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IslamQA: Do Muslims believe in establishing a caliphate?

Salaam. Many ulema in Indonesia agreed that the Caliphate is one of Muslim obligation to be established, while I've read your essay that you do not agree on the re-establishment of the Caliphate. Your essay mentions only for the Western, that it do not need a Caliphate. Does your thoughts and opinion also applied to every country and place on Earth, that we do not need a re-establishment of Caliphate?

Also, why are there people who think that Muslims need a Caliphate and that it's re-establishment is obligated upon every Muslim? I noticed that not a single ayat in the Quran says that Allah made the Caliphate an obligation. Also, when Prophet Muhammad's time was near, he did not emphasize his speech to call upon the people to keep running the Caliphate. If Allah and Prophet Muhammad did not befall this responsibility to Muslim ummah, why are there some who eager for it?

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

My opinion applies to the whole world. There is no strong evidence that it is required for Muslims to establish a caliphate. I expect the reason why some people like the idea is that it seems to give them a purpose in life that they can work toward–it gives them a seemingly achievable goal, and a sense of power, while also freeing them from the requirement of reforming their own hearts.

Islam’s view of reform is bottom-up (or “grassroots”). Change begins with the individual, and the best example is the Prophet who never sought political power but only reformed the individuals around him. But Islamists (those who like to turn Islam into a political ideology/movement) turn things upside down. They have a “top-down” understanding of change. They think that if they can gain power they can make the world such a better place for everyone. This utopian/fairy tale idea of creating a perfect state was imported from Western political ideologies and has no basis in Islam. Islam does not teach us to gain power to do to good. It teaches us to do good right now and leave it to God to give us power, when He wants, for as long as He wants.

Unlike Zionist Jews, we do not have a “Greater Israel” to establish. Islam does not promise us some wonderful future on earth where every problem will be solved. Islam teaches us that power is given and taken by God as He likes. Even if we establish the perfect caliphate and it rules the world for the next 500 years, it too will be destroyed like every caliphate/Islamic state before that. History goes in cycles and our goal is to be the best humans we can be regardless of how powerful or powerless we are.

Note that I am not against political activism as I discuss in the essay.

Salaam. I agree that Moslem should have the "bottom-up" mindset. And I interested to your opinion about we (Moslem), should not to re-establish caliphate in anywhere. Then, I have a question. What should we do as a Moslem, to get unity? And in hadith, Rasulullah said that Moslem could conquer the Rome. How we could to get there if caliphate isn't re-establish? I just curious with ur opinion, cause I still looking the best way to living Islam. Jazakumullah khairan katsira

Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullah,

Unity is like all the other good things that Islam teaches us, such as fearing God. We can never attain perfect unity or perfect fear of God. But we can strive to accomplish as much of it as possible. Even if the Muslim world achieves perfect unity for 10 or 50 years, this will end and things will go back to the way they have always been. There isn’t some state of perfection that we can achieve permanently. Islam is all about the journey, the destination is not this world but the afterlife. In this world, whatever we accomplish will sooner or later come to an end. Nothing in this world is lasting except the record of our deeds.

Islam does not teach us to always work to get rich in order to give our money in charity. It teaches us that God grants wealth to whomever He wants and tells us to give our money in charity if we ever have enough to give away. In the same way, Islam does not teach us to always work to gain power (as Islamist ideologues think) in order to do good with our power when we have it. It teaches us that all power belongs to God and that He gives it to whomever He wants, and teaches us to use power responsibly if we are given it.

Note that “Rome”, when mentioned in hadith, actually means Byzantium (present-day Turkey), which was conquered by the Ottomans.

And God knows best.
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