When the violent jihadist group Isis declared a Caliphate taking in parts of Syria and Iraq, they reignited a debate over the role of an Islamic stateby Catrin Nye , Athar Ahmad / September 5, 2014 / Leave a comment
“I’m never going to say I hate Britain—I love my country—but at the same time, I’d like to have something that represents me, internally, spiritually, to be there as well.” says Joy Ahmed, 27, as he drives us through Lewisham in South London in his white Audi Quattro.
Joy, a Sunni Muslim, was born in Westminster, and currently works as a mortgage adviser in a well- known bank in London. And he also supports the idea of an Islamic Caliphate–the thing that Isis (now renamed Islamic State or IS) is currently murderously pursuing in Iraq and Syria. Isis say they have established a caliphate, but their claim to it is much disputed.
“As Muslims we are under the microscope,” he explains. “Day by day there’s been an alienation of Muslims in the UK over issues like the hijab, halal meat, Muslim men being made out to be radicalised.” Joy thinks that a “Khilafah” (Caliphate in Arabic) would provide the answer—somewhere for Muslims to call their own. A land not just to live in but to provide protection to Muslims worldwide. Although Joy was shocked at the brutality of the murders of American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, it wasn’t enough to entirely write off Isis.
Isis have created a conflict for Joy—he dreams of a Caliphate, an ideal Islamic state in which to live. The concept holds huge significance in Islamic history and theology and yet Isis’s execution of it is terrifying most of the world. Joy is not alone. Most British Muslims we spoke to accept at least the concept of a caliphate and some desire its re-establishment. For non-Muslims in Britain that can be hard to understand.
For most who dream of a Caliphate, it’s certainly not the bloody vision imposed by Isis. The wider theory is a place to live that would be governed by Sharia law (the Islamic legal system derived from both the Koran and the example of the life of the prophet Muhammad). Speaking to current and former members of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT)—a global Islamic organisation dedicated to restoring the Caliphate—it is very much viewed as an ideal state. For them, the Khilafah is a place where, above all, poverty is erased because wealth is shared. Justice, however, would be harsh—punishments like the chopping of hands for theft apply, which would appall most in Britain.