The Islamic State: A Mirage

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A. G. Noorani*

The Fall and Rise of the Islamic State by Noah Feldman; Princeton University Press; 189 pages; $ 22.95, Islam and the Secular state: Negotiating the Future of Sharia by Abdullahi Ahmed An-Naim; Harvard University Press; 324 pages; $ 35.


(Four features mark the quest for an Islamic State. First, it has no sanction in the Quran or the Hadith. Secondly, it never existed in history. The Caliph, a Muslim, might proclaim Islam a State religion reducing the minorities to a second class status as citizens; not always though. Non-Muslims have occupied high positions in States governed by Muslim rulers. Thirdly it is incapable of realisation if it is conceived as a State for the entire Muslim umma or community. The nation State has come to stay. A uniform model is inconceivable. Lastly, the concept is totalitarian. It robs the people of their right to rule and vests it in an un-elected clergy, the ulema or the faqih. They decide what is Islamic and what is not. Author).

In the modern discourse on political Islam, the mirage of an Islamic State figures as prominently as the perverted notion of jihad; with one difference though. Jihad, properly understood, is rooted in the faith of Islam. There is no religious sanction whatever for an Islamic State. It is a twentieth century political construct as is the gross perversion of the jihad. The two became intertwined and jihad, devoid of religious sanction, came to be advocated in order to establish an Islamic State.

Four features mark the quest for an Islamic State. First, it has no sanction in the Quran or the Hadith. Secondly, it never existed in history. The Caliph, a Muslim, might proclaim Islam a State religion reducing the minorities to a second class status as citizens; not always though. Non-Muslims have occupied high positions in States governed by Muslim rulers. Thirdly it is incapable of realisation if it is conceived as a State for the entire Muslim umma or community. The nation State has come to stay. A uniform model is inconceivable. Lastly, the concept is totalitarian. It robs the people of their right to rule and vests it in an un-elected clergy, the ulema or the faqih. They decide what is Islamic and what is not.

Exclude the self-serving works of the ulema and a remarkable unanimity of opinion on these four features emerges in the writings of erudite scholars, Muslim and non-Muslim, who are known for their empathy for Islam and Muslims. Their writings are quoted in extenso because their works are not easily to be found.

Foremost among them is Prof. Olivier Roy, a world authority on Islam and Politics. He writes: “The entire history of the Muslim world shows that power was, in fact, secular and never sanctified. And it is the re-Islamization in the twentieth century that has called into question the balance between politics and religion, by means of a re-reading of Islam (Islamism, neo-fundamentalism) that obviously presents itself as a return to the sources but is in reality an ideological inflection of religion. When they insist on the need to return to the time of the Prophet, Islamists and neo-fundamentalists alike are the first to say that no political formation in the Muslim world ever corresponded to a true Islamic state. The question of the state is, indeed, a very modern question. … Suffice it to say that its definition, by Abul Ala Maududi, Khomeini, or the Muslim Brotherhood, is not drawn from sharia or the political traditions of the Muslim world but represents, in fact, an Islamic reading of modern political concepts (state, revolution, ideology, society), hence precisely a reflection on the autonomy and prevalence of the political sphere, using ideology as a mediating concept: the Islamic state is not only a state that recognizes sharia as state law but one that makes religion a state ideology. In a state of that kind, like Islamic Iran, religion does not define the place of politics but the converse. … The ascendancy of ideology is nothing but the return of politics, the affirmation of the supremacy of the political over traditional religious law. But the effect of an Islamic regime of this kind is always its opposite: accelerated secularization with, for Iran, a decline in religious observance and, for Afghanistan after the defeat of the Taliban, a de-politicization of Islam.…

“What then remains in power is no longer a religion but a political- clerical apparatus that uses the moral order to conserve its position of power. In that case, the return of religious feeling takes place beyond politics, outside official religion, indeed outside orthodox Shiite Islam: the return of Sufism, syncretism, interest in Christianity, not to mention, of course, atheism. The politicization of religion ended up by separating religion from politics.”(Olivier Roy, Secularism Confronts Islam, Colombia University Press, 2007, pp.62-64).

In the entire history of Muslim rule barring the first four Khulafa- e-Rashideen (the Rightly Guided Caliphs) – though even here there is doubt because Abu Bakr nominated Umar – hereditary succession to the rulership has been the norm. The great Ibn Khaldun not only disapproved of it but exposed the non-religious character of the office of ruler. “Islam does not consider preservation of (the ruler’s) inheritance for his children the proper purpose of appointing a successor. Succession to the rule is something that comes from God who distinguishes by it whomsoever He wishes. In appointing a successor, it is necessary to be as well-intentioned as possible. Otherwise, there is danger that one may trifle with religious institutions.

“Some wrongly assume the imamate to be one of the pillars of the faith. It is one of the general (public) interests. The people are delegated to take care of it. If it were one of the pillars of the faith, it would be something like prayer, and Muhammad would have appointed a representative, exactly as he appointed Abu Bakr to represent him at prayer. (Had he done so), it would have become generally known as was the case with prayer. That the men around Muhammad considered the caliphate as something analogous to prayer and on the strength of that attitude argued in favour of Abu Bakr’s caliphate, is merely another proof of the fact that no appointment of an heir had taken place. It also shows that the question of the imamate and succession to it was not as important then as it is today.” (Ibn Khaldum, “The Muqaddimah,” An Introduction to History, Princeton University Press, 1969, p.169.)

The idea of an Islamic State emerged after the Grand National Assembly of Turkey abolished the Caliphate in 1924 – leaving India’s Khifatists high and dry. The Caliphate was regarded as impossible of resuscitation not only by Turkey’s secularists but also by the ulema of al-Azhar University in Cairo. Thinkers like Munawwar Rashid Rida (d. 1935) proceeded to develop the idea of an Islamic State. In an excellent work on Modern Islamic Thought, Prof. Hamid Enayat of the Tehran University recorded how Turkey came to abolish the institution. More relevant still are the reasons given by Mustapha Kemal for this step. “The abolition of the Caliphate took place in two stages. First, in November 1922, the Grand National Assembly decided to separate the Sultanate from the Caliphate, and then to replace the Sultanate with a republican regime. This was inevitable in view of the Constitution accepted by the Assembly in January 1921, which had declared that ‘sovereignty belongs unconditionally to the people. The administration derives from the principle that the people control their destiny in person and in fact.’ The Sultanate being a hereditary institution had no place in this system. Thereupon, Sultan Vahideddin was deposed, and his cousin, Abdulmecid, was elected by the Assembly as the Caliph of all Muslims. This was an even more anomalous situation, which could not be tolerated for long. It was a return to the days of the Buyids and the Saljuqs, when a shadowy Caliphate existed in Baghdad, but the real power lay in the hands of potentates in Rayy and Isfahan. The new Ottoman Caliph was similarly shorn of all real authority or concern in the political and administrative affairs of the country; he was invested with the mantle of the Prophet, just as his ancestors had been, but he was deprived of the power of the sword. At this stage, Mustapha Kemal was still trying to meet his Muslim critics on their own ground, substantiating his retort to them by examples from Islamic history. Soon the contradictions inherent in the new arrangement started to rankle in his mind. Not the least of these was the fact the Caliph was supposed to be entitled to the obedience of Muslims throughout the world, but in practice only enjoyed the allegiance of the Turks.”

Mustafa Kemal’s speech deserves to be quoted in extenso: “Our Prophet has instructed his disciples to convert the nations of the world to Islam; he has not ordered them to provide for the government of these nations. Never did such an idea pass through his mind. Caliphate means government and administration. A Caliph who really wants to play his role, to govern and administer all Muslim nations (finds himself at a loss) how to manage this. I must confess that in these conditions, if they appointed me as the Caliph, I would immediately have resigned.

“But let us return to history, and consider the facts. The Arabs founded a Caliphate in Baghdad, but they also established another one in Cordova. Neither the Persians, nor the Afghans, nor the Muslims of Africa ever recognized the Caliph of Constantinople. The notion of a single Caliph, exercising supreme religious authority over all the Muslim people, is one which has come out of books, not reality. The Caliph has never exercised over the Muslims a power similar to that held by the Pope over the Catholics. Our religion has neither the same requirements, nor the same discipline as Christianity. The criticisms provoked by our recent reform (separating the Caliphate from the Sultanate) are inspired by an abstract, unreal idea: the idea of Pan-Islamic. Such an idea has never been translated into reality. We have held the Caliphate in high esteem according to an ancient and venerable tradition. We honour the Caliph; we attend to his needs, and those of his family. I add that in the whole of the Muslim world, the Turks are the only nation which effectively ensures the Caliph’s livelihood. Those who advocate a universal Caliph have so far refused to make any contribution. What, then, do they expect? That the Turks alone should carry the burden of this institution, and that they alone should respect the sovereign authority of the Caliph? This would be expecting too much (of us).”

Protests from Indian Muslims, particularly riled him and he went on to abolish the Caliphate altogether (Macmillan, 1982; pp. 53-4).

The idea of an Islamic State was hazy in the beginning but it was imparted clarity in the subsequent polemics. It acquired new life with the establishment of Pakistan in 1947 and the adoption of the Objectives Resolution by its Constituent Assembly in 1949. That set afoot a chain of Constitutional amendments with results that are there for all to see. Advocates of an Islamic State demanded more and yet more. Liberalism suffered one blow after another. Fifty years later the results were well summed up by a Constitutional lawyer Hamid Khan in his remarkable work Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan. “Once the State establishes a religion it leads to confrontation between various sects.” (Hamid Khan, Constitutional and Political History of Pakistan, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2001, p.89. The book has appeared in a second edition in 2009).

In 1954, not long after the Objectives Resolution, came a very timely warning in the famous Munir Report. Much of what it said proved prophetic. The Report won deserved praise. Less attention was given to the skilful questioning of the ulema of that time. Used to captive audiences, they now faced two judges M. Munir and M. R. Kayani who grilled them with conspicuous courtesy that left the witnesses no excuse for objecting to the grilling. The hollowness of the ulema’s claims and their spurious assertions were pitilessly laid bare. (Report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act 11 of 1954 to enquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953, Superintendent, Government Printing, Punjab; Lahore; 1954).

The Report asked: “What is then the Islamic State of which everybody talks but nobody thinks? Before we seek to discover an answer to this question, we must have a clear conception of the scope and function of the State.

“The ulama were divided in their opinions when they were asked to cite some precedent of an Islamic State in Muslim history. Thus, though Hafiz Kifayat Hussain, the Shia divine, held out as his ideal the form of Government during the Holy Prophet’s time, Maulana Daud Ghaznavi also included in his precedent the days of the Islamic Republic, of Umar bin Abdul Aziz, Salah-ud-Din Ayyubi of Damascus, Sultan Mahmud of Ghazni, Muhammad Tughlaq and Aurangzeb and the present regime in Saudi Arabia. Most of them, however, relied on the form of Government during the Islamic Republic from 632 to 661 A.D., a period of less than thirty years, though some of them also added the very short period of

Umar bin Abdul Aziz. Maulana Abdul Haamid Badayuni stated that the details of the ideal State would be worked out by the ulama…

“Throughout the three thousand years over which political thought extends, and such thought in its early stages cannot be separated from religion, two questions have invariably presented themselves for consideration: (1) What are the precise functions of the State ? and (2) Who shall control the State?…

“If Pakistan is or is intended to be converted into an Islamic State in the true sense of the word, its Constitution must contain the following five provisions: (1) that all laws to be found in the Quran or the sunna shall be deemed to be a part of the law of the land for Muslims and shall be enforced accordingly; (2) that unless the Constitution itself is framed by ijma’-i-ummat namely, by the agreement of the ulama and mujtahids of acknowledged status, any provision in the Constitution which is repugnant to the Quran or sunna shall to the extent of the repugnancy be void; (3) that unless the existing laws of Pakistan are adapted by ijma’-i-ummat of the kind mentioned above, any provision in the existing law which is contrary to the Quran or sunna shall to the extent of the repugnancy by void; (4) that any provision in any future law which is repugnant to Quran or sunna shall be void; (5) that no rule of International Law and no provision in any convention or treaty to which Pakistan is a party, which is contrary to the Quran or the sunna shall be binding on any Muslim in Pakistan….

“That the form of Government in Pakistan, if that form is to comply with the principles of Islam, will not be democratic is conceded by the ulama. We have already explained the doctrine of sovereignty of the Quran and the sunna. … An Islamic State, however, cannot in this sense be sovereign, because it will not be competent to abrogate, repeal or do away with any law in the Quran or the sunna. Absolute restriction on the legislative power of a State is a restriction on the sovereignty of the people of that State and if the origin of this restriction lies elsewhere than in the will of the people, then to the extent of that restriction the sovereignty of the State and its people is necessarily taken away.

… Indeed if the legislature in an Islamic State is a sort of ijma, the ummat in Islamic jurisprudence is restricted to ulama and mujtahids of acknowledged status and does not at all extend, as in democracy, to the populace. …

“Legislature in its present sense is unknown to the Islamic system. The religion-political system which is called din-i-Islam is a complete system which contains in itself the mechanism for discovering and applying law to any situation that may arise. During the Islamic Republic there was no legislature in its modern sense and for every situation or emergency that arose law could be discovered and applied by the ulama. The law had been made and was not to be made, the only function of those entrusted with the administration of law being to discover the law for the purpose of the particular case, though when enunciated and applied it formed a precedent for others to follow. It is wholly incorrect, as has been suggested from certain quarters, that in a country like Pakistan, which consists of different communities, Muslim and non-Muslim, and where representation is allowed to non-Muslims with a right to vote on every subject that comes up, the legislature is a form of ijma’ or ijtihad, the reason being that ijtihad is not collective but only individual, and though ijma’ is collective, there is no place in it for those who are not experts in the knowledge of the law. This principle at once rules out the infidels (kuffar) whether they be people of Scriptures (ahl-i-kitab) or idolators (mushrikeen). …

“Keeping in view the several definitions given by the ulama, need we make any comment except that no two learned divines are agreed on this fundamental.; if we attempt our own definition as each learned divine has done and that definition differs from that given by all others, we unanimously go out of the fold of Islam. And if we adopt the definition given by any one of the ulama, we remain Muslims according to the view of that alim but kafirs according to the definition of everyone else.”

When Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi was asked:-

“Q. If we have this form of Islamic Government in Pakistan, will you permit Hindus to base their Constitution on the basis of their own religion?” he replied “Certainly. I should have no objection even if the Muslims of India are treated in that form of Government as shudras and malishes and Manu’s laws are applied to them, depriving them of all share in the Government and the rights of citizen. In fact such a state of affairs already exists in India.”

The Report remarked: “The ideology advocated before us, if adopted by Indian Muslims, will completely disqualify them for public offices in the State, not only in India but in other countries also which are under a non-Muslim Government. Muslims will become perpetual suspects everywhere and will not be enrolled in the army because according to this ideology, in case of war between a Muslim country and a non-Muslim country, Muslim soldiers of the non-Muslim country must either side with the Muslim country or surrender their posts.”

Such was the quality of exposition by one who is hailed as an intellectual giant. In a brilliant analysis of his writings Dr. Seyyed Vali Raza Nasr noted Maududi’s “disdain” for democracy. Nor was he above trimming his ideas to suit the changing exigencies of his politics. “Mawdudi’s concern for the collective left little place for the individual. The citizenry was bound by the legal code of the state, enjoined to obey the executive, and, as devout Muslims, invoked to follow the din. In defining the citizen, insofar as he did. Mawdudi was influenced not only by Islamic sources, but also by the polyglot society of India. His political consciousness and religious thinking were molded during an era of increasing communal strife following the collapse of the Khilafat movement. From his revivalist exordium, Al-Jihad fil-Islam, to his desperate attempts to salvage the rule of the nizam in the predominantly Hindu Hyderabad, to his support of the anti-Ahmadi agitations in Pakistan in 1953 and 1954, Mawdudi’s religious and political notions were shaped by the idea of the threat from outside, which in theory was the West, but in practice was Hindus, Sikhs, Ahmadis, and a host of parochial others who influenced his thinking and intensified the pace of his debate with Western thought. Mawdudi’s Islamic state, although an ideal, was intended for India and only later for Pakistan. At first, therefore, it had to confront cultural pluralism, communalism, and minorities.

“Generally, Mawdudi divided the Islamic state into four groups: male Muslims, female Muslims, zimmis (“protected  subjects,” followers of a religion recognized by Islam), and non-Muslims, a residual category for those who did not fit the other three, for example, the Ahmadis. In practice, Mawdudi only accepted those who fit into the first two categories as citizens of the Islamic state, with men enjoying full citizenship rights and women only partial rights. Any Muslim anywhere, irrespective of his or her country of origin, would be entitled to citizenship.

“Muslim men in turn were further divided into subcategories: those who followed the din and those who were only nominally Muslim. In a different gradation, there were Hanafi Sunnis, to which most Muslims of the subcontinent belonged, whom Mawdudi distinguished from followers of other schools of law, as well as from the Shi’’is. A similar distinction was made between followers of the Deobandi, Brelwi, Nadwi, and Ahl-i-Hadith schools, the first three of which were Hanafis. These gradations were important because the scripture of authority and social organization in the Islamic state would rest on them.” (Sayyed Vali Reza Nasr, Mawdudi & the Making of Islamic Revivalism, Oxford University Press, 1996, p.99.)

As the revivalists looked around to secure support for their ideas in ancient texts, they seized on one which has had a baleful effect on the discourse despite the fact that its thesis was as manifestly motivated, politically, as it was spurious intellectually. It was al- Ahkam as – Sultaniyah (The Ordinances of Government) by Abu al- Hasan al-Mawardi (972-1058). It was an open plea for despotic rule and succession by nomination. The people did not count. Election was rejected. His thesis received its just deserts at the hands of Prof. Qamar- ud-din Khan, Professor of History at Karachi University in his study Al-Mawardis’Theory of State. (Qamar-ud-din Khan, Al-Marwardis’ Theory of State, Bazm-e-Iqbal, Lahore; reprinted by Idarah-i-Adabiya’I Delhi, Qasimjan Street, Delhi, 1979.)

Dr. Khan points out, at the very outset, that the Quran has not defined any clear principle of State. The meaning and idea of the Constitution, the clear conception of sovereignty, the principle of franchise, the detailed conception of human rights and the regulations of State organization are not given any where.

He makes a point of cardinal importance which advocates of the Islamic State studiously overlook. “The Quran does not aim to create a state but to create a society. Hence whatever the form and shape of the state, if the Quranic society is realized in it, it may bear the designation of the Islamic state. The omission of the details is therefore a great blessing to the Muslim community, because it makes it possible for Islam to march with the progress of time and adjust itself to new conditions and new environments. But this omission has also motivated Muslim jurists and political thinkers in every age to justify the political systems prevailing in their times according to the Quran.” (p. 4).

If the Islamic State is, indeed, vital to the faith, has Islam no relevance to Muslims in non-Muslim States? It reflects more than intellectual bankruptcy. It betrays a complete absence of moral purpose and an obsession with political power for which Islam is exploited. At an early state of the debate in Pakistan A. K. Brohi wrote a series of articles in Dawn in 1952 in which he opined “Having regard to the accepted notion of what constitutional law is, it is not possible to derive from the text of the Quran a clear statement as to the actual content of the Constitution of any State”

The fundamentalists are not concerned to define the status of non- Muslims in an Islamic State in terms which even enlightened Muslims can understand. Their effect on non-Muslims can be easily imagined. Anyone who reads recent literature on Islam produced by the so-called fundamentalists will be struck by their total lack of interest in these subjects.

For, if they were at all concerned with defining the relevance of Islam to the Muslim of today, they could have hardly overlooked the millions who live in India, the Soviet Union, China and, indeed, the entire world outside the Muslim countries. Has Islam no message for them, for their rights in and their duties towards their countries and their fellow-citizens? There assuredly is a problem of redefinition here, for their situation is different from any they have known in the past.

Rather than draw farfetched conclusions about institutional forms from ethical precepts, would it not be more to the point to apply the precepts to the conditions of today? For instance, Prophet Muhammad said, “He is not a faithful who eats his fill while his neighbour remains hungry by his side.” He surely did not enjoin concern for a Muslim neighbour alone. Are these forceful words of no relevance for the Muslims as he looks around him and sees poverty and degradation in his country? Islam thus enjoins jihad against poverty.

It is impossible for anyone familiar with the social purpose of Islam not to discern in the faith strict imperatives of rightful conduct vis-à-vis one’s country and one’s fellow citizens regardless of their faith. These imperatives will have to be rediscovered and redefined by Muslims who believe in Islam. It cannot be left to the fundamentalists for whom Islam is a political weapon.

Not the least of Dr. Qarmar-ud-din Khan’s service to scholarship lies in his reliance on the fundamentals of Islam to show how wrong the fundamentalists are. He cites the Quran and the Classics. Respect for al-Mawardi’s erudition is unqualified. Intellectual honesty demands that his work should be read in the context of his times. It was specific to his situation. “This historical situation explains al-Mawardi’s efforts to propound a theory of the Caliphate in which everything depends on the authority of the Caliph, in an age in which the prestige of the Caliphate had fallen to its lowest ebb. As opposed to this, some historians try to impress that al-Mawardi’s endeavours were directed to the theoretical discussion of an ideal state. This view is, however, untenable on account of the fact that al-Mawardi is, truly speaking, not a philosopher at all, and that he is least interested in abstract thinking. He is a jurist and builds on the opinions of his forbears, and gives a wider scope to these opinions and uses his own wisdom to apply them intelligently to the special conditions of his own times.” (p. 21)

Al-Mawardi stressed the importance of the Qurayshite descent as well as the right of the Imam to nominate his successor. “It was this theory of nomination that cut at the very root of democratic ideals in Islamic polity. It has been persistently resorted to by every Muslim ruler after the days of the Pious Caliphate, to perpetuate dynastic and despotic rule among the Muslim peoples. Thus apparently the structure of the Caliphate was maintained by the Umayyads, the Abbasids, the Fatimids, and the Turks but the spirit of Islamic democracy was buried in the coffin of ‘Ali, the last of the Pious Caliphs.” (p. 25)

He was no theorist. He was an apologist for despotic rule. “Al- Mawardi may have been good intentioned but the legacy he left completely  changed  the  concept  of  Muslim  polity  in  the  centuries that followed. And the change that occurred was simply un-Islamic, undemocratic, and vicious. … (p. 37)

“Even the recent upsurge of revivalism in the Muslim world has broken no ground. It goes on repeating the propositions of al-Mawardi blindly. It has utterly failed to grasp the driving democratic force of ancient Islam. It has not realized in the least that the mission of the Holy Prophet Muhammad is for all climes and for all times. The Quran and the Sunnah, therefore, must be reinterpreted so as to solve the major problems of man in modern society. But to refuse to recognize these problems and to wish that the present-day world may direct its affairs according to dogmas and traditions which have no reality in fact and experience, is to expect too much of human forbearance.” (p. 47)

Excluding the politically motivated revivalists, not one scholar of Islam regards al-Mawardi’s exposition as a reliable guide to an Islamic State. Professor Noah Feldman of the Harvard Law School asks “why the idea of the Islamic State looks so attractive today to people whose own grandparents rejected such a State as a relic of the failed past.” (p.

5) The question is: who will be in charge of such a State – a democratically elected legislature, the Caliph as President or the ulema presiding over both as Custodians of the Faith? How will the balance of power be maintained and with what checks and balances which alone can ensure the stability of any State?

The answer, such as it is, is provided by sentiment, not reason as he rightly notes: “In essence, then, the call for an Islamic state is the call for the establishment of Islamic law. Once we take this demand seriously, we can begin to understand why so many people in the Muslim world find themselves attracted to Islamic politics. Looking at their own states, they see clearly that power, not law, is structuring political, economic, and social relations. They simultaneously see that their states are broken. Law sounds as though it might be a solution. What is more, law seems to hold particularly great promise because, in the collective memory of the Muslim world, it is still dimly remembered that the classical Islamic state was a state that was governed by law and that governed through law.”

The ulema will rule on legislation and on the legitimacy of every change of government. This was, perhaps, necessary in times of upheaval when change of regime required outside affirmation of its legitimacy. “In this milieu lived the scholar Abu al-Hasan al-Mawardi (972-1058), a preeminent legal figure in his era, who also served as a diplomatic go-between for several caliphs in their negotiations with Buwayhids and Seljuks-alike. The core constitutional problem facing Mawardi was to shore up the disintegrating credibility of the caliphate. According to tradition and law, the caliph was supposed to exercise actual executive authority, as had the Prophet and his caliphal successors. But under the Buwayhids – and as it would turn out, under the Seljuks – this was increasingly unrealistic. These rulers might be prepared to show the caliphate some respect, but they were not prepared to allow the caliph to govern independently.” (p. 36). The scholar provided a political compromise dressed up as a work of law.

Prof. Hamilton Gibb in his essay, Al-Mawardi’s Theory of the Caliphate, was unsparing in his criticism. “In his zeal to find some arguments by which at least the show of legality could be maintained, al-Mawardi did not realize that he had undermined the foundations of all law.” (H.A.R. Gibb, “Al-Marwadi’s Theory of the Caliphate,” an essay in Studies in the Civilization of Islam, edited by Stanford J. Shaw and William R. Polk, Beacon Press, 1962, p.164).

Law at Emory University, is a scholar of renown. He has discussed his ideas in Khartoum, Cairo, Istanbul, Tashkent, Samarkand, New Delhi, Aligarh, Mumbai, Cochin, Jakarta and in more than one city in Nigeria. He is not for separation of State and religion but for abdication of the State’s coercive power for the observance of the faith. The reader will bear with me as I quote him on this point at length. His faith is Islam makes his critique of the Islamic State all the more relevant.

“In order to be a Muslim by conviction and free choice, which is the only way one can be a Muslim, I need a secular state. By a secular state I mean one that is neutral regarding religious doctrine, one that does not claim or pretend to enforce Shari’a – the religious law of Islam

– simply because compliance with Shari’a cannot be coerced by fear of state institutions or faked to appease their officials. This is what I mean by secularism in this book, namely, a secular state that facilitates the possibility of religious piety out of honest conviction. My call for the state, and not society, to be secular is intended to enhance and promote genuine religious observance, to affirm, nurture, and regulate the role of Islam in the public life of the community. Conversely, I will argue that the claim of a so-called Islamic state to coercively enforce Shari’a repudiates the foundational role of Islam in the socialization of children and the sanctification of social institutions and relationships.” (p. 1). This is the core of his thesis which he establishes with a wealth of erudition.

“The premise of my proposal is that Muslims everywhere, whether minorities or majorities, are bound to observe Shari’a as a matter of religious  obligation,  and  that  this  can  best  be  achieved  when  the state is neutral regarding all religious doctrines and does not claim to enforce Shari’a principles as state policy or legislation. That is, people cannot truly live by their convictions according to their belief in and understanding of Islam if rulers use the extensive coercive powers of the state to impose their view of Shari’a on the population at large, Muslims and non-Muslims alike. This does not mean that the state can or should be completely neutral, because it is a political institution that is supposed to be influenced by the interests and concerns of its citizens. Indeed, legislation and public policy should reflect the beliefs and values of citizens, including religious values, provided this is not done in the name of any specific religion, since that would necessarily favour the view of those who control the state and exclude the religious and other beliefs of other citizens. While this proposition may at one level appear obviously valid to many Muslims, they may still be ambivalent about its clear implications because of the illusion that an Islamic state is supposed to enforce Shari’a. I am therefore concerned with challenging the core claim of an Islamic state as a postcolonial discourse that relies on European notions of the state and positive law. But I am equally concerned with mounting this challenge in ways that are persuasive to Muslims in particular.” (p. 3).

This is the only premise on which a State in which Muslim are in the majority can ensure fair play to its non-Muslim citizens. Note the obvious affinity between an–Naim’s formulation and Quaid-e-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah’s formulation in his historic address to Pakistan’s Constituent Assembly on 11 August, 1947.

An-Naim  emphasizes  that  “Islam  is  the  religion  of  human beings who believe in it, while the state signifies the continuity of institutions like the judiciary and administrative agencies. This view is fundamentally Islamic because it insists on the religious neutrality of  the  state  as  a  necessary  condition  for  Muslims  to  comply  with their religious obligations. Religious compliance must be completely voluntary according to personal pious intention (niyah), which is necessarily invalidated by coercive enforcement of those obligations. In fact, coercive enforcement promotes hypocrisy (nifaq), which is categorically and repeatedly condemned by the Qur’an.

“My purpose is therefore to affirm and support the institutional separation of Islam and the state, which is necessary for Shari’a to have its proper positive and enlightening role in the lives of Muslims and Islamic societies. … The object of such neutrality, however, is precisely the freedom of individuals in their communities to accept, object to, or modify any view of religious doctrine or principle.” (p. 4).

The secular  state  does  not  banish  religion.  “The  separation  of legislation stemming from their religious or other beliefs. All citizens have the right to do so, provided they should support such proposals with what I call “civic reason.” The word “civic” here refers to the need for policy and legislation to be accepted by the public at large, as well as for the process of reasoning on the matter to remain open and accessible to all citizens. By civic reason, I mean that the rationale and the purpose of public policy or legislation must be based on the sort of reasoning that most citizens can accept or reject. Citizens must be able to make counter proposals through public debate without being open to charges about their religious piety. Civic reason and reasoning, and not personal beliefs and motivations, are necessary whether Muslims constitute the majority or the minority of the population of the state. Even if Muslims are the majority, they will not necessarily agree on what policy and legislation should follow from their Islamic beliefs. … I am calling for the state to be secular, not for secularizing society. I argue for keeping the influence of the state from corrupting the genuine and independent piety of persons in their communities.” (pp. 7-8).

Civic reason implies the right of non-Muslims to object to legislation which claims to be founded in religion and works injustice, the blasphemy laws, for example. What is rejected are the totalitarian post-colonial claims of an Islamic State. How much of the sharia is based on the Quran and how much of it is man-made.

The systemic development of Shari’a began during the early Abbasid era (after 750 CE). These developments took place in the second and third centuries of Islam. The early Abbasid era witnessed the emergence of the main schools of Islamic jurisprudence, including those still known today. The surviving schools are attributed to Ja’far al- Sadiq, the founder of the main school of Shi’a jurisprudence (died 765), Abu Hanifa (died 767), Malik (died 795), al-Shafi’i (died 820), and Ibn Hanbal (died 855). Al-Shafi’i laid the foundations of usul al-fiqh to regulate the interpretation of the Qur’an and Sunna, but the process of collection and authentication of Sunna reports continued beyond his time. The most authoritative compilations of Sunna for Sunni Muslims are attributed to Bukhari (died 870), Muslim (died 875), Ibn Majah (died 886). Abu Dawud (died 888), al-Tirmidhi (died 892), and al- Nasa’i (died 915). For the Shi’a the most authoritative compilations also emerged during that general timeframe namely, those attributed to al- Kulayni (died 941), Ibn Babawayh (died 991), and al-Tusi (died 1067). The subsequent development and the spread of the various schools have been influenced by many political, social, and demographic factors.

It is from an “Islamic perspective that I oppose the idea of an Islamic State that can enforce Sharia as positive law and official State policy.” As we shall see this is precisely the raison d’etre of an Islamic State according to Maududi. Even in the early days of Islam dissent on the law was not absent. Abu Bakr waged war on tribes that did not pay zakat. Umar opposed him.

Enforcement of the faith by the coercive power of the State corrupts both. “The potential problems associated with blending religious institutions with those of the state often entail hypocrisy and corruption, as illustrated by the additional functions of the muhtasib as a tax collector and a guardian of public morality. Islamic scholars, like al-Mawardi in al-Akham al-sultaniyya, described the responsibilities of the muhtasib as including the enforcement of prayer, fasting, and payment of zakat in addition to public morality concerns about public mixing of men and women, displays of drunkenness, and the use of musical instruments. These functions were coercively enforced in the streets of Cairo and other cities (Berkey 2004, 261-264). Dealing with dhimmis (Christians and Jews granted protection in exchange for submission to Muslim sovereignty and payment of a special tax, jizya) was also within the jurisdiction of the office. This included enforcing rules prohibiting the dhimmis from riding on horses or donkeys within the city limits and prescribing that they wear distinctive clothing in public and bells around their necks when visiting public bathing facilities.” (pp. 69-70).

In South Asia, Muslim women have entered public life and contributed handsomely to it. The situation elsewhere is different. Even in South Asia their gains are in peril. The cry for an Islamic State hardly conceals the design to enforce traditional views so as to curb the rights of women and non-Muslims.

On such issues, it is beyond dispute that women and non-Muslims are subjected to specific restrictions of their constitutional rights under the traditional interpretations of Shari’a. For example, verse 4:34 of the Quran has been taken to establish a general principle of men’s guardianship (qawama) of women, thereby denying women the right to hold any public office involving the exercise of authority over men. While jurists differ on a range of relevant issues, none of them would grant women equality with men in this regard. This general principle is applied in interpreting and is reinforced by various specific verses that apparently grant women unequal rights compared to those of men regarding marriage, divorce, inheritance, and related matters. The same principles of interpretation are applied to other verses, like verse 24:31 and verses 33:33, 53, and 59, to restrict the right of women to appear and speak in public or to associate with men, which thereby limits their ability to participate in government. Thus, although Muslim women have the same freedom of belief and opinion as men, their opportunity to exercise this right is greatly inhibited by restrictions on their access to the public domain.” (p. 109). He adds “the Islamic reforms I am calling for are intended to encourage and support efforts to require complete equality for women and non-Muslims from a Sharia point of view and not simply for political expediency” (p. 110).

In an “Islamic State” of its votaries’ imagination, blasphemy laws are a must though “there is no clear Quranic instruction on this matter. Even when the Quran uses the term sabb, as in verse 6:108, it only commands Muslims to refrain from reviling the deities of non-Muslims lest they revile God, but without any reference to punishment in this life. While scholars cite incidents in early Islamic history in support of imposing the death penalty for blasphemy, it is clear that neither the Quran nor the Sunna declare the existence of an offence called “blasphemy” or a specific punishment for it.” (p. 121). The author cites in support of his opinion a work by Abdullah Saeed and Hassan Saeed entitled Freedom of Religion, Apostasy and Islam, (Burlington, Vt., Ashgate; 2004; pp. 38-39).

The law on heresy (apostasy), Zandaqqa, is devoid of Quranic sanction. Some of the most respected names in Islamic jurisprudence were accused of apostasy in their own life time – Abu Hanifa, Ibn Hanbal, al-Ghazali, Ibn Hazm and Ibn Taimiyyah.

What service to Islam does this narrow and false notion of Sharia render? A faith that liberates man and helps him to realize himself and to know his Creator is distorted as an instrument of oppression. “It is ironic that leading scholars of the call for an Islamic state, like Abul A’la al-Maududi and Sayyid Qutb, advocated a Soviet/fascist model of the totalitarian state, which is supposed to transform society in the image of the ruling party. The fundamental defect of the idea of the Islamic state is that the logic of the invocation of religious or moral authority can very easily be inverted, so that instead of regulating political power by religious authority, religion itself becomes subordinated to power through the powerful technologies of the modern state apparatus. It is also impossible to distinguish cynical invocations of religion for political power from well intentioned initiatives. As I have argued, the state by definition is an amoral institution and cannot possess or embody its own autonomous morality. Moral judgments and responsibility can be attributed to human beings, not to abstract institutions. To call the state Islamic can only shield the human beings who act through the apparatus of the state from responsibility for their actions.” (p. 292).

It is not by establishing a State to enforce Sharia but by separating the State from Sharia that the potentialities of the Sharia and, indeed, of the faith of Islam itself can be realized; not through oppression but by liberating the faith from the clutches of a self-serving clergy. We thus, negotiate the future of Sharia to use An-Naim’s striking phrase.

This magnificent work by a true believer of Islam ends with a moving plea. “In the final analysis, I submit, the state can serve the ideals of an Islamic society for social justice, peace, goodness and virtue by enabling and facilitating their realization through civic discourse and the fabric of political life. The proposed religious neutrality of the state is indeed required for the future development of Sharia itself.” But “these and other vital functions of consensus among Muslims would be completely corrupted and distorted if state officials and bureaucrats are allowed to control or manipulate debate and disputation among Muslims. As noted earlier, since every orthodoxy started as a heresy, we must protect, indeed celebrate, the possibility of heresy in order to ensure the relevance and future development of Sharia. For every heresy we suppress, we miss the possibility of an idea or principle that future generations of Muslims may wish to establish as part of their orthodox Islam. I say that no human being should have that power to control what others may wish to believe or disbelieve. That is why I believe that Sharia will not have any future for me as a Muslim if some Muslims are allowed to prescribe for me what can or cannot be part of my religious experience in the name of a so-called Islamic state. There are many legitimate functions for the state, like keeping the peace, adjudicating disputes, and providing essential services, but its authority cannot and should not extend to determining what is or is not Sharia.”   (p. 293).

Mohamed Charfi is now Professor Emeritus in the Law Faculty of the University of Tunis. His work Islam and Liberty: The Historical Misunderstanding (Zed Books, London, 2005) is noteworthy not only for the erudition but also for the author’s unsparing rigorous analysis. Prophet Muhammed did not choose a successor nor did he indicate how one could be chosen. Yet, he is acclaimed as the founder of a State. With the death of the “Seal of the Prophets” prophecy came to an end. The State that was set up was a human creation, purely. So, indeed were the empires that followed.

“The ulema always tried to attach a sacred aura to the conquests of the caliphs, which they considered by definition just and beneficial on the grounds that they tended to Islamize the local population. In fact, the main result of these wars was to Arabize the countries that today speak Arabic; they could have been Islamized without the need for bloodshed. In Central and Western Africa and South-East Asia – the regions where the largest number of Muslims live today – Islam spread in a peaceful manner, without those wars and invasions whose justification by the ulema helped to disseminate the false concept of offensive jihad. Wars occurred in some of those countries, of course, as wars do everywhere in the world, but Islam did not take root there through a strategy of conquest based on jihad and violence. Muslims need a critical re-reading of their history in order to recover their religion in its original purity, free of the deposits left by the vicissitudes of history.” (p. 113).

Islamic literature lacks a public law worthy of the name; hence the reliance on al-Mawardi. The slogan “the Quran is our Constitution” only exposed the exploitation of Islam for political ends. Charfi concludes from a survey of the history of the Caliphates, “The outcome was disastrous for public liberties, which were never respected under the caliphate. Islamic society has always been stuck between a regime that represses people without restraint in the name of religion and ulema subservient to the regime who, owing their privileges to it, do not dare speak out against it. Islamic society has never been able to produce either the intellectuals to develop a theory of liberty or activists capable of struggling for democracy.

“It clearly follows from what has just been said that there can be no liberty or democracy without a separation between the spheres of religion and politics, and that the Islamic state, envisaged neither by the Koran nor the sunna, is a man-made institution that has used religion for political ends, to justify military conquests, exploitation of the people and the pleasure-seeking of caliphs. Summarizing and commenting on the thoughts of Ali Abderrazak, Abdu Filali Ansari writes that the theory of the caliphate did violence to the community, religion and reason.” (p.118).

Dr. Burahn Ghalioun, Professor of Political Sociology at Sorbonne holds that the Islamic State is just another form of theocracy and lacks Islamic sanction. Moderating a debate between him and Mohammed Salim El-Awa and Dr. Radwan Ziadah he opined: “As for the idea of the Islamic state, it is an invention that comes about as the direct influence of the modern nation-state project. This idea, statehood, is what gives the state an exceptional position that was never given to it before, a god-like position where the citizens are like its servants. It is this very attempt to push society’s identity to become a replica of the values, principles, and objectives prescribed by the state that make this model “Islamically” invalid. A “state,” per se, in Islam, was given neither an inherently positive value, nor an historical role as we give it nowadays.

In fact, this model, in essence, tries to go in the opposite direction; by neutralizing or even marginalizing religion in general for its own sake. Thus, the dispute between the political Islamists and their opponents is not over finding the essence of Islam and its political theory. Rather, it is a pure (theoretical) conflict of power.” (Rising Kashmir, a Srinagar daily; 22 February, 2009).

Ali A. Allawi, former Iraqi Minister of Defence and Finance, regrets the impact of the revived cry of an Islamic State. “It is the politicization of the idea of the caliphate and its pivotal role in the ideology of radical Islamists that has brought a non-existent institution into the public domain. The deputy leader of al-Qaeda, Ayman al-Zawahiri, writing to Abu Musab a-Zarqawi, the then head of al-Qaeda’s affiliate in Iraq in 2004, said: ‘If our intended goal in this age is the establishment of a caliphate in the manner of the Prophet and if we expect to establish its state predominantly – according to how it appears to us – in the heart of the Islamic world, then your efforts and sacrifices – God permitting – are a large step directly towards that goal.’ The caliphate was appropriated by al-Qaeda as their end goal and, ipso facto, became an ideological tool in the war for Muslim minds.

“For the West, then, the caliphate re-emerged as a deeply threatening possibility, and one that had to be countered by the world at all costs. Speaking just before the fifth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, President George Bush conjured up the demon of the caliphate. “They (radical Islamists of al-Qaeda) hope to establish a violent political utopia across the Middle East, which they call a “Caliphate” – where all would be ruled according to their hateful ideology … This caliphate would be a totalitarian Islamic empire encompassing all current and former Muslim lands, stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East, and Southeast Asia.” Extraordinary. The speech appeared to be straight out of John Buchan’s First World War thrillers about a pan-Islamic plot to subvert the world.

“All the old fears and anxieties have now reasserted themselves, and the idea of the caliphate has become part of the rhetoric of the war on terror and on the utopian visions of radical Islamists. There are only a few cases where a phantom institution could exert such a powerful pull on the public imagination. It would seem that there are indeed atavistic fears buried deep. Caliphate, jihad, fanaticism, crusaders, inquisitions

– all blend into each other and become a phantasmagoria of fearsome proportions. The modern ideal of the caliphate is primarily political.” (Ali A. Allawi; The Crisis of Islamic Civilization; Yale University Press; 2009; pp. 163-164).

From such works to Abul Ala Maududi’s book The Islamic Law and Constitution (Islamic Publications, Lahore, 1967), is a steep decline alike in learning and analysis. Why an Islamic State, pray? The answer is two-fold. One strand consists of a strained construction of the Quran to suggest that it sanctions an Islamic State. Surah 22 verse 41 says: “(Muslims) are those people who, if We give them power in the land, will establish Salat (worship), pay the zakat dues, enjoin what is right and forbid what is evil…” Maududi’s infers: “The verse states clearly (sic.) the aims objects and duties of an Islamic State.” Not one commentator of repute arrived at this absurdly far-fetched conclusion (pp. 282-3). In any case the verse does not mandate the establishment  of an Islamic State.

More to the point, is this scholarship – a forced construction of a solitary verse? Maududi has received praise beyond his deserts from soul-mates is West Asia. Dr. Fazlur Rahman sized him up correctly and his assessment merits recall not only for its precision and justice but for its explanation of why such a person acquired the following he did: “Mawdudi, though not an alim, was nevertheless a self-taught man of considerable intelligence and had sufficient knowledge of Arabic to have access to the classical Arabic literature of Islam. He was by no means an accurate or a profound scholar, but he was undoubtedly like a fresh wind in the stifling Islamic atmosphere created by the traditional madrasas, and he represented a definite advance over the ulema in that he had a working knowledge of English and read some works of Western writers. The lay-educated youth, fired by Iqbal’s message, became an almost automatic clientele of Mawdudi. But Mawdudi displays nowhere the larger and more profound vision of Islam’s role in the world. Being a journalist rather than a serious scholar, he wrote at great speed and with resultant superficiality in order to feed his eager young readers – and he wrote incessantly. He founded no educational institution and never suggested any syllabus for a reformed Islamic education. If this kind of development had taken place, his followers, through an enlightened and serious Islamic education, would have naturally become more independent-minded and could have led the way to the establishment of new educational institutions. But not one of Mawdudi’s followers ever became a serious student of Islam, the result being that, for the faithful, Mawdudi’s statements represented the last word on Islam – no matter how much and how blatantly he contradicted himself from time to time on such basic issues as economic policy or political theory.” (Islam and Modernity; The University of Chicago Press; 1982; p. 116).

Maududi’s second strand of the raison d’etre of an Islamic State is as farfetched but more revealing than the first.  “The Islamic concept of life as envisaged in the Quran is that man should devote his entire life to the causes of Allah, whose injunctions should be followed in all the fields of human activity. The Quran not only lays down principles of morality and ethics, but also gives guidance in the political, social and economic fields. It prescribes punishments for certain crimes and enunciates principles of monetary and fiscal policy. These cannot be translated into practice unless there is a State to enforce them. And herein lies the necessity of an Islamic State.” (p. 175. The argument is repeated at p. 248). He calls such a state “theo-democracy” (p. 148).

However, when we come to the penal law we find a certain realism. “There are some people who take a few provisions of the Islamic Penal Code out of their context and jeer at them. But they do not realize that those provisions are to be viewed with the background of the whole Islamic system of life covering the economic, social, political and educational spheres of activity. If all these departments are not working, then those isolated provisions of our Penal Code can certainly work no miracles.

“For example, we all know that Islam imposes the penalty of amputating the hand for the commitment of theft. But this injunction is meant to be promulgated in a full – fledged Islamic society wherein the wealthy pay Zakat to the state and the state provides for the basic necessities of the needy and the destitute; wherein every township is enjoined to play host to visitors at its own expense for a minimum period of three days; wherein all citizens are provided with equal privileges and opportunities to seek economic livelihood. … In other (words) it is not meant for the present day society where you cannot get a single penny without having to pay interest.” (p. 55).

It is a utopia he is after. “Similar is the case of the punishment for adultery and fornication. Islam prescribes a hundred stripes for the unmarried and stoning to death for the married partners in the crime. But, of course, it applies to a society wherein every trace of suggestiveness has been destroyed, where mixed gatherings of men and women have been prohibited where public appearance of painted and pampered women is completely non-existent, where marriage has been made easy, where virtue, piety and charity are current coins and where the remembrance of God and the hereafter is kept ever fresh in men’s minds and hearts. These punishments are not meant for that filthy society wherein sexual excitement, is rampant, wherein nude pictures, obscene books and vulgar songs have become common recreations; wherein sexual perversions have taken hold of the cinema and all other places of amusement, wherein mixed, semi-nude parties are considered the acme of social progress and wherein economic conditions and social customs have made marriage extremely difficult.” (p. 56). The intemperate language does not belong to the realm of learning.

There is, however, a more fundamental objection to punishment for adultery which he misses. Dr. M. Cherif Bassiouni is a recognized expert on criminal law, especially Islamic law. He was Professor of Law at De Paul University in Chicago and Secretary-General International Association of Penal Law. Bassiouni edited a volume of essays The Islamic Criminal Justice System (Oceana Publications, 1982). He holds that cutting of the hand is a penalty for theft in a just society. As for punishment for adultery “its application depends on proof which requires that four eye witnesses could testify that if a hypothetical thread were to be passed between the two bodies, its passage would be impeded (i.e., sexual penetration). The requirement of proof and its exigencies lead to the conclusion that the policy of the harsh penalty is to deter public aspects of this form of sexual practice.” (p. 5).

A fortiori because the Quran itself forbids entry into a house other than one’s own without first announcing one’s presence (Surah al-Nur24:27 and 28). How many couples have suffered lashes at the hands of men who violated this explicit Quranic injunction and acted on suspicion? Witness testimony is worthless unless the four witnesses themselves complied with this injunction.

The  Nizam-i-Adl  Regulation  provides  a  foretaste  of  the  brand of Sharia an Islamic State is expected to enforce. Section 2(j) of the Regulation says that Sharia means “the injunctions in Islam as laid down in Quran, Sunnah, ijma and qiyas.” The Sharia is not codified. Qiyas and ijma give a carte blanche to qazis who will enforce the Sharia as so defined. They will be judges as well as legislators. Sectarian interpretation will be the norm. Untrained in law, these judges will wreak havoc.

All  this is  of  a  piece  with  the  kind  of  polemics  that  pass  for learning in the cause of Islam and the Islamic State. The Munir Report administrated to such a State the devastating a retort: “The phantom of an Islamic State has haunted the Musalman throughout the ages and is a result of the memory of the glorious past when Islam rising like a storm from the least expected quarter of the world – wilds of Arabia – instantly enveloped the world, pulling down from their high pedestal gods who had ruled over man since the creation, uprooting centuries old institutions and superstitions and supplanting all civilizations that had been built on an enslaved humanity. What is 125 years in human history, nay in the history of a people, and yet during this brief period Islam spread from the Indus to the Atlantic and Spain, and from the borders of China to Egypt, and the sons of the desert installed themselves in all old centers of civilization – in Ctesiphon, Damascus, Alexandria, India and all places associated with the names of the Sumerian and the Assyrian civilizations. …

“It is this brilliant achievement of the Arabian nomads, the like of which the world had never seen before, that makes the Musalman of today live in the past and yearn for the return of the glory that was Islam. He finds himself standing on the crossroads, wrapped in the mantle of the past and with the dead weight of centuries on his back, frustrated and bewildered and hesitant to turn one corner or the other. The freshness and the simplicity of the faith, which gave determination to his mind and spring to his muscle, is now denied to him. He has neither the means nor the ability to conquer and there are no countries to conquer. Little does he understand that the forces, which are pitted against him, are entirely different from those against which early Islam had to fight, and that on the clues given by his own ancestors, the human mind has achieved results which he cannot understand. He therefore finds himself in a state of helplessness, waiting for someone to come and help him out of this morass of uncertainty and confusion. And he will go on waiting like this without anything happening. Nothing but a bold re-orientation of Islam to separate the vital from the lifeless can preserve it as a World Idea and convert the Musalman into a citizen of the present and the future world from the archaic incongruity that he is today.”

The Report concludes: “The sublime faith called Islam will live even if our leaders are not there to enforce it. It lives in the individual, in his soul and outlook, in all his relations with God and men, from the cradle to the grave, and our politicians should understand that if Divine commands cannot make or keep a man a Musalman, their statutes will not.” Nor will an “Islamic” State.