Imam Ghazali’s Movement for the Unification of the Ummah & Caliphate – A reply to ‘Mufti Abu Layth’ and secularists

I recently addressed a particular detractor of the Islamic obligation for Muslims to be politically united under a Caliphate.

‘Mufti Abu Layth’ [or ‘MAL’ for brevity] preaches that belief in the Caliphate is a ‘cancerous ideology’, an ‘erroneous view’, and is even a form of ‘hate speech’. As part of a supposed “#CallEmOut” and “#ReclaimIslam” campaign, he urged his readers to, in effect, witch-hunt anyone who professes this belief.

He justified this by arguing that the belief in a Caliphate is one also held by terrorists. (I’ll come back to the fallacy of guilt-by-association below.)

The obligation of a Caliphate, throughout history, has been a belief of near complete consensus in Islamic scholarship. So, describing the belief in a Caliphate as an ‘erroneous view’ raises serious red flags.

MAL isn’t alone in arguing this; Secularists (or ‘reformists’) have been known to advocate a cynical view of Muslim history in an attempt to claim that the Islamic concept of a Caliphate that unites Muslims, implements Sharia and pursues Islamic interests, is somehow a ‘modern concept’ not practiced or believed by Muslims throughout history.

I had responded[1] by pointing to simple and clear evidences from one of the most regarded classical Islamic scholars – Imam Ghazali. MAL then wrote an article[2] claiming that Imam Ghazali had been ‘hijacked’ and did not intend the obvious meanings of the statements of his  that I quoted.

Claim: Muslim lands had no overall leader during Ghazali’s time

MAL tries to describe the context around the quotes I used from Ghazali’s book, ‘Mustazhiri’, by portraying the Muslim world as having no overall leader: ‘since within the first century after the Prophets lifetime, Muslims have never had one leader and always had different kingdoms led by dynasts and kings, with countless people all calling themselves Caliph’.

Reality: During Ghazali’s time, Muslim lands from ‘Portugal’ to ‘Pakistan’ were under the Banner of the Abbasid Caliphate

At the time of Ghazali writing the book Mustazhiri, the Abbasid Caliph al-Mustazhir was appointed as Imam/Caliph in 1094, and with the exception of Egypt (controlled by the rebel Fatimid faction), a Muslim could travel from Lisbon to Lahore (or to Kashgar in China) and never leave the lands under the banner of the Abbasid Caliphate.

Map of Abbasid Caliphate 1094 AD Banner

MAL also claimed: The medieval world, this era knew only Dynasts, kings and Tyrants. There were no such things as governments, public representation, democratic voices, not even a police system. It was a time when Might is Rightruled the show

Unfortunately it seems as if MAL is unaware of the Republic of San Marino, the Republic of Amalfi, the Republic of Venice, the Icelandic commonwealth, the Republic of Florence, and the Republic of Genoa, all governments that existed in the world at the time of Imam Ghazali’s life, who were officially republics (or communes) with elected officials and varying degrees of public ‘representation’ (whatever that means) – but this error is a small issue.

The claim that there was no police force in Imam Ghazali’s time is not only misinformed, but would be startling news to Mujahid al-Din Bihruz, who as Baghdad’s chief of police around the time of Ghazali’s life, would no doubt be surprised to hear that his job didn’t exist! Since the time of Ali (ra) the Islamic Caliphate had long instituted the shurtat al khamis, who was tasked with keeping order in cities, investigating crimes prior to trial, and discharging the orders of the Islamic court system[3].

MAL’s portrayal of the medieval european and Muslim world is simply inaccurate and unfortunately closer to hollywood than actual history.

The Islamic concept of Caliphate was one where a Caliph ruled and implemented Sharia. For practical reasons, each region had a governor and judges appointed by the Caliph, who acted as his deputies in both executive roles and judicial roles respectively.

By Ghazali’s time, the regional governors acted virtually autonomously, but despite being called ‘malik’ (king) or ‘sultan’ (leader), under Islamic law, they were only considered a ‘deputy of the Abbasid Caliph’ whose legitimacy relied upon the formal appointment by the Abbasid Caliph himself (called ‘investiture’) and whose lands were considered to be one land, with no borders between the different governor jurisdictions. As will be seen below, Ghazali certainly views the Muslim world as described.

Claim: Ghazali did not advocate one Imam for the Muslim world

 MAL claims that Ghazali only ever called on the people residing in lands local to the Abbasid Caliph to pledge allegiance the Caliph Al-Mustazhir:

MAL writes:Imam ghazali concludes [i.e. in his book ‘Mustazhiri’] that therefore Al­Mustazhir is the true Caliph which all people must give an allegiance to. It would be absurd to assume by all people he was calling all the people in the World at the time in Muslim Europe, Africa and Asia etc since that would be only a fantasy! He however was simply addressing the people who were the Abbasid Kings subjects’.

Reality: Ghazali ferociously advocated that only one Imam could be valid for all Muslims

In the cited book ‘Al-Muztazhiri’[4], Ghazali writes a refutation of the Fatimids (who he calls the ‘batiniyyah’, lit. the esotericists, who he claimed denied the literal meanings in the Quran e.g. like heaven and hell being real, and the rejection of many Islamic legal rulings in the Quran and Sunnah). Therein, Ghazali makes the following ‘fantastical’ points:

  1. [Abbasid] Caliph Mustazhir is the leader of the Ummah’ [5] and ‘Amir ul Mumineen’ [6](leader of the believers),the true Imam’[7], and the Imam of our time’[8]not ‘a true Imam’, or ‘Imam of our region
  2. The judge’s (Qadi) jurisdiction is a town, whereas the jurisdiction of the Imam is the totality of the world’ [9]
  3. Without the Imamate, all the rulings by judges (Qadis) in the regions of the earth’ would be invalidated and all regional rulers/governors become invalid[10]
  4. The Fatimids argue that their leader is the ‘true Imam’ and therefore they call for everyone in the world to obey him (instead of Mustazhiri)[11]
  5. If the Fatimid claim that their ruler in Egypt holds the Imamate is true, the claim of Caliph Mustazhir to the Imamate is invalidated [12]
  6. The Abbasid ruler and the Fatimid ruler (despite being in two different regions) are contenders for the (singlar) Imamate position, and if we prove the claim of one them is false, then the other’s entitlement to the Imamate is proven[13]
  7. Even if the so-called Fatimid ‘Caliph’ was fit for the position of Imamate, he still cannot be the true Imam, because Imamate is by choice of the people and the Imamate of Caliph Mustazhir is affirmed by the leaders and ulema of the age and by all the masses of men in the farthest East and West’ and obedience and submission to him is embraced by all’. Therefore the Fatimids are only a minority faction and outnumbered 10/1 amongst the Ummah, and must choose the Imamate of Mustazhir as ‘the true Imam’ (over the Fatimid leader)[14]
  8. Caliph Mustazhir is ‘the true Imam’ because no one else is qualified for the position[15]
  9. Therefore the Fatimids are ‘dissenters’ and ‘unjust’ to claim the Imam/Caliph is anyone but Caliph Mustazhir[16]

If every region can have a Caliph/Imam, as MAL suggests, why does Ghazali argue that the Fatimid leader in Egypt is not the true Imam because the majority of Muslims (worldwide) support the Abbasid Caliph?

Why were the Fatimids and Abbasids fighting each other, while denouncing each other’s leaders as ‘not the true Imam’ if Ghazali understood that each region could have their own Imam?

The reason is, as it becomes painfully clear to the reader of the book, that Ghazali undoubtedly believed Caliph Mustazhir to be Imam of all the Muslims and leader of all Muslim lands, and therefore they could be only one.

Therefore, when Ghazali writes the Imam charged with the truth whom all Men are bound to obey in this age of ours is the Imam al-Mustazhir billah’ and all the ulema of the time must give the legal decision that men are definitely and positively bound to obey him…and that he is the Caliph of God over men, and that obedience to him is a duty incumbent on all men’, we would do well to take him at his word.

Perhaps MAL was honestly misinformed about this matter and will concede the error, as it would be hard to imagine that anyone could persist in denying as ‘fantasy’ the obvious intent of Imam Ghazali’s words about this matter without, I fear, requiring levels of mental gymnastics perhaps worthy of entry into the Olympics.

I’m sure Ghazali would appreciate the irony that Muslims after him, who wish to deny the Islamic hukm (rule) regarding Imamate, would reject the literal meaning of his book, when that book was written to refute the Batiniyyah – the very people who reject the literal meaning of the Quran and Sunnah because they wish to deny Islamic rulings (akham). Plus ça change.

Claim: Ghazali was apathetic to the division of Muslims in his time

 MAL claims that any trying to hijack alGhazali as the voice for a global Islamic State should know that..the Imam never rallied mankind to a Caliphate

Reality: Ghazali wrote books and fatwas rallying Muslims under one Caliph

What, if anything, does MAL believe the purpose of writing these books was? Ghazali wrote ‘Al Mustazhiri’ evidently with the intention for it to be copied and disseminated amongst the Muslims of his time in order to not just refute the Fatimid propaganda against the Abbasid Caliph, but to ultimately bring the Fatimid peoples under the Abbasid Caliph as the only true Imamate for the Ummah. This safely meets the dictionary definition of ‘rallying’[17].

MAL also appears to be unaware of the fatwa (ruling) that Ghazali wrote at the request of Yusuf bin Tashfin al Lamtuni (the founder of the Al Murabitun) to the Muslims of Al Andalus:

Proclaiming the banner of the rule of [Caliph] Mustazhir (May Allah protect those put under His shade)’, is the duty upon all leaders [muluk] ruling over any region of the Muslim lands either in the East or the West, to make their pulpits decorated with supplications for the true Imam…They must listen and obey and firmly believe that obedience to the Abbasi Caliph is considered obedience to the imam …And whoever rebels and disobeys the imam, the verdict applied to him is that of the baaghi [rebel]…and compliance to the command of Allāh is to recognise the just sultan – the one who pledges loyalty of the true imam, to the Abbasid Caliphate’. Ghazali then concludes the fatwa,This is the judgment for any just Amir in any part of the earth’[18]

Ghazali also detailed how he actively lobbied for support for Yusuf bin Tashfin’s cause, both at the Caliph’s court, and throughout the Muslim lands[19].

MAL rhetorically asked, ‘if Ghazali believed that Muslims should be united and under one Caliph, then why did he not set-up a movement to achieve that?’

Well, there already was a group that was successfully uniting the Muslim world – the Seljuks.

The Seljuks proclaimed that they were working to unite the Ummah under the Abbasid Caliph[20] and Ghazali was one of their key advisers, remaining in the court of of the great Seljuk Sultan Malik Shah and his famous wazir, Nizam ul Mulk, for at least six years. Ghazali proclaimed that the Abbasid Caliph’s ability to wage war and defend Islam was supplied by the Seljuks: the requisites for the Imamate exists in Mustazhir billah…through the power [Shauka] of the Turks[21].

Moreover, Ghazali (and Imam Turtusi) famously supported Yusuf bin Tashfin of Al-Murabitun (‘Almoravids’). Tashfin was a Berber leader who publicly declared his allegiance to the Abbasid Caliph, and conquered parts of West Africa, Morocco and the Taifa states of Al-Andalus.

Ghazali’s ‘movements’ for re-unification were, quite simply, the Seljuks and the Al-Murabitun – who he and other scholars actively supported. In his ‘Mustazhiri’, as already mentioned, Ghazali proudly called the Abbasid Caliphate our conquering state’[22].

Claim: Ghazali never called anyone to take up arms and fight

MAL claims that Ghazali: never rallied people to ever take up arms. in fact one of criticisms put to Imam Ghazali by academic critics in the last few centuries has been that even when Jerusalem collapsed to the crusaders in the year 492H, Imam Ghazali did not get involved nor rally people to take up arms…he was never known to call to a jihad

Reality: Ghazali described fighting rebels and the crusaders [of the Spanish kingdoms] as ‘one of the greatest forms of worship’

Imam Ghazali actually praised Yusuf bin Tashfin as the defender of the deen’ who ‘ordered the Jihad and cutting off the aspirations of the depraved’ [23], concluding Al Hamdulillah, [Allah] rewarded him with the eradication of the [invading Crusader] Christians, retreating from the Muslim lands. And Allāh bestows victory and establishment[24]

Ghazali, in his fatwa to al Andalus, commanded the Muslims of al-Andalus to fight the Muslim (rebel) Taifa states who refused to submit to the Abbasid Caliph and his deputy Yusuf bin Tashfin[25], arguing that one of the greatest forms of worship is to fight them’[26], until they return to obedience to the Caliph. However, with the Spanish Crusader kingdoms he did not advocate giving them the same reprieve as the rebels[27].

Of course, this is not the only occasion where Ghazali issues rulings on taking up arms. Going back to his book ‘Al Mustazhiri’, Ghazali prescribes war against the followers of the Fatimids[28] .

So, to say that Ghazali never advocated, ruled or praised the taking up of arms, is plainly false. Ghazali believed in the Abbasid Caliphate enough to advocate for the defence of its territorial integrity and declare anyone who rejected or resisted it as rebels to be fought.

Claim: Ghazali is an advocate for Secular government

Unfortunately, presumably attempting to portray Ghazali as advocating only Secular government, MAL claims that in his book Ghazali considers that it is Islamically permissible for Muslim lands to be governed devoid of Allah’s (swt) sharia or Islam: Imam Ghazali clearly writes in his book Naseeha tul Muluk The Prophets Teaching a Kingdom/Rule can remain with Kufr[disbelief] but it cannot remain with Zhulm [tyranny]’..Such an ethic clearly shows that the most important thing is justice and its not about ruling over kuffar’. (Really not sure what MAL means to presume by the last three words)

Reality: Ghazali never envisioned any government devoid of the laws or purposes of Islam

MAL seems to be misleading his audience toward a meaning not in the text. Imam Ghazali clearly did not say it is Islamically permitted for Muslims to be ruled over by unIslamic law. The text simply makes an historical observation. Namely, if a government is consistent in applying its laws to all its citizens, the people will not accuse it of being unfair, and therefore they will not rise up in revolution (regardless of whether the culture or its creed is unIslamic or morally corrupt). This is consistent with the Prophet’s (saaw) teaching of previous nations being destroyed because if a rich man committed a crime, they would release him, but if a poor man committed a crime, they would punish him.

Ghazali, was simply advising that the (Islamic) Sultan’s administration would not last long if he was not applying the Shariah consistently upon all his people – and if you read the full quote, Ghazali uses the example of the ‘Majus’[29] (i.e. the Persian Empire) who he argued had prevented revolutions by being fair in the application of their ‘Majusi’ law.

Crucially, what MAL seems to leave out telling his audience is that justice is just one aspect of the desired government Islam wants, and that in the same book, Imam Ghazali demanded the need for other ‘ingredients’ to government, specifically ruling the people by Islamic law derived from revelation, and championing the interests of Islam:

The quality which rulers [muluk] most need is correct Deen, because al-deen wa’l dawlah [state/regime] are like brothers…He must be diligent in matters of Deen, performing the duties at the proper times, avoiding eccentric desires [hawa] and heretical innovations in religion [bida], and shunning unjust and immoral actions. If he hears that any person in his territory is suspect as regards Deen, he must summon him and interrogate him until he repents, or else punish him or exile him from the territory; in this way the dominion will be purged of eccentric desires and [heretical] innovation, and Islam will be strong. He must…strive to increase the power of Islam, and keep the Prophet’s Sunnah fresh (and vigourous)’[30]

Ghazali reported the advice given to Caliph Harun al Rashid by a famous man of knowledge, that if he didn’t feed the poor or implement the Islamic hudood punishments upon those who disobeyed Allah’s commands’, Allah (swt) would replace him with another ruler, and put him in hell[31]

In the book, Ghazali writes that Islamic ruler cannot breach the Sharia, and must command obedience to Allah (swt) and enforce prohibitions[32], he must discipline the people to obey God and practice virtue[33] and people seeking claims against the ruler, must have the case referred to an Islamic court[34].

Imam Ghazali says in the book that the mission of the Prophet (saaw) included political goals: God on High sent the Prophet to transform the abode/lands [Dar] of Kufr into the abode/lands [Dar] of Islam through his barakah, and to bring development and prosperity to the world through justice and equitable (rule)[35]

It remains a mystery as to why MAL did not see fit to mention these words of Ghazali to his readers that were in the same book MAL selectively quoted from.

MAL selectively quoting to his readers only one of Ghazali’s ‘ingredients’ (e.g. ‘justice’) for a good government over Muslims , but not mentioning the others, is like someone claiming that a cake can be made from just butter without adding any flour, eggs or sugar. Unfortunately, what you get is not a cake, just butter – at best, melted butter.

Furthermore, Imam Ghazali wrote in ‘Iqtisad’ that a Muslim government must be based upon the Deen of Islam or it will collapse[36]. Imam Ghazali does not just expect Islamic government to simply bring order and prevent civil strife, but also to prepare people for the hereafter too[37]

It remains for readers to ask themselves whether any of these teachings by Imam Ghazali sound even remotely like a Secular government.

Claim: There is no obligation in Islam for a Caliphate

MAL wrote: there is categorically NO obligation in Islam to setup or work towards setting up an Islamic State/Caliphate. There is not a single clear mention in the Quran of this or for that matter in The Sunnah of the Prophet

Reality: The obligation for a Caliphate comes from the Quran, Sunnah and Ijma of the Sahabah

The famous Maliki scholar, Imam al-Qurtubi (d.1273) said in his tafsir of Quran 2:30: When your Lord said to the angels, “I am putting a Caliph on the earth”’

 This ayat is sound evidence for having an Imam and khalif who is obeyed so that his word will unify [the Ummah], and the rulings of the Caliphate will carried out. None of the Imams of the Ummah disagree about the obligatory nature of having such a leader…When Abu Bakr died, he delegated the task of being Caliph to ‘Umar and no one said that it was not mandatory. Its obligatory nature indicates that it is one of the pillars of the deen which support the Muslims. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds’[38].
Notice how Qurtubi argues that it being obligatory is an evidence for it being one of the pillars of Deen that supports the Muslims, rather than the other way round (i.e. he does not argue that the Caliphate is an invented obligation due to being seen as a useful utility for order).

Imam Ghazali echoed Qurtubi’s point in his nasihat ul Muluk: Abu Qilabah came to Umar ibn Abd al-Aziz who asked him for counsel. He replied: ‘From Adam’s time till today, no Caliph has endured except you’[39]

Furthermore, MAL wrote:leadership is necessary but not because its a ritual like wudu or a worship per se but because its instrumental…Hence Imam Taftazani writes in his commentary on the Aqaid, that the greater the reach of a King/Dynast is, the greater the prosperity because it is less likely for him to be a soft target for rival kings/opportunists

If MAL alleges that Imam Taftazani did not believe the Caliphate was an obligation based upon revelation, then he seems to be unaware that Imam Taftazani wrote: There is (scholarly) consensus on the appointment of an imam being obligatory…it is obligatory upon man by the [Islamic] text, due to his [i.e. the Prophet (saaw)] saying, ‘Whosoever dies not knowing the Imam of his time dies the death of jahilliyah’, and because the Ummah (the companions) made the appointing of the Imam the most concerning of important matters after the death of the Prophet [saaw] to the extent that they gave it priority over the burial; similarly after the death of every imam, and also because many of the other shari’a obligations depend upon it.’[40]

Aby Layth wrote: Imam Ghazali wrote his book ‘Mustazhari’…in this work that Imam Ghazali is arguing the necessities of having an imam. He begins his argument by highlighting not that its a religious ritual rather it offers stability

Firstly, no one claims that Ghazali considers a Caliphate to be a ‘religious ritual’. Strawman aside, what Imam Ghazali does start out saying, is that it is an Islamic obligation to have a Caliph (Imam) in every age[41] – not just only in his time or the first century after the Prophet [saaw].

Ghazali then proceeds to mention the two main reasons[42]: the first being the ijma of the Sahabah (consensus of the Prophet’s companions), and the second being that the Caliphate implements the societal laws of Islam in Quran and Sunnah, validating the officers in charge of implementing those Islamic laws, and defends the Deen’ by uniting the strength of the Muslims in mutual defence.

For the first reason, Imam Ghazali argues that the Sahabahs considered the obligation of Caliphate to be more important than a religious ritual – which was the burial of the Prophet Muhammed [saaw] no less!

Imam Ghazali writes in his book ‘Iqtiqad’, a chapter titledOn Showing that appointing an Imam is obligatory’, that ‘We should not think that this obligation derives from the intellect’, where he highlights thethe consensus of the Muslim Ummah’ andthe basis of this consensus’.[43]

Ghazali cites a hadith of the Prophet (saaw)[44] to demonstrate that only the Imam of the Muslims, or his deputies, can legally apply the Islamic laws and rules. Therefore, Ghazali argues that without a Caliphate, the laws of Islam are inoperative, and no one would possess any legitimacy to implement them, or rule (including all political governors of all the regions)[45]. He also repeats this argument in his book ‘Iqtisad’[46] with the addition that all Muslims will be in sin(!)

Imam Ghazali therefore writes: the obligation of appointing an imam is among the essential requirements of the sharia [law] – a requirement that by no means can be ignored’[47].

For more detailed arguments about the obligation of the Caliphate derived from the Quran and Sunnah, these can be read from Ghazali’s predecessor, Imam Mawardi, in his famous book ‘Akham ul Sultaniyyah’[48].

Since Imam Ghazali believed in the Islamic obligation of the Caliphate in every age, it remains to be wondered how MAL could confidently claim that ‘there is categorically NO obligation in Islam to setup or work towards setting up an Islamic State/Caliphate’.

Claim: The scholars of Islam claim that the Prophet’s teachings clearly show no obligation for only one leader of the Muslim world

MAL wrote:Countless scholars including Imam Qalsadi, ibn Arafa, Juwayni, Shawkani, Sanaani etc clearly highlight that any hadith regarding Caliphs/Imams was simply referring to a community, region or province and not speaking about one Caliph for the whole world

Reality: The Scholars of Islam all understood that Prophet’s teachings clearly highlight that the Muslim Ummah can only have one leader

It is mysterious why MAL would claim Juwayni did not believe it was obligatory for the Muslim Ummah to be under one leader, since it would appear that Imam al-Juwayni didn’t get the memo’. Juwayni wrote an entire chapter in his book ‘Ghiyath’ called ‘The prohibition of setting up two Imams’, in which he clearly writes:

When it is possible to appoint one Imam who will oversee the entire lands of Islam, and his sovereignty will encompass all the world, despite the variation of its positions in the eastern and western regions, it is necessary to appoint [him], and it is impermissible, when the situation is such, to appoint two Imams. This is agreed upon, and no disagreement on this is found.’[49]

The famous Maliki scholar, Imam Qurtubi [d1273] ‘clearly highlights’ the general understanding of the hadith that Muslims should have only have one ruler: [The Prophet is narrated to have said]: “Whoever comes to you whilst your affairs are unified under a single person, seeking to undermine your unity or divide your ranks, execute him”…This is the strongest evidence prohibiting the establishment of two leaders. For this will lead to hypocrisy, dissension, schisms, civil strife and the removal of blessings’[50].

Qurtubi even related the opinion of Imam Malik, that the starting of Ramadan due to moon sightings in all the Muslim regions inhabited by the Ummah can be overridden by the moon sighting date declared by the Amir ul Mumineen (i.e. Caliph)[51]

In fact, Juwayni was careful to mention that only in extreme cases of distant lands that are cut off from the central Caliph, could there be a possible exception to the clear rule established by the Prophet Muhammed (saaw), and a second ‘Imam’ be appointed in a distant region. But he carefully and explicitly caveats that this second ‘Imam’ is not the supreme Imam of the Muslims[52]. This exception-to-the-rule proves the general rule is mandatory outside of exceptional circumstances.

The other scholars mentioned (but noticeably not quoted) by MAL, like Ibn Arafa (d.1401) ,Qalasadi (d. 1485), Sana’ani (d.1768), and Shawkani (d.1834) – do not dispute the general rule.

For example, Ibn Arafa, who MAL chose to invoke, says: If the position of the Imam is such that he cant enforce his rule in distant areas, then it is permissible to install others [in those distant areas]”[53] and Shawkani holds the same sentiment[54].

Shawkani, also invoked by MAL, further reminds Muslims that the Muslim Ummah and its lands cannot be divided: It is known from Islam by necessity that Islam has forbidden division amongst Muslims and the segregation of their land’[55].

Despite those who believe an exception-to-the-rule is possible, Juwayni admits[56] that the mainstream opinion of the scholars is that even if lands are impractically cut-off from the Caliph, even then that’s still no excuse to go against the explicit command of the Prophet’s hadith. Famous examples of this mainstream that rejected the exception-to-the rule are Mawardi [57], Nawawi [58], Sha’rani[59] and Ibn Khaldun (see below).

Ibn Khaldun explains his opinion in his ‘Muqadimah’ and summarises the opinions of the Muslim scholars succinctly:

It is not possible to appoint two men to the position (of imam) at the same time. The scholars generally are of this opinion, on the basis of certain hadith. Those hadith are found in the book, ‘On Leadership’ in the Sahih by Muslim [60]. They clearly indicate that this is so. Others hold that (the prohibition against two imams) applies only to two imams in one area, or where they would be close to each other. When there are great distances and the imam is unable to control the farther region, it is permissible to set up another imam there to take care of public interests’.

Importantly, concerning Ghazali’s opinion, what we should note from above, is that even in with the medieval transportation and communication methods of 1094, Ghazali noticeably did not consider Egypt or Al Andalus to be beyond the reach of the Abbasid Caliphate, which explains why he calls some of them rebels for not pledging allegiance to the Abbasid Caliph!

Of course, with modern technology and transport (e.g. 16 hour plane trip from Lisbon to Jakarta), there would be no longer any room today to argue an exception to the general rule established by the hadith. What remains mysterious is why MAL would allege the scholars had opinions that were completely the opposite of their actual opinions. Perhaps he was (somehow) just honestly mistaken again.

Claim: Ghazali would not argue that states today are invalid without a Caliphate

MAL claimed: Its important to clarify that Islam unquestionably promotes Unity…This however is nothing like preaching that all these modern states are illegitimate and invalid, have zero authority

Reality: Ghazali argued that all forms of political institutions, court systems and even private religious contracts are invalid without a Caliphate

As mentioned already, Ghazali in his book ‘Mustazhiri’[61], as well as his later book ‘Iqtiqad’ [62], argued quite explicitly that all governors throughout all the regions of the world would become invalid without a Caliph. Considering that during the time of Ghazali, the regional governors were called ‘malik’ or ‘sultan’ had there own independent armies and administration systems, unlike the claims of MAL in his article[63], ‘might does not make right’ for Ghazali, but religious authority.

In an online Q/A, MAL recommended to his viewers to refer to a video by Dr Jonathan Brown as an authority on the topic of a Caliphate. MAL said: “Islam does not ask for a Caliphate…for greater knowledge of this I would like to recommend you to…a lecture done by ustadh Jonathan Brown on the ‘myth of Universal Islamic state’, I’d refer you to that, that’s already been done in great detail” [64].

This is quite strange, considering that in the video, Dr Jonathan Brown confirms the facts that MAL had been publicly disputing and denying:

The role of the caliph as a conveyor of some kind of legitimacy or religious leadership…scholars I know, Ghazali who died in 1111, there’s certain scholars like him who believed that if there’s no caliph, nothing in Islamic law is valid, your marriages aren’t valid, nothing is valid, you need the caliph to exist, even if he has no power, the Caliph is the source from which the entire system of the sharia and Muslim religious life flows…Imam Ghazali has this notion that you have to have this formal office of the Caliphate or else nothing Muslims do is valid’ [65]

We can only speculate as to why MAL would recommend a video of a lecture that contradicts his narrative about Ghazali. Perhaps the fact that the video is mis-titled[66], may be a reason.

The Political Context of Criticism against belief in an Islamic Caliphate

MAL’s use of the label ‘extremist’ against people who peacefully believe in the mainstream Islamic concept of a Caliphate, eerily parallels the same rhetoric[67] used by former-Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

MAL’s arguments also strangely parallel a section within a report[68] commissioned by the notorious neo-conservative Henry Jackson Society (of whom Douglas Murray was a Director), which attacked the Islamic concept of the Caliphate with similar claims to MAL.

Furthermore, Sara Khan, a Secular feminist in the UK involved in ‘counter-extremism’, who has worked closely with the then Home Secretary, MP Theresa May[69] on promoting ‘British values’ also had praised[70] MAL’s ‘CallEmOut’ campaign.

Anyone who questions whether Ghazali’s position is merely the result of his political context (and not Islamic tradition), should therefore have to ask the same questions of the ‘political context’ of those rejecting the Islamic concept of the Caliphate too.

Claim: People who believe a Caliphate is an obligation in Islam, are extremist

Despite MAL writes that to setup an obligatory Global Islamic State with one Caliph is part of an ‘extremist ideology‘, continuingthere is categorically NO obligation in Islam to setup or work towards setting up an Islamic State/Caliphate

Reality: Ghazali would consider people who denied the Islamic obligation of a Caliphate, to be extremist

Shockingly, Ghazali actually condemns MAL’s position: [the Mutazilite] Ibn Al-Kaysan had entirely rejected the obligation of establishing Imamate…their position is extreme’[71].

Furthermore the great Maliki scholar, Imam Qurtubi called Ibn Kaysan deserving of the epithet, ‘the deaf’ [al Assam] for declaring the Caliphate not an obligation in Islam [see quote][72]

Therefore the belief that an Islamic Caliphate is not an obligation in Islam, is not only recent, it is extremist. As Muslims, our duty must be to denounce this extremism and #CallEmOut.

The Response to Those Who Attack Muslims for Believing in an Islamic Caliphate – Final Thoughts from Dr Jonathan Brown

To finish this article, I’d like to quote the final thought from that very same video MAL unwittingly recommends his readers to watch(!) about the topic of Caliphate, where Dr Jonathan Brown finishes his lecture with a pertinent response that eloquently rebuts any campaign against Muslims who advocate the Islamic concept of the Caliphate:

People shouldn’t be limited in their right to political ideology…That really plays into the hand of groups like ISIS. The key thing that leads people to support groups like that, is because that those groups call out hypocrisy of global systems, or of western dominated systems, so there’s the European countries that get together and say ‘we want the european union’, you can have NAFTA, you can have Irish americans who identify as Irish in someway and support Irish causes, and jewish americans who can support Israel, so everybody has an acknowledged right to some kind the notion of ‘confrere-ity’ [i.e fraternity] with others who they identify with across nations, who they identify with, you even have the right to supra-national unions of various sorts, and in fact there is already the organisation of Islamic co-operation.

Why is it that in great Britain, the UK, believing in a Caliphate is something that would get you put on a list as an Islamic extremist? Where, it technically, for the majority of Muslim scholars throughout history, they will tell you that Muslims are required to believe in the Caliphate, as we just discussed that could mean a lot of things. It could mean that somewhere way off there is some guy who happens to be called the Caliph who has no role in my life, but he exists and he legitimises my religious contracts. That’s very different from saying I’m going to respond to Abu Bakr Baghdadi’s call and kill someone in the street, those are two totally different phenomena. I think it is important…that people be allowed to identify with supra-national organisations. Otherwise, you’re basically saying Muslims don’t have that right, but everybody else does’[73]


 

[1] https://abdullahalandalusi.com/2017/06/16/imam-ghazalis-obligation-of-caliphate-response-to-a-critic/

[2] Mufti Abu Layth’, ‘When Ghazali is hijacked for an Islamic State, 17th June 2017. Copy available: https://abdullahalandalusidotcom.files.wordpress.com/2017/09/mufti-abu-layth.pdf

[3] ‘The police (shurta) as an urban force responsible for suppression of crime evolved from a military formation referred to as shurtat al-khamis, which apparently existed in Kufa during the rule of ‘Ali (656–660). The association between the shurta and the military continued during the Umayyad and early ‘Abbasid period…However, during the twelfth century the term shurta disappeared from the sources and was replaced by a new urban official: the shihna, who combined in his hands the authority of an urban prefect and a military governor’ [Medieval Islamic Civilisation: An Encyclopedia, volume 1, Josef W Meri, Routledge]

[4] [Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]

[5] The leader of our Ummah and the glory of our deen and originating in the delight of the nations, the Amir ul Mumineen [leader of the believers], obedience to whom is enjoined by the Creator of Creatures and the Lord of the Worlds, for Allah the Most High has said Obey God, and obey the Prophet and those in authority amongst you”’ [Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]

[6] op cit.

[7] We claim that the Imam al-Mustazhir Billah is the true Imam who must be obeyed, [Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]

[8] The Imam…in this age of ours is Imam al-Mustazhir Billah- God guard his authority, [ibid]

[9] In Ghazali’s argument against the Batiniyyah, he argues that the Imam need not be a source of infallible truth, since people can access knowledge and tradition themselves. Ghazali then anticipates the Batiniyyah response that accuses him of arguing that the Imam is being unnecessary:

[The Batiniyah make the] objection: Why, then do we need the Imam, if he can be dispensed with? .[I then] answer: And why is there need of a Qadi [Judge] in every town? Does the need of him prove that he must be infallible? They say: He is needed for practical reasons such as warding off disputes, effecting harmony, etc. [We say]: And the totality of the world to the Imam is like one [town] regarding the Qadi. Just as the Qadi need not be infallible, but his office is needed, so the Imam need not be infallible, but his is necessary for general administrative reasons such as defending Islam, etc., [ibid]

[10] without anyone exercising [the Imamate]…it would call for the declaration of the invalidity of all governors and the unsoundness of the rulings by the Qadis [judges]…and the pronouncement of invalidity of marriages issuing from Qadis in [all] the regions of the earth and the remaining rights of Allah (swt) in the care of creatures [ibid]

[11] Their ultimate claim is that he who knows the [true] realities of things is the one occupying the post of Caliph in Egypt, and that it is incumbent on all creatures to obey him…he is the true Imam, [ibid]

[12] Question: How do you repudiate one who challenges the..premise that only al-Mustazhir is fit for the Imamate? For the Batiniyyah summon men to another, [ibid]

[13] We do not deny that some claim the Imamate undeservedly. But we say: If the Batiniyyahs claims is false, the Imamate is specified for him [Mustazhir] who claims it and our aim is achieved. For if, by agreement, there must be an Imam, and if it is certain that the Imamate is not outside of two persons, and if it is certain that the Imamate of one of them is false, then there remains no doubt about it being certain of the other…the falseness of the Imamate claimed by the Batiniyyah are innumerable[ibid]

[14] Even if we concede, for the sake of argument and gratuitously, that the master of the Batiniyya [i.e. the Fatimid ‘Caliph’] is fit for Imamate…still the Imamate we claim is something agreed upon by all the leaders and Ulema of the age and by all the masses of men in the farthest East and West, so that obedience and submission to him [Caliph Mustazhir] are embraced by all save the little gang of Batiniyya [i.e. the Fatimids] who all together do not equal the number of the followers of the Abbasid Imamate in a single township, much less those of a district or province! Could an impartial man doubt that the Batiniyya extremists do not equal a tenth of those who support this conquering State [i.e. the Abbasid Caliphate]. If the Imamate is determined by [who has the most] power, and power is by mutual help and the plurality of followers, then this is a most powerful argument for preferring our [Abbasid] Imamate!, [ibid]

[15] …only he is qualified for the office, therefore he is the rightful Imam, [ibid]

[16] Hence it is clear that whenever there is agreement, anyone who ambitions the Imamate for himself is unjust-and the overwhelming majority is for our Imamate-the dissenters are a mere drop in the sea, [ibid]

[17] Rally: Bring or come together in order to support a person or cause. Oxford English Dictionary

[18]this Emir [Yusuf B. Tashfin], he has acted truthfully in proclaiming the banner of the rule of [Caliph] Mustazhir (May Allah protect those put under His shade). And this is the duty upon all leaders [muluk] ruling over any region of the Muslim lands either in the East or the West, to make their pulpits decorated with supplications for the true Imam. Even if the investiture [taqleed] of the Imam had not reached them or it was delayed because of some hindrance, when the king calls to the banner of the Abbasid Caliph, then obedience to them is a duty upon all the leaders and their people. They must listen and obey and firmly believe that obedience to the Abbasi Caliph is considered the obedience to the imam and his disobedience is considered the disobedience to the imam. And whoever rebels and disobeys the imam, the verdict applied to him is that of the baaghi [rebel]…This is the judgment for any just Amir in any part of the earth

[Imam Ghazali’s letter to Al Andalus, source: Tarikh fi Al-Maghrib Wa Al-Andalus, 1986, Ahmed mukhtar al Abbadi]

[19] This A’lim [Ibn Al Arabi] drafted a consultation when requested for a fatwa [istifta], which I have fulfilled according to the demand for the truth and [that which is] required by the deen. I had, with urgency, put myself on the way towards the Hijaz, and I left him [Ibn Arabi] to work in his endeavours to spread the noble manifesto emanating from the khalifa’s court, containing words of gratitude for the actions of the Emir, the defender of the deen, [Yusuf b. Tashfin], his help at the Muslim border lands [Andalus], and expressed that all the territories of the Maghrib be delivered [Taslim] to his [person], so that he becomes his governor [rais] [governing] his subjects and [that] they submit to him, so those who go against his [Ibn Tashfins] orders, go against the Emir Al Mumineen, a descendant of [Al Abbas] [who was] the uncle of the Prophet, and so, it is obvious that all Muslims should fight him…’ [Imam Ghazali’s letter to Yusuf bin Tashfin, translation of source: Maria Vigueras, Las Cartas De Al-Gazali y Al-Turtosi Al Soberano Almoravid Yosuf B. Tasufin’]

[20] Marilyn R. Waldman, Professor of History and Comparative Studies, Ohio State University, Columbus and Author of ‘Toward a Theory of Historical Narrative: A Case Study in Perso-Islamicate Historiography’, neatly sums this up: The Seljuqs derived their legitimacy from investiture by the caliph, and from helpinghim reunite the ummah’

https://www.britannica.com/topic/Islamic-world/Migration-and-renewal-1041-1405#toc26916

 

[21] [Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]

[22] [Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]

[23] we were informed of the power of the Emir [Yusuf b. Tashfin], the defender of deen, and how he defeated the Christian party, they [Muluk Al Tawaif] asked to be rid of taxes on the Muslims, [meaning] those taxes that [Christians] had imposed them, forcing them to pay a poll tax [jizya] which was to be delivered to them, pretending to maintain his [Yusuf b. Tashfins] authority, and turned to favor the Christians, bringing warnings [intelligence] of the state of the Emir [Yusuf b. Tasufin] and encouraging them [Christians] to attack [Yusuf B. Tashfin]. When those [who were] sure of what they knew, many of them along with [good] Muslims, asked them to expel those [King] rebels there, restoring the country to the Muslims who had it before the spreading corruption. He did so, and when he took over, removed the unfair tax [mazalim], made apparent the signs of the religion, dispersed the corrupt, bringing in their place, righteous people, ordered jihad and cut off the aspirations of the depraved

[Imam Ghazali’s letter to Yusuf bin Tashfin, translation of source: Maria Vigueras, Las Cartas De Al-Gazali y Al-Turtosi Al Soberano Almoravid Yosuf B. Tasufin’]

[24] ibid

[25] And compliance of the command of Allāh is to recognize [deferring to] the just sultan- the one who pledges loyalty of the true imam, associated with the Abbasid Caliphate. Anyone who rebels against the truth, he will be repelled by the sword to the truth. So it is compulsory on the Emir and his party to fight those who are rebellious…one of the greatest forms of worship is to fight them until they return to the obedience of the just Emir who steadfastly obeys the Abbasid Caliphate…Overall, the verdict of being disobedient to the amir who is obeying the caliph—the one who has the authority of the pulpits and the land— is the verdict is of the baghi [rebel] against the deputy imam

[Imam Ghazali’s letter to Al Andalus, source: Tarikh fi Al-Maghrib Wa Al-Andalus, 1986, Ahmed mukhtar al Abbadi]

[26]  it is compulsory on the Emir and his party to fight those who are rebellious.  More importantly they turn to their Christian mushrikeen allies [awliyaa] for aid- and they are the enemies of Allāh against the Muslims, who are the awliyaa of Allāh and one of the greatest forms of worship is to fight them until they return to the obedience of the just Emir who steadfastly obeys the Abbasid khilafa.

[Imam Ghazali’s letter to Al Andalus, source: Tarikh fi Al-Maghrib Wa Al-Andalus, 1986, Ahmed mukhtar al Abbadi]

[27] As long as they desist from disobedience [to the Imam] it is incumbent [upon] you to restrain from [fighting] them.  If they fight [you], it is not allowed to pursue [them when] they take flight [flee the battle], nor to harm their wounded. But whenever  their prowess declines and they are defeated then it is necessary to stop fighting them, and by that I mean the Muslims among them. This does not apply to the Christians who do not retain a covenant [from the Muslims]. The Muslims should not be preoccupied with fighting the Muslims’.

[Imam Ghazali’s letter to Al Andalus, source: Tarikh fi Al-Maghrib Wa Al-Andalus, 1986, Ahmed mukhtar al Abbadi]

[28] Ghazali describes two categories of Fatimid to be dealt with. The first category, are those whose theology is not renegade to the Islamic creed, and Ghazali argues they are only to be fought if they actively resist Abbasid armies by fighting alongside ‘the unjust [i.e. rebels – he also used this term for the taifa rebels in his letters to Al Andalus]

The first grade [of Batiniyyah]- which necessitates charging with error and deviation and innovation- is that we meet a common man who believes that the entitlement to the Imamate is on the principle of the House [i.e. The Prophets (saaw) family], and that the one now entitled to it is the one of them who [currently] undertakes the office [i.e. the Fatimid ‘Caliph’]…such a mans blood is not licit [to be taken], nor is he to be charged with [being] renegade against the truth because of such views, and he is to be warned away from his error and [heretical] innovation…but [if] they join in battle alongside the unjust – the unjust is to be killed even if he is a Muslim – but not pursued if he flees [from battle], nor killed if he is wounded’’

The second category of Fatimid in Ghazali’s estimation, are those he considers have theologies that make them renegades of Islam. To them, he rules

’on the legal status of Batiniyyah [i.e. the Fatimids] guilty of turning renegade against the truth…killing him and ridding the world of him…the allowability of killing them is not peculiar to their state of fighting’

[Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)],

[29] The Sultan in reality is he who awards justice, and does not perpetrate injusitce and wickedness, among Gods servants; for the unjust Sultan is ill-fated and will have no endurance, because the Prophet stated that sovereignty endures even when there is kufr, but will not endure when there is injustice…for well nigh four thousand years the rule [amara] was held by the Majus and the kingdom remained in their family. This endured because they maintained justice among their subjects

Imam Ghazali, Nasihat ul Muluk

[30] The quality which rulers [muluk] most need is correct Deen, because al-deen wal dawlah [state/regime] are like brothers. (The ruler) needs it equally whether he be healthy or sick. He must be diligent in matters of Deen, performing the duties at the proper times, avoiding eccentric desires [hawa] and heretical innovations in religion [bida], and shunning unjust and immoral actions. If he hears that any person in his territory is suspect as regards religion, he must summon him and interrogate him until he repents, or else punish him or exile him from the territory; in this way the dominion will be purged of eccentric desires and [heretical] innovation, and Islam will be strong. He must keep the borderlands populated by sending garrisons, strive to increase the power of Islam, and keep the Prophets Sunnah fresh (and vigourous)

Imam Ghazali, Nasihat ul Muluk

[31]God on High has seated you in the place where Al-Sadiq (Abu Bakr) sat…in the place of Al-Farooq (Umar)…in the position of Dhū al-Nurayn (Uthman)…in the station of Ali…God on High owns a house called Hell, and He has made you the janitor of that house. He has given you three things: the Public Treasury, the sword, and the whip. He has told you to keep people out of Hell with these three things. When an indigent person comes to you, do not deny him access to the Public Funds; when a person disobeys Gods commands, chastise him with the whip; and when one person wrongfully kills another, put him to death with the sword if so required by the murdered persons executor. Unless you do these things, you will be foremost among the denizens of Hell, and other (rulers) will replace you”’

Imam Ghazali, Nasihat ul Muluk

[32] ‘‘the ruler should not give satisfaction to any person if a contravention of Sharia would be required to please him….Aisha (ra)..wrote..I have heard Allahs prophet say that if any person seeks to win Gods pleasure in a way which displeases the people, the True God on High will be pleased with him and will cause the peole to become pleased with him; but that if any person seeks to win the peoples pleasure in a way which displeases God (for instance, by not commanding them to obey God, not teaching them the particulars of their Deen, letting them eat and drink prohibited things…the True God oh high will be displeased with him and will cause the people to become displeased with him’’

Imam Ghazali, Nasihat ul Muluk

[33] As long as they are not intimidated and disciplined by the Sultan, they do not obey God and do not practice virtue

Imam Ghazali, Nasihat ul Muluk

[34] the ruler should withdraw from the seat of sovereignty and submit the case to Gods jurisdiction [i.e. Islamic law]

Imam Ghazali, Nasihat ul Muluk

[35] Imam Ghazali, Nasihat ul Muluk

[36] it has been said that Deen and sultan are twins, and also that Deen is a foundation and the sultan is a guard: that which has no foundation collapses and that which has no guard is lost.

Imam al Ghazali, Iqtisad fil Iqtiqad

[37] the goal is to have someone whose decree is obeyed and who unifies diverse opinions, prevents people from warring and fighting, motivates them to seek what is good for them in this worldly life and the hereafter

Imam al Ghazali, Iqtisad fil Iqtiqad

[38] Imam Qurtubi, Al-Jami‘ li Ahkam al-Qur’an

[39] Imam Ghazali, Nasihat ul Muluk

[40] There is (scholarly) consensus on the appointment of an imam being obligatory. The difference of opinion is only on the question of whether the obligation is on Allah or man, and whether is it by textual or rational evidence. The correct position is that it is obligatory upon man by the text, due to his [saaw] saying, Whosoever dies not knowing the Imam of his time dies the death of jahilliyah, and because the Ummah (the companions) made the appointing of the Imam the most concerning of important matters after the death of the Prophet [saaw] to the extent that they gave it priority over the burial; similarly after the death of every imam, and also because many of the other sharia obligations depend upon it.

Sharh al-Aqaid al Nasafiyya

[41] There must be an Imam in every age

[Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]

[42] there must be an Imam in every age…two things to be pointed out to those seeking guidance on it..(1) It is seen from the first generation that the sahabah rushed to appoint an Imam and pledge allegiance after the death of the Prophet [saaw], and they believed that it is an obligation binding upon them and a right that should be fulfilled immediately, and they avoided its postponement which even  made them delay preparing the Prophet [saaw] for burial since they were busy with the appointment of an Imam; all this because they knew that, should there be a moment in which they have no leader that unites them under one opinion and they face a problem, and they differ in the mode of solving it, then their system would be a mess, unity would be nullified and the laws (ahkaam) would cease (to be lived by). It is because of this that they prioritised rushing towards appointing a leader and they did not occupy themselves during this time with anything else other than that. (2) The defence and championing of Deen is undoubtedly necessary and obligatory…[without the Imam] The conflict of wills and passions would lead to the neglect of the afterlife and the triumph of munkar over maaroof, and of the ignorant over the learned with the consequent dissolution of the protections given by Deen and worldly power. So it is clear that the Imam is an indispensable necessity of men

[Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]

[43] Imam al Ghazali, Iqtisad fil Iqtiqad

[44] Ghazali comments of a hadith ‘“People will not be judged except by three: an Amir, a deputy (of the Amir) and an intruderThe Amir is the Imam (the Imams have always been the judges); the deputy is his assistant, while anyone else is an intruder who undertakes that responsibility without there being any need for him to do so

Imam Ghazali, Ihya uloom ul deen

[45]This is a serious attack on the ahkam (legal judgements of Islam) and an explicit declaration of their inoperativeness and neglect, and it would call for the clear declaration of the invalidity of all governors and the unsoundness of the judging of Qadis and the ruin of Gods rights [hudood] and prescriptions and the invalidation of [retaliation (qassas) for] blood and wombs [offspring] and property and the pronouncement of the invalidity of marriages issuing from the Qadis in [all] the regions of the earth and the remaining of the rights of God Most High in the custody [care] of creatures. For all such things would be legal only if their fulfilment issued from Qadis duly appointed by the Imam -which would be impossible if there were no Imamate. So the exposure of the corruption of a doctrine calling for that is an important task and duty of religionwith Gods help we shall attempt it. We claim that the Imam al-Mustazhir Billah is the true Imam who must be obeyed

[Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]

[46] [Imam Ghazali then talks about the validity of an Imamate under an Imam who may lack adequate Islamic knowledge [scholarship]. Regarding the Caliph/Imam Ghazali said:
It might be said: “if you are forgiving regarding the quality of knowledge, then it becomes incumbent upon you to be forgiving regarding the quality of justice, and other qualities”

We say: This leniency is not a matter of choice; but necessities render prohibitions permissible. For instance, we know that eating dead animals is prohibited, but to die [of hunger] is much worse. I wish I knew how someone who does not accept this [principle] could judge that the Imamate in our time is invalid insofar as its conditions are not fulfilled, while he is unable to replace the imam with someone who seeks it, for even he cannot find someone who fulfills its conditions. Which of his states is better, to say that the judges are dismissed, appointments are invalid, marriages are annulled, all the decrees of the governors everywhere in the world are unenforceable, and all of mankind are engaged in what is unlawful; or to say that, based on the current state and necessity, the Imamate is valid and the decrees and appointments enforceable?’

Imam al Ghazali, Iqtisad fil Iqtiqad

[47] Imam al Ghazali, Iqtisad fil Iqtiqad

[48] the imam carries out the affairs of the shariah and it is conceivable that he undertakes the Imamate as a form of worhip without the option of being able to refuse it, thus the intellect is not instrumental in rendering it obligatory. The intellect obliges each person of sane mind to avoid mutual injustices and the breaking of social ties, and to fulfill the requirements of justice by dealing fairly with people and by maintaining social contacts; this he organises by means of his own intellect and not someone elses intellect. It is the law, however, which has delegated matters of Deen – Allah (swt), said O you who believe, obey Allah and obey the Messenger and those in authority amongst you[Quran 4:62]…Having established the obligation of Imamate, it must be then known that it is incumbent in a social and collective way, like Jihad and acquiring knowledge, that is if one person who is competent in the matter takes it up, the obligation is removed from the rest of the community

Imam Mawardi, Akham ul Sultaniyyah

[49] Imam Juwayni, Ghiyath al-Umam fi lltiyath al-Zulam

[50] Imam Qurtubi, Al-Jami‘ li Ahkam al-Qur’an

[51] ‘Al Bukhari: indicated it in a chapter entitled: “The people of each land sight it.” Others said that, when it is established among people that the people of a land have sighted it earlier, then they must make up any days they did not fast….

Those who differ from them argue by the words of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, “Fast by sighting it and break the fast by sighting it.” That necessitates considering the custom of every people in their land. Abu ‘Umar reported the consensus that one does not pay attention to sighting in distant lands, like Andalusia in relation to Khorasan. He said, “Each land sights it, except for those areas neighbouring large cities.”

…Our scholars said, “The statement of Ibn ‘Abbas, ‘That is what the Messenger of Allah, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, commanded us to do’, is a clear statement that goes back to the command of the Prophet, may Allah bless him and grant him peace, and that is evidence that when the lands are far from each other as Syria is far from the hijaz, the people of each land must act according to their own sighting. If that is confirmed with the Caliph, he cannot impel people to follow him in that. But if he does, it is not permitted to oppose him.” The position of school of Malik regarding this question related by Ibn Wahb and Ibn al-Qasim in al-Majmu’a is that when the people of Basra saw the new moon of Ramadan and then news of it reached the people of Kufa, Madina and Yemen, they had to fast or make it up. Qays uI Abii Ishaq related from Ibn al-Majishiin that if it was confirmed at Basra as a generally known fact which does not require testimony and witnesses (because of the large number of people who had seen it) then it was obligatory for the people of other lands to make it up. If it was confirmed with the ruler only by the testimony of two witnesses then it was not obliged for other regions. It is only obliged for those under that ruler’s rule. But if it was confirmed with the Amir ul Mumineen, then the entire Ummah must make it up. That is the position of Malik’.

Imam Qurtubi [Jami, Tafsir Sura Baqara]

[52] “I do not deny the permissibility of appointing (two leaders) according to need (haja)…from amongst these [situations] is the vastness of the territory, and Islam expanding into distant lands…and a group of people may be in a part of the earth where the Imam’s supervision does not reach, or dar-ul-kufr may come in between Islamic lands and because of that the Imam’s supervision will not reach those Muslims beyond it; when what we mentioned occurs, some have allowed an Imam to be set up in the region where the sovereignty of the [supreme] Imam does not reach…The person appointed though is not the [supreme] Imam

[Imam Juwayni, Ghiyath al-Umam fi lltiyath al-Zulam]

[53] Ibn Arafa said If the position of the Imam is such that he cant enforce his rule in distant countries, then it is permissible to install others [in those distant areas]

Source: Ibn al Azraq, Badaa’i al-suluk fi tab’ia al malik

[54] After the spread of Islam, and the borders moved further away from each other, then it is known that in each area you had a Wilayah to an Imam or Sultan…There is no objection to having many Imams and Sultans and it is obligatory to obey each one of them after the bayah has been given to them from the people of the region to implement the orders and prohibitions of the State…If someone in that region chooses to rise up against the appointed Ruler then he is to be executed if he does not repent. It is also not obligatory for one region to obey the Imam of another region or to come under its authority. This is because of the vast expanses of the Islamic lands that have spread out. For this reason people of one region would not be able to be informed about their Imam or Sultan. They would not know who came into authority or who died among them. This is apparent to all those who see the reality of the people and the regions before us. For the people of China and India would not know who is in authority in Morocco let alone knowing the obligations on them and visa versa..So the difference between the situation of the governors [Wilayah] in early periods of Islam and situation now is clearer then the Sun in broad daylight…’

Imam Shawkani, Sayl al Jarar

[55] [Imam Shawkani, Tafsir al-Quran al Atheem, volume 2]

[56] ‘Our colleagues [in scholarship] agree on prohibiting the investing of two different individuals with the Imamate at either end of the world. But, they add: If it should happen that two different persons were invested with the Imamate, that would be analogous to the situation of two guardians contracting a marriage for the same woman to two different suitors without either being aware of the other’s contract…’

Imam Juwayni, Kitab al-irshad ila qawati ‘al-adilla fi usul al-i’tiqad

[57] ‘‘they should offer the pledge of allegiance to him and the Imamate then comes into being by their act of allegiance and it is then incumbent upon the whole of the Ummah to enter into this allegiance and to accept obedience to him

If two Imamates are established in two countries, none of the two is valid as it is forbidden for there to be two imams at one time…the correct opinion in this matter and that which the competent fuqaha hold to is that the Imamate belongs to the one who first received the oath of allegiance and contractual agreement: this resembles the case in which two guardians marrying off a woman for if two of them marry her off, the marriage is only actually contracted by the first of the two

Imam Mawardi, Akham ul Sultaniyyah

[58] “It is forbidden [for Muslims] to give an oath to two Imams or more, even in different parts of the world and even if they are far apart”

Mughni Al Muhtaj, volume 4, Imam Al-Nawawi

Imam Nawawi commented on Juwayni’s rule-exception:

“…and if between them there are vast expanses then possibility can be considered…and this is a corrupt position that goes against the agreement of the Salaf, the Khalaf and the apparent wording of the hadith” 

Imam Nawawi, Sharh of Sahih Muslim

[59] “It is forbidden for Muslims to have in the whole world and at the same time two Imams whether in agreement or discord”

Imam Sha’rani , Al-Mizan, volume 2

[60] Abu Sa’id al-Khudri narrated that the Prophet (saaw) said: “When the oath of allegiance has been taken for two Caliphs, kill the latter of them”. [Sahih Muslim]

Afrajah said: I heard the Messenger of Allah (saw) say: “Whosoever comes to you while your affairs has been united under one man, intending to break your strength or dissolve your unity, kill him.” [Sahih Muslim]

Abu Hazim reported from Abu Hurayra who narrated that the Messenger of Allah (saaw) said: “The children of Israel have been governed by Prophets; whenever a Prophet died another Prophet succeeded him; but there will be no prophet after me. There will soon be Caliphs and they will number many (in one time); they asked: What then do you order us? He (saw) said: Fulfil allegiance to them, the first of them, the first of them, and give them their dues; for verily Allah will ask them about what he entrusted them with”. [Sahih Muslim]

Abdullah b. ‘Amru b. al-‘A’as said that he heard the Messenger of Allah (saaw) say: “Whoever pledged allegiance to an Imam giving him the clasp of his hand and the fruit of his heart, he should obey him as long as he can, and if another comes to dispute with him, you must strike the neck of the latter”. [Sahih Muslim]

[61] without anyone exercising [the Imamate]…it would call for the declaration of the invalidity of all governors and the unsoundness of the rulings by the Qadis [judges]…and the pronouncement of invalidity of marriages issuing from Qadis in [all] the regions of the earth

[Imam Ghazali, ‘Al-Mustazhiri’ (Fadiah al-Batinyah wa Fadail al-Mustazhariyah of al-Ghazzali)]

[62] to say that the judges are dismissed, appointments are invalid, marriages are annulled, all the decrees of the governors everywhere in the world are unenforceable, and all of mankind are engaged in what is unlawful

Imam al Ghazali, Iqtisad fil Iqtiqad

[63] It was a time when Might is Rightruled the show…Imam Ghazali himself explains this at lengths in his book

Mufti Abu Layth’, ‘When Ghazali is hijacked for an Islamic State, 17th June 2017

[64] Islam does not ask for a Caliphate…this is a misunderstanding…[however] people have raised some questions…one point raised, there’s been Islamic text in the past that have mentioned the necessity of a Caliph, having a Khaleefah…for greater knowledge of this I would like to recommend you to…a lecture done by ustadh Jonathan Brown on the ‘myth of Universal Islamic state’, I’d to refer you to that, that’s already been done in great detail’

Facebook live video, (time slice 43m23s in), 11th September 2017

[65] Dr Jonathan Brown, ‘A world-wide Caliphate?’, 17th March 2016

[66] Dr Jonathan’s Brown’s lecture was titled ‘A world-wide Caliphate?’, but the video was uploaded onto youtube titled as ‘the Myth of a universal Islamic State’, and widely circulated by Secular reformists – who appear to have been unaware of the full content of the video.

[67] We need to recognise that were not just fighting terrorism here, were also fighting extremismthere are many extremists who fall short of actually condoning terrorism, but they buy into a lot of the narrative of the terrorists [e.g.] they support [belief in a] Caliphatewe have to say in our country, those views while they fall short of condoning terrorism, theyre not acceptable eitherWe need to do more to help integrate people into our countrythere are some organisations and some peopleto those people we have got to say, that is not an acceptable view, and were not going to engage with people who believe that their ought to be a Caliphate

David Cameron, 29th June 2015, BBC Radio 4

[68] http://henryjacksonsociety.org/2014/02/04/refuting-jihadism/

[69] http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/feted-counter-extremism-campaigner-linked-covert-propaganda-company-746667480

[70] In a recent article only a few days after MAL’s post, Sara Khan wrote that Secular Liberalsmust push hard against Islamists and that they must weed out the extremists in our midst who justify their beliefs in the name of Islam.As one scholar said last week, its time we #CallEmOut.

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jun/10/stop-fretting-over-religious-sensitivities-push-back-against-islamists

[71]Know that errors in the matter of Imamate, its specifics, its conditions, and what is related to it does not in any way necessitate excommunication. Ibn Al-Kaysan had entirely rejected the obligation of establishing Imamate but this was not cause for his excommunication. Neither does it apply to people who exaggerate the matter of leadership and make recognition of the Imam equal to faith in Allah and His Messenger. Neither does it apply to those who oppose them and excommunicate them due to their doctrine of the Imamate. All of their positions is extreme, yet none of their opinions involves denying the Messenger of Allah

Imam Ghazali, Faysal At-Tafriqa

[72] When your Lord said to the angels, I am putting a khalif on the earth”’ This ayat is sound evidence for having an Imam and khalif who is obeyed so that his word will unify [the Ummah], and the rulings of the Caliphate will carried out. None of the Imams of the Ummah disagree about the obligatory nature of having such a leader, except for what is related from al-Asamm (lit. the Deaf), who lived up to the meaning of his name and was indeed deaf to the Sharia, and those who take his position who say that the Caliphate is permitted rather than mandatory if the Ummah undertakes all their obligations on their own [e.g. like implementing the hudud] without the need for an Imam to enforce them. The Companions agreed to make Abu Bakr the Caliph after the disagreement which took place between the Muhajirin and the Ansar. If it had been a definite obligation that the ruler had to be from Quraysh, there would have been no point in the argument and debate which took place. When Abu Bakr died, he delegated the task of being khalif to ‘Umar and no one said that it was not mandatory. Its obligatory nature indicates that it is one of the pillars of the deen which support the Muslims. Praise be to Allah, the Lord of the worlds’.

Imam Qurtubi, Al-Jami’ li Ahkam al-Qur’an, volume 1

[73] Dr Jonathan Brown, A world-wide Caliphate?, 17th March 2016



Categories: ARTICLES, ISLAM, Response to Secular Reformation & Modernism, Revival Thought (Al Nahda), WRITINGS

7 replies

  1. Mufti Abu Layth, or as I call him, MUFTI ABU SECULARISM

  2. Excellent article, however, please do not concede to that most cunning of ideological attacks and frauds foisted on Muslims and the world by US hegemonist propaganda into believing that Daesh/ISIL/ISIS is a manifestation, a blowback of US foreign policy in the Middle East or a native Islamic movement. In a world where semantics are used to justify Western genocidal intervention, Daesh must be called out for what they are. It is not the result of US policy but IS US foreign policy in the Middle East (designed to provide the US with a new Bogeyman and a reason for military intervention as well as to create a repugnancy amongst Muslims for a true Caliphate with the adoption of graphic brutality as a modus operandi).

    • yes, Awan’s is a good reply

    • please send me this article of Mr.Ewan namely Imam Ghazali’s Movement for the unification of the Ummah & Caliphate: A reply to Mufti Abu Layth and Secularists. It will be your great kindness

  3. Wonderful article Allah Bless you sir

  4. a very comprehensive article regarding Al-Ghazzali’s Concept of Caliphate as well as a good response

Trackbacks

  1. Imam Ghazali’s Movement for the Unification of the Ummah & Caliphate – A reply to ‘Mufti Abu Layth’ and secularists | Caliphate Online

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: