Who’s afraid of a caliphate?

Discussion in 'Religion & Culture' started by kseeker, Aug 13, 2014.

  1. kseeker

    kseeker Retired

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    In an interview with Thomas Friedman last weekend, President Obama declared that the US will not allow ISIS militants to create a caliphate. In fact, he said he will do everything within his power to stop it. It’s not surprising therefore that the US has started air strikes again in Iraq, this time, against the ISIS militants who have cornered the tiny Yazidi minority in the north. The Yazidis, a community with Zoroastrian and Sufi roots, have been chased out of Sinjar, where they lived, many have been brutally killed, even buried alive, their wives and daughters taken as slaves to be sold. Those who remain are now trapped in a jihadist-hemmed mountain region without food and water.

    So, yes, the US air strikes this time round appear what they claim to be: an attempt to rescue members of a religious minority about to be wiped out. But the larger purpose, argues Obama, is to stop the ISIS dream, articulated by the shadowy chief of the ultra-radical Sunnis, Abu-Bakr al-Baghdadi, of building a great caliphate that would stretch across not just Iraq and Syria but also Lebanon, Jordan, Kurdistan, Israel and Egypt.

    If you cut out the flamboyant rhetoric and tales of unparalleled cruelty that have accompanied the march of the ISIS over recent weeks, with an amazing range of sophisticated weapons at their command, to simply focus on the dream itself, the dream of the great Islamic caliphate, there’s really little to fear. It sounds a bit like our own idea of Ram Rajya, a pipe dream conjured up to inspire the most foolish and easily waylaid among us.

    Do you really think anyone wants Ram Rajya? You are kidding. We are all dreaming of becoming the next China or how to build another Silicon Valley here. Why would we take a sputtering time machine and go back in history to seek our future there? True, some of us may use Ram Rajya as a cunning metaphor to fire the imagination of those critically less endowed. But, hand on the heart, I doubt how many of us (and here I count the most devout BJP followers) would be seriously enamoured of a Ram Rajya instead of building the India of tomorrow. Even Narendra Modi, in an unlikely reprise of Nehruvian politics, talks of giving precedence to highways and factories, not temples and yagnas.

    So why can’t we allow the militant Sunnis and their flag bearers to dream of a great Islamic caliphate? It’s just another figment of the imagination, another Utopia. And Utopias, as we all know, are what politicians and religious leaders sell as junk bonds to their flock. There have been many caliphates before, from the 7th century Rashiduns to the Ottoman Empire, which was abolished in 1924 by Kemal Ataturk, the first President of the Turkish Republic who chose democracy instead. The other caliphates in history also fell by the wayside but the grand dream persists, more as an illusion than a real goal. Even Osama dreamt of a caliphate. It was one of the al-Qaida’s richest fantasies.

    The problem with us is that we still seek solutions to our disunity, our poverty, our inequality, our haplessness in such retro fantasies built on religious constructs. Whether it’s a caliphate or a Ram Rajya or a Utopia, for which Sir Thomas More was beheaded by Henry VIII (Pope Pius XI canonised him 400 years later) the dream is the same. Plato waxed eloquent about The Republic. The Amish and Hutterites are still around, trying to sidestep the world around them.

    Luckily, utopias, like caliphates down history, have fallen apart from internal discord and the vaulting ambitions of those who aspired to lead them. Modernity too has taken its toll. Newer generations have realised that pipe dreams don’t solve the problems of mankind. Real things could, if only we allowed them to.

    So, while it’s fine to stop a massacre and I am happy Obama has stepped in, hopefully this time with more experience to back him, I suggest he ignore the fears of the great Islamic caliphate coming into being. It’s just a fantasy. And fantasies must be allowed to live themselves out, till people tire of them and return to reality. By attacking such fantasies, you only grow the folklore.

    For those who may not know, there was a movement in British India which also began with the same dream of a great Islamic caliphate. But the Great War and our freedom struggle eventually subsumed that movement. Gandhi was even a member of the Central Khilafat Committee (yes, Khilafat and caliphate are one and the same thing) and leaders of our freedom struggle like the Ali brothers and Abul Kalam Azad were part of it. The good thing is it unified Muslims and Hindus in their fight against the British regime and when that purpose was achieved, it died a natural death.

    That’s the moral of the story. Religious ideas, however scary they may look, are just that. Mere ideas. They always succumb before the enormous power of real struggles. And today those struggles are against poverty, injustice, inequality, and growing joblessness. Obama ought to know that. So do we.

    DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.

    - August 13, 2014, 1:03 PM IST Pritish Nandy in Extraordinary Issue | India, World

    Who’s afraid of a caliphate? | Times of India Opinion
     
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  3. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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  4. ladder

    ladder Senior Member Senior Member

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    You may or may not, it wouldn't qualitatively affect being merged or remaining independent as qualitatively I wouldn't rate it high to affect or influence discussion. ( The sole purpose of merging other than redundant posts). So your call.
     
  5. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    Right. If you read the article, it is founded on the Iraq crisis, but it also presents a generalized philosophy, and extends beyond Iraq. It could be an independent thread, but I guess the discussion will eventually end up being the one about Iraq, just running in parallel with the main thread.
     
  6. ladder

    ladder Senior Member Senior Member

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    Well, my point being The Kilafat movement was different from the Ottoman Caliphs and so is the idea of the ISIS Caliphate, they only have a name common that is ' Caliphate' and so is the analogy of 'Ram Rajya' which till today hasn't been properly defined by any one who necessarily wants it.

    So, to think what hasn't been defined as a outdated ideology is pretty far fetched.

    But, I feel it should remain independent as discussions on it will be '' all forms of caliphate' vs ' all probable forms of 'Ram Rajya"
     
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  7. Sakal Gharelu Ustad

    Sakal Gharelu Ustad Detests Jholawalas Moderator

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    What is the point of bringing in Ram Rajya in the discussion? It is sheer stupidity to compare "Ram Rajya"(normally used for an ideal/utopian state) with a Caliphate(entrusted the responsibility to enforce Shariat).
     
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  8. pmaitra

    pmaitra Moderator Moderator

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    I agree. Let this be an independent thread.

    And this post here can be the genesis of a good debate.
     
  9. Singh

    Singh Phat Cat Administrator

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    We can have this as an independent thread on the implications of the rise of a Sunni Caliphate in the Islamic world.
     
  10. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    History indicates that fervent movements to build "utopias" actually fall into two categories. First, the laughable fools errand which the author mentions; but then there's also the second disturbing one where a group succeeds in building their version of the "utopia" which turns out to be a horrifying dystopia for everyone else. I hate to invoke Godwin's Law... but hello Nazis anyone? Normally it is hard to meaningfully compare an uber-organized fascist organization with global ambitions like the nazis to cave dwelling semi apes like the Taliban (beyond the love both of them share for killing that is). But ISIS is not the Taliban. This movement is well organized, well funded and clearly possesses a bigger, more sinister agenda. It most certainly does not help that so far they have extended their reign on a pile of headless corpses. Based on how they have conducted themselves thus far, I think it's in everyone's interest to make sure these folks do not get the opportunity to dig in.
     
  11. Mad Indian

    Mad Indian Proud Bigot Veteran Member Senior Member

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    Why are we so scared of offending Muslims?
    I think this article is very relevant for the libtards in particular and this thread in general
     
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  12. Energon

    Energon DFI stars Stars and Ambassadors

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    how does this correlate to the topic at hand?
     

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