The British historian Arnold Toynbee described the Muqaddimah, Ibn Khaldun’s prolegomena to his history of the world, as
“undoubtedly the greatest work of its kind that has ever yet been created by any mind in any time or place”. And Mark Zuckerberg picked his work as one of his book club choices. The 14th-century Islamic scholar outlines in his study what he describes as the “real meaning” of the Caliphate: “It substitutes for the Lawgiver ﷺ* (Muhammad) in as much as it serves, like him, to preserve the religion and to exercise (political) leadership … (The institution) is called ‘the Caliphate’ or ‘the Imamate.’ The person in charge of it is called ‘the Caliph’ or ‘the Imam.’ ”
Ibn Khaldun states that there is consensus that the Caliphate is obligatory, and that the only ones who disagreed were the few sects which deviated from orthodoxy:
“Some people have taken the exceptional position of stating that the position of Imam is not necessary at all, neither according to the intellect nor according to the religious law. People who have held that opinion include the Mu‘tazilah al-Asamm and certain Kharijites, among others.” (Franz Rosenthal’s translation, chapter 3, section 24)
In more recent times, the Syrian historian and former Carnegie scholar Sami Moubayed writes about the need for an alternative to the so-called Caliphate of ISIS. He insists that “all pious Muslims well-read in the Hadith (the compiled sayings of the Prophet*) firmly believe in the need to establish an Islamic State headed by a Muslim Caliph”. This is “mentioned twice in the Holy Quran and it’s central to the Islamic faith” (‘What an alternative Islamic State looks like’, Daily Telegraph, 23 September, 2015)
Since the above-mentioned article was published, ISIS has been roundly defeated in Iraq and Syria and now operates underground. However, the need for Sunni Muslims to have a unifying leader, a modern Caliph, remains.
The Caliphate Foundation seeks to promote Orthodox Muslim views regarding Islamic governance and systems of life and engage with those who oppose the normative views of Islam. Whatever your opinions on the Caliphate are, your contributions to the discussion are most welcome.
(*ﷺ – Peace and blessings of Allah be upon him)