Hamza Yusuf seems to have multiple conflicting stances on this question.
On the one hand he has said:
"It's a major problem because Islam in its classical formation recognises the idea of a caliphate. In the absence of the caliphate, it's just open game in terms of religious authority, so it's a real problem and we're suffering from it." (Hamza Yusuf Hanson, Doha Debates Special Event: Extremism; 28 February 2006)
Yet later he claims something else... Islam does not require a caliphate and all of the classical scholars concurred on that. This simply contradicts the stance of the classical scholars which are elaborated here.
Abd al-Qahir al-Baghdadi (d. 429 AH) observed:
"The companions of the Prophet have agreed on the obligation (of the Khilafah), and there is no significance to the opposition of al-Futa (Kharijite) and al-Asam (Mutazalite) when we have an Ijma al-Sahabah." (al-Farq bayn al-Firaq, p. 340)
Al-Mawardi (362-448 AH) argued for its necessity during a period where the Seljuk Turks had taken Baghdad from the pro-Shi'a Buyids in 1055, using the verse 4:59 as its justification:
"Imamah is prescribed to succeed Prophethood as a means of protecting the Deen and of managing the affairs of this world. There is a consensus of opinion (amongst the scholars) that the person who discharges the responsibilities of this position must take on the contract of Imamah of the Ummah." (al-Ahkam al-Sultaniyyah, p. 56)
Ibn Hazm (d. 456 AH) said:
"All of ahl al-sunnah agreed, as did all the murji'a, all the shi'a, and all the khawarij upon the obligation of the Imamah, and that it is obligatory on the ummah to submit to a just imam, who establishes upon them the ahkam of Allah, and manages their affairs by the ahkam of the shari'a with which the Messenger of Allah (saw) came; except only the najadat from the khawarij who said: the people are not obliged with the Imamah, rather what is upon them is to mutually practice the what is correct between them." (al-Fasl fi Milal wa al-Ahwaa wa al-Nihal, 4:87)
Abu Bakr al-Baqilani said in his reference to the consensus on the Khilafah of As-Siddiq (ra):
"His obedience was obliged due to the consensus of the Muslims; they must obey him and his Imamah and surrender to him. Even the Commander of the Believers Ali said in response to Abu Bakr's saying: 'Remove me for I am not the best among you.' Ali said: 'We will not remove you or take your feet away; the Messenger of Allah chose you to lead us in our Deen (when The Messenger chose him to lead in the prayer in his presence and when he leads the people in Hajj) so why should we not choose you for our Dunya.' Ali (ra) was the best of the Ummah and best in Iman and best in understanding and knowledge." (Al-Insaf, p. 65)
Al-Juwayni (d. 478 AH) said:
"Muslims must have an Imam to lead them and that is the consensus of the opinion of the Ummah and Imams."
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