in category Politics

Is the caliphate (khilafah) a utopian dream or fantasy?

1 Answer
1 Answer
0 Helpful
0 Unhelpful
The America based scholar, Ovamir Anjum answers this well.  "Here's a conversation I have often had with many sensible Muslim intellectuals.  "It is impossible for Muslims today to recover the caliphate."  Is it really impossible to create a legitimate political institution inclusive of all or most Muslim-majority regions, one that can balance large-scale governance and local autonomy, faith and unity, tolerance and religious governance?  Given the current disaster of illegitimate failing or struggling autocracies in the Muslim world, why not?  Many reasons are given, the most practical challenge that is often posed is: because the interests of the current power-brokers and autocrats will never allow this.   In this vein, I found this fascinating paragraph by Adam Smith in his Wealth of Nations. I will let it do all the work now.   Absolutely certain of the soundness of his laissez-faire economics, Adam Smith (d. 1790) understood and emphasized to those who would support it the “radical challenge to an established socio-political order” that is represented, “a challenge whose prospects of full success were at best uncertain.”   In his Wealth of Nations (ch ii, bk iv, concluding paragraphs), he stated this much. He declared at the end of this famous chapter that to expect that freedom of trade should ever be entirely restored in Great Britain was “as absurd as to expect that an Oceana or Utopia should ever be established in it.” This was by no means an offhand remark, for Smithn went in some detail to explain what he meant. He meant, above all else, that the program of laissez-faire, whatever its considerable intellectual merits, ran far ahead of actual social developments in eighteenth-century Europe. Even in Britain, the most advanced of all European economies, “not only the prejudices of the public, but what is much more unconquerable, the private interests of many individuals, irresistibly oppose it.”  The “master manufacturers,” Smith writes, were not only opposed in principle to the doctrines of free trade and competition. In practice, their influence in most instances had been powerful enough to muffle those members of Parliament calling out for an end to legislated economic privileges.  “The monopoly which our manufacturers have obtained against us,” Smith declared, “has so much increased the number of . . . them, that, like an overgrown standing army, they have become formidable to the government, and on many occasions intimidate the legislature.”  The inevitable outcome was that members of Parliament who had supported existing monopolies acquired “not only the reputation of understanding trade, but great popularity and influence with an order of men whose numbers and wealth render them of great importance.” Those who opposed monopolies, in turn, had stood unprotected “from the most infamous abuse and detraction, from personal insults, [and] sometimes from real danger, arising from the insolent outrage of furious and disappointed monopolists.”  (Richard F. Teichgraeber, III, “Introduction,” xxxix-xl, introduction to Adam Smith, An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations, see also, idem., 240-41).

User Settings

What we provide!

Vote Content

Great answers start with great insights. Content becomes intriguing when it is voted up or down - ensuring the best answers are always at the top.

Multiple Perspectives

Questions are answered by people with a deep interest in the subject. People from around the world review questions, post answers and add comments.

An authoritative community

Be part of and influence the most important global discussion that is defining our generation and generations to come

Join Now !

Update chat message


Delete chat message

Are you sure you want to delete this message?