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Can a time limit be placed on the Caliph’s term of office?

The question of limiting the head of state’s term to a specific number of years, was not an issue in ancient and medieval times because most heads of state were life-long monarchs. The renaissance in Europe paved the way for philosophers to develop new theories of governance based on the democratic model first developed by the ancient Greeks. After the French and American revolutions these new principles were codified in their constitutions. The republican system was developed to replace the monarchies of the past, and central to this was restricting the powers and term of office of the president who headed this system. The American constitution restricted the president to a four-year term but allowed re-election without restriction. In 1951 the Twenty-Second Amendment was passed which restricted the US President to two terms, so they can never serve more than eight years in office. This was done to prevent a life-long monarch emerging who if corrupt, would be corrupt for life. The dominance of the western democratic system and the shocking levels of corruption experienced …

Bay’a in Islamic History: The Removal of Walid II

Al-Walid’s father Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik became the Khaleefah according to the wiliyatul-ahd (succession contract) of Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik, who nominated him as the successor after Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz. Since the Umayyads only nominated two successors, this allowed Yazid ibn Abdul-Malik to create a new wiliyatul-ahd. Yazid’s brother, the famous general Maslamah ibn Abdul-Malik, persuaded him to nominate his other brother Hisham ibn Abdul-Malik as the next Khaleefah, and then Yazid’s own son Al-Walid (Al-Walid II) after him. Yazid and Hisham try to change the designated successors Yazid regretted appointing Hisham before his son Al-Walid, but as mentioned in the section on Al-Walid ibn Abdul-Malik, the prevalent opinion adopted by the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd was that it is forbidden to change the designated successors, unless the successors voluntarily agree to it. Yazid would say, “It is Allah who stands between me and the one who put Hisham between me and you.”[1]This shows that the sharia was adhered to by the Umayyad Khaleefahs who were not absolute monarchs. When Hisham became Khaleefah he also wanted …

A History of Islam in 10 Objects

Historical objects such as artefacts, manuscripts and buildings are one of the primary sources in the study of history. Their presence or absence in a society can offer a unique insight in to the past, especially when combined with other sources such as oral narrations. They can offer a more holistic view towards society, and easily dispel the sweeping generalisations we see among those who attempt to distort Islamic history for their own nefarious purposes.

Bay’a in Islamic History: Umar bin Abdul-Aziz changes the bay’a back to shura

How Umar bin Abdul-Aziz became the Heir Apparent When Sulayman ibn Abdul-Malik was Khaleefah he was advised by the righteous scholar Raja’ bin Haywah al-Kundi, to nominate his nephew and Wazir Umar bin Abdul-Aziz as the next Khaleefah instead of his own son and brother. Sulayman did this, and knowing that Banu Umayyah would not be happy, he nominated his brother Yazeed ibn Abdul-Malik as the Khaleefah after Umar. Raja’ bin Haywah who was the provisional leader overseeing the transition process to the next Khaleefah, describes the events surrounding Umar bin Abdul-Aziz’s nomination as narrated by Tabari. Raja’ bin Haywah says: ‘On the day of Jumu’ah, Sulayman ibn Abd al-Malik was wearing green silk robes and as he looked in mirror, he said: “By Allah! I am a young king.” He then left for prayer, led the people in the Friday congregation and he did not return except that he had fallen ill. When he later burdened his son, Ayyub, who was just a boy at the time, with writing a book on his Khilafah, …

Bay’a in Islamic History: Al-Walid’s attempt to change the designated successors

Abdul-Aziz ibn Marwan (father of Umar ibn Abdul-Aziz) was designated as the next Khaleefah (wali ul-Ahd) after Abdul-Malik but he passed away before Abdul-Malik, so that allowed a new succession contract to be created. Abdul-Malik designated his son Al-Walid as the first successor and Sulayman as the successor after him. When Abdul-Malik died, his son Al-Walid became the Khaleefah and was given the bay’a by the Ahlul hali wal-aqd in Ash-Sham. Under his rule the Khilafah reached its highpoint in terms of conquests, with Spain, Sindh and Central Asia all becoming part of the state. In 95H/714CE[1], Al-Walid attempted to change the succession contract (wiliyat ul-ahd) his father Marwan had instituted, by removing his brother Sulayman as the next Khaleefah after him. Al-Walid wanted his son Abdul-Aziz to be the next Khaleefah instead of Sulayman. As discussed, designating two or more successors as part of the wiliyat ul-ahd, which was Marwan’s ijtihad, was considered valid by the ulema and Ahlul hali wal-aqd, and so represents a shubhat daleel (semblance of an evidence). Mawardi mentions that …

How Muslims in the 19th century viewed the Caliphate

Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani says, “Prior to World War One, Muslims knew that they had the Islamic State. Despite its weakness, decline and the diverse views towards it, the State remained the focus of their thought and vision. Although the Arabs viewed it as being imposed upon them, and that it suppressed their rights, they still looked at the Islamic State as their State, and attempted to reform it with their hearts and minds.”[1] What follows are some extracts from the highly recommended book, ‘Islam in Victorian Liverpool: An Ottoman Account of Britain’s First Mosque Community by Yusuf Samih Asmay. This book gives an insight in to the Muslims of the 19th century and how they viewed the Ottoman State. One common thread that appears throughout the book is that Muslims, whether in the west or Muslim world, viewed the Ottomans as the official representatives of Islam, since they held the seat of the Caliphate. Any complaints or requests Muslims in the UK or America had, were directed through the Ottoman Consulate in their respective countries. …

How to write to the Caliph in 1895 from the UK

On 3rd August 1895, Nafeesa Keep based in Liverpool, England wrote a letter to Sultan Abdulhamid II. The contents of the letter can be read in the book ‘Islam in Victorian Liverpool: An Ottoman Account of Britain’s First Mosque Community’ by Yusuf Samih Asmay. What is interesting about this letter is the official path it took, and the various state institutions (ajhizat) it passed through before reaching the Caliph. The letter took approximately three weeks to reach Abdulhamid.

Was Yazid a Legitimate Caliph?

This is an extract from the article Part 2: Bay’a in Islamic History – The Umayyad Khilafah There is ikhtilaaf (difference of opinion) among the ulema on Yazid’s legitimacy. Many scholars accept he was a legitimate Khaleefah such as Al-Dhahabi, but that he was sinful and blameworthy for the oppression and persecution he committed against the sahaba, and the murder of al-Hussain and his family. Others such as ibn al-Jawzi reject his legitimacy and call him a usurper, because he never had a legally convened bay’a that was given through free choice and consent by the majority of the Ahlul hali wal-aqd (political representatives of the ummah). Al-Dhahabi says, “(Yazid) he was the commander of that army during the campaign against Constantinople, among which were people such as Abu Ayyoob al-Ansaari. Yazid was appointed by his father as his heir, so he took power after his father died in Rajab 60 AH at the age of thirty-three, but his reign lasted for less than four years. Yazid is one of those whom we neither curse …