What is driving the current violence and chaos in the Middle East? Many say it is the “age-old” sectarian conflict between Sunni and Shia Muslims, but a look at the facts shows something different. In this week’s Reality Check, Mehdi Hasan highlights the myth of the so-called Sunni-Shia war.
From 1517 to 1924 the Ottoman Empire was a Caliphate. Some orientalists and modernists have disputed this because they want to diminish the importance of the Caliphate in the minds of Muslims and show it cannot work in the modern age.
In June 2014, an armed group calling itself the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (known as ISIL or ISIS) declared the establishment of a caliphate and proclaimed its leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, a caliph. This proclamation was rejected by the overwhelming majority of the world’s Muslims.
Ibn Habban and Ibn Majah narrated from Ibn ‘Abbas, he said: “The Messenger of Allah ﷺ said, ‘Allah has forgiven my Ummah for the mistake and forgetfulness and that which they were compelled to do.’”
This is a common claim found in the history books of the orientalists such as Sir William Muir who wrote many books on the history of the Caliphate and Sir Hamilton Gibb who is famous for translating ibn Batuta’s travel books. These books are on the reading lists of most Arabic degrees at western institutions such as SOAS where Gibb did his MA in Arabic in 1922.
Photograph of the last Caliph – Abdul-Mejid II As the anniversary of the destruction of the Caliphate approaches, Muslims must never forget this dark day in history that led to the removal of Islam and sharia from authority and ruling. Monday 3rd March 1924 was the official date of the Caliphate’s abolishment according to the western Gregorian calendar.
Adam Smith, the 18th Century founder of modern economics whose picture is printed on the current UK £20 note, was exceedingly inspired by the Islamic method of governing. He proclaimed that: