I’m pledging allegiance to the Caliphate – and no, I don’t mean ISIS

An edited version of this article was published on Monday 10th August 2015 in ‘The Independent’ online.

I’ve made up my mind. I’ll soon be packing my bags and leaving Birmingham to pledge allegiance to the Caliphate. Thousands more, mostly from Europe, will be doing the same.

As you react with horror, contemplate alerting the police and (worse) consider blocking me on social media, rest assured: I’m not referring to the so-called Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, led by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi.

Rather, I’m talking about a Caliph you may never have heard of – and who certainly doesn’t get near as much publicity – but is the head of a global spiritual community, described as a champion of human rights and who stands firmly against terrorism. He lives in London too.

This Caliph will be the centre of attention at the UK’s largest international gathering of Muslims. Thirty thousand people from 90 countries and 100 cities across the land will be there, with millions more tuning in via satellite TV screens and internet streams.

Like me, they will be affirming their loyalty to him and vow to live by a simple maxim: Love for all, hatred for none.

This is sure to raise some eyebrows, and probably startle those who equate caliphate with something closer to a barbaric totalitarian theocracy. And you’d be forgiven for thinking so.

Caliphate, the anglicised term for the Arabic khilafah, is a system of successorship as old as humankind. But in Islamic theology, it refers mainly to the “rightly-guided” leaders (caliphs) appointed after the Prophet’s death for the protection and progress of the ummah (Muslim community). That caliphate came to an end following the assassination of Ali, the fourth successor of Muhammad.

So without leadership Islam, once a monolith, gradually evolved into something quite multifaceted – and for this reason, there arose various declarations of the caliphate, from the Umayyad and Abbasid dynasties to the Ottoman empire. However, these were political manifestations of a religious institution and a far cry from how the earliest Muslims understood caliphate. For all its claims, ISIS with its deplorable fixation with beheadings and brutality, is evidently more about power than piety.

Divinely-mandated authority is much more sophisticated than any random Tariq, Daud or Hamza taking over a piece of land and proclaiming themselves ruler of the believers. According to the Qur’an (chapter 24, verses 55-56), a caliphate restores Islam to its original purity, purged of the corruptions that have crept into it. It should also replace fear with peace and security. Clearly, al-Baghdadi fails on both fronts.

Enter here Mirza Masroor Ahmad – the ‘true Caliph’ and head of tens of millions of Ahmadiyya Muslims who have joined the community from every denomination, religion and worldview you can imagine. Wherever on the planet they are, he is their spiritual mentor. But he is also an important figure for the world.

AMA UK Conference of Religions Guild Hall 11

He travels extensively and is welcomed by heads of state, and has spoken at Capitol Hill in the US, the European Parliament and the House of Commons. Prime Minister David Cameron is among many who have praised him as “a man of peace.” And how many other Muslim leaders do you know who have been given the golden key to a city in the US? On that occasion the Caliph said:

“I believe in that one God Who is the Lord of all nations, all races and all religions, and so it becomes impossible that I could ever develop any hatred in my heart for any nation, any race or any religion.”

When caricatures of the Prophet were published, he counseled Muslims to write articles promoting the real character of Muhammad. When Pastor Terry Jones threatened to burn the Qur’an, he called on faith leaders to respect each other’s holy scriptures. And when his own followers were massacred in Pakistan, he urged his community to exercise patience and offer prayers.

The Caliph is committed to the promotion of the best education and health services in the poorest regions of the world, setting up schools and hospitals that provide for all, regardless of beliefs and background. He is passionate about the pursuit of secular and scientific knowledge, awarding accolades to girls and boys who achieve outstanding success in their studies.

By rejecting violence, inspiring service to one’s country and defending freedom of conscience, this is a Caliph who is a living example of real Islamic values.

Why should any of this matter? It’s because this is a Caliph everyone needs to know more about, and deserves the platform world leaders also want “strong, positive Muslim voices” to be given.

If extremism is the “struggle of our generation”, here is a Caliph who offers hope and a solution. And that’s why millions including me are pledging allegiance to him.

7 thoughts on “I’m pledging allegiance to the Caliphate – and no, I don’t mean ISIS

  1. The Ahmadis are not considered Muslims by any scholar anywhere in the world.
    This opinion has reached a consensus through an open democratic debate for more then 80 years.
    Why is a politically incorrect article which distorts the truth and offends a billion Muslims get published in a mainstream paper like the Gaurdian?


    1. Thank you for your comment Umair. I’m not sure your claims about Ahmadis and the article itself are correct – there are many denominations in Islam and not all will agree with everything the others believe (this is a reality in all faiths), but I know plenty of imams and scholars who consider Ahmadis to be Muslims. Even if there are many who are of the opinion that Ahmadis are not, that’s all it is – an opinion, as you say. The truth of a divine community has never depended on the consensus of any particular group of people. By the same logic, Jesus and his followers should be considered non-believers on the basis of the opinion of the majority of Jewish leaders at the time. But I appreciate your feedback. And the piece was printed in the Independent, not Guardian.


      1. Thank you for the prompt response. The word ‘Muslim’ can only be associated with one who accepts the oneness of God and the the Prophet Saw as the final Messenger of Allah. This is a basic tenant of faith. Debates both legally in Pakistan and South Africa have established this fact in neutral courts of Law. The Jews are called Jews and the Christians are called Christians and Muslims likewise. An Ahmadi is a Follower of Ghulam Ahmed from Qadyan. Can you forward me the names of Imaams that you claim consider Qadyanis as Muslims?


      2. You’re welcome. The shahadah is clear in requiring Muslims to believe in Prophet Muhammad as a Messenger – but the word ‘last’ isn’t used. If it was a basic tenet of faith then why doesn’t the shahadah state this? We could go further and say that belief in all prophets is an article of faith – and to reject even one would be tantamount to not being a Muslim. If Mirza Ghulam Ahmad’s subordinate prophethood to Muhammad is established, where does that leave those who don’t accept him? If you wish to go with debates in ‘neutral’ courts of law (and you honestly consider the state of Pakistan to be impartial in such matters?), then don’t forget that prior to 1974, Ahmadis were recognised by the state as Muslims in Pakistan. So were Ahmadis at least Muslims up to that point? You are of course free to disagree with the article but I’m afraid neither you nor anyone else has the right to stop anyone calling themselves Muslims – the Prophet himself never did, to my understanding anyway. Peace.


      3. Upon the death of the Prophet Saw a person with the name of Musailamah made a claim of Prohethood. Him alongside his followers were all considered apostates and out of Islam by the entire group of Sahaba. One cannot accept the first part of the Shahadah and at the same time reject any verse of the Quran. If the Quran clearly states that the prophet Saw is the final seal of prophet saw then it indirectly means that anyone who does not accept this is not a Muslim.
        In Pakistan and the entire Muslim Ummah as a whole it was well known as a basic fact that both the Qadyanis and the Lahori group were outside the fold of Islam. If we accept your logic then it would mean that usury and Interest were Halaal in Pakistan until 1999. As it took pages upon pages to prove the prohibition of Interest although it was clearly stated in the Quran and Sunnah.
        The truth is there.


      4. Without getting into a detailed theological exchange, the seal of prophethood does not preclude the possibility for the appearance of another messenger who revives faith, as long as they do not bring a new law or scripture. If you expect Jesus to return then you’ll understand what I mean. The difference between you and me is only who we identify as ‘the second coming’. You are probably also aware of prophecies of the Prophet in which he said that among the signs of the coming of the Muslim Messiah, most clerics would reject and oppose him. I have your email address and will be happy to provide references. Peace.


      5. I agree stretching the discussion will get us nowhere. I do remain certain that Mirza Ghulam Ahmed Qadyani was not a prophet in any stretch of the imagination.
        Books, conventions,supreme Court decisions and the general consensus of the entire Ummah including the Shia is that just like Musialamah, Baha Uddin Irani and many other false prophets he is also a huge fitna to the Ummah.


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