Is Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the President of Turkey, on a mission to revive the Caliphate? Turkey was the last seat of the Caliphate before the fall of the Ottoman Empire after the First World in 1922. Since, the Islamic world has been divided on the relevance of a Caliphate or command center for the Islamic world. The recent effort by ISIS was defeated after the death of its leader Abu Bakr al Baghdadi in a US air raid in northern Syria.
President Erdogan is certainly offering his leadership to the Islamic world. He is backed by Imran Khan of Pakistan but the other Islamic powers would have none of him. Pan Islamism is an ideology that contradicts the internal laws within a nation-state. This is a sore point that the Islamic world will have to come to terms with.
French President Emanuel Macron has made it clear that his country does not have a blasphemy law to curtail freedom of expression and made it abundantly clear that France would defend its citizens’ right to freedom of speech and that murder could not be justified.
While the Islamic world reacts to the perceived threat to their rights and freedoms as Muslims, commentators are observing that such reactions are confined to the western democracies. In the Islamic states of the Middle East-Qatar, Bahrain, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, UAE – Muslims have no freedom to agitate against perceived breaches of human rights. However, the Islamic Uma or brotherhood remains silent on these suppression of human rights in the Arab world but are united in their efforts to encourage Muslims to demand freedoms to practice their faith and to have Sharia laws in their adopted homeland.
For example, the Muslim leaders are up in arm against the government of India giving all citizens the right to purchase and own lands and properties in Kashmir. The Muslim leaders are arguing that Kashmir is the only Muslim majority state and by the government inviting other citizens to purchase lands in the territory, the demography would change. However, Muslims can go in other parts of India and settle, operate businesses, build mosques and madrasas and even advocate the right to practice sharia and separate civil codes! This is similar to Islamic countries across the world where non-Muslims are denied the right to serve as senior officials in the government but demand equality in western democracies.
Nothing is mentioned of the killing and expulsion of the Kashmir Pandits community who are now refugees in India. Nothing is allowed to be said about the systematic conversion of Hindus through violence over the centuries and the demolition of Hindu places of worship. The Islamists and the socialists are silent on the discrimination against poor Hindus in Kashmir who are denied state benefits because they are members of the majority population.
The success of the Muslim world is judged by the rate of growth of the global Muslim population and hence its boast as the “fastest-growing religion of the world.” Per capita income, health care, minimum wage, inflation, and human rights are never used as indices to measure progress.
In Trinidad and Tobago, the Indian Muslims are a progressive lot. They are active in businesses, agriculture, and education. Their family life is exemplary and their integration within the wider community is well placed. Today the Muslim population is a mere 6% of the national population and the question must be asked: What is the future of Islam in T&T when the Muslim population reaches 10%?
While I fully support global identities-racial, religious, professional, etc- such affiliations should not be above the laws of the nation-state. Muslims should continue to have a global Uma but such an association should not give the Muslim world the right to undermine the laws of the nation-state whether in France, Trinidad and Tobago, or the United Kingdom.
The glorious days of the Ottoman Empire is long gone and the Islamic Uma should be wary of the posturing of President Erdogan of Turkey and his sidekick, Prime Minister Imran Khan of Pakistan. It is now clear that Imran Khan has failed his people and is exploiting the passion of the Muslim world for his own agenda.
Edward Said and other thinkers have argued that the fundamental grievance of the Islamic world is that it has failed to match the growth and expansion of the West. When the West was undergoing its scientific revolution and enlightenment, the Ottomans remained aloof and saw nothing worthy of emulating.
The revival of China and India, two energy-starved countries, are a slap on the face of the Islamic world. How has the oil wealth of the last four decades helped to develop the Islamic world? Apart from building a few mosques in the non-Arab world, the Islamic countries of the Middle East have kept their wealth to themselves. The ongoing refugee crisis resulted in the European democracies opening their doors to refugees, not the Middle East. However, the Islamic countries of the Middle East are actively reminding their Islamic brothers of their duties as Muslims and their separate identities.