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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
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
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
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
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
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