What Hizb Ut-Tahrir Peddles Is Escapist Fascism That Appeals to People Who Want to Be Told What to Do

Article excerpt

The bearded and elegantly attired supporters of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT), the fundamentalist Muslim group, like to emphasise the non-violent nature of their party. As a recent press release put it, they "have never resorted to armed struggle or violence". This is correct as far as it goes. While HT has openly engaged in the politics of hatred, particularly towards the Jews, it has not, strictly speaking, advocated violence.

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But this does not mean that it is not a violent organisation. During a recent debate on PTV, the Pakistani satellite channel, a prominent member of HT told me emphatically: "The idea of compromise does not exist in Islam." This is standard HT rhetoric, and it explains why the group is deemed dangerous and worthy of being proscribed. Intolerance of that kind is a natural precursor of, and invitation to, violence.

In fact, violence is central to HT's goals. Its primary objective is to establish a caliphate. It seeks, I have been told on numerous occasions, a "great Islamic state" ruled by a single caliph who would apply Islam "completely to all Islamic lands" and eventually to "the whole world". What would be applied "completely" is the sharia, Islamic law.

No wonder they recognise no compromise. Their ideology argues that there is only one way Muslims can or should be ruled, that those who form this caliphate have the right to rule, that all others must submit unconditionally and that only this political interpretation of Islam is valid and legitimate. In other words, the caliphate of Hizb ut-Tahrir's vision can be established only by doing violence to all other interpretations of Islam and all Muslims who do not agree with it--not to mention the violence it must do to the rest of the world, which also must eventually succumb.

The notion of the caliphate was problematic from the very beginning of Islam. All Muslims recognise the authoritative example of the four caliphs, the "rightly guided" rulers who were the immediate successors of Prophet Muhammad. Their authority derived from having been the Prophet's closest companions, most familiar with his teaching, methods and practice. Such circumstances are unrepeatable. And even then each faced dissent and rebellion: three were actually murdered.

There were many more caliphs in Muslim history, but it was with the fifth caliph, Muawiya, that the institution became a work of Islamic imperialism. Like all imperialisms, it was always tenuous and never complete in its governance of Muslim territory. The caliphate was occasionally only effective in the heartlands of the Middle East, and in those heartlands it was eventually resisted and rejected by its own citizens. …