The Caliphate: One nation, under Allah, with 1.5 billion Muslims
(Page 2 of 2)
"The Muslim world has resources like oil but it lacks the leadership that will rule us by Islamic law and make this jihad that the whole world is afraid of," says Shakr, a Jordanian member of the group, who says the success of the Caliphate will also encourage more converts to Islam - eventually making the whole world Islamic.Skip to next paragraph
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
Hizb ut-Tahrir's modern leader is a Jordanian known as Emir Atta Abu Rashta. He lives in a secret location in the Middle East and communicates mainly through the Internet. The party is illegal in all Arab countries as well as Germany. Britain mooted banning the group after last year's London bombings. Ms. Baran wrote in the November issue of Foreign Affairs that the attacks were carried out by members of a Hizb ut-Tahrir splinter group. The British government has not formally accused Hizb ut-Tahrir or Hizb ut-Tahrir splinter groups of involvement. Hizb ut-Tahrir's British branch has condemned both the 7/7 and 9/11 attacks. [Editor's note: Due to an editing error, the original version did not cite Baran or include Hizb ut-Tahrir's condemnation.]
Hizb ut-Tahrir's critics rarely see the organization as a direct threat, however.
"Many people see Hizb ut-Tahrir's aims as utterly unrealistic," says Nadim Shehadi, a Middle East analyst at Chatham House. "Even their understanding of the Caliphate as a strong, powerful state is questionable. Historically the Caliphate only worked because it was very loose and extremely decentralized."
Many analysts say that real danger is that the group radicalizes its followers who may subsequently graduate into militancy.
"People who join won't necessarily end up as violent jihadists," says Shiv Malik, a journalist. "But Hizb ut-Tahrir can provide [them with an] ideological backbone."
Hizb ut-Tahrir is not a mass movement yet, but analysts warn the group has a growing prominence among educated professionals in Europe and the Middle East.
"In Europe they tell Muslims that they have to create parallel societies and that they should not follow European laws," says Ms. Baran. "If this happens it will impossible for people like me to argue that Islam can be democratic."
Baran estimates the group has tens of thousands of followers in Central Asia. "They're stronger in places where people know less about Islam and can't read the Koran in Arabic," she says. "They're not as popular in the Middle East because they don't get involved in the Palestinian cause."
Hizb ut-Tahrir takes a more gradual, long-term strategy for spreading the territory under Muslim rule.
"Islam obliges Muslims to possess power so that they can intimidate - I would not say terrorize - the enemies of Islam," says Abu Mohammed, a Hizb ut-Tahrir activist. "In the beginning, the Caliphate would strengthen itself internally and it wouldn't initiate jihad."
"But after that we would carry Islam as an intellectual call to all the world," says Abu Mohammed, a pseudonym. "And we will make people bordering the Caliphate believe in Islam. Or if they refuse then we'll ask them to be ruled by Islam."
And after that? Abu Mohammed pauses and fiddles with his Pepsi before replying.
"And if after all discussions and negotiations they still refuse, then the last resort will be a jihad to spread the spirit of Islam and the rule of Islam," he says, smiling. "This is done in the interests of all people to get them out of darkness and into light."