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KHILAFAT-o-MULUKIAT (Caliphate and Monarchy): Too Great a Book for small minds

by Kaukab Siddique, Ph.D

Maulana Maudoodi (r) had the rare genius of bringing into focus the original era of Islam, teaching the Qur'an as understood by the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) himself and the sahaba (the Prophet's blessed companions). Like the thought of Iqbal and Mohomed Ali Jinnah, Maudoodi's writings went through various stages of development. I consider his book KHILAFAT-o-MULUKIAT the pinnacle of his achievement as a thinker and leader of Islamic resurgence. The book, first published in October 1966, was too radical even for Jamaate Islami but over the years its ideas have percolated worldwide into the international Islamic movement's ideology.

Maudoodi was targeted by two groups of obscurantist forces. On the one hand, there were the petty mullahs who wrote tracts claiming that the learned Maulana had insulted hazrat Usman (r) and hence was to be seen as crypto-shia. On the other hand, the secularist groups saw his writing as a threat to their entire concept of Islam as a private religion. This unholy alliance of the petty mullah and the secularist, in a low level crude and school-boy style, can be seen in the hate bulletins S.M. and his father keep issuing against Maudoodi.
These persons are quite incapable of understanding Maudoodi's greatest book. Before I deal with their petty attacks, let us look at the book KHILAFAT-o-MULUKIAT as a whole. It has three important aspects which put it in a class by itself:

1. Maudoodi points out from the Qur'an and the Hadith what constituted the original concept of Islamic government as established by the Prophet (pbuh) himself and as understood by the sahaba. In this aspect, he lists Qur'anic verses and authentic hadith. Owing to these original teachings, MUSLIMS SEE THE RIGHTLY GUIDED CALIPHATE (khilafate rashida) as qualitatively different from the rule of the Ummayads, Abbasids and later destinies. THIS DIFFERENTIATION IS KEY TO OUR UNDERSTANDING OF ISLAMIC HISTORY.

2. HOW and WHY did Caliphate lapse into monarchy and hereditary rule? This is a very sensitive issue because the kings have left a lasting impression on the history of Muslims and do not encourage a critical look at their illegitimacy.

3. Once KINGSHIP had consolidated itself, what methods could Muslim use to change it or overthrow it? The issue of ARMED UPRISING against kingship which claims to be Muslim and permits the practice of the basics of Islam is again a difficult issue. Maudoodi was brilliant in his analysis of this issue and took Imam Abu Hanifa's example to discuss the issue.

Now look at S.M.'s petty attack on the erudite Maulana. S.M. begins by abusing the man of God. This is not surprising because no enemy of Islam is expected to respect Maudoodi. Then S.M. tries to defend his father's attack on KHILAFAT-o-MULUKIAT. I had pointed out that S.M.'s father has probably not read the book because he claims that it is an account of the fighting between the Banoo Umayya and the Banoo Hashim. S.M. skips this point (that his father's thesis is incorrect) and then tries to claim that the book IS a graphic account of Kerbala and other tragedies. For this purpose, S.M. quotes SIX LINES from page 180 of the book. If S.M. had taken the trouble to read the footnote at the end of page 180, he would have seen that these six lines are Maudoodi's summary of the following:
Tabari's Tarikh, vol.4, p.309 to 356, Ibn Athir's vol.3, p. 282 to 299 and Al Bidaya vol.8, p.170 to 204.
Thus Maudoodi had the powerful understanding to summarize 98 pages of history in 6 lines. Thus the six lines were definitely not GRAPHIC because Kerbala, though central to Islamic thought, was not Maudoodi's topic in this book. [Perhaps S.M. does not know the meaning of "graphic." In this context, it means "lively description" and Maudoodi was definitely not being graphic in his references to various tragedies.]

As if S.M. was not dense enough in his basic surmise, he goes on to prove that the book is beyond his secular view of Islam (which simply means kufr). Maudoodi quoted Qur'anic verses to indicate that the SOVEREIGNTY of ALLAH mentioned in the Qur'an is not separate from Allah as sovereign and ruler in the establishment of Islamic community and government. Thus Maudoodi was uncovering the great fracture in Muslim thought, which is the inability to apply overarching concepts to practical matters of political formulation. S.M. thinks these verses are "irrelevant" to Islamic political teachings. I would suggest that S.M might learn a lot about Islam if he humbly looks at the words of the Qur'an again.

WHEN IT COMES TO HADITH NARRATIONS and HADITH LITERATURE used in early Islamic history, S.M., like any westernized, mentally colonized person, reveals his inability to study or to understand. Poor S.M. took the trouble to scan a part of page 318 of Khilafat-o-Mulukiat to make the claim that Maudoodi is admitting that hadith narrations are NOT reliable. Quite the contrary! Maudoodi's statement would be easily acceptable for anyone who knows hadith. Here I'll try to help S.M. to write better next time and not make such a fool of himself:

1. Maudoodi is saying that Hadith related to AHKAM, on which rules of haram and halal are based, are scrutinized with great care as to the authenticity of their narrators and the continuity of their chains of narration.
2. By contrast, the same severe tests of continuity are not applied to narrations about history and events in the early era of Islam.
[This clear contrast between rules for the acceptance of normative hadith and narrations about historic events is well known to anyone who has studied hadith literature.]

Maudoodi's point cannot be refuted. The same historians who wrote about the tragedy of Kerbala also wrote about the great achievements of Abu Bakr, Umar, Usman and Ali (Allah be pleased with them). They honestly presented the good things the Ummayads did (we know from them about Umar ibn Abdul Aziz) and also criticized the crimes of the Abbasids under whose rule they lived.

The silliest of S.M.'s claims is the idea that Maudoodi wrote this book "to please Shi'ites."
Nothing could be further from the truth. The book is NOT about Shi'a and Sunni. It deals with the much more important issue of Caliphate without which the Muslim ummah cannot emerge from its decline.

I would urge S.M. not to join hands with petty maulvies to create fitna between Shias and Sunnis. There are differences between the two which need to be kept within the limits of civil discourse. Both Shias and Sunnis follow Allah and His Prophet (pbuh). Both have the same qibla and the same Book. Both accept the Sunnah. Like Maudoodi, our scholars should look objectively at Islamic history and honestly condemn MONARCHY as alien to Islam. We want caliphate based on Shoora. We do not want a false god of MARKAZE MILLAT (as taught by G.A. Pervez) or an attempt to fob off dictatorship as the equivalent of Qur'an and the Prophet (pbuh)!

Maudoodi, like Iqbal, has been misunderstood by small minds. The resurgent Islamic movement must learn from Maudoodi, not uncritically or slavishly but wisely, just as an intelligent son looks at a wise father and tries to do better than him.

2002-11-10 Sun 16:32ct