Wednesday, September 13, 2006

The End of the Turkish Caliphate: Crusader created, or given up by the Turks?

Bin Ladin, on July 2, 2006 said: ""I say to the Islamic nation: we lost the Caliphate and it was dismantled. It fell under Crusader occupation approximately a century ago, and since that time the Crusaders have stood between us and the reconstitution of the Caliphate, or even the establishment of any Islamic nation. An example of this was their recent invasion of Afghanistan and the pressures they put on Sudan to make it give up on establishing an Islamic state."

Yet the truth is not exactly as he would have people believe.

The Turks turned out not to be good custodians of the Caliphate. Turkey basically decided, after the losses it suffered after WWI and its alliance to with Germany, to form a republic, and with the formation of this republic, willingly gave up the Caliphate. Wikipedia describes it this way:

The Turkish national movement, as the details explained in Turkish War of Independence forms a Turkish Grand National Assembly, secured formal recognition of the nation’s independence and new borders on July 23, 1923 through the Treaty of Lausanne, which revised the terms of the Treaty of Sèvres in Turkey’s favor. The National Assembly declared Turkey a republic on October 29 and proclaimed Ankara its new capital. After nearly 700 years, the Ottoman Empire had officially ceased to exist. However, under Allied direction, the Sultan pledged to suppress such movements and secured an official fatwa from the Sheikh ul-Islam declaring them to be un-Islamic. But the nationalists steadily gained momentum and began to enjoy widespread support. Many sensed that the nation was ripe for revolution. In an effort to neutralize this threat, the Sultan agreed to hold elections, with the hope of placating and co-opting the nationalists. To his dismay, nationalist groups swept the polls, prompting him to again dissolve parliament in April 1920.

Initially, the National Assembly seemed willing to allow a place for the Caliphate in the new regime, agreeing to the appointment of Mehmed’s cousin Abdul Mejid II as Caliph upon Mehmed’s departure. But the position had been stripped of any authority, and Abdul Mejid’s purely ceremonial reign would be short lived. Mustafa Kemal had been a vocal critic of the Ottoman House and its Islamic orientation. Now that he controlled Turkey and had the people’s overwhelming support, he could run the nation as he pleased. When Abdul Mejid was declared Caliph, Kemal refused to allow the traditional Ottoman ceremony to take place, bluntly declaring, "The Khalifa has no power or position except as a nominal figurehead." In response to Abdul Mejid's petition for an increase in his allowance, Kemal wrote, "Your office, the Khalifate, is no more than an historic relic. It has no justification for existence. It is a piece of impertinence that you should dare write to any of my secretaries!" Still, for all the power he had already wielded in Turkey, Kemal did not dare to abolish the Caliphate outright, as it still commanded a considerable degree of support from the common people.

Then an event happened which was to deal a fatal blow to the Caliphate. Two Indian brothers, Maulana Muhammad Ali and Shawkat, leaders of the Indian-based Khilafat Movement, distributed pamphlets calling upon the Turkish people to preserve the Ottoman Caliphate for the sake of Islam. Under Turkey's new nationalist government, however, this was construed as foreign intervention, and any form of foreign intervention was labelled an insult to Turkish sovereignty, and worse, a threat to State security. Kemal promptly seized his chance. On his initiative, the National Assembly abolished the Caliphate on March 3, 1924. Abdul Mejid was sent into exile along with the remaining members of the Ottoman House, marking the official end of the Ottoman Dynasty.

So in part because of outside interference, the caliphate ended. A long period of bad rule, bad foreign policy, intereference not by "crusaders," but by Muslims, signed its death warrant.

As for the West never allowing for the estabilishment of an Islamic country, that's not totally true, either...for instance, the UK played a role in the establishment of Saudi Arabia as it now exists, backing Ibn Saud over Ibn Rashid.

It is true that history become the thing people using it want to believe it is, but sometimes, the truth of what happened is far from what the heart would like it to be.


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