Abraham's Tent

A SMOTJ Web Magazine


On June 29, 2014 the Islamic State (formerly ISIS) announced a new Islamic Caliphate in the sacred land of ash Sham and introduced a new chapter for the jihadist world; a chapter not written by established jihadist groups such as al-Qaeda and its affiliates, but by a new, younger generation with renewed energy and brutality.

This contemporary generation's interests are not founded in religious debate on the legality of the Caliphate but what can be done to establish (Sunni) Muslim interests by proclaiming conquered territory a "Caliphate." These modern global jihadists are using social networks, tweets and Facebook postings to consolidate their support among younger Muslims, while the orthodox, old guard has been actively denouncing the validity of a Caliphate that does not conform to Islamic doctrine.


The term “Caliphate” has appeared frequently in the media in recent days. The terrorist group, calling itself The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), claims to have established a “Caliphate” in the adjacent lands that it now controls in Iraq and Syria. But what is a “Caliphate”? In an excerpt from an article that appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Ahmed Kahn, a member of the Muslim Writers Guild of America, wrote his understanding of the word and its application.


“Caliphate” is an English-modified term from the Qur’anic Arabic word “Khilafat” or a spiritual “successor" of a prophet of God. When the Qur’an uses the word “Khalifa”, it presents three things among others that must happen before its (Khilafat) true establishment (Qur’an 24:56).

  1. Muslims must completely follow the teachings of Prophet Mohammed and must not go against them.
  2. Following the teachings of Prophet Mohammed will change their behavior to do good and positive things that will benefit everything and everyone around them.
  3. They also will exemplify Islam’s notions of peace and pluralistic governance so that everyone can live equally without fear of violence,persecution or discrimination under them.

If we compare these three things to what ISIS has done so far, we find that the group has not exhibited any of them. It has failed to follow the teachings of Prophet Mohammed at every level by torturing and killing people (POWs and innocent civilians), destroying and stealing property (recently the largest Syrian oil field), causing fitna (disturbance) against sitting governments (Iraq and Syria), persecuting people who hold different beliefs (Shiite, Christians, etc.) and seeking war rather than achieving peace.

This also has prohibited ISIS from completely exhibiting the second or third points.

There are a couple of examples in Islamic history that we can look at in which true Khilafat was established. The first example was after the demise of the Prophet Mohammed, also known as Khilafat-e-Rashida (the Righteous Caliphate) made up of Abu Bakr, Umar, Uthman and Ali. Their individual accomplishments were numerous but, on a short scale, Abu Bakr unified Muslims to work together for greater good; Umar created one of the largest welfare states the world had ever known in a goal to eradicate poverty to the extent that he would go out in the night by himself to see if anyone was still hungry or needy; Uthman further built this welfare state with his own personal fortune; and Ali’s main objective was always maintaining peace over war.

The second example is a modern day one - The Ahmadiyya Muslim Community, establishing Khilafat for around 160 years and over five different people. The current and fifth standing Khalifa of Islam within this community is Mirza Mazroor Ahmad, residing in London.

He has given countless lectures on world peace and equal rights and justice for all in many different places across the globe, including Capitol Hill in Washington, DC, and the European Parliament. His community has served humanity in over 200 countries around the world through bold drives, feeding the poor, clean water initiatives, building modern villages in rural Third World nations, disaster relief and charity walks.

His message to ISIS and the entire world was, “Extremist Islamic groups (such as ISIS) and the so-called Caliphate that extremists are trying to establish in the Middle East are a complete betrayal of the true peaceful teachings of Islam and will never succeed. These groups have attached their own cruel ambition to an institution (Caliphate) that in reality seeks to champion the rights of all people. Let me make it clear that the institution of Caliphate leading the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community has no interest in power or government. Rest assured that true Khilafat (Caliphate) has no worldly or political objectives.”

This is why ISIS and Caliphate have no relationship with each other - because ISIS is not a true Caliphate but a political system whose tendencies are antithetical to Islam’s notion of peace and governance.

Jeffrey Peter Agnes
LTC Thomas P. Curtis II
Contributing Editors
Rev. Michael P. Forbes
David D. Fautua
Readers are encouraged to write in letters to the editor with questions and observations at the following address: tent@smotj.org

Judaism is a monotheistic religion, with the Torah as its foundational text (part of the larger text known as the Tanakh or Hebrew Bible), and supplemental oral tradition represented by later texts such as the Mishnah and the Talmud. Judaism is considered by religious Jews to be the expression of the covenantal relationship God established with the Children of Israel.

Islam is a monotheistic and Abrahamic religion articulated by the Qur'an, a book considered by its adherents to be the verbatim word of God (Arabic: Allāh) and by the teachings and normative example (called the Sunnah and composed of hadith) of Muhammad (c. 570 BC – c. 8 June 632 AD), considered by them to be the last prophet of God.

Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and oral teachings of Jesus as presented in the New Testament. Most Christians believe that Jesus is the Son of God, fully divine and fully human, and the saviour of humanity whose coming was prophesied in the Old Testament. Consequently, Christians refer to Jesus as "Christ" or the Messiah.