their bellies and their enslavement to the West. They are not [protected] by any pact. Anyone who wants a lesson [on the
results] of dialogue with the apostates, let them learn the lesson of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, the lesson of the Islamic Front of Salvation
in Algeria ? and so on.
"The Salafi Group for Da'wa and Fighting is fighting the regime in Algiers because of its unbelief and apostasy? Fighting the apostates takes
precedence over fighting others from among the original infidels, and the punishment of the apostates is harsher than that [of the original
infidels], both in this world and in the hereafter. Pacts must not be formed with these rulers; they must not be given security; there must be no
reconciliation with them, and there must be no truce with them. We will accept from them either repentance or the sword?"
When asked of his group's connection with Al-Qaeda, Sahrawi offered the following:
Our connection to Al-Qa'ida and the other Jihad organizations in the world is based on two things:'
"First, the operation of the Salafi Group for Da'wa and Fighting in the realm of preaching and Jihad is an operation integrated with that of the
other groups, because as noted in the [organization's] charter ? the Salafi Group for Da'wa and Fighting is a phased means aimed ultimately at
establishing a group of Muslims ? the Caliphate ? and it sees this as a sacred goal that all Muslims must strive to attain?
"Second, one of our goals is also to educate the Muslims about the principle that loyalty to Islam and to the Sunna must take precedence over
loyalty to all the other frameworks? The Muslim is the brother of the Muslim, even if their countries are distant from each other. Every Muslim is
entitled to the support [of other Muslims]? We support those who support Allah, His Prophet, and the believers, and we act with hostility towards
those who act with hostility towards Allah and His Prophet, even if he is from among the closest of the close."
In the 2001 trial concerning the indictments against top Al-Qaeda leadership, including Osama bin Laden, during the testimony of the state's
witness Jamal Ahmed Al-Fadl, the following information was divulged about the intent and teachings of Al-Qaeda:
Testimony under direct examination from February 6, 2001:
Q. Were you present for any conversations where Usama Bin Laden stated what he was going to do after the Russians left Afghanistan?
Q. Can you tell us what Usama Bin Laden said he was going to do after the Russians left Afghanistan?
A. He thinking about making group.
Q. Can you explain to us anything else you recall about what he wanted this group to do?
A. To be ready for another step because in Afghanistan everything is over.
Q. And did he explain at that time what that other step was?
A. They say we have to make Khalifa.
Q. Can you explain to the jury what a khalifa is?
A. Khalifa mean we need one Muslim leader for the whole Muslim in the war.
Q. Continue with what else you recall Usama Bin Laden stated he wished to do after the Russians left Afghanistan.
A. He say also we want to change the Arab government because there's no Muslim government in the war, so we have to make Muslim government
Testimony under cross-examination from February 13, 2001:
Q. Isn't it true, sir, that Jihad can only be in defense in the cause of Allah? I mean, there are other reasons; that's one of them?
A. Jihad is so many different roles. So one of the Jihad to make Jihad, being make the whole country Muslim.
Q. Is another of these reasons when led by a spritiual leader to accomplish these goals?
Q. Now, you went to a camp in Khost, isn't that right?
A. Yes, Khost area.
Q. And there again, they talked to you, various people talked to you about religious issues, didn't they?
A. Yes, in Farouq camp.
Q. And one of the things they talked to you about was something I think you referred to as a khalifa, right?
A. Khalifa. Al khalifa, yes.
Q. And "khalifa" means that all of the Muslim world should be united into a single -- I'm going to use the word country, but it really means a
A. You're right.
Q. And you believed that, didn't you?
Q. You believed, for example, that whatever country you were from, in your case, the Sudan, wasn't as important as the unity Muslims should have
for one another?
A. I don't understand that.
Q. Well, Sudan is a nation, right?
A. Yes, it's country.
Q. Egypt is another nation?
A. Another country, yes.
Q. Somalia is another country?
Q. But when you talk about khalifa, what you say is all Muslims should be joined together?
A. You're right, under one man.
Q. Under one man, a khalifa?
Q. And that was one of the goals of al Qaeda, wasn't it?
Q. And it was a goal you accepted?
Q. Okay. At some point the Soviet Union was defeated in Afghanistan, were they not?
Q. And that was a tremendous victory for Muslims around the world?
Q. But after that victory there were a number of men who for years had been fighting in Afghanistan and had no cause left to fight, isn't that
Q. Those were called the mujahideen?
Q. And those people, those mujahideen, had been fighting for so long that that was the only thing they really knew how to do, wasn't it?
A. You're right.
Q. So it was at that time, at the end of the war in Afghanistan, that Bin Laden decided to start al Qaeda?
A. Before him, another people.
Q. But it was around the time the war ended in Afghanistan, wasn't it?
Q. And he began that in part to work towards this khalifa, correct?
Q. Now, you were one of the very first people involved with Bin Laden, weren't you?
Q. So, for example, at one time Salim gave a speech in which he quoted from the Koran where it said there should be no other religions in our
islands, do you remember that?
A. In Arab islands.
Q. What do you mean by that?
A. In Arab islands: Yemen country, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Iraq, Bahrain, Qatar, Muscat, Jordan, Palestine, this is Arab islands.
Q. And he meant, did he not, that the khalifa should take those Arab countries and make sure that they were completely Muslim, Arab countries for
the Muslims, right?
A. It's for Prophet Mohamed. He say Prophet Mohamed says they not allowed to let two religions in Arab islands.
In a rather low-profile CNN article in June, 2004, the results of a poll conducted with more than 15,000 Saudis were reviewed and the summary
Almost half of all Saudis said in a poll conducted last year that they have a favorable view of Osama bin Laden's sermons and rhetoric, but
fewer than 5 percent thought it was a good idea for bin Laden to rule the Arabian Peninsula.
Indicating the still present effort to promote bin Laden as the modern-day Caliphate for the region.
2. A Concise History of Islam and the Arabs
4. Inside Al-Qaeda
5. The Religious Sources of Islamic Terrorism
6. What Do the Jihadis Want?
7. A walk through tunnels of hate
8. The Muslim Khalifa
9. What Al-Qaeda wants
10. Bin Laden's Sermon for the Feast of the Sacrifice
11. Islamist Leader in London: No Universal Jihad As Long As There
is No Caliphate
12. Interview with Algerian Terror Leader Associated with Al- Qa'ida: The
Islamic State Will Arise Only Through Blood and Body Parts
16. Poll of Saudis shows wide support for bin Laden's views
Original ATSNN Article
[edit on 1-9-2006 by Valhall]