There’s a strange idea among parts of the ummah that “there is no Islamic state.” With the rise of ISIS, several thousand Muslims worldwide (especially Tunisians and Saudis, the two most Salafi countries) emigrated to ISIS territory, believing that the dreamy dawlah islamiyyah (الدولة إسلامية) was finally resurrected from the dead. Granted, as a percentage of total Muslims, this is a microscopic portion of worldwide Muslims, who generally rejected it early on as nothing more than another American-backed fringe group of rebels in Syria.
There’s several strange ideas surrounding this. Firstly, the ummah was without a caliph in history before, such as between the Abbasid and Mamluk caliphs. There were also times in history when there were multiple caliphs, such as during the Abbasid caliphate there was also the Umayyad caliphate of Cordoba. This ummah has always has its complications. This world is a place of fitna, not a paradise.
Another strange idea is that there is no “Islamic state” on the Earth. So what defines an “Islamic state?” A state with a large or majority population of Muslims and a Muslim ruler who rules by the Shari’a with a court system of qudah? So why doesn’t Mauritania, Senegal, Morocco, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Malaysia, Yemen, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Bangladesh fit the definition? They’re not Islamic states? Who defines what is an Islamic state, anyways? The Salafis, apparently, whose ideas radically shift and take a 180 every decade or so based on what’s politically convenient for the Saudi elite.
Perhaps, to them, the fine line between an Islamic state and something else is the regular, public performance of hudud punishments with no consideration for tazir, which is far from the practice of any historic caliphate. The proclamation of a caliph and the regular televised executions were apparently all they needed to see to be convinced.
And even if conditions were different, and the entire ummah recognized an actual caliphate, that doesn’t mean you have to emigrate there. This is such an absurd belief that Salafis have, it boggles the mind with how irrational it is. Do you expect the entirety of nearly two billion Muslism on Earth to move to one single place? Do they not understand how absurd and impractical that is? So who would’ve stayed in Malaysia and Indonesia to give dawa and build the din there? The reality is, ISIS needed people to join their terrorist organization to provide cannon fodder for the front lines. The “call to emigrate” was a tool of recruitment, like a US Army advertisement.
Many of these erroneous beliefs and issues are simply the result of colonialism. Much of the ummah bought into the propaganda of the colonists, who spread their secular ideas with the newly-introduced printing press and hijacked school systems, and the result is the knowledge of this din was cast aside along with its scholarship. The “enlightenment” ideas of Europe were injected into the Muslim world. The Wahhabis took the opportunity to spread their ideology and the result is mass ignorance and misinformation that we’re still fighting today. Ironically, before all of this, the ummah never had a rightfully-placed reputation of terrorism and brutality which the Salafi jihadis have made us known for. Rather, we had saints like sheikh Abdul Qadr al-Jazairi, whose jihad was worthy of international recognition and even president Abraham Lincoln sent him a gift in honor of his actions which saved 10,000 Christians from a mob of Druze. We had saints like sheikh Ahmadu Bamba who evicted the French with non-violent means. The French military even praised him, called him holy, and gave him a medal. You had sheikh Omar al-Mukhtar whom the Italians themselves bore witness to his saintly presence and miracles, and respected him highly even as a POW.
Now we must get educated and clean our tarnished reputation, insha’Allah. I suppose one positive effect of ISIS is it finally put the reality of Salafism front stage for all to see, and it’s erroneous horror is unbearable even for most Salafis to accept. Now we can cast this ideology aside, return to the true Islamic tradition, and stop the destruction so we can finally rebuild our various Islamic states all over the world.