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Ansari Memorial Series 


Imran N. Hosein 


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Copyright reserved by the author 
First published in 1996 by 
Masjid Darul Qur'an, 
1514 East Third Avenue, 
Bayshore, NY 11760 

Email: inho sein@hotmail .com 

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Dedicated to my dear brother 

Abid Siddiqui 

of the Muslim Center of New York 



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Chapter 1 
Chapter 2 

British Diplomacy and the Attack on the Caliphate 

The Collapse of the Ottoman Caliphate and the Rise of 
the Saudi- Wahhabi Nation- State 

Chapter 3 
Chapter 4 

Chapter 5 


The First World War and the Abolition of the Ottoman 

The Turkish Nationalists and the Caliphate 

The Response of Al-Azhar University to the Abolition of 
the Ottoman Caliphate 

The Caliphate Conference, Cairo. May 1926. 

The Saudi-Wahhabi Alternative to the Caliphate - The 

World Muslim Congress, Makkah. June- July 1926 

The Old World Of Islam Attempts a Revival: The 
General Islamic Congress. Jerusalem. December 1931. 


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This is a third publication in the Ansari Memorial Series, published in honor of 
my teacher and Shaikh of blessed memory, Maulana Dr. Muhammad Fadlur 
Rahman Ansari (1914 - 1974). The previous two publications were entitled: 'The 
Religion of Abraham and the State of Israel - A View from the Qur'an ', and 'The 
Importance of the Prohibition ofRiba in Islam '. 

Much of the research work for this book was done during the years 1975-1979 at 
the United Nations Library in the Palais des Nations, Geneva, while I was a 
doctoral student in International Relations at the Graduate Institute of 
International Studies, Geneva. 

We are experiencing, at the time of writing a rapidly deteriorating situation in 
today's Muslim World with bloody conflicts inflicting unimaginable suffering on 
innocent Muslims in Bosnia, Kashmir, Algeria, Palestine, Chechnya etc. 
Yesterday it was fifty thousand Muslim women raped in Bosnia, and today's 
horror stories are about a son who was forced to bite off his Muslim father's 
testicles in Bosnia, and the innocent blind Muslim Shaikh, Omar Abdul Rahman, 
who was condemned to life imprisonment in USA (because he posed too great a 
threat to the pro-west secular regime which rules Egypt), and who is sexually 
humiliated by prison guards whenever he has a visitor at prison. 
I am now convinced that the time has at last come for this work to reach the 
Muslim public who may now be sufficiently shaken up to look seriously for the 
causes of our impotence. They may, as a consequence, take this work seriously 
and brush off the expected protests from establishment scholars, and the 
governments that they support, around the Muslim world! 

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I pray that Allah may accept and bless this humble effort in the cause of Truth. 
May it so impact upon Muslims that their eyes will be opened to the fact that the 
Saudi-Wahhabi regime that now controls the Haramain and the Hejaz played an 
active role in the destruction of the Islamic Caliphate and have since then 
constituted an obstruction to the restoration of power for the Ummah. Ameen! 

I. N. H. 

Masjid Dar al-Qur'an, 

November 1996. Jumadi al-Thani 1417 

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One of the essential characteristics of the religion of Islam is its insistence 
that when a people recognize Allah Most High as 'sovereign' (al-Malik) 
then they must ensure that the State and all its institutions submit to 
Allah's supreme authority and supreme law. If the State, rather than Allah, 
is recognized as sovereign, and that is the essence of the secularism, Islam 
declares such to be Shirk (blasphemy) and that is the greatest sin possible. 

Around the world today the modern secular State is universally recognized 
as sovereign. Its authority is recognized as supreme, and so too its law. 
And so, around the world today mankind is now embraced by a universal 
political Shirk (blasphemy,). This is, in fact, one of the major signs that we 
now live in the age of Dajjal, the false Messiah or Anti-Christ, who 
deceived mankind into worshipping other than Allah Most High. He, 
Dajjal, is the mastermind behind today's world order about which the 
Hadith declares that 999 out of every 1000 will enter into the hellfire. But 
even Muslims seem to be unaware of this. 

Since Muslims recognized Allah as sovereign, they never recognized 
Constitution, Parliament, Supreme Court, Government etc., as sovereign. 
The sovereignty of Allah implies the supremacy of the religion of Islam 

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and, in particular, the sacred law or Shariah. The institution of the 
Caliphate symbolized that supremacy of Islam over the State and over 
public life. The Caliph, who was otherwise known as the Ameer or Imam, 
was the head of the Jama 'ah or community of Muslims. They pledged 
allegiance to him through the institution ofbaiy'ah. The territory in which 
that Jama' ah was located was designated Dar al-Islam. It was so 
designated because the Ameer had the freedom and authority to enforce 
Allah's sacred law in that territory. 

Euro-Christian civilization was also founded on recognition of divine 
sovereignty. In that civilization, however, it was the Church that was 
recognized as God's representative on the earth, and the State was thus 
subservient to the Church. 

But Europe experienced a conflict between religion and the State that 
resulted in the defeat of the Church. The consequence was that Europe 
experienced such a revolutionary transformation of the very foundations 
of the civilization that the State and politics were secularized. The final 
chapter of the conflict, which sealed the fate of religion in Europe, and 
brought an essentially godless civilization into being, was the American, 
French and Bolshevik Revolutions. The sphere of religion was reduced to 
individual and group worship, and the Pope and Euro-Christianity were 
excluded as actors in the conduct of State. God was no longer recognized 
to be sovereign (al-Akbar). Instead it was the people who were sovereign, 
and they vested that sovereignty in the new secular model of a State. The 
State was now al-Akbar. For Europe that was secularism. For Islam, the 
religion, it was Shirk, the greatest of all sins! 

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It was strange that non-European Christianity did not put up a great 
struggle against this destruction of the sacred model of a State created by 
the Prophets David and Solomon (peace be upon them both). 

Godless European civilization has embarked upon a crusade to transform 
the entire world and to remold it after the new European model of the 
secular State and godless society. The rest of the world was colonized or 
had its essential freedom taken away. And so the non-European world 
also, was eventually secularized and is fast being reduced to a godless 
society. This included the world of Islam. In fact the world of Islam was 
the special target of godless European civilization. 

The process of reducing the world of Islam to a godless society 
commenced with the secularization of public life. The Ottoman Empire 
was targeted. It had to be destroyed. But it could not be destroyed so long 
as the Caliphate remained a powerful institution of unity for Muslims. And 
so the Caliphate had to be destroyed. 

The destruction of the Ottoman Empire, which was effected in the First 
World War, resulted in the emergence of the secular State of Turkey. The 
government was constituted of secularized westernized Turkish 
nationalists who worked hand-in-glove with an under-ground Jewish 
movement. They first reduced the Caliphate to an office that resembled 
that of the Pope, and then abolished it. But the secularization process in 
the world of Islam was sealed when the Hejaz, under the rule of Abdul 
Aziz ibn Saud, also joined Mustafa Kamal (Ataturk) in the rejection of the 

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supremacy of Islam over the State. And so Arabia, the heartland of Islam, 
also embraced of the secular model of a State. The birth of the State of 
Saudi Arabia coincided with the destruction of the Dar al-Islam that had 
been established by the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings of Allah 
be upon him). 

While the Hejaz was Dar al-Islam every Muslim had the right to enter that 
territory, - he did not need a visa. There was no such thing as Saudi 
sovereignty. There was no such thing as Saudi citizenship. The right of 
entry into any part of Dar al-Islam was one of several rights which 
Muslims had, such as the right to reside in Dar al-Islam, - they did not 
need residence permits, the right to seek livelihood in any part of Dar 
al-Islam, they did not need a work permits etc. The birth of the State of 
Saudi Arabia resulted in the denial and eventual elimination of all these 
rights of Muslims. 

The destruction of the Caliphate and the emergence of the State of Saudi 
Arabia were events that changed the very face of the world of Islam in 
such a way as to result in a return to the pre-hijri stage of Islamic 
civilization. Nowhere in the world today does Dar al-Islam exist. 

It would, we believe, be correct to assert that the basic difference that 
existed between prQ-Hijri and post-Hijri Islam was the establishment by 
the Prophet (sallalahu 'alahi wa sallam) of Dar al-Islam (the Islamic Public 
Order) in Madina. But the world of Islam, like the rest of the 
non-European world, has today been incorporated into a secular and 
materialist system of political organization constituted of the unit of the 


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modern secular nation-State. As a consequence, Dar al-Islam no longer 
exists today, not even in Makkah and Madina. We are therefore justified in 
concluding that the world of Islam has in effect returned, in its collective 
existence as an Ummah, to prc-Hijri Islam. 

Islamic civilization now appears to have entered into the post-caliphate era 
of its history. And, as it was in Makkah fourteen hundred years ago, so too 
today, - the Muslim community around the world is subjected to an 
all-embracing Jahiliyah that dominates the world. That Jahiliyah is, of 
course, modern post-Christian western secular and materialist western 

It was, perhaps, with particular reference to this age, that the Prophet of 
Islam (saiiaiahu 'aiaiM wa saiiam) is reported to have said: "Whosoever dies 
without having witnessed (during his lifetime) (the institution of) Baiy 'ah 
(the oath of allegiance by the people through which an appointment to the 
position of leadership over the Ummah is legitimized) has certainly died a 
death of jahiliyah (i.e., a death in an age which has witnessed the return to 
the pre-hijri jahiliyah)" . 

This Hadith of the Prophet (sallalahu 'alaihi wa sallam) was considered to be of 
such authenticity and paramount importance that it was used by Al-Azhar 
University to justify the call for an international Islamic Caliphate 
Conference in Cairo which would respond in an appropriate way to the 
decision of the Turkish Grand National Assembly, in March 1924, to 
abolish the Caliphate. 


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The Conference itself, which was held in 1926, adopted resolutions which 
incorporated this statement of the Prophet (sallalaku 'alaihi wa salhm) and 
affirmed the necessity of the institution of the Caliphate, and hence, the 
Islamic Public Order, for the world of Islam. 

The challenge before the Ummah today is plain and clear. It is to attempt 
to repeat the original movement of the Ummah and, thus, to travel from 
Makkah to Madina once again. In doing so the Ummah will re -realize 
the establishment ofDar al-Islam (Islamic Public Order). If this Ummah is 
ever to succeed in restoring the supremacy of Islam over the State in the 
world of Islam, it is imperative that Muslims be aware of the history of 
collapse of the Caliphate and its replacement, in the heartland of Islam, by 
the secular Saudi- Wahhabi nation-State. 

This study is of even more strategic importance because the enemy who 
destroyed the Caliphate now have their eyes trained on the Hajj. The Hajj 
has been performed uninterruptedly since it was established by the Prophet 
Abraham ('alaihi al-Salam) thousands of years ago. The Hajj continued even 
when Arabia had embraced idolatry. The enemies of Islam now have as 
one of their supreme long-term objectives, the termination of the Hajj. 

Abu Said al-Khudri has narrated a Hadith of the Prophet (sallalahu 'alahi wa 
sallam) in which he, the Prophet, has declared that: 

"The people will continue to perform the Hajj and Umrah to the Ka'aba even 
after the appearance of Y'ajuj (Gog) and M'ajuj (Magog)." Shu'ba narrated, in 


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addition: The (last) hour will not be established until the Hajj to the Ka'aba is 


Our study of the subject has led us to conclude that the goal of stopping 
the Hajj is now within the grasp of the enemies of Islam. All that is 
required for that goal to be achieved is that Masjid al-Aqsa be destroyed. 
The Jewish State of Israel can do that at anytime. It is just a matter of 
choosing the opportune moment. The present Saudi regime has been 
cunningly drawn into a non-reversible position vis-a-vis the Jewish State. 
The destruction of Masjid al-Aqsa will result in greater opposition for the 
Saudis. They will not be able to control the rage that Muslims will express 
at the time of the Hajj. And yet if they are seen as unable to control the 
Hajj then the internal opposition within Saudi Arabia will put the Hajj to 
effective use in destabilizing the regime. This is the scenario that will most 
likely lead the Saudis to stop the Hajj in order to preserve their rule. 

If the world of Islam were to lose the Hajj, after having lost the Caliphate, 
it would constitute yet another massive step back to the Jahiliyyah of pre- 
Hijri Makkah. Our security predicament will become just as precarious as 
it was in pre-Hijri Makkah. Only the strongest possible Iman will survive 
that terrible test! What can we do about it? The first step that must be 
taken in any possible counter-strategy must be to study and critically 
evaluate the history of that period wherein the Caliphate was lost. This is 
what we attempt to do in this book. 


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Allah, the All-powerful, sent the perfected religion of Islam with the 
Prophet Muhammad (sallalahu 'alahi wa sallam) that it might establish its 
supremacy over all rivals. This required the prior submission by the 
Ummah, to the supremacy of Islam in both the private and public life of 

The office of the Caliphate (Khilafaf) functioned as the ultimate symbol of 
Islam as a dominant force in public life. Without the Caliphate the world 
of Islam would never have power. There was, however, a permanent link 
between the Caliphate and control over the Har amain, i.e., the sacred 
territories in Makkah and Madina. Anyone who could succeed in severing 
that link would cripple the institution of the Caliphate and, eventually, 
render the world of Islam powerless! 

Throughout the 1400 years of the history of the Ummah of the Prophet 
Muhammad, no one has ever been successfully appointed to the Caliphate, 
and has had his appointment legitimized by the Baiy'ah, or oath of 
allegiance of the Muslims, without such a person having had either actual 
control, or the capacity to exercise control, over the Hejaz in general and 
the Haramain in particular. The office of the Caliphate, and authority 


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over the Haramain, have always been inseparably linked in the 
religio-political consciousness of the Ummah. 

The inseparable link also had a foundation in the Shariah in so far as the 
Hajj was an institution equally binding on all the members of the Ummah, 
and Hajj involved physical travel to the Hejaz. No one, therefore could be 
recognized to be the supreme leader of the Muslims who did not have the 
authority and the means of exercising responsibility for the organization 
and administration of the Hajj. And this, of course, included freedom and 
security for the pilgrims and, hence, required control over the Hejaz. As a 
consequence, even when the seat of the Caliphate was shifted from the 
Hejaz to Kufa (Iraq), Damascus, Baghdad, Cairo and even Istanbul, the 
Khulafa (i.e., Caliphs) always took the greatest care to maintain their 
authority and control over the Hejaz. This basically continued 
uninterruptedly until the demise of the Ottoman Islamic Empire in the 
First World War. 

Now the enemies of Islam paid very careful attention to the study and 
understanding of the link between the Caliphate, the power of Islam as a 
world-wide force, and control over the Haramain, and then planned their 
diabolical strategy to render Islam powerless, and to confine it to a 
personal private faith with no authority over public life. In other words 
they planned their strategy to secularize Islam and so reduce Muslims to 
the godless European way of life. 

If Western civilization was ever to succeed in finally defeating and 
controlling Islam, and in incorporating the entire world of Islam into the 


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new secular international order that had been established by the West, the 
strategy required that Hejaz should be subjected to Western influence in 
order that the Caliphate might be weakened and eventually eliminated. So 
long as the Caliphate survived it would always remain a sore in the eyes of 
the West, a manifestation of the authority of Islam over public life, a 
powerful symbol of the Theo centric Islamic Public Order and of Pax 
Islamica, and a rallying point through which the world of Islam could 
always be mobilized into a potent fighting force. There was an inseparable 
link between 'power' and the Caliphate in Islam! 

The British, realizing the paramount importance of the Hejaz and the 
Haramain for the legitimacy and even survival of the Ottoman Caliphate, 
concentrated their diplomacy in the First World War on wresting the 
Hejaz from the control of the Ottoman Caliph. This was achieved when 
Sharif Husain, the Ottoman-appointed Sharif of Makkah and great 
grandfather of the present King Husain of Jordan, was successfully 
induced by the British to rebel against the Ottoman Caliph and to establish 
his own authority over the Hejaz under benign British alliance and 

By 1916, and in the very midst of the First World War, the Ottoman 
Caliph had lost control over Makkah and Jeddah, i.e., the lower Hejaz. His 
control over Madina was maintained throughout the war and only came to 
an end in 1919 when certain Ottoman troops within the city of Madina 
were induced to rebel against their heroic leader, Fakhri Pasha.<l> 

After the Ottoman Caliph had lost control over the Hejaz, the Caliphate 
was so crippled that it lingered on in Istanbul for a just a few more years 


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before it collapsed completely. And this was a truly outstanding success 
for British diplomacy. The weakening of the Caliphate destabilized the 
entire structure of the Ottoman Islamic Empire. It eventually collapsed. In 
1919 British troops, under the leadership of General Allenby, captured 
Jerusalem. It is significant that Allenby, upon entering the Holy City, 
proclaimed that "the crusades are now finally over". If there was any 
doubt whatsoever of the extreme danger to Islam posed by British 
diplomacy in the Arabian Peninsula, this statement of Allenby should have 
put those doubts to rest. 

What Allenby meant was that Islam was now a tiger without teeth. Its fate 
was to remain permanently powerless and, therefore, incapable of 
responding to the loss of Jerusalem in the manner in which Salahuddin 
Ayyubi (Saladin) had responded when Jerusalem was lost to the 

Arabs had fought with Allenby to wrest Jerusalem from the rule of the 
Ottoman Caliph. Those Arabs were now waiting to ravage the carcass left 
by the British victory over Istanbul. They coveted local rule over the 
Hejaz, but it was still necessary to wait and see whether the Ottoman 
Caliph would ever be able to regain the strength necessary to seek to 
reimpose his rule over the Hejaz. When, on March 3, 1924, the Ottoman 
Caliphate was abolished, it became clear that no such threat existed. And it 
was precisely on that day that the clients of Britain began their fight over 
the carcass left by their betrayal of the Ottoman Islamic rule. 


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On March 7, 1924, Sharif al-Husain pre-emtively claimed the Caliphate 
for himself. His most important credential was that he exercised de facto 
local control over the Hejaz. He also boasted of being Hashimite i.e., 
belonging to the same clan - Banu Hashim, of the tribe of the Quraish to 
which the Prophet himself belonged. In fact this weighed so heavily 
amongst the Ulama that the Chief Qadi of Transjordan promptly accepted 
the claim and recognized Husain as Caliph. 

His other credential, which was of dubious value amongst the Muslim 
masses, but which weighed heavily in the power-politics of the peninsula, 
was that the Sharif 'was an ally of Britain, the super-power of the day, and 
had received considerable financial, diplomatic and military support from 
Britain in his successful rebellion against Ottoman authority in the Hejaz. 
In claiming the Caliphate for himself Sharif Husain committed the 
monstrous blunder of not first seeking the permission of the British to act 
as he did. It is the essence of the client-State status that freedom is 
effectively curtailed. Sharif Husain had violated the basic rule of conduct 
for client-States. How would the British react? 

Now British diplomacy in Jaziratul Arab (i.e., the Arabian peninsula) was 
multi-dimensional and yet integrated. There was, first of all, the objective 
of wresting control of the Haramain from the Caliph. This was meant to 
weaken his legitimacy, and thus his influence and control over the rest of 
the world of Islam, and so facilitate the defeat of the Ottomans in the 
world war. Secondly Britain wanted a friendly regime in control of the 
Hejaz so that it could better be able to manipulate the politics of the 
peninsula. Finally, the politics of the peninsula and the defeat of the 


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Ottomans were strategically linked to Zionism's efforts to build a 
diabolical consensus with Britain in the pursuit of the creation of a Jewish 
National Home in Palestine. And this integrated diplomacy was finally 
made clear with the Sykes-Picot Agreement of 1916 and the Balfour 
Declaration of 1917. 

The "super-power' (of the day) and the so-called "chosen people' would 
hence be locked in an embrace of truly momentous consequences for them 
and for the rest of mankind. 

The objective of the integrated diplomacy was to dismantle the entire 
Islamic Public Order so as to render Islam powerless to prevent Zionism 
from achieving its goal. Already the Islamic institutions integrally related 
to the Islamic Public Order, AM al-Dhimmah and al-Jizyah, <2> had been 
abolished in the Ottoman Islamic Empire in 1855 as a direct consequence 
of European pressure. But so long as the institution of the Caliphate 
remained it was always possible for the Islamic Public Order to linger on 
and, eventually, be revived. The attack on the institution of the Caliphate 
was, therefore, a vital necessary if the ultimate Euro-Jewish goal was ever 
to be achieved. 

It was also quite clear to the British and the Zionists that a Jewish National 
Home, - the Jewish State of Israel, could not be established in Muslim 
Palestine, and could never hope to survive so long as the world of Islam 
had a Caliph capable of mobilizing its formidable resources and religious 
fervor and directing it to military ends. And so the control over the Hejaz, 


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which was of paramount importance in the politics of the peninsula, was a 
matter to which British diplomacy directed supreme attention. 

But the claim to the Caliphate by the Hashimite, Sharif al-Husain, was 
incompatible with British diplomatic objectives because it was always 
possible that the claim could have succeeded. Sharif al-Husain could then 
have mobilized the world of Islam to such an extent as to re-establish the 
Islamic Public Order and Pax Islamica in the symbolically powerful 
heartland of Islam, and so pose a threat to Britain's influence and control 
over large parts of Dar al-Islam. A revitalized world of Islam would also 
have made Jewish control over Palestine and Jerusalem quite impossible. 

And so Britain gave her blessings to the other British client in the 
peninsula, Abd al-Aziz Ibn Saud, to move against Husain and to wrest 
control of the Hejaz from him. This was the perfection of the art of 
double-crossing and of hypocrisy. One client was used to eliminate 
another client. 

Britain had cultivated Ibn Saud's friendship and alliance during the war 
and, as usual, had employed financial diplomacy (i.e., bribery). Ibn Saud 
received a monthly sum of 5000 pounds sterling from the British Treasury 
in return for his benevolent neutrality in Husain's rebellion against the 
Caliph, the imposition of Hashimite rule over the Hejaz, and Britain's 
diplomatic and military efforts in the peninsula directed against the 
Ottoman Islamic State. He diabolically rationalized this manifest violation 
of the command of Allah Most High and His Prophet by explaining it 
away the bribe as Jizyah. <3> (Qur'an 5:51) 


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But British diplomacy in respect of Ibn Saud was directed to ends of far 
greater strategic importance than mere benevolent neutrality in the war 
and the disposal of the injudicious Sharif Husain. Ibn Saud had a far 
greater potential that Britain now moved to exploit, consequent on Sharif 
Husain's claim to the Caliphate. 

The Saudi power in the Nejd, which had re-emerged with the capture of 
Riyadh in 1902, was the product of an old alliance between a tribal chief 
and the religious leader of the puritanical fanatical Wahhabi religious sect. 
That alliance ensured that while the descendants of the tribal chief would 
wield political power over territory ruled by the alliance, religious affairs 
would be subject to the authority of the descendants of the religious chief. 
As a consequence it was inevitable that the Najdi Saudis would be under 
pressure from the Wahhabis to seek to force the submission of the 
heart-land of Islam (the Hejaz) to the Wahhabi perception of the true faith. 

Britain was only too pleased to give the green light to Ibn Saud to move 
his forces against Husain four days after the Hashemite had claimed the 
Caliphate for himself. Ibn Saud was impatient to move against Husain 
since, as strange as it may appear, both Jewish control over Jerusalem and 
Wahhabi control over Hejaz faced a similar threat. Neither could either be 
achieved or could hope to survive if the world of Islam had a Caliph. 

By supporting Ibn Saud the British were now ensuring that so long as the 
Saudi-Wahhabis ruled over the Hejaz the Caliphate could never be 
revived. The British further calculated that without the Caliphate the 


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Islamic Public Order could not survive and the world of Islam would then 
be so weakened that it could never be mobilized to prevent the creation of 
the Jewish State of Israel. Britain also knew that the Wahhabis, 
themselves, could never claim the Caliphate since a Wahhabi Caliph 
would always be totally unacceptable to the overwhelming majority of 
Muslims the world over. And so, by withdrawing support from Husain and 
supporting Ibn Saud, Britain was in fact pursuing her relentless attack on 
the institution of the Caliphate and the theocentric Islamic Public Order. 

Within a few months Ibn Saud was able to conquer Makkah, and Husain 
fled to Jeddah. The British eventually intervened to remove him physically 
from the peninsula by offering him a comfortable exile in Cyprus. And 
soon Madina and Jeddah were also under Saudi- Wahhabi rule. 

More than a century earlier, however, the Saudi-Wahhabi alliance had 
succeeded in overcoming the defenses of Taif and Makkah and there 
ensued a blood-bath of truly astonishing proportions. The Wahhabis, in 
their fanatical zeal, considered the Muslims resident in the Hejaz to be 
Mushriqoon (i.e., a people guilty of the crime of blasphemy) and, as a 
consequence, held that it was permissible to kill them. The Caliph in 
Istanbul got the Mamluke Khedive of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, to send an 
army to the Hejaz under the leadership of his son Ismail. The 
Saudi-Wahhabi warriors were unceremoniously driven out of Hejaz and 
into the desert. A century later, however, there was no Caliph and all the 
powerful Muslim communities were under western colonial rule. In 
addition, Ibn Saud enjoyed the protecting friendship of Great Britain, the 
super-power of the day. There was, therefore, no immediate possibility 


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whatsoever of dislodging the Saudi- Wahhabi forces from the Haramain 
and Hejaz. 

Although Ibn Saud was safely in control of Hejaz he was still confronted 
with a truly formidable problem at the commencement of his rule over the 
Hejaz in 1924. Namely, he had to devise some strategy that could avert the 
long-term possibility of a repetition of the disaster that visited the previous 
Saudi-Wahhabi rule over the Hejaz. It would appear that he first thought 
of a policy of conciliation with non- Wahhabi Muslims and of using his 
control over the Hejaz to further the cause of the unity of the Ummah. 
Thus shortly after gaining control over Makkah and receiving from its 
inhabitants their recognition of him as Sultan of the Hejaz, he issued a 
proclamation to the entire world of Islam to the effect that the Hejaz, with 
its Haramain, belonged to the entire world of Islam and that he, Ibn Saud, 
held control over the Hejaz as a trust only, and on behalf of the entire 
world of Islam. <4> He then went on to invite the entire world of Islam to 
send its representatives to Makkah so that, on the basis of Shura 
(consultation) and Ijma (consensus), a just, efficient and representative 
administration could be established over the Hejaz. 

This important announcement was entirely consistent with the provisions 
of the Islamic Public Order. The Hejaz was still the Dar al-Islam that had 
been established by the Prophet. As yet there was no hint of any Saudi 
State that would claim 'territorial sovereignty' over the Hejaz. The rights 
of the Muslims in the territory of Dar al-Islam were being publicly 
recognized and respected. 


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But unfortunately this concern for the unity of the world of Islam and this 
fervent declaration concerning the status of the Hejaz did not represent the 
actual Saudi- Wahhabi designs over the Hejaz. It was simply a case of 
'politics of expediency' and was designed to protect the Saudi- Wahhabis 
in the wake of a significant initiative undertaken by Al-Azhar University in 
Cairo shortly after the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate. Indeed the 
Azhar initiative had perilous implications for Ibn Saud and the 
Saudi-Wahhabi rule over the Hejaz. It also constituted a troublesome "fly 
in the ointment' for the victorious Zionists and British. Al-Azhar proposed 
to convene an International Islamic Caliphate Congress (Mu'tamar 
al-Khilafah) in Cairo which would, among other things, attempt to appoint 
a new Caliph over the world of Islam. 

Had the Wahhabis been genuinely devoted to Islam they would have 
welcomed this Al-Azhar effort to achieve conformity with an essential 
requirement of the Shariah, i.e., the establishment of a genuine Caliphate. 
The Wahhabis had long argued that the post-Rashidoon Caliphate was 
invalid because, among other things, the Caliphate was not constituted in a 
manner that conformed with the requirements of the Shariah. Now that the 
invalid Caliphate had been abolished and the leading center of Islamic 
learning was convening an international Islamic congress to discuss the 
question of the Caliphate and to effect the appointment of a new Caliph, 
the Wahhabis should not only have welcomed this initiative but should 
also have extended every possible cooperation and should have 
participated in a serious way in the Congress in order to ensure that the 
genuine Caliphate was restored. 


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But the Wahhabis had no such sincere devotion to Islam. Their attitude 
was essentially one of selective religiosity, expediency, opportunism and 
parochialism. The Wahhabis knew that the world of Islam would never 
have accepted a Wahhabi Caliph and, as a consequence, they found it 
expedient to repudiate an essential requirement of the Islamic Public 
Order. They marshaled all their energies to sabotage the Cairo Caliphate 
Congress. Their strategy was to organize a rival congress in Makkah at the 
time of the Hajj of 1926. That meant that the Makkah Congress would 
take place within a month of Cairo Congress, making it difficult for 
delegates to attend both conferences. Since the Makkah Conference was 
timed to coincide with the Hajj, and since it had the active support of the 
British, it had a clear advantage over the Cairo Conference. 

Secondly they specifically excluded from the agenda of the Makkah 
Congress the question of the Caliphate. This transparent attempt to 
sabotage the Cairo Conference and to bury the Caliphate was more than 
ample evidence to expose the hollow credentials of the Wahhabis as 
so-called champions of the Shariah and of Islam. 

The response of the world of Islam to this rivalry, i.e., the Cairo Caliphate 
Congress of May/June 1926 and the rival Makkah World Muslim 
Congress of July 1926, is a subject that deserves serious research. How 
much British diplomacy was involved in ensuring, for example, that the 
important Muslim community of India which had supported the Ottoman 
Caliphate to such an extent that they had established the formidable 
Caliphate Movement, would stay away from the Caliphate Congress of 
Cairo and, instead, attend the rival Makkah Congress from the agenda of 


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which the question of the Caliphate was specifically excluded? Very little 
research has been done on this subject. 

What was clear, however, was that in this rivalry the Makkah Congress 
achieved a tactical victory over Cairo, - a victory that had enormous 
implications for the very survival of the institution of the Caliphate and the 
orthodox Islamic Public Order (i.e., Dar al-Islam). Those who organized 
the Cairo Congress wished to ensure conformity with the orthodox Islamic 
system of political organization. But they were intellectually incapable of 
articulating a conception of the Islamic Public Order (Dar al-Islam) and 
the Islamic Conception of an International Order that could convince a 
skeptical world of Islam. 

Those who organized the Makkah Congress, on the other hand, were 
unwilling, because of vested interests, to remain faithful to the orthodox 
Islamic Public Order with its Caliphate, Dar al-Islam etc. Instead they 
chose to accept the rival system of political organization which had 
emerged in modern western civilization and which had just penetrated the 
very seat of the Ottoman caliphate, - namely the secular nation-State 
system. And they did so because it was only in the nation-State system 
that the Saudi-Wahhabis could realistically pursue an effort to win 
recognition and legitimacy for their rule over the Hejaz and thus ensure 
the survival of the Saudi State. They camouflaged their true designs and 
made an elaborate attempt to dupe the world of Islam. And their success 
in this game of deception was amply demonstrated in the representative 
character of the Makkah Congress. 


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The tactical victory of the Makkah Congress in its rivalry with the Cairo 
Congress played a significant role in paving the way for the rest of the 
world of Islam, including the very heart-land of Islam, to eventually 
follow the example of Mustafa Kamal and his model of the secular State 
of Turkey. The history of the world of Islam since 1924 records, on the 
one hand, the evils which were continuously injected into the body of the 
Ummah through this alien system of political organization and, on the 
other, the naive, confused and superficial attempts of modern Islamic 
scholarship to reconstruct a new Islamic Public Order on the secular 
foundations of the nation-State system. 

What emerged from those efforts was the goal of "Islamisation' and of 
establishing "the Islamic State' within the system of nation-States. But 
both of these were futile goals for it was, and still is, impossible for them 
to be achieved without first dismantling some of the essential apparatus of 
the nation-State, - essential, that is, for its survival as a secular institution. 

Both Dr Muhammad Iqbal and Maulana Abul Ala Maududi ventured into 
Ijtihad (i.e., independent reasoning) to reconstruct an Islamic Public Order 
in post-Caliphate Islam. Their efforts resulted in the concept of "the 
Islamic State'. Unfortunately, however, the efforts for establishing the 
Islamic State resulted in the orthodox Islamic system of the political 
organization of the Ummah or the Islamic Public Order (i.e., Pax Islamica 
and Dar al-Islam) being relegated to total obscurity. As a consequence 
political thought in the world of Islam was gravely misdirected, and the 
immense confusion so created persists to the present day. 


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The First World War and the Abolition of the Ottoman 

In so far as the Muslim World was concerned the first world war was 
much more than a mere European war. It was, rather, a war which brought 
about upheavals and changes in the Muslim World which were 
unprecedented in its thirteen hundred years of existence. 

Firstly, the greatest Muslim power and seat of the contemporary Caliphate, 
the Ottoman Islamic Empire, entered the war on the side of the Central 
Powers. While this decision is still clouded in some controversy since, up 
to the very last moment, the Ottoman leadership had not decided whether 
to enter the war or not, and if so, which side to support, there were 
grounds for speculating about a possible British-Zionist role in the affair. 

The Jewish-Zionist leaders had made a number of unsuccessful efforts at 
striking a deal with the Caliph for Jewish control over Jerusalem. They 


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even offered to buy the holy city. Britain had supported these 
Jewish-Zionist efforts. 

Among Britain's major political and military goals in the war were the 
subjugation of Islam as a power in the world, the conquest of Jerusalem, 
and the creation in Palestine of a Jewish homeland that would constantly 
disrupt and police the Muslim Middle East on behalf of the West. 

The Ottoman leadership predictably attempted to mobilize support for its 
war effort from the entire Muslim world. In this connection, on November 
23, 1914 the Shaikh al-Islam of the Ottoman Islamic State issued a fatwa 
and a proclamation declaring jihad and commanding all Muslims to fight 
against the Allied Powers. British diplomacy, however, succeeded in 
promoting and exploiting Arab nationalism in the Arabian Peninsula as an 
effective means of attacking and undermining the formidable strength of 
universal Islamic fraternity. As a consequence the Arabs rebelled against 
Ottoman rule on the basis of a British offer of assistance to achieve 
national independence. 

In less than two years after the commencement of the war Sharif 
al-Husain, self-styled 'King of the Arabs', firm ally of the British, and 
great-grandfather of Jordan's King Husain, had successfully rebelled 
against the Ottoman authority and was installed as King of the Hejaz, the 
heart-land of Islam. And as a consequence of the loss of the cities of 
Makkah and, eventually, Madina, the pan-Islamic appeal of the Ottoman 
Caliph suffered irreparable damage. 


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The British followed up their success in the Hejaz by installing the sons of 
Husain as Kings in Iraq and Transjordan as well. And by 1919 the British 
General, Allenby, with Arab troops fighting loyally with him, marched 
triumphantly into Jerusalem and declared that the crusades had finally 
come to an end. Palestine remained a British Mandate territory (mandated 
by the League of Nations) until the British withdrew in 1948 and the 
Zionist Jews declared the establishment of the State of Israel. 

The Ottoman Islamic Empire was badly defeated in the war. The Allied 
Powers combined their military prowess with a psychological weapon that 
had far-reaching effects for Islam. The British and French succeeded in 
winning Islamic military support (by means more foul than fair) from 
India, the Maghrib and other areas and so both Arab and non-Arab 
Muslims fought against their brother Muslim Turks. The result was that 
the Ottoman Islamic Empire was not only defeated but its universal 
Islamic foundations were destroyed. 

Out of the ashes of Ottoman defeat in the first world war the secular 
Turkish nationalist forces, led by Mustafa Kamal, fought a "war after the 
war" with such courage, brilliance and determination that the war-weary 
European powers, restrained from intervening by their own domestic 
public opinion, could do nothing to prevent the Turks from inflicting a 
crushing defeat on the Greeks and in winning Turkish freedom. The 
Treaty of Lausanne, signed in 1924, gave international recognition to that 
which had been won by Turkish arms on the battlefield. 

The Turkish Nationalists and the Caliphate 


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The Turkish nationalist forces had been in constant conflict with the 
Sultan-Caliph for more than fifty years, struggling to limit his powers 
through a constitutional order which would replace what they considered 
to be an autocratic dictatorship. The Turkish nationalist forces were 
essentially secular in their political outlook and were deeply impressed by 
what they perceived to be the evident superiority of Western civilization 
over the Ottoman Caliphate and Islamic Empire. 

In the wake of the loss of the cities of Makkah and Madina, and after 
brother-Muslims had fought against them in the war, they now felt 
themselves free from any impelling attachment to the world of Islam. And 
they moved swiftly to transform their political order from the old model of 
Dar al-Islam, or the Islamic Public Order, to the western model of a 
modern secular nation-State, the Republic of Turkey. 

In such a transformation it was, and still is, inevitable that there should be 
some form of separation of "church" from "state" - for this was the very 
foundation of the western model. <5> The new Turkish Grand National 
Assembly, faithful to the new model it was introducing, appointed Abdul 
Mageed as Caliph in 1922 to serve as head of the Islamic "Church. His 
Caliphate, however, was shorn of all temporal power. These were vested 
in the State. 

It was just as inevitable that the new model should break down in the 
Islamic milieu of Turkey. It was not, and still is not, possible to do with 
Islam what the Europeans had done with Christianity after the break-up of 


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the Holy Roman Empire. The Caliph was not, and could not be, the 
equivalent of the Pope. <6> There could be no accommodation of political 
secularism in the Islamic system since orthodox Islam recognized no 
division between the Church and the State. Indeed there was no such 
thing as an Islamic 'Church. 

It quickly became evident that the new model of a modern nation-State 
could not emerge while the institution of the Caliphate remained. There 
also appeared signs (like the British support for the Caliphate Movement 
in India) that the enemies of the Kemalist Republic might seek to use the 
Caliph to destabilize the Republic and eventually to remove Mustafa 
Kamal. The Turkish nationalist forces quickly and clearly understood that 
the nation-State in the Islamic milieu either had to summon the courage to 
take control of Islam and subordinate Islam to the State or suffer the fate 
(i.e., from their perspective) of having Islam take control of the State and 
restore Dar al-Islam. 

It was no surprise, therefore, when the Turkish Grand National Assembly 
adopted, on March 3, 1924, another law abolishing the Caliphate. Article 
1 of the Law stated: 

"The Caliph is deposed. The office of the Caliphate is abolished, since the 
Caliphate is essentially comprised in the meaning and signification of the 
words Government (Hukumah) and Republic (Jumhuriyyah)" <1> 

The passage of this law marked a decisive moment in the history of the 
Ummah. After a period of thirteen hundred years during which the 


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institution of the Caliphate was almost universally recognized by Muslims 
(i.e., sunni Muslims) as essential to their 

religion, even when the seat of the Caliphate was filled in ways which 
were contrary to the principles of Islam, the world of Islam found itself in 
the fourteenth century of its existence without a Caliph. Indeed so definite 
and permanent was the change that one could, perhaps, be forgiven for 
concluding that the world of Islam had now passed into the post-Caliphate 
period of its existence. 

The Response of Al-Azhar University to the Abolition of the 
Ottoman Caliphate 

The significance of the abolition of the Caliphate was to be found in the 
very Article One of the Law of Abolition, to wit, the Caliphate was being 
replaced by the modern secular nation-State. An institution considered to 
be a part of the religion of Islam was being replaced, under the impact of 
western political thought and civilization, by a political system which 
belonged to the western world, and terminology (Hukumah and 
Jumhuriyyah) used in the old orthodox model were now being used in a 
new sense to fit the new model. As great a thinker as Dr. Muhammad 
Iqbal appears not to have adequately understood the true nature of the 
change which was taking place. <8> 

To the extent that the Caliphate formed part of the religion of Islam it was 
very clear that a massive and (from the religious viewpoint) quite 


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reprehensible bid'ah was being perpetrated and this required an 
appropriate religious response. Twenty-two days after the passage of the 
law in the Turkish Grand National Assembly, the Rector of Al-Azhar 
University in Cairo met with the leading ulama of the University and of 
Egypt and the following declaration concerning the Caliphate was issued: 

"The Caliphate, which is synonymous with the Imamate, is a general leadership 
(ri'asah) in matters of al-Din and of al-Duniya. Its fundamental function is to 
watch over the interests of the millat and over the administration of the Ummah". 

The declaration located this "general leadership' in the office of the Imam 
who was defined as: 

"... the deputy of the promulgator of the religious law for the defense of the 
faith, for the application of its precepts and for the administration of mundane 
affairs as the shari'ah provides. 

"The Imam becomes the Imam in virtue of the payment of allegiance (bay'ah) on 
the part of those with the power to ' loose and bind' (ahl al-halli wal-aqd) <9> or 
else being chosen by his predecessor to succeed him. 

"The Imamate can also be acquired by conquest in the sense that if another party 
masters the Caliph and usurps his place, the Caliph loses his office. Sometimes 
acquisition by conquest is reinforced by payment of allegiance or by the choice 
of the preceding Caliph as was the case with the majority of the Caliphs of the 
past." <10> 

Turning to the concrete situation facing them, the declaration condemned 
as bid'ah without precedent in Islam, first the appointment of Abdul 


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Majeed to a Caliphate stripped of its temporal power, - this being assumed 
by the Turkish Grand National Assembly, and secondly the abolition of 
the Caliphate. 

Since these Bid' ah were totally incompatible with the tenets of the faith, 
the ulama concluded that an Islamic Congress should be convened, to 
which representatives of all Muslim peoples should be invited, in order to 
consider on whose shoulders the Islamic Caliphate ought to be placed. 

This then was the first serious response of the world of Islam to the 
abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate. But it is important to note that the 
proposal represented a significant departure from traditional political 
behavior in the orthodox model of Islam. One might even describe it as 
bid'ah. The Azhar ulama were proposing to use an Islamic Congress, albeit 
with representatives of all Muslim peoples participating, to appoint a new 
Caliph. Not since the first half of the first century of Islamic history had a 
Caliph been elected by the people. And never in the entire history of Islam 
had he ever been elected by an Assembly or Congress representative of all 
the Islamic peoples.<l 1> 

The proposal encountered such difficulties that the Committee charged 
with planning for the Congress substituted the explosive issue of the 
election of a new Caliph for the less controversial and more practical 
subject of an analysis of the situation and possible responses. What is of 
the greatest importance, however, is that for the first time since the very 
earliest period of the history of Muslim polity the idea was publicly 
advanced by a prestigious body of learned Muslims that the most 


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important affairs of the Ummah could be discussed and decisions taken by 
an assembly or congress representative of all Muslim peoples. 

It is extremely difficult to determine whether this can be attributed to the 
influence of western civilization, as Toynbee would have us believe. <12> 
It nevertheless remains true that to the extent that the proposed Congress 
would have utilized shura and ijma it would have been closer to orthodox 
Islam than the Caliphate as all but the first few decades of its existence 
depicted it. 


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The Caliphate Congress, which finally met in Cairo in May 1926, had on 
its agenda the examination of the following items: 

1. "The definition of the Caliphate and of the qualifications required in the 

2. Is the Caliphate a necessity in Islam? 

3. How is the Caliphate contracted? 

4. Is it possible at the present time to constitute a Caliphate that fulfills all 
the requirements of the shari'ah? 

5. Supposing that the answer to the fourth point is in the negative, what 
action should be taken? 

6. Supposing that the Congress decides that it is necessary to appoint a 
Caliph, what steps should be taken to give effect to this decision?" 


The delegates who attended the Congress came from Egypt, Libya, 
Tunisia, Morocco, South Africa, Dutch East Indies (now Indonesia), 
Yemen, Hejaz (now in Saudi Arabia), Palestine, Iraq and Poland. 
Conspicuously absent were delegates from many important Islamic 


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countries and communities, - Turkey, Persia (now Iran), Afghanistan, Nejd 
(now in Saudi Arabia) and the Muslim communities of Russia, China and 

Turkey declined the invitation to attend with the cold reply that the 
country had no Caliphate problem. Persia, a Shia country, evinced no 
interest in the Sunni Caliphate Congress. The Muslims of Russia, China 
and India, all minorities living in hostile environments, adopted a common 
attitude. They stayed away from the Cairo conference of May 1926, 
regarding it as a mere academic exercise, a gathering devoid of any real 
power and unlikely to offer them any tangible assistance and protection. 
But they did so primarily because a rival conference had been arranged by 
one who appeared to be a real power, Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud. In fact he 
was, himself, in mortal fear of the re-emergence of the Caliphate since he 
had just wrested control of the holy cities of Makkah and Madina for his 
royal house. 

Finally, among the delegates present in Cairo, was the head of the Sanusi 
(sufi) Order, al-Sayyed Idris al-Sanusi, designated as Amir of Barka and 
Tripoli. It was rumored that there was a strong possibility of him being 
elected as Caliph if the Congress were to decide to elect one. <13> 

Congress Sessions 

The Congress met in four sessions on 13th, 15th, 18th and 19th May 1926. 
At the first session the First Committee was appointed "to examine 
proposals and bring them before the Congress". The Committee 
immediately proposed that the proceedings of the Congress be held "in 


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secret'. This proposal was rejected in the fourth plenary session with the 
result that we possess, as a public document, the entire Verbatim Record 
of this Congress. <14> 

The Second and Third Committees were appointed in the second plenary 
session, the Second Committee to examine Items 1, 2 and 3 of the 
Congress Agenda and the Third Committee to examine Items 4, 5 and 6. 
The Reports of the Second and Third Committees and the discussions and 
decisions based on these reports formed the very core of the work of the 
Congress. And it is to the analysis of these reports that we now turn. 

The Second Committee 

In defining the institution of the Caliphate the Second Committee relied on 
the authoritative writings of scholars like al-Mawardi, Ibn Khaldun and 
others. In particular, they laid emphasis on the fact that the Caliph must 
combine in his office 'temporal' as well as 'religious' leadership. 
Secondly, there can only be one Caliph at a time since, among other 
things, the role of the institution of the Caliphate is to unify the Ummah. 

The second question before the Committee (Is the Caliphate a necessity in 
Islam?) was, to say the least, quite incredible. Here was an institution 
which had always been of pivotal importance to Sunni Muslim polity and 
which had been with Muslims from the time of the death of the Prophet. In 
its entire history the Ummah had not only lived with the Caliphate but, in 
addition, had never seriously considered the possibility of an alternative. 


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Indeed, in the act of suggesting that an alternative to the Caliphate was 
possible, one would have been exposing one's self to the very grave charge 
of indulging in Bid' ah. And yet, in consequence of the fiat of one man, 
Mustafa Kamal of Turkey, here was the highest seat of learning in the 
entire world of Islam presenting for the consideration of the Caliphate 
Congress the question - Is the Caliphate a necessity in Islam? 

And yet, perhaps, this was the most important question the Ummah ever 
had to answer in its entire history. For it turned out, inevitably, that the 
Committee confirmed that the Caliphate was a necessity in Islam but that 
it could not, at that point in time, be realized. <16> In other words, Allah 
had placed on the Muslims an obligation that they could not, at that time, 
fulfill. But this was hardly a satisfactory answer to the question since 
Allah, by virtue of being Omniscient, could not place on His servants an 
obligation they could not fulfill. 

Either, then, the Caliphate was not a necessity in Islam, or it was a 
necessity and could not be realized. In which case failure to re-establish 
the Caliphate would be a collective sin for which the believers would be 

In respect of the third question (How is the Caliphate achieved or 
constituted?) the Committee answered as follows: 

1 . "By appointment by the preceding Caliph. 


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2. "By appointment by the classes of influential Muslims, i.e., men whom 
the public must obey such as ulama, amirs, notables, men of opinion and 

3. "By conquest by a Muslim even if he does not fulfill the other 
conditions." <17> 

The presentation of this Report by the Second Committee led to a very 
important and interesting debate between Abd al-Aziz al-Effendi, a 
Tunisian Professor who was one of the Iraqi delegates, and Shaikh 
Muhammad al-Ahmadi al-Zawahiri, head of the Egyptian delegation, 
<18> on the applicability of Islamic theoretical principles and the 
necessity of ijtihad: 

Thalibi Effendi: 

"No one can dispute the fact that the question of the Caliphate is the most 
important and the most difficult to resolve. I therefore propose an adjournment of 
the Congress until next year so that we may be able to study the problem in detail 
and in all its aspects. It will not suffice to examine the problem from the purely 
theoretic point of view. Some account must be taken of the necessity of 
circumstances and places, (and) of the influence exerted upon Islamic institutions 
by the policies of certain foreign powers." 

Shaikh al-Zawahiri: 

"In the examination of theological questions which were submitted to us, we did 
not wish to resort to ijtihad and to establish a new doctrine. We confined 
ourselves to examining the principles admitted by the recognized doctrines of 
Islam. As for the applicability of these principles, it is for you to declare that that 
is beyond our competence." 


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Thalibi Effendi: 

"I am advocating neither a new doctrine nor ijtihad. What I seek is your opinion. 
If you affirm principles which are not susceptible of application in our epoch, 
what will be the circumstances?" 

Shaikh al-Zawahiri: 

"It is dangerous for Islam to raise the question of the applicability, at one epoch 
rather than another, of the dispositions of the Shariah. We feel that the 
application of the general principles of religion ought to be subject to no 
exceptions, and we consider that there is no condition to establish new conditions 
in deference to the exigencies of the age." <19> 

Shaikh al-Zawahiri was, of course, perfectly justified in insisting that the 
Shari'ah, or divinely revealed sacred law of Islam, admitted of no 
revisions to suit differing situations and ages. The Shari'ah had to be 
retained in its revealed form regardless of whether or not the Muslims 
found themselves competent or not to apply it in a particular age. And so, 
for Shaikh Zawahiri, the restoration of the Caliphate was a religious 
obligation. He was quite correct! 

And Thalibi Effendi was more than justified in posing the question, for 
which he received no answer, - to wit, if the restoration of the Caliphate is 
a religious duty incumbent upon Muslims, what will be the consequences 
for Muslims if they failed in the effort to restore the Caliphate? 

The basic deficiency in the approach of both Zawahiri and Thalibi Effendi 
was their failure to heed the clear statement of the Qur'an to the effect that 
Allah sent to each religious community both a Shariah and a Minhaj (or 


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an open way). <20> As a consequence, in addition to the eternal 
unchanging sacred law to which Zawahiri rightly insists we must always 
be faithful, there was also the flexible Minhaj wherein human genius could 
express itself in adapting to changing situations and conditions while yet 
preserving the Law. 

The basic problem that the Second Committee and the Congress failed to 
recognize and to address and, as a result, which led to the failure of the 
Congress, was the problem of re-examining the traditional so-called 
orthodox interpretation of the Islamic public order (Dar al-Islam) and the 
Islamic conception of the International Order. The institution of the 
Caliphate did not exist in a vacuum. It formed part of Dar al-Islam. Dar 
al-Islam no longer existed in the world in 1924. It did not exist even in 
Makkah and Madina. The world of Islam had returned to its pre-Hijri 
stage of existence. 

The solution to the problem would be the establishment of a multiplicity 
of Jama'aat in all parts of the world of Islam, each with its own 
Ameer/Imam, with each imam receiving the Baiy'ah from the members of 
the Jama 'ah and carefully conducting the affairs of the jama'ah, to the 
maximum extent possible, in a manner which conformed with the Shariah. 
Whenever the possibility arose for the Saudi- Wahhabi rule over the Hejaz 
to be ended, and for Muslims to restore true independence to the Hejaz, it 
would then be possible for Dar al-Islam to be restored. There would then 
be an Ameer over Dar al-Islam, and every other Ameer over every 
Jama 'ah in the world would have to give the Baiy 'ah to the Ameer of Dar 
al-Islam ! 


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It was the command of the Prophet (s) that if there were two persons 
claiming to be Ameer over the Jama 'ah of Muslims at one and the same 
time (i.e., in Dar al-Islam), then the second of the two should be killed. 

It is of crucial importance to note that the verse of the Qur'an: 

"Oh you who believe, obey Allah, and obey the Messenger (of Allah), and obey 
those in (lawfully constituted) authority from amongst you." 

(Qur'an, al-Nisa, 4:59) 

did not command obedience of 'he' (i.e., a single person) who was in 
authority. It rather required obedience of 'those' in authority. The Qur'an 
thus explicitly recognized the possibility of a (temporary) plurality of 
leadership in the Ummah so long as there was no Dar al-Islam. 

In the earliest period of the history of Islam after the demise of the 
Prophet, the Ummah vested authority over the entire community in a 
single person. This was, and still is, indispensable for the consolidation of 
the Islamic polity. Indeed it was further found necessary, and for the same 
reason, to limit the choice of the leader to the tribe of the Quraish, the tribe 
to which the Prophet belonged. 

Unitary leadership, however, lasted for barely a century before plurality 
manifested itself. And then, for the rest of its history the Ummah never 
retrieved unitary leadership. It, however, continued to exist as a 
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It should, however, be recognized that the Qur'an, in admitting the 
possibility of a plurality of leadership, made it possible for the Ummah to 
restore the system of unitary leadership over dar al-Islam through a 
gradual process which would temporarily admit a plurality of leadership 
over a multiplicity of Jama 'aat so long as Dar al-Islam did not exist. 

The Second Committee failed to examine this possibility and, as a 
consequence, the Congress itself ended in failure. The report of the 
Second Committee contained another significant defect, - a defect which 
belonged to the classical Islamic political theory. According to the report 
the office of the Caliph could be filled through the 'nomination' of the 
previous Caliph, or it could be seized through conquest. 

Neither in the Qur'an, nor in the Sunnah of the Prophet, nor in the example 
of the Khulafa al-Rashidun was there any foundation whatsoever for the 
belief that leadership in Islam could be acquired through conquest or 
through the nomination of the previous Caliph. And yet it is instructive to 
note that through most of Islamic history and even in the contemporary 
Muslim world we find leadership constituted almost invariably as dynastic 
kingships or through conquests (modern-day military rule now forms part 
of "conquests'). 

Succeeding generations of Islamic scholars misunderstood the true nature 
of the alleged nomination of the second Caliph, Umar, by the first Caliph, 
Abu Bakr (radiullahu anhu). Indeed one suspects that many Sunni Ulama 
exploited the misconception in their centuries of post-facto theorization to 


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provide doctrinal legitimacy to the centuries of dynastic monarchy in 
Islam. In fact Abu Bakr (mdiuallah 'anhu) nominated Umar {radiullahu 'anhu), 
not because the office of the Caliph gave him the right to do so, but 
because the people, who possessed the right to appoint the new Caliph, 
freely delegated that right to Abu Bakr {radiullahu 'anhu) 

In fact the Ulama were colossally mistaken in declaring that the Shari'ah 
permitted the incumbent Caliph to appoint his successor and, as a 
consequence, in supporting all through the history of the Caliphate, and 
even to this day, such dynastic monarchies as the Ummayyads, the 
Abbasids, the Ottoman Caliphate, the Saudi monarchy in Saudi Arabia, 
the Hashemite monarchy in Jordan, the Sharifian monarchy in Morocco 
and the numerous Gulf monarchies. 

And then, to confound matters even more, the ulama conferred on Abu 
Bakr, Umar, Uthman, and Ali (may Allah be pleased with them all) the 
title of Khulafa al-Rashidoon (the rightly guided Caliphs), thus confirming 
that there was something significantly wrong with Muawiya's Caliphate 
and with all those who followed him. And, of course, what was 
particularly striking about the Caliphate of the first four Caliphs was the 
total absence of even the faintest suspicion of dynastic monarchy or the 
acquisition of the Office through conquest. [We are aware that there are 
some who question the wisdom of the ulama in bringing down the curtain 
of rightly guided Caliphate upon the death of Ali. They would insist that 
Muawiyah be also included. They form, however, an insignificant 
minority within the ranks of Sunni Islamic scholarship]. 


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The predicament of the ulama at the Caliphate Congress of 1926 was, and 
should still be, cause for serious concern. In 1924 they protested the 
abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate that was, in fact, a dynastic monarchy. 
And in 1926 they were utterly incapable, even at the level of conceptual 
analysis, of replacing the unislamic system of dynastic monarchy with a 
public order that conformed with the requirements of the religion. 

The fundamental verse of the Qur'an concerning the dynamics of 
leadership in the model of Islam stated that Muslims must conduct their 
affairs on the basis of mutual consultation: 

"And their affairs are (conducted) on the basis of mutual consultation (amongst 

(Qur'an, a-Shura, 42:58) 

The basic implication of this verse was that in an Islamic community the 
appointment of the leader and his removal and replacement by another 
(which is the most important of all the collective affairs of the believers), 
must be effected through a process of mutual consultation amongst all the 
believers. In recognizing the right of the incumbent Caliph to appoint his 
successor or of the office of the Caliph being acquired by conquest, the 
Ulama <21> were in manifest conflict with the Qur'an since the believers 
were being denied a right given to them by Allah Himself. 

Indeed the believers, for almost the entire history of the Ummah, were 
inflicted with an even greater injury. They were called upon to ratify (as a 
religious duty through the Baiy 'ah) at the peril of their lives, appointments 


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to leadership they had no part whatsoever in making. For it was quite clear 
that refusal to ratify an appointment was considered to be an act of 
defiance and constituted a visible threat to the de facto Caliph who was 
merely seeking to legitimize his rule. <22> 

The answer of the Second Committee to the question - How is the 
Caliphate constituted? - was deficient in another respect. The first and 
third methods (nomination and conquest), as we have demonstrated, were 
in conflict with the Qur'an and found no support from the example of the 
Prophet and the Khulafa al-Rashidoon. But even in respect of the second 
method mentioned, to wit - 'the choice of the people', the Second 
Committee failed to demonstrate the machinery that could have been used 
in 1926 in order for this method to be applied. 

Finally we may again note that the deliberations of the Second Committee 
clearly revealed that the Azhar Ulama, who did not seem to have made a 
study of modern thought, were actually unaware of the real nature of the 
modern State system which was about to be imposed on the world of 
Islam and to virtually captivate and imprison Muslim political 

The Third Committee 

The Third Committee was far more forthright and realistic in its 
deliberations and courageously concluded in its report to the effect that: 


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"... the Caliphate ... is incapable of being realized at the present time in view 
of the situation in which Muslims find themselves. <23> 

The reasons for this were: 

"... in the first place there does not yet exist a body of authorized persons 
legally entitled to make the payment of allegiance (baiy'ah)". <24> 

The Third Committee was here confessing that the classical machinery 
(Ahl al-Halli wal- 'Aqd), supposed to be used in determining the choice of 
the people, was inoperable in 1926. It would have been more honest if it 
had also recalled that this machinery had never, in fact, properly operated 
in Islamic history. It was, however, honest enough to confess that: 

". . . the Caliphate, in accordance with Islamic Law in the true sense of the term, 
existed only in early Islam." <25> 

The Committee noted that the Congress had attempted to gather in Cairo 
the representatives of all the Islamic peoples and to consider the 
possibility of entrusting to them the task of electing a new Caliph. The 
Committee pointed out, however, that the Congress was not representative 
of all the world of Islam since many important sections of the world 
Muslim community did not send representatives. Implicit in this 
statement, we should note, was the implication that if the Congress could 
have attracted representatives from all the Islamic peoples, it could have 
elected a Caliph. This, despite the fact that such an election would have 
been the very first of its kind in the entire history of Islam. 


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But perhaps the most interesting of all the reasons advanced by the Third 
Committee to explain the impossibility of realizing the Caliphate at that 
particular time was the fact that: 

" .... a Caliph, if appointed, would not be able to fulfill his basic obligation of 
exercising effective control over Dar al-Islam. Many parts of Dar al-Islam were 
under foreign control. And those few which were free and independent have been 
possessed by a nationalist agitation which prevents one group from accepting the 
leadership of another, not to speak of permitting it to interfere in its public 

The Committee did not seem to be even vaguely conscious of the fact that 
the political concept of Dar al-Islam was itself under mortal attack from 
western secular political thought and was on the verge of passing into 

What was even more interesting was the fact that parts of the Muslim 
World that were under foreign occupation should be termed Dar al-Islam. 
By virtue of being under foreign control they no longer formed part of Dar 
al-Islam (because the very definition of Dar al-Islam required that it be 
territory wherein the supreme authority of Allah prevailed over the 
believers). Secondly, if a single Caliph could not exercise effective control 
over the rest of the free Muslim World this certainly was not something 
new in Islam. And it did not prevent the Caliphate from so functioning for 
more than thirteen hundred years. 

In fact the Third Committee should have pointed out that the cities of 
Makkah and Madina were under Saudi-Wahhabi control and, as a 


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consequence, any Caliph who was appointed would suffer from the 
incalculable liability of not having the capacity to exercise control over the 
Haramain. At a time when there was no Caliph and the institution itself 
was under attack, even more so than in normal times, it was imperative for 
anyone appointed to the office to control the Haramain and, thus, the Hajj. 
And this, in fact, had been the basis of Sharif al-Husain's effort to claim 
the Caliphate for himself 

The Saudi- Wahhabi ruler who exercised control over the Haramain had 
given ample demonstration of the fact that he was a power to be reckoned 
with and, in addition, he was not in the least bit interested in the Caliphate. 
Herein lay the most fundamental predicament of the Caliphate Congress. 

What the Committee should have done, and did not do, was to come to the 
fairly simple conclusion that no Caliph could be appointed and win the 
recognition of the Muslims so long as the West controlled the Haramain 
and the Hajj. And the West would continue to exercise such political 
control so long as Wahhabis were in control of the Haramain. As a 
consequence, the imperative of the hour was to find the ways and means 
of counteracting British diplomacy in the peninsular and ousting the 
Saudi-British control over the Haramain and regaining control of the 
Haramain for the Ummah. 

The Third Committee's report implored the Congress not to be 
disheartened by the lack of success in solving the problem of the Caliphate 
and in appointing a new Caliph: 


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"It is sufficient for the Congress to know that it has rendered an immense service 
to Muslims in diagnosing for them the disease and indicating to them the 

This remedy was the recommendation that: 

". . . the Islamic peoples should organize in concert in several Islamic countries, 
successive Congresses which will give them the opportunity of periodic 
exchanges of views until they succeed in solving the question of the Caliphate in 
conformity with Islamic interests. <28> 

Congress Resolutions 

The Congress was dismayed by the pessimism of the Third Committee's 
report. Indeed Shaikh al-Zawahiri dubbed it "the funeral oration of Islam". 
The delegates, who had earlier opened the Congress to the public and the 
press, now decided that one passage of the report should be withheld from 
the press. <29> Shaikh Zawahiri, who had led the opposition to the Third 
Committee's report, submitted a draft resolution which was adopted by the 
Congress. <30> The resolution affirmed that the Caliphate was capable of 
being realized. Another Congress should be convened in which all the 
Islamic peoples would be adequately represented and that Congress would 
take the measures necessary for establishing the Caliphate fulfilling all the 
conditions prescribed in the Shari'ah. In short, such a Congress would 
elect a new Caliph. 

On this optimistic note the Congress ended. The Third Committee, 
over-ruled by the Congress, found their misgivings eventually vindicated 


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since the proposed Congress, which was supposed to elect a new Caliph, 
was never held. The world of Islam was, in fact, entering into the 
post-caliphate period of its existence. And the basic cause for this was 
Saudi-Wahhabi rule over the Hejaz and the Haramain, and the eventual 
establishment of the Saudi-Wahhabi nation-State of Saudi Arabia as a 
client State of the godless West. 

By the time the dust had settled over the Al-Azhar initiative in responding 
to the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate it was clear that hostile British 
and Zionist- Jewish strategy had resulted in a remarkable achievement, to 
wit: post-caliphate Islam! 


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The World Muslim Congress Makkah June- July 1926 

The World Muslim Congress, which was held in Makkah in July 1926, 
had its genesis in the impact of the abolition of the Ottoman Caliphate on 
the Arabian peninsular (jaziratul arab) and, in particular, on the House of 
Saud which had newly established its rule over Arabia. 

Abdul Aziz ibn Saud had recaptured the Nejd after his story-book initial 
capture of Riyadh in 1902. But in building the political raison d'etre for 
the rule of the House of Saud on the religious foundation of the Wahhabi 
movement, it was inevitable that a Wahhabi Nejd should challenge the 
Hejaz, whenever the opportunity arose, in order to force the submission of 
the heart-land of Islam to the (Wahhabi perception of the) true faith. 

That opportunity arose when Sharif al-Husain (the Ottoman-appointed 
Sharif of Makkah), acting in concert with the strategy of the Allied Powers 
in the first World War, seized the Hejaz from the Ottoman Turks in 1916 
and imposed over it the rule of the Hashimite House of Husain. In doing 
so he prohibited the Wahhabis from performing the Hajj. Apart from the 
theological conflicts with the Wahhabis that he used to justify the ban, he 


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was also conscious of the fact that Wahhabi Nejd constituted the most 
potent threat to his rule over the Hejaz. 

Both Husain and Ibn Saud entered into alliances with the British during 
the war and, as a consequence, Ibn Saud could not attempt to take the 
Hejaz while the war lasted. Even after the conclusion of the war wisdom 
dictated that he should wait to see what steps the Caliph in Istanbul would 
take to regain control of the Hejaz. 

It was only when the Caliphate was abolished that the time had at last 
come when he could march against Husain. Husain, of course, was well 
aware of this, and it was in a vain attempt to muster world Muslim support 
to strengthen his hands against Ibn Saud that he claimed the Caliphate for 
himself on March 7, 1924 (four days after the abolition of the Ottoman 

1 924 turned out to be a most eventful year indeed in the history of Islam. 
For Ibn Saud responded to the announcement of Husain's Caliphate by 
attacking the Hejaz. The Najdi forces of ibn Saud conquered Taif on 
September 5, 1924, Makkah on October 13, and Madina on December 5. 
One year later, on December 19, 1925, Jeddah was captured and the 
luckless 'Caliph and 'King of the Arabs' went into exile. Not surprisingly 
the notables of Makkah found it expedient to proclaim Ibn Saud as King 
of the Hejaz. 

Jaziratul arab, which was now united under Saudi- Wahhabi rule, almost 
immediately began to assert its claim to leadership of the Ummah and, in 


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the process, it provided an alternative route to Muslim unity other than 
that of the Caliphate, - to wit, the route of 'infra-national' Islamic 
solidarity within a system of sovereign Islamic nation-States. 

The Saudi- Wahhabi rulers of the Hejaz were well aware that the World of 
Islam would never have accepted Wahhabi leadership. And hence a 
Saudi-Wahhabi Caliphate was impossible. On the other hand, if the 
Muslims of the world got together and appointed a Caliph, that would 
have been a matter fraught with grave danger indeed for the 
Saudi-Wahhabi rule over the Hejaz. It could have resulted in a repetition 
of the catastrophic experience of more than a century earlier when the 
Wahhabis were driven out of the Hejaz by an army sent from Egypt. 

As a consequence of the impending threat posed by the Caliphate 
Congress convened in Cairo in May 1926, the Saudis began the search for 
an alternative political institution and forum to the Caliphate. They found 
it in the system of Islamic nation-States and international Islamic 
inter-State cooperation and solidarity. <31> The foundations for the new 
order had already, and quite conveniently so for the Saudi- Wahhabis, been 
laid with the establishment, by Mustafa Kamal, of the Republic of Turkey 
in the very seat of the Caliphate. 

It mattered nothing to them that the system of nation-States, which was the 
political creation of the new secular West, and which constituted the very 
foundation of the new secular model of society, was in manifest conflict 
with the Islamic Public Order provisions of the Shariah. What was 
important to them was the fact that the system of Islamic nation-States 


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would place the Saudi-Wahhabi rule over the Hejaz in a virtually 
impregnable position. The Wahhabi State that had raised the greatest 
objections to Bid'ah (i.e., innovation in religion) was now, itself, 
proposing the greatest of all Bid'ah in the history of the Ummah! 

The Saudi-Wahhabi strategy was, therefore, to organize a rival Congress 
to the Caliphate Congress of May 1926. They named their Congress 
Mu'tamar al-Alam al-Islami (World Muslim Congress) and convened it in 
Makkah in July 1926 on the occasion of the Hajj. Because of the mode of 
transport available in 1926 it would have been very difficult for delegates 
to attend both Conferences. The Saudis were therefore making a 
calculated and cunning political initiative that would force the Muslim 
World to choose to attend one or the other of the two Conferences. 

The very purpose of the Saudi sponsored Congress was to lay the classical 
Islam Public Order to rest, and usher in the new system of Islamic 
nation-States. Within the framework of the new "intra-national' Islamic 
Order the Saudi- Wahhabis would seek recognition of their rule over the 

The travaux preparatoire of the Congress reveals, however, that the Saudi 
leader cunningly projected himself to all the invitees as a "champion' of 
Islam and he promised to restore authentic Islam to Jaziratul Arab. 

The Wahhabis, as we noted earlier, were aware that the world of Islam 
would ever accept a Wahhabi Caliph. But long before this Abdul Wahhab 
had himself been influenced by the views of that acute thinker of Islam, 


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Imam ibn Taimiyyah. Their position was that the genuine Caliphate, 
because it was not rightly constituted, functioned as an instrument for 
disunity in the Ummah. As such, the Caliphate could not be the symbol 
and the foundation of Muslim unity. This role must be given to the 

It seemed natural, therefore, that the Wahhabi Nejd and Hejaz should 
remain aloof from the Caliphate Congress of Cairo. And because of the 
strategic position they occupied in respect of their newly-won control over 
the heart-land of Islam, it was predictable that the Saudi-Wahhabi 
leadership would seek to seize the opportunity provided by the abolition of 
the Ottoman Caliphate and the defeat of the short-lived Sharifian 
Caliphate to lead the Ummah along a new approach to unity. <32> 

The fact that the date fixed by Ibn Saud for the World Muslim Congress 
was June- July 1926 (one month after the Cairo Caliphate Congress) was 
clearly meant to demonstrate that it was being organized as an alternative 
to the Caliphate Congress. 

There was yet another reason for the decision to convene a World Muslim 
Congress in Makkah. Ibn Saud wanted international Islamic recognition of 
his authority over the holy land. This was a matter of vital importance to 
the Wahhabis since there were significant religious differences between 
them and the rest of the world of Islam. Not least of these was the fact that 
the Wahhabis followed the Hanbali school of Islamic law and were a tiny 
minority in a world of Islam dominated by followers of the Hanafi, Shafei 
and Maliki schools of law. <33> 


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When, in the 18th century, the Wahhabis won a short-lived control over 
the holy land they perpetrated, in their fanatical zeal, a tremendous 
blood-bath. There was wide-spread anger and revulsion in the world of 
Islam and an Egyptian army that was sent to the Hejaz defeated them and 
drove them out into the wilderness. The second time around, therefore, the 
Wahhabis wanted to ensure that the world of Islam would recognize their 
rule over the holy land. <34> This was the second primary objective for 
which the World Muslim Congress was convened. 

The Delegates to the Congress 

The World Muslim Congress that convened in Makkah in June 1926 as a 
result of the efforts of Ibn Saud, was hailed as the first such meeting in the 
history of Islam. Ibn Saud himself referred to this in his opening address: 

"In respect of its form and its objective, your meeting is without doubt the first of 
its kind in the annals of Islam." <35> 

From the very beginning it was intended to be a permanent 

"We pray to the Almighty that this Congress may meet again and again each year 
(at the time of the Hajj)." <36> 

Unlike the Caliphate Congress of Cairo, the Makkah Conference attracted 
both a representative gathering and a high quality of representation. All 
the important Islamic communities and all the independent Islamic States 


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(except Persia) were represented. From the South Asian sub-continent 
came top-level representation of all the important Islamic organizations. 
For example, Sayyed Sulaiman Nadvi headed the delegation representing 
the Caliphate Movement of India. <37> The other three members of the 
delegation were Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar, his brother, Maulana 
Shaukat Ali, and his son-in-law, Shoaib Quraishi. There was a delegation 
headed by Sayyed Muhammad Kifayatullah representing the Association 
of ulama of India and another delegation headed by Shaikh Sanaullah 
representing the Ulama AM al-Hadith of India. 

The Grand Mufti of Palestine, Sayyed Amin al-Husseini, headed the 
Palestinian delegation, General Ghulam Jilani Khan, - the Afghan 
delegation, Edib Saroit, - the Turkish delegation, Shaikh al-Zawahiri, - the 
Egyptian delegation and Reazuddin Fakhruddin, - the delegation of 
Russian Muslims. With Fakhruddin on that delegation were delegates 
from Oufa, Astrakan, Kazan, Crimea, Siberia and Turkistan. Delegates 
also came from Java, Syria, Sudan, Najd, Hejaz, Yemen, etc. 

A number of individuals were specially invited to the Congress. In this 
group were Shaikh Rashid Rida the famous Syrian Islamic scholar who 
was a student of Shaikh Muhammad Abdu, and Sardar Iqbal Ali Shah, the 
London-based Afghan scholar, who wrote a series of articles on the 
Conference for British publications. <38> The significant absentees from 
the Conference were Persia, China, the Sanusi of Libya and the rest of the 


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The composition of the Cairo and the Makkah Conferences differed in 
another important respect. Whereas in Cairo no delegation was recognized 
as being official and all delegates participated in their individual 
capacities, this was not so at Makkah. To this latter conference the Islamic 
countries and communities sent official delegations and, in so doing, 
demonstrated a preference for the Makkah forum and for the new 
approach to unity. And herein lies a simple yet fundamental explanation 
for the organization of the contemporary world of Islam as a system of 
nation-States, to wit: the Muslim masses uncritically opted for it because 
of two reasons: 

• because of the dismal objective situation then facing the Muslim World, 

• because the ulama could not effectively articulate the foundations of the 
Islamic Public Order (Dar al-Islam) and the Islamic Conception of an 
International Order within which Dar al-Islam was located. 

The King and the Congress 

The Congress received two messages from King Abdul Aziz ibn Saud. In 
the first, the opening address of the Congress, the King made reference to 
the sorry history of the Hejaz ending with the despotism of Husain who, 
among his other sins, placed the Hejaz under "foreign non-Muslim 
influence". <39> This being prohibited by the Prophet , a justification was 
therefore presented for the Najdi conquest of the Hejaz. As a result of that 
conquest, the King was pleased to point out, there was now security in the 
Hejaz. The Congress was invited to hold its sessions in that atmosphere of 
security and of total liberty. The only constraints on the conference were 
the restraints of the Islamic Law and of "not meddling in international 


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politics nor in the differences which separate certain Muslim peoples from 
their governments." <40> And yet Ibn Saud was less than honest in his 
opening statement since he was just as guilty as was Husain in aiding and 
abetting the penetration of British influence in the peninsular. 

Two things stand out in the King's address. Firstly the Wahhabi leadership 
was showing its best possible face in order to court the support of the 
Congress, - thus the "security' and "total liberty' promised. But secondly, 
and more important, the ban on international politics in the discussions of 
the Congress clearly implied that the security of the Saudi- Wahhabi State 
and the maintenance of its relations with its allies (Britain in particular) 
took precedence over the considered opinions of the Ummah even when 
expressed through shura in an Islamic Conference 'unprecedented' in the 
history of Islam. 

The King gave to the Congress the "safe' task of "examining the necessary 
ways and means for making the holy places the best centers of Islamic 
culture and education, the most perfect region in terms of prosperity and 
hygiene, and the Muslim country which is most conspicuous for its 
recognition of Islam." <41> 

It was very clear from this address that the King was attempting to foist on 
the Congress an artificial division between "religion" and "polities', and a 
new theory to the effect that the proper subject matter for the consideration 
of Islamic Congresses was the subject matter of "religion' and "religious 
affairs'. And this was a bid'ah of a truly reprehensible nature since it was 
in such manifest conflict with the Qur'anic guidance, the Sunnah of the 


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Prophet and the very foundations of the Islamic legacy. The King was, in 
fact, making an attempt to transform al-Islam, which was al-Din, into 
'religion' in the narrow and distorted sense in which the term was used in 
secular western civilization. 

On July 2nd., 1926, on the occasion of the 15th plenary session, the King 
addressed a second message to the Congress, through which he sought to 
achieve one of the main objectives of the Wahhabi initiative, to wit, the 
international Islamic recognition and acceptance of Saudi-Wahhabi 
control over the Hejaz. 

The King expounded his politique for the Hejaz as follows: 

1. "We do not admit any foreign intervention in this sacred country - 
whatever may be its nature. 

2. "We do not admit any privileges open to some and denied to others; 
whatever takes place in this country must conform with the Shariah. 

3. "The Hejaz must have a special neutral regime. It must neither make war 
nor be attacked; and all the independent Muslim States must guarantee 
this neutrality. 

4. "There is need for examining the question of financial aid which comes 
(to the Hejaz) from many Islamic countries, the manner of distribution 
and the (need to ensure the) benefit to the holy places." <42> 

What the King was attempting to do in this address was nothing less than 
propounding a new Islamic political theory. It was as though the 


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Saudi-Wahhabis were convinced that they were the only Muslims, and 
hence Hejaz and Najd, which were under their control, was the real Dar 
al-Islam. Thus all territories outside of Hejaz and Najd (or modern Saudi 
Arabia) were 'foreign'. And when the King spoke about the need to 
prevent any "foreign' intervention in the Hejaz, he was referring 
specifically to the kind of intervention that had ousted the Wahhabis from 
the Hejaz more than a century earlier. In referring to the whole of the 
world of Islam as "foreign", the King was quite close to committing an act 
of Kufr. 

The second point made was, of course, quite admirable i.e., a 
non-discriminatory application of the injunctions of the Shariah. But the 
second point was incompatible with the first. The world of Islam was 
being accorded the status of "foreigners' who, naturally, would not be 
eligible to all the privileges open to the Saudi-Wahhabis. Foreigners, for 
example, would need a visa in order to enter the Hejaz even for 
performing the Hajj. The Saudi-Wahhabis would not require a visa since 
they were citizens of the new-born State of Saudi Arabia and so the Hejaz 
belonged to them. Non-Saudi Muslims could now be imprisoned if they 
extended their stay in Hejaz after the expiry of their visas, - for they were 
now foreigners and the Hejaz, which was no longer Dar al-Islam, did not 
belong to them. Saudi-Wahhabis could stay in the Hejaz as long as they 
wished since the Hejaz now belonged to them. 

The King had, in fact, dismantled the Dar al-Islam which had been 
established by the Prophet himself, and by his companions, in the Hejaz, 
had dispossessed the world of Islam of its very heartland, had insulted the 


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Muslims, and was destined to get away with that audacious behavior for 
more than six decades. 

The third point made in the King's address was quite remarkable. There 
could be no doubt at all that it was a manifest statement of bid' ah. Neither 
in the Qur'an, nor in the Sunnah of the Prophet, nor in the entire Islamic 
legacy is there any concept of the neutrality' of the Hejaz. Indeed the 
statement that the Hejaz must not make war amounted to taking the very 
heartland of Islam out of jihad, and was thus in manifest conflict with 
explicit commands of the Qur'an. Here again the King was walking the 
path of Kufr. 

In respect of the request of the King that all independent Islamic States 
should recognize the neutrality' of his regime, it was clear that this was a 
scarcely disguised attempt to win recognition from the world of Islam of 
Saudi-Wahhabi rule over the Hejaz. 

The conference responded to the address of the King by making free but 
intelligent use of the freedom that the King offered. Delegates spoke 
freely and candidly and, as a perusal of the Verbatim Report of the 
conference reveals, nothing appears to have been 'stage-managed' by the 
regime. Indeed, on occasions the delegates of the Hejaz found themselves 

By and large, the conference stayed within the limitations imposed on it of 
not meddling in international politics. As such the Caliphate question was 
never discussed. This was a major triumph for the new approach to 


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Muslim unity. The conference did, however, enter into politics in 
approving a resolution <44> demanding the return of Maan and Aqaba to 
Hejazi control since the British annexation of these territories to 
Transjordan (over which Britain was the mandate power) violated what 
Rashid Rida claimed to be the command of the Prophet that the Arabian 
peninsular must remain free of all non-Islamic influence. <45> 

When Ibn Saud himself brought international politics into the Congress 
with the exposition of his politique for the Hejaz, the Congress debated the 
issue at length and then displayed its wisdom, integrity and faithfulness to 
authentic Islam by denying the King the recognition he was seeking. The 
Congress decided to simply note' the statement of the King. And this was, 
perhaps, the single most important decision taken by a representative body 
of the Ummah over the last sixty years. 

It was a bitter blow indeed for Ibn Saud and the result was that the 
Congress remained dormant for the next twenty years and was never again 
to meet in Makkah where, it was agreed, it would be meeting annually at 
the time of the Hajj. 

On another volatile issue, however, the Congress found it prudent to yield 
to the wishes of their host. Ibn Saud had drawn to the attention of the 
Congress, in his capacity as one of the Muslim Heads of State, that 
although all Muslims were free to worship in the Holy Land according to 
the rights of their respective legal schools, the Wahhabi administration 
would not tolerate any behavior that was in conflict with the Shariah. 
This issue provoked one of the most heated discussions in the Congress. 


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Shaikh al-Zawahiri saved the day by presenting a compromise draft 
resolution that confined itself to demanding freedom of rites but did not 
enter into the controversial area of the repair of tombs of companions of 
the Prophet that had been destroyed by the Wahhabis, etc. 

The issue had struck at the heart of Wahhabis and although it had not been 
allowed to develop into a crisis, the delegates exercising the greatest 
prudence in not pressing Ibn Saud too hard, all the same the Indian 
delegates left with bitter feelings. This, in part, explains why the Congress 
did not meet again in Makkah, as had been agreed upon. 

In fact it was the Indian Muslim leader, Maulana Shaukat Ali, who played 
the leading role in organizing the third major Islamic conference, in 1931, 
after the two conferences in 1926. And he had no hesitation whatsoever 
and bypassing Makkah and agreeing upon Jerusalem as its venue. 

Some of the most beneficial work of the Makkah Congress concerned the 
improvement of conditions for the Hajj, transportation (in particular the 
Hejaz railway), medical facilities, availability of food and water, 
protection from exploitation, etc. These were matters that affected 
pilgrims every year and on these matters the Congress deliberated at 
length and adopted many useful resolutions. 


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The General Islamic Congress Jerusalem December 1931 

For five long years after the two conferences of 1926 no other significant 
collective attempt was made by the world of Islam to respond to the 
collapse of the Caliphate and to other momentous, challenging and 
dangerous changes which were sweeping that world. The final last gasp of 
the dying Dar al-Islam occurred at the General Islamic Congress that was 
held in Jerusalem in December 1931, on the basis of an Indo-Palestinian 
effort. <46> It did have within its bosom the cherished desire of restoring 
some semblance of integrity to the collapsing old order left by the Prophet. 
But it failed to achieve anything. Like the Cairo and Makkah Congresses it 
appeared to have been still-born. 

To the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Hajj Amin al-Hussaini, the ominous 
advances of Zionism in Muslim Palestine between 1926 and 1931 
presented a threat to Islam. This threat could not be met except by the 
united world of Islam. And it was a measure of the simplicity, naivete and 
innocence of the contemporary Islamic thought that he could argue that 
another Islamic conference to be held in British-occupied Jerusalem would 
be the appropriate way to meet the threat. Salahuddin Ayyubi must have 
rolled in his grave. It appeared as though the world of Islamic scholarship 


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had lost sight of the firm relationship that the Qur'an had established 
between 'power', 'freedom' and 'faith. 

In August 1929 there were riots between Muslims and Jews over the 
Wailing Wall in Jerusalem. The League of Nations sent a Commission to 
investigate the matter and the Commission's findings were that Muslims 
possessed 'property rights' over the Wailing Wall but that Jews possessed 
the 'right to worship' before it. This report pleased neither Muslims nor 
Jews and could be said to have led indirectly to the call for an Islamic 

In early 1931, on the occasion of the burial within the precincts of the 
Haram al-Sharif, Jerusalem, of the Indian Muslim leader Maulana 
Muhammad Ali Jawhar <47>, agreement was reached between his 
brother, Maulana Shaukat Ali, and Hajj Amin al Hussaini on the need to 
convene a conference. A few months later, in June 1931, the report of the 
Wailing Wall Commission was made public, and the Supreme Muslim 
Council of Palestine then made the public call for the conference. 

The formal announcement on agreement to convene the conference and 
the decision on the date for the conference was made on September 4, 
1931, by Maulana Shaukat Ali, in an address after the midday prayer in 
Masjid al-Aqsa, Jerusalem. The Indian Muslims can now be said to have 
attained a position of unique and extraordinary importance and leadership 
in the world of Islam. 

The Date and Venue 


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The General Islamic Congress was held in Jerusalem from 6th. to 16th. 
December 1931. This corresponds to 27th. Rajab - 7th. Shaban in the 
Islamic Calendar. We may note in passing that the reference to the 
Islamic calendar is significant as was the choice of the Masjid al-Aqsa as 
the venue for the opening session of the Congress on 27th. Rajab. <48> 

Now whereas the Caliphate Congress took place in a nominally 
independent Egypt which was within the British sphere of influence, and 
the World Muslim Congress was convened in a nominally independent 
Hejaz which was also firmly within the British sphere of influence, the 
Aqsa Islamic Congress was to take place in territory which was under 
direct British mandate rule. Jerusalem did not have as much as a Tig leaf 
to cover its status as occupied territory. Some would even argue that 
occupied territory would have the status of Dar al-Harb! 

It must have been a most extraordinary spectacle indeed for the world of 
Islam to gather in a World Islamic Congress within occupied territory to 
seek to restore the Public Law dimension of the Shariah. In this respect 
the General Islamic Congress of Jerusalem was unique and unprecedented 
in the entire history of Islam. In fact, this revealed the pathetic state to 
which the world of Islam had been reduced. The British Government was 
probably most surprised of all with this development. In so far as the 
British were concerned the world of Islam would be putting its impotence 
on public display. A gleeful British Government simply restricted itself to 
having its High Commissioner warn Hajj Amin al-Husaini that the 
Government would not allow the convening of a Congress at which 


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questions might be raised affecting the internal and external affairs of 
friendly powers. <49> 

The Zionist press, on the other hand, reacted with great apprehension to 
the call for the Congress, accusing the British Government of allowing the 
Congress because "she really wanted the conference, nay, she provoked it in 
order to satisfy the Muslims of Palestine and India and to counteract the Zionist 
Movement." <50> 

One also had to take into consideration the very strong feeling voiced by 
many that the Congress would attempt to re-instate Abdul Majeed as 
Caliph with his seat in Jerusalem. Such a move could have a destabilizing 
effect on the Angora (now Ankara) regime, - and a Caliph in Jerusalem, 
subject to British authority, would also be something which Great Britain 
would welcome and could exploit to tremendous advantage. <51> 


The Congress did take place in an atmosphere fairly free of restrictions, 
and apart from the expulsion of the Egyptian, Abd al-Rahman Azzam, on 
account of his severe criticism of Italian policy in Libya, the British 
authorities in Palestine did not interfere in any way with the Congress nor 
did they place any restrictions on attendance. 

Delegates to the Congress came from Persia (some shia ulama), India 
(among whose delegates was the great Muslim scholar and thinker, Dr. 
Muhammad Iqbal), Yugoslavia, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Syria 


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and Nigeria. Although the Egyptian Government finally decided not to 
send any official delegation, there were Egyptian delegates present to 
support the King. They were opposed by a delegation representing the 
Wafd party of Egypt. A number of other Islamic movements in Egypt 
were also represented. 

The Governments of Iraq and Transjordan sent official delegations. The 
Saudi monarch, Abdul Aziz ibn-Saud, vacillated in his attitude towards the 
Congress and finally and cleverly sent a representative who was unable to 
reach Jerusalem in time to participate in the Congress. Turkey and 
Afghanistan declined to take part in the Congress. Compared, therefore, 
with the Makkah Congress of July 1926, there was a sharp drop in the 
participation of official governmental delegations at the Jerusalem 

The Work of the Congress 

After the formal opening of the Congress in the masjid al-Aqsa after the 
sunset prayers on December 6 (27th Rajab), <52> eight committees were 
formed to study and report on the following matters: 

• The Statute of the Congress 

• Congress propaganda and publications 

• Finance and organization 

• Muslim culture and the proposed Islamic University of al-Aqsa 

• The Hejaz railway 

• The Holy Places and the Wailing Wall 

• Islamic propaganda and guidance 


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• Proposals laid before the Congress. 

Like the Makkah Congress of 1926, the Jerusalem Congress adopted a 
Statute or Charter. The Makkah Statute had called for annual meetings in 
Makkah. The Jerusalem Statute called for biannual meetings in Jerusalem. 
A small secretariat was also established in Jerusalem (as was done in 
Makkah). The Jerusalem Secretariat continued to function for a few years 
but the Congress itself never met again. <53> 

The Congress decided that an Islamic University should be built in 
Jerusalem. The decision was taken despite the considerable jealousy 
aroused from al-Azhar University which did not welcome the creation of a 
competitor to its unique position in the world of Islamic learning. <54> 

But the most important matter that engaged the attention of the Congress 
was, without doubt, the Zionist threat in Palestine. The attitude and 
approach of the Conference to the volatile subject was remarkably 
broad-minded and objective. The President of the Jewish Agency, Mr. 
Sokolow, was invited to attend the Congress for the purpose of explaining 
the Zionist point of view. The invitation, extended by Shaukat Ali, was 
refused. And in the Zionist press militant Zionism mocked and ridiculed 
the Congress. <55> 

There was another section of Zionists, more peaceful than the first group, 
who had set up the Hebrew University. These Zionists spoke with more 
dignity about the Congress although they, too, criticized Britain just as 


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strongly as the other Zionists for having permitted the Congress to discuss 
British policy in Palestine. <56> 

But the old orthodox Jews in Jerusalem, who lived and worked quite apart 
from the Zionists, greeted the Congress at the beginning and wished it all 
success. They stated that the Jews did not want the holy places and had no 
right to them; but they entreated the Congress not to oppose the old Jewish 
custom of praying at the Wailing Wall. <57> 

The Congress did just that! It rejected the League of Nation's Wailing 
Wall Commission's report which confirmed Muslim ownership of the 
Wailing Wall but upheld the right of the Jews to pray at the Wall. <58> In 
so doing the Congress alienated the orthodox Jews and weakened their 
hands (i.e. the orthodox Jews) in their struggle again the Zionists. <59> 

The Congress protested to the League of Nations the encroachment of 
rights and reminded the League of the assistance given by the Arabs to the 
Allies in the first World War. The Congress warned that "mandate' did not 
mean the subjugation of the Arabs and the usurpation of their rights. The 
Congress did not reject the principle of Jewish immigration into Palestine 
and the purchasing of land and property. Implicitly, therefore, the 
Congress recognized the right of Jews to enter and to live in Palestine and 
to own property there. In the context, however, of the Zionist plan of 
establishing a Jewish National Home in Palestine, the Congress responded 
by proposing the establishment of an Agricultural Bank that would render 
financial support for landed peasants and agriculturists in order to 
strengthen the resistance to the Zionist efforts to buy their land. 


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The response of the Congress to the Zionist threat may be considered to 
have been moderate. This contrasted sharply to the Arab nationalist 
response. Indeed the Congress resisted the pressure of the Arab 
nationalists to adopt a more militant position. The Arab nationalists met 
separately during the Congress and formulated an Arab Covenant' which 
was a predictable response to Jewish nationalism.<60> The one, indeed, 
was the counterpart of the other. <61> 

The Congress failed to perceive, however, that the Islamic religious 
response should have included an active strategy to build a common 
religious front with those Jews who opposed Zionism and who were 
friendly towards the Muslims. <62> Although the Qur'an did prohibit the 
establishment of such relations with Jews (and other non-Muslims) as 
would place the Muslims in a state of dependence or subservience, it did 
not prohibit an alliance or common front free from dependence. <63> 

What was particularly disappointing was the failure of the Congress, 
sitting right there in the holy city of Jerusalem, to make a realistic 
appraisal of the very bleak objective situation then facing the world of 
Islam, and to courageously and creatively formulate a coherent and 
intelligent long-term strategy for restoring power to the Ummah. 

In the midst of all the excited and heated political discussions of the 
Congress, one voice stood out as the voice of the statesman and the sage. 
Dr. Muhammad Iqbal had the vision to warn that the worst dangers facing 
Islam were not the nefarious designs of Zionism, the greed of the imperial 


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powers, and so on, but atheistic materialism and territorial patriotism. 
Unless these were resisted, decay in Islam would set in. <64> 

But while it was true that Iqbal had the vision of the great philosophical 
dangers, such as materialism, looming ahead of Islamic civilization, it 
would appear that he was as yet incapable of theoretically reformulating 
the Islamic Public Order (or Dar al-Islam) and Islam's Conception of an 
International Order and then articulating it in such a way as would 
convincingly demonstrate its superiority over the secular rival which was 
now challenging it. The truth of the matter is that Iqbal did not know what 
were the steps that should have been taken in 1931 to restore power to the 

Post Congress Activities 

The Congress elected an Executive Committee <65> which functioned 
diligently for one year. Branches of the Organization were formed in 
different countries and representatives of these branches met in Jerusalem 
in August 1932 to discuss ways and means for the collection of funds. In 
1933 Amin al-Hussaini and Altabah Pasha went on a tour of Iraq and India 
in order to collect funds. They did not succeed and so neither the 
University nor the Agricultural Bank (to help the peasants) were 

The second meeting of the Congress that, according to the Statute, should 
have taken place in November 1933, did not take place. Except for a 
sudden spur of activity by the Executive Committee in 'conflict-mediation' 


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in 1934 <66> and a short-lived revival in the fifties, the General Islamic 
Congress of Jerusalem also died a natural death. 

The Secretariat established by the Congress in 1931 continued to function 
in Jerusalem until the second World War. It could not, however, survive 
the adverse wartime conditions and the direct confrontation between Hajj 
Amin and the British. Hajj Amin fled to Egypt at the beginning of the war. 

The General Islamic Congress of Jerusalem of 1931 failed for the same 
reasons as the Caliphate Congress and the World Muslim Congress of 
1926. It was unable to theoretically articulate a way out of the morass in 
which the world of Islam had fallen. It was intellectually incapable of 
responding to the challenge of the political secularism of an arrogant and 
confident western civilization that was foisting on an intellectually 
stagnant World of Islam a system of secular nation-States to replace Dar 

The demise of the Caliphate witnessed the end of a system of political 
organization that was indigenous to the Ummah, and which recognized the 
supremacy of Islam in public life. The emergence of the secular 
Saudi- Wahhabi nation-State in the very heart-land of Islam meant that 
Islam was now going to be secularized. It would now be relegated to being 
a matter of private life. The non-political Tableeg Jamaat and the pro- 
regime Saudi Salafis would now attempt fill the void. And Abdullah 
Yusuf Ali's 'politically correct' translation of the Qur'an would be 
popularized amongst an unsuspecting generation of politically dormant 
Muslims. <67> 


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The destruction of the Caliphate of Islam was the result of a diabolical 
conspiracy hatched by the British, the Zionist Jews. The Saudis acted as 
willing accomplices to that crime against the Ummah. The Caliphate 
symbolized a system of political organization (i.e., Dar al-Islam) that 
recognized the supremacy of Islam in public life and in the international 
relations of the Muslim world. 

The emergence of the secular nation-states of Turkey and Saudi Arabia at 
the seat of the Caliphate and in the very heart-land of Islam, paved the 
way for the secularization of the system of political organization of the 
Muslim world. And since it was governments of secular nation-States 
within the Muslim world that would now represent the World of Islam, the 
implication was that Islam would no longer be supreme over public life or 
over the international relations of the Muslim world. 

A more blunt way of saying the same thing would be to say that in so far 
as public life in the Muslim world was concerned, Allah would no longer 
be Akbar! No Muslim can read these lines without feeling great anger 
against those who betrayed Allah and the Prophet! The quality of faith 
(Iman) of a Muslim can be gauged through the manner in which he 
responds to this pathetic situation. 

The World of Islam is today without power. Our conclusion is that the 
institution of the Caliphate, which forms part of Dar al-Islam, is 
indispensable for the restoration of power. Without power there will be 


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many more Bosnias, Kashmirs, Algerias, Chechnyas, Palestines etc. The 
only way this deplorable state of affairs can be changed is through the 
restoration of the supremacy of Islam in the public life of Muslims and in 
the international relations of the Muslim world. That requires the 
restoration of Dar al-Islam and the Caliphate. We need, therefore, to 
articulate anew the provisions of the Islamic Public Order (Dar al-Islam) 
and Islam's Conception of an International Order, and to demonstrate their 
clear superiority over the secular rival which has emerged from western 

We also need to recognize, as this booklet has made clear, that it is 
impossible, and will remain impossible, to restore the Caliphate so long as 
the Hejaz remains under the control of the Saudi- Wahhabi alliance. Power 
cannot be restored without the liberation of the Haramain and the Hajj 
from the control of those who participated in the destruction of the 

The liberation of the Haramain and the Hajj will be possible when the 
Saudi-Wahhabi alliance breaks down. There are indications that alliance is 
under great pressure and can fall apart. There are many Saudi Ulama who 
now imprisoned or under house arrest. The issue which is most likely to 
tear the alliance apart would be Saudi 'recognition' of the Jewish State of 
Israel, - hence the importance of our recent work entitled: 'The Religion of 
Abraham and the State of Israel', in which we analyze, from a purely 
Islamic religious perspective, the implications for Muslims of the 
'recognition' of the Jewish State of Israel. 


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Elie Kedourie, in a chapter entitled 'The Fall of Madina - January 1919' (Islam 
in the Modern World, Holt Rinehart and Winston, NY. 1980 pp 277-96) 
provides a vivid description and excellent analysis of the heroic defense of 
Madina by the Ottoman Commander, Fakhri Pasha, until January 1919 when 
he was betrayed by some of his troops. 

Ahl al-Dhimmah are a protected non-Muslim people permitted to reside in Dar 
al-Islam. Jizyah is a punitive tax imposed by the Qur'an upon a people who were 
defeated in Jihad, and who wish to continue to reside in their former territory. 
Payment of the punitive tax is meant to symbolize their submission to the rule of 
Islam in that territory. 

"Oh you who believe (in the Qur'an), do not take Jews and Christians as your 
protecting friends (i.e., do not enter into a relationship of alliance and 
dependence with Jews and Christians in which you depend upon them for your 
security), Qur'an (5:51) 

Toynbee Ed., Survey of International Affairs, 1925. 

Cf. Bey, Rustom: "The Future of Islamism", The 19th Century and After, 
Vol.xcxii, No 580 June 1925, pp 845-54, where the liberal Turkish thinker 
argues the point in a well-reasoned article. 

For an interesting discussion on the subject see Toynbee, Ed. Survey of 
International Affairs, 1925, Vol 1 pp 51-68, especially p 55. See also concluding 
chapter of Sylvia Haim in Arnold, T. The Caliphate. Revised Ed, Oxford 
Univ. Press, 1965 pp 205-44. 


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7. Official Turkish Text in Qawanin Majmuasi 1924/1340, No 431, Ankara. Press 
of the Grand National Assembly of Turkey. English translation in Survey , Op 
cit, Appendix 11 (3) p 575. 

8. 'According to Sunni Law the appointment of an Imam or Caliph is absolutely 
indispensable . . . Turkey's ijtihad is that according to the spirit of Islam the 
Caliphate or Imamate can be vested in a body of persons, or an elected 
Assembly (e.g., the Turkish Grand National Assembly or Parliament). 
Personally I believe the Turkish view is perfectly sound." Iqbal, M. The 
Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam. Oxford University Press. 
London. 1934 Chap, vi "The Principle of Movement in the Structure of Islam", 
p. 149 

9 This group was supposed to constitute a virtual electoral college in the classical 
model of Islam. Throughout Islamic history, however, it almost always remained 
a mere theoretical construction and played no role in the supreme decision-making 

10 This declaration is very significant in the context of present-day efforts to 
re-establish an authentic Islamic Order. It depicts glaring defects in the 
understanding of the Islamic system of leadership by that supreme center of 
Islamic learning. Full text Survey, Op. cit., Appendix 1 1 1, pp 576-8. 

11 So novel, indeed, was the proposal that it was denounced by the Chief Qadi 
of Transjordan as an innovation which was contrary to orthodox religious 
practice. Survey, Op. cit., p 84. 

12 "When the Great National Assembly of Angora (Ankara) abolished the Ottoman 
Caliphate and when the Wahhabis drove the Hashimi dynasty out of the Hejaz, the 
general impulse in Islam was to deal with the situation by the modern Western method 


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of convening an international conference and not by the traditional Islamic method of 
preaching a Holy War." Survey, Op. cit., p 24. 

13 Sylvia Haim claims that there was enough evidence to prove that the Congress 
was planned and encouraged through the instigation of King Fuad who was 
secretly hoping to gain the Caliphate for himself. But this was not feasible 
because of opposition in and out of Egypt. Cf Arnold, Op. cit.. pp 241-2. 
While this may be true, the public position of Fuad was disinterest in the 
Caliphate. Sa'ad Zaghlul, his Prime Minister, maintained a studied neutrality 
on the subject. 

14 The Verbatim Record of the conference was translated into French and 
published by A. Sekaly in Revue du Monde Musulman, Vol 1 xiv, Paris, 1926. 
It is this text which is being used by the writer. 

15 In addition to pointing out that the Caliph was needed to "execute judgments, 
apply legal sanctions, close the ports, raise the armies etc.", the Committee 
considered it sufficiently important to quote two Hadith (Sayings of the 
Prophet) to the effect that: 

"Whoever dies without having known the Caliph of his time dies a pagan 
death; and "Whoever dies without having taken the baiy'ah (oath of allegiance 
to the Caliph or Amir) dies a pagan death." Revue, Op. cit., pp 74-6 

16 Ibid, pp 75-6. In doing so, the Committee disregarded the views of the 
Mu'tazilites who regarded the Caliphate as a matter of expediency, and the 
Khawarij who adopted the position that there was no need for the Caliphate. 
The Committee also chose to disregard the view expressed by Shaikh Ali 
Abd al-Raziq, a graduate of Al-Azhar, who argued, in a paper which was 
published in Egypt, that the Caliphate was not a necessity in Islam. His views 
created quite a stir in Egypt. 


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17 Revue, Op. cit., pp 76-7 

1 8 He became the Rector of Al-Azhar in 1 929 

19 Revue, Op. cit., pp 77-8 

20 (Qur'an 5:48) 

21 Reference is being made to such authorities as al-Mawardi (al-Ahkam 
al-Sultaniyyah), al-Ghazzali (Ihya uloom al-Din.) For a detailed exposition of 
the views of the ulama see Arnold, T. Op. cit.. 

22 The fifth Caliph, Muawiyah, appointed his son, Yazid, as his successor and 
was succeeded by him. The grandson of the Prophet, Husain, challenged the 
legitimacy of Yazid's Caliphate and paid for it with his life. Not many Muslims 

cared to follow Husain's example in the centuries which followed. 

23 Revue, Op. cit.. p 103 

24 Ibid, p 108. The text of the report of the Third Committee is to be found in 
Survey, Op. cit.. Appendix 4, pp 578-81 

25 Ibid., p 106 

26 Revue, Op cit, p 106 

27 Revue, Op. cit., p 106 

28 Ibid., p 107 


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29 The paragraph is to be found in Revue, Op. cit., p 108, "De ce qui precede 
. . .", and in the Survey, Op. cit., p 580, "It follows from the above . . ." 

30 Text of the Resolution in Revue, Op. cit., p 1 1 8; Survey, Op. cit, pp 89-90 

31 Cf. Faruki, Kamal: "Approaches to Muslim Unity". Pakistan Horizon. Vol 
xxv, No 2, pp 3-12 in which he describes this alternative to the Caliphate, or 
to Pan-Islamism, as Islamic universalism - which relies for unity on the 
common beliefs and practices of Muslims. Faruqi ignores, however, the quite 
transparent fact that the Caliphate was founded upon and derived its 
legitimacy from the very beliefs and practices of the Muslims. 

32 Faruki, Op. cit., pp 3-12 

33 Sunnis recognized all four schools as equally valid. 

34 Until the Iranian Islamic Revolution the Saudi-Wahhabis had succeeded in 
winning this recognition from all the governments of the Islamic nation-States. 

Among the Muslim masses, however, considerable resentment still exists. 

35 Revue, Op. cit.. p. 128 

36 Ibid. 

37 It was paradoxical that the Caliphate Movement of India should boycott the 
Caliphate Congress of Cairo in May and attend the World Muslim Congress 
of Makkah in June from the agenda of which the question of the caliphate was 
specifically excluded. 

38 Those articles would make very interesting reading if published today. 


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39 A reference to Husain's ties with the British. 

40 Revue, Op. tit. pp. 128-131. 

41 Revue, Op. cit.. pp 128-31 

42 Revue, Op. cit.. 

43 For example, the conference approved the project of building two railway 
lines from Jeddah to Makkah and from Yanbu to Madina despite the strong 
opposition of the Hejazi delegates "who had religious objections to the 
construction of railways in a country in which life depends on the camel." 
Revue, Op. cit.. p. 193. How one wished that the Saudi ulama could have 
articulated their objections to the railway in the context of it constituting a 
substitute which would displace the mode of transport which Allah had created. 

The Saudi authorities would then have become conscious of the danger which 

modern technology posed and would have made provision to preserve natural transport 
alongside mechanized transport. 

44 Text of the resolution in Revue, Op. cit.. pp 207-8. Egypt, Turkey and 
Afghanistan abstained in the vote. 

45 According to Toynbee: 

"... one of the effects of the war of 1914-18 was to eliminate the Turks from 
Arabia and to extend the British sphere of influence over the whole peninsula 
(Survey, Op. cit.. p 272) 

But it is very important to note that in this unique and momentous achievement 
of the British in which the command of the Prophet was compromised for the first time in 
thirteen hundred years, the British were aided and abetted by both Husain and Ibn Saud. 
Indeed both commanded a price for their services to Britain. The Arab forces of Husain 

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actually fought alongside the British against the Turks. Ibn Saud's benevolent neutrality 
in this struggle enhanced the chances of Britain's success. Up to 1920 when his monthly 
payments from the British were stopped, Husain had received about six million pounds 
sterling. Ibn Saud, who received from the same British Government a more modest 
350,000 pounds at the rate of 5000 pounds a month, diabolically explained it away as 
jizyah (a tax paid by a subject non-Muslim people resident in the territory of Dar 
al-Islam)". Survey, Op. cit. p. 273. 

It was Britain (the mandate power in Transjordan) which had annexed Maan and Aqaba 
to Transjordan in 1925. Although ex-King Husain protested the annexation rom 

his exile in Cyprus and Ibn Saud moved the World Muslim Congress to adopt a 
resolution protesting the annexation, the British action was clearly a fait accompli. 

It is interesting to note that if the command of the Prophet (sallalahu 'alahi wa sallam) 
had not been compromised by Husain and Ibn Saud in their misguided assistance to the 
British and in the attempt to rid the peninsular of Ottoman influence, it would 
not have been possible for the Balfour Declaration to be fulfilled and for the 
Zionist State to be established in Muslim Palestine. It is also interesting to note that if 
Aqaba had remained under Hejazi control, Saudi Arabia would have been a front-line 
State in the present Middle East conflict. History may one day reveal that one of the 
reasons for the British annexation of Ma'an and Aqaba was to create a buffer zone 
between the volatile heartland of Islam and the Jewish national home in Palestine which 
the Balfour Declaration envisaged. It should be clear that a direct confrontation between 
the Hejaz (now part of Saudi Arabia) and the Jewish National Home in Palestine (now 
the State of Israel) would arouse uncontrollable Islamic passions, a factor which still 
constitutes the only serious threat to the survival of the Zionist State. 

46 It is wrong to assert (as the World Muslim Congress of Karachi now does) that 

the Islamic conference held in Jerusalem in 1931 was the second session of the World 
Muslim Congress (the first being held in Makkah in 1926). Firstly the Jerusalem 
Congress chose a name for itself different from 'World Muslim Congress'. Article One 


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of the Statute of the Congress named it as 'General Islamic Congress' (al-Mu'tamar 
al-Islami al-'Am). Secondly, the Congress adopted a Statute of its own - different from 
the Statute of the World Muslim Congress. 

47 Muhammad Ali Jauhar had actually died in London where he was participating 
in the Round Table Conference on India. The Palestinians moved for him to be buried in 
the haram al-sharif partly out of recognition of his greatness and partly to win greater 
Indian support in the struggle against Zionism and the British 'Mandate' power. 

48 There is an important link between 27th Rajab, al-Aqsa Mosque and the Wailing 
Wall, a link which moves emotions very powerfully in the world of Islam. The 
explanation is as follows: The seventeenth chapter of the Qur' an, entitled "Bani 
Israel', commences with a verse which refers to the miraculous night-journey of the 
Prophet Muhammad from the masjid al-Haram (the sacred mosque, Makkah) to the 
masjid al-Aqsa (the distant mosque, Jerusalem) the precincts of which, according 
to the verse, have been blessed by Allah took him on the journey so that He could show 
him some of His "Signs'. 

The Hadith literature states that upon arrival in al-Aqsa he led a congregational 
prayer in which all the Prophets participated. Subsequently he was transported into the 
heavens and was honored with an experience of entry into the special presence of Allah. 
The Wailing Wall or Western Wall forms a part of the haram al-Sharif which houses 
masjid al-Aqsa as well as the spot from which the Prophet's heavenly journey 
commenced. It is generally believed that this journey took place on 27th Rajab. (Mishkat 
al-Masabih), English translation by James Robson, Lahore, Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 
1975, vol.2, Ch. 23, Book 26 pp. 1264-70. 

49 Gibb, H.A.R., "The Islamic Conference in Jerusalem in December 1931." Survey 
of International Affairs, London, Oxford University Press, 1935. p. 103. 

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50 Nielsen, A. "The Islamic Conference at Jerusalem." The Muslim World, 
October 1932, vol 22 p 348. 

51 King Fuad of Egypt, in particular, was so perturbed over the rumors that the 
Caliphate question would be discussed and a Caliph proclaimed that the Grand Mufti had 
to visit Cairo in person and give both verbal and written assurances that the question 
would not be discussed. For Maulana Shaukat Ali, on the other hand, there was no 
Caliphate question since he continued to recognize Abdul Majeed as Caliph. (Arnold, T. 
Op. cit.. pp.24 1-4). 

52 In the Islamic system the day begins at sunset and ends at the following sunset. 
Thus Rajab 27 (or Lailatul Miraj) did not begin until sunset on December 6. 

53 Gibb, H.A.R., Op. cit.. p. 105. The Jerusalem Congress was revived in 1953 and 
three conferences were held in 1953, 1956 and 1960. It has never again met since 1960. 
This was partly because the President of the Jerusalem Congress, Hajj Amin al-Husseini, 
became the President of a revived World Muslim Congress as well. He preferred to work 
with the latter organization since it enjoyed the political support of the Pakistan 
Government and the financial support of the Saudi Government. 

54 Gibb, Op. cit., p 102. 

55 Nielsen, Op. cit.. p. 353 

56 Ibid.. 

57 Nielsen, Op. cit.. p 353 

58 Full text of the report appended to the Palestine (Western or Wailing Wall), 
Order in Council 1931 as Schedules 1 and 2. See Statutory Rules and Orders for 
1931. H M Stationery Office, London. 1932. pp. 462-6 

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59 This attitude was further concretely expressed during the period 1948-1967 
when East Jerusalem was under Jordanian control. Jews were prohibited from praying at 
the Wailing Wall. 

60 "The Arab lands are a complete and indivisible whole, and divisions of whatever 
nature to which they have been subjected are neither approved nor recognized by the 
Arab nation ..." Gibb, Op. cit. p. 107 fn. 

61 Cf Marmorstein, Emile: "Religious Opposition to Nationalism in the Middle 
East." International Affairs, July 1952, pp. 344-357. 

62 Among the orthodox Jews was the scholar, Prof Jacob de Haan. He was killed 
by the Zionists because of his stinging denunciation of Zionism. In an important 
interview in the early twenties he explained his viewpoint as follows: 

"Do you think that history is but a series of accidents? I don't. . . . The Zionists suffer 
from the same spiritual blindness that caused our downfall. The two thousand years of 
Jewish exile and unhappiness have taught them nothing. Instead of making an attempt to 
understand the innermost causes of our unhappiness, they are trying to circumvent it, as 
it were, by building a 'National Home' on foundations provided by Western power 
politics. And in the process of building that 'National Home' they are committing the 
crime of depriving another people of their home." Asad, Muhammad, Road to Mecca, 
pp. 98-9. 

63 "Oh you who believe, do not take the Jews and Christians as your protecting 
friends (i.e., do not turn to them for a security alliance, and not establish a relationship 
with them of dependence and subservience." Qur'an (5:51) 

64 The Near East and India. December 24,1931. p 687 


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65 Shaukat Ali was unhappy about the composition of the Committee and declined 
to serve on it. Hajj Amin had used his majority to exclude opponents among whom were 
capable men. 

66 The Executive Committee successfully mediated a seven week war between 
Saudi Arabia and Yemen. A treaty was eventually signed ending the war. 

67 Abdullah Yusuf Ali was a literary genius. His translation of the Qur'an was a 
magnificent literary accomplishment. But he was somewhat naive in his understanding of 
the political and economic guidance in the Qur'an. His supreme and unwavering loyalty 
to the British government led to a mind set which rendered him incapable of grasping the 
elementary fact that Allah sent the perfected religion of Islam to be supreme over 
both private and public life. He also failed to recognize bank interest as Riba. See M. A. 
Sharif s excellent biography of Abdullah Yusuf Ali entitled: 'Searching for Solace'. 
Islamic Book Trust. Kuala Lumpur. 1994. [Islamic Book Trust, 3 Lorang 1A/71G, Man 
Carey, 46000 Petaling Jaya, Malaysia] 


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About the Author 

Imran N. Hosein is a native of Trinidad, West Indies. He studied Islam under the 
guidance of the Islamic scholar and Sufi Shaikh, Maulana Dr. Muhammad Fadlur 
Rahman Ansari, at the Aleemiyah Institute of Islamic Studies, Karachi, and also spent 
one academic year at Al-Azhar University, Cairo. He did post-graduate studies in 
Philosophy at Karachi University and in International Relations at the University of the 
West Indies and the Graduate Institute of International Studies, Geneva. 

A former Foreign Service Officer in the Trinidad and Tobago Foreign Service, he 
resigned his job in 1985 to devote his life to the cause of Islam, serving first Principal of 
the Aleemiyah Institute of Islamic Studies until 1988 when he began his Islamic lecture 
tours to South East Asia, North and South America and the Caribbean. Since 1991 he has 
served the cause of Islam in New York while attached to Masjid Darul Qur'an in Long 

As an author in Comparative Religion he has produced a seminal work on Islam and 
Buddhism', published in Pakistan in 1972. His works on Islam and International 
Relations include 'Diplomacy in Islam - An Analysis of the Treaty of Hudaibiyah', 'War 
and Peace in Islam', 'Islam and the New World Order', 'The Prophet of Islam in Jerusalem 
- The Strategic Significance of the Isra and Miraj', etc. A collection of his writings which 
include such topics as 'Dreams in Islam', ' From Makkah to Madina Once Again', 
'Western Troops in Arabia - An Islamic View' etc., was also published in Singapore in 
1991 under the title 'Islam and the Changing World Order'. 

The present series of his writings in the Ansari Memorial Series consists of the following 
three titles: The Religion of Abraham and the State of Israel - A View from the Qur'an; 
The Caliphate The Hejaz and the Saudi- Wahhabi Nation-State; The Importance of the 
Prohibition of Riba in Islam 


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