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The eternal allure of the Caliphate

5 July 2014

There’s nothing like a caliphate to rally disparate groups. The Sunni Islamic organisation ISIS has recruited fighters from all over the world with its dream of a single Muslim state, which now apparently exists in parts of Iraq and Syria. Across Europe, young men are packing their bags and heading to the east to join the jihadis. It’s an odd thing to want to do, but there’s something about a caliphate. In India in the 1920s, thousands of Muslims rallied behind the idea of a caliphate to support the Ottoman Caliphate. It was surprising because the Muslim population in India had never shown unity or indeed any fondness for Turkey. In fact many of them had fought against the Turks.

A large proportion are not racial Mohamedans, but the descendants of forcible converts from Hinduism, who have no inherited sympathies with the Ottoman Turks. Besides the great religious division of Sunnis and Shiahs, there are numerous sects, frequently hostile to each other. Sunnis are quite as ready to attack Shiahs as to oppose the British Government.…It might have been imagined that the Indian Musulmans, composed of such promiscuous elements, could never unite for any political purpose. Three conditions have, however, helped to bring about the present deplorable situation—the gross ignorance of the mass of Moslems on all that relates to the question of the Caliphate and British relations with Turkey ; (2) the fanaticism to which all Islam is prone ; and (3) the violent agitation, with Hindu instigation, which has latterly taken the fullest advantage of (1) and (2). The Khilafat movement, as it now stands, is recent, artificial and political, although drawing its strength from religious sentiment.

Hindu temples were sacked, houses were burned, and many Hindus were murdered. Mahatma Gandhi had a lot to answer for, according to an article from 1921:

The scholastics philosophers of the middle ages who delighted to split hairs and to discuss such questions as that of the number of angels who could stand on the point of a needle might have distinguished between the speeches of Mr. Gandhi and open incitements to revolution and anarchy. For all practical purposes, there is no such distinction.

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Soon afterwards, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk brought in reforms in Turkey and in 1924 did away with the role of Caliph. After all that trouble, from Britain’s point of view, it was a bit late:

Now that the Kemalists have decided that the Caliphate has no temporal power and that the office is solely spiritual, what are we to say of the amazing agitation in India about the importance of the Caliphate? This agitation caused unceasing anxiety and inconvenience. When Turkey came into the War on the side of Germany we were told that if we attacked the Turks we should be accused in India of attacking the Caliphate! Similarly, when we enlisted the Arabs on our side we were warned that this would be interpreted in India as an attack upon the Caliphate. Now the whole doctrine of the Caliphate has been blown sky high by the Kemalists, who were supposed to be its ardent devotees. It would all be vastly amusing if it did not also contain the seeds of new difficulties in the management of the Moslem population of the British Empire.

In Turkey, it took an exceptional statesman to resist the lure of a caliphate and transform the country into a modern democracy. In Iraq, the government is weak and corrupt, and they’re up against one of history’s most effective propaganda tools.

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Show comments
  • Zorro

    A peaceful Caliphate? A dream or an illusion? But this one exists for 100 years already… See for yourself:

    The Caliph’s role in the modern secular world and in action:

  • First L

    I support the founding of an Islamic Caliphate.

    It puts all the really really nasty Islamists in one place and gives us a target for the nukes.

  • jesseventura2

    And why is there such huge demand for western girlie magazines in muslim countries?

    • Fergus Pickering

      Because muslim men are degenerate beasts.

  • Amir
  • justejudexultionis

    The decline of Christianity in our country, and the absence of any dominant ideology to replace it, has left us vulnerable to Islamic incursions in the west. The Muslims, whose nihilistic cult remains more powerful and opposed to freedom than ever, sense our weakness and are exploiting it, aided by well-meaning but ultimately stupid and traitorous moral relativists. Only by rediscovering our Christian belief can we begin to oppose this pernicious religion with its message of hatred and oppression.


    • Damaris Tighe

      The decline of confident christianity has left a vacuum & islam is stepping into it.

      • Bonkim

        Are Catholics Christian? Mary worship is Pagan.

        • Damaris Tighe

          The official line is that Catholics don’t worship Mary, they revere her.

          • Bonkim

            Fertility symbol from pagan times all the same.

      • AndrewMelville

        I think most sensible people would rather have their limbs torn off by wild dogs rather than submit to foul Roman practices. Our country was largely founded by decent folks rebelling against Rome.

        No thanks.

    • Fasdunkle

      Religion isn’t the answer. Rational discourse and less protection for irrational beliefs is the answer

  • Newcombe

    Pakistan (both East and West) were created for Muslims of India (who, for all intents and purposes were themselves decendents of their Hindu forefathers – a fact they’d rather die than admit) who didn’t want to live in a Hindu majority country. They thought their fate would be the same as the fate of Hindus who suffered all sorts of ignomy, subjugation, harassments, dhimmitude, forced conversions etc. under the minority Islamic rule.

    It turned out that while Pakistan became virtually 100% Islamic state by getting rid of its non-Muslim population (conversions galore), India retained a vast Muslim population that has turned into the second largest Muslim population in the world (and still growing). Many Pakistanis are still harbouring the desire to reconquer India and establish an Islamic rule (Chaliphate) over the whole of the subcontinent with conquest of Kashmir as a first step.

    When I look at Paksitan, I can’t help but see our own fate in not too distant future.

    • justejudexultionis

      Pakistan has already come to Rochdale, Bradford, Southall etc. God help us.

    • Damaris Tighe

      With a complete religious vacuum in our post-Christian society I think it is highly likely that there will be many conversions to Islam as the only religion on offer, or at least, the only religion that seems to be alive. Religions offer boundaries; western culture has become degenerate & can offer nothing of real value to our young.

  • Newcombe

    The allure of the Calliphate is partly down to our own romantic view of Arabs and Islam. Our scholars and educators have forever presented us a view of Islamic faith, culture and society that is far removed from reality.

    The truth of supression, subjugation, cruelty, forced conversions, eithnic cleaning and Sharia should be brought to the fore therby making the notion of an Islamic state far more realistic – an ugly one.

  • andagain

    There’s nothing like a caliphate to rally disparate groups

    Maybe, but what right does this lunatic have to call himself Caliph? On the face of it, you could call yourself Pope and have as good a claim. Or Holy Roman Emperor.

  • Augustus

    Islam is indeed, as Churchill noted over a century ago, capable of “raising fearless warriors at every step” Now the ‘allure’ of this particular caliphate has come full circle and “the civilization of modern Europe might (indeed) fall, as fell the civilization of ancient Rome.” The way we are going, the West itself will eventually be lost, and no longer capable of being “sheltered in the strong arms of (Christian) science.” And the road to Islamic submission will be paved with the dead and wounded.

  • Liz

    It’s all rather bracing. This should help solve the obesity epidemic.

  • jack

    Let them have their own little cesspit.

    • rightrightright


  • rtj1211

    I have to say that the words of the song ‘Jerusalem’, if taken strictly literally in the manner that Jihadis interpret the Koran, would be seen by many as rather like a call to set up a ‘caliphate’ in England……..

    You understand that I don’t interpret anything too literally……

    • justejudexultionis

      Jerusalem is a terrible hymn, as if Jesus Christ had come from Dorset and condoned every imperialist act undertaken by the English. However, western hegemony is still infinitely preferable to vile domination by Islam.

      • Fergus Pickering

        I think you are misreading it. But I think English imperialism was, by and large, a GOOD thing.

        • AndrewMelville

          I am familiar with British imperialism, indeed a very good thing. But what is this odd notion called Inglish Imperialism of which you speak?

          • Fergus Pickering

            English, British. What’s the difference?

            • AndrewMelville

              One is a great imperial exercise, the other is the mud on Scotland’s boots.

  • BoiledCabbage

    Those fighting for ISIS need to be tagged with an isotope or some other device so that they glow when attempting to re-enter Britain.

  • Gareth

    The caliph has a divine right to rule. That is what islam was invented for – to keep the caliph in power.

  • Mark

    Political Islam has always given its followers a strong sense of identity and purpose. The problem now is that the West, and England in particular, has ceased to promote or pass on any sort of identity to *its* young people, those born here or those who settle here, let alone to insist that they should take pride in or defend the ideas on which their society is built. No wonder many young Muslims in Britain are going one way rather than the other. A force, any force, beats a vacuum. This is a war of ideas, a cultural war. One side’s fighting, the other’s become so comfortable and complacent it’s forgotten why it has to fight. Previous generations shrugged off Islamic extremism; we’re letting it destroy us.

    • In2minds

      ” Previous generations shrugged off Islamic extremism……”

      Minor amendment, previous governments shrugged off this extremism, we now legislate for it, as if to help it.

    • Bonkim

      Previous generations did not shrug off Islamic extremism – racial, cultural and religious/sectarian extremism were the norm – it is only after WW2/1960s and 70s that Western society concentrated on global wealth creation and growth; extremism of any sort was seen as not profitable.

      Troublesome tribal and ethnic fractions were placated by aid and NGO help to bring them in line with western values or if too troublesome punished summarily for their own good.

      Those that did not have anything to lose did not subscribe to that and modern technology and communications helped the more enterprising to turn to sophisticated forms of terrorism to destroy.

      Ultimately human beings always fight for their ideals and prepared to pay the ultimate price. You and I may not agree with the ideals of say the Taliban or ISIS ut they are there and in numbers – prepared to pay the ultimate price. Gone are the days when you could send expeditionary force to quell the latest Mahdi that swore to destroy the West. The Caliphs and Mahdis of today have sophisticated technology and communication systems at their command and are able to raise their invisible armies at many places all at the same time. We need to be smarter to destroy such an enemy – the question is how.

      • Mark

        Previous generations were not as hysterical and paranoid about Islamic extremism. They saw it for what it was, fought it when necessary, but understood their ideas were better.

        Today, we have Nicky Campbell talking to a young British jihadist, seemingly unable to comprehend why he would travel to become a warrior in that cause rather than staying here, playing football and listening to music like other young people. If it’s a battle between Islamism and the traditions of Western liberty, I know which side is superior. But if it’s framed as a battle between Islamism and our popular culture and recreational activities, I’m not so sure.

        You’re right – we need to be smarter. I’ve heard it suggested we translate John Locke and Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill into Arabic and make them freely available worldwide. Let’s create some mischief and add Mary Wollstonecraft too. As a long-term strategy, it sure beats the one we don’t have now.

        • Bonkim

          Your last para was how western ideas spread across the globe – only now as you say we waste time on trivia and leisure pursuits – football and waffle on TV – and have lost the edge on ideas and ideals – where the bigots score.

          • Fergus Pickering

            Waste time? That’s what life is for.

            • Bonkim

              Yes affluence and self-content breeds sloth and downfall of civilisation – today’s Italians are a comical shadow of the mighty Romans.

              • Fergus Pickering

                Plainly you know little of the Romans. Have you read your Gibbon?

                • Bonkim

                  You may well be right Fergus – may be I know Italians and their foodie-behaviour too much.

                  I also know the Roman Empire was undermined by the early Christian Fifth Column. Now see Gibbon and what he says about how Romans became soft and easy going and became Italians depending on their Mammas and Pappas for sustenance..

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Gibbon is quite clear that it was Christianity that was to blame.

                • Bonkim

                  Yes zapped the will to fight by too much leisure and pleasure. They got soft, relied too much on mercenaries and servants, invasion of more vigorous tribes followed – the winner was the Roman Church which replaced Imperial Rome but kept many old symbols of power.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Well, the Church. The Church in Constantinople was not Roman now was it?

                • Bonkim

                  Islamic cultures have been noted for many eminent philosophers, literary figures physicians, musicians, artists/sculptors/ craftsmen/architects and benefactors to mankind – military domination and encouragement to talented people went hand in hand. Such things are not restricted by religion but common to all civilizations.

                  Greeks are not all that different in their cultural attitudes to others in today’s Middle-East – and today’s Greece certainly is not that of Plato and Aristotle but EU scroungers and corrupt civil servants.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Islam has not contributed anything for a thousand years, or is lie to do in another thousand. The religion is ossified and disgusting.

                • Bonkim

                  You clearly have a mental-block and have very little knowledge or understanding of world history.

                  Don’t care much about Islam as a religion but people from Islamic countries have contributed much to mathematics, astronomy and navigation, medicine, art and literature – also they were the keepers of ancient learning following the downfall of the Roman Empire and start of Europe’s Dark Ages – and as merchants and traders brought together knowledge and merchandise (the silk route to China and trading routes to India and South East Asia) from across the the then known world.

                  You will have to open your eyes not hung up on Islam as a religion you don’t like and concentrate on human achievements across the Globe through the Ages.

                  On a similar vein European renaissance and development from 1700 onward borrowed much from the Islamic lands of the times, and only progressed when it cast off the blind cloak of bigoted Christianity and ventured out – people started questioning the blind teachings of the Church, started learning and became adventurous and quest for new learning and reasoning did the rest.

                  I would not say Europe advanced over the past 300 years because of Christianity but for the liberated human spirit – and so religion – any religion – has nothing to contribute to human endeavour – it holds them back – you might well say correctly bigoted Islam today has handicapped once civilized people of Central Asia and the Middle-East same as the Roman Church held back Europe in the dark and Middle-Ages.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  “Europe was until then was living in a deep hole with all learning directed by the holy Church and its monasteries which controlled every aspect of human life – loved keeping the common man illiterate and ignorant least he challenges the authority of the Pope.”

                  You have no idea what is was like because you were not there. If you think monasteries “controlled every aspect of human life” you are even more ignorant about history than your comments suggest. Start with Anglo-Saxon England and learn something.

                • Bonkim

                  What about the Anglo-Saxons – germanic tribes that first were employed as mercenaries under the Romans and then stayed back and expanded by further immigration – yes they were more warlike than the native Britons – not sure what you are trying to say with respect to spread of technology, and science during Europe’s dark and Middle Ages. I am sure the Saxons brought agricultural and technical skills to Britain, as also the language – which in time evolved into English even before the Norman Conquest. Most were illiterate and kept under the thumb by religious and political classes that owned land and employed local serfs to do the donkey-work.

                  – not just in Britain – but that was the norm in most human societies of the times when a few held sway over the rest.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Hmm, I see. In fact you know nothing about Anglo-Saxon society.

        • RobertC

          “Let’s create some mischief …”

          Punishable by having your neck struck – by sharp instrument, I expect.

        • sarahsmith232

          Locke and Mill’s rights are products of a violent society with scant regard for the welfare of it’s populace. Rights are what gets left behind after violent outrageous leave the majority disgusted and determined it must never occur again.
          Martyrs are a must, ideally child ones, in a societies journey towards democracy. Pakistan couldn’t have got themselves a better one in the girl Mallala, the majority would be left disgusted and determined to act to ensure that a girl has the right to an education. We would have skipped a few decades in just a few hours during The Peterloo Massacre.
          The Islamic world has to go through all this on their own. Create their own martyrs, come out the other end with their own, unique, self-generated set of rights. Otherwise their rights will carry zero legitimacy, so of zero use. So i’m afraid our ones are going to be no good to them.

          • Luke101

            —– Don’t hold your breath waiting for muslims to start valuing liberty and freedom of conscience.

            • Bonkim

              But that is their human rights and they have freedom to practise all that and more. ISIS would be the new era for Muslims – all can emigrate there and live happily thereafter.

        • Damaris Tighe

          Nicky Campbell cannot comprehend the young jihadist because he has been brought up in a hedonist society where boundaries have become so loose that they’re almost at disappearing point. Contrast with the muslims who have strong boundaries – the only problem is they’re in the wrong places.

      • Fergus Pickering

        Kill them, I would suggest. We can do that. Or rather the Americans can..

        • Bonkim

          Why do you want the US to do your dirty work?

          • Fergus Pickering

            Because, dear heart, they have the hardware and we don’t.

            • Bonkim

              ISIS and other extremists are small in numbers and generally disorganised – they are prepared to take more risk and accept casualty – highly motivated – small cells – that is their strength – not hardware.

              As seen in the recent Iraq invasion, ISIS managed to overrun vast tracts by lightning action, fast movement and taking hardware from the sitting duck-poorly motivated Iraqi Army. People who are motivated by a cause – right or wrong have the upper hand.

              • Moderator

                The problem with blitzkrieg is that rapid invaision needs to follow with rapid surrender. The Nazi’s did wonderfully until they failed to take Moscow. ISIS’s failure to take Baghdad will have the same result. One does wonder how far an ISIS type assault would make in Europe…I fear further than most would expect.

                • Bonkim

                  You are assuming ISIS leadership has brains or think long term. The problem with relying on Allah is that you assume he will clear the way. ISIS will be bombed out sooner than later and does not have the organisational capacity or negotiating/diplomatic skills needed to set up a longer term state in today’s world.

      • Colonel Mustard

        There is too much historical nonsense in this to even begin to deconstruct it.

        • Bonkim

          It is human behaviour rather than history. Don’t try to de-construct without doing some research intohistory.

          • Colonel Mustard

            What you write is not history but pap.

    • Damaris Tighe

      Western culture has become extremely corrupt & nihilistic. Islam offers boundaries. No wonder it has become attractive as Christianity seems to have given up offering a strong alternative belief-system.

  • Bonkim

    So what is new? This is just an opportunistic short note any school pupil could have written.

    • black11hawk

      I don’t know a lot of people don’t know about the concept of a Caliphate. The BBC had to describe it when they had on the news and on the BBC website.

      • Bonkim

        Yes, we are too numbed by the media surrounding us to understand even recent history – so leave alone the Middle Ages and Caliphs – even European and British history – something most have vague notions of.

        • black11hawk

          Mmmm, but it’s only really in the last twenty years that Islamism has become a serious force in world politics. Obviously you had figures like Said Qutb and so on around since the first half of the last century, but in terms of the general population knowing about what these things are, that is far more recent. I bet if you went back to the nineties most people in Britain would have struggled to tell you the meaning of the word, hijab or burqa or mosque. Mainly because they were not common sights. Now the Muslim population is larger and has become more religious so Brits are more likely to be knowledgeable of those terms, but let’s be honest how many young and middle-aged people nowadays have actually read the Bible, let alone the Quran?

          • Bonkim

            Islam has been a force in world politics for centuries – in the dark and Middle-Ages Islam was the world power dominating much of the then known world. Its demise during late 1800s and early 1900s – they were still a major player in WW1 in the Ottoman Empire (Lawrence of Arabia), etc.

            The main point is affluence and relative peace/certainty during the 1960s – 90s have numbed most into their comfort zones – assuming all will tick along and they can enjoy their Costa and Macs forever. Need to wake up.

            • Damaris Tighe

              Nevertheless, muslim travellers to Europe in the middle ages reported with astonishment on the freedom of European women.

              • Bonkim

                May be main reason European women went into Purdah in later centuries – look at how prudish Victorians were. Don’t however forget that upper class British women did not have any independence – they could be betrothed at 7 and marry at 9, and had no property rights or independent legal status (unless widowed) until the 20th century – their existence in Victorian England no different say from their counterparts in India or the Middle-East.

                • Damaris Tighe

                  married at 9?

                • Bonkim

                  at puberty – 9 may be too young but there were instances. Typically-

                  “In the Medieval Times, with parental permission it was legal for boys to marry at 14 and girls at 12.
                  A betrothal often took place when the prospective bride and groom were as young as 7 years old and in the case of higher nobility many were betrothed as babies. But a marriage was only legal once the marriage had been consummated.
                  (According to the book Marriage in Medieval Times By Rachelle Carter)

                  Until perhaps the 1200s it was common to marry earlier than now. For example, age 12 (and even younger) was quite common for girls. Nowadays, it would be assumed that they should be at high school or college at that age.

                  For girls in particular the age of marriage was much closer than now to the onset of fertility. In the 1600s the minimum legal age for marriage in England was 12. Parliament raised the minimum age for marriage (and the age of consent) to 16 in 1885

                  [b]In the Semitic tradition,[/b] betrothal could take place earlier than PUBERTY, perhaps as early as 7-9 years, but the marriage was not supposed to be consummated until the girl menstruated and was of age. This is analogous to what is obtainable in most part of Africa

                  [b]In medieval Europe[/b], Gratian, the influential founder of Canon law in the twelfth century, accepted the traditional age of puberty for marriage (between 12 and 14) but he also said consent was “meaningful” if the children were older than seven. Some authorities said consent could take place earlier. It was this policy which was carried over into English common law. Similarly Gratian’s ideas about age became part of European civil law.

                  Though Shakespeare set his Romeo and Juliet in Verona, the fact that Juliet was 13 probably reflects the reality in England. Her mother, who was 26 calls her almost an old maid.

                  The American colonies followed the English. For example in Virginia in 1689, Mary Hathaway was only 9 when she was married to William Williams.
                  Judges honored marriages based on mutual consent at age younger than 7, and there are recorded marriages of 2 and 3 year olds. The 17th-century lawyer Henry Swinburne distinguished between the marriages of those under seven and those between seven and puberty. He wrote that those under seven who had said their vows had to ratify it afterwards by giving kisses and embraces, by lying together, by exchanging gifts or tokens, or by calling each other husband or wife. A contemporary, Philip Stubbes, wrote that in sixteenth-century East Anglia, infants still in swaddling clothes were married. The most influential legal text of the seventeenth century in England, that of Sir Edward Coke, made it clear that the marriage of girls under 12 was normal, and the age at which a girl who was a wife was eligible for a dower from her husband’s estate was 9 even though her husband be only 4 years old.

                  In England for example in the parish of Middlesex County, Virginia, there is a record of 14-year-old Sarah Halfhide marrying 21-year-old Richard Perrot. Of the 98 girls on the 10-year register, three probably married at age 8, one at 12, one at 13, and two at 14.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Younger than she are wives and mothers made.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  What a danger to objective history you represent. I hope you don’t teach this stuff.

                • Bonkim

                  History is a narrative and analysis of human behaviour linking causes and effects.- and has no particular objective – if you try injecting an objective you start fiddling events, and their causes and effects to knit together a picture you want others to see,

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Clearly you don’t even understand the meaning of objectivity.

                • Bonkim

                  Dear mustard eating Colonel – very little intellectual content in your self-opinionated rejection of comments by others without giving any meaningful new angles or analysis on this tired theme. Did you say you ran away shouting from Crimea? Don’t waste any more of your time.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Another one following the script. And for a brief moment I thought you might be independent.

                • Fergus Pickering

                  Oh I think it was considerably different.

                • Bonkim

                  Your reasoning skills are infantile!

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Rubbish. Perhaps you can explain the hereditary property rights of Lady Nicola de la Haye and how she came to hold Lincoln on her granddaughter’s behalf. She was not the only example either. Clearly you have never read any of the works of Christine de Pizan which might give you a better appreciation for the role of women in mediaeval European society than your crude and inaccurate simplification.

                • Bonkim

                  Pass – I am not an expert on US/English Law – and did not realize Christine de Pizan is the ultimate authority on women in recent history.

                • Colonel Mustard

                  She isn’t but your ignorance of her demonstrates your broader ignorance of mediaeval history. She was an influential 14th century writer on politics, society and war.

                  Lady Nicola de la Haye was a hereditary property owner and chatelaine in the 13th century! Not uniquely so either.

  • Laguna Beach Fogey

    Across Europe, young men are packing their bags and heading to the east to join the jihadis.

    I should think that all those Muslims gathering in a single territory would present a handy target.

    • AtMyDeskToday

      Yes, what are drones for if not for this.

    • JB_1966

      Deus vult. Amen.

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