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ISIS leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi

The Caliphate and Consequences

By Dr. Haytham Mouzahem  – For The Islamist Gate – As I had expected in November 2013[http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/11/al-qaeda-zawahri-baghdadi-split.html], The Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant” (ISIL) has announced [on June, 30] the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, and has named its emir, Abu Bakr Ibrahim Al-Baghdadi, as “emir of the believers” and caliph and leader for all Muslims everywhere.

Caliph, a word derives from the Arab word “Khalifa”, means the successor, and in the Islamic history and Islamic political thought, the Caliph means the successor of the Prophet Muhammad.

ISIL has also changed its name to “The Islamic state” and called upon all Muslims, Islamic states, and “jihadist” factions to pledge allegiance to the new caliph

The announcement of the Islamic Caliphate comes after 90 years of its abolition in Turkey by Mustapha Kemal Ataturk (1881 -1938) and the declaration of the Turkish Republic in 1924.

However, this declaration has some consequences and repercussions on both religious and political levels, especially within the Islamist movements that most of them are seeking since 1928, the date of the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt by Sheikh Hassan al-Banna, the return of the caliphate albeit under different names and titles such as the Islamic Republic, the Islamic state, and the Islamic Emirate.

Thus, the “Islamic State” spokesman Abu Muhammad Al-Adnani has called for jihadist factions in various parts of the world to pledge allegiance to  the new caliph al-Baghdadi. Adnani said: [The Islamic State (…) decided to declare the establishment of the Islamic Caliphate, and the re-organization known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, naming himself as an Islamic state.

The ISIL statement noted that the shūrā (consultation) council of the Islamic State studied the Caliphate’s declaration after the Islamic State gained the essentials necessary for caliphate, “which the Muslims are sinful for if they do not try to establish” and it found out that “the Islamic State has no legal constraint or excuse that can justify delaying or neglecting the establishment of the caliphate”.

Thus, “the Islamic State – represented by ahlul-halli-wal-‘aqd (people of authority), consisting of its senior figures, leaders, and the shūrā council – resolved to announce the establishment of the Islamic caliphate, the appointment of a caliph for the Muslims, and the pledge of allegiance to the sheikh, .., Ibrāhīm Ibn ‘Awwād Ibn Ibrāhīm Ibn ‘Alī Ibn Muhammad al-Badrī al-Hāshimī al-Husaynī al-Qurashī by lineage, as-Sāmurrā’ī by birth and upbringing, al-Baghdādī by residence and scholarship”.

ISIL considers its leader al-Baghdadi the imam and Caliph for the Muslims everywhere, and that “it is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to the caliph Ibrāhīm and support him”.

The terrorist group has invalidated the legitimacy of the other Islamic communities and organizations if they don’t pledge allegiance to the Caliph, al-Baghdadi. It said:” The legality of all emirates, groups, states, and organizations, becomes null by the expansion of the caliphate’s authority and arrival of its troops to their areas..”

What does that mean?

The Caliphate State does not tolerate pluralism in its areas, and even in the various parts of the Muslim world, since all Muslims must pledge their allegiance to the caliph and obey him. Otherwise, who refuses to pay allegiance and obey, he/she will be executed.

According to this concept, everyone from Al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri to Mullah Omar emir of “Taliban” to “The Muslim Brotherhood”, and any individual, or group, should pay allegiance to Al-Baghdadi, immediately, without any delay. However, he  will be considered an “apostate” or renegade from Islam and then it is permissible to fight them.

Accordingly, it is expected that the differences arise between “ISIL” and its allies from the other Sunni groups in Iraq, whether they are Islamist or nationalist Baathist or clans. The Iraqi Sunni tribes and parties Will not accept to surrender to the rule of the “Islamic state”, which will impose a very extremist interpretation of Islam, that the Islamic history has not witnessed even in its darkest days.

It is expected the “Islamic State” will fail to expand its control to the Shiite areas of Iraq because of their readiness to resist it and the union of army and Shiite militia and parties, backed by the clerics of Najaf. Thus, IS will focus on expanding its control on the rest of the Sunni areas, as well as on consolidating its power within these areas. That may lead to clashes between IS and some Sunni tribes and rebels.

Also, it is possible that IS could get involved in clashes with the Kurdish areas, which has about 1,300 km of border with the claimed “Islamic State”.

However, IS declaration of Caliphate constitutes the main challenge for Al-Qaeda and its leader Al-Zawahiri and that can be a beginning of a new phase of the intercontinental “jihad”, since al-Qaeda considers itself the leader of the global jihad, and it must leave its impact on the rest of the jihadist organizations that may find themselves forced to choose between IS and al-Qaeda.

Today. Baghdadi enjoys a great popularity among “jihadists” and some Sunni Islamists, and many Islamist groups may pledge allegiance to Al-Baghdadi and ignore al-Zawahiri leadership, because the first has achieved the main goal of Jihadist ideology, which is the reestablishment of the Caliphate, while the last could not do so, and that may put an end of al-Qaeda and the legacy of its founder Osama bin Laden.

For example: “Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM)” declared its support for ISIS and implicitly criticized the leadership of the al-Qaeda and its branches because the latter didn’t openly declare their support for ISIS. The “Nusra front” branch of Bou Kamal city in Deir Al-Zor, eastern Syria, has pledged allegiance to Baghdadi as a caliph.

The IS control of some oil facilities and other resources in Iraq and Syria would attract many of the Jihadists groups to pay allegiance and get some fund from the new state.

It is also noteworthy that IS had appointed late in June (2014) an emir in Lebanon, Abdel-Aziz Mohammad Abdel-Salam al-Urduni, an unknown person for the Lebanese.

However, the claimed Caliphate has divided the Jihadists and Islamists and Salafists between supporter and opponent. But most known Salafist and Jihadist clerics and Islamist groups have criticized the declaration of caliphate and the nomination of Baghdadi as caliph. They considered it a quick step, that could affect the Caliphate concept and insult Islam’s principles, especially that this state has not the necessary pillars of a state not the ones of a caliphate.

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