Hizb-ut-Tahrir, how realistic is it?

Islamist organisation Hizb ut-Tahrir has held a major international conference in Indonesia. But what are its views and why do some people view it with suspicion?

Hizb-ut-Tahrir‘s call for return to the Caliphate is unrealistic. The Catholics, for example, have a single leader. But the Pope is the head of the Catholics and not all the Christians. He has no authority over the Protestants. Another point the Catholic Church is coexisting with secular values, especially in Europe. The Catholic Church has a stance on moral issues, not political ones. It is taken for granted that religion is a personal matter and has little to do with politics. Political leaders are elected on the basis of their political programs and not religion. In France, for example, in the government of Sarkozy, there are Jews, Christians and Muslims, at least of origins like Rachida Dati, the Justice Minister.

For Hizb-ut-Tahrir, a caliph, understandably, should reign and rule. This caliph would be a super Imam ruling over more than 1.3 billion Muslims. This will be unprecedented in Muslim history since even for the last Turkish caliph, his direct rule didn’t extend beyond the Middle East and parts of Europe. Morocco, which is in North Africa, was never ruled by any Turk caliphs or has been part of any of the caliphates, except for the first years of the arrivals of the Arabs to convert its inhabitants who were animists, Jews or Christians .The previous caliphs had power just in name as in the absence of modern communication, the state of their realm wasn’t reported to them on daily basis. For the suggested Imam by Hizb-ut-Tahrir , he will be a kind of big brother using modern media to give orders just at the click of his PC, if he happened to know how to use it in the first place.

In practice a super Imam is impossible. If he happened to exist, understandably, Mecca should be his capital since it is the holiest place for the Muslims. This means the Saudi royal family should relinquish power and become under his authority. There was an attempt by late Ayatollah Khomeini, the leader of the Iranian revolution who suggested that Mecca and Medina should be under the custody of the whole Muslim world through a council. In response, Saudi King Fahd assumes the title of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques. Ayatollah Khomeini’s suggestion looks mild in contrast to the radical call by Hizb-ut-Tahrir for a Caliphate.

The current history and geography of the Muslim world won’t allow such a theory. Muslims have their notions of Islam based on the right to choose. Under this supposed Caliph, those who want to be in authority should be confirmed by him. It will be similar to what is taking place in Iran when candidates for the presidency or whatever high office should be confirmed by the Guardian Council. So Muslims wanting to be in power under his leadership should wait for confirmation from Mecca.

As this group is radical – although it pretends to be moderate, it will be bad news for non-Muslims living in country where Muslims are a majority like Egypt. Non-Muslims will be forced to abandon their religion. So the prospect is that we will have the current troubles in Iraq and Darfur repeated all over the Muslim world. It will be daily news to hear of at least the segregation of non-Muslims forced to live in a ghetto or to leave as it was the case with Jews who used to live in ghetto in many Muslim countries.

As a conclusion Hizb-ut-Tahrir is likely to be opposed by the current rulers in the Muslim world as well as by the populations seeking freedom to practice their religion as they see it fit and not by a religious oligarchy seeking to impose a dogmatic view of Islam. If it is possible for them to convert Shiaas and Sunnis to one type of Islam, then they can have a chance, at least to spread their views. Muslims need unity. There is nothing wrong with this. They don’t need to be under the grip of a super caliph running a Muslim empire who sees himself as the representative of God on Earth and should not be disobeyed on any account. Anyone thinking otherwise will be accused of heresy and deserves death by stoning or beheading. FULL STOP.


  1. Anonymous said,

    August 17, 2007 at 4:11 am

    This article contains a lot of false assumptions about how a caliph is chosen, how wilayahs (provinces) are administered, and more importantly neglects to even delve into whether a caliph is something intrinsic to Islam itself i.e. does it have any sanction from Islamic texts?

    Suggest at least looking over the wikipedia definition on “caliphate” and possibly some good blogs such as this one:


  2. Anonymous said,

    August 17, 2007 at 4:43 am

    You say:

    “it will be bad news for non-Muslims living in country where Muslims are a majority like Egypt. Non-Muslims will be forced to abandon their religion.”

    This is completely incorrect. In history this has never happened under the rule of the Caliphate.

  3. Shareef said,

    August 17, 2007 at 4:50 am

    “It will be daily news to hear of at least the segregation of non-Muslims forced to live in a ghetto or to leave as it was the case with Jews who used to live in ghetto in many Muslim countries.”

    The concept of ghetto is a European concept. Please get your facts straight. As an example, before the establishment if Israel half (yes 50%) of Baghdad was Jewish. In fact when Islam spread to Iraq they did not occupy Baghdad as colonialists have done. They built cities like Basra where the Muslims lived and where they did not have to impose themselves on the Non-musllims. In other words they built ghettos for themselves.

  4. Abdelilah Boukili said,

    August 17, 2007 at 4:57 am

    I agree that there is a big ideal behind a caliphate. But in reality, it is difficult to establish Islamic law when the caliph and his entourage become an oligarchy refusing to relinquish power. Look at Iran, nobody can challenge the clergy there. Even asking for reforms by the reformists can lead to imprisonment.

    It may be true that Muslims and non-Muslims lived side by side. But non-Muslims had to pay kharaj to the the Muslims or to convert.

    The danger is when extremists hold power in the caliphate, they will not accept any compromise with those seeking an open Islam.

    What is needed in the first place is that Muslims should establish good governance in their own countries before they seek the establishment of the Umma. Even the notion of caliphate is still debatable as there are questions about the type of Islam that should be adopted.

  5. Abdelilah Boukili said,

    August 17, 2007 at 5:04 am

    To Shareef,
    You talk about the past. Today there is increasing suspicions between Muslims and Jews because of the events from the middle of the 20th century.

    How can you explain that in Saudi Arabia, there are no Jews. Do you think they will be accepted if they want to return to the places where their ancestors lived?

    It’s good to take history as an example and for inspiration. In today’s world, there are many conceptions about religions and those who follow it.

    What is needed is that all people should learn to live side by side and should be left to decide which way of life fits them best.

  6. Anonymous said,

    August 17, 2007 at 5:19 am

    The Greatest Jewish philosopher/scholar of the last 500 years?



    a Safardic Jewish scholar, and apparently he lived in Muslim Spain in his youth. And, of course, he later became Salahuddin (rh)’s physician, as well as a prominent Jewish scholar, who wrote most of his famous works, surprisingly, in Arabic. He also authored the Oath of Maimonides, which medical practitioners today still swear by when entering the profession.

    his famous sayings:

    said that Christianity is idolatry, but Islam is not, so if a Jew had a choice between death and converting to Christianity, he should choose death, but if the choices were death and Islam, he should choose Islam, since it is a monotheistic religion.

    Did this happen under the Catholic inquisition from Spain or the system of Islam?

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