“When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love.”—Martin Luther King Jr.
Today, evil men are plotting, burning, and bombing, but what are the good men doing?
Let’s look at ISIS, for example—wreaking havoc in the Middle East, radicalizing youth in the West by perpetrating a misconstrued notion of Islam, destroying buildings, bombing innocent Muslims, Christians, and Jews, and the list goes on. Despite presenting one of the most twisted representations of Islam, something about this particular terror group seems to attract disenfranchised youth more than any other group before it. Perhaps it’s the unity they show with their dress code? Or maybe the online appeal of a group savvy enough to leverage social media to recruit young soldiers like never before. But I think it’s something else; something that is mentioned little in the media and public discourse on Islam, but something that has a great historical and religious significance—caliphate.
It’s vital to understand that the concept of caliphate has great allure for radicalized youth who yearn for a glorified past golden age of Islam, which thrived under the caliphate.
For these youth, and for many Muslims who long for a return to prosperity and success for Muslims and the prestige of years past, the caliphate is a strong symbol of the grandeur of what once was.
But today, when we think of the word caliphate, some might picture an Islamic leader with goals to establish an Islamic law in the West; to rally military, political and economic strength. But is this really the true concept of an Islamic caliphate?
As the early Islamic caliphate came to an end, we witnessed the Muslim world break into great divide, longing for a spiritual leader that would bring about peace and reform.
Fast forward to today, and we are at a stage where Muslim youth are becoming susceptible to radicalization and losing sight of what true Islam is about. As such, with the rise of radicalization and global terrorism, we ought to ask ourselves, are Muslim leaders doing enough?
If the true Islam really is a teaching of peace and spirituality, where are the good Muslim leaders? Is there a Muslim leader constructing schools today, as extremists demolish them? Is there a Muslim leader putting Muslim youth on a constructive path to serve society, as ISIS tries to radicalize them?
Contrary to popular belief, there is. It’s the Islamic caliphate you don’t know about.
The Caliph, His Holiness, Mirza Masroor Ahmad, is the worldwide leader of tens of millions of Muslims, making him the leader of the largest single group of Muslims in the world, who is the true representation of an Islamic caliph in today’s day and age. Like the Pope, the Caliph too is elected by an electoral college (minus the smoke), filled with revered spiritual leaders from across the globe.
The Caliph continues to guide world leaders through dialogue and pragmatic efforts towards service of humanity. He has overseen countless projects focused on the development of human life, education of underprivileged youth, and disaster-struck nations.
He also provides guidance at internationally recognized global venues such as Capitol Hill in the U.S. and the European Parliament. The Caliph recently addressed Parliament Hill on “Human Values” following his meeting with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The Wall Street Journal referred to him as the “Pope of Islam” and His Holiness was hailed by former prime minister Stephen Harper as a “Champion of Peace.”
With that, the question essentially arises, why haven’t you heard of him? In the words of His Holiness, “It remains that our peaceful and inclusive message of Islam is not covered extensively in the media, whilst, on the other hand, those relatively few people involved in brutality and carnage are given non-stop, worldwide media coverage.”
The reason you haven’t heard of him is because when millions pledge towards peace it goes unheard of, but when one radicalized youth causes havoc in a stable society, he hijacks the narrative of Islam.
The Caliph is playing a vital role in the progression of the Muslim world today, but his voice is not projecting as far and wide as it should be. It’s important for us as Canadians to break free of the misconstrued notion that Islam is a religion of violence, and work within our communities to highlight the peaceful initiatives carried out by Muslims.
As Albert Einstein once said, “the world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”
Jari Qudrat is on the Executive Committee of Muslim Writers of Canada and can be reached on Twitter @JariQudrat
The Hill Times