Interview by Hanaa Qandil
One of Al-Azhar’s senior officials ridiculed allegations that the establishment of the Muslim Caliphate is the ultimate goal Muslims should achieve at any cost. In an interview with The Reference, Dr. Abbas Shouman, Deputy of Al-Azhar, explained that the alleged Muslim Caliphate was not one of the tenets of Islam. Al-Azhar’s deputy criticized the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS and other militant groups for cynically touting for such an outrageous idea only to manipulate young people and urge them to use force to establish the alleged Muslim Caliphate and restore the glory of Islam.
Q- How do you comment on allegations that the Muslim Caliphate is one of the basics of Islam?
- Since the fall in 1924 of the Muslim Caliphate at the hands of Mostafa Kamal Ataturk, some people have been attempting to revive such an idea only to divide Muslims and instigate seditions in their communities. The Muslim Caliphate is seeking to bring all Muslims across the world under the totalitarian authority of [the Ottoman Sultan], who appoints viceroys in different countries.
Big cultural, social and economic changes in Arab and Muslim societies make it too difficult to revive [the Muslim Caliphate].
There are some people, who are riding the Muslim caliphate only to legitimise the use of force and violence. In fact, the Muslim Caliphate is not one of the basics of the Islam. Nor are Muslims obliged to seek this system of government. The government, which is efficient to realise justice and equality among the people, will be the best alternative to the alleged Caliphate.
Q- Does this mean that Muslims are not obliged to revive the first Muslim caliphate [established under Prophet Mohamed]; and that the legitimate system of government is that, which observes the Muslim Sharia and its objectives?
- This is absolutely right. For understandable reasons, early Muslims rallied support to the caliphate at that time. However, it will not be wrong if Muslims decided to vote a different system of government as long as the new system honours and observes the Muslim Sharia. Systems of government should change and develop, otherwise they would be fossilized and fall apart. Everybody should understand the fact that the future will bring forth different systems of government. The new systems will be acceptable as long as they are based on the principles of the Muslim Sharia.
Q- Is there any religious evidence that the caliphate is no more than a political system?
- The Qur’an and Sunna have irrefutable evidences that Caliphate is not by any means the sole system of government in the Muslim world. Before his death, Prophet Mohamed (peace be upon him) had delivered Allah’s message to Muslims and His blessings. However, Prophet Mohamed did not appoint a successor. Nor did the prophet advise the Muslims how to select his successor. Also, differences between Prophet Mohamed’s Companions over his successor were so big that a great sedition had almost broken out between Al-Muhajereen and Al-Ansaw. Peace was achieved only when both sides voted Abu-Bakr al-Sedik as the Muslim caliph after the death of Prophet Mohamed.
Q- How were Abu-Bakr’s successors selected?”
- Voting Abu-Bakr vote should be compared to general elections. However, he appointed his successor Omar Bin al-Khatab; and a referendum was organized to pick one (Osman Ibn Affan) of seven candidates to succeed Ibn al-Khatab. A referendum also brought Ali Ibn Taleb at the helm of the Muslim caliphate at that time. Nonetheless, during the two eras of Ummayad and Abbassiyad, the caliphate was a kind of inheritance.
Q- How would the Muslim Sharia end this fuss?
- According to Islam, the system of the government is not limited to the caliphate. The Muslim Sharia encompasses all systems of government in different times or places on condition that the people appreciate the new system. Therefore, devilish and cynical voices should stop using the idea of a Muslim Caliphate to revolt against stable regimes, and terrorise and shed the blood of the innocent people. Those, who are seeking these crimes, are fighting Allah and the Prophet. They should receive the severest punishment in this life and in afterlife.