Demystifying the caliphate: historical memory and contemporary contexts. Al- Rasheed, Madawi and Kersten, Carool and Shterin, Marat, eds. Demystifying the Caliphate. Madawi al-Rasheed, Carool Kersten and Marat Shterin (eds.) London, Hurst and Company, Pp. x + , bibliography, index. Demystifying the Caliphate sheds light on both the historical debates following the demise of the last Ottoman Caliphate and controversies.

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Skip to main content. Log In Sign Up. Professor Madawi Al-Rasheed Co-convened by: Participation numbered 18 people from 10 countries spanning North America, Europe and Asia.

Regular coffee and lunch breaks, as well as three demysyifying to ca,iphate out in the evenings, encouraged a friendly atmosphere in which participants benefitted from the opportunity demystufying network and develop ideas with academics from a range of disciplines, outlooks and parts of the world. The variety of demystiyfing represented at the workshop, including those of insider activists, encouraged stimulating exchanges, while participants hhe mindful to retain neither an apologist nor an alarmist approach to a topic that has provoked heated and polarised debate throughout the world.

Professor Madawi Al-Rasheed, introducing the workshop, explained that the concept has crossed borders and boundaries and today triggers fervent opinions from all quarters, despite its lack of any clear definition among discussants. The workshop objectives were eight-fold.

First, to identify the historical conditions of late modernity, including new forms of media and the role of mass education and literacy, that have helped to fan pro-caliphate ideologies across the globe.

Second, to identify competing claims to and visions of the caliphate among contemporary Muslims. Third, to identify the sociological conditions that highlight the caliphate among contemporary Muslims. Fourth, to explore the differences in the political projects of those who call for the revival of the caliphate.

Fifth, to highlight the role of European diaspora Muslims in these discourses. Seventh, to explore the roots and content of calls for the re- establishment of the caliphate — are they mere fantasies or outbursts of despair, or are they motivated by sincere intentions to mobilise? Caliohate conclusions were drawn at the workshop.

In particular, the presentations illuminated the wide range of views that contemporary Muslims hold about the revival of the caliphate, debunking the myth that this is a universal ideal for all Muslims.

Some see the caliphate as a glorious political institution that must be resurrected; others merely hold a nostalgic view of the caliphate as an historical institution, associating it with an imagined community and former glory. Finally, there are still more Muslims with ambiguous positions, particularly those who aspire to the caliphate yet do not actively or openly mobilise in pursuit of this goal.

The workshop also highlighted the fact that the vocabulary, content and support of both historical and contemporary calls for the resurrection of the caliphate are extremely varied and highly context-driven. The aspirations of pro-caliphate thinkers and movements range from strongly authoritarian conceptions of the institution to those that merely stress sovereignty and the need for a figurehead.

The strategy for the re-establishment of the caliphate, the concentration on some grievances over others and whether such rhetoric has any resonance at all can also be heavily tied to local circumstances. Disillusionment as a result of political, economic and social grievances in particular was highlighted, as well as the importance of mass media in publicising discourses on the caliphate.


Scientific content of the event The abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate, though welcomed in some quarters, provoked lingering sentiments of lost glory, righteousness and esteem among many Muslims that have been channelled in different ways up to the present day.

Indeed, this emotional sense of loss has been so powerful that it has often formed the root of Islamist identities, said Dr Mona Hassan, who analysed the divergent approaches of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizb al-Tahrir, and al-Qaeda to this issue.

Reza Pankhurst also gave several prominent examples of the different ways in which Muslim thinkers have idealised the caliphate over the last years. While Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, prioritised reform of the individual as a pre-condition for establishing the caliphate, Hizb al-Tahrir aimed to mobilise immediately, reasoning that grassroots reformation could not occur under an un-Islamic system. There was some discussion on whether such aspirations are realistic or represent mere utopian visions.

This prompted another to respond that such visions represent detailed political projects that cannot be easily dismissed. This provoked heated debate, and another participant called for broader comparative perspectives with other movements, such as millenarianism, albeit with caution.

Demystifying the caliphate: historical memory and contemporary contexts

Meanwhile, another participant said that, while the realism and specifics of political projects differ, all Muslims aspire to the caliphate because at its core are the ideals of political unity and a fair distribution of wealth.

In response, one participant pointed out that empirical evidence suggests otherwise. Dr Nuri Tinaz, who conducted a survey of Faculty of Divinity students at two major universities in Turkey between October 11 and 22,concluded that the caliphate is not currently on the agenda of Muslims in Turkey, who are more interested in interpreting Islam for a democratic context.

The majority said that the ideal government is a parliamentary democracy. Moreover, Wahhabis who follow the tradition of Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab have seldom called for the revival of the caliphate, according to Professor Madawi Al- Rasheed. More preoccupied by purity than unity, Wahhabis have charged the Ottoman Caliphate with encouraging blasphemy and borrowing Western legal concepts, among other offences, and this thinking has permeated the writings of even some jihadi-Wahhabis, such as Nasir al-Fahd.

Such conflicts between the idea of pan-Islamic unity and nationalist concerns were also apparent during the first few decades of the 20th century in British India. Similarly, the three intellectuals differed on whether the caliphate should be seen as an abstract theological notion or an historical institution in the succession of Muhammad.

Similar tensions are also apparent elsewhere. Several presentations highlighted the importance of historical and political context in shaping the content, vocabulary and resonance of calls for the revival of the caliphate across different parts of the world over the past century.

Professor Muhammad Qasim Zaman explained how early discourses surrounding the establishment of Pakistan were influenced, in part, by ideas relating to the caliphate at a time when establishing new structures of religio-political authority, legal reform and social justice were high on the agenda. In Iraq, recent sectarian conflict has led the Shia community, who declared loyalty to the Ottoman Caliph in though this was primarily a matter of political expediencetemporarily to surrender the concept of the caliphate to the Sunnis.

According to Dr Loulouwa Al-Rachid, Iraqi Shias currently associate the concept with oppression from their sectarian rivals.

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Demystifying the Caliphate | Hurst Publishers

In Indonesia, the rush of pan-Islamist sentiment fuelled by the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate seemed to diminish in the late s and 30s as it became absorbed into the nationalist agendas of Indonesian Muslims more preoccupied by the fate of their own country than with Turkey or the Hejaz. Later, the prominent Indonesian Muslim intellectual Nurcholish Madjid demonstrated another way of combining a pro-caliphate ideology with secularisation.

Dr Carool Demystkfying explained how Madjid, having distinguished between this-worldly and other- worldly aspects of Islam, reinterpreted the caliphate as an abstraction reflecting the vicegerency of humankind on earth. Other presentations focused on the sociological conditions that highlight the caliphate among contemporary Muslims in Indonesia, Central Asia and the Northern Caucasus. They also discovered that as Russian, regional and ethnic identities lose their significance in the globalised age, these youth have been drawn to alternative sources of authority.

There was some discussion about the ways in which Hizb al-Tahrir and similar movements have engaged with modernity by emphasising and empowering the individual, thereby gaining recruits. One participant said that Salafis, for example, are known for their cross- cultural marriages. In contrast to more traditional Islamic trends, Salafism allows its adherents to marry without the approval of parents or guardians.

The presentations on Hizb al-Tahrir also emphasised the role of mass media in the late modern age in publicising their ideology. Dr Nef-Saluz explained how mobile phones and other technology have created new opportunities for like-minded people to share ideas across time and space.

Dr Karagiannis pointed out that, despite being banned, Hizb al-Tahrir in Central Asia is particularly adept at resource mobilisation, making effective use of informal networks of friends and families, as well as mosques, membership fees and donations. Focusing on four recent Arab television dramas of the past 20 years, Prof Skovgaard-Petersen showed how, in countries where the rhetoric of both authoritarian rulers faliphate Islamists is powerful, television dramas have both criticised caliphaet mythologised the caliphate, depicting the might of the state, the corruption of power and the piety of the individual caliph.

Assessment of the results, contribution to the future direction of the field, outcome Several new research objectives were identified as a result of the workshop: As a follow-up to the workshop, the convenors have secured a contract with Hurst in partnership with Columbia University Press to publish the papers as an edited volume.

In addition, it was suggested that a survey of Islamic political theory on the caliphate might be worth undertaking in the volume or elsewhere. Failing that, some sort of research network would be welcome. Contemporary Controversies in Asia Demystifykng Carool Kersten KCL The Caliphate and European Muslims Chair: Marat Shterin KCL Insights into the phenomenon of a radical sectarian movement among Turkish working migrants, Ursula Gunther Final list of participants Convenor: Statistical information on participants Countries of origin: Female 8 Male 10 Participation by age: Remember me on this computer.

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