Why Not a Caliphate?

When ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) yesterday proclaimed The Islamic State and his leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi caliph, both the Muslim world and non-Muslim world incredulously shook of their heads. What a charade. What kind of fellow Abu Bakr actually is has Juan Cole summarized on his blog.

In Christianity, Caliphate is traditionally connoted with fear and horror. But one should not forget that the Abbasid Caliphs (as Cole outlines, the only Caliphate in Muslim history with at least some legitimacy and authority) had saved science and even civilization for about half a millenium, from 750 to 1258 CE when Baghdad was sacked by the Mongol Hulagu Khan.

Sometimes compared with Christian Protestants who do not need a papal leader, I would compare Sunnis rather with Catholics who are not a sect (as Shi’ites are) but claim to represent the only legitimate church.

Why is a Caliphate such a ridiculous idea in the 21st century? (Abu Bakr’s is, of course). Maybe Muslims would actually benefit from a spiritual leader which could be elected in a sort of conclave. For agnostics, the whole procedure is of course rather foolish. But the institution and especially the theatrical procedure of the Pope’s election has definitely proven to be able to unite in a way the 2.2 billion Christians, protestants and other sects included.

So, why not elect a Muslim pope? (Not Abu Bakr, of course.)

30 June 2014 @ 5:13 pm.
Last modified June 30, 2014.


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