The caliph in Sunni Islam is the symbol of the supranational unity of the Muslims, and is the successor of Muhammad as the military, political, and spiritual leader of the Islamic community. There hasn’t been a caliph for nearly 90 years, but now Pakistan’s Minister of State for Industries, Ayatullah Durrani, has a novel idea for just the right man for the job: Barack Obama!
The caliphate was abolished in 1924 by the secular Turkish government; foremost on the agenda of Islamic supremacists worldwide is its restoration. Hamstringing that effort, however, has been the lack of a candidate who would be acceptable to everyone concerned. The elusive one-eyed Islamic cleric who leads the Taliban in Afghanistan, Mullah Omar, was declared caliph—Emir al-Momineen, or Leader of the Believers—by his followers in 1994.
Omar went to the Shrine of the Respectable Cloak of Muhammad in Kandahar, climbed up onto its roof, and wrapped himself in the Muslim prophet’s cloak, to the jubilation of his followers below. But Omar’s claim to the caliphate has been complicated by a number of matters since then—notably the toppling of the Taliban from state power by American forces—and his claim to the caliphate has been acknowledged by only one group outside Afghanistan: Al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, a group formerly known as the Salafist Group for Preaching and Combat—a name that shares none of the U.S. government’s delicacy about identifying Islamic preaching as a not infrequent source of jihad violence.
The restoration of the caliphate is foremost on the agenda of the global mujahedin because, according to Islamic law, the caliph alone can declare offensive jihad against infidel nations—which is why Osama bin Laden and other jihad theorists cast all the present actions of Islamic jihadists as defensive.
Islamic supremacists also see the abolition of the caliphate as the loss of the unity of the umma, the Islamic community worldwide; they see a divided Islamic umma as a weakened one, subject to buffeting and humiliation from colonialist and neo-colonialist powers.
And so Durrani, a member of Pakistan’s governing People’s Party, said: “The time is approaching fast. Barack Hussein Obama must act now. This is a golden opportunity, Muslims badly need it.”
He added that on the Muslim feast of Eid-ul-Fitr, which marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan and falls this year on September 11, Obama should offer the prescribed Eid prayers and seize the moment to declare himself caliph. “In this way,” said the starry-eyed Durrani, “all the problems of the Muslim world would be solved.”
If only it were that easy!
The Islamic world, said Durrani, is in “dire need” of a caliph, and held out some bait for our self-enchanted President, saying that as caliph he would be entitled to “exemplary titles” such as “Mullah Barack Hussein Obama” and “Allama Obama.”
Well, they certainly do trip off the tongue. And heck, why not? William Howard Taft went on from the presidency to become chief justice of the Supreme Court. Richard Nixon became a pundit. Jimmy Carter became a saint. Why can’t Obama become caliph?
Yet there is a note of seriousness amid all this absurdity. Note where Durrani wants Obama to proclaim himself caliph: at Ground Zero, of all places. Why there? To promote reconciliation and interfaith harmony? No—that is not what the caliph does. The caliph is uniquely authorized, according to Sunni Islamic law, to wage offensive jihad against non-Muslim states in order to bring them under the hegemony of Sharia. So clearly Durrani has picked his spot in order to mark the victory of Islam there—as innumerable Muslims around the world will understand the planned Ground Zero mosque to be doing as well.
Obama as the Leader of the Believers, said Durrani, would be the “key to success.” It’s noteworthy that a member of the Pakistani government would be able to look at Obama’s record as President and conclude that he is not only a Muslim, but should become their leader. It is just another indication of how unmistakable and consistent is Obama’s record of appeasement of Iran and pandering to Islamic interests—whether he is among the believers or not.
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