Vous êtes sur la page 1sur 277

THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

ISLAMIC GOVERNMENT:

THE MEDIEVAL SUNNI ISLAMIC THEORY OF THE CALIPHATE

AND

THE DEBATE OVER THE REVIVAL OF THE CALIPHATE IN EGYPT, 1924-1926

A DISSERTATION SUBMITTED TO

THE FACULTY OF THE DIVISION OF THE HUMANITIES

IN CANDIDACY FOR THE DEGREE OF

DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY

DEPARTMENT OF NEAR EASTERN LANGUAGES AND CIVILIZATIONS

BY

MARKWEGNER

CHICAGO, ILLINOIS

DECEMBER 2001

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
UMI Num ber: 3 0 2 9 5 4 8

Copyright 2001 by
Wegner, Mark Jonathan

All rights reserved.

___ ®

UMI
UMI Microform 3029548
Copyright 2002 by Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company.
All rights reserved. This microform edition is protected against
unauthorized copying under Title 17, United States Code.

Bell & Howell Information and Learning Company


300 North Zeeb Road
P.O. Box 1346
Ann Arbor, Ml 48106-1346

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
Copyright © by Mark Wegner 2001

All rights reserved

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

I am grateful to my advisor Rashid Khalidi for supporting my various projects


throughout the twists and turns of my graduate school career, and to my committee
members Fred Donner, for continued intellectual and moral guidance, and Farouk
Mustafa for suggesting the idea for the dissertation in the first place.

Professors Wadad Kadi and John Woods of the University of Chicago were
helpful in the early stages of the project, and Professor Steven Pierce of Tulane
University offered helpful suggestions on the final draft.

I have received various sources of funding over the years from both the
University of Chicago and the United States Government, including the Title VI and Title
IX fellowships for graduate study; language study fellowships from the Fulbright
Foundation, the Center for Arabic Study Abroad in Cairo, and the American Research
Institute in Turkey; and a research fellowship from the American Research Center in
Cairo.

I am grateful to my parents Peter and Judith for suffering my sojourn in graduate


school long past the point where I could have been a doctor or lawyer or both, and for the
unfailing companionship of both National Public Radio and my dog Thorin, the former
having been an always stimulating conversationalist and the latter having proven himself
an ever patient listener.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
TABLE OF CONTENTS

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS................................................................................................... iii

ABSTRACT........................................................................................................................... iv

Chapter
I: Introduction: Islam and the Caliphate......................................................... 1

II: The Formation of the Caliphal Ideal................................ 63

III: The Caliphal Ideal in Retreat and Resurgence ................................ 122

IV: The Caliphate Debate in Egypt: 1924-1926....;.................... 178

V: Conclusion: The Caliphal Ideal and Modernity.............................. 243

BIBLIOGRAPHY............................................................................ ..................................... 265

iv

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
Chapter I: Introduction: Islam and the Caliphate

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
On March 2, 1924, the Turkish National Assembly at Ankara
abolished the office of caliph which had previously been claimed by the
Ottoman Sultans, leaving the world "without the Islamic caliphate for the
first time in more than a thousand years."1 On May 19, 1926, the General
Conference for the Caliphate in Cairo ended in "ignominious failure."2
Egyptian history during the period bounded by these two events consists of
three simultaneous and overlapping episodes of religious, political and
intellectual history. The first is the efforts by Egyptian ‘ulama’ to
reestablish the caliphate in Egypt in the person of Egypt's King Fu’ad (r.
1923-1936), which began immediately upon the Turkish abolition and for all
practical purposes ended with the end of the Cairo Caliphate Conference.
The second is the ill-starred coalition between the pro-palace Ittihad
("Unionist") and the pro-constitution Ahrar ("Liberal") parties which
governed Egypt for most of the 1925 calendar year after the first elected
government of the constitutional era was forced out by the British
administration.3 The third is the uproar caused by the publication by ‘All
‘Abd al-Raziq in April of 1925 of a book entitled al-Isldm wa Usui al-Hukm
("Islam and the Fundamentals of Government"). The administration of al-
Azhar Mosque and University, bastion of religious conservatism and prime
mover in the planned Cairo caliphate conference, responded to the book's
bold assertion that the Islamic caliphate was not an essential requirement of

1 Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam laha Tarikh (Cairo: Dar al-Katib al-‘Arabi Iil-Tiba‘a wal-Nashr,
1968 [originally published 1953]), p. 213. Whether or not the line of caliphal succession was truly
unbroken throughout the Islamic period is discussed below, Chapters II and III.

2 Ahmad Shafiq, Hawliyyat Misr al-Siyasiyya (Cairo: Matba‘at Shafiq, 1927), vol. Ill, p. 279.

3 Egypt was declared independent by Great Britain on February 28, 1922 and granted a
constitution on April 19, 1923.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
3

Islamic law by calling ‘Abd al-Raziq before an extraordinary


tribunal of ‘ulama’, officially "expelling him from the corps of ‘ulama’"
(ikhrajuhu min zumrat a l-‘ulama’), and demanding that he be removed from
his government post as chief qadl of the al-Mansura district Shari‘a court.
When the Minister of Justice (and head of the Liberal Party) ‘Abd al-‘Az!z
Fahmi failed to take action against ‘Abd al-Raziq, he himself was removed
from the cabinet, his fellow Liberal ministers resigned, and a new alliance
was formed between the Liberals and Egyptian independence leader Sa‘d
Zaghlul which opposed King Fu’ad's designs on the caliphate and forced the
May 1926 elections which returned Zaghlul's Wafd Party to power.
The dispute sparked by ‘Abd al-Raziq's al-Isldm wa Usiil al-Hukm
was thus the proximal cause of the failure of King Fu’ad's campaign for the
caliphate, the breakdown of the Liberal-Unionist coalition, and the return of
Sa‘d Zaghlul and the Wafd to power in what Egyptan historians like to call
"the restoration of parliamentary life."4 But the ‘AH ‘Abd al-Raziq
controversy has continued to arouse the passions of Egyptian intellectuals
and the interest of Western historians long after the political context in
which it broke out has faded into distant memory. To this day it serves as
the focus of debates about whether the principles of medieval Islamic
political thought can be adapted to the demands of modem society, whether
a Muslim state can adhere to the principle of separation of religion and
politics, and whether the identity of Middle Eastern Arabs should be
primarily Islamic, Arab or national.

4 Abd al-Rahman al-Rafi‘i, Fl A ‘qab al-Thawra al-Misriyya: Thawrat 1919 (Cairo: Dar al-
Ma‘arif, 1948 [reprinted 1986]), vol. I, p. 295.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
Thesis
The thesis of this dissertation is that the debate over the revival of the
caliphate in Egypt in the mid-twenties constituted part of the modem stage
of an intellectual project which has been evolving virtually continuously
since at least the beginnings of the formation of Sunni Muslim orthodoxy
during the Umayyad period (661-750). The goal of this project has been to
define the proper relationship between religion and government in Islam.
Among the ideals for government which participants in this project have
held in common throughout the course of its evolution are: (1) that it have a
pedigree of continuous legitimacy going back to the time of the Prophet
Muhammad; (2) that it maintain social conditions in which Islam can
flourish; (3) that it dispense equitable social justice among the governed; and
(4) that it defend Muslim unity against military attack from without and
sectarian schism from within. Among the central issues on which the
participants in this project have disagreed are: (a) whether reasoned
argument or revealed text is the primary source of political legitimacy; (b)
whether the government should enforce religious doctrine or merely promote
conditions conducive to religious practice; (c) whether social justice or civil
order should take precedence in situations where the two conflict; and (d)
whether Muslim unity requires the unification of the Islamic world under
one political authority and one form of government. The Sunni spokesmen
for this project have gravitated towards different positions on these issues at
different times, primarily to accommodate the challenges to the ideals of
Islamic continuity and unity posed by disruptive and divisive changes in
government in the central Islamic lands. In the modem period (ca. 1800
onward), the main disruptive and divisive change to which the participants

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
5

in this project have had to adapt has been European imperial


conquest and the division into secular national states which it subsequently
imposed on the Islamic world. The failure to revive the caliphate after its
abolition by Turkey constituted a failure confront this challenge. The
continued affront to Islamic continuity and unity posed by that failure is one
of the grievances around which today's Islamist movements coalesce. The
failure of the 1926 Cairo caliphate conference signaled the beginning of the
twentieth century transformation of political Islam from a mainstream
movement with the positive goal of political revival of a unified umma into a
fringe movement with the negative goal of illegal opposition to secular
national governments.

Scholarly Perspectives on the Caliphate Issue


On the face of it, the assertion that the caliphate movement in Egypt in
the mid-1920's and the medieval theory of the caliphate were part of the
same political/intellectual enterprise might seem self-evident, and the
connection between the two would certainly have been so obvious to
proponents of caliphal revival themselves as not to require explicit
formulation. But among scholars of Middle Eastern history, the medieval
Islamic theory of the caliphate and late nineteenth and early twentieth
century movements to revive the caliphate are often written about as though
they were two entirely different subjects. Scholarship on the medieval
theory of the caliphate tends to treat it as an intellectual phenomenon with
little reference to its evolution in response to historical circumstances.
Scholarship on the caliphate movement of modem times tends to treat it as a
political phenomenon with little reference to their place in the history of

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
Islamic political thought. The two subjects are rarely discussed
together, and even when they are, the connection between the two is rarely
made clear.
This separation between medieval caliphate theory and modem
caliphate movements— and the tendency to treat the one as an idealist
intellectual and the other as a practical political enterprise—is partially due
to the widely accepted division of Middle East studies into medieval and
modem "fields," which rely on different kinds of historical evidence and are
consequently populated by academicians of sharply different skills and
interests. Study of the medieval Islamic period consists of reconstructing
history on the basis of a limited and far from comprehensive set of multi­
volume medieval Arabic— as well as Persian and Turkish— secondary
sources supplemented by scant and disparate documentary evidence such as
coins and architectural remains. Scholars who embark on this enterprise are
likely to be as interested in philology and religion as in politics and history,
and to produce somewhat arcane tomes whose relevance to current
events-—or, for that matter, to medieval events—-is not immediately
apparent. By contrast, the study of the modem Arab world consists of
archival research in relatively abundant modem Arabic, Turkish and
European language sources, supplemented by equally abundant published
secondary sources such as memoirs, political tracts and newspapers.
Scholars who embark on this enterprise are as likely to be interested in its
political implications for the modem Middle East as in purely religious and
ideological concerns, and give only cursory attention to the intellectual
content of ideological writings from the period they study.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
In the context of the history of the theory of the caliphate, this
division is reinforced by the two-and-a-half century hiatus between the
removal of the last official Abbasid claimant to the caliphate by the Ottoman
conquest of Egypt in 1517 and the reclamation by the Ottoman sultans of the
caliphal title beginning with the 1774 Kugiik Kaynarca treaty with Russia.5
The history of the Middle East prior to this period is the history of a
civilization at the forefront of world progress, and of a society in which the
all-encompassing primacy of Islam was unquestioned. The history of the
Middle East following this period is the history of a culture under siege by
technologically more advanced foes, and of a society where secular
ideologies were making inroads into spheres of life previously governed by
religion alone. The reemergence of the caliphate question in a world
completely different from the one in which it originated misleadingly invites
treatment of it as a completely different issue.
Finally, and most importantly, the failure of historians of the Middle
East to connect twentieth century caliphate movements with their medieval
roots is a consequence of the practice of regarding medieval Islamic
civilization as an ideal type which existed frozen in some sort of pristine
original state until it was rudely challenged by European military, economic
and cultural imperialism in the 1800's. Although this practice is often
condemned as a hallmark of "orientalism," it is engaged in by Western and
Muslim scholars alike. Indeed, it has its origins in the traditional Muslim
perspective that regards the earliest period of Islamic history—the period of

5 The extent to which claims to caliphal legitimacy were in abeyance between 1517 and 1774 is
assessed in further detail in Chapter III.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
the Prophet and the Rashidun (or "rightly-guided") caliphs (622-
661)— as an era of spiritual perfection from which each succeeding
generation of Muslims is that much further removed. Muslims also tend to
regard the heyday of the Abbasid caliphate—the period surrounding the
reign of the caliph Harun al-Rashld (r. 786-809)— as an era of economic,
political and cultural supremacy from whose zenith subsequent Islamic
history charts a decline. This idealization of both a spiritual/religious and a
material/cultural golden age was adopted wholesale from the Muslim
chroniclers by the first generation of Western orientalists. Once taken over
by Western historians, this orientalist perspective proved exceptionally
durable because it was so well suited to the ideological rationale of
European imperialism. The idealized immutable Islamic monolith— a
"largely lethargic society"6— was the perfect counterpoint to the dynamic
young Western civilization which was in the process of creating modernity.
The Islamic world was seen to be virtually crying out for England to
shoulder the white man's burden and France to embark on its mission
civilisatrice to boost Islam into modernity.
This view of medieval Islam as an immutable monolith informs the
way historians write about the traditional Sunni Islamic theory of the
caliphate. Scholars often allude to the "orthodox," "traditional," or
"original" theory of the caliphate, or even "the ideal of the first century"7 as
though it were set in stone at some identifiable inception point. Frequently

6 E. I. J. Rosenthal Islam in the M odem National State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1975), p. 6.

7 A. K. S. Lambton, "Quis Custodiet Custodes: Some Reflections on the Persian Theory of


Government." Stadia Islamica 5 (1956), p. 143.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
9

the classical treatise of al-Mawardi8 is taken as reflecting some


original dogmatic position from which divergent formulations were sectarian
novelties. This idea that there exists an original orthodox theory leads to
criticism of the medieval theorists of the caliphate on one of two opposing
grounds. Those medieval Muslim writers who adhere closely to the
"original" theory are accused of living "in a world of abstract thought which
had little relation to the facts of the world around them . . . "9 This criticism
may be expressed charitably: "(t)he issues raised by this discrepancy
between faith and practice gave rise to the development of Islamic political
thought,"10 or uncharitably: "a caliphate by election was of course a strictly
bookish notion, a mere jurists' dream,"11 and is only entertained in modem
times "by theological students who shut their eyes to the altered
circumstances of the political world, and expound the doctrine of the
Caliphate as though they were still living in the ninth century."12 On the
other hand, medieval writers on the caliphate who depart from the "original"
theory are criticized for making cynical concessions to political reality. This
criticism, too, can be expressed with fulsome charitableness: "the Caliphate
is the prime example of the legislative efficacy of history."13 But more often

8 See below, Chapter II.

9 Arnold J. Toynbee, Survey o f International Affairs, 1925: Vol. I, The Islamic World sice the
Peace Settlement (London: Oxford University Press, 1927), p. 28.

10 John L. Esposito, Islam and Politics (Syracuse: Syracuse University Press, 1987), p. 27.

11 Elie Kedourie, The Chatham House Version and Other Middle Eastern Studies (Hanover: The
University Press of New England, 1984), p. 180.

12 Thomas Arnold, The Caliphate (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924), p. 18.

13 Leonard Binder, "al-Ghazalt's Theory o f Islamic Government." The Muslim World 45 (1955),
p. 231.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
10

than not, both the discrepancy between theory and practice in the
medieval Islamic state and the tendency of former to accommodate the latter
are portrayed in a negative light, with the implication that there is something
uniquely Islamic about this hypocrisy.
Even more prominent than the irrelevance to which scholars
habitually consign the medieval theory of the caliphate is the allegedly
cynical concession to realpolitik for which they condemn the modern
participants in the caliphate debate. The caliphate question in the 1920's is
described as a "miserably political issue."14 It is observed that "[w]hatever
the ultimate determinants of their views (religious, national, or personal),
Egypt's leaders rationalized their positions and actions in terms of the needs
and interests of the newly created Egyptian national state"15 and that
newspapers "addressed most of their attention to the political dimensions of
the event."16 Acounts of ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq's trial are prefaced with
disclaimers such as: "It seems to have been generally known at the time that
political considerations influenced the trial and conviction, and that Fu’ad's
ambitions determined the issue."17 Less common but also represented
among scholars is the criticism that the twentieth century proponents of
caliphal revival were too idealistic and not pragmatic enough: "Does [the
caliphal revival] really represent . . . a program of revolutionary action by

14 P. J. Vatikiotis, The History o f Egypt from Muhammad Ali to Mubarak (London: Weidenfeld
and Nicolson, 1985), p. 299.

15 Israel Gershoni and James P. Jankowsky, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs: The Search for
Egyptian Nationhood (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 67.

16 Gershoni-Jankowsky, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs, p. 71.

17 Kedourie, Chatham House Version, p. 191.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
11

which they intend to put it into effect, or does it simply signify an


intellectual outlook divorced from prospects of action?"18 The general
attitude is summed up by the remark of one British observer of the time that
"the recent history of the caliphate has been the only piece of comic relief in
the Near and Middle Eastern tragedy."19
Egyptian scholars—for whom the caliphate issue has more
resonance—have taken the intellectual dimensions of the debate more
seriously, and even condemn Western historians for reducing the issue to
mere politics.20 Some Western scholars skirt the issue by portraying the
emphasis on the political aspect of pan-Islam as the product of a scholarly
choice to treat political Islam "less from a religious standpoint and with
greater emphasis on political or economic aspects. . .."21 But the general
view is that the modern-day theory of the caliphate is a case in which
"Muslims made use of the past—for apologetics, for window
dressing—rather than a case in which the past had a creative impact on the
present."22

18 Malcolm Kerr, Islamic Reform: The Political and Legal Theories o f Muhammad ‘Abduh and
Rashid Rida (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966), p. 13.

19 Arnold J. Toynbee, "The Caliphate." Asia: America's Magazine on the Orient 23 (1923), p.
407

20 E. g., Tariq al-Bishrf, ”al-Malik wal-Khilafa al-Islamiyya.” al-Kdtib 13 no. 142 (January
1973), pp. 44-72. '

21 Jacob M. Landau, Pan-Islam: Politics and Ideology (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1960), p. 5.

22 Emmanuel Sivan, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and M odem Politics (New Haven: Yale
University Press, 1990), p. ix.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
12

Religion and Politics in Islam


One feature of the perceived monolithic edifice of Islamic political
thought to which writers about the caliphate issue frequently allude is
Islam's alleged nonrecognition of the separation between religion and
politics. The familiar convention is to portray Islam as diametrically
opposed to Christianity on this issue— an alleged 180 degree difference of
orientation which supposedly helps explain the different courses of political
development in the two parts of the globe in which those two religions
predominate.
An allusion to Islam's alleged nonrecognition of separation of religion
and politics is a matter of course in virtually every article on Islam and
politics in the popular media. We are told that Islam "ignores the frontier
that most people draw between man's inner life and his public actions,
between religion and politics."23 The reader is rarely left unaware of the
sinister implications of this lacuna in the Islamic world-view. For example,
an American journalist records this warning from an Egyptian colleague:
"In the West, you think of schools or religious institutions as totally innocent
because of your tradition of separation of church and state. But for the
Islamic fundamentalist movement there is no separation of church and
state."24
These journalists have taken their cue from scholars of the Middle
East, whose works are rife with somewhat more subtle and qualified
statements which nonetheless express the same import:

23 “Survey of Islam.” The Economist 8/6/94

24 Steven Emerson, "The Other Fundamentalists.” The New Republic 6/12/95.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
13

Universality and indivisibility between religion and politics are


well-established in Islam.25
Islam proved to be a faith in which religion was harnessed to
political power.26
There are offhand references to "the traditional Muslim view that din
(religion) and dawla (state) are twins,"27 and "[t]he integral relationship of
religion to politics in Islam . . . "28 Sometimes, this union of religion and
politics is related to an allegedly unique and essentially Islamic world-view:

Islam denies at the outset the conception familiar in


Christendom of a separation between temporal and spiritual
matters.29

Islam knows no distinction between a spiritual and a temporal


realm, between religious and secular activities.30

The distinction between secular and spiritual for the Muslim


has no meaning.31

The Islamic way of life was a seamless garment, woven of one


piece, without any dividing line between politics and religion.32

25 Landau, Pan-Islam, p. 4

26 Esposito, Islam and Politics, p. 30.

27 Gershoni-Jankowski, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs, p. 71.

28 Esposito, Islam and Politics, p. 30.

29 Kerr, Islamic Reform, p. 3.

30 Rosenthal, Islam in the M odem National State, p. 1.

31 A. K. S. Lambton, State and Government in Medieval Islam: An Introduction to the Study o f


Islamic Political Theory (London: Oxford University Press, 1981), p. 1.

32 Toynbee, Survey, p. 67.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
14

Other times, it is posited as the chief barrier to our understanding


the Islamic world:

Americans tend to find it difficult to conceive of any


amalgamation of politics and religion in twentieth century
political societies, even in the developing world.33
Even where the union of religion and politics is conceded to be
waning, the medieval heritage is still credited with continuing pernicious
influence:

The unity of 'religion’ and 'politics,' essential in classical Islam


down to the threshold of the present century, has now largely
disappeared, or breaks down in practice where it is maintained
in theory. That the theory is still alive accounts for the
difference between Islam and the West from the French
Revolution onwards.34

Even among scholars, the sinister implications of the incompatibility


between Islamic and Western views of the relationship between religion and
state are made explicit:

It is common knowledge that religion and politics in Islam are


closely related, and that in this relationship the prevalent mode
has been for the man of the sword to dominate the man of the
pen.35

The attribution of all essential differences between Islam and West to


this difference in attitude towards the relationship between politics and
religion is no mere throwaway line for journalists and academics. The idea

33 Esposito, Islam and Politics, p. xii.

34 Esposito, Islam and Politics, p. xii.

35 Kedourie, Chatham House Version, p. 177.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
15

that separation of state and religion is the main development that


distinguished Western progress from Middle Eastern backwardness is built
into the Western image of the Islamic East as the primary counterexample to
Western progress, the dark backdrop against which the light of Western
civilization shines all the more brightly. It is no accident that one finds this
theme explicitly formulated on the first page of the signature work of the
first modem European historian:

The Califate may unite ecclesiastical and political power in one


hand; but the whole life and character of western Christendom
consists of the incessant action and counter-action of Church
and State; hence arises the freer, more comprehensive, more
profound activity of mind, which must, on the whole, be
admitted to characterise that portion of the globe.36

The generalization that Islam does not recognize separate spheres for
religion and politics stands up less well to scrutiny than most. First of all, it
is a priori rather unlikely that Islam should have a unique cultural blindness
to the distinction between the sacred and the profane, which is an idea
deeply ingrained in virtually every culture known to history, if not in human
nature itself. It is even less likely there should be such a diametric
opposition on such a fundamental existential issue between religions as
closely related as Islam and Christianity. The two religions share— along
with their mutual ancestor Judaism—the same fundamental and innovative
assumption about the relationship between the ideal and the real: that such
injustice as prevails in our imperfect world will be rectified in the hereafter.
The idea that there is an all-seeing God who witnesses your sins even if no

36 Leopold von Ranke, History o f the Reformation in Germany. Sarah Austin, trans. (London:
Routledge and Sons, 1905), p. 3.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
16

one else does is what separates the guilt-based morality of the


Semitic monotheists from the shame-based morality of the Hellenistic
pagans. The implication of this world-view for the individual is that one
should behave morally even when presented with an opportunity to sin
anonymously. Its implication for governments is that the ruler is under an
obligation to govern justly even when he is powerful enough to be unjust
with impunity. In both cases, the presupposition is that there exists a
morality higher than the imperatives of self-interest—that temporal and
spiritual interests do not coincide.
The alleged contrast between Islam's and Christianity's respective
recognition and nonrecognition of the separation of religion and politics has
been as absent in practice as it is improbable in theory. Both symbiotic co­
existence between the religious and political establishments and pious
aversion to involvement in politics have existed side by side throughout the
histories of both Christianity and Islam, as might be expected given the two
religions' similar metaphysical and ethical teachings. The difference is not
between two opposing orientations, but between the different prominences
of these two orientations within each faith in different periods and
circumstances. The prominence of the first in Islam and the second in
Christianity during the formative periods of their respective creeds was due
to the fact that whereas Islam was allied with a hegemonic world power
from its very inception, Christianity had to wait out several centuries as a
persecuted sect before becoming the religion of an empire— a circumstance
with respect to which the biblical dictum about "rendering unto Caesar that
which is Caesar's" expresses acquiescence rather than approval. Once
Christianity gained the support of a world power, the relationships of the

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
17

two religions with political institutions came to resemble each other


quite closely. At the same time that the Pope was crowning the first Holy
Roman Emperor, there was beginning to emerge in the Islamic world a de
facto division of religious-spiritual and political-administrative authority
embodied in the relationship between Charlemagne's contemporary the
caliph Harun al-Rashld and his chief qadi Abu Yusuf.37 Although in theory
the authority of the caliph was derived ultimately from God, the vagueness
of the link between the two, the absence of a priestly hierarchy to mediate it,
and the focus on the consensus of the community rather than the charisma of
the ruler as the basis of the caliph's legitimacy38 gave Sunni Islamic political
thought an essentially non-theocratic character which was all the more
accentuated by the ever present need to distinguish itself from genuinely
theocratic Shi‘ism.
Recognition of the difference between the spheres of politics and
religion is present in virtually every treatise on government ever written by a
Muslim. This is evident in the definitions of different duties of the caliph
with respect to religion and politics with which virtually all major
contributors to the medieval theory of the caliphate preface their work, from
al-Mawardl:

The imamate is set up for the succeeding of prophecy in the


preservation of the religion (dm) and the administration of the
world (dunya),39

37 See below, Chapter II.

38 See below, Chapter II, for a discussion of the role played by communal consensus { ‘ijma') in
the medieval Sunni theory of the caliphate.

39 Abu al-Hasan ‘All b. Muhammad b. Habib al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultdniyya wal-Wilayat


al-Dlniyya (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-‘Ilmiyya, n. d.), p. 5.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
18

to Ibn Khaldun:

The caliphate serves to protect the religion and exercise


leadership of the world.40
Far from blurring the distinction between religion and state, Islamic political
thought—and the theory of the caliphate in particular—is about locating the
dividing line with precision.

The Caliphate in Islam ic Law


The key to overcoming the unsophisticated view of relations between
religion and politics in Islam engendered by the simplistic juxtaposition of a
supposedly ideologically pure medieval theory of the caliphate against
allegedly unadulteratedly political caliphate movements of modem times is
understanding that the development of Islamic political thought was gradual
and continuously evolving. In traditional Islamic scholarship the theory of
the caliphate is a subtopic of Islamic law, or the Shari‘a, and Islamic
theology, or Kalam. What is taken to be the "classical" theory of the
caliphate is merely a reflection of the juncture at which these two fields of
theological endeavor had arrived at the time when outside historical
forces—primarily the decline of the Abbasid Empire and the threat of
Shi‘ism—made precise doctrinal formulation of the ideals of the caliphate
necessary.
It is often noted that Islam is a religion oriented more towards practice
than faith. It is almost equally often noted that in this respect Islam
resembles Judaism more than Christianity. Of course, whereas Islamic law

40 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima (Dar al-Maktaba al-Lubnaniyya, 1961), p. 339.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
19

adheres to the principle— explicitly expressed in no fewer than five


different Qur’an verses—that "We only require of a soul only that which it is
capable of,"41 and the equally frequent assertion in the Hadith that the
religion of Islam was revealed "not to make things difficult but to make
things easy,"42 the spirit of talmudic Judaism is rather the opposite. Despite
this difference in approach, the Shari‘a occupies the same central position in
Sunni Islam that the Talmud occupies in rabbinic Judaism, and in the same
way that Jewish tradition considers the Talmud to be a second Torah,
Muslim tradition endows the Shari* a with a pedigree that connects it to the
Qur’an.
In the theory worked out by al-Shafi‘1 (d. 820), the sources of S harfa
law are the Qur’an, the Sunna, Qiyas, and Ijrna',43 in that order. The first
place to look for a legal ruling is the Qur’an. If nothing is to be found in the
Qur’an, then the Sunna—the recorded actions and sayings of the Prophet—is
to be consulted. If no explicit examples or instructions are to be found in the
Sunna, then a qiyas, or analogy between like cases, can be made based on
examples from the Qur’an or the Sunna. If the evidence of the Qur’an and

41 Qur’an 2: 233,2: 286, 6: 152,7: 42, 23: 62.

42 Bukhari, Wudu’, 219.

43 Discussion of the Shari‘a is often confused by discrepancies between technical and colloquial
usage of these four terms. Technically, Sunna (with the meaning of "example worthy of being followed")
consists of the deeds and words of the Prophet. Hadith (with the meaning of "report") consists of the
written record of these deeds and words. Colloquially, an individual action of the Prophet is often referred
to as a sunna (with the meaning "customary practice"), and an individual saying of the prophet is often
referred to as a hadith, (with meaning "verbal utterance"). In this dissertation, the Prophet's words and
deeds will be referred to collectively as Sunna (Capitalized, unitalicized); an individual practice o f the
Prophet will be referred to as a sunna (uncapitalized, italicized). The body of literature which records the
Prophet's words and deeds will be referred to as Hadith (Capitalized, unitalicized); an individual saying of
the Prophet will be referred to as a hadith (uncapitalized, italicized). Similar Ijina* and Qiyas (Capitalized,
unitalicized) will be used to refer to the principles of consensus and analogy; ijmd' and qiyas
(uncapitalized, italicized) will be used to refer to a particular consensus or analogy applied to a particular
case.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
20

the Sunna does not provide sufficient material for a giyds-analogy,


then the ‘ulama’ must arrive at their own consensus, or ijma’. In the absence
of an ijma ‘-consensus of the ‘ulama’, the frowned-upon exercise of ijtihad
("individual reasoning,") or ra’y ("personal opinion") may be resorted to.
According to most Sunni jurists, the gate of Ijtihad was closed in the tenth
century,44 and since that time the S harfa has theoretically been fully formed
and unchanging.
The ranking in authoritativeness of these bases and methods of legal
reasoning is closely tied to presuppositions about the order and mode of their
historical appearance. The Qur’an is the sacred revelation with which Islam
began, and the Sunna is the example set by the Prophet during his lifetime.
Both the text of the Qur’an and the Hadith record of the Sunna are believed
to have been known correctly to all right-thinking Muslims of the first
generation. Similarly, correct ijmd‘s are believed to be derived ultimately
from the consensus of the first generation. Sectarian disputes and
misapplication of the Shari‘a are due to deviations— whether by innocent
error or malicious intent—of generations separated by time from first-hand
knowledge the Prophet and space from the original community at Medina.
One such deviation is considered to be over-reliance on Qiyas and Ijtihad in
jurisprudence without exhausting all the possibilities offered by Qur’an and
Sunna.
Western historians have questioned many of these presuppositions.
They speculate that the first qadls in the first Arab amsdr garrison towns

44 For the standard view of the "closing of the gate of Ijtihad" see Joseph Schacht, An Introduction
to Islamic Law (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1964), p. 71 i f f . ; for a reappraisal of the standard view see Wael
Hallaq, "Was the Gate of Ijtihad Closed?" IJMES 16 (1984), pp. 3-41.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
21

would naturally have at first employed their personal opinion (ra’y)


rationalized by their individual reasoning (ijtihad) when confronted by a
legal problem.45 As the need for standardization became clear, approved
techniques of legal reasoning were established under the heading of Qiyas,
and gradually consensuses, or ijma ‘s were arrived at on issues that came up
with frequency. To endow certain widely accepted theological doctrines and
legal positions— and perhaps also widely practiced pre-Islamic tribal
customs— with Islamic legitimacy, the Sunna was expanded by forged
hadlths that on the basis of their language and subject matter seem very
unlikely to have been spoken by the Prophet.
This projects a view of the development of the Shari‘a which is just
about the diametrical opposite of the view taken Muslim tradition itself. But
the evidence of the Muslim sources themselves bears much of this opposing
view out. It was the earliest deceased of the four founders of the Sunni
schools of law, Abu Hanifa (d. 767) who was noted for liberal use of Ijtihad
and Ra’y, and the latest deceased, Ibn Hanbal (d. 855) who was noted for
literal adherence to the Qur’an and Sunna. As we shall see, the prominence
of Ijtihad and Ra’y in Ibn al-Muqaffa‘'s (d. 756) Risala as opposed to the
prominence of Sunna and Hadith in Abu Yusufs (d. 798) Khardj is also
suggestive of the direction of the change of the relative weights of reason
and revelation in early Islamic legal theory.46 As we shall also see, until the
end of the Mihna (847), even the exact status of the Qur’an itself—though

45 Schacht, Introduction to Islamic Law, p. 37.

46 See below, Chapter II.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
22

undeniably a very early text based on its eccentric orthography and


general unedited feel47—was open to question.
The modem historian's view not only the historical emergence of the
Shari4a as a whole, but also the historical development of each of its parts,
has come increasingly to come to mn counter to the traditional Islamic
version of events. This is particularly true of the two elements of the Shari‘a
which figure most prominently in the theory of the caliphate: Hadith and
Ijma‘. In theory, the prophetic hadiths contained in the canonical collections
are undisputed sayings direct from the mouth of a divinely inspired Prophet.
As text, they are therefore only slightly less sacred than Qur’an revelations
conveyed directly to the Prophet from God by Gabriel, and constitute a font
of authoritative wisdom and doctrine, departure from which qualifies as a
heretical deviation from pre-established norms. It has often been argued by
historians that the actual process of the historical emergence of the Hadith is
probably the reverse of what Muslim orthodoxy claims. That is to say,
many if not most hadiths probably came into circulation at a later point in
the history of the early community to justify widely accepted practices or
beliefs, and were then backdated to the time of the Prophet.
Hadiths about the caliphate are especially vulnerable to the suspicion
of forgery because (1) there are no references to the caliphate in the
Qur’an,48 (2) the institution did not exist in the time of the Prophet, and (3)
the caliphate was exactly the sort of politically and theologically charged

47 For a summary o f scholarly challenges to an early date for the Qur’an text and a convincing
demolition of them, see Fred Donner, Narratives o f Islamic Origins: The Beginnings o f Islamic Historical
Writings (Princeton: The Darwin Press, 1998), Introduction and Chapter 1.

48 For a discussion of alleged references in the Qur’an to the caliphate see below, Chapter II, pp.
63-7.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
23

issue likely to engender hadith fabrication. In addition, the words


"imam" and "amir"— which initially meant "prayer leader" and "military
commander," but eventually also became caliphal titles— are used far more
frequently than the word khalifa in hadiths about the caliphate. Correct
prayer procedure and success in military expeditions— as opposed to
prognosticative commentary on a political institution that did not appear
until after his death— were two subjects that are likely to have interested the
historical Muhammad a great deal. It is easy to see how the Prophet's
instructions to worshippers to follow their imam or soldiers to obey their
amir could have been posthumously interpreted—with either slight editing
or simple allegorical reading— as applying to the relationship between the
caliph and his subjects.
Orientalists have claimed for themselves the "discovery" that many
hadiths were probably forged and dubbed it "the cornerstone of all serious
investigation of early Muhammadan law and jurisprudence."49 In fact, the
cloud of suspicion which would inevitably hover above any body of
literature such as the Hadith appeared no more and no less nebulous to
medieval Muslim scholars than to modem orientalists. While Western
scholarship has focused on analysis of the content and form in evaluating the
authenticity of hadiths, traditional Islamic scholarship has focused on the
isnad (chain of transmission). This is probably because the early collectors
of Hadith did not want to open discussions about the logical possibility or
intuitive likelihood of the Prophet having said this or that particular thing.

49 Joseph Schacht, The Origins o f Muhammadan Jurisprudence (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975),
p. 4.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
24

They above all wanted to forestall the interference of natural


skepticism about the authenticity of hadiths with their indispensable
function of extending guidance of Qur’an-like authoritativeness to situations
that had not come up during the Prophet's lifetime. Among the most
important of such situations were those relating to government and
administration dealt with by the theory of the caliphate. The indispensability
of Hadith to Islamic law is itself recognized by a hadith: "Everything that is
of good speech may be regarded as having been said by me." In other
words, if hadiths had not existed, it would have been necessary to invent
them.
The same reversal of the traditional Muslim chronology has been
applied to the development of the other cornerstone of the theory of the
caliphate: the concept of Ijma‘. The idea per se that communal consensus is
a manifestation of divine will is not unique to Islam; the kata holos ("with
the whole") principle of papal election from which Catholicism derives its
name is a prominent example in Christianity. But communal consensus
became uniquely important to a religion like Islam in which faith and
practice are regulated by an amorphous, decentralized, and not entirely
systematically credentialled body of religious scholars rather than by fiat
from the top level of an official, well-defined hierarchy of priests. According
to the traditional Muslim view, most correct ijma ‘s can be traced to the
consensus of the generation of the Prophet, which was followed by the
Muslims of Medina, and handed down from generation to generation to the
present day. It has been speculated that historically, Ijma‘ in Islamic law
originally meant the consensus of the present generation, which was
projected across space to the city of Medina and back in time the generation

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
25

of the Companions.50 It has also been pointed out that the idea of
conforming to a previously established ijm a‘s is inherently circular, since it
is only through the consensus of the living about the facts of history that the
consensus of generations gone by can be known.51 Indeed, although Ijma‘ is
theoretically of lesser rank than the Qur’an and Sunna, it is only consensus
about the correct texts of the Qur’an and Sunna that makes those two
authoritative to begin with.
Islam is no less aware of the ambiguities inherent in the principle of
Ijma‘ than of the danger of hadith fabrication. Its potential for self-serving
justification of the status quo—particularly in the realm of government and
politics—is obvious: since the outcome of any political struggle can be
interpreted as a consequence of an ijma ‘ of the community, and since any
ijmd‘ of the community is an expression of God's will, all historical events
can be stamped with ex post facto di vine approval. The infallibility of Ijma‘
is asserted by the hadith "My community will not agree on error," while the
virtues of diversity are hailed by the hadith "Disagreement in my community
is a divine blessing." The priority of consensus over text is hinted at by the
idea of hadith mutawatir—a hadith so widely accepted that it may be
regarded as authentic without reference to its isndd. On the other hand the
potential of Ijma‘ as a pretext for circumventing tradition is recognized by
Ibn Hanbal's famous warning that "anyone who invokes ijma‘ is a liar."52

50 Schacht, Introduction to Islamic Law, p. 31.

51 E. g., H. A. R. Gibb, Mohammedanism (London: Oxford University Press, 1949), p. 96.

52 See Muhammad al-Khidr Husayn, Naqd Kitab al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm (Cairo: al-Matba‘a
al-Salafiyya, 1926), pp. 62-3 for the genealogy of this statement of Ibn Hanbal.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
The reverse historical vision of the founders of Sunni
orthodoxy is most clear—appropriately—with regard to the S harfa principle
from which Sunnism gets it name. In theory the Sunna is based on the
practice of the Prophet, which was imitated by the first generation, became
in due course the standard practice of the people of Medina, and ultimately
became—through the good offices of Malik—the standard practice of the
umma as a whole. It has been speculated that in fact the historical
development was the reverse, that Sunna originally meant "standard
practice"53—perhaps of particular tribes— with something of the connotation
of English common law or continental droit commun, and was backdated
first to the generation of the companions and finally to the Prophet himself.
There is evidence that the concept of the Sunna of the Rashidun caliphs
predated the concept of the Sunna of the Prophet54 and certainly the sunnas
of the Rashidun occupy as important position as— and in fact merge
with— the Sunna of the Prophet in the theory of the caliphate.55
The apparent contradiction between the historian's and the believer's
view of the Shari‘a is not as irreconcilable as it might appear at first glance.
First of all, to say that what later became Sunni doctrine about the relative
primacy in jurisprudence and the priority in history of the principles of
Islamic law was not articulately formulated in the earliest period does not
mean it did not exist. It is possible that a silent majority of Muslims were
imitating the Prophet's example, following his instructions and adhering to

53 Schacht, Introduction to Islamic Law, p. 17.

54 Schacht, Introduction to Islamic Law, p. 17; G. H. A. Juynboll, Some New Ideas on the
Development o f the Sunna as a Technical Term in Early Islam. JSAI 10 (1987), pp. 97-118.

55 See below, Chapter II.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
27

the consensus of the early Medinan community without saying so


explicitly until forced to do so by sectarian challenges.56 Secondly, the very
nature and function of the Shari4a obliges it to endow itself with a pedigree
connecting it unambiguously with the revelatory moment regardless of
considerations of historical plausibility or logical coherence. Finally,
although treating the history of the Shari4a differently than its inventors did
might be uncomfortable for someone brought up with a traditional Muslim
education, it does the service to Islamic Law of revealing it as a developing
living organism rather than as the petrified monolith of the conservative
4ulama’ and the orientalists. Viewing the Shari4a as a flexible and evolving
enterprise is also far more amenable to the Islamic modernist goal of
reopening the gate of Ijtihad for which many early twentieth century
reformist ‘ulama’ felt the revival of the caliphate was a prerequisite.

The Caliphate and Islamic Theology


The same opposition between the historian's and the believer's
perspective which complicates study of the history of the Shari4a also clouds
the historical origins of Muslim theology. In theory, all the correct
theological doctrines of Sunnism were known to the first generation of
Muslims and subsequent departures from them are regarded as sectarian
deviations. But the generation of the Prophet had no more need of theology
than it had of a legal and political system, because it had the Prophet
himself.

56 The concept of a "silent living tradition" is used to reconcile the "historian's" and "believer"s"
perspectives on the ShaiTa very effectively by Fazlur Rahman, Islam (Chicago: University of Chicago
Press, 1966).

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
28

The Qur’an is by definition not a work of theology. Like


other sacred books, the Qur’an encourages various types of desirable human
behavior on the basis of not entirely consistent metaphysical beliefs. It
instills aversion to sin by threatening eternal damnation, while encouraging
repentance with the promise of divine forgiveness; the opening sura
describes God as both "the Merciful, the Compassionate" and "Owner of the
Day of Judgment."57 The Qur’an encourages humility and acceptance of fate
by stressing that human destiny is in God's hands: "Allah sends astray
whomever he wills, and sets on the straight path whomever he wills."58 But
it also instills the obligation to behave morally by hinting at the opposite:
"Whoever chooses disbelief instead of faith has gone astray from a plain
road."59 Provision of resonant inspiration for a comprehensive range of
logically contradictory but psychologically and socially beneficial human
impulses is the hallmark of any belief system that becomes a world religion.
Overemphasis on one such impulse at the expense of the others— or
overinsistence on the logical coherence of the metaphysics underlying
them—is what relegates a belief system to the status of sect or cult.
Heresiology was eventually to become a fertile subfield of Muslim
theology. In order to reach the magic number of 73, based on the hadith:
"My community will be divided into 73 sects,"60 the heresiologists
frequently turned obscure individuals known for deviant theological

57 Qur’an 1: 2-3.

58 Qur’an 6:39.

59 Qur’an 2:108.

60 Abu Da’ud, Sunna 4579.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
29

opinions into movements by the simple expedient of adding the


abtract -iyya (roughly: "-ism") ending to their personal names. The major
sectarian subdivisions of early Islam are actually five: the Kharijites, the
Qadarites, the M urji’ites, the M u‘tazilites, and the Shi‘ites.
The politics and theology of the fifth of these sectarian subdivisions,
Shi‘ism is not discussed at length in this dissertation, and indeed, is only
mentioned at all for the purposes of comparison with Sunnism. This is
because the nature of governmental authority which is the central question of
the Sunni theory of the caliphate is not open to question at all in Shi‘ism. In
Shi‘ism the political legitimacy of the imam comes directly and exclusively
from God. Such protests against the historical Sunni caliphate as are
identifiably and genuinely Shi‘ite. were not made on the basis that the caliph
should be more just, less authoritarian or better qualified, but on the basis
that he was not the true imam. Moreover, although Western scholars
reflexively echo Sunni orthodoxy's own self-image by speaking of "the
difference between the Sunni and the later Shi‘ite persuasions,"61 the ShTite
ideal for the caliphate, if anything, predated the Sunni.62 The Sunni theory
of the caliphate was a reaction against what we might call Shi‘ite
theocratism, whose most radical fringe advocates, such as the Druze and the
‘Alawis, actually make the imam part of a divine trinity.
The paradox of Shi‘ism is that although its ideal for the caliphate
represents the most theocratic and authoritarian strain of Islamic political
thought, it has historically been in the forefront of what we would today

61 Binder, Islamic Liberalism, p. 229.

62 See below, Chapter II.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
30

regard as some of the more progressive political and intellectual


developments in Islamic history. This is especially true of Isma‘TlI Shi‘ism,
which, although today a minority within a minority, was at the time of the
emergence of the classical theory of the caliphate a serious competitor with
Sunnism for political and intellectual dominance of the entire Islamic world.
Shi‘ism—and Ism a‘ilism in particular—has also been associated with
another field of human endeavor which is far less relevant than might be
expected to the history of Islamic political thought: Islamic philosophy. As
we shall see, the contributions of both Shfism and Islamic philosophy to the
evolution of the Sunni theory of the caliphate were essentially negative,
forcing Sunnism to foreground the non-theocratic and anti-rationalist
elements of its political theory.
The contributions of the other four of the above-mentioned sectarian
subdivisions to the evolution of the theory of the caliphate were more
positive. More will be said about their precise doctrines about the caliphate
in Chapter II. Here we may note that while sectarianism in any religion
often has thinly disguised political roots, the political roots of early Muslim
sectarianism are not disguised at all because Islam had already become a
state religion at the same time that its theology was undergoing its birth
pangs. As the founder of nineteenth century Islamic Modernism
Muhammad ‘Abduh pointed out, "opinions about the caliphs and the
caliphate went hand in hand with opinions about doctrine as if they were
first principles of the Islamic creed."63 Accordingly, each of the early
Islamic sects has both a theological and a political component. Even the

63 Muhammad ‘Abduh, Risalat al-Tawhld (Beirut: Dar al-Shuruq, 1994), p. 25.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
31

Muslim term for political strife, fitna, has theological significance;


in many hadiths it is associated with the end of days and the Antichrist. The
word itself has the connotation of "temptation to sin"—in this case the
temptation of the community to succumb to civil discord. The exact date of
the onset of fitna is itself a matter of theological dispute. In addition to
having distinctive positions on the soul of the sinner and fate of the unjust
ruler, the Kharijites, Qadarites, Murji’ites and M u‘tazilites all weigh in on
the question of at what point during the reign of ‘Uthman (644-656) the
Rashidun era ended m d fitna began.
Fitna is a kind of original sin for the umrna, and is symbolized by the
caliphate becoming a mere political post subject to military power struggles.
The close correspondence between the onset of fitna and what Ibn Khaldun
and others refer to as "the decline of caliphate into mere kingship" recalls the
biblical episode in which the Israelites persuade Samuel— against his better
judgment—to "give us a king to rule us as in all the other nations."64 Just as
the exchange of government by judges acclaimed by consensus for
government by hereditary kings was the beginning of the spiritual and
eventual political downfall of Israel, so the exchange of government by
rightly-guided Rashidun Companions of the Prophet for government by
hereditary caliphal dynasties removed from the umma a crucial aspect of
uniqueness. The tragedy of this historical development is expressed by the
frequently quoted hadith: "The caliphate after me will be thirty years;
afterwards is mere kingship."65 The Prophet also predicted, with equal

64 Samuel I, 8: 5.

65 Abu D a’ud, Sunna 4629.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
32

prescience, that "never will the gate of fitna be so opened as on the


issue of the caliphate."
The same provisos which apply to the apparent irreconcilability of the
historian's and the believer's views of the S harfa also apply to Islamic
theology. First of all, just because what eventually became Sunni
theological doctrine was not explicitly formulated by the earliest believers
does not mean it did not exist. Secondly, theological orthodoxy by its very
nature defines itself against unacceptable extremes which it subsequently
claims to have predated. Finally, and most importantly, viewing Islamic
theology as the product of an ongoing process allows us to distinguish
general principles that endured over time from particular dogmas which
were related to specific historical circumstances.
Nowhere in Islam is the catch 22 of orthodoxy so evident as in the
Sunni theory of the caliphate. As we shall see, what eventually became the
"Sunni" approach to government has its roots in a process that started
several centuries before the emergence of Sunnism as a self-conscious
movement with identifiable beliefs. In fact, the articulation of the theory of
the caliphate was itself a crucial component in the process of the formation
of Sunnism. The theorists of the caliphate were trying to stake out a middle
ground for Islamic government between the extremes of Kharijite anarchism
and Shi‘ite theocratism. This enterprise was prompted by more than just
theoretical considerations: Kharijism in the eighth and ninth centuries and
ShTism in the ninth and tenth posed not only potent ideological challenges
but also serious military threats to the Abbasid caliphate. As opponents of
the ruling regime asserting how they thought things ought to be, KharijI and
Shi‘I ideologues had no trouble being doctrinaire and consistent in their

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
33

prescriptions for the caliphate. As defenders of the status quo,


trying to justify how things actually were, the Sunni caliphate theorists often
found themselves squeezed into barely consistent positions by the twin tasks
of denying sectarian claims on the one hand and justifying historical
precedents on the other. To take one rather glaring example, in order to
counter the Shi'i doctrine of nass, or designation of a successor by the
preceding imam, the classical caliphate theorists insisted that the caliph be
selected by election rather than appointment; at the same time, in order to
justify historical practice of appointment by the caliph of his son as
successor, they state that election may be legitimately accomplished by a
single elector.
Logical consistency and historical accuracy were not the main
priorities of the theorists of the caliphate. They were guided above all by the
goals of maintaining the unity of the Muslim community and preserving the
continuity of the historical caliphal succession. In medieval times the main
threats to Islamic unity were tribal and sectarian challenges to the integrity
of caliphal domains and the main threat to Islamic continuity was the idea
that the line of caliphal succession ought to have been different from what it
actually was. In modern times the main threat to Islamic unity has been
Western imperialist conquest of Islamic domains and their division into
national states, and the main threat to Islamic continuity has been the spread
in the Muslim world of theories o f government based on European political
theory rather than the Shari‘a which have no use for the ideals of the
caliphate at all.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
34

Periodization of E arly Islam ic H istory


Viewing Islamic political thought as an evolving intellectual organism
rather than a static intellectual edifice enables us to tell the story of the
evolution of the medieval theory of the caliphate in a single developing
narrative rather than in the two disconnected medieval and modem parts into
which it is usually divided. Chapter II, "The Formation of the Caliphal
Ideal," details the process by which the ideals of the "classical" theory of the
caliphate were formed. Here it would be useful to note how the different
periods it identifies in the evolution of relations between state and religion in
Islam fit into other commonly employed periodizations of early Islamic
history.
The traditional periodization of the Early Period employed by the
Islamic historians and the earliest orientalists is a tripartite division based on
changes in the seat of government and the dynasties which controlled it: the
Prophetic state and Rashidun caliphate at Medina (622-661), the Umayyad
caliphate at Damascus (661-750), and the Abbasid caliphate at Baghdad
(750-945).66 In the traditional Islamic view, the Rashidun were wise and just
guardians of the Prophet's legacy, the Umayyads impious and rapacious
usurpers, and the Abbasids religion-minded restorers of a semblance of
Islamic egalitarianism to the state. Western historians, more interested in
the nature of the polity than the piety of its rulers, have labeled the Umayyad
and Abbasid periods the "Arab state" and the "Islamic empire"67

66 945 is often used as an appropiate endpoint to the Early Period because it marked the
occupation of Baghdad by the Persian ShPite Buyid dynasty— symbolizing the end of the caliph's political
independence. In fact the caliphate's political authority began to decline well before 945 and showed
sporadic bursts of renewal afterwards. See Chapter II, pp. 114-5 and 121.

67 Bernard Lewis, The Arabs in History (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993).

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
35

respectively, because of a perceived shift from Arab prestige and


tribal politics to religious slogans and imperial absolutism as the basis of
government legitimacy. Some would mark this shift as beginning not with
the Abbasid Revolution of 750 but in the middle of the reign of the
Umayyad ‘Abd al-Malik, who, after ending the second Fitna in 692 by
suppressing revolts by both the Arab old guard of Medina and the up and
coming ‘Alid movement in Iraq, introduced to the Islamic state such
hallmarks of empire as monumental building, the installation of members of
the royal family in important provincial governorships, and the
standardization of the imperial language, bureaucracy, and coinage.68 Others
have argued that divine absolutism was the basis of the Islamic state from
the very beginning, and that the demand that the caliph adhere to Islamic
principles of social justice—and the mythology of the Prophet and Rashidun
which grew up with it— was an innovation rather than an effort to revive a
lost ideal.69
From the point of view of the evolution of relations between religion
and state—rather that of the history of either the religion or the state
alone—this dissertation breaks down the Early Period into three
subdivisions: (1) from the hijra (622) which established the Prophetic state
at Medina to the first fitna (assigned by various theological sects to some
point between the beginning of the 644-656 reign of ‘Uthman to as late as
the death al-Hasan six months after his father ‘All in 66170) which marked

68 Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture o f Islam: Concience and History in a World Civilization,
Volume I, The Classical Age o f Islam (Chicago: University o f Chicago Press, 1977), pp. 233-251.

69 Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds, God's Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Five Centuries
o f Islam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

70 See below, Chapter II, for a discussion of sectarian perspectives on the onset of fitna.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
36

the end of rule by a caliph elected on the basis of communal


consensus; (2) from the fitna to the mihna, the so called "Islamic Inquisition"
(833-847), which marked the end of the growth of the power of the caliphate
as a hereditary monarchical institution culminating in the Abbasid dynasty's
failed effort to impose caliphal religious authority on the community; and
(3) from the mihna to the end of the unified caliphal state, which can be
dated anywhere from the 945 Buyid occupation of Baghdad to the Mongol
destruction of Baghdad in 1258. These three subdivisions of the early
Islamic period—hijra to fitna, fitna to mihna and post-mihna11—-differ from
each other in both the types of historical evidence available for each period
and the significance of the history of each period to future generations of
Muslims. In Islam as in any religion, the further back one goes in time the
more archetypal the mythology becomes, and the more obscure the historical
record.
In the case of Islam the period of origins is uniquely lacking in
documentary evidence. Almost all of what historians of this period present
as "fact" is culled from a tiny number of canonical accounts which were
committed to print centuries after the fact. Independent documentary
evidence is so conspicuously lacking for this period that historians have
produced accounts of the origins of Islam which range from confirming even
the most minor details of the canonical Muslim version of events to denying
such major details as the very existence of the Prophet Muhammad.72

71 It may be observed that this periodization does in fact correspond somewhat with the traditional
Rashidun—Umayyad— Abbasid division, with the proviso that the middle o f the three extends backwards
into the Rashidun era and forwards to some time after the Abbasid revolution.

72 The best known o f the extreme revisionist accounts is Patricia Crone and Michael Cook,
Hagarism: The Making o f the Islamic World (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), which
although extreme in its account of events is useful as a "thought experiment" which shows just how little

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
37

Paradoxically, these unverifiable details were to be of paramount


significance to future generations of Muslims because the behavior of the
founding fathers came to be regarded as the exemplary model to be imitated
by future generations. Moreover, because of the abrupt change in
Muhammad's political status—from outcaste preacher to head of
state— brought about by the hijra, the Meccan and Medinan portions of the
Qur’an evince quite opposite attitudes towards relations between state and
religion. The Meccan verses portray Muhammad as a "warner" with no
authority to enforce his prescription for salvation, while the Medinan verses
lay down the law in a way that expects it to be obeyed.73 In the traditional
Islamic view relations between Islam and the state from the hijra through the
end of the Medinan caliphate were unique inasmuch as the two were
identical, the Islamic state being run by the Prophet himself and his intimate
companions whose legitimacy was based on their close personal association
with him. As a consequence, there was no need for an explicit political
ideology to bolster governmental authority, and such political principles as
the prophet and Rashidun may have operated under can only be inferred by
generalizing from their recorded words and deeds in response to specific
circumstances.
For the fitna to mihna period the historical evidence is still scant,
although uneven documentary evidence is increasingly available to test
against surviving historical accounts. The events of this period are nowhere

evidence there is to go on if we dismiss the handful of traditional Muslim accounts as "biased in favor of
Islam."

73 Selective citation o f Meccan and Medinan verses respectively to show that the Prophet either
did or did not advocate state enforcement of religious practice figured prominently in the debate between
‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq and his opponents. See below, Chapter IV.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
38

near as paradigmatically significant as those of the period


immediately prior. Indeed, in the orthodox Sunni view, the bulk of this
period—the 89 years of Umayyad rule (661-750)—is a time best left
forgotten, since most of its caliphs were regarded as usurping dynasts, and
most of its memorable religious figures were leaders of religious movements
which were later consigned by heresiologists to the margins orthodoxy. This
vilification of the Umayyads by the traditional sources is automatically
suspect because virtually all of the surviving accounts— even those which
might have been circulated orally at an earlier time— were not written down
until the Abbasid era. Accordingly, the Umayyads' view of the relationship
between their caliphal authority and Islam has been ground zero for
revisionist interpretations of the relationship between religion and state in
the early Islamic period.74 It was only towards the end of the fitna to mihna
period that opposing views of the caliphate began to be written down in self­
consciously political treatises. The two major representatives of the two
competing trends are Ibn al-Muqaffa‘'s Risala f i al-Sahaba and Abu Yusufs
Kitab al-Kharaj. Because Abu Yusufs vision of a caliph limited by the
strictures of the Hadith was so overwhelmingly victorious eventually, it
requires a slight leap of the imagination to realize that Ibn al-Muqaffa‘'s
divine-absolutist vision preceded and predominated what eventually became
the Sunni doctrine.75

74 Watt, Crone and Kadi employ both the tafslr o f the khalifa verses of the Qur’an and Umayyad
court poetry and epistolature to revise the standard view o f the Umayyads as uninterested in religious
legitimacy. See below, Chapter II.

75 The significance of the contest between the views of the state represented by Abu Yusuf and
Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ is stressed by S. D. Goitein, "A Turning Point in the History of the Muslim State," in
Studies in Islamic History and Institutions (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1968), pp. 149-167. See below, Chapter II.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
39

The process of separation between the spheres of politics and


religion which culminated in the defeat of the mihna settled permanently the
issue of whether the caliph or the ‘ulama’ had the right to set "religious
policy." With the close of the mihna in the mid-ninth century, the
complementary relationship between the caliph as political and military
protector of the religion and the ‘ulama’ as guardians of its doctrine and
practice was cemented. From this brief period of happy coexistence
between the religious and political establishments and immediately after
date the classical formulations of the theory of the caliphate—rooted firmly
in by then canonical hadiths and accepted ijmd ‘s— as developed by Ibn al-
Baqillanl and al-Baghdadi and culminating in al-Mawardi.
Keeping in mind these stages of development of the relations between
Islam and the state is especially important in view of the fact that the first
Islamic state appeared simultaneously with the Muslim religion. The early
history of a religion resembles the early history of a state in that it starts with
a period of origins during which historical circumstance and charismatic
leadership combine to produce a new historical force, and moves to a
succeeding phase where conflicting interests compete for the founder's
legacy. From there, however, religions that survive for more than a
generation branch out into various sects and trends, and undergo alternating
periods of decline and renewal that do not correspond to the neater
paradigms that can be applied to political entities. Indeed, what
distinguishes a world religion is its ability to survive the vicissitudes of
political upheaval. Nevertheless, the early parallel development of the first
Islamic state and the Muslim religion has resulted in the widely circulated
misconception that Islam does not recognize separation of state and religion.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
40

In fact, an acute awareness of the distinction between the affairs of


this world and those of the next is precisely what caused the religious and
political establishments of the Islamic world to drift apart almost
immediately upon the death of Muhammad. The development of the
medieval theory of the caliphate reflects this progressive severing of Islam
from all political moorings, setting the stage for the emergence of a self-
conscious Sunni orthodoxy and enabling it to survive the demise of Islamic
political unity and serve as the moral constitution of an international
cosmopolitan culture.

The Evolution of the Classical Theory of the Caliphate


While the exact timing of the decline of the unified Islamic state is
hard to pin down, its cumulative effect on Islamic political thought is not. It
meant that the ongoing dispute about the nature of caliphal authority which
had been the main issue of Islamic political thought in the early period
ceased to have practical significance. It is in fact one of the paradoxes of
Islamic history that it was precisely during the time that the institution of the
caliphate shrunk into insignificance that the classical formulations of the
theory of the caliphate were produced. But it is in fact precisely in weakness
that political institutions need to be bolstered by ideology.
Al-MawardI represents both the culmination of ongoing formulation
of the nature of the caliphate that had continued throughout the early period
and the beginning of the adaptation of this theory to the increasing political
irrelevance of the actual caliph—taking what has been characterized as "the
first steps on the downward slope which was to lead to the collapse of the

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
whole theory."76 The first half of Chapter III, "The Caliphal Ideal
in Retreat and Resurgence," surveys the work of al-Mawardi's successors
with a view to portraying them not as abandoning the ideals of the caliphate,
but as struggling to maintain them first in the face of the caliphate's de facto
decline after 945, and then in the face of its de jure disappearance in 1258.
As long as a caliph continued to reside in Baghdad thinkers like al-Ghazali
could uphold his right to play a formal role in giving his stamp of approval
to whichever sultan was in control of the central Islamic lands. After the
Mongol destruction of Baghdad some thinkers like al-Taftazanl continued to
yearn wistfully for its return, while others such as Ibn Taymiyya embraced
head-on the task of coming up with a formula for Islamic political
legitimacy in the absence of the institution which had embodied it since the
death of Muhammad. Ibn Khaldun was in many ways the culmination in the
adaptation of the theory of the caliphate to the realities of the Middle Period;
as "the world's first sociologist" rather than a theologian, he was much more
interested in describing how the caliphate fit into his analysis of the
mechanism of ‘asabiyya ("group loyalty" or "dynastic prestige") as the
engine of power and legitimacy than in ascertaining correct doctrine.
Nevertheless, even at the height of the political fragmentation of the Middle
Period, Ibn Khaldun ascribes an important place for religious legitimacy in
the healthy functioning of the state.
Despite the fact that he was not primarily a religious thinker, Ibn
Khaldun's reputation not only in the lands of Islam but worldwide made him

76 H. A. R. Gibb, "Some Considerations on the Sunni Theory of the Caliphate," Studies on the
Civilization o f Islam, p. 14

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
42

a favorite source of citations for twentieth century ‘ulama’. For


example, Ibn Khaldun's statement that the early Islamic theologian "al-
Baqillani" did not believe that the caliph must necessarily be of Quraysh
descent came up repeatedly in the minutes of the 1926 Cairo Caliphate
Conference.77 What Ibn al-Baqillam—Ibn Khaldun cites his name
inaccurately— actually says is that that the caliph does not specifically have
to be a descendent of the Hashim clan of Quraysh. The restriction of the
caliphate to the Banu Hashim had been one of several slogans used in the
eighth century to co-opt Shi‘ite support for the Abbasid revolution,78 and
expanding the caliph's pedigree to Quraysh in general was in Ibn al-
Baqillanl's time one step further away from the ShTites-—by then implacable
foes of the Abbasids— and one step closer to re-legitimizing the link
between the Abbasids and the Rashidun caliphs provided by the Umayyads
who were descended from the ‘Abd Shams rather than Hashim branch of
Quraysh. Ibn Khaldun is convinced that it was Quraysh's ‘asabiyya and not
just its genetic material that made it the tribe of Islamic leadership in the
early centuries, and—willfully or not— inaccurately characterizes "al-
BaqillanT" as claiming that the caliph need not be from Quraysh at all.
Twentieth century partisans of the non-Qurayshl King Fu’ad of Egypt as a
candidate for the caliphate happily cited Ibn Khaldun's account of "al-
Baqillam's" views— complete with the incorrect rendition of his name— as
evidence of canonical precedent for jettisoning the Quraysh requirement.
This chain of intellectual authority— twentieth century ‘ulama’ quoting a

77 See below, Chapter IV.

78 See below, Chapter II.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
43

fourteenth century historian’s citation of a eleventh century


theologian-—illustrates the pitfalls of regarding the view of one generation as
canonical and any differing conclusions of future generations as deviations
from orthodoxy. The willingness of partisans of non-Quraysh candidates for
the caliphate to compromise on the Quraysh requirement is frequently held
up by Western commentators as "a remarkable example of special
pleading."79 But the fact is that in medieval times as much as in modem, the
Quraysh lineage requirement served as what we would today call a political
football, to be tossed back and forth according to the political tendencies of
interpreter.
Once a semblance of Islamic unity was restored to the Middle Eastern
Islamic lands by the Ottoman Empire, the rise and fall of the Ottoman power
had something of the same effect on explicit formulations of the religious
basis of Muslim state legitimacy that the rise and fall of the Abbasid
Caliphate had had on the medieval theory of the caliphate. During the
heyday of Ottoman power and prestige direct Islamic legitimation through
the caliphate was relegated to the background. But once the unity and power
of the Ottoman Empire came under threat, its rulers fell back on explicit
religious legitimation just as their Abbasid predecessors had. In Abbasid
times the articulation of the classical theory of the caliphate had been part of
the coalescence of Sunnism to counter the threat of ShTism embodied in the
de jure dominance of North Africa by the Isma‘Ili Fatimid caliphate and the
de facto dominance of Abbasid Asian domains by the Shi‘ite sultanates of
the Buyids and the Hamdanids. In Ottoman times, the revival of the caliphal

79 Kedourie, Chatham House Version, p. 180.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
44

title was part of the coalescence of an Islamic response to the


creeping economic, cultural and military domination of the Islamic world by
European imperialism.
It was this Islamic response to imperialism that in the late 19th century
produced the intertwining strands of pan-Islamism, Ottomanism, Turkism,
and, most important for the Arab and Egyptian context, Islamic
Modernism.80 The prescription of the Islamic Modernist movement for the
malady of the Islamic East was three-fold: (1) the removal of European
domination, (2) the establishment of liberal democratic political institutions,
and (3) the preservation of the essential core of Islam. The overwhelming
emphasis of the Islamic Modernism's founder Jamal al-Din al-Afghanl (d.
1897) on the first of these goals made him a reluctant supporter of an
Ottoman caliphate. Under the stewardship of Muhammad ‘Abduh (d. 1905),
the movement absorbed a large measure of both European liberalism and
Arabocentrism which inclined it against the autocracy of Abdulhamid in
particular and the rule of Arabs by Turks in general. ‘Abduh's emphasis on
the liberal side of the Islamic modernist program was reflected by his
distillation of the classic Islamic modernist position that far from being
incompatible with Islam, nineteenth century European liberalism was simply
Europe's version of it. This brought him by the end of his life a considerable
distance from his participation— along with al-Afghanl—in the 1882 ‘Urabi
revolt of Arab officers in the Egyptian Army against British meddling in
Egyptian affairs, to being the favorite native protege of the British imperial

80 For the complex relations among pan-Islam, Ottomanism, Turkism and Arabism see below
Chapter HI, pp. 148-152.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
45

administration. His eloquent appeal for a return to what he saw as


the pristine dynamic Islam of the Arabian founders from what he portrayed
as a conservative Islam corrupted by Persian and Turkish rule continued to
be a (much overlooked) stimulus to spread of Arab nationalism among Arab
Muslims. But his approval of the liberalizing reforms imposed on the
Egyptian education and judicial systems by the British came to outweigh his
discomfort with non-Muslim non-Arab rule.
By the time Muhammad Rashid Rida (d. 1935) had inherited the
mantle of ‘Abduh, the situation had changed. In the late nineteenth century,
Egyptian Islamic Modernism had lobbied for the removal of European
domination of Islamic lands with an eclectic mix of appeals to pro-Ottoman,
pan-Islamic and pan-Arab sentiment. But in the end, it turned out to be a
secular-territorial national identification that united middle class "salon
nationalism" with popular revulsion against British rule. And once the first
goal of Islamic modernism, the removal of Western domination, had been
achieved— albeit incompletely—the nuts and bolts of self-government
demanded an immediate clarification of ‘Abduh's eloquent but vague
formulations of the identity between Islam and liberalism. The hardening
opposition between a liberal establishment advocating parliamentary
democracy and a religious establishment supporting the autocratic ambitions
of the monarchy left little room in the middle for the required refinement of
‘Abduh's synthesis. The polarization of Egyptian politics forced Muslim
intellectuals to choose between Islam and liberalism, and the caliphate
debate of 1924-6 provided a public forum in which to declare their choice.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
46

The 4Abd al-Raziq Legacy


The significance of the caliphate debate in Egypt was not lost on
observers of the time, both Western and Middle Eastern. Immediately after
the General Congress for the Caliphate in Cairo, Revue du Monde Musulman
devoted an entire issue81 to a French translation not only of the proceedings
of the four Congress sessions of the May 13-19, 1926, but also of the
relevant official Azhar declarations of intent to convene the congress on
March 25, 1924, the decision to postpone the congress on January 17, 1925,
and the revision of the congress agenda of February 3, 1926. These three
documents show clearly the gradual retreat of the caliphate campaign's
ambitions over time, as, for example, when the phrase "to designate a new
caliph"82 in the 1924 declaration is rendered as "to examine the question of
the caliphate"83 in the 1926 announcement of the official agenda.
The British historian Arnold Toynbee wrote two accounts of the
caliphate issue, one just before and one just after the 1924-6 period. His
1923 "The Caliphate"84 opens by stating: "The recent history of the
caliphate has been the only piece of comic relief in the near and Middle
Eastern tragedy."85 He gives a quite well-informed account of the history of
British foreign policy on the caliphate and the use to which Sultan
Abdulhamid put the caliphal title, along with the requisite standard

81 Achilles Sekaly, "Les Deux Congres Musulmans de 1926," Revue du Monde Musulman 64
(1926), pp. 32.

82 Sekaly, "Deux Congres," p. 32.

83 Sekaly, "Deux Congres," p. 38.

84 Arnold J. Toynbee, "The Caliphate." Asia: America's Magazine o f he Orient 23 (1923), pp.
407-11,455-8.

85 Toynbee, "The Caliphate," p. 407.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
47

observations about the union of political and spiritual power in the


caliphate as compared with the separation of Church and State in
Christianity.86 Given his jaundiced view of the state of the caliphate in 1923
when many Muslims were guardedly hopeful about its revival, Toynbee's
1927 survey of The Islamic World since the Peace Settlement*7 strikes an
oddly respectful note on the Cairo Caliphate Congress which most Muslims
had already decided was a complete failure: "Indeed, the Caliphate
Congress which met in Cairo on the 13th May, 1926 was perhaps the first
assemblage of Doctors of the Islamic Law which had ever had a free hand to
discuss the practical question of the succession to the Caliphate in academic
terms."88 Like his 1923 article, Toynbee's 1927 survey is firmly entrenched
in the view that in Islam "there did not arise that distinction between
'religious' and 'political', 'sacred' and 'profane', 'ecclesiastical' and 'secular',
'spiritual' and 'temporal', which was so characteristic of Western thought. . .
"89 Both of Toynbee's contributions are far more useful for their placement
of the caliphate issue in the overall context of international politics than their
treatment of the caliphate debate within Egypt itself.
Ahmad Shaflq's Annals of Egyptian Politic^0 for the years 1924, 1925
and 1926 give a detailed straightforward account of the events with only a
couple of years' hindsight. The annalistic nature of Shaflq's account is

86 Toynbee, "The Caliphate," p. 455.

87 Arnold J. Toynbee, Survey o f International Affairs, 1925: Vol. I, The Islamic World sice the
Peace Settlement (London: Oxford University Press, 1927), pp. 25-91.

88 Toynbee, Survey, p. 28.

89 Toynbee, Survey, p. 26.

90 Ahmad Shafiq, Hawliyydt Misr al-Siyasiyya (Cairo: Matba‘at Shafiq, 1927), p. 118.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
48

useful in showing the evolution of public positions on the caliphate


of many of the parties involved, particularly of both King Fu’ad and the
Wafd. It also balances the caliphate issue with other concerns Egyptian
politics of the time, such as territorial issues relating to the Sudanese and
Libyan borders. The Hawliyyat are a good source for the original Arabic
texts of many of the crucial documents of the time such as the al-Azhar
proclamations with regard to the caliphate conference and a transcript of
‘Abd al-Raziq's appearance before the Azhar tribunal, and are scrupulous
about providing a representative sampling of press reaction to the major
turning points. Shafiq is very sympathetic to ‘Abd al-Raziq, arguing that the
1911 al-Azhar by-law accord according to which ‘Abd al-Raziq was brought
up on charges should have been superseded by the provision made for al-
Azhar in the 1923 constitution, and also that the tribunal was stacked against
him.91 But he is also upset about the "ignominious failure" of the 1926
caliphate congress: "If there is one thing that can be said about this
congress," concludes Shafiq, "it is that it demonstrated to the entire world
the absolute collapse of the caliphate."92
Another source that helps place the caliphate issue in the context of
the times are Rashid Rida's numerous and copious letters to his friend and
colleague the Syrian Arabist reformer Shakib Arslan, collected and
published by the latter in Rashid Rida: A Forty Year Brotherhood.^ The
letters show the evolution of Rashid Rida's position from participation in the

91 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, n , p. 745.

92 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, III, p. 279.

93 Shakib Arslan, al-Sayyid Rashid Rida wa Akha’ Arba ‘in Sanna (Beirut: Matba‘at Ibn Zaydun,
1937).

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
original caliphate delegation to King Fu’ad of March 25,1924 to
eventually washing his hands of it, from disillusion with the Turks to
support for the new Sa‘udl dynasty in Arabia, and his ever increasing
contempt for the family of the Hashemite Sharif—by then King— Husayn
the Hijaz. However well it may reflect on his character, it is unfortunate for
historians that Arslan elected to delete the names of people that Rashid Rida
had particularly nasty things to say about.
After 1926 the Egyptian throne played the role of spoiler rather than
competitor in the caliphate contest, and by the second World War the shift
from pan-Islam to pan-Arabism as the vehicle for Egypt's regional ambitions
put the Egyptian monarchy's aspirations to the Islamic caliphate firmly in the
realm of history rather than current events. Nevertheless, the views of most
commentators on the caliphate issue in the 1920's continued to be colored by
their political loyalties of the time.
Fakhr al-DIn al-Zawahiri devote ten pages to the 1924-6 caliphate
debate in his 1945 Politics and al-Azhar,94 a memoir of his father Muhammd
al-Zawahiri, a one-time Shaykh al-Azhar, lifelong loyalist to the monarchy,
and in 1925 a member of the 24 ‘ulama’ tribunal which condemned ‘Abd al-
Raziq—of whom al-Zawahiri makes no mention in his account. As al-
Zawahiri has it, upon the abolition of the caliphate by Ataturk, "Wafdists,
Constitutionalists, Watanists and Unionists, despite their fierce political
differences, all now united to come to the aid of Islam,"95 and work for the

94 Fakhr al-DIn al-Zawahiri, al-Siyasa wal-Azhar (Cairo: Matba‘at al-Ftimad, 1945), pp. 207-
217.

95 al-Zawahiri, al-Siyasa wal-Azhar, p. 209.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
50

establishment of an Egyptian caliphate with the assumption that it


would naturally be bestowed on the King of Egypt.96 Al-Zawahiri portrays
the failure of the caliphate campaign as a result exclusively of jealousy of
Fu’ad on the part of other Muslim monarchs, and that internal Egyptian
politics had nothing to do with it.97 He allows his father to take personal
credit for convincing King Fu’ad to step back from his ambitions in the face
of these international obstacles,98 and for proposing to the Shaykh al-Azhar
the Caliphate Conference's face-saving compromise declaration that
although the caliphate is required by Islam the time was not yet right for its
reestablishment.99
A somewhat more nuanced account is offered by Muhammad Husayn
Haykal in his 1951 Memoirs in Egyptian Politics.100 But Haykal was by no
means an impartial observer either. He had been editor the Liberal Party
newspaper al-Siyasa in 1925 and ‘Abd al-Raziq's most vociferous defender
at the time. He is quite candid about ‘Abd al-Raziq having been "an old
friend of mine"101 and feigns surprise at the book ever having become the
focus of such a contentious public debate to begin with. Not surprisingly he
portrays the main issue as a constitutional one; the only phrase that appears
more often than "freedom of expression" in his account of events is "the

96 al-Zawahiri, al-Siyasa wal-Azhar, p. 211.

97 al-Zawahiri, al-Siyasa wal-Azhar, p. 213.

98 al-Zawahiri, al-Siyasa wal-Azhar, p. 213.

99 al-Zawahiri, al-Siyasa wal-Azhar, p. 217.

100 Muhammad Husayn Haykal, Mudhakkirat f t al-Siyasa al-Misriyya (Cairo: Dar al-Ma‘arif,
1951), vol. I, pp.' 194- 217.

101 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 195.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
51

honor of the [Liberal] party." In the familiar fashion of political


memoirs he takes a fair amount of credit for such crucial turning points in
the crisis as pressuring the other two Liberal cabinet ministers into resigning
in protest of the ousting from the cabinet of their party leader ‘Abd al-‘Aziz
Fahm i,102 frustrating British efforts to restore the Unionist-Liberal
government,103 nudging a reluctant Fahmi into agreeing to a rapprochement
with Zaghlul,104 and dissuading Zaghlul from taking advantage of the new
coalition to alter the constitution's electoral process.105 Although he hints at
his personal respect for ‘Abd al-Raziq's sholarship, Haykal says very little
about the actual content of al-Jslam wa Usui al-Hukm, and emphasizes the
constitutional crisis which surrounded its publication more than the caliphate
issue itself. His insider account of Liberal Party maneuvering to position
itself for withdrawal from the coalition with the Unionists and entry into a
coalition with the Wafd give a flavor for the atmosphere and personalities of
Egyptian politics of the time.
Ahmad Baha’ al-DTn's 1953 Days of History106reinforces and
embellishes the myth of ‘Abd al-Raziq, whom he describes as "the young
Shaykh" who lobbed "a reverberating bomb" against the monarchy that
"brought down a ministry, dissolved a coalition, and stopped a dangerous
trend in Egyptian politics."107 According to Baha’ al-DIn the Egyptian

102 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 198.

103 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 199.

104 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 209.

105 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 213.

106 Ahmad Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam laha Tarikh (Cairo: Dar al-Katib al-‘Arabi lil-Tiba‘a wal-Nashr,
1968 [originally published 1953]).

107 Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam, p. 215.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
52

caliphate idea was entirely the brainchild of the British, and Fu’ad
and al-Azhar merely jumped on the bandwagon.108 He bestows almost
equally heroic status on Liberal Party leader ‘Abd al-AzIz Fahmi, whose
temporizing referral of the issue to advisors in the Justice Ministry he labels
a statesmanlike "compromise solution,"109 and reproduces verbatim Haykal's
own account of how he coaxed the other two Liberal ministers—Tawfiq Dus
and Muhammad 6AH ‘Aluba—into standing by their principles and
resigning.110
Albert Hourani devotes 10 pages to the ‘Abd al-Raziq controversy in
his classic Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age (1962).111 He gives a
reasonably sympathetic summary of ‘Abd al-Raziq's positions, but
acknowledges that "it propounded a new historical theory about matters of
which the accepted historical view had something of the nature of religious
doctrine . , "u2 He is also sympathetic to critiques of ‘Abd al-Raziq such as
Bakhlt's, but notes that in refuting ‘Abd al-Raziq Bakhit accepts "without
question" the Islamic Modernist identification of Islamic and modem
European political concepts, and "seems unaware that he has opened the
door to that very invasion of Islam by the ideas of western rationalism for
which he reproaches his opponent."113 Hourani can afford to be

108 Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam, p. 214.

109 Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam, p. 236.

110 Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam, pp. 237-9.

111 Hourani, Albert, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age: 1798-1939 (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1962 [reissued 1983]), pp. 183-192.

112 Hourani, Arabic Thought, p. 189.

113 Hourani, Arabic Thought, p. 192.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
53

noncommittal on the actual merits of ‘Abd al-Raziq's or Bakhit's


cases, since from his perspective in 1962 the caliphate issue was a moot one.
In the heyday of Arab nationalism the story of the modem Middle East was
not the demise of the old order represented by the caliphate and the Ottoman
Empire but its eclipse by the up and coming "-isms" imported from the
West.
‘Abd al-Raziq's death in 1966 brought a new round of public interest
in his book at the height of Egypt's flirtation with Nasser's secular "Arab
socialism." Obituaries hailed ‘Abd al-Raziq as a hero of liberalism and
secularism, although in an interview granted just before his death ‘Abd al-
Raziq himself seems somewhat less enthusiastic about his own legacy than
the interviewer.114
Elie Kedourie's dim view of Nasserism informs the chapter he devotes
to "Egypt and the Caliphate, 1915-52" in his 1970 The Chatham House
Version and Other Middle Eastern Studies.115 Kedourie's account is marred
by conventional if not malicious characterizations of the relationship
between politics and religion in Islam. For Kedourie the the constitutional
period as a whole was a "hiatus," and he examines the role the caliphate
issue played in what he sees as the decline of Egypt from the "efficient and
upright bureaucracy" created by the British to the "return to more habitual
methods and practices" heralded by the July revolution of 1952.116 Kedourie
uncovers much evidence of Fu’ad's caliphal ambitions, and places the 1924-

114 Al-Musawwar, 1966.

115 Elie Kedourie, The Chatham House Version and Other Middle-Eastern Studies (Hanover:
University Press o f New England, 1984), pp. 177-212.

116 Kedourie, Chatham House Version, p. 177.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
54

6 period within the context of thrusts for an Egyptian caliphate by


Fu’ad’s predecessor and successor, including Khedive Abbas' efforts to play
the caliphate card during the First World War and King Faruq's efforts to
prevent anyone else from doing so during the 1930's.
In 1971 Muhammad ‘Imara published a long article in al-TalVa titled
"Shaykh ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq: an Intellectual Struggle."117 In ‘Imara's view
any sober appraisal of al-Isldm wa Usui al-Hukm prior to the 1952 July
revolution which toppled the monarchy was impossible,118 because the book
was "a piercing arrow aimed at the Egyptian throne and King Fu’ad."119
Contrary to what ‘Abd al-Raziq himself later claimed, "al Islam wa Usui al-
Hukm was not an academic political or theological study . . . but was first
and foremost a political enterprise in a raging political struggle . . . Above
all it was one of the factors which prevented British colonialism in Egypt
and the Islamic East from exploiting the 'caliphate game.'"120 ‘Imara regards
‘Abd al-Raziq as "no more that a further extension of Shaykh Muhammad
‘Abduh in religious reform,"121 and portrays the Liberals' defense of him as a
principled struggle for freedom of speech for which they paid with their
position in the Ittihad-Ahrar Coalition. Moreover "the intellectual and
political terrorism led by the royal palace and King Fu’ad against Shaykh
‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq and this book deprived the Egyptian Arab intellectual

117 Muhammad ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq: Ma‘raka Fikriyya," al-TalVa, November
1971, pp. 90-111.

118 ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘Al! ‘Abd al-Raziq," p. 91.

119 ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq," p. 94.

120 ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq," p. 92.

121 ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq," p. 105.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
55

movement of a potentially great and rich contributor . . . "m ‘Imara


reiterated his portrayal of ‘Abd al-Raziq as a slightly misguided but
fundamentally principled Islamic liberal in the introductory study prefacing
his republication of al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm in 1972.123
Tariq al-Bishri's 1973 "The King and the Islamic Caliphate,"124 brings
a healthy dose of subtlety to the political analysis of the caliphate issue by
tracing the evolution of the positions of the various factions in struggle
rather than making blanket statements about them. Al-Bishri points out the
stark contrast between lack of Egyptian interest in the 1922 separation of the
caliphate from the sultanate as compared to the 1924 abolition of the
caliphate altogether.125 While himself focusing on the political aspects of the
‘Abd al-Raziq controversy, al-Bishri takes Kedourie to task for "denying the
book any intellectual motivation and imagining it to be merely a provisional
weapon in the struggle of the Liberals against the King."126 Al-Bishri also
differs from Haykal in treating the ‘Abd al-Raziq dispute as a consequence
rather than a cause of the breakdown of the improbable palace-liberal
coalition which succeeded the first Wafd government.127 Al-Bishri's article
is goldmine of carefully researched and even-handedly analyzed evidence.

122 ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq," p. 110-111.

123 Muhammad ‘Imara, al-Islam wa Usiil al-Hukm li ‘A ll ‘Abd al-Raziq (Beirut: al-Mu’assasa al-
‘Arabiyya lil-Dirasat wal-Nashr, 1972 [reprinted 1988]).

124 Tariq al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa al-Islamiyya," in al-Katib 13, no. 142 (Jan 1973), pp.
44-71.

125 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 45.

126 al-Bshri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 56.

127 al-Bishri, op. cit., p. 55.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
56

The reappraisal of Egypt's Islamic and Ottoman heritage


which followed the death of Nasser and the failure of his brand of Arab
radicalism to deliver on its promises inevitably led to a revision of ‘Abd al-
Raziq's status in Egyptian intellectual history. If the jettisoning of native
Middle Eastern political tradition for modern twentieth century ideologies
was a wrong turn for the Arab world, then ‘Abd al-Raziq's legacy would be
that of reactionary traitor rather than progressive visionary. This is precisely
the picture painted by Muhammad Diya’ al-Din al-Rayyis' 1973 Islam and
the Caliphate in the Modem Age: A Refutation o f al-Islam wa Usui al-
Hukm™ Of crucial importance this regard is the fact that since, as shown
clearly by al-Bishri, the attitudes towards a potential Egyptian caliphate of
the hero and the villain of modem Egypt's national narrative—the British
and Sa‘d Zaghlul— evolved over time means that selective citations can be
adduced to place either of them on either side of the issue. Haykal and
Baha’ al-Din, for example, claim that Britain had been firmly in favor of an
Egyptian caliphate while Zaghlul had been equivocal,129 meaning that ‘Abd
al-Raziq was taking a bold and principled stand alongside Egypt's national
hero against the imperialist power with whose interests his class and
education ought to have put him in alliance. By contrast, Al-Rayyis hints in
several places that Zaghlul was in fact in favor of an Egyptian caliphate,130
and emphasizes in no uncertain terms that Great Britain was firmly opposed
to it. Al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm was therefore neither the "piercing arrow"

128 Muhammad Diya’ al-Din al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khilafa f ia l- ‘Asr alHadlth: Naqd Kitab al-
Islam wa Usui al-Hukm (Jedda: al-Dar al-Sa‘udiyya lil-Nashr, 1973).

129 Haykal, "Mudhakkirat," p. 194.

130 al-Rayyis, "al-Islam wal-Khilafa," p. 44-5.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
57

of ‘Imara nor the "reverberating bomb" of Baha’ al-Din. For al-


Rayyis the Ahrar were as much Allenby's party as the Hizb al-Umma had
been Cromer's,131 and in declaring the caliphate unnecessary ‘Abd al-Raziq
was playing a collaborationist role of appropriate to the "feudal" class status
associated with his Liberal Party which had already "engaged in a despicable
subversion of the constitution"132 by participating in a coalition with the
Ittihad in the first place.
But al-Rayyis' view of ‘Abd al-Raziq is much more sinister than that.
He is so convinced that most of al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm was ghost­
written by a European author133 that he refers to the author as "the orientalist
or shaykh" throughout the second half of his book. His evidence for this
charge is at best slender, such as ‘Abd al-Raziq's commission of an Arabic
grammatical error, and at worst specious, such as his observation that ‘Abd
al-Raziq refers to "the Muslims" in the third person— a device well within
the conventions of classical Islamic heresiology. He believes that the book
was originally intended as British wartime propaganda against the Ottoman
Sultanate. ‘Abd al-Raziq's assault on the caliphate is therefore of a piece
with the British plot to betray the Arabs after the Arab revolt and hand
Palestine over to the Zionists. Al-Rayyis concludes his book with a point by
point rebuttal of al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm that closely parallels the original
rebuttal of Shaykhs Bakhlt and Husayn—to whom, in stark contrast to ‘Abd
al-Raziq, he attributes nothing but the highest of scholarly motives134— with

131 al-Rayyis, "al-Islam wal-Khilafa” p. 133.

132 al-Rayyis, "al-Islam wal-Khilafa," p. 110.

133 Al-Rayyis' evidence to this effect is discussed below, Chapter IV, pp. .

134 al-Rayyis, "al-Islam wal-Khilafa," p. 162.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
58

the difference that where Bakhlt and Husayn had insisted that the
caliph must be an individual, al-Rayyis calls for an international Muslim
council to "occupy the position that the caliphate did in ages past."135
In his 1983 article "‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq and Islamic Liberalism,"136
Leonard Binder appears to be arguing that ‘Abd al-Raziq's portrayal of both
the theory and the practice of the caliphate as fundamentally authoritarian is
more honest than the synthesis of Islam and Liberalism implicitly advocated
by ‘Imara and al-Rayyis, and states outright that "concessions of the sort
made by Shaykh Bakhlt have contributed more to the rise of Islamic
fundamentalism than to the strengthening of political liberalism in Egypt and
elsewhere in the Muslim countries."137 This difference of opinion with
Hourani that Binder uses as a jumping off point is somewhat of a straw
man— it says less about the nature of any innate liberal or fundamentalist
tendencies of ‘Abd al-Raziq or Bakhlt than it does about the shift in the
focus of Western analysts from secular nationalism to Islamic
fundamentalism that followed the Iranian revolution. Binder exhibits clearly
the tendency of Western writers about the caliphate to regard the medieval
theory as set in stone—in this case encased in quotations from al-Baghdadi
and Ibn Khaldun.
In 1986 two books on the history of Islamic congresses and the history
of Egypt respectively included entire chapters devoted to the caliphate

135 al-Rayyis, "al-Islam wal-Khilafa," p. 317.

136 Leonard Binder, "‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq and Islamic Liberalism," Asian and African Studies 16
(1983), pp. 31-57; reprinted as Chapter IV of Leonard Binder, Islamic Liberalism: A Critique o f
Development Ideologies (Chicago: University o f Chicago Press, 1988).

137 Binder, "‘Ah ‘Abd al-Raziq," p. 34.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
59

question in Egypt. Martin Kramer's chapter on "The Caliphate


Grail: The General Islamic Congress for the Caliphate in Egypt, 1926,"138 is
less than subtle in taking Great Britain at her word that "the restoration of
the caliphate was a religious problem in the solution of which Britain would
not interfere."139 He is much more suspicious of the publicly declared
motives of the Egyptian parties involved and uses evidence from al-Azhar
archives to confirm the financial connections between the Palace and the
Azhar congress organizers speculated upon by al-Bishri and Kedourie.
Kramer concludes that "the appearance of serious domestic opposition was .
.. the most probable cause of the Azhar committee's January 1925 decision
to postpones the congress for one year,"140 although he astonishingly
manages to discuss the planning and convening of the entire congress
without mentioning ‘Abd al-Raziq a single time. Kramer's most interesting
contribution is in detailing the congress organizers' relations with Muslim
groups outside of Egypt, and the frustrations they encountered in trying to
put together a selection of delegates representative of the world Muslim
community.
Like Kramer, Israel Gershoni's and James Jankowsky's chapter on
"Egypt and the Caliphate Question, 1924-1926" in Egypt, Islam and the
Arabs: The Search fo r Egyptian Nationhood, 1900-1930141 confirms al-

138 Martin Kramer, Islam Assembled: The Advent of the Muslim Congresses (New York:
Columbia University Press, 1986).

139 Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 86.

140 Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 90.

141 Israel Gershoni and James P. Jankowsky, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs: The Search for
Egyptian Nationhood, 1900-1930 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), pp. 55-74.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
60

Bishri's analysis, but through the use of British Foreign Office


dispatches rather than the al-Azhar archives. Gershoni and Jankowsky
conclude that the general tone of the Egyptian press' reaction to the events of
1924-6 shows that even by the 1920's, a preoccupation with "national" as
opposed to "religious" issues had seized hold of both opinion makers and
politicians in Egypt.142
The continued fascination in the Arabic speaking world with the
legacy of ‘Abd al-Raziq is attested to by the republication of both al-Islam
wa Usui al-Hukm143 in 1988 and Muhammad al-Khidr Husayn's response to
it in 1989,144 both prefaced by virtually identical analyses by Muhammad
im a ra and a good 70 pages of invaluable documents including newspaper
accounts of the Azhar tribunal which "defrocked" ‘Abd al-Raziq, ‘Abd al-
Raziq's written response to the tribunal, the final judgment issued by the
tribunal, newspaper interviews with ‘Abd al-Raziq, and official
correspondence involving the removal of ‘Abd al-Raziq from his judgeship.
Muhammad Jalal Kishk's 1994 "‘AH ‘Abd al-Raziq: From Ignorance
to Hypocrisy," in Readings in Subjugationist Thought145 picks up where al-
Rayyis left off in both what what the author cheerfully concedes is "my
conspiratorial interpretation of history"146 and in the vitriol with which he
explicates it. The myth of ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq perpetuated by what Kishk

142 Gershoni, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs, p. 73.

143 ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm li ‘A ll ‘Abd al-Raziq. Dirasa wa Watha’iq bi
Qalam D. Muhammad ‘Imara (Beirut: al-Mu’assasa al-‘Arabiyya lil-Dirasat wal-Nashr, 1988).

144 Muhammad ‘Imara, Ma'rakat al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm (Cairo: Dar al-Shuruq, 1989).

145 Muhammad Jalal Kishk, Q ira’a fiF ik r al-Tab'iyya (Cairo: Maktabat al-Turath al-Islaml,
1994).

146 Kishk, Q ira’a, p. 99.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
61

calls "the enlightenment gang" is so absurd that it could only be


swallowed "by a ^ / eating country"147 like Egypt. Kishk makes much of
‘Abd al-Raziq's later restoration to the rank of ‘alirn and his serving as
Minister of Awqaf in the Egyptian administration that assassinated Muslim
Brotherhood founder Hasan al-Banna.148 He claims that the logic of ‘Abd al-
Raziq's assertion that Islam allows any government is that Muslims "are
commanded or at least permitted to be governed by Satan or a British lord or
a French general or a Russian comrade—all the way on down to Yitzhaq
Rabin."149 Reading ‘Abd al-Raziq's book, concludes Kishk, is "like you are
reading a journalist from the generation of Nasser rather than an one of the
allegedly 'enlightened imams.'"150
‘Abd al-Raziq's journey from enfant terrible of the ‘ulama’ to cause
celebre of the liberals to eminence grise of the secularists to bete noire of the
Islamists mirrors the Egypt's own twentieth century journey from
independence to liberal constitutionalism to Nasserist pan-Arabism to
Islamist resurgence. The tortuous path of the ‘Abd al-Raziq legacy also
reflects the larger search of Middle Eastern Arabs for political legitimacy in
the wake of the disappearance of the Ottoman Empire and the traditional
Islamic legitimacy it evoked as repository of the caliphate. Placing the
debate over the revival of the caliphate in Egypt in the 1920's in the context

147 Kishk, Q ira’a, p. 94.

198 Kishk, Q ira’a, p. 94.


149 Kishk, Q ira’a, p. 98..

150 Kishk, Q ira’a, p. 176.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
62

of the millennium and a half long evolution of the history of Islamic


political thought is crucial not only for appreciating the significance of that
episode of Egyptian history, but for understanding why of all the "-isms"
that aspired to possession of the hearts and minds of the Middle East during
the course of the twentieth century, Islamism was the only one left standing
at its end.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
Chapter II: The Formation of the Caliphal Ideal

63

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
64
Islam is a religion which from its inception contained an implied
demand for better government. The Qur’an is full of calls for social justice
for the weak and disadvantaged, who are often represented by the figures of
the widow, the beggar and the orphan—this last image often being attributed
to the Prophet's own upbringing:
Did he not find you an orphan and give shelter?
Find you wandering and give guidance?
Find you impoverished and give wealth?
So the orphan oppress not.
And the beggar turn not away.1

Muhammad's most significantly innovative social idea was the introduction


of guilt to the shame culture of pagan Arabia by asserting that sins
committed in secret are witnessed and duly recorded by God:
Don't think and God is ignoring what evil people do.
He is merely postponing [punishing] them to a Day when eyes
will stare.2

Sinners who got away with it in this world would receive their comeuppance
in the next. But although it seems that especially in the earliest stages of his
calling Muhammad believed that "it may be that the Hour is near,”3 he was
unwilling to wait that long. "Those who believe in the Day of Judgment"
must also— in a phrase whose variants appear countless times in the Qur’an
and which became a major slogan of Islam— "enjoin good and prevent
evil."4 The call for immediate action to bring about social justice is one of

1 Qur’an 93: 6-10.

2 Qur’an 14: 42.

3 Qur’an 23: 62.

4 Qur’an 3:104,110, 114; 7: 157; 9:71,112; 22: 41; 31: 171.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
65
the most consistently resonant themes of the Qur’an, appearing
prominently in all the various subsections into which the Qur’an might be
divided according to historical period, rhetorical style, or social status of the
Prophet in Arabia.
This feature of Islam is obvious, but non-trivial. We might well take
it for granted because not only the exhortation to strive for social justice, but
also the images that the Qur’an employs to encourage it are so familiar to us
from the Judeo-Christian tradition. Indeed, Isaiah lived at the beginning,
Jesus in the middle, and Muhammad at the tail end of an age in which the
economic system had progressed beyond pure subsistence agriculture, but
not yet reached a level in which "agriculture tends to become one industry
among others, rather than the primary source of wealth."5 In this age, many
human societies had reached levels of wealth high enough to support cities,
but the cities themselves had not reached a level of complexity high enough
to generate large independent non-agricultural sources of wealth. In other
words, virtually all wealth was produced by rural peasants, and virtually all
surplus consumed by urban aristocrats.
In a society of this type unequal distribution of wealth is not hard to
spot, and more than one religious response to it is available. One might
conclude, for example, that since social inequality exists, that must be the
way God wants it. This would presumably have been the line favored by the
diophysite Melkite creed which had been the official religion of the
Byzantine Empire since the Council of Chalcedon in 451, and of the dualist
Zoroastrian creed whose stratified hierarchy had dominated religious and

5 Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture o f Islam: Conscience and History in a World Civilization
(Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977), vol. I, p. 108.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
66
political life in the Sassanian Empire throughout its existence. The idea
that unequal distribution of wealth is part of God's plan is not without
representation in the Qur’an, but temporal earthly advantage pales before the
eternal advantage gained by piety:
See how we prefer some over others;
but rank and preference in the Hereafter is greater.6

A second possible religious response to social injustice is to conclude


that even though social inequality is wrong, this world is but a vale of tears
anyway and we should all turn ourselves away from this life and focus on
the next. This attitude was responsible for the spread of Middle Eastern
ascetic movements that proliferated between the departure of Jesus and the
advent of Muhammad, and is explicitly condemned by the Qur’an:
They invented monasticism.
We did not prescribe it for them.7

Neither of these two religious approaches to social injustice can have


resonated with the disadvantaged elements of the societies which bordered
the Arabian peninsula in the seventh century. The challenges of Mazdakism
and Nestorianism to official Zoroastrianism and of monophysitism to the
Orthodox Church were at least partially a reflection of social and economic
discontent. The egalitarian ideal expressed in the hadith "There is no
precedence except in Islam" accounts in no small measure for the initial
success of the Islamic conquests, and in decidedly large measure for their
permanence. The fact that Islam—unlike Christianity— was the official
religion of an empire virtually from its inception meant that its demand for

6 Qur’an 49: 21.

7 Qur’an 57: 27.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
67
social justice translated early on into a demand for good government by
the legitimate authorities. This became the fundamental feature of Islam
emphasized by all movements for Islamic government from the time of the
Qur’an to the present day: a pervasive call for actual government to
resemble ideal government as much as possible.

The Sunni Theory of the Caliphate


The Sunn! theory of the caliphate is the public record of Islam's
meditation on the discrepancy between ideal and actual government. The
phrase "Sunni theory of the caliphate" is too well entrenched in the literature
to discard or replace, but all three components of it are misleading. The
word "Sunn!" implies that it was the deliberate product of a self-conscious
group of religious thinkers following a pre-defined set of theological dogmas
and legal principles. As we shall see, what eventually became the "Sunni"
approach to government has its roots in a far from systematic process that
started several centuries before the emergence of Sunnism as a self-
conscious movement with identifiable tenets. The term "theory" is similarly
misleading, because it suggests a prescriptive edifice based on the
application of abstract principles. As we shall see, the "theory" of the
caliphate was guided not by adherence to a set of abstract and immutable
philosophical principles, but by reaction to challenges to the caliphal ideal
which were concrete and ever changing. Finally, the term "caliphate" is the
most problematic of all. There are in fact two meanings of "caliphate" in the
medieval theory of Islamic government. The first is the actual historical
caliphate of the Rashidun, Umayyads and Abbasids. The second is the ideal
"Islamic government," in the sense of the form of government mandated by,
approved of by— or at the very least most conducive to the interests

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
68
of—Islam. The historical caliphate has occupied different positions
within the theory of the caliphate over time, depending on the evolving state
of relations between religion and government in Islam.

The Etymology of the Word Khalifa


The etymology of the term "caliph" is as good a point as any from
which to embark on a historical survey of the theory of the caliphate. The
Arabic word for caliph, "khalifa" is derived from the Semitic root kh-l-f,
whose original semantic significance is irretrievably buried beneath ancient
and impenetrable layers of usage. It occurs in Akkadian meaning "to slip
into or put on [especially clothes]"8 and in Hebrew meaning "to succeed,
replace or pass away."9 Dictionaries of early South Arabic give one
occurrence of the word khalifa with the quasi-political meaning of "viceroy"
in a fourth century South Arabic inscription, but also give meanings as
diverse as "suit of clothes", "gate of a city" and—happily confirming a
popular conception about Arabic etymology— "pregnant camel."10 It is a
sign of the ambiguity of the meaning of the word that although in both
Arabic and Hebrew the first form of the root commonly denotes succession
in time, place or function, it has come in the former to be applied to the thing
succeeding and in the latter to the thing succeeded.11 Lane's Arabic-English

8 The Chicago Assyrian Dictionary. (Chicago: The Oriental Institute, 1989), vol. 6, pp. 35-6.

9 Walter Baumgartner, Hebrdisches und Aramaisches Lexikon Zum Alten Testament. (Leiden: E.
J. Brill, 1967), p. 308.

10 A. F. L. Beeston, et. a l, Sabaic Dictionary. (Beirut: Librarie du Liban, 1982), p. 60 and Joan
Copeland Biella, Dictionary o f Old South Arabic: Sabaean Dialect (Cambridge: Harvard Semitic Studies
#25, 1982), pp. 203-4.

11 D. S. Margoliouth. "The Sense of the Title Khallfah." Oriental Studies Presented to Edward
G. Browne. T. W. Arnold and R. A. Nicholson eds. (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1922), p.
322.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
69
Lexicon gives the primary meaning of the verb khalafa as "he came after,
followed, succeeded, or remained after, another, or another that had perished
and died."12 Of the 127 instances of the root kh-l-f in the Qur’an,13most have
specialized meanings related only distantly to the first form meaning of to
come behind or after. The array of meanings encompassed by kh-l-f and its
derivatives is closely paralleled by the array of meanings encompassed by b-
d-l, which can mean both "to exchange" and "to be exchanged" and is used
by the Qur’an in contexts closely analogous to those in which it uses kh-l-f.14
The near identity of these two roots is echoed today in the use by modem
Arabic and Hebrew of badla and khallfah respectively to denote "suit"—i.
e., change of clothes.
The layers of usage beneath which the meaning of the Arabic word
khalifa as used in the the Qur’an is buried are somewhat less ancient and
impenetrable than those which submerge the original Semitic kh-l-f because
the vocabulary of the Qur’an became an object of both morphological and
semantic exegesis quite soon after its initial appearance. There is virtual
unanimity among the traditional interpreters about the meaning of the plural
of khalifa. The two plural forms khulafa and khald’if between them occur
seven times in the Qur’an, and in all cases are said to denote peoples who,
despite the warnings of their apostles, sinned and were consequently
destroyed.15 A definition of the plural of khalifa might be: "a people

12 Edward William Lane, An Arabic-English Lexicon (Beirut: Librarie du Liban, 1968), p. 792.

13 For a complete list see Hannah E. Kassis, A Concordance o f the Qur'an (Berkeley: University
of California Press, 1983), pp. 687-691.

14 Wadad al-Qadi, "The Term 'Khalifa' in Early Exegetical Literature." Die Welt des Islams
XXVm (1988), p. 397.

15 al-Qadi, "Term Khalifa," p. 409.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
70
replacing another people that was destroyed by God for its sins."
Given the unambiguousness and brevity with which most Qur’an
interpreters dispose of the plural, one would expect the interpretation of the
two instances of the singular khalifa to be a simple matter. This, however, is
not the case. The first occurrence of khalifa is in reference to God's
announcement to the angels of the creation of Adam:
When your Lord said to the angels: I am about to put a khalifa
on the earth, they said: Will You place on it one who will do
harm on it and will shed blood . . . 16

In his unusually long and confusing excursus on the word khalifa in this
verse17 al-Tabari starts by offering two definitions which, like the accepted
definitions of the plural forms, refer to an entire group, either of people or
perhaps jinn. But, apparently unsatisfied with these definitions, al-Tabari
then offers two more interpretations of the verse which, by interpolating
added words to the Qur’an text, make the word khalifa refer not to a group
but to an individual. Moreover, in both cases, al-Tabari describes this
individual as "a. khalifa to Him [God] who will govern among His creatures
with His governance. . . "
Al-Tabari's interpretation of khalifa in 2: 30 is clearly an echo of its
subsequent occurrence in 38: 26:
O David, we have made you a khalifa on the earth;
therefore govern among the people justly . . .18

16 Qur’an 2: 30.

17 Al-Tabari, Tafslr, vol. 1, pp. 454-8.

18 Qur’an 38: 26.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
71
Here, khalifa refers to an individual political figure in the context of his
political function, and indeed was later quoted frequently by the caliphate
theorists in explicating the caliph's obligation to dispense justice among his
subjects. Al-Tabari supplies only one brief comment on this verse to the
effect that "We have made thee as a khalifa" means "He made him a king
("mallakahu"). Since the context of this verse coincides perfectly with al-
Tabari's preferred interpretation of the word khalifa, there is no need to
expand, although al-Tabari might, in true Qur’an exegetical fashion, have
asked why, if the meaning of political authority is contained in the word
khalifa, the extra words making this meaning clear were necessary.
We should also note the single occurrence of form I of kh-l-f in
connection with an individual political leader in the context of his political
function:
. . . and Moses said to his brother Aaron:
"Succeed me (ukhlufnl) among my people and act justly."19

But a specifically political meaning is belied here by the application of the


same verb a few verses later to the entire Children of Israel: "ill have you
succeeded (khalaftum) m e."20 Evidently, the Qur’an uses kh-l-f with the
general Semitic sense of succession, whether the parties involved are
individuals or groups, and whether the activity engaged in by the successor
is similar to or different from— or of better or worse quality than—the
activity of the predecessor.21

19 Qur’an 7: 142.

20 Qur’an 7: 150.

21 W. Montgomery Watt, "God's Caliph: Qur'anic Interpretations and Umayyad Claims," Iran and
Islam, p. 567; Rudi Paret, "Signification Coranique de halifa et d'Autres Derives de la Racine halafa,"
Studia Islamica 31 (1970), pp. 216-7.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
72
In short, although the main traditions that he had at his disposal
interpreted the singular of the word khalifa in the same way as its plural, that
is, as referring to an entire people, al-Tabari (as well as subsequent
collectors of Qur’an commentary such as al-Zamakhshari and al-BaydawI22)
strove to ascribe to it the connotation of an individual person with a political
office. This meaning of "political ruler" is attested by only two early
commentators, one of whom applies it only in the context of the verse about
David and the other of whom dates from the tail end of the Umayyad
period.23 This suggests either that the connection between the Qur’an's term
khalifa and the office of caliphate was not made by Qur’an interpreters
"before the end of the Umayyad period or the early decades of Abbasid
rule,"24 or that the connection was in the air but played down by early
Umayyad era Qur’an commentators "anxious to avoid approving the
Umayyad caliphs' use of the verse about Adam to enhance their own
dignity."23

The Use of the Title Khalifa by the Rashidun and Umayyads


Despite the Qur’an's usage of the term khalifa apparently not having
anything to do with political office, its general sense of succession made it a
natural choice to denote the successor of Muhammad, used perhaps by Abu
Bakr and certainly by every caliph from ‘Umar onwards.26 The question of

22 Watt, "God's Caliph," p. 566.

23 al-Qadi, "Term Khalifa," p. 404.

24 al-Qadi, "Term Khalifa," p. 405.

25 Watt, "God's Caliph," p. 566.

26 EI2, "Khalifa" (A. K. S. Lambton).

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
whether the caliph's full title was properly khalifat Rasul Allah, ("the
successor of the Apostle of God"), with the connotation of succeeding the
prophet in his temporal function as defender of the faith, or khalifat Allah
("the successor of God"), with the connotation of being appointed by and
having a direct connection with God Himself, was a much vexed and
obscure issue of early Islamic political discourse. The uneasiness of Sunni
orthodoxy with the latter title and its accompanying conception of the caliph
as possessor of the type of divine charisma claimed for the Shl‘1 imams is
reflected by the widely circulated stories about Abu Bakr's insistence on
being called khalifat Rasiil Allah rather than khalifat Allah.21 ‘Umar rejected
both khalifat Allah, which he regarded as applying only to King David
(thereby tacitly restricting the political connotation of the Qur’anic use of the
term khalifa to David, who was, unlike the caliphs, a prophet as well as a
king), and khalifat Rasul Allah, which he regarded as applying only to Abu
Bakr: ‘Umar decided that the correct title was "Caliph of the Caliph of the
Apostle of God," but, in view its potential for cumbersome recursiveness, he
opted for amir al-mu ’minln ("Commander of the Faithful"), a title which
continued to have a rarified status even after the title khalifa became debased
in the late middle ages through widespread usage by many different rulers of
widely varying power and piety.28
Scholarly investigation into the use of the title khalifat Allah during
the Umayyad period has suggested revisions ranging in severity of standard
views about the progress of both empire and theocracy within the early
Islamic state. The use of the title as early as the reign of M u‘awiya gives

27 Ibn Hanbal, Musnad, I: 10.

28 H. A. R. Gibb, "Some Considerations on the Sunni Theory of the Caliphate," in Studies on the
Civilization o f Islam (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962), pp. 147-50.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
74
grounds for questioning that first Umayyad caliph's image as the emblem
of the Sufyanid interlude of government by tribal consensus that the Arab
conquests are said to have interposed between pre-Islamic Persian and post-
Islamic—first Marwanid, then Abbasid—imperial absolutism. Certainly, the
copious use of the term khalifat Allah by Umayyad propagandists belies the
conventional picture of the entire Umayyad period as an interlude of secular
kingship between the perfect theocracy of the Rashidun and the less perfect
theocracy of the Abbasids. ‘Umar II's reprise of Abu Bakr's humble
declaration that "I am not khalifat Allah"29 was the exception rather than the
rule. The sources abound in evidence of a concerted effort by Umayyad
court poets and scribes to augment the initial Umayyad claim to the
caliphate as avengers of the blood of ‘Uthman with the claim that they had
been installed in their position by God.30 This allowed them to counter the
emerging religious-based opposition in the name of the ‘Alid imams with
their own divine absolutist claims, thereby putting Islam to a common use
which governments of all times and places have found for religion: to
condemn rebellion as not merely a crime but a sin. The most radical of the
modern revisionists completely reverse the traditional view of the emergence
of divine absolutism in Islam, arguing that ShlT-type conception of the
imamate was the original one and that from the very first caliphs aspired to
as much if not more religious authority than the Prophet.31 It can be
plausibly argued either that the interpretation of the title khalifat Allah by the
Umayyads constituted "the first formulated 'theory' of the caliphate in

29Ibn Abd al-Hakam, Sirat Umar b. Abd al-Aziz, pp. 53-4.

30 Watt, "God’s Caliph," pp. 569-572.

31 Patricia Crone and Martin Hinds, God's Caliph: Religious Authority in the First Five Centuries
o f Islam {Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986).

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
75
Islamic history,"32 or that the Umayyads "had still not decided to transfer
the concept of 'Caliph of God' from the sphere of court flattery and rhetorical
salutation into the sphere of law."33

Early Muslim Sectarianism and the Caliphate


If the precise etymology of the caliphal title and the exact nature of
the ideology of political legitimacy favored by the Umayyad authorities is a
matter of speculation, the fact that the air was thick with theological ferment
surrounding the caliphate issue throughout the Umayyad period is not.
Sectarianism in any religion often has thinly disguised political roots, but
because of Islam's status as a state religion from its inception, the political
roots of early Islamic sectarianism are not disguised at all. Of the three
broad non-Shi‘ite sectarian subdivisions of the earliest period—Kharijite,
Qadarite and Murji’ite— each had very clearly allied theological and
political components.
The Kharijites are usually credited with being the first Islamic sect.
Both their name, which means "those who secede," and their myth of
origins—that they deserted ‘All's army in protest against his willingness to
negotiate with M u‘awiya— suggest a radical and uncompromising
temperament. They came down squarely on the on the damnation side of
the damnation/salvation equation. Their signature theological dogma was
that a single major sin could render a Muslim an apostate, and its political
corollary was that any sin or injustice by the caliph could be grounds for his

32 Wadad al-Qadi. "The Religious Foundation of Late Umayyad Ideology and Practice" in ed.
Manuela Martin, et al., Religious Knowledge and Political Power, (Madrid: Consejo Superior de
Investigaciones Cientificas, 1993).

33 V. V. Barthold, "Caliph and Sultan." Islamic Quarterly (1963) p. 127.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
76
removal. Their rejection of class or pedigree as a qualification for
rulership is reflected by hadlths such as: "Listen and obey even if there is
deputized over you an Ethiopian slave with a head like a raisin."34 Their
emphasis on the personal qualifications of the imam led them to reject what
later became known as the principle of imamat al-mafdul ("the imamate of
the less-qualified"), and to advocate the replacement of any imam the
moment a better qualified candidate came along. They also allowed for the
imamate to be left vacant if no qualified candidate was available. Kharijism
is sometimes interpreted as an expression of bedouin "buyer's remorse" over
the devil’s bargain whereby the Arabs traded in their traditional
independence for imperial power. Certainly by the mid-ninth century
Kharijism had emerged as the ideology of choice for bedouin uprisings
against Baghdad. But the radical and anarchist spirit of Kharijism rendered
it inadequate as an ideology of state, let alone of empire, as is attested by the
historical failure of the Kharijites to construct a stable political entity of
significant size or duration.
The Qadarites posed a slightly more moderate and far more
disciplined ideological challenge to the Umayyad regime. They came down
squarely on the free will side of the free will/predestination equation. Their
name, which means "those who assert human control over actions," suggests
an emphasis on human responsibility. Their signature doctrine was that
human beings possessed qadar, or the power to determine their own actions,
and its political corollary was that rulers had the obligation to rule justly and
subjects the right to rebel against injustice. Their emphasis on the

34 Bukharf, Ahkam 4; Muslim, Imara 55. Muslim substitutes "with amputated extremities" for
"with a head like a raisin."

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
accountability of rulers is reflect by hadlths such as: "The imam of the
people is a shepherd and is responsible for his flock."35 Qadarism flourished
in Iraq, where mawdll converts of Persian ethnicity— along with Arab
tribesmen who had had the bad luck to have been posted to the Persian
rather than the Byzantine front of the conquests— suffered under the iron fist
of a succession of legendarily brutal Umayyad provincial governors. The
persecution of the Qadariyya under the Umayyads was an inevitable
consequence of the fact that "a state demanding absolute power in a religious
society could not be, theologically, but predestinarian."36
In response to the activist creeds of the Kharijites and Qadarites, the
Murji’ite movement arrived at an accommodation with political authority.
Their name, which means "those who defer," suggests a moderate
temperament. Their signature theological doctrine was that judgments about
the status of a sinner should be deferred to God, and its political corollary
was that since unjust rulers will eventually receive their retribution in the
hereafter there is no need for their subjects to hasten it. Their quietist
political tendency is reflected in hadlths such as: "If the imam is just, then
his is the reward, and yours the gratitude. If he is tyrannical, his is the
burden of sin, and yours the duty to be patient." Murji’ism originated in
Medina, where the members of the Rashidun ancien regime were content to
trade their previous political preeminence in exchange for such crumbs of
Umayyad prosperity as Damascus was willing throw their way. But M urji’I
quietism was evidently the political ideology of choice for the silent
majority during the Umayyad caliphate. In contrast to the supposed period

35 Bukhan, Ahkam 1.

36 al-Qadi, "Religious Foundation," p. 42.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
78
of Rashidun harmony during which no fewer than three of the first four
caliphs were felled by assassins, not one of the Umayyad caliphs—with the
sole exception of the battlefield death of Sulayman b ‘Abd al-Malik—ended
his term of office for any reason other than death by natural causes until al-
Walid II was edged out by Yazid III in 744 after the Abbasid revolution had
already begun.

The Beginnings of a "Theory" of the Caliphate under the Abbasids


As is attested to by the survival of hadlths expressing some of their
views in the standard Sunni collections, aspects of the KharijI, Qadarf and
Murji’I approaches all fell within the boundaries of what later became the
Sunni discourse on caliphal authority. But it was slogans borrowed from
‘Alid groups later consigned by the heresiologists to the moderate but
nonetheless heretical fringes of Shi‘ism that swept the Abbasids into office.
The Abbasids borrowed three planks from the ‘Alid platform. First of all
they claimed the right to rule as members of the house of Muhammad, (ahl
al-bayt) by virtue of their eponymous ancestor having been the uncle of the
Prophet. Secondly they claimed to be the beneficiaries of ntm-designation
by virtue of the father of the first Abbasid caliph having had the imami
charisma transferred to him by the son of Muhammad b. al-Hanafiyya, the
reluctant figurehead of the revolt of al-Mukhtar which had first put both the
mawdll constituency and their ‘Alid ideology on the Islamic political map.
Thirdly, they claimed to be rightful caliphs by virtue of being the members
of the family of Muhammad (Al Muhammad) most capable of achieving
power. The first two of these claims were shaky to say the least. While it is
true that in terms of genealogy al-‘Abbas was on the right side of the ‘Abd
Manaf family tree relative to Umayya, he had not even converted to Islam

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
79
during Muhammad's lifetime, and was certainly not the relative of the
Prophet whom the ‘Alids had in mind when they chanted the slogan "most
pleasing of the house of Muhammad." The alleged transfer of imaml
charisma to the father of al-Saffah by the son of Ibn al-Hanafiyya had all the
plausibility of the Donation of Constantine employed a half century later to
justify Papal dominion in Western Europe. The third justification of the
Abbasid caliphate—that the Abbasids were the members of the family of the
Prophet most capable of achieving power—was rendered unassailable by the
result of the Abbasid revolution.
But the Abbasids came to power not only on the strength of assertions
about their right to the caliphate, but also on the basis of a promise about
how they would behave after obtaining it. They promised to restore the
Prophet's original ideal of Islamic egalitarianism to its rightful place after a
century of eclipse by Umayyad Arabocentrism. The question of the hour
was to whom the caliph would be accountable, and two very different
answers were supplied by the two earliest extant examples of systematic
reflection by Islamic thinkers on the institution of the caliphate.
The first of these dates from the reign of al-Mansur, the second
Abbasid caliph and the true founder of the Abbasid dynasty. Its author,
‘Abd Allah b. al-Muqaffa‘ (d. 756), was the son of an Iraqi Persian tax
collector under the Umayyads who, after embracing Islam, embarked on a
brilliant career as a scribe to the Abbasid caliph al-Mansur which was cut
short at the age of 36 by a palace intrigue. His major contribution to
posterity was his Arabic translation of the Persian version of the Indian epic
KalTla wa Dimna, a watershed in the absorption of Persian culture by the
Arab conquerors of the Sassanian empire. But perhaps more important in

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
80
his time was his Risalafi al-Sahdba, which contains the earliest extant
systematic reflection on the caliphate engaged in by a Muslim.37
The Risdla is in the form of a letter addressed to the caliph al-Mansur,
and urges the caliph to centralize and unify the bureaucracy, institutionalize
his authority, and strengthen the religious bonds between himself and his
non-Arab troops. While duly noting the hadith "There can be no obligation
upon a creature to disobey the Creator,"38 Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ criticizes
those— he presumably has the Kharijls in mind—who carry this dictum to
the subversive extreme of asserting "that all men be equal to each other and
no imam should be established over th e m . . ."39 Any subject not addressed
by the Qur’an is fair game for the province of reasoned opinion (ra ’y), and
the right of exercising reasoned opinion belongs exclusively "to those in
power (wulat al-amr), with the people having no part in it except to express
themselves in consultation and respond when called upon (al-ishara ‘inda
al-mashwara wa al-ijdba ‘inda al-da‘wa). . ." Ibn al-Muqaffa‘'s most
innovative suggestion is that the caliph nip in the bud increasing divergences
about the interpretation of the Sunna and the application of the principle of
Qiyas (analogical reasoning) among the emerging legal schools in Iraq and
the Hijaz by establishing his own caliphal madhhab:
If the Commander of the Faithful would decide to command
that these various decisions be submitted to him in a book,
along with the evidence of the Sunna and the reasoning which
each school uses to prove them, and then the Commander of the
Faithful would examine it and impose on every issue the

37 EI2, "Ibn al-Muqaffa" (F. Gabrieli).

38 ‘Abdallah b. al-Muqaffa', al-Risalafial-Sahdba Charles Pellat ed. and trans. (French),


Conseilleur du Calife (Paris: G. P. Maisonneuve, 1972), p. 20.

39 Ibn al-Muqaffa\ Risdla, p. 31.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
81
opinion which God inspires in him and render a decision about it,
and ban judgments which oppose his, and write a
comprehensive book about [the disputed point], we hope that
God will make out of these various correct and incorrect
judgments one correct Law.40

Ibn al-Muqaffa ‘ also advises the caliph to build up around himself a coterie
of cultivated aristocrats to support his regime.
Quite different advice is offered a half century later to a different
caliph by a quite different sort of scholar. The Qadl Abu Yusuf Y a‘qub b.
Ibrahim (d. 798) was a legal scholar of Arab extraction who became Islam's
first qadl al-qudat under Harun al-Rashid. If Harun has gone down in
history as the caliph most symbolic of the Abbasid golden age, his
relationship with his chief qadl Abu Yusuf is certainly the archetype of the
uneasy symbiosis between the 'ulam a’ and the political authorities that has
been the rule in the Islamic world ever since. The aversion of scholars to
compromising their ideals by putting them to practical use is expressed by
the hadlth: "Anyone who becomes a qadl has been slaughtered without a
knife."4i The smug contempt with which purists among the ‘ulama’
regarded their colleagues who did choose to serve government is expressed
by a hadlth which states that for every one qadl who goes to Heaven, two
end up in Hell.42 There are certainly anecdotes about the caliph and his chief
qadl in which the latter hypocritically wields a Muslim rubber stamp in
approval of his master's political ambitions and personal whims. On the

40 Ibn a l-M u q a ffa Risdla, p. 43.

41 Abu Da’ud, Aqdiya 1.

42 Abu Da’ud, Aqdiya 3566; Ibn Maja, Ahkdm 2315.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
82
other hand, there are also stories of Abu Yusuf sternly reprimanding the
caliph for impiety.
It is the stem moralist that makes his appearance in Abu Yusufs Kitab
al-Kharaj. Primarily a treatise on taxation, the book's introduction contains
general advice to the caliph about how to approach his office. In contrast to
Ibn al-Muqaffa‘*s sycophantic and cajoling tone, Abu Yusuf offers stem and
urgent instructions: "The Judge will judge people on the Day of Judgment
by their deeds, not by their position. You were not created frivolously, so do
not leave [this world] in vain, for God will ask you what you did in it."43
Abu Yusuf provides his patron with a compendium of hadlths including
both the Qadarite variety stressing the caliph's duty to dispense justice and
the Murji’ite variety affirming the subjects' duty of absolute obedience even
to a flawed caliph. He also includes a long section on wisdom uttered about
the caliphate by the Rashidun caliphs and the pious Umayyad ‘Umar b. ‘Abd
al-AzIz.44 In place of Ibn al-Muqaffa‘'s advice to the caliph to create his
own legal precedents, Abu Yusuf instructs him to adhere strictly to the
prescriptions of the Hadlth and the sunna of the rightly-guided caliphs.
The clash between Ibn al-Muqaffa‘'s and Abu Y usufs approaches to
the caliphate constitutes the first opposition of what might truly be called
"theories" of the caliphate, and the beginning of a century of struggle which
determined the future course of Islam, the Islamic state, and relations
between the two. Ibn al-Muqaffa‘'s work has been interpreted as an attempt
to steer the Muslim state, still in its formative phase, towards a Sassanian

43 Abu Yusuf Y a‘qub b. Ibrahim al-Qadi, Kitab al-Kharaj (Cairo: Matba‘at al-Salafiyya,
1382/1962), p. 33.

44 Both Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ and Abu Yusuf instruct their caliph to follow the sunna of the Rashidun,
suggesting that at this early date the sunna of the Rashidun may have carried as much weight as the Sunna
of the Prophet.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
83
style of government with a ruler of quasi-divine status atop a religious
hierarchy,45 while Abu Y usufs has been called "a protest against the
prevailing cult of the Sassanian tradition."46 Ultimately, Islam did not follow
the course recommended by Ibn al-Muqaffa‘ of standardizing Islam under
the direction of a divine absolute monarch, but rather drifted in the direction
of multiple schools of law and decentralized clerical authority. While this
may have weakened the state by preventing the development of a powerful
religious aristocracy, it strengthened the religion by dispersing religious
authority among a wider international middle-class base that insured the
religion's survival after the state disappeared.47
This debate did not occur in a vacuum. The years separating Ibn al-
Muqaffa‘'s and Abu Yusufs deaths bear witness to many signs of the
growing religious, geographic and social rifts that divided the umma. Al-
Mansur purchased a half century of ‘Alid quiescence by crushing of the
revolt of al-Nafs al-Zakiyya, while his successors continued to co-opt ‘Alid
slogans with such ploys as the increasing use of the term imam, as a caliphal
title. The capital was moved eastward from Arab Damascus to Persian
Baghdad. The increasing influence of the mavra/r-dominated bureaucracy is
reflected by meteoric rise and fall of the Barmakid family of viziers, which
came to prominence under al-Mahdi, receded briefly during the suspiciously
short reign of the anti-‘Alid al-Hadl, and reached both its zenith and nadir
under Harun.

45 S. D. Goitein, "A Turning Point in the History o f the Muslim State," in Studies in Islamic
History and Institutions (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1968), pp. 149-167.

46 EI2, "Khalifa" (A. K. S. Lambton)

47 Goitein, "Turning Point," p. .

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
84
The struggle of east versus west, ‘Alid versus proto-Sunni, and
Persian versus Arab came to a head with the civil war between Harun's two
sons al-Amln and al-Ma’mun. Al-Amln's base of support was in the west of
the empire, among Arab Muslims anxious to preserve what prestige and
stipend privileges they still retained from the time of the conquests, and
among urban middle class Muslims of all ethnicities anxious to preserve a
tax system designed to draw revenue primarily from the agricultural sector.
Al-Ma’mun's base of support was in the east of the empire, among largely
‘Alid-leaning mawall of Persian ethnicity eager to strip the Arab elite of its
remaining financial privileges and continue the trend towards tax
policies—temporarily halted by the downfall of the Barmakid viziers—that
favored the east. Borrowing terms from the modem political lexicon, one
scholar has characterized the Abbasid civil war as a dispute between and
"the constitutionalists" and "the aristocratic bloc,"48 adding that "while the
constitutionalists favoured the Sunnite position, the autocratic party had a
leaning towards ShTism."49

MiPtazilism and the Mihna

Al-Ma’mun's triumphant return to Baghdad represented a victory for


the aristocratic bloc, and his imposition of the Mihna in the final year of his
reign an effort to solidify it. The Mihna is sometimes called the "Islamic
Inquisition," although, as in most comparisons of religious persecution in the
two religions, the Muslim version falls woefully short of the Christian. But

48 W. Montgomery Watt, "The Political Attitudes of the Mu‘tazilah." Journal o f the Royal Asiatic
Society (1963), p. 43.

49Watt, "Political Attidudes,". p. 45.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
85
the paltry handful of deaths and incarcerations it produced
notwithstanding, the Mihna was nonetheless a pivotal episode in the
evolution of relations between Islam and the state.
The "inquisition" consisted of agents of the government forcing
‘ulama’ to attest to the fact that the Qur’an was created and not eternal. This
was one of the tenets of a sectarian doctrine known as M u‘tazilite, which
also included the assertion of free human will and metaphorical
interpretation of anthropomorphic epithets of God. These and other
elements of the M u‘tazilites' creed were rooted in an effort to harmonize
Islam and rationalism, but, as with the sects discussed above, the M u‘tazili
theological dogmas had political implications. Politically, the M u‘tazila
carved out a middle ground both between the quietism of the Murji’is and
the activism of the KMrijls, and between the divine absolutist demands of
the extreme Shi4a and the moderate and general appeals to pro-‘Alid
sentiment of Abbasid propaganda. True to both their name, mu ‘tazila
("withdrawers"), and the slogan by which they identified their theological
position on sin, al-manzila bayn al-manzilatayn ("the position between two
positions"), the M u‘tazilis hovered above the sectarian fray by either
sidestepping or finessing contentious theological and political issues. They
refused to regard a sinner as either a kafir ("apostate"), like the Kharijls, or a
mu'min ("believer"), like the Murji’is, but labeled him merely fasiq
("corrupted"). By refraining from judging the relative merits of ‘Uthman
and ‘Ali, the M u‘tazilites allowed for the possibility that either the pro-
Umayyad or the pro-‘Alid stance on the first Fitna might be correct without
declaring themselves in favor of either. Moreover, by refraining from but
not denying the possibility of such an evaluation, the M u‘tazilis left open the

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
86
possibility that the historical caliphs— including the reigning one—might
be judged on their merits.
As with the sects discussed above, the origins of the M u‘tazila are
shrouded by layers of Sunni revisionism. The similarity of M u‘tazilite
doctrines to those of the Qadariyya—particularly their use of reason in
theological speculation—led Sunni heresiologists to emphasize alleged
historical connections between the M u‘tazila and the Qadariyya through the
rationalist Jahmiyya sect. The M u‘tazilis countered by inventing an
alternate intellectual pedigree of their own, designed to circumvent the
Qadarf connection.50 At least one prominent M u‘tazili is alleged to have
taken the KharijI position that the caliphate might be left vacant if no
qualified candidate can be found,51 but for the most part the M u‘tazilis held
with the moderate Zaydi Shfites that even an imperfect caliph was
preferable to anarchy. This and other similarities between Mu‘tazilite and
Zaydi doctrine, combined with the compatibility of Zaydism with Abbasid
claims to legitimacy, has led to speculation that M u‘tazilism originated as an
arm of the pro-Abbasid propaganda machine.52 Historically it appears that
the M u‘tazilites, though staunch opponents of the Umayyads, were only
lukewarm supporters of the Abbasids at the time of the Abbasid revolution,53
but by the time of al-Ma’mun they had become the favored theological sect
of the ruling regime.

50 Abu al-Hasan ‘All b. Isma‘11 al-Ash‘arf, Maqalat al-lslamijyin (Istanbul: Dar al-Funun, 1928),
pp. 148 ff.

51 Al-Mawardi, op. cit., p. 5.

52 E l1’ "Mu'tazila" (H. S. Nyberg).

53 Watt, "Political Attitudes," p. 38.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
The implications of the MiTtazilite dogma that the Qur’an was
created rather than eternal may seem a bit arcane by today's standards, but
they were far reaching in the context of the early ninth century Abbasid
empire. First of all, any diminution of the status of the Arabic Qur’an was
an attack on the status of Arabic and Arabs within the Islamic world. By the
ninth century Arabs had suffered progressive encroachment on their primacy
within the empire their ancestors had founded. The Mihna period saw the
official abolition of the dlwan of ‘Umar which had up until that point
continued to assign stipends to the descendants of Arab warrior families who
had long outlived their indispensability to the state. It also witnessed the
height of the shu ‘ubiyya Persian cultural revival, whose most extreme
practitioners were actually producing Persian imitations of the inimitable
Arabic Qur’an.
But the attack on the Qur’an was more than just an attack on Arab
primacy in Islam. It was also a direct assault on the strain within
Islam—which might with some justification be attributed partially to its
Arab bedouin origins—of aversion to institutionalized religious and/or
governmental authority. In the long view, the half century following
Muhammad's death was a brief interregnum in a domination of the Middle
East by a Persia-based divine absolutist imperial monarchy that stretched as
far back as Xerxes and Darius. The introduction by the Marwanid
Umayyads of centralized bureaucracy, monumental buildings, imperial
coinage, and— according to the revision of Umayyad history cited
above—religious claims to political legitimacy, had initiated the
reconstruction of Sassanian absolutism. Although the official religion and
language were different, after the Abbasid succession even the location of
the capital and the ethnicity of its administrative personnel were the same as

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
88
at the time of the hijra 130 years earlier. With the Mihna's campaign to
make the caliph the arbiter of religious doctrine, the process of the
transformation of an Arab state run by a first-among-equals shaykh into a
Persian empire run by a high priest-emperor was on the verge of completion.
It may seem strange that this resurgence of absolutism be connected
with the one Islamic sect most noted for its rationalism, especially since we
associate the downfall of absolute monarchy in Europe with the onset of the
Age of Reason. But philosophy is fundamentally elitist, both intellectually
and socially. The often uncritically quoted dictum of Socrates that "the
unexamined life is not worth living" is merely the self-congratulatory
conceit of the minority of people who have both the leisure and the
inclination to examine life rather than live it. Greek philosophy in the
Islamic world was the province of Persian aristocrats who had first
encountered the Platonic and Aristotelian heritage at the time of the
Alexandrian conquests, preserved it in non-Muslim intellectual islands such
as the academies of Harran, and, most recently, translated it into Arabic in
al-Ma’mun's House of Wisdom. It is no accident that of the pantheon of
Muslim philosophers who kept the light of philosophy burning in Arabic
during Europe's dark ages, only one was an ethnic Arab. It is also no
accident that Arabic political philosophy— whose best-known product, al-
Farabl's Opinions of the People of the Virtuous City, was an imitation Plato's
metaphysical and class-ridden Republic—was eventually banished beyond
the margins of Sunn! political thought. Both the elitism and the sophistry of
the philosophers was far more compatible with the esoteric batinl style of
text interpretation that became associated with ShTlsm— especially Ism alli
ShTism—than with a straightforward z,dhirl literalism accessible to all.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
89
In addition to its association with an elitism and esotericism alien to
the populist spirit of Islamic egalitarianism, philosophy was also feared by
the ‘ulama’ for the same reason it is feared by all exclusive religions.
Philosophy's inclination to interpret religious teachings as symbolic of a
higher truth is always the enemy of religious orthodoxy, because it suggests
that one religion’s symbols might be as good a path to that truth as any
other's. And indeed, the Mihna's onset was accompanied by unprecedented
tolerance of Shfism , Judaism and Christianity, and its end by the resurgence
of the uncompromising inflexibility of what was to become Sunni
orthodoxy.
The hero of Islam's struggle against philosophy and tolerance was
Ahmad b. Hanbal. His stalwart refusal to assent to the doctrine of the
createdness of the Qur’an made him one of the few of the Mihna's victims to
do time in prison, only to emerge vindicated by the rescension of the Mihna
by al-Mutawakkil (847). From then on, the eternity of Qur’an—ironically,
in view of the fact that it must originally have been a doctrinal borrowing of
the everlasting logos of John— became a central item of the Sunni creed.
Ibn Hanbal's struggle was on behalf of the view of the caliphate propounded
by Abu Yusufs Khardj rather than Ibn al-Muqaffa‘'s Risdla, and confirmed
the ‘ulama’ and not the caliphs as the guardians of Muslim doctrine and
practice. The school of law which Ibn Hanbal founded is the strictest of
Islam's four madhhabs in relying exclusively on the Qur’an and Hadlth, but
from his time onward the general tendency of Islamic jurisprudence as a
whole was to elevate revealed text over utilitarian reason or the will of the
sovereign as the major source of law.
The impact of Ibn Hanbal's triumphant defense of Qur’an and Hadlth
did not make itself felt on the theory of the caliphate all at once. Instructive

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
90
in this regard are the musings on the caliphate by the premier essayist of
the Abbasid era, who flourished after the Mihna had been rescinded but
before the full impact of the Hanball Sunna orientation had sunk in. Abu
‘Umar b. Bahr al-Jahiz (d. 869) was a slightly younger contemporary of Ibn
Hanbal, but could hardly have been a more different kind of man. He was
not a religious thinker or a political philosopher, but rather a belles letttrist in
whose writings "form is never overshadowed by content."54 Nevertheless,
there are sprinkled throughout his essays numerous references to the
caliphate which taken together provide a snapshot of the emerging Sunni
consensus about the governing institution of the Islamic state.
Al-Jahiz was bom to a mawla family in Basra, and his reasoning
shows many traces of the M u‘tazilite education he must have received there.
He argues that the caliphate is necessary for Islam because if men are
incapable of organizing themselves well enough to achieve material goals
without a leader, they are all the more in need of one to achieve spiritual
goals.55 There should be only one imam because if there were more than
one, they would all fight with each other for primacy.56 There must always
necessarily be someone available with the requisite caliphal qualifications,
because God would not have created humans with a nature that needed the
guidance of a caliph without supplying one.57 Sterling moral and intellectual
qualities seem more important to al-Jahiz than descent from the tribe of
Quraysh, although the latter is desirable. It is incumbent upon Muslims to

54 E fi, "al-Jahiz” (Charles Pellat).

55 Charles Pellat, "L’lmamat dan la Doctrine de Gahiz." Studia Islamica 25 (1961), pp. 23-52.

56 Pellat, "L'Imamat," p. 40

57 Pellat, "L'Imamat, p. 42.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
91
replace a corrupt caliph if a worthy candidate appears and rebellion stands
some chance of success. According to al-Jahiz, since neither God nor the
Prophet stipulated the method of caliphal selection, they evidently thought it
best to leave it up to the umma. He suggests following the practice of the
Rashidun caliphs, and by listing— in anti-chronological order—the election
of ‘Uthman by a council before the appointment of ‘Umar by Abu Bakr he
hints at a preference for election over appointment.58 Although a number of
al-Jahiz' assertions about the caliphate are identical with those contained in
later Sunni works, the utilitarian and logical arguments he uses to justify
them were eventually forced to take a back seat to the evidence of Hadlth
and the sanction of Ijm a‘ in the classical formulations.
If Ibn Hanbal first tolled the bell for rational speculation and empirical
reasoning in Islamic theology, their death knell was sounded by al-Ash‘arf
(d. 936). What is often called Ash‘arite "atomism" asserted that natural laws
are irrelevant to physics; natural phenomena operate as a consequence of the
constant and repeated intervention of an activist God who could not have
been more different from the passive First Cause of Aristotle and Avicenna.
With regard to the caliphate al-Ash‘ar! emphasized the legitimacy of the first
four imams and of the order in which they succeeded to the caliphate, and
insisted that the primary basis of the principles of the caliphate was to be
found in revealed texts rather than rational argument. This "Ash‘arite
insistence on the historic continuity of the caliphate"59 instructed Muslims to
accept the legitimacy of all the historical caliphs on the basis of Hadlth and
Ijma‘, with the same attitude of hila kayf ("without asking how") that they

58 Pellat, p. 47.

59 Gibb, "Some Considerations," p. 142.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
92
were expected to accept contradictions such as the coexistence of human
responsibility and divine predestination.
During the century between the end of the Mihna and the death of al-
Ash‘arl, the ‘ulama’ and the caliph had hammered out a modus vivendi
whose stability was ensured by the fact that each depended on the other as
an ally in their common struggle against Shi‘is and other sectarians.
However, this era of happy coexistence between the ‘ulama’ as the
legislators of Islam and the caliph as its chief executive was to be short­
lived, because of the rapid dissipation of the political power of the Abbasid
dynasty. In 936, a year after al-Ash‘ari's death, the first amir al-umard’ of
Baghdad was appointed by the caliph as a separate but equal secular
authority in Baghdad. Up until that point, the theoretical justification of
caliphal legitimacy had been left largely unspoken, or spoken only in
incidental fragments of writings on other subjects. It was during the long
twilight of Abbasid rule that the Sunni theory of the caliphate was
systematically codified and enshrined in the canons of Islamic law.

The Shari‘a and the Caliphate


In the century following al-Ash‘arI's death the transition of the theory
of caliphate from a reason-based to revelation-based enterprise was
completed. The eclipse of rational reasoning and empirical deduction by
revealed texts and communal consensus as the basis of caliphal legitimacy
was a by-product of the larger process by which the Sharl‘a became the
central focus and buttress of orthodox Sunni Islam. To the ‘ulama’ who
articulated it, the "theory of the caliphate" was but a subtopic of Islamic law,
and it is therefore appropriate to review the ways to which each of the
traditional sources of the Shari‘a were put to use in its explication.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
93
The Qur'an and the Caliphate
As pointed out in our discussion of the etymology of the word khalifa,
the Qur’an does not appear to have in mind specifically either an individual
person or a political institution in the verses which use it. Of much more
importance to subsequent debate about the caliphate were verses which
touch on the rights and responsibilities of political authority generally.
These include several verses which contain general exhortations to
obedience to those in authority (ulu al-amr):
Obey God and obey the Apostle and those in authority among
you.60

if [only] they had referred it to the prophet and those in


authority among them.61

They also include verses which allude to an obligation on the part of


the ruler to govern justly:
. . . if you govern, govern justly among them . . . 62
O David, we have made you a khalifa on the earth;
therefore govern justly among the people.63

As has been noted, this last verse was exceptionally beloved of the caliphate
theorists because it both refers to an actual political figure and applies the
Arabic word for caliph to him. Similarly beloved of modern day Islamic
liberals are verses of the Qur’an which make reference to shura, or

60 Qur’an 4: 59.

61 Qur’an 4: 83.

62 Qur’an 5: 42.

63 Qur’an 38: 26.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
94
"consultation," taken by them to be a quintessential^ Islamic advocacy of
democratic government:
so pardon them and ask forgiveness for them and consult with
them about the affair,"64

[God approves of] those who answer their Lord and perform the
prayer and whose affair is [a matter of] consultation among
them.65

As a rule, however, references by the Qur’an to political authority are


not of much use in constructing a theory of the caliphate. On the one hand
they are formulated as general statements about authority no more applicable
to the institution of the caliphate than to any other type of government. On
the other, they all occur in such specific contexts—duly recorded by the
tafslr interpretation—that it is a stretch to interpret them as being intended as
guidelines for general application. They also all occurred in the very
unusual circumstance of having a prophet on hand in a state small enough
for him to be directly involved in most governmental decisions. When
political authority is so widely accepted as not to require justification,
political theory is unnecessary.

The Sunna and the Caliphate


The record of the Prophet's sunnas contains far more material which
could be construed as relevant to government and administration than the
Qur’an. In the course of his ten-year administration of the Muslim
community in Medina, Muhammad appointed officials, delegated functions,

64 Qur’an 3: 159.

65 Qur’an42: 38.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
95
dispatched armies, issued legal rulings—in short he performed many of
the functions of a government. Among the most important episodes of the
Sunna in this regard are those in which the Prophet consulted with his
underlings;66 since as a prophet he didn't really need anyone's advice but
God, these instances can only have been intended for public consumption.
A number of companions are reported to have declared: "I have never seen
anyone consult with his companions more than the Apostle of God."67
As a manual for the caliphate, however, the record of the Prophet's
actions suffer from the second of the liabilities of the Qur’an noted above:
the context in which they were taken was unique. The Muslim state was
relatively small during the Prophet's lifetime, and run by a small elite of
Arab warriors who were well-acquainted with each other and their
respective ranks within the tribal system. The ruler of the Muslim state, of
course, was unique in that he was the Seal of the Prophets. Any qiyas
analogy made on the basis of the Sunna is supposed to be between analogous
situations. There could be no analogy made between the Prophet and any
other ruler or between the Prophet's state and any other political entity.
There is far more material relevant to the institution of the caliphate in
the sunnas of the four Companions who served as caliphs. While the Sunna
as a source of law is theoretically only the Sunna of the Prophet, the Sunna
of the Prophet and the sunnas of the Rashidun tend to merge together in a
way that has suggested to some scholars that the custom of imitating the
sunnas of the Companions may well have predated the custom of imitating

66 E. g., al-Tirmidhl Jihad 34, where an instance of the Prophet asks for advice about what to do
with prisoners of war is recorded.

67 Al-Tirmidhi, Jihad 34.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
96
the Sunna of the Prophet.68 The sunnas of the Companions who were
caliphs are, needless to say, particularly relevant to the part of the Sharfa
which deals with the theory of the caliphate.
Indeed, a segue between the Sunna of the Prophet and the sunnas of
the Rashidun is to be found at the end of the canonical biography of the
Prophet, and— as it happens—it involves the caliphate. Like the fifth book
of Moses, which ends with the laying of hands on Joshua as a prelude to his
leading the Israelites into the Promised Land, and the gospel of Matthew,
which ends with the instruction to the disciples to preach unto the nations,
the Sira of Ibn Ishaq extends beyond the death of its main character with an
episode that points the community in a particular direction following his
death. The episode—known as the saqlfa, after the "Roof of Bani Sa‘ida"
under which it took place—may be summarized as follows:
After the Prophet died Abu Bakr declared: "To those who
worshipped Muhammad: Muhammad is dead. To those who
worship God: God is living and does not die."69 Meanwhile, the
Ansar ("helpers", the Medinans who had converted to Islam and
welcomed the Prophet in Medina) gathered to elect one of their
own as a leader. [They decided that if the Muhajirun
("emigrants," the Meccan Muslims who had made the hijra
with Muhammad") insisted that the leader come from their
ranks they would say: "Then you can have your leader and we
can have our leader."70] When ‘Umar heard about this he
rushed to the spot with Abu Bakr and several prominent
Muhajirun. The Ansar addressed the Muhajirun as follows:

68 G. H. A. Juyboll, Some New Ideas on the Development o f the Sunna as a Technical Term in
Early Islam. J S A I10 (1987), pp. 97-118.

69 Ibn Hisham, al-Sira al-Nabawiyya, Muhammad Muhyi al-Dln ‘Abd al-Hamld, ed. (Dar al-Fikr,
1401/1981), Vol. 4, p. 335. [Brackets enclose supplementary information from al-Tabari.]

70 al-Tabari, Tarlkh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk, M. J. de Goeje, ed. (Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1964), prima
Series, 4, pp. 1838. A translation of al-Tabari’s full account can be found in History o f al-Tabari (Albany:
State University o f New York Press), vol. X (1993), trans. Fred M. Donner, pp. 1-18.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
97
"We are the Helpers of God and the phalanx of Islam. You
Muhajirun are merely part of our group, a band that has come to
settle among us."71 Abu Bakr responded on behalf of the
Muhajirun: "You are worthy of all the compliments you have
given yourselves, but the Arabians will only concede this affair
(hadha al-amr, a phrase the earliest sources often use to refer to
the caliphal succession) to a member of the tribe of Quraysh.72
[We are the commanders ( ‘umara’) and you are the ministers
(wuzara ’). You will no be passed over in consultation
(.mashwara) and we will not discharge affairs without you.]"73
After some more back-and-forth argument, the oath of
allegiance was sworn to Abu Bakr, who is portrayed as
reluctant to assume power: "I have been entrusted with
leadership, but I am not the best of you, so if I do right support
me, and if I do wrong correct me . . . Obey me as long as I obey
God and His Apostle; if I disobey God and His Apostle you
have no obligation to obey me."74 [During this entire time, ‘All
was occupied with preparing the Prophet's body for burial.]75

Since the details of this definitive account of Abu Bakr's succession to


the Prophet must have passed through the most rigorous of selection
processes, it is instructive to note both what was chosen to be included and
what was left out. The first principles of the caliphate which may be
deduced are:
(1) The caliph is not a divine figure; indeed, care is taken to
separate not only the Prophet's successor, but also the Prophet
himself from any hint of divinity ("to those who worshiped
Muhammad, Muhammad is dead . . . " ) .

71 Ibn Hisham, Sira, Vol. 4, p. 338.

72 Ibn Hisham, Sira, Vol. 4, p. 339.

73 al-Tabari, Tarikh, prima Series, 4, p. 1840.

74 Ibn Hisham, Sira, Vol. 4, p. 340-341.

75 al-Tabari, Tarikh, prima Series, 4, p. 1839.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
98
(2) The idea of having two different leaders is entirely
unacceptable; the umma must remain a single united political
entity (the Ansar proposal to have two leaders is rejected out of
hand).

(3) The caliph should be from the tribe of Quraysh, although


reasons of utility rather than hadiths are offered in support of
this idea ("the Arabs will only concede this affair to
Quraysh").76

(4) The caliphate is not to be dictatorial; the umma is to be


consulted in the decision-making process (the followers are
"not to be passed over in consultation" by the leaders).

(5) The possibility that the caliph might not be the best
available candidate is affirmed and caliphal infallibility denied
("I am not the best among you . . . if I do wrong correct me").
Similar statements calling on the people to correct him if he
makes a mistake are attributed to ‘Umar.

(6) ‘AIT appears not to have protested being passed over for the
imamate, or taken any interest in it whatsoever.

The three caliphs who followed Abu Bakr fill out the ranks of the first
four "rightly-guided" caliphs, whose tenure is believed to have been a
golden age of consensus in spite of the fact that all three were assassinated.
Their example has the same hallowed status that has led orientalists to
speculate that the sunnas of the Rashidun once rivaled the Sunna of the
Prophet.77 In particular, their chosen methods of selecting a successor have
been taken as prescriptive. Abu Bakr appointed ‘Umar as his successor,
dictating on his deathbed a letter to that effect to be sealed and read to the

76 Other accounts do indeed have Abu Bakr quoting the pro-Quraysh hadiths.

77 Schacht, Introduction to Islamic Law, p. 17; G. H. A. Juynboll, Some New Ideas on the
Development o f the Sunna as a Technical Term in Early Islam. JSAI 10 (1987), pp. 97-118.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
99
people after his death;78 this established the precedent for the appointment
of the caliph by his predecessor, although the appointment needed to be
made public and the bay‘a swearing in ceremony was still required to
validate the procedure. ‘Umar appointed a council of six men to select a
successor from amongst themselves, who, after extensive wrangling, settled
on ‘Uthman as a compromise candidate;79 this established the precedent of
election by prominent members of the community, or ahl al-hall wal- ‘aqd,
and furnished additional precedent for imamat al-mafdul, "the imamate of
the less qualified," for the purpose of avoiding fitna.

The Hadith and the Caliphate


The words of the Prophetic hadiths, though uttered under less direct
divine inspiration than those of the Qur’an, are nonetheless regarded by
Muslim tradition as almost as sacred. But since the time that sayings of the
Prophet began to be circulated, Islamic scholars have allowed for the
possibility that an individual hadith might be forged. Islamic scholarship
has focused on the isndd (chain of transmission) in evaluating the
authenticity of hadiths, while Western scholarship has focused on analysis
of the content and form. A combination of these two approaches— which
would be an enormous and daunting undertaking—might or might not yield
definite conclusions about the geographic provenance and political context
of hadiths about the caliphate. Suffice it to say that it is peculiar that the
Prophet would have made no reference whatsoever to the caliphate in the
Qur’an, but make so many statements about the caliphate in hadiths. It

78 Full account in al-Tabari, Tarikh, prima Series, 4, pp. 2137-2147. Translation in al-Tabari,
History, vol. XI (1993), trans. Khalid Yahya Blankinship, pp. 145-153.

79 Full account in al-Tabari, Tarikh, prima Series, 5, pp. 2722-2727 and 2776-2782.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
100
seems more likely that a majority of these hadiths came into circulation
after the Prophet's death as part of the ongoing polemic about what form of
government was best suited to perpetuate his legacy.
We may observe in passing that the words most often used in hadiths
to refer to the caliph are "amir" and "imam." Both of these words had other
meanings ("commander of a military expedition" and "leader of the
communal prayer," respectively) which make perfect sense in the context of
most of the hadiths in which they appear. Many of these hadiths in fact do
double duty, appearing under the headings jihad (holy war) or salat (prayer)
as well as well as in the sections dealing with the caliphate (usually titled
imdma). It is not hard to imagine the Prophet giving instructions that a
prayer-leader's movements be imitated or that a general's commands be
followed, nor is it difficult to envision the process by which these
instructions later came to be regarded— willfully or not— as general dicta
about obeying the imam ‘dm and amir al-mu’minin.
The exact progression by which statements by the Prophet about the
amir or the imam came to be interpreted as referring to the caliphate, as well
as the process through which forged hadiths about the caliphate came into
circulation, will perhaps remain forever buried under layers of redaction.
What is significant is that these hadiths represent positions on thorny issues
such as the duty of obedience to an unjust caliph and the importance of
lineage versus merit which were at least on the fringes of proto-Sunni
political orthodoxy during its formative period. Their inclusion in the
canonical Sunni collections qualified them as authoritative evidence on
which later Sunni ‘ulama’ could draw in articulating a Sunni theory of
Islamic government.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
101
The necessity of the caliphate highlighted in the story of Abu
Bakr's succession becomes a religious obligation in the well-known hadith:
"Whoever dies without the oath [of allegiance to the caliph]
upon his neck has died a jahili (i. e., ignorant pre-Islamic)
death."80

Likewise the unity of the caliphate insisted on by Abu Bakr is


confirmed by the still more emphatic:
"Whoever swears allegiance to an imam and gives him the palm
of his hand and the yield of his heart should obey him to the
extent he is able. And if another comes to compete with him,
chop off the other's head."81

Several hadiths assert the religious duty of complete and unequivocal


obedience to the caliph, usually denoted by imam or amir, and occasionally
khalifa:
"He who obeys me obeys me (i. e., the Prophet) is obeying
God, and he who obeys the imam (or amir) is obeying me. He
who rebels against me is rebelling against God and he who
rebels against the imam is rebelling against me."82

"After me there will be imams who are not guided by my


guidance and do not act according to my sunna. .. Heed and
obey the amir; even if he strikes you in the back and takes what
is yours, heed and obey."83

A large number of hadiths try to take the edge of this duty of complete
obedience with the comforting thought that unjust rulers will eventually be
punished in the Hereafter. This position is essentially that of Murji’ism that

80 Muslim, Imara 58.

81 Muslim,/mara, 36; al-Nasa’i, 29.

82 al-Bukhari, Jihad 109; Muslim Imara 32; Ibn Maja, Jihad 39; al-Nasa’I, Bay'a 31.

83 Muslim, Imara 54.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
102
the righteousness of rulers or the lack thereof is the concern of God, not
the subjects. The large number of such hadiths confirms the impression that
M urji’I quietism was indeed the position of the silent majority during the
late Umayyad period:
[The Prophet was asked:] "O Apostle of God, do you think that
amirs will rise up over us who ask us their right but deny us our
own right, and what do you command u s ? " . . . He said: "Heed
and obey, for their burden is upon them and your burden is
upon you."84

"The imam is a shield to be fought behind and obeyed. If he


commands the piety of God he has been just and will receive
his reward for that. If he commands the responsibility is his."85

Although this last hadith suggests that the imam should be


obeyed even when obedience entails violating the laws of Islam, as a
rule, the norm of total obedience is suspended if the caliph commands
his subjects to sin.
"Heedfulness and obedience are incumbent upon a Muslim in
both what he likes and dislikes as long as disobedience to God
is not commanded; if disobedience to God is commanded, then
there is no [duty of] heedfulness and obedience."86

Some variants subversively highlight the exception rather than the norm:
"Do not obey anyone who commands you to disobey God," "There is no
duty of obedience in sin," "Do not obey a creature against his Creator"
In still others the ruler's responsibilities are highlighted with no mention of
the subjects' duty to obey.

84 al-Tirmidhl, Jum ‘a, 79.

85 al-Bukhari, Jihad 109; Muslim, Imara 43; al-Nasa’I Bay'a 34; Abu Da’ud, Jihad 163.

86 al-Bukhari, Ahkdm 4; Ibn Maja, Jihad 39; Al-TirmidhI, Jihad 29; al-Nasa’I Bay‘a 38.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
103
"The imam (or amir) of the people is a shepherd and is responsible
for his flock."87

It is the rare hadith indeed that suggests that people may


exercise their own judgment about whether or not to obey authority in
cases that to not involve an explicit instruction to contravene the laws
of God. One story that appears in most hadith collections is of an
military commander who, enraged at his troops, has them build a
bonfire and instructs them to walk into it, saying "Did not the Prophet
command you to obey me?" While the troops were argue about
whether or not to follow the Prophet's instruction to obey in this
particular case both the fire and the commander's anger bum out.
When Prophet heard this story later, he expressed approval of the
troops who had advocated disobeying their commander; to those who
had advocated obeying him and entering the fire, he said: "If you had
entered it you would have remained in it until Judgment Day."88
Rarer still, but not entirely absent, are hadiths which follow the
Qadarites in advocating active resistance to unjust or immoral
political authority:
"There will be after many amirs. Those who believe
their lies and assist them in doing evil are not with me
and I am not with them and they will not reach the sacred
valley with me; but those who do not believe their lies
and do not assist them in doing evil are with me, and I
am with them, and they will reach the sacred valley with
m e .-

87 al-Bukhari, Ahkam 1; Al-Tirmidhi Jihad 27.

88 al-Bukhari, Ahkam. 4; al-Nasa’I, Bay'a 38.

89 al-Nasa’I, Bay'a 39.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
104

"The best jihad is to speak the truth to a tyrannical sultan."90

Similarly, a small number of hadiths put restrictions on the


political authority other than the simple requirement that it not issue
direct orders to sin. Unseemly lust for power on the part of would-be
rulers is also criticized:
"We will not bestow [command] upon someone who
actively seeks it or is eager to get it."91

Consultation by rulers is strongly advised:

"A man whom God places over subjects and does not
them for advice will never smell the smell of Paradise."

But Qadarite-style hadiths which emphasize the ruler's


responsibility to rule justly and the subjects' obligations to oppose him
if he doesn't are in the minority. A vast majority of hadiths which
criticize corrupt political authority end with a Murji’ite coda deferring
retribution to the next world:
"No amir (Bukhari: wali) who is charged with the affairs of
the Muslims and then does not strive on their behalf will enter
the Garden with them."92

"The most beloved of people to God on the day of resurrection


and closest-seated to Him is a just imam. The most despised to
God on the day of resurrection and the furthest-seated from
Him is a tyrannical imam."93

90 al-Nasa’I, B ay‘a 41.

91 al-Bukhari, Ahkam 7; al-Nasa’i, Bay'a 43.

92 Muslim, Imara 36; al-Bukhari, Ahkam 8.

93 al-Tirmidhi, Ahkam 4; al-Nasa’I, Zakdt 77.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
105

"Any imam who closes his door to those in need, destitution


and poverty, God will close the gates of the heavens to his his
need, destitution and poverty."94

"Any ruler of Muslim subjects who dies having cheated them is


banned by God from the Garden."95

Numerous hadiths confirm the right of Quraysh to the


caliphate:
"This matter (i. e., the caliphate) will remain within Quraysh as
long as there remain two people."96

"There will follow me twelve amirs, all of them from


Quraysh."97

"Quraysh are the rulers of the people for good or ill until the
Day of Judgment."98

There are nonetheless traces of the Kharijite insistence that Islamic


egalitarianism demands that the lineage of leaders be of no consequence
whatsoever:
"Heed and obey even if there is placed over you an Abyssinian
slave with a head like a raisin (or: with amputated limbs) [heed
and obey him as long as he administers the Book of God.]"99

94 al-Tirmidhi, Ahkam 6.

95 al-Bukhari, Ahkam, 8.

96 Muslim, Imara 4; al-Bukhari, Ahkam 2.

97 al-Tirmidhi, Fitan 46.

98 al-Tirmidhi, Fitan 49.

99 al-Bukhari, Ahkam 4; Muslim, Imara 55; Ibn Maja, Jihad 2860; al-Tirmidhi Jihad 28; al-
Nasa’i, Bay'a 30..

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
106
The ShTite tradition of the testament to ‘All is of course emphatically
denied in Sunni Hadith literature—by, among others, ‘Ali himself:
"The Prophet left no testament regarding the caliphate
whatsoever."100

The position that, whenever it ended, the true caliphate was only the
Rashidun caliphate is also represented:
"The caliphate in will last thirty years in my umma. After that
it will become kingship."101

All the hadiths listed above appear in one or several of the six
canonical hadith collections, and as such represent tendencies which were
perceived as being within the pale of Sunni orthodoxy at the time of its
formation. The positions expressed by some of these hadiths—especially
last three listed— were frowned upon by Sunni orthodoxy during the twilight
of Abbasid authority when the classical theory of the caliphate was put down
in writing. But after the Mongol sack of Baghdad left politically-minded
‘ulama’ floundering for a legitimating principle for the governments they
were forced to serve, these long shelved Kharijite hadiths were dusted off
and employed for the purpose of rethinking the nature of Islamic political
legitimacy in a world with no caliph.

Ijmd ‘and the Caliphate


Ijma‘ is basic to the theory of the caliphate in numerous ways whose
complex interrelationships reflect the ambiguities inherent in the concept of

100 al-Tirmidhi, Fitan 48.

101 al-Tirmidhi, Fitan 48.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
107
Ijma‘ itself.102 The consensus of the companions was crucial for
establishing (a) the need for a caliph in general and (b) the legitimacy of the
choice of Abu Bakr and the other "rightly-guided" caliphs to fill the position.
The consensus of each subsequent generation was crucial for establishing (a)
the continuing need for a caliph in general, (b) the legitimacy of the caliph of
the day and (c) the continuity of caliphal succession down to its own time.
The primacy of Ijma‘ in the theory of the caliphate is illustrated by the fact
that upon the death of the prophet, the succession of Abu Bakr was decided
upon not by reference to Qur’an or Sunna—if in fact established texts
existed at this early date—but by communal consensus.103 Departure from
the community is one of the gravest sins a Muslim can commit:
"Kill anyone whom you see splitting off from the community or
attempting to sow division in the affairs of the umma of
Muhammad whoseover he may be; the hand of God is with the
community, and the Devil walks with those who split off from
the community."104

The hadiths which insist on total obedience to the caliph do so out of horror
of deviation from communal consensus, and some make this explicit:
"Cleave to the community of Muslims and their imam."105
"He who dislikes in his amir should be patient. Anyone who
departs from the community a handspan and dies has died a
jahili death."106

102 See above, Ch. I, pp. 22-3.

103 See above, pp. 90-1.

104 al-Nasa’i, Muharaba 6.

105 al-Bukhari, Fitan 11; Muslim, Imara 51.Ibn Maja, Fitan 13.

106 Bukhari, Ahkam 4; Muslim, Imara 55.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
108
The sanctity of Ijma‘ is central to the idea of community which the
caliphal ideal was meant to represent. It fulfills the function within Sunnism
that the wasiyyat Ghadir Khumm—the ceremonial testament of nass-
designation by Muhammad of ‘All as his successor—does within Shfism. It
lends an aura of sacred continuity and community approval to the twists and
turns history imposed on the caliphate. In modem times the principle of
Ijma‘ has been trumpeted by Islamic liberals as a democratic principle, and
by those who regard Islamic liberalism as a contradiction in terms as a recipe
for majoritarian tyranny.

The Classical Theory of the Caliphate


It is one of the oft-noted paradoxes and ironies of Islamic intellectual
history that the theory of caliphate was explicitly formulated just at the time
when the institution of the caliphate was declining into political
insignificance. Upon reflection, the paradox is neither as contradictory nor
the irony as unexpected as appears at first glance. When the caliphate was
strong enough to meet challenges to its legitimacy with overpowering
military force, it had no need for complex theoretical justifications to bolster
its temporal power, and was in fact regarded by the ‘ulama’ as an enemy in
its struggle for religious authority. But the more the caliphate lost its real
power, the more essential a strong theoretical basis became for its continued
survival; and the less afraid the ‘ulama’ were of a caliphal challenge to their
position, the more willing they became to help provide such a theoretical
basis.
In the meantime, the need for such a theoretical justification had been
made all the more pressing by the increasing circulation of alternate visions
of what Islamic government should be like. By the mid-tenth century, it was

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
109
no longer Kharijite anarchism but rather S h iite theocratism that posed
the greatest challenge to the authority of the Sunni caliphate. During the
"S hiite century" S hiism in its most potent Ism alli variation had a political
and organizational base in the seat of the Fatimid anti-caliphate of Egypt and
support among the ever rebellious tribesmen of eastern Arabia and western
Iraq. Even in domains that were technically Abbasid, real power was held
by Buyid and Hamdanid sultans who were adherents of something
approximating imami-twelver Shiism , which was being endowed with its
own sacred history and legal system in the caliph's very back yard by
scholars such as al-Shaykh al-Mufld (d. 1022). Although the Mihna had
ended over two centuries prior, the culture war between Persian-style divine
absolutism and batini esotericism on the one hand, and Arabian-style
consensual government and zdhiri populism on the other was very much
alive. The powerful stimulus that the challenge of S h iism gave to the
development of the theory of the caliphate can be seen in the work of al-
Mawardl's two immediate precursors Ibn al-Baqillani and al-Baghdadl.
Abu Bakr Muhammad b. al-Tayyib b. al-Baqillani (d. 1013)—usually
inaccurately referred to as al-Baqillani rather than Ibn al-Baqillani—was a
Maliki qadi and Ash‘arite theologian at Baghdad. His Kitab al-Tamhidfi al-
Radd ‘ala al-Mulhida al-Mu ‘attala wal-Rafida wal-Khawarij wal-Mu ‘tazila
is, as its title suggests, "the earliest example we have of a complete manual
of theological polemic"107 for self-conscious Sunnism. A large portion of it
deals with the caliphate, and the subheading with which Ibn al-Baqillani
introduces the subject sums up his motivation for addressing it quite neatly:
"The Invalidity of Designation (nass) and the Validity of Election

107 EI2, "Ibn al-Baqillani," (R. J. McCarthy).

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
110
(ikhtiyar)."m Ibn al-Baqillani argues that if something of such enormous
significance (amr ‘aiTm wa-khatr jaslni) as the Prophet's designating a
successor had actually happened, the report would have been "as widely
circulated as [the Prophet's statements about] prayer, the hajj and fasting."109
Since nass and ikhtiyar are the only two methods of selecting a caliph, "the
refutation of nass is a proof of the validity of ikhtiyar"110 In any case, as Ibn
al-Baqillani demonstrates with the aid of an arsenal of hadiths, had such a
thing as nass ever occurred, Abu Bakr rather than ‘All would have been
almost the certain designee.111
According to Ibn al-Baqillani the imamate is to be contracted by
"authorized" (mu’tainanun) pillars of the community (ahl al-hall wal-
‘aqd).n2 However, gathering all the ahl al-hall wal- ‘aqd at one location at
any one time is a practical impossibility. There is no lower limit to the
number of ahl al-hall wal- ‘aqd who can select the caliph, as long as it is not
done in secret. If two caliphs are chosen in two different places, the earlier
bay‘a is valid. By analogy to the case of two men claiming to have
contracted marriage with the same woman, if it cannot be determined which
was the earliest invested both bay‘as are void and the procedure must begin
again. In all cases, once the true caliph is determined, all Muslims must be
brought over to his side, by force if necessary.113

108 Ibn Ibn al-Baqillani, Abu Bakr b. Muhammad b. al-Tayyib, Kitab al-Tamhld fi al-Radd ‘ala
al-Mulhida al-M u‘attala wal-Rafida wal-Khawarij wal-Mu‘tazila (Dar al-Fikr al-‘Arabi), p. 164.

109 Ibn al-Baqillani, Tamhld, p. 164.

110 Ibn al-Baqillani, Tamhld, p. 165.

111 Ibn al-Baqillani, Tamhld, pp. 167-78.

112 Ibn al-Baqillani, Tamhld, p. 178.

113 Ibn al-Baqillani, Tamhld, p. 180-1.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
I ll
Hadiths such as "The imams are to be from Quraysh as long as
there are two of them left" and the events of the Saqlfa prove that the imam
must be of Quraysh descent, although not necessarily a member of the BanI
Hashim—this latter caveat allowing for the legitimacy of the Umayyad
caliphs.114 There is in any case close to virtually unanimous ijma ‘ on the
Quraysh requirement even among sectarians, with the exception of the
M u‘tazilite Dirar.115 The caliph must possess enough legal expertise to be a
qadl, enough military acumen to defend the borders of Islam, and enough
ruthlessness to impose legal penalties on lawbreakers uncompromisingly.
With respect to these three qualities the ahl al-nass and the ahl al-ikhtiyar
are in agreement. But Ibn al-Baqillani states categorically that the caliph is
certainly not—like the S h iite imam—infallible or in possession of hidden
batini knowledge.116 The revelation has already provided Muslims with all
the knowledge they need to determine how they ought to be governed, and
the caliph is merely their "agent and deputy" (wakil lil-umma wa-na’ib
(anha).ni Interestingly, most of Ibn al-Baqillanl's citations attesting to
caliphal fallibility are modest disclaimers made by the Rashidun caliphs
rather than Prophetic hadiths.
Even though there are personal qualities recognized as necessary for
the carrying out of the caliphal duties, the caliph need not be the best of men
with regard to them; the less-qualified (mafdul) may be promoted over the

114 See below, Chapter III, for Ibn Khaldun's claim that Ibn al-Baqillani discarded the Quraysh
requirement, and Chapter IV, for the use to which Ibn Khaldun's claim was put in the by twentieth century
partisans of King Fu’ad of Egypt's campaign for the caliphate.

115 Ibn al-Baqillani, Tamhid, p. 182.

116 Ibn al-Baqillani, Tamhld, p. 181.

117 Ibn al-Baqillani, Tamhld, p. 184.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
112
most qualified (al-afdal) "out of fear offitna."m Although he has said
earlier that like any other contract the caliphal bay‘a cannot be unilaterally
abrogated by the umma, Ibn al-Baqillani does list some circumstances that
might be grounds for deposing a caliph: extreme impiety, ill physical or
mental health, captivity in the hands of an enemy of the umma, and,
according to some, grave injustice. But a minor deficiency (fisq), if
discovered after the bay‘a has gone into effect, is not grounds for removal,
by analogy to the Shari‘a stipulation that the ex post facto discovery of
minor improprieties in preparation for prayer does not invalidate the prayer
itself. In any case, the procedure for removal of a corrupt caliph is not
specified.
‘Abd al-Qahir b. al-Tahir al-Baghdadi (d. 1037), a scholar from
Nishapur, is most famous for his Kitab al-Farq bayna al-Firaq, a virulently
polemical diatribe against sectarian heresies. The theory of the caliphate he
propounds in his Kitab Usui al-Dln, however, unlike Ibn al-Baqillani's, does
not Use Shfite heresy as its jumping off point, but rather starts with a
general discussion of the necessity of the caliphate. Al-Baghdadi declares
that virtually all Muslims— even most non-Sunni groups—regard the
imamate as necessary.119 The necessity of the caliphate is not obviated by
the existence of complete harmony among Muslims, not does the existence
of fitna in the community invalidate the legitimacy of the caliph of the time.
The example al-Baghdadi gives is ‘All, whose tenure was valid despite the
violent civil discord which accompanied it. The imam must be known to all.
Al-Baghdadi mocks the various ShTite groups which await the return of

118 Ibn al-Baqillani, Tamhld, p. 184.

119 al-Baghdadi, Abu al-Mansur ‘Abd al-Qahir b. Tahir, Kitab Usui al-Dln (Istanbul: Matba‘at
al-Dawla, 1928), p. 271.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
113
their respective hidden imams "in spite of the virtual unanimity of
reports (tawatur al-khabar)" about their deaths.120 He also condemns those
who allow for two imams, a circumstance that may only apply if they are
separated by an impassable sea.121
Al-Baghdadi believes that Quraysh is more worthy of the imamate
than any other tribe, but lists a number of dissenting opinions to the effect
that in certain circumstances— e. g., when no Qurashi with the requisite
qualifications is available or when the selection of a Quraysh caliph would
cause fitna— it may be permitted to go outside of Quraysh for an imam.122
He is unambiguous in his condemnation of both the Kharijite extreme which
allows for the caliphate to be occupied by a member of "any branch of
humanity," and the opposing S h iite extreme which restricts the caliphate
narrowly to the house of ‘All.123 Where Abu Bakr's arguments at the Saqifa
had been utilitarian, al-Baghdadi asserts that the decision to keep the
caliphate in Quraysh was made on the basis of the hadith "The imams are to
come from Quraysh" and the consensus of the Companions that Quraysh
was best-qualified to lead. Quraysh lineage is one of four qualification the
caliph must possess, the other three being knowledge of the law, justice, and
military ability.
Like Ibn al-Baqillani, al-Baghdadi condemns the idea of caliphal
‘Araa-infallibility without suggesting how a bad caliph might be removed,
and condemns mm-designation without clarifying how ikhtiydr-election by

120 al-Baghdadi, Usui al-Dln, p. 273.

121 al-Baghdadi, Usui al-Dln, p. 274.

122 al-Baghdadi, Usui al-Dln, p. 275.

123 al-Baghdadi, Usui al-Dln, p. 275.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
114
one elector differs from it.124 A secret nass of the type claimed by
ShTites would have contravened the requirement that the caliph of the time
be known to all Muslims. On the other hand, al-Baghdadi does not deny the
possibility that ‘All might have been better qualified for the caliphate than
his three predecessors. Indeed, the fact that ‘Uthman in particular was
selected without being anybody's first choice sets the precedent for the
imamate of the less qualified.
Although his exposition of the theory of the imamate in al-Baghdadi's
Usui al-Dln is superficially more measured and positive than the anti­
sectarian polemics of his Farq bayna al-Firaq, the sectarian challenges to
which it is a response are never far from the surface. In responding to
sectarian opinions without specifying what they are, al-Baghdadi illustrates
perfectly the reverse historical vision inherent in the claims of Sunni
orthodoxy. In particular, the circular reasoning of Ijma‘ is very much in
evidence; in several places al-Baghdadi dismisses heretical thinkers
"because of the existence of a priori consensus opposing their opinions"
(litaqaddum al-ijma ‘ (ala khildf qawlihima).125 The assertion of the
existence of such a consensus among generations past was crucial to the
formation of the mid-eleventh century Sunni consensus on the caliphate
issue which was explicated most fully by al-Mawardi.

Al-Mawardi
Abu al-Hasan ‘All b. Muhammad b. Habib al-Mawardi (d. 1058) was
a scholar of legendary professional and moral rectitude who served the

124 al-Baghdadi, Usui al-Dln, p. 280-1.

125 al-Baghdadi, Usui al-Dln, p. 271, 276.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
115
caliphs al-Qadir (d. 1031) and al-Qa’im (d. 1075) as chief qadi of
Baghdad, and also as the caliph's ambassador to the Buyid court.126 It was
for one of these two caliphs127 that al-Mawardi wrote al-Ahkam al-
Sultaniyya, describing the functions of the different parts of the government
and their relationship to the caliph.

Al-Mawardi starts out with a definition of the caliphate that was


repeated in one form or another by all subsequent writers on the caliphate:

The imamate is established for the succession o f prophecy in


the preservation of the religion (din) and the administration of
the world (dunya).m

The overwhelming consensus is that the establishment of the caliphate is a


necessary duty upon all Muslims. According to some this necessity follows
rationally from the need to avoid leaderless anarchy.129 According to others
this necessity is established by the SharTa, including such Qur’an verses as
"Obey . . . those in authority among you," and hadiths enjoining obedience
to the imams.130 The establishment of the caliphate is a collective duty (fard
kifdya) upon the whole community; if this duty is in a state of nonfulfillment
the community must act immediately to rectify the situation by selecting a
caliph.
The two groups involved in the process of selecting the caliph are the
electors (ahl al-ikhtiyar) and the candidates (ahl al-imama). Members of

126 El2 , "Al-MawarcH" (C. Brockelmann), p. 869.

127 H. A. R. Gibb, "Al-Mawardfs Theory of the Khilafah." Islamic Culture 11 (1937), p. 291.

128 Abu al-Hasan ‘All b. Habib al-Basri al-Baghdadi Al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya wal-
Wilayat al-Diniyya (Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-llm iyya, n. d.) p. 5.

129 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 5.

130 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, pp. 5-6.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
116
both groups must be of unquestioned moral and intellectual soundness;
the latter must in addition be physically sound enough to carry out the duties
incumbent upon the caliph and also be members of Quraysh. This last
requirement, though disputed by the Mu‘tazill Dirar, is supported both by
Ijma‘ and by hadiths such as "The imams are from Quraysh," as well as
confirmed by the events of the Saqifa.131 Every effort should be made to find
the best-qualified candidate; and if two candidates have different types of
virtues-—e. g., wisdom versus courage—-the choice should fall on whichever
quality is most needed by the umma at the time.
There are two valid methods of selection: election by the pillars of the
community (ahl al-hall wal-'aqd) or investiture ( ‘ahd) by the previous
caliph. The validity of the first method is supported by the precedent of the
election of Abu Bakr by representatives of the community after the Prophet's
death.132 Although selection of the best-qualified candidate is desirable, if
that candidate does not wish to accept the burden of the caliphate he should
not be forced to. On the other hand, a person who actively seeks the office
of caliph is not automatically disqualified because of his ambition.
Accordingly, a struggle between two claimants does not necessarily
disqualify either of them. If it can be demonstrated that one of them received
the bay‘a first, then that man is caliph. Even if the one established as first
drops out of the running, the second does not automatically become caliph
without going throughout the formalities of the bay‘a a second time.
If it is determined that the better qualified of two candidates was
deprived unfairly without due consideration, opinion is divided. Some— al-

131 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 6.

132 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 6.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
117
Jahiz among them—maintain that the principle of election does not
permit continuing with the lesser-qualified candidate in office. But al-
Mawardi significantly attributes this reasoning to an improper analogy made
between ikhtiyar in the context of the caliphate and ijtihad in jurisprudence,
which requires that once the best alternative is determined it must be
followed to the exclusion of all others. The majority opinion is that as long
as the current caliph is adequate, the existence of a second, more qualified
candidate does not require the replacement of the first. In all cases al-
Mawardi strives to elevate the sanctity of the office above the qualifications
of its occupant. Even in the case of a single candidate who stands so far
above the rest that there is no question that he would have to be elected, he is
not considered caliph until the election process is completed, and validated
by the bay‘a.m
Needless to say, if there is no perfect candidate, al-Mawardi allows
for the imamate of the less qualified.134 The principle of imamat al-mafdul
in fact does double duty for al-Mawardi. It serves as a rejection of the
Kharijite stance that the best qualified candidate must be installed as soon as
he appears no matter how much civil disturbance this might cause. It also
counters S hfite claims that the first three caliphates were illegitimate
because ‘All was passed over. Like his Sunni predecessors, al-Mawardi is
quite willing to entertain the possibility that ‘Uthman in particular was less
qualified than ‘All, and to turn this around on both Shfites and Kharijites,
claiming it as a Rashidun era precedent for the compromise approach to
politics which those two sects reject.

133 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, pp. 8-10.

134 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 7.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
118
On the other hand, if al-Mawardi is willing to compromise on the
person of the caliph he strives at every point to uphold the sanctity of the
process by which the caliph is selected. It is clear that for all his comparisons
of the caliphal election process with other aspects of Shari‘a law, he thinks
of the caliphate as something uniquely sacred. Although at one point he
compares procedures for filling the caliphal office with those relating to the
office of qadi, al-Mawardi notes that a precise analogy between a judgeship
and the caliphate is impossiible, because "a judgeship is a specific
assignment from which someone may be removed even though he remains
qualified."135 Similarly, for all his comparisons of the caliphal bay‘a to other
types of contracts, al-Mawardi notes that in the final analysis the caliphal
bay ‘a is "a public interest whose consequences go beyond that of private
contracts."136 The imamate is unique in that it encompasses both "the rights
of God and the rights of men"137—that is to say it is the point where ‘ibadat
and mu ‘amalat (relations between man and God and relations between man
and man) intersect.
The validity of the second method of caliphal selection, investiture of
the caliph by his predecessor, is established by the precedent of the
designation by Abu Bakr of ‘Umar as his successor.138 Al-Mawardi includes
the appointment by a caliph of his son as heir under the latter heading, but he
is clearly not entirely comfortable with it. Like succession by the only
existing qualified candidate, succession by primogeniture is not complete

135 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 9.

136 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 9.

137 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 9.

138 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 7.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
119
until it is approved by the formal electoral process. On the other hand,
once the appointment has been made the caliph cannot rescind it as he can
his other appointments to office such as judges, because whereas "he
appoints them in his own right, he appoints his heir by right of the umma."139
Although al-Mawardi is obligated to defend investiture by primogeniture
because that was overwhelmingly the most common method of succession in
historical practice, he is adamant about not mistaking the sanctity of the
office for the sanctity of its occupant. The caliph is "the khalifa of the
Apostle of God," not "the khalifa of God," as is indicated by majority
opinions about the khalifa verses of the Qur’an and by Abu Bakr's refusal to
accept the title "khalifa of God." The ten duties of the caliph with respect to
the umma are to:
(1) preserve the religion (2) administer justice (3) protect land
and property (4) apply penalties (5) fortify frontiers (6) conduct
the Holy War (7) collect taxes (8) assess remittances from the
treasury (9) appoint competent advisors (10) supervise the
affairs of the umma himself wherever he can.

If the caliph carries out these duties, the umma owes him the rights of
obedience and support "as long as his condition does not change."140
This last phrase, md lam yataghayyar haluhu, appears more than once
in al-Mawardfs exposition of the caliphate, and begs the question of what
grounds if any are justification for the deposition of the caliph. Al-Mawardi
supplies a long list of reasons for the which the caliph might be disqualified,
most of which have to do with physical and mental impairment, such as
losing his eyesight— a stricture that proved painfully unfortunate to a

139 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 12.

140 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 19.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
120
number of future caliphs after it became in vogue for sultans wishing to
disqualify a particular candidate to poke out his eyeballs with a molten
spear. But the list also includes the circumstance of the caliph falling under
the control of someone else. If the person under whose control the caliph
has fallen does not overtly flout the laws of Islam then the caliphate
continues to be in force, because "otherwise religious affairs would come to
a stop which would lead to corruption of the umma."141 If the person under
whose control the caliph has fallen is an enemy of Islam the umma has an
obligation to rescue the caliph from his clutches. Finally, "if he is
imprisoned by infidels (mushrikun) then he is removed from the imamate
and . . . the electors must resume the bay‘a process for someone else."142
Al-Mawardi had in mind the captivity of the caliph by the ShTite Buyids,
but his "freedom from foreign control" requirement has loomed larger than
ever in modem times when the infidels threatening to control the caliphate
have been Christian Europeans.
Both the principles laid out by al-Mawardi and the format he employs
to explicate them became the jumping-off point for all subsequent writers on
the theory of the caliphate. The reverse historical vision inherent in Sunni
orthodoxy can be seen to have reached completion in his work. All traces of
the tug of war process with sectarians through which they were arrived at are
gone. The positions on the caliphate at which Sunni orthodoxy had arrived
in his time are represented as having always been recognized as reflecting
the Prophet's original intentions. These positions include

141 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 23.

142 al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyya, p. 23.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
121
(1) affirming the necessity and sanctity of the institution of the
caliphate while stressing that the actual caliph is not a sacred
figure;
(2) affirming the duty of total obedience to the caliph while
insisting that he is not truly legitimate until he receives
the bay‘a of the umma which he theoretically serves;

(3) affirming the primacy of the evidence of Hadlth and Ijma‘


in reaching conclusions about the caliphate while still
taking note of utilitarian arguments in favor of it;

(4) affirming that there must always be a caliph while admitting


that this might sometimes require the installation of an
imperfect candidate;

(5) affirming the legitimate continuity of the historical


succession of caliphs while admitting that some of them
were not the best of men.

Because he lived at the time of the closing of the Gate of Ijtihad, al-
Mawardfs theory of the caliphate came to be regarded as the classical
formulation from which subsequent deviations were regarded as retreats.
This included deviations both from features that might be regarded as
historically contingent, such as the Quraysh lineage requirement, and from
principles that have been the hallmarks of the Islamic Government enterprise
from the beginning, such as the ideals of Islamic unity and continuity to
which history was about to pose enormous and unforeseen challenges.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
Chapter III: The Caliphal Ideal in Retreat and Resurgence

122

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
In retrospect, it was fortunate for Islam that it did not, like
Zoroastrianism, marry its fate to that of an Iraqi-based Middle East-wide
Empire, because events at the end of the first millenium were conspiring to
render such an empire unviable. Indeed the very same constellation of
agricultural and commercial developments which had contributed to the rise
of the unified Islamic state to begin with were now contributing to its
demise. The two virtues of Eastern Iraq as the seat of an empire were the
fertility of the Sawad region between Tigris and Euphrates and its central
location along overland trade routes. The first of these advantages may have
begun to diminish even before the Islamic period, with the onset of a gradual
drying up of the climate and breakdown of irrigation systems that may have
been a contributing factor in the rapid collapse of the Sassanian Empire
before the advancing Arabians. Whatever the reason, by the late Abbasid
period the traditional Sawad agricultural base ceased to provide the revenues
necessary to support imperial infrastructure. This led to the destructive
cycle of caliphs doling out iqta ‘ fiefs to their soldiers in lieu of salaries,
which in turn accelerated the diminution of the tax base. The total
disappearance of the kharaj land tax system led to the disappearance of the
civilian apparatus which administered it, and eventually there was no more
Persian bureaucracy to serve as a counterweight to the Turkish soldiery, who
proved increasingly difficult for the central government to control as land,
money and civilian authority became scarcer. Provincial governors asserted
ever more brazen independence on the fringes of the empire and Kharijite
and Ism alli brigandage became an increasing problem at the core.
Chaos at the center robbed Iraq of the second of the advantages which
had made it an imperial seat by deflecting overland trade to the Red Sea
route. This was a reprise of the diversion of trade during the Byzantine-

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
124
Sassanian wars that transformed Mecca into a trade entrepot and set the
stage for the rise of Islam to begin with. This time the diversion of trade
benefited the western shore of the Red Sea, and Egyptian commerce
expanded at the expense of Iraqi.
The process of Iraqi decline is visible in hindsight at the turn of the
tenth century, and was in plain view by the turn of the eleventh. Baghdad
had became a Western fringe province of a Buyid empire centered in
Western Iran, while Western Iraq and Syria had become frontier zones on
the border with the Fatimid anti-caliphate of Cairo. This bifurcation of the
center of Islamic power from Iraq into Persia and Egypt proved to be a stay
of execution for the Abbasid caliphate. Had the shrinking domains of the
caliphate remained a prize of economic and strategic rather than merely
symbolic value, any one of the many sultans competing over them might
well have taken the step of abolishing the caliphate altogether. But as long
as the caliph resided in an area that was becoming increasingly marginal, he
could be allowed to retain the symbolic prerogative of investing the sultan,
just as the Italian Popes of the Middle Ages retained the prerogative of
investing the German monarchs who were the true rulers of Europe.
The unexpected bonus of noninterference by outside forces afforded
to the caliphate by its decline in political importance is attested to by the
unprecedentedly long consecutive reigns of al-Qadir (991-1031) and al-
Qa’im (1031-1075). But if al-Qa’im had any hopes of being restored to
political power by the replacement of the ShTite Buyids by the Sunni
Seljuks as amirs of Baghdad in 1055, he was disappointed. On the contrary,
under the system devised by the Seljuk vizier Nizamulmulk, the separation
of the religious from the ruling apparatus was made permanent by the
establishment of themadrasa ("religious school") system funded by waqf

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
125
religious endowments on the one hand, and the continuing maintenance
of a hierarchy of local rulers financed by iqta‘ land grants on the other.
Nizamulmulk rendered the invaluable service to Islam of providing it with
the institutions that saw it through the medieval period of political
fragmentation. But with the division of al-Mawardi's twin duties of
preservation of the religion and administration of the world between ‘ulama’
and amirs, it was unclear what function, if any, the caliph was to fulfill in the
equation.

al-Ghazali
An attempt to define this function was made by Abu Hamid
Muhammad b. Muhammad al-Ghazali (d. 1111). Al-Ghazali set the tone of
medieval Islam in so many areas that his lifetime marks a clear dividing line
between early and late medieval Islamic theology. His polemics against
bdtini esotericism were crucial in closing the floodgates to the tide of
Isma‘ilism which washed over the Muslim intellectual world during the
confusion of the Crusades. His advocacy of mystical communion as the best
path to a relationship with God paved the way for the reconciliation of
Sunnism with the potentially heterodox Sufism so instrumental in Islam's
continued expansion. His reaffirmation of the A sh‘arite restriction on the
place of philosophy in religion was so authoritative as to influence both
Judaism and Christianity, and to render the outcome of his posthumous
debate on the subject with Ibn Rushd (Averroes) a foregone conclusion.
In his chapter on the imamate in al-Iqtisadfi al-Vtiqad al-Ghazali
follows al-Mawardi with regard to the respective roles of reason and
revelation in establishing the necessity of the imamate: "One should not
think that its necessity derives from reason ( ‘aql)\ we declare that the

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
126
necessity is derived from religious law (shar‘)."1 He supplies the by now
familiar Sharfa evidence in support of the caliphate's necessity, unity and
continuity. However, in keeping with his signature doctrine that reason,
though irrelevant to the essence of faith, can remain a useful rhetorical
weapon in its defense, al-Ghazali not only makes mention of the argument
that the caliphate is necessary by virtue of the need for social order, but
augments it with a new Islamic addendum:
We do not deny the necessity of establishing an imam based on
the benefits and defense against earthy harm which he provides.
And rather than satisfying ourselves with the support provided
for it by the ijma ‘ of the umma— which we nonetheless draw
attention to— we offer decisive sharT proof of its necessity by
saying that the organization of religion was the absolute goal of
the Lawgiver, peace be upon him. This is an absolute
indisputable premise, to which we add another premise: that
the organization of religion can only occur with a recognized
imam. The soundness of the claim that the establishment of the
imamate is necessary follows from these two premises.2

Writing at a time when permanent secular institutions of government


were being installed by avowedly Sunni rulers, al-Ghazali was forced to
address far more directly that his predecessors the question of whether or not
politics is an appropriate subject for religious discourse at all. He concludes
that pious aversion to politics stems from a mistaken perception of what is
meant by the word dunya ("the affairs of this world"). The word has in fact
two meanings: (1) an excess of material things and (2) a sufficiency of
material things.3 The first is antithetical to religion, whereas the second is a

1 Muhammad Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, al-lqtisad fil-Vtiqad (Beirut: Dar wa Maktabat al-Hilal (sic)
1993), p. 253.'

2 al-Ghazali, Iqtisad., p. 253-4.

3 al-Ghazali, Iqtisad, p. 255.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
127
prerequisite for it. The guardian of the material prerequisites for the
health of Islam is sultan, or legitimate political authority:
Sultan is necessary for the order of the world, the order of the world is
necessary for the order of religion, and the order of religion is
necessary for the achievement of happiness in the hereafter, which
was the ultimate goal of the prophets.4

The world sultan in Arabic denotes both secular political authority in the
abstract and its highest ranking individual representative; it is no stretch at
all for al-Ghazali to extend his Islamization of the argument for the necessity
of the caliphate to the sultanate.
Al-Ghazali seems to have discounted the possibility of installing the
caliph by means of election. He list three methods of succession: (1)
investiture by the Prophet (which presumably happened only in the case of
Abu Bakr), (2) investiture by the preceding caliph (legitimizing hereditary
succession), and (3) investiture by a man of power (rajul dhu shawka)
capable of forcing others to swear the oath of allegiance. Even when this
possessor of power is not particularly pious, his appointment of a caliph and
procurement of the bay‘a for him from the ‘ulama’ serve to legitimize both
the caliph's and his own authority. Elsewhere, al-Ghazali admits that
legitimizing the seizure of the bay‘a by force is an unfortunate concession to
reality:
Government in these days is a consequence solely of military
power, and whosoever he may be to whom the possessor of
military power gives his allegiance, that person is the caliph.5

4 al-Ghazali, Iqtisad, p. 256.

5 Quoted from al-Ghazali, Ihya' ‘Ulum al-Din in H. A. R. Gibb, "Some Considerations on the
Sunni Theory of the Caliphate," in Studies on the Civilization o f Islam (Boston: Beacon Press, 1962), p.
143.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
128
Some scholars have professed shock that al-Ghazali is so sanguine
about accommodating the political reality of his day by introducing the
sultan into the caliphal equation.6 It is true that "once the caliphate could be
resolved into its component parts it became possible for the rest of the parts
to hobble along without the caliph himself."7 But al-Ghazali's innovation
was not so radical—nor the ‘ulama’ and amirs so hobbled by the caliph's
demise—as might appear at first glance. Islamic government had been
identified with the historical caliphate only during the brief period when the
caliphate was neither so strong as to pose a threat to the ‘ulama’ as guardians
of religious doctrine, nor so weak as to cease to be a valuable ally for the
‘ulama’ in the maintenance of religious practice. The legitimacy of the
historical Sunni caliphate had always depended on the caliph's function as
protector of Islam rather than— as in S hiism —any inherent quality of
individual caliphs, the caliphal dynasty itself, or even the caliphal office. It
is not so remarkable that al-Ghazali tolerates the transfer of legitimacy to
whatever government could make the best claim to being the protector of
Islam without feeling the need to supply an explicit justification.
The existing Abbasid caliphate is not entirely ignored by al-Ghazali.
His residual commitment to the ideal of historical continuity can be seen in
his reiteration of al-Mawardl's Quraysh descent requirement, which he
elsewhere restricts further to membership in the Abbasid family.8 He
evinces an anti-Kharijite insistence that the imamat al-mafdul, the
installation of an underqualified caliph, is preferable to a gap in the caliphal

6 Leonard Binder, "Al-Ghazali's Theory o f Islamic Government.” The Muslim World 45 (1955),
p. 237.

7 Binder, "Al-Ghazali's Theory of Islamic Government," p. 241.

8 Binder, "Al-Ghazali's Theory of Islamic Government," p. 237.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f the copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited without perm ission.
129
succession. As long as there existed a caliph in Baghdad, Islamic
scholars remained faithful to the ideal of continuity represented by the
Abbasid succession, and could even harbor unspoken dreams of a return to
the golden age of Harun. In the heady days following the expulsion of the
Crusaders by Salah al-Din and the Ayyubid reunification of Syria and Egypt,
hopes were again raised for the resurgence of a unified Islamic state.
Emboldened by the simultaneous disappearance of the competing caliphates
of Spain and Egypt, and given breathing room by the demise of the Seljuk
sultanate at Baghdad, another long-reigning caliph, al-Nasir (1180-1225)
revived the prospect of engineering a pan-Islamic revival with the caliph of
Baghdad at its head.9 But the Mongol conquests brought a new political
reality to the Muslim world, which swept away not only the Baghdad
caliphate, but also the entire post-Seljuk political order.

The Theory of the Caliphate after the M ongol Conquests


It has often been observed that considering the thoroughness with
which the Mongols conquered and despoiled the Islamic world materially,
the ease with which they were integrated into its culture and religion is
remarkable. Unlike the camel nomads of the Arabian desert whose lightning
conquest was followed by the spread of their language and religion, the
horse nomads of the Mongolian steppe left very few cultural traces in the
wake of their rampages. The Mongol khans converted to Islam, and their
descendants acquired the established Muslim languages of Arabic, Persian
and Turkish.

9 Armand Abel, "Le Khalife, Presence Sacree." Studia Islamica 7 (1957), pp. 42.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
130
The one cultural trace which the Mongols did leave behind,
however, was a theory of dynastic political legitimacy which came
eventually to eclipse the last vestiges of caliphal legitimacy in Muslim
states. In the Mongol tradition, the right to rule was divine in only the
general sense that since God ultimately determines the course of history, He
had obviously approved o f Genghis Khan's rise to world domination, and
also presumably of the outcome of the power struggles among his heirs that
traditionally followed the death of a khan. Also of crucial importance to the
relationship of Islam to the state in the late medieval and early modem
periods was the Mongol dynastic code, or Yasa, and its analogues in the
Mongol successor states. As early as the caliphate of HarOn the Sharl‘a had
been forced to accustom itself to co-existing with the qanun law by decree of
a mler invested by the bay‘a.10 But in the Mongol successor states, the
bay ‘a was not a prerequisite for the legitimacy of the ruler's qaniin. The
legitimacy of the Mongol Yasa was purely dynastic, with no
connection—however theoretical—to Islam.
It is not quite true to say that "when the caliphate was destroyed by
the Mongol invasion no radical adjustment in theory was required, because
the historic imamate had been virtually ignored before this event."11 As long
as there existed in Baghdad a person of Quraysh-Abbasid descent with a
universally recognized claim to the caliphate, he could not be completely
ignored. Far from going unnoticed, the destruction of the caliphate is one of
the consequences of the Mongol sack of Baghdad that most horrified the

10 Given the late date at which the Sharfa became fully formed, it is in fact the case that at no
time in history was any Muslim state governed by the Sharfa alone.

11 A. K. S. Lambton, "Quis Custodiet Custodes: Some Reflections on the Persian Theory of


Government." Studia Islamic 5 (1956), p. 143.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
131
chroniclers. Indeed, the three years between the death of the last
Baghdad caliph al-Musta‘sim in 1258 and the installation of the first Cairo
caliph al-Mustansir in 1261 foreshadowed the situation following the
abolition of the Ottoman caliphate in some rather striking ways. In 1258, as
in 1924, claims to the caliphate were made by a Hijazi Sharif and a North
African amir, and, as in 1924, the former proved too weak and the latter too
distant from the central Islamic lands to be universally accepted. Al-Zahir
Baybars' victory at ‘Ayn Jalut in 1260, however much it owed to Mongol
disarray following the death of Ogedey Khan, allowed Mamluk Egypt to
make the claim that she alone among Muslim states had the power to stop
the Mongol onslaught. But the parvenu Mamluk slave dynasty could hardly
claim the caliphate for itself. Instead Baybars had a surviving uncle of the
last Baghdad caliph installed as the caliph al-Mustansir in Cairo in 1261.
The caliph of Cairo remained on display for two and a half centuries as a
decorative adornment to the Mamluk court, but was never a political force.

Ibn Taymiyya
In the Muslim mind after 1258, the ideal caliphate replaced the
historical caliphate of Baghdad in much the same way that Augustine's City
of God came to replace the city of Rome after 476, but the question
remained for the caliphate theorists of what would become of the ideals of
continuity and unity which the caliphate had represented. The first major
Muslim thinker to attempt to develop a theory of Islamic political legitimacy
in the absence of a caliph was Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. Taymiyya (d. 1328).
Scion of a notable family of Syrian Hanbali theologians and legal scholars,
Ibn Taymiyya's intellectual prowess brought about his rapid rise to the top of
the madrasa establishment of Mamluk Damascus. His outspoken and

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
132
intransigent opposition to AslTarite kalam, the cult of saints, and
excessive tolerance of non-Muslim minorities often landed him in prison.12
Ibn Taymiyya’s frequent run-ins with the Mamluk authorities may well have
prejudiced him against their caliph-in-residence. More importantly, Ibn
Taymiyya's attitude towards the caliphate is colored by his Hanball emphasis
on the authority of Qur’an and Sunna over not only Qiyas and Ijtihad, but
also over Ijma‘.
Ibn Taymiyya's views on the classical theory of the caliphate are
found in his Minhaj al-Surtna al-Nahawiyya ,13 This book is primarily an
attack on Shfism , but Ibn Taymiyya includes in it repudiations of several of
the basic elements of al-Mawardfs Sunni theory of the caliphate. First of
all, Ibn Taymiyya rejects the traditionally accepted qualifications for the
caliph listed by al-Mawardl. He regards the Quraysh lineage requirement as
running counter to the egalitarian spirit of Islam, and quotes a number of
Kharijite hadiths (e. g., "obey authority even in the form of an Abyssinian
slave") to refute it. As for the rest of al-Mawardl's intellectual and moral
qualifications, Ibn Taymiyya notes that they are no longer to be found united
in one man, if indeed they ever were.14 Lest the reader conclude that for this
reason the imamat al-mafdul ("the imamate of the less-qualified") is an
option, Ibn Taymiyya indicates strongly that it is no catastrophe if, in the
absence of a qualified candidate, the post of caliph be left vacant. Ibn
Taymiyya is of a similarly Kharijite bent on many other of the issues

12 EI2, "Ibn Taymiyyah" (H. Laoust)

13 Taqi al-Din Ahmad b. Tamiyya, Minhaj al-Sunna al-Nabawiyya f i Naqd Kalam al-ShVa al-
Qadariyya (Cairo: Maktabat Dar al-‘Uruba, 1962), p. 50.

14 Henri Laoust, Essai sur les Doctrines Sociales et Politiques de Taki-d-Dln Ahmad b. Taimlya
Canoniste Hanbalite (Cairo: L'Institut Frangais d'Archeologie Qrientale, 1939, p. 292

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
133
relating to the caliphate. In addition to breaking with al-Mawardl on the
particulars of the caliph's qualifications, Ibn Taymiyya also attacks the
general claim that the caliphate is a Muslim religious necessity. He
questions the authenticity o f hadiths such as "He who dies without having
known the imam of his time dies a jahill death,"15 and places in their stead
Khariji-type hadiths denying the necessity of establishing the caliphate and
permitting the reign of multiple caliphs.16
The reason Ibn Taymiyya's response to the disappearance of the
caliphate veered towards Khariji radicalism is that he above all wanted to
avoid giving any opening to ShIT theocratism. It is no accident that his
criticism of the theory of the caliphate appears in a work which is primarily
a refutation of Shl‘ism. Ibn Taymiyya seems to regard excessive stress on
the importance of even the Sunni imamate as a Shfite-like heresy. He is as
antipathetic to Sunni consensus as to imam! charisma as a religious principle
of governmental legitimacy. Like al-Ghazali, Ibn Taymiyya rejects the
infallibility of the caliphal election by ijmd‘ of the ahlal-hall wa a l-‘aqd,
which in practice had served as a rubber stamp for the wishes of the powers
that were. His denial of Ijma‘ extends even to the consensus of the first
generation which installed Abu Bakr. He asserts that it was not the ijma ‘ of
the Companions, but the Prophet's appointment of Abu Bakr as imam of the
prayer which led to his installation as the first caliph. The resort to election
after the death of ‘Umar was in fact the beginning of the end of the true
caliphate. Although Ibn Taymiyya naturally cites the hadiths about the true
caliphate ending with the Rashidun, his denial of Ijma‘ extends so far back

15 Ibn Taymiyya, Minhaj, p. 73.

16 Laoust, Essai, p. 282.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
134
into the first generation, that he questions the legitimacy even of the
Rashidun themselves. He asserts that the Prophet was the only political
leader in Islamic history who can be regarded as absolutely legitimate
(mutlaq). The tenure of the Rashidun was merely qualifiedly legitimate
(muqayyad), and the succession of the Rashidun by mere kings (muluk)
meant that the caliphate was no longer an Islamic institution at all.17 Where
al-Mawardi regards the caliphal bay‘a as a unique and sacred trust, Ibn
Taymiyya treats it as a contract like any other contract, and government
based on the caliphal bay‘a like any other contractual form of government.
Ibn Taymiyya’s outlook on the classical theory of the caliphate is thus
primarily negative. His positive views on the theory of Islamic government
are found in his al-Siyasa al-Shar‘iyya, a treatise on the theory and practice
of government in general, in which the caliphate makes no appearance. Ibn
Taymiyya shows many faces in the Siyasa. At times he is the purist who
evinces a pious aversion to the life of this world, asserting that the righteous
who decline to seek high worldly rank have a higher place in paradise than
the righteous who do seek high rank.18 At others he echoes al-Ghazall's
advocacy of striking a happy medium between service to dm and dunya, and
avoiding both "the path of he who affiliates himself with religion (din)
without complementing it with the power (sultan), struggle (jihad) and
wealth which it requires, and the path of he who occupies himself with
sultan, wealth and war without pursuing by means of these the establishment
of religion."19 The Siyasa is at some points frankly descriptive of political

17 Laoust, Essai, p. 282

18 TaqI al-DIn Ahmad ibn Taymiyya, Al-Siyasa al-Shar‘iyya ftIslah al-Ra‘l wa al-R a‘iyya (Cairo:
al-Matba‘a al-Salafiyya, 1399 H.), p. 83.

19 Ibn Taymiyya, Siyasa, p. 84.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
135
reality in a way that calls to mind Machiavelli: "Sufficiency [of
governmental authority] is [achieved] either through force and terror or
through benevolence and kindness. In truth both are necessary."20 For the
most part, however, the book is prescriptive, constituting a plea—backed up
by a compendium of relevant hadiths—for the awarding of public office on
the basis of merit and the conscientious execution by public officials of their
responsibilities as shepherds of the people. Above all Ibn Taymiyya wants
the government to serve the interests of Islam: "If political authority (sultan)
is separated from religion {din) or religion separated from authority, the
affairs of men will be corrupted."21 But Ibn Taymiyya recognizes that sultan
and din are not united in one person or one office, and it is clear upon whom
he believes the twin caliphal responsibilities of preserving the faith and
administering the world have devolved. "Those in authority (iilu al-amr) are
of two classes: the amirs and the ‘ulama’."22

Al-Taftazanl
Not all Muslim scholars accepted the devolution of the caliphal
functions to amirs and ‘ulama’ with equanimity. Sa‘d al-DIn M as‘ud b.
‘Umar al-Taftazanl (d. 1389) was bom in Khurasan and began his
voluminous production of works on all aspects of Islamic thought as early as
the age of sixteen. The chronology of his earliest scholarly peregrinations is
obscure, but he eventually settled in Khwarizm, where he wrote his Sharh
al- ‘Aqd ’id al-Nasafiyya, a commentary on the brief creed of the MaturidI

20 Ibn Taymiyya, Siyasa, p. 11.

21 Ibn Taymiyya, Siyasa, p. 84

22 Ibn Taymiyya, Siyasa, p. 80.

R ep ro d u ced with p erm ission o f th e copyright ow ner. Further reproduction prohibited w ithout perm ission.
136
theologian al-Nasaf! (d. 1142/3). This work was influential in bringing
about the recognition of the Maturidiyya—a rationalist theological school
associated with Hanafism, which resembled MuTazilism in basic doctrines
but avoided the brand of heresy employing AslTarite language in their
formulation— as a second "orthodox" school of Islamic theology alongside
that of al-Ash‘arf.23
In the Shark al-Taftazanl defines the caliphate as "deputization
(niyaba) for the Apostle of God in establishing religion,"24 without any
mention of caliphal responsibilites with respect to politics. His use of the
phrase "after the Abbasid caliphate"25 indicates that he does not regard the
Abbasid caliphs of the Mamluk court of his time as true heirs to the dynasty.
He accepts the restriction of the true caliphate to the Rashidun era, quoting
the M u‘tazilite hadlth "The caliphate after me will be thirty years .. ."26 He
also echoes the M u'tazill manzila bayn al-manzilatayn by refusing to pass
decisive judgment on either the relative merits of the individual Rashidun or
the exact status of the caliphate of the pious Umayyad ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-
AzTz and the Abbasids. He is unequivocal about the necessity of
establishing the caliphate, citing the authority of both Ijma‘ and the relevant
hadiths ("He who dies without knowing the imam of his time has died a
jahill death", etc.). He adds that the urgency of the companions in

23 EI2, "Maturidiyya" (W. Madelung)

24 Sa‘d al-Din b. ‘Umar al-Taftazanl, Shark al- ‘Aqa'id al-Nasafiyyafi Usui al-Dln wa llm al-
Islam (Damascus: Wizarat al-Thaqafa wa al-Irshad al-Qawmi, 1974), p. 169.

25 GNA pamphlet p. 24

26 al-Taftazanl, Sharh, p. 171.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
137
appointing a caliph after the Prophet's death is proof enough of its
necessity.27
In view of the necessity of the caliphate, al-Taftazanl is willing to
lighten the qualifications in time of need. He quotes the hadiths on Quraysh
descent but expressly rejects any further restrictions to the ‘Alid or Abbasid
houses. The imam need not be the most meritorious person of his times.
The danger of fitna leads al-Taftazanl to deny categorically the possibility of
removing the imam once installed. Al-Taftazanl cannot ignore the
fragmentation of the Islamic world into separate states, but is uneasy with it,
and would prefer the restoration of the universal caliphate:
If it is said: Is it not possible to suffice with a man of power in
each region, why is it necessary to establish someone with
universal rule?, then we say: It leads only to struggles and
enmities resulting in the decline of the affairs of religion {din)
and the world (dunya) which we see on our own time. And if it
is said: Let a man of power with universal rule suffice whether
he is imam or not, and the order of affairs will occur through
this as in the age of the Turks, then we say: Yes, some order of
the affairs of the world would occur, but the affairs of religion
would decline, and that is the most important objective and the
mightiest support.28

Ibn Taymiyya and al-Taftazanl represent two difference responses by


theorists of Islamic government to the Mongol destruction of the Abbasid
caliphate. Ibn Taymiyya seems to accept the fragmentation of the Middle
Period as permanent, and concludes that true Islamic government is any
form of government, however local, in which ‘ulama’ and amirs combine to
enforce the Sharfa. Al-Taftazani hopes that the fragmentation of the Middle

27 al-Taftazanl, Shark, p. 172.

28 al-Taftazanl, Shark, p. 174-5.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
138
Period is not permanent, and continues to cling to the ideals of caliphal
unity and continuity. Al-Taftazanfs views on the caliphate were referred to
frequently by proponents of the revival of the caliphate in the late nineteenth
and early twentieth centuries. His Shark was used as a textbook at al-Azhar,
and both his Maturfdl rationalism and his frequent references to the salafal-
sdlih ("upright predecessors") appealed to the reformist Salafi movement of
the nineteenth century which touted original Islam as the true religion of
reason and enlightenment. By contrast, the favoritism towards Hanafism
and eventual revival of caliphal universalism by the Ottoman sultans
banished Ibn Taymiyya's Hanball puritanism to the margins, where it
became associated with groups on the religious fringe, such as the
Wahhabis. However, after the failure of the caliphal revival efforts of the
twenties, Ibn Taymiyya's tactical retreat to "Islamism-in-one-country"—to
borrow a phrase from the Stalinists— got a second look from groups like the
Muslim Brotherhood which worked for Islamic renewal from the ground up
instead of from the top down.

Ibn Khaldun
Ibn Khaldun should not, properly speaking, be placed in the same
category as the other contributors to the theory of the caliphate discussed
above. His Muqaddima is not a meditation on the discrepancy between the
ideal and the real from the Muslim perspective, but a description of the real
from the social scientist's perspective. It is probably due to his reputation
among Western scholars as one of the great thinkers not only of Islam, but of
any time and age, rather than to any uniquely Muslim credentials that he
owes his invariable appearance in any modem Islamic discussion of the
caliphate.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
139
Ibn Khaldun does include in his Muqaddima a recap of the Islamic
history of the theory of the caliphate down to his time. "The caliphate is a
substitute for the Lawgiver in preserving the religions and administrating the
world."29 The necessity of the caliphate was established by the consensus of
the Companions and all subsequent generations. The minority body of
opinion that holds that the necessity of the caliphate can be proven by reason
is incorrect, because the argument that governmental authority is necessary
to avoid anarchy applies to any form of government. Ibn Khaldun also
mentions the stance of Ibn Taymiyya that "when the umma cooperate in
justice and execute the laws of God there is no need for either an imam or
the office of imamate,"30 which he dismisses as Kharijite anarchism.
Establishing the imamate is a communal religious duty on the basis of the
verse: "Obey God, and obey the apostle, and those in authority among you."
The majority opinion is that there cannot be two imams at the same time,
although Ibn Khaldun cities without refutation the opinion of "al-
Baqillani"—in a passage that possibly bears the lion's share of responsibility
for popularizing the conventional mislocution of latter's name—that there
can be two imams in two places distantly removed from each other.
Ibn Khaldun also reviews the ground rules for caliphal succession
along familiar lines: appointment of a successor as validated by Abu Bakr,
election by leaders of the community as validated by ‘Umar. He is quite
explicit about primogeniture being included in the former category, and is
shockingly sanguine about Mu ‘awiya's procurement of the bay‘a for Yazld
and all the subsequent Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs who arranged for their

29 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima (Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Lubnanl, 1961), p. 339.

30 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima, p. 340-1.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
140
sons to succeed them: "They cannot be blamed for giving preference to
their sons and brothers, and deviating from the sunnas of the four
[Rashidun] caliphs."31 Ibn Khaldun summarizes the stages through which
the relationship between kingship (mulk) and caliphate went as follows:
First the caliphate existed without kingship. Then their
meanings became confused with one another. Then kingship
came to exist by itself, when purely dynastic allegiance
( ‘asabiyya) separated from caliphal allegiance.32
More important than Ibn Khaldun's account of the theory of the
caliphate is the position it occupies in his thought as a whole. The 'asabiyya
of which Ibn Khaldun speaks lies at the heart of his theory of history. For
Ibn Khaldun, ‘asabiyya is the engine of historical change. He views history
as a cycle of the conquest of primitive nomadic tribesmen with vigorous
‘asabiyya of civilized areas, followed by the civilizing of the conquerors and
consequent decline of their ‘asabiyya, followed in turn by their conquest by
the next nomadic group with new up and coming ‘asabiyya.
The theme of the rise and decline of civilizations is a familiar one in
the Muslim view of history and is even present in the Qur’an. The idea of
this rise and decline operating according to inevitable historical patterns is
not. If Islam was uncomfortable with the idea of physical laws operating
independently of God in the natural universe, it was positively abhorrent of
the idea of historical laws operating independently of God in human society.
The direct and constant intervention of God in nature is merely a dogma of
Ash‘arite theology, but the direct and constant intervention of God in human
history is a fact stated by the Qur’an itself.

31 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima, p. 373.

32 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima, pp. 359-60.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
141

If Ibn Khaldun's notion of history operating according to


inevitable laws runs counter to the Muslim view of history in general, his
positing of an historical equation in which ‘asabiyya was the main variable
was still more jarring to the Muslim ear. The word ‘asabiyya has negative
connotations in Islam, having been used by Muhammad to denote the tribal
loyalty of the pre-Islamic Arabs which the Islamic principle of "no
precedence except in faith" was supposed to replace. Ibn Khaldun is well
aware of the conflict between ‘asabiyya and Islamic ideal of egalitarianism
within faith. He states that when Muhammad condemned ‘asabiyya "he
merely meant the type of vain ‘asabiyya that existed during the Jahiliyya . . .
‘asabiyya on behalf of the Truth and the carrying out of God's commands is
a desirable thing."33 He makes a similar distinction with regard to the vice of
kingship: "When kingship is devoted to bringing men over to God, His
service, and jihad against His enemies, it is not blameworthy."34
Ibn Khaldun's perspective on the relationship between ‘asabiyya and
the caliphate is made clear by the way he treats the Quraysh lineage
requirement. He does not quote any of the hadiths restricting the caliphate
to the tribe of Quraysh, but rather asserts that a Quraysh caliph was agreed
upon by the Companions because Quraysh had the requisite ‘asabiyya. Ibn
Khaldun is a bit gingerly about stating it directly, but he obviously believes
that the caliph should be a member of the group with the most powerful
‘asabiyya whether that group is Quraysh or not. In what is presumably a
willful misinterpretation of Ibn al-Baqillani's argument against the restriction

33 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima, p. 359.

34 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima, p. 360.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
142

within Quraysh to the Barn Hashim, Ibn Khaldun claims that "al-
Baqillanl" dropped the Quraysh requirement for the caliph altogether.
Citation of Ibn Khaldun's interpretation of the Quraysh requirement as
desirable in its time but not necessary in all times—and his attribution of his
own opinion to Ibn al-Baqillam—was to become a crucial weapon in the
arsenal of propagandists for non-Quraysh claimants to the caliphate in
modem times.35
In other parts of the Muqaddimah Ibn Khaldun treats religion as the
servant of ‘asabiyya rather than the other way round, and he is painfully
aware that the exception he makes for Islam is a departure from his overall
scheme. In Muhammad's time "the ‘asabiyya which regulates the cohesion
and breakdown of society in the ordinary course of things was not
functioning in its ordinary capacity, because at that time religion and Islam
in particular were beyond the ordinary in their capacity to attract the loyalty
and self-sacrifice of people due to the extraordinary events they were
witnessing."36 Fortunately for Ibn Khaldun, this unusual spiritual perfection
of the Rashidun era hallowed by Islamic historians happened to concincide
with the heyday of Arab ‘asabiyya, and he can fit the Islamic conquests
formally into his model for the first stage of a conquering dynasty while
piously acknowledging that the substance of the ‘asabiyya in question was
unique. But professions of Muslim piety aside, however, the caliphate for
Ibn Khaldun is an example of kingship supported by a religious mission.
Since it happens to be the right religion, Ibn Khaldun feels obligated to

35 See below, Chapter IV.

36 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima, p. 376.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
143
expound at length on the religious functions of caliphate, but apologizes
to the reader for this digression from the main theme of the the history of
mulk „37
Whether Ibn Khaldun thought that Islam is merely an instance of a
religion being enlisted in the aid of ‘asabiyya or really considered Islam to
be the one true religion that breaks the mold is an open question. Certainly,
Ibn Khaldun's professions of the superiority of ‘asabiyya accompanied by
Islam have something of the incongruous ring of Machiavelli's assertion at
the end of the Discourses that although any prince who exercises
machiavellian calculation will succeed, the prince who combines it with
Christian virtue is superior. In any event, however reluctantly, Ibn Khaldun
acquiesces in the apparent victory of human military prowess over the
agency of God in human affairs, and the triumph of ‘asabiyya over Islamic
unity and continuity as the basis of political legitimacy.

The Early Modern Empires and the Caliphal Ideal


Ibn Khaldun must have died in 1406 quite satisfied that he had solved
the riddle of the rise and fall of states for all time—his solution having been
most recently confirmed by Tamerlane's apparent elimination of the
Ottoman state in 1402. But exactly a half century later, the breach of the
walls of Constantinople by Mehmet the Conqueror's Hungarian artillerymen
announced the advent of a new age in which Ibn Khaldun's theory would
become obsolete. The use of gunpowder for the purpose of projecting
missiles changed both the nature of warfare and the nature of states. Remote

37 Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima, p. 387.

Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
outposts could no longer count on the ravages of weather, disease and
mutiny to deplete enemy siege forces when siege cannons could break down
their walls in a matter of days if not hours. The balance of power between
remote outpost and central capital was altered in favor of the latter, and the
many short-lived small-sized states which made up Ibn Khaldun's Islamic
world were consolidated into a few long-lived large-sized empires. The
eclipse of martial valor by weapons technology as the decisive factor in war
meant that Ibn Khaldun's cycle of the defeat of civilized states by bedouins
was over. A primitive nomadic people could no longer conquer a more
technologically advanced settled people no matter how superior their
‘asabiyya.
This change in the dynamic of state formation brought with it a
change in the nature of political legitimacy. The rulers of all three of the
Islamic world's early modern empires were ethnic and ideological
descendants of the Mongol khans. Even after their respective conversions to
Islam they all continued to rely on the Mongol notion that the very rise of an
individual or dynasty to the throne is evidence of divine approval. This ran
counter to the caliphal ideal in two ways. On the one hand, it was a step in
the direction of ShTite-style divine absolutism which bypassed the role
played by the community in the process of political legitimation: God placed
the monarch on his throne directly without the mediation of the umma and
validation by the bay ‘a. On the other hand, it assigned to God to as passive
a role in the government of men as the philosophers had given Him in the
government of nature: God placed the monarch on the throne, as He set the
laws of nature in motion, and then sat back and watched events unfold. In
retrospect, Islamic thinkers had been laying the groundwork for this

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
145
relegation of God into the background of the political legitimacy
equation for several centuries. The process had begun with al-Ghazali's
argument that good social order is "the ultimate goal of the lawgiver" and
that therefore any successful ruler is a legitimate successor of the Prophet. It
culminated in Ibn Khaldun's ascription of the determination of the course of
history to the rise and fall of ‘asabiyya. The path to non-caliphal dynastic
legitimacy had been cleared by the concessions made by Muslim thinkers to
sultan, however much they may have bemoaned it.
This is not say that Islam played no role whatsoever in the ideology of
legitimacy of the early modem Muslim empires. The Safavid Empire was
founded by a Shfite tariqa. The Ottoman Empire styled itself the protector
of Sunnism, a role enhanced in 1517 by its acquisition of the Muslim holy
cities of Arabia. But continuity with the Abbasid caliphate and direct
legitimation by the ‘ulama’ were no longer a factor. The Ottoman Sultan
was protector of the faith, but he was also protector of Judaism and
Christianity within his realm. In fact the office of Shaykhulislam was
created in 1453, presumably by analogy to the Patriarch of Constantinople
whom Mehmet recognized as official representative of the Orthodox millet.
The Mughal Sultans of India actually flirted briefly with an ecumenical
policy that did not even give primacy among the religions to Islam.
The claim made by later Ottoman sultans that al-Mutawakkil, the last
Abbasid caliph of Cairo had transferred the caliphate to Selim upon his
conquest of Egypt—or, in another version, in 1538 to Sulayman the
Magnificent38—is generally regarded as spurious by historians today. The

38 D. B. MacDonald, "The Caliphate." The Muslim World VII (1917).

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
146
fin
story was recorded in a widely read 18 century French account of the
Ottoman Empire,39 and was still being repeated as factual as late as 1915 by
a spokesman for the Indian Khilafat movement40 and 1917 by a Western
orientalist.41 The Turkish Grand National Assembly even made note of it
in its official explanation of why it abolished the sultanate.42 But although
the title Khadim al-Haramayn ("Servant of the Two Sanctuaries") makes
frequent appearances in the lists of honorifics which Ottoman courtly
etiquette attached to the title of Sultan, the title khalifa was often
conspicuously absent, imam even less frequently used, and amir al-mu’minin
all but abandoned.43 Moreover, the first recorded use of the title khalifa by
the Ottoman Sultans was almost a century before the Ottoman conquest of
the Holy Cities,44 and if anything, it appears to have become less frequent
after 1517.
If any claim that the Ottomans had inherited the Abbas id caliphate
was being made in the sixteenth century it would certainly have found its
way into the treatise on the caliphate by Sulayman the Magnificent's Grand
Vizier Lutfi Pasha (d. 1562). Lutfi does bring up the question of "whether it
is permissable to apply the name of Imam and Xalifa to the sultans when

39 D'Ohsson's story is quoted and debunked in Butrus Abu Manneh "A Note on the "Keys of the
Ka'bah" in Islamic Quarterly, 18/3-4 (July-December 1974), p. 75.

40Ameer Ali, "The Caliphate, a Historical and Juridical Sketch" in Contemporary Review 107
(1915), pp. 681-694.

41 D. B. MacDonald, "The Caliphate," p. 352.

42 Turkish Grand National Assembly, "Le Califat et Souverainite Nationale." Revue du Monde
Mussulmane, 1925, p. 26

43 Gibb, "Some Considerations on the Sunni Theory o f the Caliphate," pp. 146-7.

44 Colin Imber, Ebu ’-su ‘ud: The Islamic Legal Tradition (Stanford: Stanford University Press,
1997), p. 103.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
147
they are of other than Quraish,"45 and concludes that any just and
righteous sultan can be regarded as the khalifa of his domain. He makes no
mention of the transfer of the Abbasid caliphate to Selim or any aspiration
by Sulayman to the universal imamate. The eighteenth century scholar
Sayyid Murtada al-Zabidi (1732-91) was quite explicit about the Ottoman
sultanate not being the same thing as the caliphate.46 While the Indian
Muslim reformer Shah Wali Allah (1702-1762) wrote an entire treatise on
the caliphate without mentioning any Ottoman claim to any caliphal title of
any kind,47 his contemporary the Chief Mufti of Ottoman Damascus applied
the title amir al-mu ’minin only to the Indian Mughal Sultan Awrangzeb.48
The ‘ulama’ were happy to let the Ottoman Sultan use any title he
wished as long as he defended the borders of the Islamic world, protected
the pilgrimage, and allowed Shari‘a courts to operate with state sanction.
The Hanafl school favored by the Ottomans had always laid more emphasis
than the other three on the view of Islamic history reflected by the
M u‘tazilite hadith about the true caliphate lasting only thirty years. The fact
is that there were advantages to not having a caliph. A sovereign who
performed the worldly functions of the caliph without claiming caliphal
religious prerogatives gave Ottoman ‘ulama’ more independence in the
administration of Islam— and more resemblance to a clerical
hierarchy—than at any other time in Islamic history. The Ottoman golden

45 H. A. R. Gibb, "Lutfi Pasha on the Ottoman Caliphate." Oriens 15 (1962), p. 288.

46 Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press,
1983), p. 27.

47 Aziz Ahmad, "An Eighteenth Century Theory o f the Caliphate," Studia Islamica 28 (1968), pp.
135-144.

48 Gibb, "Some Considerations on the Sunni Theory of the Caliphate," p. 147.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
148

age had the same effect on the articulation of the theory of Islamic
government as had the Abbasid golden age. As long as the balance between
Islam and a near-universal Islamic state was working properly, there was no
need to formulate the Sultan's right to rule on an explicitly Islamic basis.
And just as the twilight of Abbasid rule saw the original formulation of the
classical theory of the caliphate by al-Mawardi in order to counter the state
system being imposed on Muslims by Persian Shfites, so the twilight of
Ottoman rule saw the reemergence of the theory of the caliphate as a vehicle
for opposing the state system being imposed on Muslims by European
Christians.

The Ottoman Revival of the Caliphate


The modern history of the caliphate begins with the 1774 Kligiik
Kaynarca treaty in which the Ottoman Sultan was recognized as caliph and
protector of Muslims in Russian territory in exchange for Ottoman
recognition of the patriarch of the Russian church as protector of Orthodox
Christians in Ottoman territory. The Ottoman negotiators of that treaty may
well have imagined they had hoodwinked the Russians into granting what
the latter mistakenly thought would be Papal-like spiritual authority to a
caliph who could claim political authority as well.49 Great Britain also
initially supported an Ottoman caliphate in the hope that it would stir up
anti-Russian feeling among Muslims along the Russian border of its imperial
possessions in the subcontinent.50 As it turned out, the tradeoff proved to be

49 Toybee, Survey, p. 36; Jacob M. Landau, The Politics o f Pan-Islam: Ideology and
Organization (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1990), p. 10.

50 Arnold Toynbee, "The Caliphate" in Asia: The American Magazine o f the Orient 23 (1923), p.
407 and Survey, p. 40.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
149
far more beneficial to the Czar of Moscow than either the Sultan of
Istanbul or the Empress of India. In the following century Russia gained
rather than lost Muslim territory and population, and used its position as
protector of Ottoman Orthodox Christians as a pretext for the series of 19th
century wars that completed her centuries-long creeping annexation of the
Muslim khanates left over from the Golden Horde of Batu Khan. It turned
out to be Muslims on the British rather than the Russian side of the Indian
border who flocked to the Ottoman caliph's support, especially after the
failure of the Indian mutiny of 1857 deprived Muslim India of its last
nominal Mughal sultan.51 Indian Muslim support for the Ottoman caliphate
lasted right up until and even after its demise in 1924, and was a crucial
factor in Great Britain's abandonment of its Eastern Question policy of
protecting the integrity of the Sultan's domains.
Domestic concerns soon overtook foreign policy considerations in
Ottoman religious policy. While 18th century sultans might have hoped to
cultivate the loyalty of Muslims outside their borders, 19th century sultans
had their hands full trying to retain the loyalty of Muslims within their
borders. The earliest nationalist stirrings in the Ottoman Empire were in
Christian areas of the Balkans, and the promises of religious equality offered
by the Tanzimat reforms were too little and too late to suppress them. By
the end of the 19th century the Balkan Christians were a lost cause for
Ottomanism, and the Arab Muslims became the focus of Abdulhamid's
caliphal propaganda. Ottoman defeats in the Balkans and Russia had made
the Ottoman state as a whole more Muslim, as Christian areas were

51 Landau, Politics o f Pan-Islam, p. 184.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
150
separated from the Empire and Muslim refugees from those areas came
streaming southward into Turkey. The claim to the universal caliphate
reaffirmed by the 1876 Constitution suited Abdulhamid's domestic policy,
and the authoritarian strain so prominent the theory of the caliphate suited
his style of government. Abdulhamid was exactly the sort of despotic ruler
whom Muslims were called upon by Murji’ite hadiths to suffer in silence,
and Abdulhamid's chief religious advisor Shaykh Abulhuda al-Sayyadi made
full used of these hadiths in answering his coreligionists' complaints about
the autocratic regime. On the other hand, Abdulhamid's notoriously
thorough censors went to the sacrilegious extreme of having hadiths
requiring that the caliph be of Quraysh descent conveniently omitted from
hadith collections printed in Istanbul.52
Abdulhamid was the front runner but hardly the only entry in the race
for caliphal recognition. Practically speaking, the only state besides Turkey
that was big and powerful enough to serve as seat of the caliphate was
Egypt, and the potential rewards of harnessing Islamic political sentiment
were no more lost on Egyptian rulers than on Ottoman viziers and British
diplomats. Muhammad ‘All had cultivated the Egyptian ‘ulama’ from the
beginning. He made better use than any of his modernizing contemporaries
of waqf funding as both carrot and stick to coax the ‘ulama’ of Egypt into
what eventually became a closer alliance between the religious and political
establishments than in any other Muslim country. Muhammad ‘All would
no doubt have assumed the title of caliph himself had not the European
powers stopped him from absorbing Turkey in 1839. Khedive Isma‘11 was

52 D. B. MacDonald, "The Caliphate." Muslim World, VH (1917), p.353.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
151
also said to have had caliphal aspirations, although, ironically, his
building of the Suez canal provided the Ottoman caliph with a sea route by
which to reinforce his position in the Hijaz. Nevertheless, at the time of the
‘UrabI revolt the British Arabist fellow traveler Wilfred Scawen Blunt had
predicted an eventual" return of the Caliphate to Cairo."53 In the mid-90's
when Abdulhamid's grip on power was seriously threatened by Young Turk
and Armenian dissent, Khedive ‘Abbas HilmI met secretly with al-Afghanl
in Istanbul to offer himself as an alternate caliph for the pan-Islamic
movement.54 Whatever the official title of the occupant of the Egyptian
throne—wall, khedive, sultan or king— its augmentation by the addition of
the title caliph was never far from his mind. As secular legal and
educational systems made increasing inroads into the domains of the Sharl‘a
courts and the madrasa schools during the ninteenth century, the purse
strings of religious education funding became an increasingly useful tool for
securing the support of the Egyptian religious establishment for the palace's
caliphal ambitions.
The most serious liability from which the Ottoman Sultan and the
Egyptian Khedive both suffered was that neither of them was an Arab, let
alone a descendent of Quraysh. There were several Sharifian candidates
whose turbans were in the ring. These included the sultan of Morocco and
the imam of Yemen, both of whom claimed descent from the Prophet and
both of whom could claim for their families a leading role in what might
have been retroactively construed as Arab resistance to Ottoman

53 Wilfred Scawen Blunt, The Future o f Islam (London: Kegan Paul Trench and Co., 1882), p. ix.

54 Landau, Politics o f Pan-Islam, p. 38.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
152
imperialism. But the sultan of Morocco was on the periphery of the
Muslim world and suffered from the taint of French influence in his country.
The imam of Yemen was a Zaydl, which made him too S h iite to gain Sunni
support and not S h iite enough to gain the support of imamls, for whom, in
any case, the only truly legitimate caliphal candidate was in occultation. In
some quarters the amir of Afghanistan was touted as the only ruler of a truly
independent Muslim country. In other quarters, the leaders of the revivalist
SanusI and Mahdist movements were mooted. In central and eastern Arabia,
the idea of a caliphate was rejected altogether—on KharijI grounds by the
Ibadls of Oman, and on neo-Khariji grounds in the guise of Hanbalism as
formulated by Ibn Taymiyya by the Wahhabis of central Arabia. Wahhabi
opposition to caliphal revival began to soften somewhat by the 1920's, when
the Sa‘udl leader himself started to be considered as a candidate.
The most serious Sharifian candidate was the Sharif of Mecca. He
had Arab credentials, and was the traditional administrator of the holy cities.
He was the candidate of choice of Great Britain. As early as 1880, when it
became apparent that British support for the Ottoman caliphate had only
reaped territorial gains for Russia and anti-imperialist Islamism in India, the
British consul in Jedda was urging the Foreign Office to:

get a strong weapon . . . which will compel the Sultan to come


back to us, or bring about his ruin. Such a weapon I believe we
now have to our hand in the Hedjaz and the Grand Sheriff. . .
[Bjeing a direct descendant of the Prophet, he is for
Mussulmans pretty well what the Pope is for the Roman
Catholic Church.55

55 Letter from British Consul in Jedda to Foreign Office, 1/12/1880 in Burdett, Documents, vol. I
p. 11-12.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Abdulhamid developed a fear of a HijazI caliphate as exaggerated as
were British hopes for it. The world Muslim community would never accept
a caliph so closely affiliated with Great Britain. While theorists of the
caliphate had shown flexibility with regard to the violation of al-Mawardl's
"freedom from foreign control" qualification posed by control of the
caliphate by a Muslim sultan, they could never acquiesce in its control by a
non-Muslim power. Among pro-Egyptian and pro-Ottoman ‘ulama’, the
code for opposition to British-controlled HijazI caliph was questioning the
Quraysh requirement. In 1915 during British negotiations with Husayn for
an Arab Revolt against the Ottomans a future Shaykh al-Azhar wrote a
panicked letter to Wingate explaining that Quraysh lineage was not a
required qualification for the caliphate.56 In the same year, the leader of the
Indian Khilafat movement wrote an article pleading with the great powers to
preserve the Ottoman caliphate, adducing in support of it both the transfer of
the caliphate to Selim in 1517, and Ibn Khaldun's position that Quraysh
descent is only recommended, not required for the caliph.57

Nationalism and the Caliphate


According to the history books, Abdulhamid's chief competitor for
Muslim political loyalty was not any individual rival, but the force of
nationalism. The use of the term nationalism is doubly misleading in the
Middle Eastern context. As in European history, it is often anachronistic
because the nation did not mean the same thing to people who lived before

56 The full English text o f Shaykh al-Maraghfs letter to Wingate is given inElie Kedourie, The
Chatham House Version and Other Middle Eastern Studies (Hanover: The University Press of New
England, 1984), pp. 208-12.

57Ameer Ali, "The Caliphate, a Historical and Juridical Sketch" in Contemporary Review 107
(1915), pp. 681-694.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
154
or during the rise of nationalism as it does to people who live after the
central idea of nationalism "that the political and national unit should be
congruent"58 became generally accepted. It is also culturally inappropriate,
because nationalism did not—and could not—mean the same thing to
Middle Easterners as to Europeans. In Europe the idea of nationalism
developed gradually as a consequence of complex social, economic and
cultural interactions; in the Middle East it was imported from the West and
sprung fully articulated by Westernized intellectuals on traditional societies.
In Europe nationalism emerged within state boundaries that had been
chiseled into relatively stable contours over many centuries; in the Middle
East, nationalism was projected onto provinces and combinations of
provinces whose boundaries could be expected to change at any moment
with the collapse of the empire of which they formed a part. In Europe
nationalism grew up alongside a vigorous sense of the supremacy of
Western civilization; in the Middle East nationalism was offered as the
antidote to Islamic backwardness. In Europe nationalism was a response to
the need for a culturally and linguistic homogenous workforce to man a
growing industrial complex; in the Middle East nationalism was a challenge
to a society which, relative to Europe was already culturally and
linguistically homogenous, and whose industrial development was being
suppressed by Europe. Above all, in Europe nationalism appeared in a
society where secularism had been spreading for some time; in the Middle
East, nationalism was preached by a small secularized minority to a society
in which the predominant world view and group loyalty was thoroughly
religious.

58 Gellner, p. 1.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
155
Nationalism was nowhere in the Middle East analogous to
nationalism in Europe, and it also operated differently in different areas
within the Middle East. In the Ottoman Balkans, nationalism partook of a
sense of the East-West religious and cultural divide. Balkan Christians
viewed their separation from the Ottoman Empire as a sort of long overdue
reconquista of Byzantium, which did indeed culminate with an effort by the
former Christian provinces to drive their former Muslim overlord from
Europe in the Second Balkan War of 1912-3. In Turkey itself, nationalism
was accompanied by an ever-present element of pan-Turanian expansionism,
and a continued sense of cultural superiority towards peoples—in particular
the Arabs59— whom the Turks had ruled for hundreds of years. Egypt,
though still technically a part of the Ottoman Empire until 1914, had a
century-old history as a rival center rather than a peripheral vassal to
Istanbul, a millenia-old tradition of cultural independence from hegemonic
world empires, and a geographic integrity imposed by the Nile since time
immemorial. These factors conspired to give Egypt, of all the Middle
Eastern countries, the nationalist guise that was the most conformable to the
European model.
Nationalism was weakest—and Abdulhamid's caliphal propaganda
therefore the most successful— in Syria. Arabism had initially been
purveyed in Syria by Christians, who were the first Syrians to come into
contact with Western ideas generally, and had an interest in the idea of
nationalism in particular because it offered the possibility of constructing an
idea of citizenship in which they could share equally with the Muslim

59 For the attitudes of the Young Turks towards the Arabs, see M. Sukru Hanioglu, "The Young
Turks and the Arabs before the Revolution of 1908." Rashid Khalidi et al ed., The Origins o f Arab
Nationalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991), pp. 21-49.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
156
majority. Abdulhamid's abandonment of the officially religion-neutral
Ottomanism of the Tanzimat in favor of the aggressive Islamism symbolized
by his caliphal claims was the result of a strategic decision to write off
Christians in both the Balkans and the Arab countries, and focus on retaining
the loyalty of Muslim Arabs. While Abdulhamid may have alienated some
Arab Muslim intellectuals with his repression of free speech, most of these,
along with the Christian Arab nationalists, moved to Egypt, where, for all its
faults, the British administration could not bring itself to silence the press.
Compared to the opposition movement orchestrated by Young Turks and
Armenians, Arab nationalist opposition to Abdulhamid was negligible.
In addition to cultivating the loyalty of the Arab Muslim masses with
his stress on the caliphate, Abdulhamid also cultivated the loyalty of the
Arab Muslim notable elite by appointing more of them to provincial posts.
Even after 1908, when the Young Turk regime began replacing the
Abdulhamid's Arab appointees with Turks, it would be a stretch to label the
response of the Arab notables nationalist.60 The very name of their
opposition party, the "Party of Ottoman Administrative Decentralization,"
indicates the negligible degree of ideological fervor which fuelled their pre­
war conflict with the Young Turks. Even the stimulus of Jemal Pasha's
wartime reign of terror in Syria was not enough to spark genuinely
widespread Arab nationalism. The "Arab Revolt" attracted nothing like the
mass support among either Arab civilians in Syria or Arab soldiers in the
Ottoman army that Arabists in the British foreign office had believed it
would. It was not until after World War I that an independent Syrian

60 The idea of conflict between Turkish and Arab elites as a major factor in the rise of Arab
Nationalism was pioneered by C. Ernest Dawn in From Ottomanism to Arabism: Essays on the Origins of
Arab Nationalism (Chicago: university of Illinois Press, 1973). For a summary o f the issues raised by
recent research into Arab nationalism see Khalidi et a le d., Origins o f Arab Nationalism, Introduction.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
157
national state became the goal of most Syrians, by which time it was too
late, Syria having been divided horizontally in order to create spheres of
influence for France and Britain, and vertically in order to create separate
states for its Christian and Jewish— and briefly its Alawite and
Druze—minorities.
Although less of an impediment to the growth of nationalism than in
Syria, the religious component was not absent from Egyptian political
identity either, and the pull of the Ottoman caliphate not negligible. Of the
two major Egyptian political parties founded after the Dinshway incident of
1906, the secular Egyptianist Hizb al-Umma was the more moderate and
collaborationist, while the religious-dominated Hizb al-Watanl was the more
radically nationalist. Because Egyptian nationalism is more analogous to
European nationalism than other Middle Eastern nationalisms, the
departures from the model caused by the outside influences of the British
occupation and the Ottoman caliphate are all the more glaring. During the
Taba dispute of 1906 radical nationalists in Egypt actually supported the
cession of Egyptian territory to the Ottoman Empire rather than have it
remain Egyptian and therefore under British control. As late as 1914, the
novelist Nagib Mahfuz has an old Egyptian Shaykh pray for the liberation of
Egypt from the British by "the armies of the caliph."61 Even after the
Ottomans had been defeated in 1918, British officials reported that efforts by
Fu’ad to have his name invoked during Friday prayers was shouted down by
worshippers concerned that it constituted a usurpation of the Ottoman
caliph's prerogative.62

61 Najlb Mahfuz, Bayna al-Qasrayn (Cairo: Maktabat Misr, n. d.), p. 40.

62 Kedourie, Chatham House Version, p. 182.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
158
Islamic Reform, Islamic Liberalism and pan-Islam
Trying to formulate precisely the differences among Egyptianists,
Arabists, Ottomanists and Turkists in the late nineteenth century is helpful in
hindsight for understanding the emergence of Middle Eastern national states
in the twentieth. But far more relevant at the time than the conceptions of
national identity which were only just beginning to divide Muslim
intellectuals was the vision of Islam's role in modem society that continued
to unite them. Their goals for Islam fell under three main headings: (1)
Islamic reform, that is, reform based on the salafiyya ideology of regaining
the purity of the pristine Islam of the earliest years; (2) Islamic liberalism,
that is, reconciling Islam with the modem liberal political and social
institutions believed to be the basis of European success; and (3) pan-Islam,
that is, the cooperation of the world Muslim community in resisting
domination by European Christendom.
The first of these, Islamic reform, had roots that went back to well
before the modem encounter between Islam and the West. The most
important pre-modem reform movement was the Wahhabi movement named
after Muhammad b. ‘Abd al-Wahhab (1703-1792), which interpreted the
Arabic word for "monotheism," tawhld in a way that took the intensive and
factative aspect of that verbal noun form deadly seriously. The Wahhabis
adhered to Ibn Hanbal's limitation of the genuine sources of the ShaiTa to
Qur’an and Sunna, and followed Ibn Taymiyya's creed of puritanical
activism. They bridled against what they saw as the clerical scholasticism of
the Ottoman ‘ulama’ hierarchy, and against what they regarded as accretions
to Islam which caused it to deviate from its pure form as it existed in the
time of the Prophet and the Companions. The Wahhabis vandalized Sufi
shrines, the tombs of saints, and even relics in the tomb of the Prophet at

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
159
Medina. When the Wahhabis' ally Ibn Sa‘ud occupied the Hijaz in 1803,
the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II was forced to take notice of them, and
contracted the Egyptian ruler Muhammad ‘All to drive them back into the
Arabian interior.
Wahhabism is sometimes anachronistically regarded as a harbinger of
Arab nationalism. But it was not an isolated or even purely Arab
phenomenon. In its own time it had a close parallel in the reform movement
of Shah Wali Allah and his successors in India. In the nineteenth century,
similar movements cropped up all along the North African desert fringe of
the Ottoman Empire, including the Sanusis of Libya, the Mahdists of Sudan,
and followers of lesser-known mahdls in Algeria and Morocco. Of course
these North African movements originated in Sufi orders of the type which
the Wahhabis detested and their leaders aspired to a union of spiritual and
temporal authority which in the Arabian reform movement was divided—as
per Ibn Taymiyya's prescription— between Ibn ‘Abd al-Wahhab and Ibn
Sa‘ud. However, they shared with the Wahhabis the goal of recreating the
pristine society of the Prophet's Medina. Although eventually the Wahhabis,
Sanusis and Mahdists were important catalysts in the creation of the modem
states of Saudi Arabia, Libya and Sudan in the twentieth century, it would be
a mistake to read Arab nationalist motivation into any of them at this early
date. And although years later another Ibn Sa‘ud flirted with caliphal
ambitions, and even in his own time the Mahdl—whose successor actually
went by the title khalifa— was hailed by pan-Islamists as a hero of resistance
to imperialism during the fifteen years between Gordon's debacle and
Kitchener's triumph at Khartoum, it would also be a mistake to read pan-
Islamic aspirations into what were essentially local phenomena. The
primary initial impulse of these movements was religious reform along the

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
160
"Islamism-in-one-country" lines of Ibn Taymiyya. They also all
appeared among societies that were still relatively underdeveloped and
tribal, as yet untouched by the modem world, and—like Muhammad's
Medina—small enough to be run singlehandedly by a charismatic religious
leader.
Reformist ‘ulama’ in urban milieux which had been touched by
modernization may not have shared the Wahhabis' anarchism and
puritanism, but they did share the theory of Islamic reform that sought a
return to the golden age of the founders, the salaf al-salih. This "looking
backwards" approach seems oddly traditional for a movement that is often
thought of as a Muslim version of the Reformation. But return to the pure
Christianity of pre-ecclesiastical times had also been a slogan of the
Reformation. More importantly, in the view of the Salafiyya movement
Islam did not need a reformation because Islam had never suffered from the
deficiencies of the Roman Church against which Protestantism had come out
in protest. Islam had never had a priestly hierarchy, a celibate clergy,
monastic orders, an obscurantist theology, mediation between man and God,
or a sacred book imprisoned in a dead language. The refrain recited over
and over again by defenders of Islam such as al-Afghanl who participated in
the "Which religion is better?" debates so much in vogue in the late
nineteenth century was that Islam is the religion of reason, progress and
humanism. What was wrong with Islam was not lack of change, but too
much change from the original vision of Muhammad.
If Islamic Modernism's mechanism of reform was conservative, the
actual reforms it envisioned were not. It is in fact one of the paradoxes of
reform in Islam that Qur’an and Sunna conservatism has the potential to be
liberal in the extreme because restricting the scope of the Sharfa to its two

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
161
most basic elements leaves a wider sphere open to utilitarian calculus.
This idea is expressed by the hadlth which is the mantra of all Muslim
thinkers who make it their ambition to adapt Islam to changing times:
"That which God allows in the Book is permitted, and that
which He forbids in the book is prohibited. God has passed
over in silence everything that He wished to leave up to our free
discretion."63
The main thing that Islamic liberals believed was up to their own
discretion was the extent to which Muslim society could adopt Western
institutions. But the Salafiyya reform movement also revived two issues
which Islam might well have thought it had laid to rest in the Middle Ages.
One was the place of reason in religion. The goal of rehabilitating
philosophy and bridging the sectarian divide which brought charges of
M u‘tazilism down upon the Islamic Modernists is often attributed to al-
Afghani's S h iite origins. But even the solidly Sunni ‘Abduh tried to finesse
the philosopher/prophet issue that had been so contentious in medieval
Islamic theology: "The position of prophets with respect to humankind is
the same as the position of reason with respect to the individual."64 ‘Abduh
frequently steers a course that runs perilously close to the batinl esotericism
so beloved of the IsmaTlIs and so abhorred by the Ash‘arites:

If the literal meaning (zahir) of a text contains something that


appears to contradict reason, then reason must conclude that
something other that the literal meaning is intended.65

63 al-Tirmidhr, bn Maja.

64 Muhammad ‘Abduh, Risalat al-Tawhid (Beirut: Dar al-Shuruq, 1994), p. 101.

65 ‘Abduh, Risala, p. 118.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
162
The other medieval issue resurrected by Islamic Modernism was
the primacy of Arabs in Islam. This posed somewhat of a quandary to the
Salafiyya because Islamic tradition had always unfavorably juxtaposed the
nasty and brutish state of jahiliyya in which Arabia had languished before
Muhammad to the civilized millennium ushered in by the Islamic contract.
But ‘Abduh writes that "the Qur’an was revealed in a time which by all
accounts was the Arabs' finest age,"66 and follows his mentor al-Afghani in
asserting that it was Arab virtue that accounted for the pristine Islam of the
first generation, and Persian and Turkish corruption that accounted for its
decline.
The Muslim liberals who participated in the early educational
missions sent to Europe by Muhammad ‘All and Mahmud II "lived and
worked in a happy interlude of history, when the religious tension between
Islam and Christendom was being relaxed, and had not yet been replaced by
the new political tension of east and west."67 The honeymoon with the West
ended when the latter's imperialist designs became clear. Muslim sentiment
in favor of the revival of Muslim political unity to combat Western
influence—-and the association in the Western mind of this sentiment with
fanaticism and terrorism— were in the air for some time before the label
"pan-Islam" was invented for it in the 1870's.68 The movement for Islamic
unity in the face of the Western challenge was strong enough by the 1880's

66 ‘Abduh, Risala, p. 131.

67 Hourani, Arabic Thought, p. 81.

68 Landau, Politics o f Pan-Islam, p. 1. The earliest use of the term "pan-Islam" encountered by
Landau is 1877. The earliest association of pan-Islam with terrorism on the floor of the House of
Commons was not long to follow.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
163
even to threaten to bridge the Sunni-Shfite schism which Blunt
perceived to have been "sensibly in decline" for half a century.69
By the turn of the century, pan-Islam came to be identified with the
Ottoman sultan-caliph. This was despite reservations about Abdulhamid's
autocratic character exemplified by al-Afghani's comment: "Alas that this
man is mad, otherwise I would secure for him the allegiance of all the
nations of Islam."70 Ottoman losses of the eighteenth and nineteenth
centuries had paradoxically served to strengthen Muslim loyalty to Istanbul,
because the primary concern of Ottoman provincials had become not
maintaining independence from the sultan, but resisting the threat of foreign
invaders. The political goal of resisting Europe so obscured the ideological
dimension of pan-Islam that it was often confused by both its adherents and
British intelligence analysts with supemationalisms like pan-Turkism and
later pan-Arabism. But while pan-Islam shared with these latter the negative
goal of resisting imperialism, its positive conception of political loyalty was
religious rather than national, ethnic or territorial. As soon as the
disappearance from the scene of Abdulhamid robbed the pan-Islamic
movement not only of its figurehead but also of its organizational and
financial base in Istanbul, various possibilities for the reconstitution of the
caliphate as both a focus of Islamic loyalty and a catalyst for Islamic
liberalism began to be mooted.

69 Blunt, Future o f Islam, p. 40.

70 Arnold, The Caliphate, p. 177.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
164
Al-Kawakibi
The Arab Islamic Modernists produced two important treatises
devoted to the caliphate question. The first of these was by 4Abd al-Rahman
al-Kawakibi (1849-1902), the orphan son of a Syrian notable family. Al-
Kawakibi was born and educated in Aleppo, where he founded that city's
first two local newspapers, both of which were shut down by Abdulhamid's
censors. Taking refuge in British-occupied Egypt, like so many Syrian
intellectuals of his time, he published two influential books, both of which
were alleged to have been plagiarized from European orientalists despite the
fact that al-Kawakibi did not know any European languages.71
One of these books, Umrn al-Qura purports to be an account of an
international Islamic conference convened for the purpose of replacing
Abdulhamid with a new caliph. The imaginary conference opens with the
subject that was the jumping off point for all nineteenth century Muslim
self-examination: the reasons for Islamic decline. The assembled delegates
consider a number of explanations. Islamic fatalism and otherworldliness
prove to be inadequate explanations, since these two elements are present in
all religions. Internal divisions and tyrannical governments have likewise
made their appearance among all peoples. The true explanation of Muslim
backwardness is rule by foreigners.
It soon becomes clear that the most pernicious of these foreigners are
not any of the Christian occupiers of Muslim land, but the Muslim Turks.
Indeed, there is a hint of Anglophilia in al-Kawakibi's claims that just infidel
ruler would in fact be far superior to a tyrannical Muslim ruler—he
presumably has in mind the contrast between Cromer's Cairo and

71 Kedourie, Chatham House Version, p. 195. EI2, al-Kawakibi (Sylvia Haim).

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
165
Abdulhamid's Istanbul. Al-Kawakibi even hints that that the source of
the corruption of Turkish Islam was too close an association with
Christianity. He calls Istanbul by its Christian name Constantinople and
says that the Ottoman ‘ulama’—the "official ‘ulama’," as he calls them, or
just as frequently, "the turbaned ones"—have become too much like the
Catholic priesthood: co-opted by political authority and calcified by
religious traditionalism. On the one hand they are too interested in non­
religious affairs, on the other not open enough to non-religious learning.
Al-Kawakibi exemplifies the overlap of Arabism and Islamic
Modernism in the extreme. The "international" Muslim conference he
imagines lays disproportionate emphasis on the Arab subjects of the
Ottoman Empire. Although the twenty-two delegates to the conference
come from all over the Islamic world, the account of the narrator's journey to
Mecca seems designed to define a conception of the boundaries of the Arab
portion of it.72 It is often hard to tell whether the book's diatribe against the
corrupt repressive rule of the Sultan is made in the name of the Islamic
religion or the Arab nation. He resolves the apparent contradiction between
the Arab vice of the jahiliyya and the Arab virtue of the Rashidun era by
showing that the pre-Islamic Arabians were teetering on the brink of
monotheism, their only lacuna being the misguided use of idols as
intermediaries to Allah.73 Islam corrected this problem, and also introduced
ideals of human equality which Europeans have only recently discovered.74

72 ‘Abd al-Rahma al-Kawakibi, Umm al-Qura (Aleppo: al-Matba‘a al-‘Asriyya, n. d.), p. 5.

73 al-Kawakibi, Umm al-Qura, p. 87.

74 al-Kawakibi, Umm al-Qura, p. 60.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
166
Although the scheme for reviving the caliphate with which al-
Kawakibi ends the book is put in the mouth of the Indian delegate, its anti-
Ottoman and pro-Arab tenor is precisely the opposite of that of the Indian
khilafat movement. In his preambular history of the Ottoman caliphate the
Indian delegate makes the claim that while the title "Servant of the Two
Sanctuaries" was used for centuries by the Ottomans, the title "Caliph" only
began to be used as recently as the reign of Mahmud II (1809-1839).75 The
caliphate did not— as asserted by the "caliphate after me will be thirty years"
hadlth—become kingship all of a sudden under the rule of the Arab
M u‘awiya, but rather the lost its integrity in proportion to the retreat of Arab
influence in the government of the umma:
The administration of religion and the administration of
kingship were only completely united in the age of the
Rashidun and ‘Umar b. ‘Abd al-‘Az!z. They were united after a
fashion under the Umayyads and Abbasids. Then the caliphate
was separated from kingship.76

The advent of the Ottomans was a continuation, not a reversal, of this


process. Far from reimposing Islamic unity, the Ottoman Empire had a long
history of forging alliances with Christian states against Muslim states which
boded particularly ill for the Arabs. Mehmet the conqueror secretly
acquiesced in the reconquista of Spain by Ferdinand and Isabella in
exchange for the Christian territories of Macedonia and Constantinople. The
Christian advance in Spain and the Ottoman conquest of Arabic-speaking
Asia and North Africa were two prongs of the same pincers movement:

75 al-Kawakibi, Umm al-Qura, pp. 227-8.

76 al-Kawakibi, Umm al-Qura, p. 60.

76 al-Kawakibi, Umm al-Qura, p. 229.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
167
While Selim "was killing Arabs in the East, the Spaniards were wiping
out their remnants in Andalusia."77
In a nod to the loyalty still commanded by the Ottoman caliphate in
some quarters, al-Kawakibi blames not the sultan himself for pushing a
fraudulent claim to the Caliphate, but rather
a few sycophantic treacherous frauds who attribute to the sultan
something which he has nothing to do with, and spread claims
about him which were not made by a single one of his mighty
predecessors in any official way. .. They sometimes ascribe to
the great family of Osman a relationship to ‘Uthman b. ‘Affan,
and other times trace their lineage to Quraysh. They bestow
upon them the right to the caliphate sometimes by transfer from
the Abbasids, other times by the right of inheritance, sometimes
through investiture ( ‘ahd) other times through the bay‘a,
sometimes by virtue of being the Servant of the Two
Sanctuaries, other times by virtue of possessing the relics of the
prophet. 78

Although al-Kawakibi alludes to the classical theory of the caliphate, he


believes that to treat it as having sacrosanct prescriptive force would be a
contravention of the intentions of the Prophet:
The Prophet was the creature most mindful of counsel (shura),
exemplifying the command of his Lord "And seek counsel from
them in the matter," to the point that he left the succession
(,khilafa) completely up to the opinion of the umma.19

77 al-Kawakibi, Umm al-Qura, p. 230.

78 al-Kawakibi, Umm al-Qura, p. 232.

79 al-Kawakibi, Umm al-Qura, p. 68. Such anti-Turkish vitriol published at the turn of the century
certainly militates against the trend in the study of Arab nationalism which interprets the "centuries of
Turkish oppression" view of Arab history as a projection backwards of bad relations between Arab notables
and the CUP during the 1910's. It is still an open question whether al-Kawakibi is advocating Islamic unity
as a means to Arab unity, or the other way around.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
168
Al-Kawakibi's imaginary representatives of the umma come up with a
plan for an Arab Quraysh caliph with political authority limited to the Hijaz,
where an international Muslim force would be responsible for security. The
caliph would be something like the president of an elected shiird council
which would renew his bay‘a every three years. His name would be
mentioned in the Friday khutba but not stamped on currency. The one
responsibility which al-Kawakibi places unambiguously within his
hypothetical caliph's purview is the re-opening of the gate of Ijtihad.
Al-Kawabl's imaginary caliphate conference is set in 1316 H., or
1898. During the quarter century following, events conspired to change both
the prospects for caliphal revival and the attitude of the international Muslim
community attitude towards it. First of all, any illusion that European help
could be usefully enlisted in the cause of Arab independence was completely
removed by the Entente Cordiale of 1904. Any hope that France would act
to help oust Britain from Egypt, or that Britain would act to help oust France
from Algeria or Tunisia was dashed by the alliance between the two major
imperialist occupiers of Muslim territory. The addition of Russia to the
Entente in 1907 put into alliance all three of the European powers whose
antagonisms had been keeping the Ottoman Empire intact, making the
eventual dismemberment of the Ottoman Empire— and until the appearance
of Ataturk, Turkey itself—virtually inevitable. Those who had for a long
time felt that "the restoration of a more legitimate Caliphate is deferred for
the day that its fate shall overtake the Ottoman Empire"80 believed that that
day was fast approaching. The only caliph in anyone's memory,

80 Blunt, Future o f Islam, p. viii.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
169
Abdulhamid, was replaced the Young Turks in 1909 by Mehmet V who
was both legally and personally far less powerful than his predecessor.
But if the authoritarian caliphate had received a blow, so had the
Islamic liberals who had opposed it. In the same year that the Ottoman
Empire backed down from the British over the Taba incident, the Japanese
victory in the Russo-Japanese war showed that an Eastern power—albeit an
advanced one— could hold its own against a European power—albeit a
backward one. Japan's success in reaping the benefits of European
technology without embracing European liberalism raised hopes that Middle
Eastern countries could do the same. This idea gained added appeal when
the hypocrisy of European liberalism revealed its second face with the
abandonment of Wilsonian self-determination in favor of a mandate system
that seemed to threaten the Middle East with the worst of both worlds:
continued control by imperialism and continued inroads into Muslim unity
by secular nationalism. Although some proponents of caliphal revival
continued to cast about for alternatives, others closed ranks around the
Sultan. In rather the same way that the decline of Abbasid caliph's political
authority had transformed the ‘ulama’ from his competitors into his allies,
the decline of the Ottoman sultan's power made him a focus of loyalty for
Arab ‘ulama’ who would otherwise have feared him.

Rashid Rida
All these early twentieth century changes are reflected in the second
of the two treatises on the caliphate produced by Islamic modernism,
Muhammad Rashid Rida's al-Khilafa aw al-Imdma a l-‘U7jnd ("The
Caliphate or the Great Imamate"). The author was the third— after al-
Afghani and ‘Abduh— of the recognized triad of Islamic Modernism's

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
170
founders, although he differed significantly in temperament and,
eventually, intellectual outlook from his two mentors. Although educated in
a modem Ottoman state school in Tripoli, he was more touched by his
religious than secular education. After a flirtation with Sufism inspired by
al-Ghazall, he became a disciple of Muhammad ‘Abduh. He was more
involved in the politics of Syria than of Egypt in the early part of the
century. To the extent that he was involved in Egyptian politics he was an
ally of ‘All Yusuf, founder of the pro-khedive Hizb al-al-Islah al-Dusturf,
and editor of the pan-Islamic al-Mu’ayyad newspaper.
But Rashid Rida's primary historical importance was not as an activist
but as a preacher of the Islamic Modernist gospel of his mentor ‘Abduh, a
message of return to origins for the renewal of Islam. For our purposes, his
slight differences with 'Abduh are more important than his fundamental
agreement with him, because they illustrate the conservative turn which his
branch of Islamic Modernism was taking. Where ‘Abduh and especially al-
Afghanl had advocated reunion of Islamic sects, Rashid Rida was
vociferously anti-Shi‘I. Where ‘Abduh accepted whichever of the four legal
schools was most lenient on a given point of law, Rashid Rida leaned toward
the puritanism of Ibn Hanbal favored by Ibn Taymiyya, and, in his own
time, the Wahhabis. Rashid Rida has been said to have "belonged to the last
generation of those who could be fully educated and yet alive in a self-
sufficient Islamic world of thought."81 At the time he was writing al-
Khilafa, Rashid Rida was in a transitional phase between his early advocacy
of Islamic reform and the overpowering fear of Westernization which

81 Hourani, Arabic Thought, p. 235.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
171
colored his later writing with increasing conservatism.82 This book was
based on material that Rashid Rida had previously published in his Islamic
Modernist newspaper al-Manar, rearranged and imbued with an added
urgency by the impending abolition of the sultanate towards which Ataturk
seemed to be inexorably edging closer and closer.
Rashid Rida headlines his book with three free standing Qur'an
quotations that address the issue from different angles:
When his Lord tested Abraham with instructions that he carried
out, he said, "Behold I am making you an imam over the
people." He said, "And my seed?" He said: "Evildoers will
not take over my covenant." (2: 124)

God has promised those among you who believe and who do
good works that he will make them successors
(yastakhlifannahum) on the earth as he made those before them
successors . . . (24:55)

It is He who has made you successors (khala 'if) on the earth,


and raised some of you above other in rank . . . (6:165)83

Of these three quotations, the first relates to Abraham becoming the imam of
the first divinely approved monotheistic political community, the second
relates to righteous peoples as a whole becoming khalifas, and the third to
divine approval of this-worldly political hierarchy. Rashid Rida then
handily conflates the two disputed meanings of khalifa with a sleight of hand
that recalls al-Tabari's tafslr of 2: 30,84 by summarizing the subject matter of
his book as "the khilafa of peoples one to another in mastery and governance

82 Malcolm Kerr, Islamic Reform: The Political and Legal Theories o f Muhammad ‘Abduh and
Rashid Rida. (Berkeley: The University of California Press, 1966), p. 158.

83 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 8.

84 See above, Chapter II, pp 64-6.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
172
of the earth, and the khilafa of individuals and [dynastic] houses among
peoples,"85 as though it were self-evident that the two are related.
Rashid Rida supplements this implication that the institution of the
caliphate somehow goes back to the the Qur’an with the standard medieval
formulations of the necessity of the caliphate:

The pious forbears of the umma, and the people of the sunna,
and the masses of the other sects agree that the establishment of
the Imam . . . is incumbent upon Muslims by religious law, not
reason alone as some of the Mu'tazilites have
sa id .. ,86
He lists four indications of the necessity of the caliphate from al-Taftazanl:
(1) the ijmd ‘ of the companions about the need for a caliph, which was so
important that they took care of it even before attending to the Prophet's
burial;87 (2) the necessity of the caliphate for the defense of frontiers and the
enforcement of Shari‘a penalties; (3) the necessity of the caliphate for the
general public good (jalb al-mana.fi ‘ wa d a f al-madarr); and (4) the
stipulation by the Book and the Sunna of obedience to the caliph, notably the
hadiths: "He who dies without the bay"a upon his neck has died a jdhill
death" and "Cleave to the community of Muslims and their imam."
It is in his discussion of the source and nature of caliphal authority
that Rashid Rida departs from medieval language and offers the classic
Islamic modernist characterization of Islamic political thought:

85 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, loc. cit.

86 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, Khilafa, p. 18.

87 This is obviously a dig at the Shfites, who believed that ‘Ali should have been the rightful first
caliph, who was the Companion who did attend to the Prophet's burial.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
173
Islam has laid out the principles of civil social policy, but
legalized opinion and reasoning (ra’y and ijtihad) about them,
since they vary with changes in time and place . . . Among the
principles are that power is the people's, that they should be
consulted about their affairs, that their government is a type of
republic, and that the caliph of the Prophet is no more excepted
from its rules than the weakest of the subjects.88
The only evidence from the Qur’an that he provides for this assertion is that
the Qur’an enjoins obedience to "those in authority" (ulu al-amr) and not to
one single man. He views the caliphal bay‘a as a kind of social contract.
The umma's side of the bargain is to obey the caliph except when he
commands disobedience to God. The caliph's side of the bargain consists of
the ten duties listed by al-Mawardl, updated to the present-day context
(especially the duty of jihad, which Rashid Rida says can include
expenditure of wealth or words as well as military prowess in the path of
Islam).
Rashid Rida goes to the utmost extremes in finding Islamic precedents
for all the features of modern government. All four of the sources of the
Shari‘a make their contribution. The Qur’an references to shurd
consultation show that "the most important thing incumbent upon the caliph
is consultation in everything regarding which there is no text from God and
His apostle . . . "89 The Sunna provides ample instances of he Prophet
engaging in shurd on military matters with Companions to whom Rashid
Rida pointedly refers as "the ministers of war and the navy."90 On the one
hand, since as a prophet, Muhammad had no need to ask anyone for advice

88 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 9

89 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 38.

90 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 21.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
174
he must have been doing it to set an example for future rulers. On the
other hand, since he did not lay down explicit guidelines for shura, he must
have intended for institutional procedures to develop freely with the needs of
the community and the times.91 The modem principle of separation of
religion and state is affirmed by the hadfth: "The matter of your religion is
mine, but in the matter of your worldly affairs you are more knowledgeable
than I."92 The modem principle of majority rule is identified with Ijma‘,
whose sanctity is affirmed by the hadTths "He who departs from the
consensus of the community a handspan has died a jdhili death," "Cleave to
the the community of Muslims," and "My community cannot agree on
error."93
Although Rashid Rida claims that in theory, the true Islamic view is
that the caliph "is not an absolute ruler as many imagine but rather he is
bound by the evidence of the Book and the Sunna,"94 his analysis of the
historical caliphate shows a tendency to backslide into the Muslim
conservatives' acceptance of tyranny to avert anarchy. The crucial episode
of M u‘awiya's "investiture by the sword" of his son Yazid was the exception
rather than the rule:

What learned or intelligent man would compare the investiture


of ‘Umar by Abu Bakr . . . after the consultation and agreement
with the pillars of the community (ahl al-hall wal- ‘aqd) to the

91 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 39.

92 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 38.

93 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 21.

94 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 38.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
175
corrupt and brazen investiture and appointment of Yazid by
M u‘awiya by force of terrorism and bribery?95
But even though he condemns the transition to dynastic succession which
this episode inaugurates and the ‘ulama’ who gave rubber stamp approval to
the process, Rashid Rida concedes that sometimes, for the sake of the
security of the umma, such ex post facto legitimation of authority might be
accepted

Out of necessity, it is permissible for someone who lacks the


necessary characteristics or someone who seizes the caliphate
through violence to succeed to the caliphate . . . Authority by
force is like eating a corpse or pork: it may accepted out of
pressing need, and is preferable to chaos.96
If the only alternative to a tyrannical caliph is fitna, "the lesser of two evils is
allowable."97 Rashid Rida is emphatic that for this reason, the caliph may
only be deposed for the most severe infractions; he clearly has in mind the
impending overthrow of the Ottoman sultan by Ataturk, which he hopes his
book will help avert.
Rashid Rida's support for the Ottoman caliphate comes across clearly
in his discussion of the issue of Quraysh descent. He makes mention of the
arguments in favor of Quraysh descent—that Quraysh was the tribe of the
prophet, that the Qur'an was revealed in the Quraysh dialect, and that all
sorts of superior qualities are ascribed to Quraysh by hadiths. On the other
hand, the dangers of dynastic tyranny and the possibility that a non-
Hashimite might be the best available candidate militate against it. Rashid

95 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 42

96 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 45

97 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 21.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
176
Rida makes a point of quoting al-Taftazam—rather than say, al-
Mawardi— on the list of qualifications for the caliphate because the former
stipulates not that the caliph must be from Quraysh, but that he must "speak
QurashI," and that if no one of Quraysh lineage meeting all the qualifications
is available, someone else— even a non-Arab— will do.98 When discussing
cases in which the qualifications for the post of caliph might be shaded, the
first example Rashid Rida mentions is the possibility of electing a non-
Qurayshi candidate when no Quraysh! with the requisite credentials can be
found.99
Rashid Rida's compromise with history on the Quraysh lineage
requirement lays bare the tensions that lurked just below the surface of the
Islamic Modernist enterprise: between traditionalism and liberalism,
Arabocentrism and Islamic egalitarianism, religious purism and political
pragmatism. His preference is for an Arab if not QurashI caliph, but, writing
before the torrent of Arab claimants was unleashed by Ataturk's abolition of
the caliphate in 1924, he reluctantly concludes that the caliph most likely to
be palatable to the entire Muslim world will be an Ottoman sultan. Al-
Khilafa represents the last gasp of Islamic Modernism's dream of
resurrecting caliphate in a form that adapts the ideals of Islam unity and
continuity to modem conditions, and it has traveled quite a distance from al-
Kawakibi's democratically elected Arab caliph. The quarter century
between al-Kawakibf s cheerful prophecy and Rashid Rida's gloomy
compromise had seen the disappearance of the Ottoman bulwark against

98 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p 26.

99 Rashid Rida, Khilafa, p. 44.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Ill
European encroachment on Islam, the re-installation of imperialism in
the guise of the mandate system, and the superimposition on the Middle East
of secular nationalist political identities that appeared to be on the verge of
replacing Islamic political loyalty permanently. Al-Kawakibi's was the
voice of hope, Rashid Rida's that of fear, and it was the fear rather than the
hope that proved justified.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Chapter IV: The Caliphate Debate in Egypt, 1924-1926

178

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
179
The 1922 separation of the sultanate from the caliphate and
the 1924 abolition of the caliphate are usually spoken of by historians in one
breath as two successive steps in Ataturk's overall scheme of secularization.
This is due to the hindsight with which historians always look at events, in
this case reinforced by the 1927 aptly named weeklong Btiyiik Niitiik ("Big
Speech") in which Ataturk himself depicted the transformation of the
Ottoman sultanate into the Turkish republic as a much more preconceived
process than it actually was.1 Ataturk was responding to two quite different
sets of political circumstances in 1922 and 1924, and his measures in each
case were perceived quite differently by international Muslim opinion. The
Grand National Assembly's action of November 1922 is often described as
"separating the sultanate from the caliphate" or "stripping the caliphate of
political power." It would be more accurate to describe it as the abolition of
the sultanate, leaving the caliphate intact. It came in the midst of a dispute
about who was to serve as the legitimate representative of the Turkish
people in the post-war peace negotiations. Ataturk countered the claims of
the British-backed Sultan Mehmet VI Vahideddin by (1) replacing him with
Abdulmecid and (2) declaring the latter's political authority null and void,
and that the sovereignty of the Turkish people resided in the Turkish Grand
National Assembly at Ankara. The deposed Vahideddin fled Turkey on a
British ship and found refuge first in Mecca with Sharif Husayn and
subsequently Italy; his cousin Abdulmecid was proclaimed caliph in his
stead.2

1 Halil Inalcik, "The Caliphate and Ataturk's Inkilab." Belleten 46 (1982), p. 353.

2 Bernard Lewis, The Emergence o f M odem Turkey (London: Oxford University Press, 1968),
pp. 257-9.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
180
The arguments and counterarguments surrounding the
controversy set off by Ataturk's transfer of the sultanate from the Ottoman
dynasty to the Turkish people provide a virtual catalogue of the kinds of
contradictions and paradoxes which inevitably ensue in the first place from
ideological justification of political expedience, and in the second place from
the employment of a traditional ideology to justify a political order quite
different from the one in which it originally emerged. For one thing, in the
process of separating the sultanate from the caliphate, Ataturk deposed the
very caliph whose liberation from captivity was supposed to have been one
of the goals of his resistance to the partition of Turkey.3 More fundamental
were the contradictions resulting from the efforts by the supporters of
Ataturk to combine Turkish nationalist and Islamic modernist arguments in
favor of the measure. The assertion that the people's sovereignty should
belong to an assembly of their elected representatives rather than an
individual ruler was straightforward enough. It was imbued with additional
resonance by the fact that in Turkish as in Arabic, the word "sultan" had
never lost its connotation of sovereignty in the abstract as well as in its
human embodiment. However, pro-revolutionary ideologues—including the
segment of Muslim opinion dubbed by Ataturk "the enlightened
ulema"4— attempted to justify Ataturk's move on the basis of arguments
borrowed from Islamic modernism that the Qur'an mandated representative
government5 and that "the idea of divine monarchy . . . comes from Persian

3 Inalcik, "The Caliphate and Aaturk's Inkilab," p. 356.

4 Inalcik, "The Caliphate and Aaturk’s Inkilab," pp. 353 - 365.

5 Inalcik, "The Caliphate and Aaturk's Inkilab," p. 355.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
181
tradition, and is totally foreign to the original Islamic spirit and
practice."6 Most puzzling of all was the fact that although the new caliph
was to have religious rather than political authority, he was elected by a
political rather than a religious body. There can be no finer testament to the
confusion of religious and national loyalties in the post World War I Middle
East than a prince of the Ottoman dynasty being elected caliph of the
Muslim religion by an assembly of the Turkish nation.
International Muslim reaction to the Turkish move was polarized,
largely along pro- and anti-British axes. Muslims under Hashimite
sovereignty in Arabia and Jordan followed Sharif Husayn in continuing to
back the old caliph, while Muslims in the Balkans and India supported the
new one. In Egypt, Muslim popular opinion followed its tendency since
1900 to line up behind resistance to Western domination of Islamic lands, of
which Ataturk was at the time undisputed champion. But the most striking
thing about Egyptian reaction to Ataturk's 1922 separation of the sultanate
from the caliphate was how little of it there was.7 This is perhaps because
caliphal sovereignty in Egypt had been nominal more often than it had been
real for all but the very earliest Islamic period. Egyptian independence from
the Abbasid caliphate had been asserted as far back as the ninth century by
the Tulunids and the tenth century by the Ikhshldids. Fatimid Egypt had
been ruled by its own IsmaTlI anti-caliph, and within a short century after
the Sunni restoration by Salah al-Din, the Abbasid caliph himself had
become no more than a prisoner in a gilded Mamluk cage. The dubiousness

6 Summary of a treatise by Agaoglu Ahmed in Inalcik, "The Caliphate and Aaturk's Inkilab," p.
27.

7 Tariq al-Bishrf, "Al-Malik wa al-Khilafa al-Islamiyya," in al-Katib 13, no. 142 (Jan 1973), p. 45.
Israel Gershoni, and James P. Jankowski, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs: The Search fo r Egyptian
Nationhood, 1900-1930 (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986), p. 56.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
182
of Ottoman claims about the transfer of the caliphate to the Selim
aside, from relatively soon after 1517 the Mamluk princes had reasserted
their authority in Ottoman Egypt, and from Muhammad ‘All onward Egypt
was more equal competitor than subject vassal to the Ottoman throne. In
restricting the caliph to purely religious authority Ataturk himself had cited
the de facto medieval power-sharing arrangement between caliph and sultan
that had obtained since the time of al-Ghazali.8 From an Egyptian
perspective, caliphate and sultanate had been separated for even longer than
that, and Ataturk's abolition of the Ottoman sultanate seemed to be a strictly
Turkish affair.
The 1924 abolition of the caliphate was a response to quite a different
set of circumstances, and elicited a quite a different international reaction.
Up until three months earlier, a pan-Islamic conference to discuss the role of
the caliph had been scheduled to take place in Turkey. British fears of "a
revival of the Caliphate as embodied by the Turkish Republic"9 may have
been somewhat exaggerated. But the possibility of Turkey reasserting its
pan-Islamic leadership is certainly attested to by the flirtation of an Indian
Khilafat delegation with the improbable prospect of Ataturk himself
assuming the title of caliph.10 The refusal to entertain the thought of a
Turkish caliphate in any form was just one manifestation of Ataturk's
visionary genius in redirecting the focus of Turks inward towards the

8 Inalcik, "The Caliphate and Aaturk's Inkilab," p. 358.

9 Anita L. P. Burdett, Islamic Movements in the Arab World (United Kingdom: Archive Editions,
1998), Vol. I, p. 656..

10 Ahmad Shafiq, Hawliyyat M isr al-Siyasiyya (Cairo: Matba‘at Shafiq, 1927), Vol. I, p. 118;
Fakhr al-Din al-Zawahirf, al-Siyasa wal-Azhar (Cairo: Matba'at al-Ftimad, 1945), p. 207.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
183
nurturing of their fledgling republic rather than distracting it with
dreams of leadership on the world Muslim stage.
Domestic political considerations also played a role in Ataturk's
decision. The 1922-4 period in Turkey was a sort of Menshevik interlude,
during which the more moderate members of the new republic's leadership
sought to retain the traditional figurehead of the caliph as a bulwark against
Ataturk's radical and autocratic tendencies. During this period "the question
of the Caliphate became a cover for the power struggle between the hocas
who were the spokesmen of the old regime and the inkilabch who were
determined to change Turkish state and society towards a modem nation­
state."11 Supporters of Abdulmecid were frequently charged with being in
the employ of foreign powers.12 In a sense, in believing he could separate
the caliphate from political power Ataturk had been laboring under the same
misconception that had misled nineteenth century British and Russian
diplomats into thinking they could recognize the Ottoman Caliph's spiritual
authority in 1774 with no political ramifications. Ataturk eventually
realized that he could no more tolerate the presence in Turkey of a focus of
domestic conservative opposition than he could a magnet for foreign
intervention; on March 3, 1924— a century and a half after the Ottoman
dynasty had claimed the caliphal title in the 1774 Kucuk Kaynarji
treaty—the Turkish government informed Abdulmecid that he was no longer
caliph of the Muslims, and he left Istanbul for Switerzland the following
day.13

11 Inalcik, "The Caliphate and Aaturk's Inkilab," p. 360.

12 Arnold J. Toynbee, Survey o f International Affairs, 1925: Vol. I, The Islamic World sice the
Peace Settlement (London: Oxford University Press, 1927), p. 55.

13 Toynbee, Survey, p. 61.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
184
In contrast to the relatively mild reaction to the 1922
measure, the reaction of the Egyptian press and public to the abolition of the
caliphate in 1924 was immediate and extreme. Egyptian ‘ulama’ denied the
right of the Turkish Assembly to abrogate the caliphal bay ‘a. Not only the
conservative religious press, but also the Wafdist Balagh and the Liberal
Siyasa were of one voice in condemning the abolition of the caliphate and
asserting Egypt's responsibility to react to it.14 Egyption national aspirations
were as much at play in this reaction as wounded Islamic sensibilities. With
Turkey apparently turning its back on Islam, Egyptians of every political
stripe— nationalist, liberal and conservative— were ready for Egypt to
assume what many Egyptians regarded as her rightful place as leader of the
Muslim world.
The issue was rendered all the more urgent by Sharif Husayn's
assumption of the caliphal title less than twenty-four hours after the Turkish
abolition. Technically Husayn was responding to a "request" from the
Hashimite monarchies of Iraq and Jordan—particularly the urging of his
elder son the anglophile ‘Abdallah who stood to inherit the caliphate upon
his father's death— and his own government of the Hijaz; some were
convinced that he orchestrated the whole affair, while others believe he
accepted the position reluctantly. Whichever the case, Husayn was in
exclusive possession of two critical traditional assets for a caliphal aspirant:
Hashimite descent and control of the Muslim holy places. He also had one
crucial modem asset that may have outweighed the other two: British
support. His claim was publicly affirmed by the Hashimite monarchies of
British mandatory Iraq and Jordan and the ‘ulama’ of British Palestine.

14 al-Bishri, "Al-Malik wa al-Khilafa," p. 46.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
185
Recognition of Husayn from the pulpit was correspondingly
forbidden by the authorities in French mandatory Syria.15
Husayn convened a caliphate conference in Mecca during the Hajj
season in the summer of 1924. Fu’ad's contribution to it was to have his
own name embroidered on the mahmal camel litter which Egypt had sent to
Mecca every year since the thirteenth century, prompting Husayn to sever
diplomatic relations with Egypt.16 The "Pilgrimage Congress" was
consciously modeled on al-Kawakibl's Umm al-Qura but in this case life did
not imitate art. Egyptian opposition was only one among many factors
which prevented the congress from declaring Husayn caliph.17 In any case,
by the end of the year the Hijaz had been occupied by Sa‘udl forces, and the
only serious Hashimite candidate for the caliphate had been removed from
the competition.

Egyptian Politics and the Caliphate


The designs of the Egyptian royal family on the caliphate had always
waxed and waned in tandem with those of the sharlfs of Mecca, and Fu’ad
rushed in to fill the void created by the abolition of the caliphate with a haste
barely more decent than Husayn's. Like Husayn, he adopted the "I-choose-
not-to-run-unless-I-am-drafted" approach that has done so much for the
public image of many a politician. On March 25, less than a month after the

15 Toynbee, Survey, p. 65.

16 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, I, pp. 299-300; Elie Kedourie, "Egypt and the Caliphate" in The Chatham
House Version and Other Middle Eastern Studies (Hanover: The University Press o f New England, 1984),
p. 186.

17 Martin Kramer, Islam Assembled: The Advent o f the Muslim Congresses (New York:
Columbia University Pressj, 1986), pp. 80-85.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
186

Turkish abolition, a committee of Egyptian religious dignitaries


with thinly disguised connections to the palace declared the caliphate of
Abdulmecid null and void and urged "the convening of an Islamic
conference to which will be invited representatives of all Islamic peoples for
the purpose of finding someone upon whom to bestow the Islamic
Caliphate."18 The manifest failure of Husayn's bid for the caliphate did
nothing to detract from Fu’ad's eagerness. For one thing, the new Sa‘udl
King of Arabia soon began to put himself forward as a contender, attracting
the support which Indian Muslims were gradually and reluctantly
withdrawing from Abdelmecid. For another, Fu’ad's caliphal ambitions
were driven as much by domestic as foreign politics.
The main political issue in Egypt in the early twenties was
independence, and specifically whether Egyptians should accept
independence with the restrictions on Egyptian sovereignty contained in the
four reserved points of the treaty being offered by Great Britain. The Wafd
leader Sa‘d Zaghlul stood firmly against compromise. His rationale was that
independence with limitations on national sovereignty was not true
independence. The Liberal Constitutionalist party (al-Ahrar al-
Dusturiyyun)—the latest incarnation of Lutf! al-Sayyid's
moderate/collaborationist People's Party (Hizb al-Umma) of the early years
of the century— argued that independence with limitations on national
sovereignty was better than no independence at all. King Fu’ad's position
seems to have been that no independence was better than independence with
constitutional limitations on the king's authority, and was willing to

18 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, I, p. 121; Achilles Sekaly, "Les Deux Congres Musulmans de 1926," Revue
du Monde Musulman 64 (1926), pp. 32.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
187
compromise national sovereignty in order to retain royal
prerogatives such as the right to prorogue parliament of which he and his
successor Faruq made ample use right up until 1952. Fu’ad also made sure
to enshrine in the constitution his control of "religious institutions, the
appointment of religious officials, the endowments (awqaf) administered by
the Ministry of Religious Endowments, and over questions pertaining to the
recognized religions generally."19 This was simply a further
institutionalization of what had been the Egyptian ruling family’s policy
since the earliest years of Muhammad ‘All's reign of keeping the religious
establishment under tight palace supervision. Nothing could enhance the
palace’s grip on the ‘ulama5more than having the king of Egypt recognized
as caliph.
The Turkish abolition came barely a month after the first Wafd
government took office, and the caliphate issue immediately became a bone
of contention between king and parliament. At first Zaghlul was publicly
noncommittal on the caliphate issue, and even conveyed privately to the
king his support for bringing the caliphate to Egypt,20 while the latter
conveyed to Zaghlul his vociferous denial of any personal designs on the
office,21 reportedly saying "How can I undertake an obligation to all
Muslims when my burden with respect to Egypt alone is so heavy."22 It
seems so clear in retrospect that the Egyptian caliphate congress idea was a

19Article 153 o f the 1923 Egyptian constitution as appearing in appendix to al-Rafi‘1, F iA ‘qab al-
Thawra.

20 Sekaly, Deux Congres, p. 7; Gershoni-Jankowsky, Egypt, Islam and the Arabs, p. 58.

21 al-Bishri, "Al-Malik wa al-Khilafa," p. 53.

22 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, I, p. 119; al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khildfa, p. 46, 73.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
188

cover for the King's political ambitions that it requires a leap of


the imagination to go back to the early months of 1924 when the connection
between the palace and the caliphate committee was only hinted at by veiled
references in the press.23 The king initially made effective use of the control
of the Waqf ministry granted him by the constitution to disperse funds to the
committee without public disclosure.24 Even after the money trail left by
"black budget" payments to the Shaykh al-Azhar gave Fu’ad away in mid-
1924,25 the caliphate issue continued to be a double bind for Zaghlul. The
revival of the caliphate outside of Egypt would clearly be against Egypt's
interests in the Muslim world at large, but the revival of the caliphate in the
person of Fu’ad would strengthen the king's political hand within Egypt.
What tipped the balance for Zaghlul was that just as he was
gravitating away from support for an Egyptian caliphate, the British were
gravitating towards it. Immediately after the abolition the Prime Minister of
England had declared in the House of Commons that "the Government are
not entitled on either political or religious grounds to comment on or
interfere in any way in a matter on which their policy has consistently been
and will remain one of complete disinterestedness."26 But it was not long
before the British resurrected their nineteenth century policy of hoping to
use a caliphate under their control as a potential trump card in their relations
with Muslims on both sides of the Empire's border with Russia in the
subcontinent. An Egyptian King would do just as well as an Arabian

23 al-Bishrf, "Al-Malik wa al-Khilafa," p. 52.

24 Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 89.

25 Kedourie, "Egypt and the Caliphate,” p. 185; Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 89.

26 Quoted in Toynbee, Survey, p. 66.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
189
Sharif—particularly since the Arabian Sharif was losing ground
daily to the fundamentalist and anti-Western Sa‘udis. The more King
Fu’ad's designs on the caliphate came to be seen as serving British interests,
the more he was forced to resort to all manner of ruse to conceal the
connection between the palace and the caliphate committee.27 In the wake of
palace-instigated demonstrations at al-Azhar which replaced the familiar
1919 slogan "We have no leader but Sa‘d" with "We have no leader but the
King,"28 Zaghlul already arrived at the same conclusion as Ataturk: a caliph
in his country would only serve as a magnet for domestic opposition and
foreign intervention. At what he himself regarded as considerable risk of
alienating public opinion,29 Zaghlul eventually came out— along with the
major Wafd and Liberal newspapers— against an Egyptian caliphate.30 The
King's pursuit of the caliphate was one of the reasons given by Zaghlul for
his abortive attempt to resign on November 15, 192431 and the caliphate
issue might well have been sufficient to bring about the collapse of the first
Wafd government had not the November assassination of the British sirdar
of the Egyptian army intervened to speed up the process.
Zaghlul's resignation in the wake of the Stack assassination and the
subsequent dissolution of Parliament on Christmas Eve of 1924 allowed the
caliphate committee to pursue the king's caliphal ambitions unhindered by
parliamentary opposition. But Parliament was not the only quarter from

27 al-Bishri, "Al-Malik wa al-Khilafa,” p. 53.

28 al-Rafi‘i , A ‘qab, p. 227.

29 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, vol. I, p. 215.

30 al-Bishri, "Al-Malik wa al-Khilafa," p. 68.

31 al-Rafi‘l , A 'qab, p. 228.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
190
which opposition to the King's campaign for the caliphate hailed.
From the "religious right," led by Shaykh al-DijwI— a member of the
original caliphate delegation and later a prominent public antagonist of ‘Abd
al-Raziq— came opposition to any caliphate revival on the grounds that a
secular state such as Egypt which did not enforce the Shari‘a was not worthy
of the caliphate.32 Of wider appeal to pan-Islamic sentiment was the
argument that the caliphate should only be established in a Muslim state not
under foreign domination. This excluded French-ruled North Africa and
Syria and British-ruled Egypt, Palestine, Iraq and India, and left only Islamic
credentialed rulers on the fringes of the Islamic world such as the Amir of
Afghanistan and the Imam of Yemen.33 Non-palace affiliated ‘ulama’ and
members of the ultra nationalist and highly Islamized Hizb al-Watanl
coalesced around the renegade prince ‘Umar Tusun and the Sufi Shaykh
Muhammad Mad! Abu al-‘Aza’im, whose "Supreme Caliphate Committee
of the Nile Valley" stood in opposition to its Fu’ad/Azhar sponsored
counterpart.34 ‘Umar Tusun had been among the first to bring up the
prospect of an Egyptian caliphate with Zaghlul,35 but had been shunned by
the Azhar committee as not loyal enough to the throne.36 Technically, the
difference between the Abu al-Azaim committee and the Azhar committee
was that the former did not recognize Ataturk's authority to depose
Abdulmecid. In fact, what drove the renegade committee was the growing

32 al-Bishri, "Al-Malik wa al-Khilafa," p. 68.

33 al-Bishri, "Al-Malik wa al-Khilafa," p. 66.

34 Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 90.

35 Shafiq, Hawliyydt, p. 119; al-Rayyis, pp. 45-6.

36 Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 89.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
191
opposition of genuine pan-Islamists to King Fu’ad. The same
dynamic that had prompted the religious right to support the cession of Taba
to the Ottoman Empire in 1906 now motivated people like Abu al-‘Aza’im
to speak of the importance of the caliphate being located in a Muslim
country more independent of Western influence than Egypt. His first choice
was in fact Turkey, but as this became less and less likely, he threw his
support behind Ibn Sa‘ud.
The Egyptian caliphate congress idea also encountered opposition
outside of Egypt, belying the initial rosy assessment of many Egyptians that
"the Islamic world was looking to Egypt, and believed that she was the most
suitable of countries for the convening of a conference which would look
into the question of the caliphate and select a caliph."37 Iranian Muslim
loyalty to Shi‘ism and Indian Muslim loyalty to the deposed Abdelmecid
frustrated efforts to secure a quorum of commitments to attend from world
Muslim leaders.38 Whether internal Egyptian39 or international Muslim40
opposition was the primary obstacle to Fu’ad's campaign for the caliphate,
the combination of the two led to the caliphate committee to announce in
January of 1925 that it was postponing the convening of a conference for at
least a year. The official reason given was that any decision on the caliphate
had to await the outcome of the war in Arabia and the elections in Egypt.41

37 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, I, p. 118.

38 Kedourie, "Egypt and the Caliphate," p. 188.

39 Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 90.

40 Gershoni-Jankowskim Egypt, Islam and the Arabs, p. 60.

41 Sekaly, "Les Deux Congres," p. 39.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
192
The postponement of the congress did not remove the
caliphate issue from Egyptian politics. Predictably, the Wafd swept the
March elections and, just as predictably, the King dissolved the majority
Wafd parliament on the first day it was convened. Hasan Nash’at, the prime
mover of the Azhar caliphate committee, now created a new political party,
the Unionist (Ittihad) party. The Liberal Constitutionalists allowed their
hatred of the Wafd to get the better of their constitutional principles and
agreed to participate with the new party in a coalition cabinet. But the
Liberals were no more complacent about the king's caliphal ambitions than
the Wafd had been. They argued that the King's pursuit of the caliphate was
a violation of the provision of the 1923 constitution that the King "is not
permitted to undertake in addition to the kingship of Egypt the affairs of
another country without the approval of Parliament."42 The confusion of
religious and national identity in the post-Ottoman Middle East is again to
be seen in the Liberal insistence that the king was constitutionally prohibited
from becoming caliph of all Muslims unless authorized to do so by the
parliament of the secular Egyptian state.43

The ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq Controversy


This was the pass to which the campaign for an Egyptian caliphate
had come when ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq's al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm ("Islam and
the Foundations of Government") was published in April of 1925. ‘All 'Abd

42 Egyptian Constitution, articlae 47 as appearing in the appendix to al-Rafi‘I, Fi A'qab al-


Thawra, p. 387.

43 Kedourie, "Egypt and the Caliphate," p. 190.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
al-Raziq (1888-1966)44 was very much a product of the new
Western-educated, secular-oriented outlook which emerged among the
second generation of the new Egyptian landholding class created by the land
reforms of the Muhammad ‘All dynasty in the mid-nineteenth century.
Scion of an upper Egyptian landowning family, his family's Cairo residence
was frequently the site of intellectual salons attended by the leading lights of
the Hizb al-Umma, of which his father was a co-founder. He attended both
al-Azhar and the new Egyptian university founded by Lutfi al-Sayyid in
1906. After obtaining his ‘alim certification in 1912 he attended Oxford
unversity in England, but was forced to return to Egypt during the War,
whereupon he embarked on his career as a judge in the Shari‘a court system,
rising to the post of chief qadi of the district of al-Mansura by the time of the
publication of al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm. He was among the founding
members of the Liberal Constitutionalist Party, along with his two brothers
Hasan and Mahmud; Hasan's assassination by nationalists 19 days after the
party was founded in October of 1922 was one of several factors that quickly
created bad blood between the Liberals and the Wafdists. ‘All himself stood
as Liberal candidate for al-Mansura in the first election of the constitutional
era in early 1924 and lost by a single vote. 45 An older brother Mustafa—the
least involved of the four in politics—had a successful career within the
religious establishment and was the Shaykh of al-Azhar between 1945 and

^B rief biographies o f ‘Abd al-Raziq can be found in Muhammad ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All ‘Abd
al-Raziq: Ma‘rakaFikriyya," al-Tall'a, November 1971, p. I l l ; Muhammad ‘Imara al—Islam wa Usui
al-Hukm (Cairo: Dar al-Shurq, 1989), pp. 119-20; and Muhammad Diya’ al-Dln al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-
K hildfafi al- ‘Asr al-Hadith: Naqd Kitab al-Islam wa-Usul al-Hukm (Jedda: al-Dar al-Sa‘diyya lil-Nashr),
pp. 35-7.

45 The dispute over the single vote is described by the victor ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Rafi‘1 in al-
Rafi‘1, A'qab, I, p. 170-2.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
194
1947. ‘All himself served as minister of Awqaf from 1948 to
1951—-a term which spanned the assassination of Prime Minister al-
Nuqrashl by the Muslim brotherhood and the retaliatory assassination of
Hasan al-Banna by the Egyptian government.
The coincidence of ‘Abd al-Raziq's death in 1966 with the crescendo
of the pre-1967 Nasserist swan song insured that the ensuing obituary
articles portrayed ‘Abd al-Raziq glowingly as champion of secularism,
freedom of speech, and—most improbably of all—Egyptian resistance to
British imperialism.46 The post-Nasser hangover brought a reaction against
secularism and a rehabilitation of the religious establishment—if not the
monarchy itself—which boded ill for ‘Abd al-Raziq's legacy. Recent writers
have construed ‘Abd al-Raziq's references to the Ottoman sultan-caliph
Mehmet V (1909-1918)— as well as ‘Abd al-Raziq’s own admission in the
introduction that the book was the product of many years' work47— as
evidence that the book was written prior to 1918 as part of anti-Ottoman
British wartime propaganda justifying the British protectorate in Egypt.48
‘Abd al-Raziq's commission of an elementary Arabic grammatical error in
his interpretation of the etymology of the word khalifa alongside his
frequent references to "the Muslims" in the third person— actually a quite
traditional practice in Muslim theological writings—have been seen as
evidence that his book was ghost-written by a non-native Arabic speaking

46al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khildfa, p. 22-3.

47 al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khildfa, p. 200.

48 al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khildfa, p. 92. Kishk, Q ira’a, p. 107.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
195
orientalist.49 The same types of charges had been leveled against
al-Kawakibi,50 and the critics of al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm who are so quick
to take such minor inaccuracies as confusing the M u‘tazilite thinker al-
Asamm with another non-Mu‘tazilite medieval figure of the same name as a
secret clue to its author's European identity51 do not seem so eager to draw
the converse conclusion from fare more substantive errors in his explication
of Hobbes.52 In any case it is the content rather than the authorship of the
book that gives it its significance in Egyptian intellectual history.
In textbooks on modem Middle Eastern history, ‘Abd al-Raziq usually
makes a brief appearance as a representative of secularism who declared the
caliphate to be irrelevant to m odem government. It is indeed the case that
aside from the obligatory profession of faith with which the book opens, it is
conspicuously free of the religious formulae and pious epithets which
decorate the pages of most traditional Muslim scholarship. But stylistic
differences aside, ‘Abd al-Raziq, like his classical predecessors, approaches
the caliphate from the standpoint of a Shari‘a scholar. A survey of al-Islam
wa Usui al-Hukm topic by topic reveals both the ways in which even in
modem times the theory of the caliphate continued to draw on the medieval
tradition, and the ways in which its frame of reference was altered by
modem conditions.

49 Kishk, Q ira’a, p. 107. al-Rayyis, Khilafa, p. 186. Kishk believes this ghost writer was Thomas
Arnold, while Arnold is al-Rayyis' second choice after David Margoliouth, who has the additional
conspiratorial virtue o f having been a second generation convert from Judaism.

50 See above, Chapter III, p. 154.

51 al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khildfa, p. 200.

52 al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khildfa, p. 186. Al-Rayyis' explanation of this anomaly would be that
the portion of the book dealing with Hobbes are part of the few dozen pages which were added to the
original by ‘Abd al-Raziq himself.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
196
THE ETYMOLOGY OF KHALlFA

‘Abd al-Raziq begins the first of the three main subdivisions of his
book, "Islam and the Caliphate," by drawing a distinction between the
technical definition and the historical usage of the term khalifa. Technically,
kh-l-f refers to the taking of someone else's place, either during that person's
lifetime or after he has passed away ("imma ma ‘ahu imma ba ‘dahu'', st
phrase which echoes the concern of the tafsir on Qur’an 7: 142 about Aaron
taking Moses's place during the latter's lifetime);53 The only Qur’an verse
which ‘Abd al-Raziq actually quotes in this regard is Qur’an 43:60, one of
the plural instances of khalifa that all commentators agree refer to angels. It
is only in historical usage, according to ‘Abd al-Raziq, that a word that the
Qur’an uses to denote a non-human collective has come to refer to an
individual human. ‘Abd al-Raziq also quotes several medieval luminaries
who define khilafa even in usage as specifically referring to succeeding the
prophet Muhammad,54 thereby implying that it has a specifically religious
connotation perhaps restricted only to Abu Bakr—a suggestion which he
makes explicit later in the book.55 The inexcusable lack of grammatical
rigor betrayed by ‘Abd al-Raziq's statement that khilafa is the verbal noun of
the form V verb takhallafa has suggested to the more conspiratorial
interpreters that his book was largely ghost-written by a European
orientalist.56

53 All ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm (Beirut: Maktabat al-Hayat, 1966), p. 12.

54 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 12.

55 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 193.

56 al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khilafa, p. 182; Kishk, Q ira’a, p. 121

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
197

THE NATURE OF POLITICAL AUTHORITY IN ISLAM


On the more substantive issue of the nature of political authority in the
theory of the caliphate, ‘Abd al-Raziq portrays it as not only authoritarian,
but theocratic. "The general opinion," he says, "is that the caliph derives his
authority from God."57 He quotes the hadlth "Obedience to the imams is
obedience to God, and disobedience to them is disobedience to God," along
with several others which urge Murji’ite-like deference on the part of the
populace even to unjust caliphs. Quoting the same verses of panegyric court
poetry which figure so prominently in revisionist Umayyad historiography,
he cites descriptions of the caliph as "the protection of God in His land" and
"His shadow stretched out upon His servants" as evidence of the divine
origin of caliphal authority. ‘Abd al-Raziq's view is that if the Islamic
tradition contains both an authoritarian and a liberal tendency, the latter is
clearly a minority position, and he makes a telling analogy to Western
political philosophy:

Something like this difference of opinion among Muslims about


the source of the authority of the caliphs appeared among
Europeans . . . The first school is virtually analogous to that
identified with the philosopher Hobbes, that the authority of
kings is sacred and their right divine. As for the second, it
resembles almost identically the school identified with the
philosopher Locke.58

57 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 21.

58 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm pp. The authoritarianism of Hobbes’ political theory
was, of course, based on a pessimistic view of human nature rather than on the divine right of kings— an
approach to government more characteristic of the late medieval caliphate theorists than the Umayyad
court.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
198
Aside from a few scant citations in support of Lockean
approach culled from some obscure medieval jurists, "the fullest statement
we have found of this school is the Treatise on the Caliphate and the
Authority of the People published by the government of the Grand National
Assembly in Ankara . . . "59

THE SHARP A AND THE CALIPHATE


The departure from the traditional theory of the caliphate for which
‘Abd al-Raziq became most infamous is the denial of the necessity of the
caliphate. Since, in the Qur’an's own words, "We have not left anything out
of the Book," (6: 38) the silence of the Qur’an on the subject of the caliphate
is deafening:
By my life, if there were in the Book a single reference the
‘ulama’ would certainly not have hesitated to make a big deal
out of it; or even if there were in the noble book something
resembling an indication of the necessity of the imamate, there
would be found among the self-appointed proponents of the
caliphate— and there are many— someone who would try to
take a quasi-indication for a [real] indication."60

‘Abd al-Raziq does mention the two ulu al-amr verses in Surat al-Nisa’, "so
that you shouldn't imagine that they have any connection with the
imamate."61 These are Qur’an 4:59 ("obey those in authority"), which al-
Baydawl interprets as referring to military commanders, and Qur’an 4: 82
("if they had referred i t . . . to those in authority"), which al-Zamakhsharf
interprets as referring to the Companions. The phrase ulu al-amr in these

59 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 23.

60 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 39.

61 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 40.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
199
verses has "not only a meaning far more general than the
caliphate... but a meaning which opposes the latter and is not even close to
being connected with it. "62
‘Abd al-Raziq also claims that there are no activities recorded in the
Prophet's Sunna on which to base governmental principles or procedures.
Even if the Prophet did appoint judges and other officials, he wasn't doing
anything uniquely Islamic: "There is no doubt that judgeship, in the sense of
ruling on disputes and resolving them, was in existence in the time of the
prophet, just as it was in existence among Arabs and others and other before
the arrival of Islam." He goes through the traditional accounts of
Muhammad's appointments of ‘Umar, ‘All and the other two Companions
credited with being the first qadis in Islam—M u‘adh b. Jabal and Abu Musa
al-Ash‘arI—to demonstrate that their internal contradictions make it "far
from easy to comprehend anything at all about the state of judicial
organization in the time of the Prophet."63 The only information on the
Prophet's delegation of authority has to do with appointing military
commanders and Qur’an preachers for specific expeditions, and it has come
down to us in "a teeming mass of disparate and disordered hadfths."64
As for hadiths which are taken by the medieval theorists to address
the caliphate directly, ‘Abd al-Raziq claims that if he wanted to he could
dispute both the authenticity and the relevance to the caliphate of all of
them. He lists as examples several of the hadiths cited from al-Taftazanl's

62 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 41.

63 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 152. This proved to be a particularly unfortunate
assertion for ‘Abd al-Raziq to make, since he was a qadl himself; one of the charges leveled against him by
the Azhar tribunal was "denying that judgeship is a ShaiTa-mandated post." See below, p. 205.

64 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 153.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
200
Maqasid by Rashid Rida in al-Khilafa.aw al-Imama a l-‘Uzma.65
In any case, even granting both the authenticity of these hadiths and the fact
that they were intended to refer to the later institution of the caliphate, mere
reference to the caliphate by the Prophet does not indicate its necessity:
Jesus the son of Mary spoke about Caesar's government, and
ordered that which is Caesar's to be rendered unto Caesar. But
this was not an acknowledgement by Jesus that Caesar's
government was part of God's Sharf a, nor that it was
recognized by the Christian religion.. . [Similarly] any
mention of the the imamate, caliphate, bay ‘a, etc. occurring in
the hadiths of the prophet indicate nothing more than what the
Messiah indicated when he mentioned some of the legal
judgments about the government of Caesar.66

To say that God commands us to obey the government even if it is that of an


idolater does not indicate that God approves of idolatry any more than the
mention in the Qur’an of various social ills such as poverty, slavery and
divorce indicates God's approval of their existence.
Believing he has discredited all claims that the Book and the Sunna
make reference to the caliphate, ‘Abd al-Raziq attacks the idea of communal
consensus from every conceivable angle. He expresses doubts about
whether ijma ‘ can exist at all, and whether it can be known if it does. He
notes the objections made to the principle of Ijma‘ by sectarians such as the
M u‘tazilites and Kharijites and quotes Ibn Hanbal's dictum to the effect that
"anyone who invokes ijma‘ is a liar."67 From these aspersions on the
principle of Ijma‘ in general, he moves on to cast doubt on the existence of

65 See above, p. 162.

66 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 45.

67 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 135.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
201
ijma ‘s about the establishment of the caliphate. There is no record
of a mustanad (roughly "base rationale") for the ijma‘ about the necessity of
establishing the caliphate in general.68 There is no evidence of either tacit
(,sukutl) or explicit (sarih) ijma‘ on the elections of any individual caliph.69
In ‘Abd al-Raziq's view, any claims of such ijma ‘ are worth as much as the
claim of the British government that the recently crowned Faysal was chosen
King by the consensus of the ahl al-hall wal- ‘aqd of Iraq.70
‘Abd al-Raziq finally touches on what had always been relegated to
second rank behind Shari‘a evidence for the necessity of the caliphate: the
argument that the well-being of Muslims is dependent on the existence of a
caliph. He admits that the idea that social order is desirable for the
maintenance of religion is even to be found in the Qur’an, for example, "We
have raised some above others in r a n k . . . " (43: 32). But this is not an
argument for the necessity of the caliphate, but merely an indication that a
people requires government in general, "be it absolute or limited, autocratic
or republican, tyrannical or constitutional or consultative, democratic or
socialist or bolshevist."71

RELIGION AND POLITICS ISLAM


‘Abd al-Raziq's claim that information about the nature of government
in the time of the Prophet is obscure begs the question of the relationship

68 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 133.

69 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 143.

70 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 144.

71 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 145.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
202
between religion and state in the earliest period, which forms the
subject of the second of the three subdivisions of his book, "Islam and
Government." He seizes the rhetorical advantage by framing the question
as: "Was the Apostle a king as well as a prophet?" The word "king" (malik)
carried the negative associations reflected by the Prophet's hadlth predicting
that the caliphate would decline into mere kingship (mulk). ‘Abd al-Raziq
considers it an error to regard Muhammad as both a prophet and king— an
error which, he acknowledges is made by a majority of Muslims because
"the Prophetic government included some things which come close to
resembling the trappings of political government and the signs of sultanate
and kingship."72 Chief among these is jihad, which must certainly have had
a political purpose, since jihad purely for the purpose of conversion would
contradict the Qur’anic injunction "there is to be no compulsion in religion."
(2: 257). The collection of the zakat alms tax and the jizya poll tax likewise
required financial organization, and there is also a record of the Prophet
appointing officials to govern conquered territories in Yemen.
‘Abd al-Raziq repeats the claim he made before that information on
the subject of political organization in the time of the Prophet is obscure, and
asks "why, if the Apostle of God founded a state or intended to found one,
was his state devoid of the foundations of a state and the pillars of
government?"73 He notes that that a Prophetic state would necessarily have
to have been perfect, and considers a number of possible reasons why it
appears to have been lacking in so many respects, such as that all the

72 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 156.

73 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 160

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
203
information has not come down to us, or that the Prophet's love of
simplicity led him to keep his system of government uncomplicated. But his
favored solution to the problem of the "obscurity" of he nature of Prophetic
government is that such political activity as the Prophet did engage in was
part of his "mundane work which had nothing to do with his religious
mission."74

The important thing is to know whether the leadership the


Prophet exercised over his people was the leadership or
Apostleship or the leadership of a king; and whether the
manifestations of rule which we see from time to time in the
life of the Prophet were manifestations of a political state or
manifestations of religious leadership; whether this unity which
the Prophet stood at the head of was the unity of government
and state, or the purely religious and non-political unity; and
finally whether the Prophet was an apostle alone, or both a king
and an apostle.75

To answer these questions ‘Abd al-Raziq gives several pages of the


many Qur’an verses which stipulate that the Prophet was not sent as a as a
mere wamer (nadhlr or mundhir), bearer of tidings (mubashshir), and
witness (shdhid), rather than as a guardian (hafii), authority (wakil),
compeller (jabbdr), or a ruler (musaytir). ‘Abd al-Raziq does not mention
that these are all presumably verses from the Meccan period, but rather
concludes that there is not a shred of evidence in the Qur’an, Sunna or
Hadlth "for what some wish to believe about the political character of the

74 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 159.

75 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 168.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
204
Islamic religion."76 It follows that Islam was intended to be a
religious community, not a political one, which makes sense since
it is reasonable that the whole world should adopt a single
religion, and that all of mankind be organized into a single
religious unit, but as for the whole world adopting a single
government, and their forming a common political unit, that is
practically outside the bounds of human nature . . . Should men
wish to form a global political unit, that is up to them: "If your
Lord had willed He would have made humankind a single
nation. . . " (11: 120)77

Even "the Arab unity which existed in the time of the Prophet was not a
political unity . . . but was a religious unity free of the blemishes of
politics."78 It is beneath God to have even troubled Himself about human
political organization, and insulting to Islam to maintain that it needed
anything beyond the power of its message to spread. He closes this line of
argument with a quotation from the Egyptian national poet Ahmad Shawqi:
"You conquered with the sword only after conquest by the pen."79

THE CALIPHATE IN ISLAMIC HISTORY


After proving to his own satisfaction that the theory of the caliphate
has no basis in the SharTa, ‘Abd al-Raziq proceeds to show that any fond
memories Muslims might have of the actual caliphate have no basis in
history. He began this tack in the first section, and continues in the third and
final part of his tract, entitled "The Caliphate and Government in History."

76 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 173.

77 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 175.

78 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 179.

79 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 176.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
205
The caliphate "was and continues to be a catasrophe (nakba) for
Islam and for Muslims, and a font of evil and corruption . . . "80 Seizure of
the caliphate by force has been the rule rather than the exception in Islamic
history. ‘Abd al-Raziq is in his own words "hesitant" about casting
aspersions on the first three caliphs, but is categorical about denying the
legitimacy of all the caliphs from ‘All onward:

In order that we not be excessive in our assertions, let us


present to the reader the chain of the caliphate to our own time,
so that he may see upon each of its links the stamp of coercion
and domination, and perceive that that which is called a throne
has never been ascended to except upon the heads of people,
and has never been established except upon their necks. That
which is called a crown only has life by taking the lives of the
people, and only has power by snatching their power, and only
has majesty or nobility by negating their majesty and nobility ..
. and its brilliance comes but from the gleam of swords and the
flames of war.81

In fact, ‘Abd al-Raziq believes that Muslims have been more subject to
violent usurpation of authority than other peoples. This is both a cause and a
consequence of what he repeatedly refers to as the unique backwardness of
the Muslims in the political sciences, despite their conversance with Greek
philosophy.82
‘Abd al-Raziq lists the various dynasties that have ruled
Islam—-Abbasids, Ghaznavids, Ayyubids, Mamluks, Circassians and
Ottomans— and concludes that European imperialism is just the most recent

80 Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 246.

81 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 139

82 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 142.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
206
link in this chain of anti-legitimacy. Referring to a version of the
story of the bay‘a to Yazld in which M u‘awiya pointed to his sword and said
that all those who opposed him would get "this," ‘Abd al-Raziq declares:
You may be sure that the "this" by means of which M u‘awiya
took the bay ‘a for Yazld is the same "this" by means of which
the English took the ijma‘ of the Iraqis for the imamate of
Faysal.83

The Orthodox Sunni Response to 4Abd al-Raziq


It would have been possible for ‘Abd al-Raziq to attack the institution
of monarchy without attacking the institution of the caliphate, and possible
for him to attack the institution of the caliphate without attacking the
institution of monarchy. The fact that al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm did both
brought an impressive array of voices out in a chorus of condemnation,
including many who were hardly partisans of Fu’ad's caliphate.84 Most
prominent among these was the venerable Muhammad Rashid Rida. Rashid
Rida had been a member of the original caliphate delegation of March 1924
and author of the lead article in the first edition of the Azhar committee
newspaper.85 But his participation in the initial organization of the Egyptian
caliphate drive had been motivated more by hatred of Sharif Husayn than
love of King Fu’ad,86 his primary concern having been to insure that a
revived caliphate should be free from foreign control. As early as
September of 1924 Rashid Rida was disowning the conference organizers

83 ‘Abd al-Raziq, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 143

84 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 60.

85 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 549.

86 Kedourie, "Egypt and the Caliphate," p. 184.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
207
privately: "Although we were the first to pave the way for this
work, now that we see the competing passions it has aroused we will leave it
to them to finish; if the conference is convened by people like this it will
surely be a disastrous failure which will embarrass and disgrace Muslims
everywhere."87 He turned his attention to the fate of the Hijaz and cultivating
relations with Ibn Sa‘ud, particularly as the increasingly conservative
direction in which he was taking the ideas of his mentor ‘Abduh began to
converge with the puritanical fundamentalism of the Wahhabis. According
to British intelligence, Ibn Sa‘ud was also supplying Rashid Rida with a
financial incentive to supplement his ideological motivation.88 Nevertheless,
however inimical it was to the interests of King Fu’ad, Rashid Rida could
not abide the attack on Islamic tradition contained in al-Islam wa Usui al-
Hukm. On the pages of al-Manar Rashid Rida described ‘Abd al-Raziq's
view of the caliphate as "a Satanic innovation which would not occur to a
Sunni, ShI‘I or KharijI— which in fact would not even occur to most
heretics. Yet the preacher of this innovation is among the ‘ulama’ graduates
of al-Azhar and the Shari‘a court judges."89
For the most part, however, the most vocal condemnation of ‘Abd al-
Raziq came from ‘ulama’ who were supporters of both an Egyptian caliphate
and King Fu’ad's candidacy for it. The two most comprehensive rebuttals of
‘Abd al-Raziq were Shaykh Muhammad Bakhlt al-MutlT's al-Haqiqafi al-

87 Letter to Shakib Arslan, Shaklb Arslan, al-Sayyid Rashid Rida wa Akhd’ Arba'in Sanna (Beirut:
Matba'at Ibn Zaydun, 1937), p. 367.

88 Burdett, Documents, II, 128.

89 Quoted in al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khilafa, p. 96.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
208

Islam wa Usui al-Hukm90 ("The Truth about Islam and the


Foundations of Government") and Shaykh Muhammad al-Khidr Husayn's
Naqd Kitab al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm91 ("Refutation of Islam and the
Foundations of Government"). Shaykh Bakhit was the Chief Mufti of Egypt
at the time and literally the Shaykh al-Azhar's right-hand man in the
configuration of the head table of the tribunal at ‘Abd al-Raziq's trial.92
Husayn (1875-1958), whose book is dedicated to King Fu’ad, was also a
prominent ‘alim and a future Shaykh al-Azhar.93 Together their responses to
al-Islam wa ’Usui constitute a comprehensive orthodox Muslim rebuttal of
‘Abd al-Raziq's attack on the caliphate.

THE ETYMOLOGY OF KHALIFA


Bakhit starts exactly where ‘Abd al-Raziq did. After pointing out
‘Abd al-Raziq's erroneous statement that khilafa is the verbal noun of form
V takhallaf rather than form I khalafa, he makes the more substantive
criticism that ‘Abd al-Raziq mistakenly "suggests that the meaning of
khilafa— which is synonymous with imdma—Muslim usage differs from the
etymological meaning."94 It was only the personal title khalifat rasul allah

90 al-MutTl, Muhammad Bakhit, Haqlqat al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm (Cairo: al-Matba‘a al-
Salafiyya, 1925).

91 Muhammad al-Khidr Husayn, Naqd Kitab al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm (Cairo: al-Matba‘a al-
Salafiyya, 1926), reissued in 1989 in ‘Imara, Ma'raka, pp. 170-423 and 1997, ‘All al-Rda al-Husayn ed.
Naqd Kitab al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm (Cairo: al-Dar al-Husayniyya lil-Kitab, 1997). Citations here are
from this most recent edition.

92al-Siyasa's account o f the proceedings has Shaykh Bakhit sitting to the right of Shaykh Abu al-
Fadl. ‘Imara, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 58 and Ma ‘raka, p. 89.

93 Al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khilafa, p. 158.

94 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 5.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
209
that Abu Bakr took with him to the grave, and the designation
khalifa in the sense of "Muslim ruler" continued to be appropriately applied
to his successors. By preserving the etymological relationship between the
title khalifa and the Qur’anic use of the verb kh-l-f Bakhit follows the
traditional caliphate theorists in maintaining the mental association between
the historical caliphate and the khalifa verses of the Qur'an.

THE SOURCE OF POLITICAL AUTHORITY IN ISLAM


In contrast to ‘Abd al-Raziq's assertion that medieval Islamic political
thought is fundamentally theocratic and authoritarian, Bakhit insists that the
majority opinion in Islam is the democratic one:

The caliph derives his authority from the people represented by


'those who loosen and bind' (ahl al-hall wal- ‘aqd) and [Muslim
scholars] do not recognize the view that the caliph derives
legitimacy from God except to the extent that everything comes
from God . . .95
Bakhit charges that ‘Abd al-Raziq's evidence that the authoritarian
and theocratic view is the majority view is based entirely on deliberately
misleading citation of Umayyad poetry, and a mistaken reading of the
medieval A sh‘arite formulation of the relationship between God's will and
man's actions:

All acts which emanate from God's creatures belong to God


only with respect to [their] creation (khalqan), and to other than
Him only with respect to performance and acquisition (amalan
wakasban)96

95 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 5.

96 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 29.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
210

Indeed,

Muslims were the first people to say that the people are the
source of all governmental powers before any other people did,
and Islamic government headed by the caliph or imam ‘dmm is
a democratic, free, consultative, and consitutional
government.97

And as for the hadiths urging Muslims to suffer evil rulers in silence, they
only apply if opposition is not a practical option.98 There may be two
schools of thought in Europe, but according to Bakhit there is only one,
freedom-oriented school of thought in Islam.99
Like Bakhit, Husayn maintains that ‘Abd al-Raziq is wrong to suggest
that the schools of both Hobbes "the German" (sic100) and Locke "the
Englishman" are represented in Islam. He accuses ‘Abd al-Raziq of using
selective quotations from the medieval caliphate theorists and
inappropriately cited panegyric poetry of the Umayyad era as "a stepping
stone to the claim that Muslims go overboard in magnifying the status of the
caliph and scope of his authority."101 Where ‘Abd al-Raziq lists hadiths
which enjoin the people to obey even corrupt authority, Husayn lists hadiths
which enjoin caliphs to deal justly with the people. Like Bakhit and Rashid
Rida before him, Husayn peppers his presentation with frequent assertions of
the complete harmony between Islam and modem liberal political ideas:

97 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 30.

98 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 52.

99 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 30.

100 Husayn, Naqd., p. 12.

101 Husayn, Naqd, p. 13.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
211
The legal power of the caliph is not greater than the power
possessed by the head of a constitutional government and his
election is in fact for a limited term, which is as long as he stays
within the proper framework of consultation and strives to
preserve the rights of the community and does not stand in the
way of its liberty.102

THE SHARIA AND THE CALIPHATE


Bakhit chastises ‘Abd al-Raziq for passing over the ulu al-amr verses
of the Qur’an quickly "to give people the impression that he is not talking
about them so as not to expend effort where there is no adversary, when in
fact the his adversaries who do cite these verses are too numerous to
count."103 In response to ‘Abd al-Raziq's claim that the Hadlth also neglect
to mention the caliphate, Bakhit lists every hadlth he can think of which
refers to the need for a ruler, arguing that "whether this ruler is called a
khalifa or an imam or amir al-mu ’minln is mere matter of terminology."104
Like Bakhit, Husayn mocks ‘Abd al-Raziq's unsubstantiated claim
that if he wanted he could cast doubt on the validity of hadiths about the
caliphate. Hadiths such as "Cleave to the community of Muslims and their
imam" and "He who dies without a bay‘a upon his neck has died a jahill
death" are present in the most established canonical collections of Bukhari
and Muslim.105 Similarly reliable reports in the Sunna relate that ‘Umar
acted as a qadi (yaqdl) in the time of the Prophet, and that all four of the

102 Husayn, Naqd, p 23.

103 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 36.

104 Bakhit, Haqiqat, pp. 48.

105 Husayn, Naqd, pp. 50-1.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
212
future Rashidun caliphs at one time or another acted as muftis
(yuftiina).106 Husayn also goes through the details of the appointments to
judgeship of ‘Umar, ‘All, M u‘adh, and Abu Musa, resorting to traditional
exegetical sleights of hand to reconcile contradictory accounts. As for ‘Abd
al-Raziq's claim that the Prophet administered justice according to the same
system the Arabs had used prior to Islam, Husayn deems it unthinkable to
"compare the Godly court with the jahili court."107
Bakhlt's refutation of ‘Abd al-Raziq's attack on Ijma‘ opens with a
statement of the essential myth of orthodoxy that orthodox ijma ‘ precedes
sectarian deviation: "The ijma ‘ about the necessity of establishing the imam
had been agreed upon explicitly by the companions of the Apostle of God
prior to the appearance of any of those who dispute it."108 He gets involved
in a technical discussion of ‘Abd al-Raziq's claim that there is no
authoritative statement of support (mustanad) from the major schools of law
for the ijmd‘ about the necessity of the caliphate, arguing that an ijma ‘ based
on ijtihad might have a valid mustanad that once existed but is no longer
known.109 In any case, it is not the rationale of an ijma ‘ but its general
acceptance (tawdtur) which renders it valid, and there is no denying that
there was an "explicit verbal consensus"110 that it was necessary to elect a
successor not only upon the death of the Prophet but also upon the death of
every subsequent caliph.

106 Husayn, Naqd, p. 138-9.

107 Husayn, Naqd, p. 297.

108 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 55.

109 Bakhit, H aqiqat, p. 48, 57.

110 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p.60.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
213
Husayn also counters ‘Abd al-Raziq's attack on ijma \
asserting that comments such as Ibn Hanbal's that "he who invokes ijma ‘ is a
liar" are warnings against the improper use of ijma ‘, and do not invalidate its
correct application.111 ‘Abd al-Raziq also fails to distinguish between the
ijmd‘ of the ‘ulama’ on the necessity of establishing the caliphate, which is
indisputable, and the ijma ‘ of the ahl al-kall wal- ‘aqd on the election of a
particular caliph, about which there might be disagreements.112 Husayn also
takes ‘Abd al-Raziq to task for citing only Ibn Khaldun on the existence of
ijmd‘ about the necessity of establishing the caliphate, and lists similar
statements by al-‘AjamI, al-Taftazanl, al-Juwaynl, and Ibn Hazm113 to
reiterate the general agreement among Muslims about the necessity of the
caliphate. He claims that verses such as "Obey those in authority" and
hadiths such as "He who dies without knowing his imam has died a jahill
death" prove the necessity of the caliphate, because the imposition of the
duty to know and obey the imam logically presupposes his existence. This
textual evidence takes precedence over any rational arguments, although the
rational argument that chaos would ensue were there no caliph is itself an
application of the Sharf‘a principle of limiting harm.114 Husayn admits that
various interpretations have been assigned to the phrase ulu al-amr, but even
if the Qur'an makes no specific reference to the caliphate, deductions about

111 Husayn, Naqd, pp. 62-3.

112 Husayn, Naqd, pp. 103-4.

113 Husayn, Naqd, p. 38.

114 Husayn, Naqd, p. 43.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
214
the caliphate made from the Qur'an by established techniques of
interpretation are as binding as specific scriptural statements.115

RELIGION AND POLITICS IN ISLAM


Both Bakhit and Husayn find ‘Abd al-Raziq's assertion that the
prophet's mission was purely spiritual and not political to be among the most
offensive of his book. Bakhit says that Jesus' "render unto Caesar" attitude
constitutes acquiescence in— not approval of— secular government. In any
case the main difference between Islam on the one hand and Christianity and
Judaism on the other is that the obligation to engage in a jihad for the
universal spread of the religion requires political organization.116 The record
of the Prophet's arbitration of disputes and is entirely free of ambiguity
(;ibhtim) or obscurity (ghumud).
Husayn is likewise incensed by ‘Abd al-Raziq's claim that a prophet
can only be a prophet and not a ruler. He carefully distinguishes between
good and bad kingship and emphasizes that apostleship is a far more noble
calling than kingship. Nevertheless, Muhammad was indeed among the
apostles who were also kings. The only reason there are so few reports of
legal rulings from the time of the Prophet was that the people were so
imbued with both the spirit of Islamic brotherhood and with knowledge of
the Shari‘a that hardly any legal disputes made it to court.117 Husayn quotes
several verses exhorting the umma to jihad, and details the procedures for

115 Husayn, Naqd, p. 49.

116 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 49.

117 Husayn, Naqd, p. 136.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
215
collecting the jizya And while the isnad of Jesus' "render unto
Caesar" statement is suspect by virtue of appearing in one the potentially
corrupted scriptures, the example of Muhammad challenging the political
authorities in Mecca teaches the opposite lesson.118 As for the verses which
style the Prophet as a "wamer" (mundhir) rather than "ruler" (musaytir),
Husayn place them in their Meccan context: they are "among the verses
which came down . . . to console the Prophet when he was overcome by
despair at the rejection by the polytheists of the way of guidance . . . "119

THE CALIPHATE IN ISLAMIC HISTORY


Bakhit is curiously tolerant of the bay‘a to Yazld, which he claims
"does not defame the caliphate but rather is typical of the struggle for
political leadership, be it caliphate or kingship . . . "120 Where Rashid Rida
had objected to the comparison between the elections of Yazld and Abu
Bakr, Bakhit attacks ‘Abd al-Raziq from the opposite direction, ridiculing
the comparison of "the large numbers of Companions of the Prophet and
tdbVun" who swore the bay‘a to Yazld with the "gang who fear their own
shadow" that attended the coronation of Faysal.121 Bakhit is strangely
sanguine about the whole sanguinary history of the Umayyad and Abbasid
dynasties, explaining—-fitna by fitna—the mitigating circumstances which
led to violence committed on behalf of the caliph. Caliphate and kingship

118 Husayn, Naqd, pp. 54-5.

119 Husayn, Naqd, p. 197.

120 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 99.

121 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 107.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
216

are indeed two different things, but kingship is a necessary


component of the caliphate. Some element of force must be present even in
a caliphal government, for the purposes of both defense against external
enemies and maintenance of internal security. A government not backed up
by force would result in "bolshevist licentiousness unrestrained by order."122
Hadiths saying that the true caliphate was only during the Rashidun period,
and Ibn Khaldun's famous passage about the caliphate becoming mere
kingship are referring to the "pure caliphate," but an impure caliphate is a
caliphate nonetheless.123 Bakhit strives at every turn to separate the sanctity
of the office in general from the corruption of any particular occupants of it:
"To say that Muslims revolted against the caliphate is inaccurate; what
happened is that Muslims revolted against the person appointed caliph, not
the caliphate itself."124 Bakhlt's attitude is quintessentially Murji’ite: "A
corrupt caliph is one thing and the caliphate or imamate or amirate [in
general] is another. The sin of his being a tyrant falls upon him [as an
individual] and does not nullify his being a caliph or imam or amir."125
Hadiths giving instructions about how to deal with bad caliphs demonstrate
that the Prophet fully expected some of the caliphs to be unjust. In answer
to ‘Abd al-Raziq's charge that corrupt government led to Muslim
backwardness in the political sciences, Bakhit says that al-Mawardl's theory
of the caliphate is refutation enough.126 He notes the inappropriateness of

122 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 88.

123 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 23.

124 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 56.

125 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 22.

126 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 27..

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
217
‘Abd al-Raziq citing European orientalists in criticism of the
caliphate. They natural denigrate the institution because

the Islamic caliphate is such a terrifying specter that if even the


bravest man in Europe saw it merely in his sleep he would
wake up shocked and terrified with his heart trembling like a
rain-drenched sparrow . . ,127

Bakhit also makes the fine distinction between the ideal and historical
caliphates:
It is incorrect to claim that the caliphate has disappeared from
Islam. What has disappeared is the physical manifestation
(wujud) of the caliphate; as for the caliphate itself, it remains
obligatory on the umma.m

Husayn is yet more vituperative in his condemnation of ‘Abd al-


Raziq's contention that the predominance of might over right invalidates the
legitimacy of the historical caliphate. "The author takes what Ibn Khaldun
[says] about kingship being acquired by force alone, and proceeds to use it
to attack what he says about the caliphate being founded on election by the
ahl al-hall w al-‘aqd"129 That is, ‘Abd al-Raziq ignores Ibn Khaldun's
distinction between mulk and khilafa, which Husayn compares to
Montesquieu's distinction between kingship based on rule of law and the
tyranny of a monarch above the law. He also adds that being forced to
submit to the caliph is in reality the fulfillment of true freedom, in
accordance with the Qur’an's instruction to obey God and those in authority.
Where ‘Abd al-Raziq claims that civil discord invalidated the continuity of

127 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 43.

128 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 58.

129 Husayn, Naqd, p. 88.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
218
caliphal succession but did nothing to advance Islamic political
science, Husayn inverts the alleged paradox, claiming that far from
invalidating the institution of the caliphate, civil discord had a salubrious
effect on the development of Muslim political discourse.13® He supplies a
long list of medieval Arabic works on political philosophy,131 traditional
works on the theory of the caliphate,132 epistles of advice from various
‘ulama’ to various caliphs,133 and statements about the nature of politics and
government from the mouths of caliphs themselves.134

THE QURAYSH LINEAGE REQUIREMENT


The one area in which Bakhit and Husayn's response departs from the
traditional theory of the caliphate is the one area that ‘Abd al-Raziq does not
address at all. This is the question of whether or not the caliph must be from
the tribe of Quraysh. Bakhit makes it clear that he regards the Quraysh
lineage requirement as a practical rather than a doctrinal matter. Bakhit
follows Ibn Khaldun in declaring that "what is meant by qurashiyya is the
presence of ‘asabiyya."n5 He compares the situation to that of women's
rights, in which the general principle of equality rather than particular
pronouncements of jurists past should be followed:

130 Husayn, Naqd, p. 72.

131 Husayn, Naqd, pp. 64-7.

132 Husayn, Naqd, p. 68.

133 Husayn, Naqd, pp. 69-70.

134 Husayn, Naqd, pp. 83-5.

135 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 28.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
219
We know that the Lawgiver did not confine laws to a
particular generation, age or people . . . We have reviewed [the
issue] and determined the overarching rationale ( ‘ilia) behind
the Quraysh requirement to be presence of ‘asabiyya, and we
stipulate that the person who carries out the affairs of Muslim
should be from a group possessing supremely powerful
‘asabiyya.m

Husayn is similarly specific about the role of ‘asabiyya in the Quraysh


lineage requirement. If a candidate meets all the other requirements, then
the possession of ‘asabiyya is beneficial as an aid in carrying out his duties.
This is the explanation Husayn offers of flexibility on th q hadlth
requirement that "the imams are to be from Quraysh" shown by Ibn
Khaldun and "al-Baqilianl," Ibn Khaldun's account of whose position
Husayn accepts without question. "Quraysh were distinguished in that age "
[my emphasis], says Husayn, "from the other tribes in strength of ‘asabiyya
and exercise of power."137 This implies that in a different age, ‘asabiyya and
power might accrue to the caliph by some other means. Clearly both
Husayn and Bakhit have the asabiyya of the Egyptian royal family in mind.

The Trial of ‘Abd al-Raziq


In the face of this public outcry by both palace and non-palace
affiliated ‘ulama’, al-Azhar was quick to act. A council of 24 ‘ulama’
headed by the Shaykh al-Azhar Muhammad Abu al-Fadl met an August 5 to
draw up charges against ‘Abd al-Raziq which were as follows:
1. Maintaining that the Islamic Shari4a is purely spiritual with
no bearing on government or application to the affairs of the
world;

136 Bakhit, Haqiqat, p. 29.

137 Husayn, Naqd, p. 90.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
220

2. . . . and that Islam allows for the Prophet's jihad to have been
in the way of secular kingship (fi sabll al-mulk), not in the way
of religion or the spreading of the call (al-da ‘wa) to the worlds.

3. . . . and that the system of government in the time of the


Prophet was subject to obscurity, ambiguity, disarray or
deficiency, and a source of confusion;

4. . . . and that the task of the Prophet was [merely] to explicate


the Shari‘a with no reference whatsoever to government or
practical application.

5. Denying the ijma ‘ of the Companions about the necessity of


establishing an imam, and about the indispensability to the
umma of a person to undertake [the caliphate] of religion and
the world (al-dfn wa al-dunya).

6. Denying that judgeship is a Shari‘a-mandated post.

7. That the government of Abu Bakr and the other Rashidun


caliphs was secular.138

The first thing ‘Abd al-Raziq did when he was hauled before the
council on August 12 to answer these charges was to challenge the authority
of the tribunal itself, which was stacked with ‘ulama’ who had already
condemned him in print— such as Shaykh Bakhit—and whose reception of
him was manifestly hostile.139 The authority of the council to "defrock"
‘Abd al-Raziq was based on a khedival edict issued by ‘Abbas II in 1911 in
response to British demands to restrain both the national and religious
chauvinism of the more extremist ‘ulama’ in the wake of Muslim-Coptic
tensions following the assassination of the Coptic prime minister Butros

138 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, II, p. 745-6; ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All," p. 100 and Ma ‘raka, pp. 58-9; al-
Rayyis, al-Islam wal-Khilafa, p. 105.

139 An account of the proceeding published by al-Siyasa is summarize in Shafiq, Hawliyyat, II, pp.
746-8 and reproduced in ‘Imara, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, pp. 57-61 and Ma ‘raka, pp. 88-92.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
221
Ghall in 1910.140 ‘Abd al-Raziq's case was the first—and
last—time it had ever been employed, and he declared that
I believe that his esteemed council has no legal authority to sit
in judgment over me by virtue of article 101 of the al-Azhar
edict. 1 come here not conceding to it any legal authority
but regarding it a council of esteemed professors, shaykhs and
many ‘ulama’ of al-Azhar whose invitation I have an obligation
to answ er. . . 141

‘Abd al-Raziq then submitted a detailed written response to the


charges.142 He had claimed not that the Shari‘a had no bearing on the affairs
of the world, but that it allowed maximum latitude for humans to organize
worldly affairs as they see fit. He had not said that the nature of the
Prophet's regime was obscure, but that it might appear so at first glance. He
had not said that the Prophet's authority did not extend to the affairs of the
world, but rather that it extended beyond it. He had not denied the
consensus of the Companions about the umma needing a leader, but rather
merely that there existed no ijma‘ about the caliphate as it developed
historically. He had not denied that judgeship was a Shari‘a-mandated post
but merely questioned its dependency on the caliphate. He had not claimed
that the government of Abu Bakr and the Rashidun caliphs was irreligious,
but that their religious authority was not comparable to that of the Prophet.
If the members even bothered to read ‘Abd al-Raziq's response during
the few hours they took to deliberate, it evidently did not make much of an

140 ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All," p. 100. Full text of the relevant by-law in al-Rayyis, al-Islam wal-
Khilafa, p. 104.

141 ‘Imara, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 59 and Ma ‘raka, p. 90.

142 Reproduced from the following days edition of al-Siyasa by Shafiq, Hawliyyat, II, pp. 748-
754 and ‘Imara in al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, pp. 62-70 and Ma ‘raka, pp. 93-101.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
222
impression. On the afternoon of the very same day he submitted it
the council reached its decision:
We the Shaykh of the Mosque of al-Azhar in consensus with 24
members of the Council of High ‘Ulama’ decree the expulsion
of Shaykh ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq, ‘alim of al-Azhar and qadi of the
district Shari‘a court of al-Mansura, and author of al-Islam wa
Usui al-Hukm, from the ranks of the ‘ulama’.143

We may note here that ‘Abd al-Raziq's reputation as martyr to


freedom of speech notwithstanding, his response to the charges of the Azhar
tribunal bears all the marks of equivocation, and he compounded this
impression in the weeks that followed. In a September 3 article in al-Siydsa
he split still more hairs in answering the accusation that what he had said
about his beliefs in his response to al-Azhar differed from what he had said
in his book. There he argued that his statement in the response that Islam
was a "legislative religion" (din tashrVi) was not incompatible with his
statement in the book that Islam was a "spiritual religion that did not
legislate with regard to the affairs of the world" (din ruhi la shar‘fihi lil-
shu’un al-dunyawiyya), and that his statement in the response that "if
Muslims as a whole think that it is in the interest of the Muslims for the
government to be by caliphate, then the caliphate is a Shari‘a-mandated
government" was not incompatible with his statement in the book that "the
caliphate is not a Shari‘a-mandated system of government."144 He also
declared disingenuously in a newspaper interview that "I am not a member
of any political party, and I have always shunned any political struggles or
activity.. .. My book's purpose was academic, far from any political

143 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, II, p. 748 and ‘Imara, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 95 and Ma'raka, p.
127.

144 Reproduced by ‘Imara in al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, pp. 71-3 and Ma'raka, pp. 102-4.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
223
tendency and in fact the subject of the book has no connection at
all to politics."145 Even ‘Abd al-Raziq's supporters concede that he was less
than forthcoming about his true opinions in the heat of the crisis, and his
detractors have seen his behavior as downright hypocritical. But in ‘Abd al-
Raziq's defense, it should be noted that formulation of the charges leveled
against him Was rather technical and specific and lent itself to technical and
legalistic denial. In fact, each for their own reasons, ‘Abd al-Raziq and al-
Azhar seemed to have tacitly conspired to broach neither the political
atmosphere surrounding the campaign to revive the caliphate, nor the larger
issues about the relationship of Islam and government in the modem world
which it entailed.

Political Consequences
The ‘Abd al-Raziq case exploded politically at the same point where
the religious and the secular had always intersected in Islamic history since
the days of Harun and Abu Yusuf. ‘Abd al-Raziq was a state-appointed
qadi, and being "defrocked" by the Grand Council of ‘Ulama’ would mean
that he stood to lose his government post as qadi of al-Mansura. Moreover
the post of Justice Minister had just been occupied a month prior to the
publication of al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm by the leader of the Liberal party,
‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Fahmi, as part of the Ahrar-Ittihad coalition deal. So the
government official who would be directly responsible for translating such
sanctions as al-Azhar might impose on ‘Abd al-Raziq into government
action was one of his close personal and political associates.

145 Quoted in Shafiq, Hawliyyat, II, p. 758 and Imara, al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 98 and
Ma ‘raka, p. 130.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
224
This classically Islamic intersection of politics and religion
made Britain's official line that the caliphate was a religious matter in which
Great Britain would not interfere no longer tenable. Her long term strategy
of insuring that any revived caliphate be firmly seated in a country within
her sphere of influence aside, Britain had a very immediate interest in
preventing a collapse of the Unionist-Liberal coalition whose inevitable
result would be the return to power of Zaghlul. This is part of the reason
that Britain "did not stand behind ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq against King Fu’ad as
Cromer had stood behind Muhammad ‘Abduh against the Khedive
‘Abbas."146 In addition, the critical months of the ‘Abd al-Raziq
controversy—from the publication of al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm at the end
of April through the resignation of the justice minister al-Fahmi in early
September—coincided almost precisely with the hiatus between the
departure of High Commissioner Allenby— whose handling of the Stack
assassination had reaped him the same fate as Cromer's handling of the
Dinshaway incident— and the arrival of his replacement Lord Lloyd.
Although ‘Abd al-Raziq did end up with his picture in The Times,141 the
controversy played out in the Egyptian press with a minimum of interference
from the British administration.
While the machinery of the al-Azhar condemnation was being set in
motion, the liberal press jumped to ‘Abd al-Raziq's defense. After ‘Abd al-
Raziq was condemned by the Council, a gallery of Wafdist and Ahrar
journalists submitted a petition to the King to void the judgment.148 Al-Hilal

146 ‘Imara, Ma ‘raka, p. 79 and "al-Shaykh ‘All," p. 107.

147 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, II, p. 754.

148 al-Bishrf, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 61.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
225
declared that whatever the religious merits of ‘Abd al-Raziq's
arguments, his "theory is in agreement twentieth century principles of
government, which ascribes sovereignty exclusively to the people."149 Some
supporters of ‘Abd al-Raziq in al-Siyasa actually came out in support of the
content of his book. One, noting that exaggerated emphasis on the imamate
is a characteristic of Shfism , declared mockingly: "We know that Cairo is
the center of Sunnism and the bastion of the Ash‘arites . . . But Cairo has
become Tehran . . . And why not? . . . W asn’t it the [ShTitej Fatimids who
founded the city and its mosque in the first place?"150 Another made the still
more invidious comparison that the al-Azhar tribunal "resembles a Christian
institution more than the Muslim one. It is the Christians who have a
council of bishops and cardinals and a Pope; Muslims have nothing of the
sort."151 Mostly however the liberal press refrained from commenting on the
content of the book and focused on the freedom of speech issue. Al-
Muqtataf compared ‘Abd al-Raziq to Muhammad ‘Abduh and Martin
Luther.152 The Coptic socialist Sallama Musa compared the ‘Abd al-Raziq
case to the Scopes "monkey trial" which had just taken place in the United
States: "both Mr. Scopes and Professor ‘Abd al-Raziq should have the right
to express the ideas they want to without any restriction other than [their
ownj sincerity."153

149 al-Hilal, July, 1925 in ‘Imara,Ma ‘raka, p. 61 and and "al-Shaykh ‘All," p. 102.

150 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, II, p. 756; Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All," p. 106.

151 Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam, p. 231. Baha’ al-Din speculates that the anonymous author of this article
was Taha Husayn.

152 al-Muqtataf, Auguest 1925 in ‘Imara, Ma'raka, p. 62 and "al-Shaykh ‘All," p. 102.

153 al-Hilal, August 1925 in ‘Imara, Ma ‘raka, p. 63.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
226
Of the Liberals' two rival parties, the element of public glee
was strongest among the Watanists: "We fought this party in its infancy,
childhood and adolescence . . . but we won't have to fight it in its adulthood
because it will never get there."154 There was far less open "rejoicing at the
Liberals' misfortune"155 in the Wafdist newspapers. The Wafd's initial
impulse was to avoid "entering the struggle on the side of its traditional
enemy the Liberals, even if the struggle was against its other adversary the
king."156 Unlike the Liberals, most Wafdists were not happy per se to see
the religious establishment attacked. Zaghlul himself, according to his
private secretary's recollection, disagreed with ‘Abd al-Raziq's opinions so
strongly that he found it hard to believe that they could have been expressed
by someone educated at al-Azhar, although he also alluded to less than
pristine motivations on the part of the ‘ulama’ who censured ‘Abd al-
Raziq.157 But Zaghlul and the Wafd were also gradually coming to the
conclusion that the potential negatives o f an Egyptian caliphate outweighed
the positives, and if the caliphate issue was to be the stepping stone for the
Wafd's return to power, so be it. The general tenor of the Wafdist press was
to rise ostentatiously above the partisan fray: "As Sa‘dists we could exploit
this incident against [the L iberals]. . . But our consciences refuse this
exploitation, our souls reject it, and our sense of nationalism is above such
partisan considerations."158 Standing on the side of freedom of speech could

154 From al-Akhbar, quoted in Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam, p. 236.

155 Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam, p.235.

156 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wa al-Khilafa," p. 59.

157 Excerpt from the memoirs of Zaghlul's private secretary in ‘Imara, Ma'raka, pp. 149-51.

158 Kawkab al-Sharq, 18 Aug 1925 in Shafiq, Hawliyyat, II, p. 760 and ‘Imara, "al-Shaykh ‘All,"
p. 103 and Ma'raka p. 65.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
227
only leave England with one excuse fewer not to accept Zaghlul's
demands for full independence should he emerge as the leader of a Wafdist-
Liberal coalition in defense of the Royalist-Azhar assault on the constitution.

The Wafdist-Liberal Rapprochment

The Wafdist-Liberal coalition was not long in coming. The head of


the Liberal Party and the Minister of Justice in the governing coalition ‘Abd
al-‘Az!z Fahmi has been described as "what is so rare in Egyptian politics,
emphatically a man of principle,"159 but even his most ardent admirers
concede that he had displayed undue eagerness in becoming the Ittihad's
junior partner in subversion of the constitution in whose name his Liberal
Constitutionalist Party had been founded. He now displayed a certain lack
of haste in coming out publicly in defense of ‘Abd al-Raziq, merely
refraining from firing him rather than explicitly refusing to do so.160 In
retrospect, Fahmi later declared that he had never felt good about
participating in the coalition in the first place,161 and it also appears that the
King was lying in wait for an opportunity to oust him in revenge for his
opposition the King's plan to arrange a land exchange in his favor between
the Government and Palace.162 The departure of their main British ally
Allenby had also weakened the Liberals politically; if the King was ever
going to make a play for governing exclusively through the Ittihad Party, the

159 Kedourie, "Egypt and the Caliphate," p. 193.

160 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 55.

161 ‘Abd al-‘Az!z Fahmi, Hadhihi Hayatl (Cairo: Dar al-Hilal), p. 158.

162 al-Rafi‘1, A ‘qab, p. 284.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
228
time was right.163 It is unclear if the Palace expected Fahmi to toe
the line on this particular issue,164 but whatever his reasons—personal and
party loyalty, the principle of freedom of speech, or the sense that the
coalition's days were numbered anyway—Fahmi delayed in removing ‘Abd
al-Raziq from his post. On September 17, 1925 the acting Prime Minister
Yahya Ibrahim (Prime Minister Ziwar himself being on vacation in Europe)
had the King issue a proclamation that ‘All Mahir was to "assume the duties
of the Justice Ministry until a replacement for ‘Abd al-‘Aziz Fahmi Pasha is
appointed."165 Mahir promptly fired ‘Abd al-Raziq, while the two other
Liberal ministers resigned in protest, along with liberal fellow traveler
Isma‘il Sidqi.
The Liberal reconciliation with the Wafd was not entirely smooth, but
ultimately the Wafd welcomed the chance to get back into the government,
while the Liberals adopted the rationale that "the tyranny of Sa‘d in the
name of the people was more palatable than the tyranny of Nash’at in the
name of the Palace."166 After Fahml's widely circulated October 30 speech
publicly expressing regret for having participated in the coalition with the
Ittihad the tone of the Wafdist and Ahrar attacks on each other in the press
moderated considerably.167 A further spur to a Wafd-Liberal alliance was
their mutual opposition the Ziwar cabinet's willingness to accede to

163 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 55.

164 Kedourie, "Egypt and the Caliphate," p. 192.

165 Al-Rafi‘i, A 'qabp. 284; Baha’ al-Din, Ayyam, p. 236. Full text o f proclamation reproduced in
‘Imara al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm, p. 110 and Ma ‘raka, p. 142.

166 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 204.

167 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 207; al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 63.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
England's demand that it negotiate with Italian troops occupying
Libya over the border oasis of Jaghbub; the Liberals' opposition to ceding
this territory was in pointed contrast to their patron saint Lutf! al-Sayyid's
softness on the very same issue prior to the war.168
Coming up with the creative pretext that it was unconstitutional for
the same parliament to be dissolved twice in one session, Zaghlul demanded
that the clock be turned back and the assembly that had been prorogued on
March 22, 1924 and again on Christmas Eve of that year be reconstituted.
Barred from the Parliament building by government troops, the Parliament
met on November 21,1925 in a Cairo hotel in an unofficial session that
culminated in a no confidence vote in the Ittihad government. The new
High Commissioner Lord Lloyd, who had arrived in Cairo in October of
1925, waited just long enough for the ink from Ziiwar's signature on the
Jaghbub agreement to dry, and then had the king's man Hasan Nash’at
removed not only from the cabinet, but from the country by having him
appointed ambassador to Spain.169 In view of the acquittal of the two
nationalists whom Britain held responsible for masterminding the Stack
assassination, Lloyd continued to be adamant about not allowing Zaghlul to
become Prime Minister.170 But Zaghlul was already ill by then, and decided
not to boycott the elections; he ultimately served out his last days as speaker

168 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, pp. 44-5.

169 Lord Lloyd's account of the Egyptian political situation at the time of his arrival in Egypt can
be found in his Egypt since Cromer London: MacMillan and Co., 1934), pp. 147-157.

170 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 213; Lloyd, Egypt since Cromer, p. 274. Lloyd did not know it at the
time he wrote his memoirs, but in a stroke of what he certainly would have regarded as poetic justice, both
men, Ahmad Mahir and Mahmud Nuqrashi, were later assassinated while serving in the prime ministership.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
230
of the Parliament. On December 11, 1925 the formation of a
Wafd-Liberal coalition was formally announced.171 Fahmi, who had refused
to shake Zahglul's hand at the shadow parliament session at the Hotel
Continental,172 now resigned as leader of the Liberal Party rather than work
together with Zaghlul,173 and on February19, 1926 all three of the opposition
parties—Wafd, Ahrar and Watari!—met at the home of the new Liberal
leader Muhammad Mahmud to plan a joint strategy for nominating
candidates for the May elections.174 The King's experiment in running the
country through the Ittihad party was over, and its first casualty was an
Egyptian caliphate.

The C airo C aliphate Conference


The organizers of the General Conference for the Caliphate in Cairo
were eager to get it out of the way before the new elections scheduled for
May of 1926. In the run-up to the elections Zaghlul displayed his customary
reluctance to express any public opinions on the caliphate issue.175 The pro-
Wafd newspapers, however, were less reticent. Kawkab al-Sharq published
a petition from forty prominent ‘ulama’ arguing that Egypt was not an
appropriate location for the caliphate as long as it continued to be occupied
by a foreign power,176 while al-Balagh expressed the fear that the caliphate

171 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 63.

172 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 209.

173 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 210.

174 Haykal, Mudhakkirat, p. 211.

175 Haykal, Mudhakkarrat, p. 215.

176 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa,” p. 65.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
231
would actually increase foreign power involvement in Egyptian
affairs by becoming "another Suez canal."177 The Wafd's attitude to the
religious opposition to the congress which coalesced around the Abu al-
‘Aza’im committee and its chief financier ‘Umar Tusun was ambivalent.178
Tusun had been an implacable foe of the Wafd, although on the day
following the shadow parliament session in the Continental Hotel he had
published an open letter to his cousin King Fu’ad demanding the
reconvening of the Parliament. Zaghlul now decided to approve the release
of Wafd Party funds for the Abu al-‘Aza’im committee to orchestrate its
own mini-conferences— with ‘Umar Tusun as its chairman and a number of
prominent members of the Watani party in attendance.179 Abu aPAza’im's
influence was decisive in convincing Mehmed and Shawkat ‘All, on a visit
to Egypt as guests of the official Azhar committee, to announce that the two
official Indian Khilafat organizations would not attend the Azhar caliphate
conference.180 The failure to secure official representation of this important
non-Arab segment of the world Muslim community was the most glaring of
the Azhar conferences many embarrassments.
In the face of all these difficulties, even the palace-sponsored Ittihad
newspaper backed off from its support of Fu’ad as caliph and Egypt as the
seat of the caliphate, and began to strike an apologetic note that the
conference was going to take place at all.181 When the Azhar committee met

177 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 64.

178 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 51.

179 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 66; Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 90.

180 Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 95.

181 al-Bishri, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa," p. 67.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
232
on February 3, 1926 to announce the convening of the caliphate in
May of 1926, the Shaykh al-Azhar announced explicitly that its goals were
to be religious rather than political and that the actual reestablishment of the
caliphate was not even to be on its agenda.182 The agenda of the conference
was to consist of six items:

1. A definition of the caliphate and the necessary qualifications


of the caliph.

2. Is the caliphate necessary in Islam?

3. How is the caliphate constituted?

4. Is it possible at the present time to institute a caliphate


meeting all the conditions of the Sharfa?

5. If not, what measures should be taken?

6. If the Congress were to decide that it is necessary to


designate a caliph, what would be the measure necessary for the
execution of that decision.
Even with a scaled down agenda, the same fissures in the world
Muslim community which had prompted the postponement of the congress a
year and a half earlier continued to prevent the organizers from securing the
quorum of delegates necessary for public relations, let alone true
international representation of the Islamic world. Mutual ShTi-Sunni
suspicions frustrated efforts to lure Iranian ‘ulama’.183 So as not to offend
French sensibilities, Syrian and North African delegates were officially
invited through the agency of the French ambassador in Cairo, which gave
an opening to the French authorities to select delegates who supported their

182 Sekaly, "Les Deux Congres," pp. 38-41.

183 Kramer, Islam Assembled, pp. 91-3.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
233
own candidate, the Sultan of Morocco; in the end, one delegate
from Tunisia attended, and Algeria and Syria were not represented.184 The
Sa‘udi government of Arabia declined to send a representative, as did the
two official organs of Indian pro-caliphate agitation—the Central Khilafat
Committee or the Society of Indian ‘Ulama’—which were in the process of
transferring their allegiance from the increasingly irrelevant Abdelmecid to
the increasingly powerful Ibn Sa‘ud.
After over a year and a half of controversy surrounding Fu’ad's
campaign for the caliphate and ‘Abd al-Raziq's book the four sessions of the
conference which met between May 13-19, 1926 have been aptly described
by most observers as anticlimactic. The largest delegation was naturally the
Egyptian, which had expanded to 13 members by the final session, not
including the Shaykh al-Azhar AbO al-Fadl who presided. Egypt's neighbors
Palestine and Libya supplied seven and five members respectively. All
other countries represented had either one or two delegates. There was a
single delegate from India—the headmaster of the British high school in
Peshawar,185 who was, needless to say, not affiliated with the Khilafat
movement. A representative of the Shah of Iran attended only as an
observer.186 While the Grand Mufti of Poland was present, there was no
delegate from the cradle of Islam, Arabia, and in fact the chief mufti of the
Hanbali madhhab in Egypt, not an original delegate, had to be added to the
subcommittee on theology because there were no Hanbalis in official
attendance.

184 Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 97-8.

185 Sekaly, Les Deux Congress, p. 47.

186 Shaffq, Hawliyyat, III, p. 276-7; Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 73.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
234
The first session on May 13 was taken up largely with
procedural matters and ended with the formation of an "initiative
committee" consisting of one member from each of the 13 countries
represented. The second session on May 15 opened with a proposal from
the Palestinian delegate Jamal al-Husayni that the conference issue a protest
against "French activities in Damascus."187 The delegates agreed that the
initiative committee should look into this matter, and closed the session by
setting up two other main committees: The "theological committee," which
was to deal with the first three "theoretical" items on the congress' six point
agenda, and a second committee to explore the last three "practical" items.
When the third session met on May 18 to discuss the substance of the
committee reports, the veneer of international Muslim unity was not long in
cracking. Jamal al-Husayni opened the session by asking why the report of
the Initiative Committee on the situation in Syria was not on the day's
agenda.188 He was shouted down by an obviously pre-scripted barrage of
responses from the newly expanded Egyptian delagation that the conference
was to discuss purely theological questions, not those relating to this or that
specific country.189 Shaykh Muhammad al-Zawahirf then read the report of
the theological committee. On the nature of the caliphate, it was declared
that "to realize the caliphate, it is indispensable to combine spiritual and
temporal powers. Separating one from the other, or restricting the caliphate
to one of the two powers would be contrary to the true definition of the

187 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 58. Syria was in the midst of its revolt of 1925-7. The infamous
French bombardment o f Damascus which killed over a thousand people had occurred half a year earlier on
October 18, 1925, and had been followed up by other atrocities.

188 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 67.

189 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, pp. 68-70.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
235
caliphate . . . "190 Establishing the caliphate is a necessary Muslim
duty, as indicated by the hadith "He who dies without knowing the caliph of
his time has died a jahili death," and the ijma ‘ of the saqlfat Bam Sd ‘ida that
designating a caliph was the umma's first order of business after the death of
the Prophet.191 In addition, so many aspects of the enforcement of the
Shari‘a depend on the caliph that his existence may be assumed to be a
Shari‘a duty.
The theological committee's report thus followed the traditional
theory of the caliphate quite closely in declaring the caliphate to be (1) a
combination of spiritual and temporal power, (2) necessary by virtue of
Hadith and Ijma‘ and (3) desirable for the maintenance of good Muslim
social order. The bulk of the discussion that followed surrounded one of the
points on which the committee had deviated from the traditional list of
qualifications of the caliph in declaring that while the Quraysh descent is
desirable on the part of the caliph, "Ibn Khaldun reports that although a
majority require it of a caliph, a sizable number of authorities, among others
Abu Bakr al-Baqillani, are of the opposite opinion."192 The Tunisian radical
‘Abd al-‘Aziz al-Tha‘alibi, a member of the Iraqi delegation who was
reported by the Egyptian police to have attended the congress with the
express purpose of scuttling any efforts in the direction of installing an

190 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 74.

191 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 76.

192 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 75. Ibn Khaldun's inaccurate characterization of Ibn al-
Baqillanl's views is discussed above, Chapters I and III.The fact thatal-Zawahiri never mentions "al-
Baqillanl" without also adding "as cited by Ibn Khaldun" suggests that he may have been aware of the
distortion.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
236
Egyptian caliph,193 proposed that the conference adjourn to
consider the various ramifications of the proposals: "It is not sufficient to
examine this question from a purely theological point of view. One much
take account of the exigencies of circumstance and place, and the influence
exerted on Islamic institutions by certain outside political forces."194
Another Iraqi delegate objected: "Have theological works become
insufficient, so that we must have recourse to historical works and leave it
up to Ibn Khaldun?"195 A Palestinian delegate A s‘ad al-Shuqayri noted that
while the fine qualities of the Egyptian ‘ulama’ were well appreciated in
Palestine—citing widespread acceptance in Palestine of Shaykh Bakhlt's
own fatwa that photography, being a reproduction rather than a
representation of reality, was not prohibited by Islam—there might be other
countries whose ‘ulama’ disagreed, and disingenuously asked for a
clarification of the grounds for abandoning the Quraysh requirement.196
Shaykh Bakhlt stepped in with a long discourse on the compromises that
might have to be made if the qualities of courage, Shari‘a expertise and
Quraysh descent are not to be found in the same person.197 After this "a
great number of members demanded to speak,"198 and the session was
suspended for the day by the presiding Shaykh al-Azhar.

193 Kramer, Islam Assembled, p. 101.

194 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 77.

195 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 78.

196 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 80.

197 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, pp. 82-86.

198 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 87.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
237
At the start of the fourth and final session on May 19, the
Palestinian delegate Jamal al-Husayni again brought up the question of what
had happened to his proposal for a protest against French actions in Syria,
and also asked why although journalists had been barred from the
proceedings, a correspondent from, of all papers, the liberal al-Muqattam
was present in the hall.199 After a vote deciding that henceforth the press
would be permitted to attend meetings, al-Husayni again brought up the
destruction being wrought in Damascus "the fourth holiest city in Islam,"
and asked if the congress "considered these events a political or religious
question."200 A vote was taken in favor of a protest being made at a later
date.
The congress now turned its attention back to approval of the
theological committee's report on the nature of the caliphate, and ‘Abd al-
‘Azlz al-Tha‘alibi brought up the vexed question of whether the vote
"should take place according to the number of members present or according
to the number of countries represented at the congress."201 Several of the 13
Egyptian delegates present— well over a third of the total— feigned offense
that this issue should be brought up, since "we are in the presence of a
religious report, that is to say, an area of study which is not the monopoly of
one country to the exclusion of another."202 A vote was taken with a single
dissent to the effect that "the vote be according to members present for all
theological questions, but according to the countries represented when it

199 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 97.

200 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 99.

201 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 101.

202 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 101.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
238
becomes a question of executing any decisions taken."203 The
theological report was then approved by a majority of delegates present; the
minutes do not record how many dissents there were.
The report of the second committee on the three practical items on the
agenda was then read. It concluded that "a caliphate consisting of all the
conditions required by the Shari‘a . . . is not realizable at the present time,
because of the situation in which Muslims currently find themselves."204
The congress should work to overcome these conditions by setting up
branch committees in the various Muslim countries and continue to meet
annually to study the question of the caliphate. A number of speeches
followed in which the delegates expressed their reluctant acquiescence in the
report's conclusions and concern that some sort of encouraging notes be
added to the congress' final report. The last act of the congress was finally
to approve Jamal al-Husaynl's proposal that the congress protest French
atrocities in Syria "to the League of Nations, the Government of the French
Republic, and public opinion . . . " With that the delegates all agreed to
meet the following year in Cairo— a proposal which they did not follow
through on.
The press post mortems on the General Congress for the Caliphate in
Cairo reflected the atmosphere of defeat with which the congress ended, and
stressed the impression that its failure would make on the non-Muslim
world. Kawkab al-Sharq declared: "We have demonstrated to the nations of
the West that we are not fit to administer the simplest of affairs."205 One

203 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 102.

204 Sekaly, Les Deux Congres, p. 103.

205 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, III, p. 281.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
239
observer summed up the mood as follows: "If there is one thing
that can be said about this congress it is that it demonstrated to the entire
world the absolute collapse of the caliphate."206 Although many at the time
blamed the Azhar organizers for the congress' failure, the failure of the
congress was a consequence not of the incompetence of any particular
person or persons, but to the disjunction between ideal hopes and real
circumstances which the second committee on practical issues summed up
as follows in an addendum to its report:
[T]he Shari‘a-mandated caliphate, in the true sense of the word,
was only possible in the first age of Islam, when Muslims were
united and their states formed a single bloc under the same
organization and obeying the same orders.

Now, however, that this unity does not exist, that Muslim
peoples and states are divided, that they have different
governments, administrations and political systems, that many
of them are animated by a national spirit which would prevent
one from becoming the satellite of another, let alone be subject
to it or permit it to intervene in its publics affairs— under these
conditions, the caliphate . . . would be difficult to realize even if
all the Muslim states were independent and self-governing. It is
all the more so since most Muslim peoples are subject to non­
national governments, which complicates the situation due to
the delicate relations and bonds which unite peoples who are
independent with those who are not.

Under these conditions if one were to designate a general caliph


for all Muslims, he would not have the desired authority and the
caliphate which he would claim would not be a S haria-
mandated caliphate in the true sense of the word, but an illusory
caliphate with no authority at all.207

206 Shafiq, Hawliyyat, HI, p. 279.

207 Sekaly, Deux Congres, pp. 106-7.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
240
This sense of inevitability about the failure of the drive to
revive the caliphate did nothing to detract from the disappointment it
produced. In a poem on the occasion of the abolition of the caliphate in
1924 the Egyptian national poet Ahmad Shawql had issued a clarion call to
the world's Muslims:
India mourns and Egypt is saddened,
Crying streams of tears.
Syria, Iraq and Persia ask:
Has the caliphate been obliterated from the earth?208

On the occasion of the General Conference for the Caliphate in Cairo,


Shawql gave his assessment of the Muslim world's response to that
challenge:
They gathered to breathe new life into the caliphate.
But where is there anyone swearing the oath of allegiance?
Anyone who continues to seek the caliphate in his dreams
Will only find it to have mysteriously vanished.209

208 Ahmad Shawql, al-Mawsu ‘a al-Shawqiyya: al-A ‘mal al-Kamila li Amir al-Shu ‘ara ’ Ahmad
Shawql, Ibrahim al-Abyari ed. (Cairo: Dar al-Kitab al-‘ArabI), vol. II, p. 508.

209 Shawql, al-Mawsu'a al-Shawqiyya, vol. Ill, p. 216. The original, "Will find only the caliphate
of the hunter," refers to an the Arabian Nights story in which Harun al-Rashld forces a hunting companion
of his to play a rigged game in which he expected to draw a piece o f paper awarding him the caliphate but
instead drew one awarding him a humiliating punishment.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Chapter V: Conclusion: The Caliphal Ideal and Modernity

241

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
242

The issue of Islamic government is one of the central world


historical issues of our time, and it seems to be becoming more prominent
every day. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, it has become a truism of
academics and media pundits that political Islam is replacing Communism
as the great obstacle to the global triumph of Western democracy and its
attendant blessings of individual liberty, social progress and material
prosperity.1 The late twentieth century is not the first time that the West has
designated Islam as a major impediment to the march of Western
civilization. Indeed, in the long view, Communism of this century has been
but a temporary usurper of a "great satan" status that Islam has been
privileged to occupy almost continuously since the emergence of Europe as
a self-conscious contender for global economic, political and cultural
influence.
Islam has occupied this position in the Western consciousness by
virtue of both proximity and distance. The tiny sliver of Europe still
occupied by present-day Turkey, like Muslim Spain of the early middle
ages, is of a symbolic significance disproportionate to its geographic size. It
is a reminder of the fact that the Islamic world is the only one of the half-
dozen or so monolithic cultural blocs into which the globe might be divided
that is not separated from Europe by a large expanse of ocean, desert or
mountain range. In addition to this geographic proximity, the shared
theological and moral heritage of Islam and Christianity makes these two
religions similar enough to compete with the fanatical venom of feuding
family members rather than the "neutral" animosity of warring strangers.

1 A fine exemplar of the view of Islam and the West as irreconcilable cultural enemies is Samuel
Huntington, "The Clash of Civilizations," Foreign Affairs (Summer 1993), pp. 22-49.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
243

But while the Islamic world is contiguous with Europe, it also


stretches to regions of Asia and Africa which for most of human history
have been inaccessible to all but the most intrepid European travelers. Large
portions of the Islamic world are inhabited by people whose languages,
customs, appearance, and dress are quite different from those of Europeans.
Similarly, while the religions of the Islamic world and Christendom share
much of the same heritage, this very similarity highlights certain significant
theological divergences, such as a difference of opinion about whether or not
Jesus is the son of God.
Although its potential for productive cultural cooperation has been
realized at certain historical moments, such as in medieval Spain, as a rule
this unique combination of similarity and difference— of brothemess and
otherness— between the Islamic world and the West has engendered a
unique enmity. A long history of competition for power, land and
resources— starting with the battle of Poitiers, continuing through the
crusades and the late medieval struggle for mercantile supremacy in the
Mediterranean and Indian oceans, and on through the European imperialist
enterprises of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries—has nurtured this
opposition, and solidified in the minds of both Christian West and Islamic
East the image of mutually irreconcilable cultural incompatibility. In the
recent past, the dramatic shift of advantage in this competition towards the
West has imbued this cultural animosity with features characteristic of
relations between victor and vanquished.
This perception of cultural opposition permeates the interpretation by
historians of the different political results in the Islamic and Western worlds
of the advent of what, for lack of a better word, we may call modernity.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
244

"Modem" denotes those aspects of life which are felt to be qualitatively


different in contemporary and recent times than at any time before. In the
economic sphere, modem life is characterized by large-scale dynamic
industrial production rather than small-scale stable agricultural production,
and a shift of power from land to capital. In the intellectual sphere, modem
life is characterized by rational and empirical reasoning rather than
metaphysical and superstitious mythology, and a shift of prestige from
religion to science. In the social sphere, modem life is characterized by
mass popular culture rather than differentiated and localized high and low
cultures, and a shift of influence from the aristocracy to the middle class.
The exact cause-and-effect relationships among these and other features of
modem life and the precise chronology of their emergence may both be
debated, but taken together they constitute a description of what is "modem"
about the modem world.
In the political sphere, modernity is characterized by a new
relationship between the state and the individual in which every citizen
should ideally feel an overarching emotional identification with the state and
a direct personal stake in its success. The feeling of emotional identification
with the state is encouraged by means of the ideology of nationalism. The
feeling of having a personal stake in the success of the state is encouraged
by means of the ideology of democracy. Nationalism and democracy have
proven so useful in the construction and maintenance of modem states that
virtually every state portrays itself as national even when the supposed
linguistic, cultural and ethnic ties that bind its citizens have little basis in
fact, and virtually every government claims to be democratic, even when
only a minuscule proportion of its subjects actually control it. Moreover,

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
245

history suggests that modem states have been most successful in


proportion to the extent to which their claims to national unity and
democratic ideals conform to reality.
The part of the world where these changes in the conception of
political order, along with other features which characterize modernity, first
arose was Western Europe. Reasons for this— such as the climatic
feasibility of dry farming, the settlement of inland towns made possible by
river networks, the scarcity of land in relation to population growth,
proximity to the resources and markets of the New World—may be
categorized and prioritized in various ways, but ultimately, the geographic
origination in Europe of mankind's great leap forward into modernity was an
accident. Specifically Western cultural developments which might be
adduced as necessary or even sufficient causes of Western progress— such
as the embracing of continual change, the ascendancy of the scientific
method, the sanctification of individual rights, and the emergence of
representative government— occurred simultaneously with, not prior to the
transformation of the Western world from medieval to modem.2
But although European modernization was an accident, it was an
enormous one. There was nothing inevitable about modernization occurring
in one particular part of the world as opposed to another. But once it did
occur in one part of the world, it was inevitable that that part of the world
would gain an invincible technological advantage that facilitated military
conquest, that this military conquest would result in the incorporation of the

2For a comparison of historical conditions and cultural patterns in Islam and the Occident on the
threshold of modernity, as well as a convincing assertion o f the "accidental" nature o f the geographic
origination of modernity in Europe, see Marshall G. S. Hodgson, The Venture o f Islam: Conscience and
History in a World Civilimtion (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1974), vol. II, pp. 328-368.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
246

rest of the world into its economic system via disadvantageous colonial
relations, and that the success of this military and economic imperialism
would engender a cultural imperialism that included the worldwide export of
its political ideas and institutions to captive markets.
Today the inevitability of modernization is generally accepted
worldwide. This is most clear in the economic sphere. While we might
bemoan the demise of craftsmanship or the degradation of the environment
brought about by industrialization, only the most eccentrically anachronistic
among us would walk ten miles to deliver a message if it could be done with
a telephone call, or cross a desert or ocean by camel or boat— assuming the
only objective is to get to the other side— if an airplane were available. In
the intellectual sphere, the pervasiveness of the modern mindset is also clear.
While we might regret the displacement of the inspiring mysteries of
metaphysics by the dull certainties of science, no-one would advocate
teaching schoolchildren that the Ptolemaic view of the planets moving
around the sun in interlocking circular paths arranged by God is a reasonable
alternative to the Copemican view of the planets revolving around the sun in
single elliptical paths describable by simple quadratic equations and
governed by the law of gravity. It is not that the Ptolemaic view is less true
in some absolute sense or of lesser predictive value; it is just that the
Copemican view conforms to the modern scientific ideals of simplicity,
unity and governance by natural law. Similarly, while we might moum the
loss of diversity brought about by cultural homogenization, it is clear that
mass communications and transportation and the global society they are
producing are here to stay.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
Just as industrialization, the scientific outlook and mass culture
have become facts of modem life, so too have nationalism and democracy.
Today's world order is based on the division of the globe into large political
entities which justify their existence by propagating the idea that the citizens
within their borders share a common cultural bond and have a personal stake
in the well-being of the state. In Europe, these political entities are
supported by nationalist and democratic ideologies which developed
gradually in Europe, and are in harmony—to greater and lesser
degrees— with actual historical development. Outside Europe, these
political entities are supported by nationalist and democratic ideologies
which were imported suddenly from Europe3 and are not in harmony with
actual historical development. This is the source of the gulf in political
ideology which separates the first and third worlds. The part of the globe
which modernized first developed ideological frameworks which helped it
adapt to the political requirements of modernization. It then exported not
only modernization itself, but also these ready-made ideological frameworks
which conformed to its own historical experience but did not suit historical
conditions in other parts of the world.

The Modern Middle East


Textbook histories of the modem Middle East generally date the
region's "modem" period from Napoleon's invasion of Egypt in 1798. This
brief three year episode is treated as a sort of dress rehearsal for the ensuing

3 Even granting Anderson's claims for the influence of Latin America on the original model, by
the time it entered the Middle East nationalist template had been filtered beyond recognition through
European liberalism and imperialism. See Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities: Reflections on the
Origin and Spread o f Nationalism (New York: Verso, 1993).

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
248

200 years of Middle Eastern history, because in one fell swoop it


demonstrated the invincible superiority of Western military force, shattered
Middle Easterners' confidence in traditional ruling elites and institutions,
introduced the Middle East to European laws and customs, and, incidentally,
inaugurated the appropriation by the West of the Middle East's cultural
heritage that has come to be known as orientalism.
The very fact that historians can posit such precise and relatively
recent dates as inception points in Middle Eastern history for a process
whose origins were hazy and gradual in Europe illustrates the fundamental
difference between modernization in Europe and the Middle East. Once
modernization had occurred in one part of the globe, it could not happen in
exactly the same way elsewhere. It would always arrive in other places
more suddenly and laden with cultural baggage from the area where it
originated.4 The modernization process in the rest of the world would
necessarily be a less than faithful reproduction of modernization in Europe.
Nevertheless, most history writing about the modem Middle East
treats the failure of modernization in the Middle East to measure up to
modernization in Europe as if it were surprising rather than expected. Most
historians of the modem Middle East seem to be working from the same
script of the same tragic play. The stage is set with some background on the
bygone glories of ancient and medieval Middle Eastern civilization, the
decline of which into cultural stagnation and political corruption is
lamented. Then comes the pivotal plot point: contact with the West. The

4 Recent contributions to the disentangling the materially inevitable from the culturally contingent
aspects of modernization include Partha Chattergee, The Nation and its Fragments in The Partha
Chatterjee Omnibus (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999) and Dipesh Chakrabarty, Provincializing
Europe: Postcolonial Thought and Historical Difference (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000).

Reproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
249
Middle East is shocked out of its torpor by cataclysmic military defeat
which demonstrates the superiority of Western technology. This shock
discredits the traditional political order, which is supplanted by new regimes
whose overarching goal is to catch up to the West. Military and state
administration begins to be centralized and reorganized along Western lines.
By the next generation, redistribution of land and wealth by the new regime
combined with increasing contacts with Western culture has created a new
class of Westward-looking bureaucrats and intellectuals, who embark on
administrative and educational reforms designed to make government more
rational and efficient and society more secular and liberal. Progress towards
democracy and nationhood is interrupted by the occasional backsliding
reactionary ruler, and punctuated by interventions by the West to restore
civil order or financial solvency. Finally, the Middle Eastern states achieve
independence under constitutional governments, but it is, alas, too little too
late-—or, depending on the interpretation, too much too soon. The final
tragic collapse of the constitutional regimes under the weight of the residual
influence of reactionary tendencies and corrupt institutions is followed by
the denouement of coups and totalitarianism which have characterized
government in the latter half of the twentieth century in the Middle East.
This script is based on hindsighted and dubious assumptions. The
glories of Islamic civilization were not necessarily a dead letter to Muslims
at the dawn of modernity. The advent of Western military superiority was
not the first time it ever occurred to the people of the Middle East to
question the legitimacy and competence of their political leaders. The
Islamic world did not suddenly become aware of the West for the first time
at the turn of the nineteenth century. Not all the developments which

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
250

conditioned the entry of the Middle East into the modem age occurred in
response to Western stimuli. The influence of the West was not uniformly
in the direction of progress and democracy, nor the influence of Islam
uniformly in the direction of reaction and authoritarianism.
Nevertheless, historians tend to follow the above-outlined script for
modem Middle Eastern history with only cursory if any reference to
anomalies in the pattern. It has been applied in its fullest form to Egypt.
The achievements of Pharaonic, Byzantine and Fatimid Egypt all rate ample
mention in general accounts of world—let alone Middle Eastern—history,
and serve as a more than adequate contrast to the perceived decline of
economic and intellectual life under the Ottomans. Sputtering efforts at
political consolidation like that of ‘All Bey al-Kabir and the faint signs of
intellectual revival shown by the likes of Jabarti, al-‘Attar and al-Zabidl in
the late eighteenth century are mere footnotes to what is portrayed as an
otherwise stagnant and lifeless society in which change could not come
about except through external stimulation.
This stimulation was provided by the French occupation of Egypt
between 1798 and 1801. As historical turning points go, Napoleon's
invasion of Egypt is not a bad one. It serves as a dramatic embodiment of
intersecting cumulative historical developments that were played out in the
Middle East for at the least the following hundred years. The oft-quoted
account in al-Jabartfs chronicle of the Mamluk generals who declared that
"if all of the Franks were to come they had no scruples about meeting them,
and would trample them with their horses,"5 is a pathetic emblem of the

5 ‘Abd al-Rahman al-Jabartl, A ja ’ib al-Atharfial-Tarajim wa al-Akhbar (Cairo: Lajnat al-Bayan


aI-‘Arabi, 1959), Vol. IV, p. 275.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
251

residual Muslim superiority complex so deep-seated that it survived


actual Muslim superiority by several centuries. Conversely, Napoleon's
army of archaeologists, historians and linguists who founded the Institut
d'Egypte, his fulsome professions of respect for Islam,6 and his installation
of a mock national assembly initiated the patronizing appropriation of the
Middle Eastern heritage in the guise of offering a helping hand that is has
come to be known as orientalism. The inability of the Mamluks to prevent
the occupation and of the Ottomans to end it without British help is
portrayed as suddenly producing a prestige and power vacuum within Egypt
that left her ripe for the emergence of a new and more modem regime.
Occasionally, historians point out that political decentralization and
economic fragmentation within the Ottoman empire, the eclipse of
traditional Middle Eastern political and social elites and institutions, and the
integration of the Middle East into the world economy via disadvantageous
economic relationships with the West all had their origins in long term
processes that began before the nineteenth century.7 But these harbingers of
modernity are treated as preludes to the main event, the European military
venture which paved the way for the career of the first and perhaps greatest
of the modem Middle Eastern state builders, Muhammad ‘All.
The analogy between the political changes that occurred in Egypt
under the autocratic centralizing rule of Muhammad ‘All and the
ostentatiously bourgeoisifying tenure of Isma‘il and, say, the transfer of

6 al-Jabartl, ‘A ja ’ib, pp. 288-9.

7 For the integration of the Middle East into the world economy see Roger Owen, The Middle East
in the World Economy 1800-1914 (New York: Methuen, 1981), especially the introduction, and more
recently Huri Islamoglu-Inan, ed.., The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy (Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 1987). For social change in the Middle East prior to 1800 see Haim Gerber, The Social
Origins o f the M odem Middle East (Boulder, Co.: Lynne Rienner, 1987).

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
252

political power in France from feudal lords to absolute monarchs


culminating in the reign of Louis XIV, and then from absolute monarchs to
bourgeois bureaucrats culminating in the French revolution, is striking.
There were, however, some key differences between the formation of the
modem Egyptian state and that emergence of states in Europe. First of all,
in Egypt—and the Middle East in general—the process of modernization
occurred far more rapidly. Indeed, the whole history of Egypt in the
nineteenth century is a sort of fast forward video replay of the history of the
previous several hundred years in Europe—complete with the caricaturish
effect brought about by the unnaturally rapid movements of the actors.
Secondly, in Egypt—and the Middle East in general— the process of
modernization was driven exclusively by the downward-directed state-
building policies of a few rulers. Absent was the interaction of social classes
and organizations that resulted in the gradual emergence of a European-style
legislative apparatus organically grounded in the society as a whole.
Thirdly, in Egypt— and the Middle East in general—the process of
modernization occurred under the constant threat of intervention by outside
powers, inviting the application of a kind of inverse Pirenne thesis.
Whereas Europe's freedom from foreign invasion allowed it to go undergo
the birth pangs of modernity gradually, the unending tinkering by European
generals and bank officers with the state system of the Middle East insured
that its map would be crisscrossed by arbitrary borders that hindered internal
consolidation and guaranteed for years to come the disproportionately high
ratio of wars to population and acreage for which the that region is known
today.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
253

The Democratic National State in the Middle East


The principal manifestations of the shortfall of Middle Eastern
modernization are the failure of democracy and the instability of national
states. Because they see the democratic national state as the end of history,
historians have laid disproportionate emphasis on developments which seem
to foreshadow the coming of nationalism and democracy to the Middle East.
Statements such as that of Muhammad ‘All's son Ibrahim that "I am not a
Turk. I came to Egypt when I was a child, and since that time, the sun of
Egypt has changed my blood and made it all Arab,"8 and slogans such as
‘Urabfs "Egypt for the Egyptians," are seen as harbingers of nationalism.
The convening of advisory assemblies imposed from above by rulers rather
than legislative assemblies demanded from below by the populace, are
supposed to foreshadow the advent of democracy. In general, historians
comb the nineteenth century Middle East for analogies to the rise of the
nation-state in the West as a prelude to the tragedy of its failure in the
twentieth.
However, these superficial similarities between the emergence of
national states in Europe and their appearance in the Middle East pale in
comparison to the differences. First and foremost among these differences is
that what were centuries-long processes have been telescoped into decades
in the Middle East. We can see this clearly in the development of the one
virtually universal criterion for nationhood, national language. In medieval
times, the aspect of language which signified group affiliation was the
alphabet. For example, Judeo-Arabic and Yiddish were considered Jewish

8 Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p.
261.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
254
languages even though their vocabularies were overwhelmingly Arabic
and German because they were written with the Hebrew alphabet. In
modem times the aspect of language which signifies group affiliation is the
spoken word. This corresponds to a shift in cultural prestige from the elite
who write languages to the masses who speak them. For example, the
Turkish language reformers who had no qualms about adopting a new
alphabet from Europe frowned on retaining traditional vocabulary of Arabic
origin, which predominated over Anatolian Turkish in the written language
of the Ottoman upper classes in the same way that that Latinate words
predominate over Anglo-Saxon in upper-class English. But the process
through which the vernacular of the masses overtook the educated speech of
the elite in Europe—through the interaction among administrators desiring
to extend the reach of government, inventors striving to improve
communications technology, and publishers eager to create non-Latin book-
buying markets— was quite different from the self-conscious linguistic
nationalism of nineteenth century non-European countries.9
The same may be said of democratic institutions. The gradual transfer
of political power to bourgeois bureaucrats occurred in fits and starts in
Europe, leaving in its wake the rudiments of representative machinery that
became the foundations for today's parliaments and legislatures. "This
peculiar fact, the slow rise of lower, working, urban strata to political
autonomy and finally— first in the form of the professional middle
classes—to political leadership, provides the key to almost all the structural
peculiarities distinguishing Western societies from those of the Orient, and

9 Anderson, Imagined Communities, p. 42.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
255
giving them their specific stamp."10 The European nation-state was an
unintended consequence of the haphazard interaction of many individuals
and forces over a long period of time. The Middle Eastern nation-state was
an intended consequence of the directed state-building policies of a few
rulers who, no matter how accurately they imitated the form, could not
reproduce the evolution that gave the European nation-state and its
democratic institutions their resonance.
Partly because they were the product of a long evolution, non-
European statebuilders were also unable to separate nationalism and
democracy from their cultural association with Europe. The late nineteenth
century ideal of the democratic national state included more than its explicit
ideology let on. "The acquisition of national consciousness cannot be
separated from the acquisition of other forms of social and political
consciousness during this period: they all go together."11 Particularly
incongruous in the Middle Eastern setting was late nineteenth century liberal
nationalism's perception of the nation state as an integrating force, "a second
best to world unity."12 It was only from the perspective of a Europe recently
emerged from feudal fragmentation that nationalism represented progress
towards global integration. The medieval Islamic world was already well
familiar with the idea of a homogenous urban culture in which scholars and
merchants could feel equally at home and pursue their professions equally
well in various cities over an area whose size dwarfed that of any European

10 Norbert Elias, The Civilizing Process: The History o f Manners and State Formation and
Civilization (Oxford: Blackwell, 1994), p. 299.

11 E. J. Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth, Reality (Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 130.

12 Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalims, p. 31.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
256

country. Moreover, the Arabic-speaking parts of the Islamic world had


vernaculars which were more similar to each other and to the literary Arabic
of scholarship, religion and administration than the European languages
were to each other or to Latin. Compared to the cosmopolitan
internationalism of the medieval Islamic world, nationalism was a
disintegrating force.
The disintegrating force of nationalism is nowhere so evident as in
historical Syria, where so much stress has been laid by historians on the
failure of the victorious powers of World War I to live up to the Wilsonian
ideal of national self-determination that little attention has been paid to how
good an idea it was in the first place. Turkey and Egypt, both of which had a
well-defined geographic distinctness, historical unity, and imperial heritage,
seemed capable of evolving into passable imitations of European states.
States which were either pieced together by the Great Powers out of
territories and populations that didn't really belong together, like Iraq, or
carved out of territories and populations which really did belong together,
like the four states into which Syria was divided, never stood a chance of
measuring up to European ideals of national unity.
One of the reasons historical Syria was so ripe for being drawn and
quartered was that national consciousness in Syria lagged behind that of its
neighbors Turkey, Egypt and Iran. This was not due to a lack of any of the
traditional delineators of national distinctness. Syria had perhaps more of
the requisite features of a national state than any of the countries
surrounding it. It was boxed in by the natural boundaries of mountains to
the North, ocean to the West, and desert to the South and East. Its natives
spoke the same dialect of Arabic, which was quite different from the spoken

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
257
Arabic of Iraq, Arabia and Egypt. Syrians shared the same ethnic and
cultural characteristics; families in Beirut, Damascus or Jerusalem often had
branches in the other two cities.
What retarded the progress of nationalism in this natural state was a
confusion of national and religious loyalty brought about by the unique
relationship between Arabism and Islamism. Perhaps the most characteristic
feature of nineteenth century nationalist propaganda is an appeal to the
shared memory of a golden age in an ancestral homeland. For Turks,
Egyptians and Persians it was a pre-Islamic age of origins, just as for
Greeks, Italians and Germans it was a pre-Christian classical era. But the
ancestral homeland and golden age of the Arab nation were also the
ancestral homeland and golden age of the Muslim religion. The only other
national movement with which Arab nationalism had this in common was
Zionism. But even though the lines between the national and the religious
may have been blurred in Zionist theory, the virtually complete overlap of
ethnicity and religious affiliation among Jews left the Zionist no doubt about
the composition of the group with which he was being asked to identify.
Theoretical ambiguity about the line between the religious and the national
element of Arabism had practical consequences for the Muslim Arab. There
were Christian and Jewish Arabs; there were Turkish, Persian and Indian
Muslims. This is the reason that the revived Arab caliphate envisioned by
al-Kawakibl's Umm al-Qura met a fate different from the even less plausible
imaginary scenario envisioned the same year by Herzl's Judenstaat.
If Muslim Syrians could not be sure whether it was their religious or
their national sentiment that was being targeted by appeals for a return to the
glories of the Rashidun caliphate, it is clear which of the two was stronger.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
258
Most Syrians favored continued affiliation with the Ottoman Empire
until it was completely removed as an option after the War by Ataturk.13
The fact that the Arab Kingdom of Damascus accepted a non-Syrian
monarch whose credentials were largely religious— whose family, in fact,
were the primary rivals of the Ottomans for the caliphate— shows that even
at this late stage Arabism among Muslim Syrians was still confusing the
national with the religious. By the time the mass of Muslim Syrians finally
did come round to the nation-state option it was too late. The Arab
Kingdom of Damascus had already been divided by the West horizontally in
the name of a commitment to a mandate system more self-interested than
idealistic and vertically in the name of a commitment to Zionism more
idealistic than self-interested.14
The post-war settlement was a crucial turning point in Middle Eastern
history not because the principle of national self-determination was
imperfectly applied, but because it was applied at all. Once the decisions
had been made and the penciled borders inked in, the history of the Middle
East for the rest of the twentieth century— and in particular the failure of the
Arab states to unite, democratize, or confront Zionism—followed as
inevitably as World War II followed Versailles in Europe. Even for
Palestinians the true nakba was not in 1948, but on the battlefield of
Maysalun in 1920. Whether interpreted as an extension of imperialism or

13 For the persistence of Ottoman loyalties in Syria see C. Ernest Dawn, From Ottomanism to
Arabism: Essays on the Origins o f Arab Nationalism (Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1973) and
Rashid Khalidi et al ed., The Origins o f Arab Nationalism (New York: Columbia University Press, 1991).

14 It is also of course arguable that the Britain's support of Zionism was not merely compatible,
but actually converged with a divide-and-conquer policy of which the postwar re-imposition of colonialism
in the form of mandates was merely an extension. See Rashid Khalidi, British Policy toward Syria and
Palestine 1906-1914.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
259
construed as the triumph of nationalism, this division of the Middle East
into hastily gerrymandered states signaled the beginning of the end for the
vision of political community—Muslim or Arab—contained in the caliphal
ideal.
Because the focus of historians is on the rise of the democratic
national state, the question at the root of almost all discussion of modem
Middle Eastern history is the question of why the fate of the democratic
national state has been so different in the Middle East than in the West. One
answer to this question is that there is something innate to culture of Europe
which caused the democratic national state to emerge and flourish there.
According to this view, the only way for democratic national states to
succeed in other parts of the world is to Europeanize them. This view has
served as the basis of orientalism in academia and as a justification for
imperialism in international politics. Another answer is that there is
something innate to European culture which caused it to dominate the rest of
the world in a way that prevented democratic national states from emerging
and flourishing elsewhere. According to this view, the only way to for
democratic national states to succeed in other parts of the world is to resist
the cultural and economic influence of Europe. This view has served as the
basis of anti-colonialism in academia and anti-Western radicalism in
international politics. A third answer is that the democratic national state in
Europe was a consequence purely of a certain material level of scientific and
technological advancement. According to this view, the only way
democratic national states to succeed in other parts of the world is to build
their industrial bases up to European levels. This view has served as the

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
260

basis of modernization theory in academia and international


development in international politics.
A fourth answer to the question of why the fate of democratic national
states has been different in the Middle East than in Europe is that whatever
the reasons for the origination of the modem nation-state in one particular
part of the world, once it happened in that place its effects on the rest of the
world were such that the same process could not be duplicated anywhere
else. This view is the basis for the world system approach in academia;15 its
implications for international politics are not entirely clear, although it does
have the virtue of circumventing the blame game. It also holds out the hope
of disentangling the universally inevitable from the culturally specific
features of modernity, and allows for the possibility that historical
development towards modernity need not be the same everywhere.

The Caliphate and Islamism


The need to provide a definitive answer to the question of why the
democratic national state failed in the Middle East where it succeeded in
Europe is in any case becoming less compelling. The excesses of European
nationalism during World War II and after discredited it, and recent studies
of the origins of European nationalism have demoted the national state from
its hallowed status as the metaphysical Hegelian end of history to one of the
many and various types of administrative unit into which the human race has
seen fit to divide itself. The fundamental principle of nationalism—that the
state should be culturally homogenous—has been convincingly attributed to

15 Several excellent examples of the application of Wallerstein's world systems approach to the
Middle East are contained in Huri Islamoglu-Inan, ed. Ottoman Empire and the World Economy.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
261

the need of modem industrial economies for a large mobile workforce


whose individual members can interact easily with each other over a large
geographic area and whose credentials can be independently verified on the
basis of universal objective standards.16 Viewed in this light, it becomes
clear that the historical justification for the existence of any particular
state—no matter how culturally homogenous—is incidental and arbitrary,
that "nations do not produce nationalism, but nationalism creates nations."17
In the heyday of Arab nationalism, it was possible for even the most
perceptive o f scholars to conclude that "there has ceased to be any visible
likelihood the Islamic legal and constitutional principle would be made to
serve as the operative basis of a modem state in any Muslim country."18
Since 1979, of course, the Islamic resurgence has been the de rigueur
jumping off point for virtually every book on the contemporary Middle East
situation. But the Iranian Revolution and the Islamic resurgence generally
was only a surprise to the experts because of the elevation of nationalism as
the exclusive legitimate basis of the state.
In the fashion of history being written by the winners, historians have
focused on different national identities which distinguished the new Middle
Eastern states that emerged between the wars rather than the common
Islamic identity— symbolized by the caliphate—which they shared. If "the
root of our postcolonial misery" is "not in our inability to think out new
forms of the modem community but in our surrender to the old forms of the

16 Ernest Gellner, Nations and Nationalism (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1983).

17 Hobsbawm, Nations and Nationalism, p. 10.

18 Malcolm Kerr, Islamic Reform: The Politico I and Legal Theories o f Muhammad ‘Abduh and
Muhammad Rashid Rida (Berkeley: University of Californian Press, 1966), p. 2.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
262
modem state,"19 then the roots of Middle Eastern misery are not to be
found in the failure of Arab nationalism in the sixties, the collapse of
constitutional regimes in the fifties, or the triumph of Zionism in the forties,
but in the failure of efforts to revive the caliphate in the mid-twenties. The
failure to salvage the caliphate robbed the Middle East of a culturally
authentic framework within which to construct a genuinely modem political
order. It is no accident that the two years following the failure of the Cairo
Caliphate Congress saw the founding of the Muslim Brotherhood, the
Young Men’s Muslim Association, and the Islamic Guidance Society-—the
triumvirate of Muslim youth organizations which declared independence
from the ‘ulama’ establishment and lobbied for Islamic government with an
ever increasing radicalism that produced the instability which brought
Egypt's constitutional period to an end. The failure to revive the caliphate as
a legitimate supra-national vehicle for the expression of Islamic political
aspirations left political Islam no alternative to illegitimate opposition.

19 Chatterjee, The Nation and its Fragments, p. 11.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
BIBLIOGRAPHY

263

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
264
‘Abd al-R aziq,‘All. al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm Beirut: Maktabat al-
Hayat, 1966.

‘Abduh, Muhammad. Risalat al-Tawhid. Beirut: Dar al-Shuruq, 1994.

A b e l, Armand, "Le Khalife, Presence Sacree." Studia Islamica 7 (1957),


pp. 29-45.

Abu Manneh, Butrus. "A Note on the "Keys of the Ka'bah." Islamic
Quarterly, 18/3-4 (July-December 1974).

Abu Yusuf Y a‘qub b. Ibrahim al-Qadi, Kitab al-Kharaj. Cairo: Matba‘at


al-Salaflyya, 1382/1962.

Ahmad, Aziz. "An Eighteenth-Century Theory of the Caliphate," Studia


Islamica28 (1968), pp. 135-144.

‘AM, Ameer. "The Caliphate, a Historical and Juridical Sketch."


Contemporary Review 107 (1915), pp. 681-694.

Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and


Spread of Nationalism New York: Verso, 1993.

Arnold, Thomas. The Caliphate. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1924.

Arslan, Shakib. al-Sayyid Rashid Rida wa Akhd’ A rba‘in Sanna.


Damascus: Matba‘at Ibn Zaydun, 1937.

al-Ash‘ari, Abu al-Hasan ‘AM b. Isma‘11. Maqdldt al-Islamiyyin Istanbul:


Dar al-Funun, 1928.

Aziz, Ahmad. "An Eighteenth Century Theory of the Caliphate." Studia


Islamica 28 (1968), 135-144.

Barthold , V. V. "Caliph and Sultan." Islamic Quarterly (1963), pp. 117-


138.

Baumgartner, Walter, Hebraisches und Aramaisches Lexikon Zum Alien


Testament. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1967.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
265
al-Baghdadi, Abu al-Mansur ‘Abd al-Qahir b. Tahir, Kitab Usui al-Dln.
Istanbul: Matba‘at al-Dawla, 1928.

Bakhit, Muhammad al-Muti‘L HaqTqat al-Islam wa-Usul al-Hukm. Cairo:


al-Matba‘a al-Salafiyya, 1344 H. (1925).

Beeston, A. F. L., et. al., Sabaic Dictionary. Beirut: Librarie du Liban,


1982.

Biella , Joan Copeland, Dictionary o f Old South Arabic: Sabaean Dialect


Cambridge: Harvard Semitic Studies #25,1982.

Binder, Leonard, "al-Ghazalfs Theory of Islamic Government." The Muslim


World AS (1955), pp. 229-241.

al-Bishrf, Tariq, "al-Malik wal-Khilafa al-Islamiyya." al-Katib 13 no. 142


(January 1973), pp. 44-72.

Blunt, Wilfred Scawen. The Future of Islam London: Kegan Paul Trench
and Co., 1882.

Brinkman, John, et. al. The Assyrian Dictionary of Chicago. Chicago: The
Oriental Institute, 1989.

Brockelmann, C. "Al-Mawardi" EI^.

Burdett, Anita L. P. Islamic Movements in the Arab World. United


Kingdom: Archive Editions, 1998.

Chakrabarty, Dipesh. Provincializing Europe: Postconlonial Thought and


Historical Difference. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2000.

Chatterjee, Partha. The Partha Chatterjee Omnibus. Oxford: Oxford


University Press, 1999.

Crone, Patricia and Hinds, Martin. God's Caliph: Religious Authority in the
First Five Centuries of Islam. Cambridge: Cambridge University
Press, 1986.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
266
Dawn, C. Ernest. From Ottomanism to Arabism: Essays on the Origins
of Arab Nationalism. Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1973.

Donner Fred. Narratives o f Islamic Origins: The Beginnings of Islamic


Historical Writings. Princeton: The Darwin Press, 1998.

Elias, Norbert. The Civilizing Process: The History o f Manners and State
Formation and Civilization. Oxford: Blackwell, 1994.

Emerson, Steven, "The Other Fundamentalists." The New Republic 6/12/95.

Esposito, John L. Islam and Politics. Syracuse: Syracuse University Press,


1987.

Fahml, ‘Abd al-‘Az!z, Hadhihi Haydti. Cairo: Dar al-Hilal, n. d.

Gabrieli, F. "Ibn al-Muqaffa" E l2.

Gellner, Ernest. Nations and Nationalism Ithaca: Cornell University


Press, 1983.

Gerber, Haim. The Social Origins of the Modem Middle East. Boulder,
Co.: Lynne Rienner, 1987.

Gershoni, Israel and Jankowsky , James P. "Egypt and the Caliphate


Question." Egypt, Islam and the Arabs: The Search fo r Egyptian
Nationhood. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1986.

al-Ghazali, Muhammad Abu Hamid. Al-Iqtisadfi al-Ptiqad. Beirut: Dar wa


Maktabat al-Hilal (sic) 1993).

Gibb, H. A. R., "al-Mawardfs Theory of the Khilafah." Islamic Culture 11


(1937).

Gibb, H. A. R. Studies on the Civilization of Islam. Boston: Beacon Press,


1962.

Gibb, H. A. R. Mohameddanism. London: Oxford University Press, 1949.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
267
Goitein, S. D. "A Turning Point in the History of the Muslim State," in
Studies in Islamic History and Institutions. Leiden: E. J. Brill, 1968.

Haykal, Muhammad Husayn. Mudhakkarrat f i al-Siyasa al-Misriyya.


Cairo: Dar al-M a‘arif.

Hobsbawm , E. J. Nations and Nationalism since 1780: Programme, Myth,


Reality. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990.

Hodgson, Marshall G. S. The Venture of Islam: Conscience and History in


a World Civilization. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1977.

Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age. Cambridge: Cambridge


University Press, 1983.

Hourani, Albert. The Emergence of the Modem Middle East. Berkeley:


The University of California Press, 1981.

Huntington, Samuel P. "The Clash of Civilizations." Foreign Affairs


(Summer 1993), pp. 22-49.

Husayn, Muhammad al-Khidr. Naqd Kitab al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm


Cairo: al-Maktaba al-Salafiyya, 1926.

Ibn ‘Abd Rabbihi, Ahmad b. Muhammad, al- Tqd al-Fand. Muhammad


Sa‘id al-‘Aryan, ed. Cairo: M atba‘at al-Istiqama, 1953.

Ibn al-Baqillani, Abu Bakr b. Muhammad b. al-Tayyib, Kitab al-Tamhidfi


al-Radd ‘ala al-Mulhida al-Mu ‘attala wal-Rdfida wal-Khawarij wal-
M u‘tazila. Cairo: Dar al-Fikr al-‘ArabI, n. d.

Ibn al-Muqaffa‘, ‘Abdallah. al-Risalafi al-Sahaba in Charles Pellat ed. and


trans. (French): "Conseilleur du Calife." Paris: G. P. Maisonneuve,
1972.

Ibn Hisham, al-Slra al-Nabawiyya, Muhammad Muhyl al-Dln ‘Abd al-


Hamid, ed. Dar al-Fikr, 1401/1981.

Ibn Khaldun, al-Muqaddima. Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Lubnani, 1961.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
268
Ibn Taymiyya, TaqI al-Din Ahmad. Minhaj al-Sunna al-Nabawiyyafi
Naqd Kalam al-ShVa al-Qadariyya Cairo: Maktabat Dar al-‘Uruba,
1962.

Ibn Taymiyya, TaqI al-Din Ahmad. al-Siyasa al-Shar‘iyyafi Isldh al-Ra ‘T


wa al-Ra‘iyya. Cairo: al-Matba‘a al-Salafiyya, 1399 H.

Tmara, Muhammad. Ma ‘rakat al-Islam wa Usui al-Hukm Cairo: Dar al-


Shuruq, 1989.

‘Imara, Muhammad. "al-Shaykh ‘All ‘Abd al-Raziq: M a‘raka Fikriyya." al-


TalVa, November, 1971, pp. 90-111.

Imber, Colin. Ebu’-su‘ud: The Islamic Legal Tradition. Stanford: Stanford


University Press, 1997.

Inalcik, Halil. "The Caliphate and Ataturk's Inkilab." Belleten 46 (1982), pp.
353-365.

Islamoglu-lnan, Huri, ed. The Ottoman Empire and the World Economy
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1987.

al-Jabartl, ‘Abd al-Rahman. ‘A ja’ib al-Athdrfi al-Tarajim wa al-Akhbar.


Cairo: Lajnat al-Bayan aPArabl, 1959.

Juyboll, G. H. A. "Some New Ideas on the Development of the Sunna as a


Technical Term in Early Islam." JSAI 10 (1987).

Khalidi, Rashid, et al ed. The Origins o f Arab Nationalism New York:


Columbia University Press, 1991.

Kramer, Martin. Islam Assembled: The Advent o f the Muslim Congresses.


New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.

al-Kawakibl, ‘Abd al-Rahman. Umm al-Qura Aleppo: al-Matba‘a al-


‘Asriyya, n. d.

Kedourie , Elie, "Egypt and the Caliphate." The Chatham House Version
and Other Middle Eastern Studies. Hanover: The University Press of
New England, 1984.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
269

Kedourie, Eli. Nationalism. Cambridge: Blackwell, 1994.

Kerr, Malcolm. Islamic Reform: The Political and Legal Theories of


Muhammad ‘Abduh and Rashid Rida. Berkeley: University of
California Press, 1966.

Kishk, Muhammad Jalal. Qira’a ftF ik r al-Tab‘iyya. Cairo: Maktabat al-


Turath al-Islaml, 1994.

Kramer, Martin. Islam Assembled: The Advent o f the Muslim Congresses


New York: Columbia University Press, 1986.

Lambton , A. K. S. "Khalifa." El2.

Lambton, A. K. S. "Quis Custodiet Custodes: Some Reflections on the


Persian Theory of Government." Studia Islamica 5 (1956), pp. 125-
48..

Lambton, A. K. S. State and Government in Medieval Islam: An


Introduction to the Study o f Islamic Political Theory. London:
Oxford University Press, 1981.

Landau, Jacob M. Pan-Islam: Politics and Ideology. Oxford: Clarendon


Press, 1960.

Lane, Edward William. An Arabic-English Lexicon. Beirut: Librarie du


Liban, 1968.

Laoust, Henri. Essai sur les Doctrines Sociales et Politiques de Taki-d-Dln


Ahmad b. Taimiya Canoniste Hanbalite Cairo: L'Institut Fran^ais
d'Archeologie Orientale, 1939.

Laoust, H. "Ibn Taymiyyah." E l2.

Lewis, Bernard. The Arabs in History. New York: Oxford University


Press, 1993.

Lewis, Bernard. The Emergence of Modem Turkey. New York: Oxford


University Press, 1968.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
270

Lloyd, George. Egypt since Cromer. London: MacMillan and Co., ltd.
1934.

MacDonald, D. B., "The Caliphate." The Muslim World NII (1917).

Mahfuz, Najlb. Bayn al-Qasrayn Cairo: Maktabat Misr.

Margoliouth, D. S. "The Sense of the Title Khalifah." Oriental Studies


Presented to Edward G. Brown. T. W. Arnold and R. A. Nicholson
eds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1922.

al-Mawardl, Abu al-Hasan ‘All b. Muhammad b. Habib. al-Ahkam al-


Sultaniyya wal-Wilayat al-Dlniyya. Beirut: Dar al-Kutub al-Tlmiyya.

McCarthy , R. J. "Ibn al-Baqillani." El2.

Nyberg, "Mu‘tazila." E l1.

Owen, Roger. The Middle East in the World Economy 1800-1914. New
York: Methuen, 1981.

Paret, Rudi. "Signification Coranique de hallfa et d'Autres Derives de la


Racine halafa." Studia Islamica 31 (1970), pp. 216-7.

Pellat, Charles. "L'Imamat dan la Doctrine de Gahiz." Studia Islamica 25


(1961).

Pellat, Charles. "al-Jahiz." EI^.

al-Qadi, Wadad. "Religious Foundation of Late Umayyad Ideology and


Practice." Manuela Martin, et al., Religious Knowledge and Political
Power. Madrid: Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas,
1993.

al-Qadi, Wadad. "The Term 'Khalifa' in Early Exegetical Literature." Die


Welt des Islams XXVIII (1988), pp. 392-411.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
271
al-Rafi‘I, ‘Abd al-Rahman. Fi A ‘qdb al-Thawra al-Misriyya: Thawrat
1919. Cairo: Dar al-Ma‘arif, 1945.

Rahman, Fazlur. Islam. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966.

al-Rayyis, Muhammad Diya’ al-Din. al-lslam wal-Khildfa f i al- ‘Asr al-


Hadith: Naqd Kitdh al-Isldm wa-Usul al-Hukm Jedda: al-Dar al-
Sa‘diyya lil-Nashr, 1973.

Rashid Rida, Muhammad. al-Khildfa aw al-Imama al- ‘Upna. Cairo: al-


Zahra’ lil-‘Ilm aPArabl: 1988. [first published 1922]

Rosenthal, E. I. J. Islam in the M odem National State Cambridge:


Cambridge University Press, 1975.

Schacht, Joseph. Introduction to Islamic Law. Oxford: Clarendon Press,


1964.

Schacht, Joseph. The Origins o f Muhammadan Jurispmdence. Oxford:


Clarendon Press, 1975.

Sekaly, Achilles. "Les Deux Congres Musulman de 1926." Revue du


Monde Musulman 64 (1926).

Al-Sharqawl, Mahmud. Dirdsdt Watha’iq ‘an M u’tamar al-Khildfa al-


Isldmiyya, 1926. al-Katib, 10: 113 (Aug 1970), pp. 115-122, 114
(Sept 1970), pp. 132-137, 115 (Oct 1970), pp. 156-161, al-Katib 11:
119 (Feb 1971), pp. 151-158.

Shawql, Ahmad. al-Mawsu ‘a al-Shawqiyya: al-A ‘mdl al-Kamila li Amir al-


Shu ‘ara ’ Ahmad Shawqi. Ibrahim al-Abyari ed. Cairo: Dar al-Kitab
al-‘ArabI.

Sivan, Emmanuel, Radical Islam: Medieval Theology and Modem Politics.


New Haven: Yale University Press, 1990.

al-Tabari, Tarikh al-Rusul wa al-Muluk, M. J. de Goeje, ed. Leiden: E. J.


Brill, 1964.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.
272
al-Taftazani, Sa‘d al-Din b. ‘Umar. Shark a l-‘Aqa'idal-Nasafiyya f i
Usui al-Dln wa ‘Ilm al-Isldm Damascus: Wizarat al-Thaqafa wa al-
Irshad al-Qawml, 1974.

Toynbee, Arnold J. "The Caliphate." Asia: America's Magazine on the


Orient 23 (1923).

Toynbee, Arnold J. Survey of International Affairs, 1925. Vol. I, The


Islamic World since the Peace Settlement. London: Oxford
University Press, 1927.

Turkish Grand National Assembly. "Le Califat et Souverainite Nationale."


Revue du Monde Mussulmane

Vatikiotis, P. J. The History of Egypt from Muhammad Ali to Mubarak.


London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1985.

von Ranke, Leopold. History of the Reformation in Germany. Sarah Austin,


trans. London: Routledge and Sons, 1905.

W a tt, W. Montgomery. "God's Caliph: Qur’anic Interpretations and


Umayyad Claims." Iran and Islam, p. 567

Watt, W. Montgomery, "The Political Attitudes of the M u‘tazilah." Journal


of the Royal Asiatic Society (1963), pp. 38-57.

al- Zawahiri, Fakhr al-Din. Al-Islam wal-Azhar: min Mudhakkirat Shaykh


al-Islam al-Zawahirl. Cairo: M atba‘at al-Ftimad, 1945.

R eproduced with perm ission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.