August 5, 2011

hizb-ut-tahrir-web-logo

“HuT is a global political party,” writes Ayesha Umar in a Newsline report on the Islamic group Hizb ut-Tahrir. The party wants to “establish an ‘Islamic’ way of life in Muslim countries and to unify them under a caliphate.”

And it has big designs on Pakistan. In fact, as part of its message it frequently points to Pakistan as an example of how democracy doesn’t work in Islamic countries. In an article posted on hizb.org.uk, the party explains what it sees as the failings of democracy:

“Whilst the West has a history of developing checks and balances, fundamental problems exist in every secular democracy, advanced, emerging, large, small, western or eastern. They all show the same thing: they serve the elite and not the public; their politicians are largely corrupt; wealth remains confined to a tiny minority; and long-term challenges are consistently ducked – this is the reality of democracy.”

But there is a difference between HuT and other Islamic groups in Pakistan that call for an Islamic caliphate: HuT professes non-violence. Its leaders seem to have chosen the pen over the sword. Their slick website and video messages preach that Islamic societies need a system of government that is based on the Quran and Sunnah, not ‘western’ constitutions.

But their PR machine involves more than their clever use of the web. They seem to have their supporters busy getting the word out. Since June, Newsline has received numerous letters and article submissions from people talking about the need for governance by an Islamic caliph rather than via democracy.

Hizb ut-Tahrir calls itself “The Liberation Party” in English, and that is exactly what it claims to promise: liberation from corrupt governance, liberation from Western dominance, liberation from poverty.

The letters we have been receiving echo the same message. One suggested that far from being a threat to the world, a caliphate would be a source of progress and prosperity. It would fill a leadership vacuum in the Muslim world and provide stability, and that would be good for world peace. Moreover, this new leadership would be so intellectually invigorating, claimed the writer, that the caliphate would rise and the US would lose its standing as the world’s sole superpower. How this would happen was unclear.

Between June 3 and June 26, one woman sent Newsline four distinct letters promoting the idea of the revival of an Islamic caliphate as the solution to Pakistan’s problems.

Another man wrote us five times during the same time period. Incidentally the first and last emails of both the man and the woman letter writers occurred on exactly the same dates. On the surface, it looked like a coordinated effort. We received other letters and articles on the merits of the caliphate system during the months of June and July also.

One was a mini-dissertation on the failures of democracy, implying democracy was an illusion. The author starts with the advent of democracy in Athens and covers a lot of historical ground making references to Galileo, Saddam Hussein’s presidential elections, elections in Kenya and the rise of Hitler; he goes on to quote John Adams and Winston Churchill, while talking about the philosophies of everyone from Plato and Aristotle to Thomas Jefferson and John Stuart Mill. Thinking that this in-depth treatise was very well constructed, as it was peppered with erudite references, and perhaps a bit too slick for an IT student from Peshawar whose initial letters to the magazine were riddled with grammatical errors, chat-room spellings and incomprehensible statements, I decided to Google a sentence from it. The search lead to me to a website where I found the original article. The website? Hizb ut-Tahrir’s official website in Britain, of course. The article was filed as a report under its “Solutions” section.

But the solutions are unclear. There are mostly criticisms. And no talk of freedom.

Below are excerpts from some of the other letters:

Defeating the Global Food Crisis

The global food crisis is a hot topic of discussion these days. The constant increase in food prices is alarming everybody. According to a report from the World Bank in February 2011, the rise in food prices have pushed approximately 44 million people into poverty in developing countries since June 2010. The World Bank food price index jumped 15% between October 2010 and January 2011…

According to the World Bank hunger clock, 939 Million people are malnourished…

Capitalism and democracy have badly failed to solve these problems. It seems that eventually, the global food shortage will catch up with everybody. The only way to beat this crisis is by implementing Islamic Shariah laws through an Islamic Caliphate state…it is not allowed for a citizen of an Islamic state to leave a piece of land in his possession useless for more than three years. Either he must construct a house, which he may use personally or rent out, or alternatively he can cultivate crops on it. The increased supply of crops reduces price…

Mahwish Hassaan
Lahore

“What type of Islam do you want to implement?”

This is the argument of the secular and liberal elite of Pakistan when Islamic systems of economics, governance, social justice, law, foreign policy and education are presented as solutions to rid Pakistan of its many crises. Actually, they fail to realise that Islam is a complete way of life… Islam gives us a mechanism to solve differences in opinion. In democracy, the majority opinion is binding when there is difference of opinion on certain issues. In an Islamic state, the ijtihad adopted by the caliph is binding; that was the reason the opinion of the first caliph Abu Bakr was adopted against those who were not giving charity although there was a difference of opinion on this issue. The argument “what type of Islam do you want to implement” is quite weak, and it is obvious that the solution to the problems of Pakistan is the formation of the caliphate system, not democracy and capitalism.

Aamir Zeb
Peshawar

The Reawakening of the Abolished Caliphate

It was in 1919 that Muslims of India, under the leadership of Ali brothers, rose to rescue the caretaker of the Muslim ummah: the Ottoman caliphate. The caliphate was already vulnerable, weakened by colonialists and at the verge of destruction…

The Khilafat movement was weakened from within because of violent incidents committed by Congress…This affected the pace of the Khilafat movement and disappointed Maulana Mohammad Ali Johar. The final blow was made to that Khilafat movement when Mustafa Kemal Ataturk announced the abolishment of the caliphate on March 3, 1924. The abolishment of the caliphate at that time put an end to the Khilafat movement in the subcontinent.

In the absence of Caliphate, there were extensive changes that were brought easily to the Muslims lands, such as the establishment of Israel, the killing of Muslims and occupation…

Now when the Muslim ummah is suffering badly with foreign occupation and foreign interventions, and there is no political authority to sincerely back their case in the world, the global call for the caliphate has been reawakened with full passion. The awareness of Islamic laws as viable solutions in practical life is spreading massively. Additionally the political regimes in the Muslim world have failed Muslims whether it has been through democracy, dictatorship or monarchy. People are now fed up with these political manipulations to benefit the western neo-colonialists. Simply changing the faces in these political systems is now unacceptable. The Arab uprisings are an example of people demanding Islam as a system of life. The call of the re-establishment of the caliphate has awakened in the Muslim world, including Pakistan.

S.M. Waqas Imam
Karachi

Pakistan Needs a New Alternative

Imran Khan, chairman of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf, is idealised by the youth of the nation these days. We see youngsters are becoming fanatic about Imran Khan. The majority of youth believe that Imran Khan will change the future of Pakistan. Some claim that he is the last hope for our country. When asked “Why?” they say, “Imran Khan is not corrupt,” “Imran Khan founded Shaukat Khanum,” and “Imran Khan will bring justice…”

The youth are inspired by his claims of providing justice and equality to everyone.

But the question that remains unanswered is this: how will Imran Khan bring justice? What is his agenda? Under which system will Imran Khan rule? If it’s democracy, then will the industrialists ruling over parliament ever allow him to take any steps that benefit the masses at the expense of their personal benefits?…Definitely not! The problem is that in the current system, law-making resides in the hands of a few people who make laws merely for their personal gains. This system allows corruption. Imran Khan can’t do any good in the current system even if he wants to…Pakistan now needs a new alternative. The only alternative available to us is the Islamic caliphate system based on the Quran and Sunnah because the current democratic system is merely a failure.

Mahwish Hassaan
Lahore