During a Q&A session, U.K.-based clerics Nahiem Ajmal, also known as Mufti Abu Layth Al-Maliki, and Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi were asked if Muslims should aspire to establish a caliphate. Al-Maliki responded that certain people present a "Bollywood version of Islamic history, with fantasy nostalgia," making Muslim youths feel responsible for the suffering of Muslims worldwide. This guilt, he said, helps breed radicalization. Dr. Nadwi responded that if India, Great Britain, or the U.S. opened their doors, people from Pakistan would rush to emigrate, despite the sacrifices made by their forefathers to establish a Muslim country in Pakistan. He said that having a Muslim ruler in Great Britain would ruin the country. "Lead a caliphate? We can't even run a madrasa," he said. A video of the Q&A session was posted on Mufti Al-Maliki’s YouTube channel on September 9, 2017. Al-Maliki, who grew up in the U.K. and studied Islam in Syria and Pakistan, currently lives in Birmingham. Dr. Nadwi, who was born in India and currently lives in Oxford, is the founder and dean of the Cambridge Islamic College, the principal of the Al-Salam Institute, and a former research fellow at Oxford University.
Following are excerpts:
Nahiem Ajmal, also known as Mufti Abu Layth Al-Maliki: The truth is that people present what I sometimes call a Bollywood version of Islamic history, with this fantasy nostalgia, in saying: "The world was all perfect in Islam until 1923 and 1924," and then they say: "The solution is… If we go back to that, it will fix all the problems."
When people present this, and they say: "Look, there's a lot of suffering in the world today. Look, Muslims are dying in Kashmir, in Palestine, in Burma, in here, in there… What are you doing to change? You are carrying the punishment. You will carry the burden." So the people don't know what to do. They feel guilty. They say: "But are you doing anything?" This guilt is very dangerous because it takes some of them… If I guilt trip so many people, some of them may act out. It only takes a handful of them to say: "OK, what should I do?" And people tell them: "We live in the abode of war. The whole world today is the abode of war, unless we have a caliphate." So what naturally follows, if you are living in a war zone, is that the other people are enemy combatants in the war. So some people say: "OK, I will attack some infidels. I might as well die because I'm taking all this guilt of all these people suffering and I'm not doing anything." This is helping to breed the extremist narrative, and this is why it's a danger for young people – especially people who are sometimes sincere about Islam and want to do something. They get trapped in this kind of thing. They want to get rid of the guilt, and then they end up, God forbid, either becoming radicalized, becoming like some nutcases, or just pushing this for the rest of their lives, carrying this kind of guilt. I think it needs to be tackled. I do believe that people who are pushing this pure politics, politics, politics politicized version of Islam, in my understanding, are neo-Kharijites, part of the modern-day Kaharijite movement… Not exactly like the Kharijites of the past, but it's like that – all obsessed about rulership, that if we have rulership… All these [non-Muslim] rulers are tyrants. Rule is for Allah alone. People must fight behind the imam… These are the same evidences that people like ISIS and stuff like that are using.
Dr. Mohammad Akram Nadwi: Don't we already have 50 Muslim countries? Allah has already given us so much power. Establish Islam there. Establish a caliphate there. If you read the early literature before the [India-Pakistan] partition, Muslims were desperate to get Pakistan. They said: "We just want Pakistan, we want to establish shari'a, Islamic law." Read all those arguments. Since Pakistan has been established, now the condition really is that everybody in Pakistan would love to come to this country [Britain]. Your forefathers sacrificed to get freedom from the British people. You got your country, and now you want to run away from it. If you really open the gate here… If the British government allows Pakistani people to migrate here, all the people would leave Pakistan and come here. Even if India opens the border, many people from Pakistan will leave Pakistan and will come to India. You wanted to get separation from India, and this is what our condition is. So how could Allah like us? We are not sincere. If America opens the door, all the people who hate America will run there. One of my friends from Saudi Arabia lives in Mecca. He is the director of a Quranic school. He is in the best city in the world, doing the best job, [teaching] Quran. He came to see me in Oxford, and he said to me: "Can you get a job for me here?" So I said to him: "But you live in Mecca, Quranic school director…" He said: "But, you know, we don't have freedom to do religious work." He had more freedom in this country to do religious work than in the city of Mecca. Somebody from Mecca wants to leave Mecca, and wants to come here and settle here. And now we're talking about a caliphate.
If a Muslim rules this country, we'll run away from here. It will not be a good place for us. This is what will happen. You say "caliphate," but if any of these caliphate people get this country, they'll ruin it. We don't deserve that. One of my teachers used to say: "Lead a caliphate? We can't even run a madrasa."