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In the Name of God بسم الله
Ali Musaaa :) reacted to Qa'im for a blog entry, Sunnism and Islamic Politics
There is a developing trend in the Sunni world today which involves the denial of the legitimacy of Islamic states.
Almost all practicing Sunnis would love to see a proper Islamic state, but they disagree on the criteria and the vision. To them, Islamic vaguely means good, just, and outwardly pious. But beyond this, there are stark disagreements on how an executive is to be chosen, what economic system is to be adopted/created, and how minorities are to be treated. It seems to me that the only aspect of Muslim governance that has remained static throughout history is punishment hudud. While everything mentioned has been subject to change, there is a clinging to these hudud, perhaps because they are so clear cut, while the rest of government is not. Even at that, there are disagreements as to when the hudud are supposed to be introduced, if at all.
While Sunnis recognize the injustices committed by previous Islamic empires, most Sunnis do not categorize these empires as unIslamic. Even if there were mistakes made during the Rashidun, Umayyad, and Abbasid eras, or if they were not following Islam properly, they were still Muslim governments. Rather than highlighting their shortcomings, Sunnis have been trained to look at their benefits: scientific advancement, social progress, and conquests.
This brings Sunnism to a dilemma that is unique in their history. Since the fall of the Caliphate, there is this unexplained reluctance among the whole of Sunnis to call any state Islamic. You'll often hear this line of reasoning: Taliban Afghanistan wasn't an Islamic state, because they were partially illiterate and not fulfilling the hudud correctly. Saudi Arabia is not an Islamic state, because it is a corrupt monarchy. The Muslim Brotherhood's Egypt was not Islamic, because it was not implementing the shari`a. ISIL is not Islamic, because it is brutal. etc. Every Islamist group has been marginalized or denied legitimacy by the Sunni world.
The problem: had they been saying this about past empires, they would be considered Rafida. Their criticisms of modern Islamist movements - from the AKP to IS - are fair. But why don't they hold their empires to the same standard? Most Caliphs were dynastic, they were not implementing the shari`a properly, they were often not learned in a scholastic sense, and they were guilty of some of history's largest massacres. When Sunnis say that ISIL's atrocities are really just ISILated incidents, an aberration of Sunni Islam, khawarij with no overlap, raising an eyebrow is natural.
Sunni nostalgia for an Islamic state is strange, because while it is easy to get Ottoman nostalgia when walking into a beautiful Turkish mosque with colourful windows on a cloudless summer day, the Ottoman empire was more than just beautiful Turkish architecture and liberal Sufi spirituality. It is an empire than banned the printing press for three centuries, and executed people who were caught with a printed book. It is an empire that massacred 40,000 Shi`a in 1512 in Anatolia. It is an empire that killed scholars like Shahid al-Awwal and Shahid al-Thani. Does it only retain its "Islamic state" status of legitimacy because it is pre-modern?