The 3rd March 2010 marks 86 years since the formal abolition of the Khilafah. The Muslim world ever since has been divided into a number of different nations, with their own flag, national identity, ruler and their own borders. Whilst the end of the Khilafah has much to do with the weakness that overcame the Ummah in understanding Islam, the Western colonialist nations played a big role in the destruction of the Khilafah.
It was Britain, Russia and France who worked to conquer the Islamic territories and today continue with their efforts to ensure the revival of the Ummah is crippled whenever any sign of resurgence surfaces. The aim of the colonialist nations through this is to ensure that any trend for reunification would have to be monumental if it is to succeed. David Fromkin, Professor and expert on Economic History at the University of Chicago confirmed this:
“Massive amounts of the wealth of the old Ottoman Empire were now claimed by the victors. But one must remember that the Islamic empire had tried for centuries to conquer Christian Europe and the power brokers deciding the fate of those defeated people were naturally determined that these countries should never be able to organize and threaten Western interests again. With centuries of mercantilist experience, Britain and France created small, unstable states whose rulers needed their support to stay in power. The development and trade of these states were controlled and they were meant never again to be a threat to the West. These external powers then made contracts with their puppets to buy Arab resources cheaply, making the feudal elite enormously wealthy while leaving most citizens in poverty.”
It should be remembered that the West originally launched their onslaught against the Ummah through a number of crusades beginning in 1095. The West understood then as it does now the power of Islam when it is embraced by people. Islam’s track record is unparalleled under the Khilafah, whilst there are many developments that can be listed, what follows are 5 such developments.
Defeating the Byzantines
Mu’awiyah bin Sufyaan was the first of the Ummayad rulers and enacted a policy of continuous expansion, which brought Northwest Africa (Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Tunisia), Spain, western India and portions of Central Asia under Islamic authority. Mu’awiyah is famous for enacting the policy for the development of the military of the Islamic state. This included a powerful navy and the creation of military bases. Mu’awiya had realised that the decisive battle against the than superpower the Byzantines would be at sea. Mu’awiyah’s policies resulted in the creation of dockyards in Acre in Syria and also in Eastern Egypt which was in Muslim control by 641. By 649 the construction of 1000 fleet was complete. This policy also resulted in ship building factories being constructed at important ports such as Abla and Sirafin in the Persian Gulf, Tunis on the North African Coast, Sus in Morocco then after further victories facilities developed in Palermo and Messina in Sicily and Bari in Italy. Within a hundred years these ports also served as commercial centres for Trade which facilitated the Islamic states riches
Prior to Mu’awiyah all the Khilafah’s victories were with states landlocked with the Muslims, the Arabian peninsula, Western India, Persia, Iraq and central Asia, none of them ever warranted sea battles. The Ummah used camels and horses for strategic mobility across the dessert. The strategy being to move along the dessert coast and then retreat if the enemy was too strong. This severely hindered the Byzantine forces, who were a sea power, it however restricted Islamic expansion. Mu’awiyah however realised that the Byzantines would need to be defeated at sea to cause them any major blow.
Mu’awiyah also realised the need for military bases and this was incorporated into his expansion policy. The first attempt at Egypt failed due to the then supply line being overstretched – the Fustat military base was 1500 miles away. Other bases such as Kufa and Basra were even further. In 670 the first full military base composed of garrisons, horses, camels, artillery, blades, swords and gunpowder was made in Qairawan (modern Tunisia) like all the other bases it developed into a famous city. Once Egypt was conquered a base was also set up there by the conquered Berbers themselves which matched the base set up Qairawan. This resulted in metalworking reaching a high standard, and the use and development of glassware and ceramics.
As a result of Mu’awiya’s Economic and military policies and with a supply line supported by two huge military bases and a powerful navy the Berber turned Muslim Tariq ibn Ziyad in 711, from around Tangier (modern day Morocco), with an army of around seven thousand three hundred men crossed the Strait of Gibraltar and began the conquest of Spain and thereafter Europe.
When the Abbasids took over the Khilafah, they began a project of creating a capital city that would be revered around the world. The Abbasid caliph, Al Mansur assembled engineers, surveyors and art constructionists from around the world to come together and draw up plans for the city. Over 100,000 construction workers came to survey the plans and were distributed salaries to start the building of the grand city.
Baghdad was the first circular city in the world. Within fifty years the population outgrew the city walls as people thronged to the capital to become part of the Abbasids’ Civil service and engage in trade. Baghdad became a vast emporium of trade linking Asia and the Mediterranean. By the reign of Mansur’s grandson, Harun ar Rashid (786-806), Baghdad was second in size only to Constantinople. European towns, cities and settlements built walls to prevent raids from outlaws and armies but were typically vulnerable at four points; the corners. If enough pressure was applied at any of these points the wall would collapse and troops could flood through the breach. The Muslims solved this problem by building circular cities.
After the defences of the city were complete attention turned to how the Abbasids would feed the rest of the Ummah. The development of Agriculture under the Abbasids was a phenomenon; the scarcity of water had converted the barren Arab lands into a vast desert, which had never yielded any substantial agricultural produce. The scattered population always imported supply of food grains to supplement the dates and the little corn grown in their own lands. Agriculture in Arabia, had been very primitive and was confined to those tracts where water was available in the form of springs. Medina, with its springs and wells was the only green spot in the vast desert. The Abbasids dealt with this by first controlling the flows of the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. The Irrigation system in the land was greatly improved by digging a number of new canals, the largest flowed between the Tigris and Euphrates. This canal was called Nahr Isa (Isa canal) and was open to ships for transportation between Syria & Iraq. This led to navigation routes opening to India and Persian Gulf. The Abbasids reconstructed the existing canals, lakes, and reservoirs, which were first built under Hajjaj Bin Yusuf in 702. After this the swamps around Baghdad were drained, freeing the city of malaria.
House of Wisdom – Bayt al-Hikma
The Abbasids in the 8th initiated probably the greatest translation project translating the work of the Ancient Greeks into Arabic to preserve them from being lost forever. The careful and painstaking archive work took time, effort and co-ordination. An institute named Al-Bait ul-Hikmah was set up and run by the Abbasid Khilafah in Baghdad for this purpose.
At the behest of the Caliph an observatory was built and numerous educational institutes which made literacy widespread were created. Other rulers such as Al-Mansur ordered plentiful resources to achieve the task. Translation became a state industry and the Muslim scholars succeeded in what is still regarded today as a truly incredible feat.
Observatories were set up in Baghdad and become an unrivalled center for the study of humanities and for sciences, including mathematics, astronomy, medicine, chemistry, zoology and geography. The scholars, scientists and specialists draw upon the translated works of previous civilizations such as the Persian and Greek works that included those of Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle and Socrates. Such works were accumulated and Baghdad become home to a great collection of world knowledge.
The Uthmani’s came to eclipse all of the rival amirs and sultans across the Islamic lands and then were able to menace the whole of Europe, to the extent that the Kuffar were convinced that the Uthmani’s could not be defeated. A number of polices enacted by the Uthmani’s cemented their position in global politics at the time.
The Uthmani’s were one of the many bands of Turkmen horsemen who began to come into the Islamic lands as a result of the Mongol invasions in the 13th century. These Turkmen warriors, who had converted to Islam, were sent to the frontiers of the state by the Seljuks, who themselves were of Turkish origin. This was because they had excellent fighting skills and zeal, which the Seljuks wanted them to apply along the frontier with the Byzantines. The House of Uthman proved to be one of the most successful of these bands, taking many towns and villages from the control of the Byzantines, they then unified the other ghazis, or mujahideen, under their banner.
In 1432, Murad II (the 5th Sultan) introduced the devshirme or boy-tribute system which was an elite force of soldiers loyal only to the Sultan. According to this system, a tribute officer would set out across the Balkans and Greece, and from the villages a number of young boys, usually less than a handful from each village, would be taken for training. These were trained physically and put through an education system that would enable them to proceed into the state’s administrative system. Those who showed good intellectual aptitude would proceed on this track, while those who were not considered suitable for administrative tasks would be drafted into the janissaries, or other positions serving the Sultan, There were huge benefits to such a system Firstly, the Uthmani’s could constantly guarantee that the only basis for people to obtain posts in the Khilafah was the personal qualities that shone through under examination; they were literally the best of the best. Alongside that, the administrative system was only open to people via this system hence they had no ties with families within the Khilafah, hence it could be assured that any official, no matter what post he reached, would not be able to pass on all that he had earned, or try and get his son into power after him. This had the effect of not allowing the power to be cemented in the hands of anyone other than the Sultan. The importance of this system cannot be underestimated, from the time of Muhammad al Fatih in the 1450s, the 34 of the next 36 leaders, were converts to Islam, who had come through this system.
The Uthmani’s also developed the janissaries, who were a standing infantry that would only admit into its ranks captured non-Muslims. These troops would be trained and then, after converting to Islam, they would be fully enrolled into the janissary order. The source for these troops was the captured nobles of the people the Othmani’s had defeated. For centuries onwards from this time, they were the only standing army in Europe, a professional corps of fighters always prepared and ready for battle. The upkeep for the janissaries was paid for through revenues that the empire was constantly collecting. This meant that the Uthmani’s would always have the advantage of being able to immediately deploy their forces, at no extra cost.
In contrast, the feudal states of Europe would have to impose hefty taxes on their peasant populations in order to generate the needed funds. The benefit of the standing army was that it acted to cement the power of the state’s legitimate authority. Europeans, their Kings, Dukes or other potentates would have to rely on their nobles to provide troops. If this would not be sufficient, they would have to hire foreign forces, or enter into pacts, treaties and other political agreements that could all in them selves lead to more of a threat than the menace of the Uthmani army itself. The Sultan could count on the fact that the janissaries had no loyalty to any one other than him. So the Khaleefah had no rivals or other centres of power to placate, because his authority in the Khilafah was absolute. This led to continued political stability in the Khilafah and gave the Khaleefah the ability to engage in long term plans to expand power. The success of such polices resulted in the conquering of Southern Italy, Hungary, Austria, Romania, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Albania, Malta, Cyprus, Croatia, Ukraine, the Canary Islands, parts of Iceland and the largest island of the Bristol waters in England – Lundy.
Such was the perceived threat of the Uthmani Khilafah under the reign of Suleiman al Qanooni that ambassador Busbecq of the Austrian monarch Ferdinand I warned of Europe’s imminent conquest: “On [the Turks’] side are the resources of a mighty empire, strength unimpaired, habituation to victory, endurance of toil, unity, discipline, frugality and watchfulness… Can we doubt what the result will be?…When the Turks have settled with Persia, they will fly at our throats supported by the might of the whole East; how unprepared we are I dare not say.” (Lewis, Bernard (2002). What Went Wrong? : Western Impact and Middle Eastern Response)
In 1783 the first US navy boat started to sail in international waters and within two years was captured by the Uthmani navy near Algeria. In 1793 12 more US navy boats were captured. In March 1794 the US Congress authorized President Washington to spend up to 700 000 gold coins to build strong steel boats that would resist the Uthmani navy. Just a year later the US signed the Barbary Treaty to resolve the Uthmani threat. Barbary, was the term for the North African wilaya’s of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, under the rule of the Uthmani’s
The terms of the treaty were:
The treaty will cost the US a one off payment of $992,463
The American ships captured would be returned and the American Navy was to be given permission to sail in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
In return, the American government would pay $642 000 in equivalent gold.
The US would also pay an annual tax (tribute) of $12 000 in gold. The annual tribute would be calculated according to the Islamic calendar and not the Christian calendar
$585,000 would be paid for the ransom of the captured American sailors
A state of the art steel ship would be constructed and delivered to the Uthmani’s, built in the US with all costs borne by the US in return for privileges. (The costs of masts, Yards, and heavy planks, were very costly and so difficult to procure, and then so exceedingly expensive to transport. Once delivered the US had actually paid thirty times their estimated price in the stipulations).
The treaty was written in Turkish and signed by President Washington, This is the only American legal document to ever have been concluded in a foreign language and the only treaty the Americans have ever signed that agrees to pay annual tax to another nation. This treaty continued until the Khilafah was abolished.
When the Khilafah was present and it applied Islam it was the world’s unrivalled power. This fact is not forgotten by the West and it remains a potent force which the world’s intelligence agencies spend day and night hypothesizing about. As a result of this various surveys, think tank reports and policy makers have all accepted that Muslims globally have rejected western values. A Gallup survey in 2006 concluded Muslim women tended to regard Western culture as morally corrupt and obsessed with sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll. This represents a glaring failure on the part of the West who has faced no challenge to its global supremacy since the fall of Communism.
On the 86th Anniversary of the destruction of the Khilafah, the Ummah globally should realise that the West has pulled out all its resources to halt the call for the Khilafah and the winds of change that have galvanized the Ummah. The Ummah needs to realise whilst the Western colonialists led by the US bleed to death due to Iraq and Afghanistan, the Ummah is actually in a position of strength. The attack on both of these nations is due in part to the failure of the Muslims rulers to stop the Islamisation of their countries.
All that remains now is for the Muslim armies to realise the Ummah is ready for change and for them to make this change a reality. The Muslims armies should remember that Sa’ad ibn Muadh رضي الله عنه gave the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم the necessary military and political support (nusra) as one of the chiefs of the key tribes of Madina. His support played a vital role in establishing Islam as a way of life. On his death the throne of Allah سبحانه وتعالى moved, and Allah سبحانه وتعالى truly elevated his status.
When Sa’ad ibn Muadh رضي الله عنه died, Jibreel عليه السلام came to the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم and said: “Who was this good soul who died? The gates of the heavens were opened for him and the throne of Allah moved.” (Ahmed).
When his body was carried after the Janazah the Muslims carrying the body said, “We have not carried a dead body lighter than this.” The Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم replied to them: “Nothing made his body lighter, but it was such and such number of angels (many angles) who descended and carried him along with you. Those angels had never before descended.” (Narrated in Tabaqat ibn Sa’ad).
Bukhari narrates on the authority of Jabir رضي الله عنه who said: “I heard the Prophet صلى الله عليه وسلم say: ‘the heavens trembled at the death of Sa’ad bin Muadh.'” (Adnan Khan)