After almost 100 years since its disintegration—the restoration of the Ottoman caliphate is vividly materializing.
The only surviving cult from the residues of the last century’s ideologies which curiously managed to preserve itself and stay vivid and relevant—precisely because it never succeeded in holding political power and command an army of its own, hence never tested or challenged, without an overlord to guide it, a real structure to hold it and a firm grip to tighten its loose ends—is Islamism.
Instead it wrestled influence away from the ruling elites; it conquered the will of the masses and sprung up across the middle class, the students and trade unions, and with the monumental and indispensable financial support of the reactionary monarchies of the Gulf, it has soon dominated the cultural scene attracting intellectuals from the left-right political spectrum, publishing their works to secure the stream of their thoughts, molding gradually their views on Shariah and check them from criticizing Islamic tenets, while at the same time influencing publishing houses and flooding public libraries, bookstores and Arab International Book Fairs with hundreds of thousands of previously unpublished medieval manuscripts that would be the main sources from where modern Muslims reshape accordingly their life style and world views.
The most influential socialist intellectuals and historians of the second-half of the 20th century across the Arab world like Mohammed Abed al-Jabri and Abdallah Laroui, even novelists, scenarists, movie makers, and poets have changed their perspectives and way of reasoning to appease their new patrons who intoxicated them with luxurious gifts, awards, steady incomes, and established institutions and prizes to their honors. It was, then, commonplace to read on the prelims of their books and publications dedications to such and such Saudi Sheikh or Kuwaiti emir. Those who refused, the unrepentant, were either liquidated or physically assailed, like Farag Foda who was gunned down in broad daylight, and the Nobel laureate Naguib Mahfouz who was knifed on the neck, or exiled like liberal theologian Nasr Hamid Abu Zayd.
The wealthy Islamist emirs didn’t not merely sought to destroy or placate intellectuals, but worse. In fact they succeeded in changing them and turning their intellectual appeal into a magnet to recruit secular elements of the middle and high classes, and drain society from its liberal brains. They had been assigned the job that none of the many traditional Islamist thinkers could have undertaken in the capacity of their mediocre intellect and narrowed horizon—the job to clothe the major texts of Islam, that is to say, the Quran, the Sunna, and Islamic tradition in general, with the quality of a systematized knowledge, to anachronistically formalize the primitive verses, adages and doctrines, historical military and political events, into a coherent modern system of thought and body of laws, to give them the impression of a mature and deeply refined universal vision, a conscious and elaborate existential theory that borrowed nothing from the Greek, Persian, and Roman philosophers as the philosophical debates at the royal court of al-Mamoun (786-833), and the impressive trajectory and work of midieval Muslim philosophers like Alpharabius, Avicenna, Averroes, al-Razi, Ibn al-Rawandi, etc., really suggests.
Qatar and Istanbul:
They have more complete control over the mind and the soul of the people to the point that those seemingly powerful dictatorships are reduced to sheer machines of oppression and terror without any significant intellectual power over their populations; the masses will and reactions are now shaped and stirred from Istanbul and Doha.
Those regimes although they have the power of spying, jailing and torturing individuals, controlling the economy and drawing foreign policy but they dare not dislocate—even if they have a sincere will—the slightest speck of doctrinal dust or abolish the most despicable medieval practices like children marriages or girls’ genital mutilation or introduce any genuine reforms to the school curricula without the consent and approval of the ideology’s masters and guardians.
With the cash flowing abundantly from the Gulf states since the seventies into the Arab societies outside Arabia, and the rise of the Bedouin businessmen and their sprawling corporates, the cash-starved cynical dictatorships across the board converted to the new patrons’ mindset; they have crushed secularists of all manners, helped Islamists students to conquer universities, and carried out faithfully the project of Islamization on a large-scale. Still, the masses, and among them Islamic movements, haven’t been convinced. They never trusted those in power with their ideology; they have always looked with skepticism at every step granting Islam more power and privileges. Even in Turkey, the modification from secularism to Islamism had taken place under the secular military junta, apparently to curb communism but nonetheless, the aura and momentum of Islamism was in itself irresistible.
Until one man rose to power—Recep Erdogan.
A one-time muezzin with a silver-toned tenor, a disciple of Islamic pro-Ottoman scholar Bediuzzaman Said Nursi, who was once an arch-enemy of Kemal Ataturk and the godfather of anti-secular conservatives in modern-day Turkey, and whose bigoted and Jihad-glorifying (himself was a soldier in the ranks of the Ottoman army) doctrines, teachings and books—once censored by the secular Kemalist dictatorship—like the series of “Rasa’ilu Nur,” or “Epistles of light,” a bulk of solid doctrinal volumes, and his Sufi-influenced and mystic interpretation of the Quran “Isharaat Al I’jaaz Fi Madaanni Lijaaz,” are the dogmatic genesis of Turkey’s Islamic movements of all stripes, including the Gulenists.
Erdogan has captured the hearts and minds of millions of Arabs throughout the MENA region. Eager for a role of a glorious caliph, who would restore the ecclesiastical Islamic order, reclaim the long-lost Arab vilayets, undermines the principles of Westphalian sovereignty, and reinstate religious wars against Westerners—literally imagined as the Crusades-era’s Jews and Christians.
In his propaganda videos directed to Arab spectators and circulated widely by Aljazeera network through its social media platforms, and the neo-Ottoman Arab media arms, he curiously appears, like no other Arab leader had ever done before, reciting minutely Quranic verses with a disarming mellifluous voice, and remarkably emphasizing the verses that call for Jihad against the infidels, and the unification under the banner of one party for all Muslims: Hizbu Allah—Party of Allah. He gives speeches like a proper Friday sermon Imam; his party, the Justice and Development Party (AKP), spends billions of dollars over sweeping epic movies and soap operas that brought forth the epic glories of a “just and prosperous” Ottoman Empire, whitewashing its barbaric and genocidal nature, and falsifying historical facts to fit in with Turkey’s today’s politics and appeal to the senses of Arabs who regard Jihad and warfare in general as the most noble existential act. (Recently, the President of Pakistan ordered the state-run television PTV to air the Turkish historical fiction television series “Resurrection: Ertugrul” that tells the story of the period prior to the establishment of the Ottoman Empire, the Jordanian channel, Amman TV, is also broadcasting the Arabic version of the series).
Emboldened Islamic Leaders are shifting gears:
With a Turkish political sleight of hand, upon the signing of an unexpected maritime agreement with a weak government in Libya, a magical shortcut to North Africa has been granted and a foothold has been established; through that corridor Erdogan shall begin empowering his servile Arab Beys and poodles as Fayez al-Sarraj of Libya and Kais Saied of Tunisia, cultivating new proxies and wielding influence that would reach up to Algeria and beyond. Islamist movements, Middle class workers, teachers and students, doctors and university professors, conservatives of all manners are all but ready for pledging the bay`a to the Caliph, a pledge of allegiance that, upon being accepted, formally brings the group or the individual making the pledge under the authority of the Caliph.
Now, as the building up of Turkish dominion is going rather well and as planned across the Middle East, it wastime for a clan of emboldened anti-Jewish Islamist leaders of powerful economic states to set up a broader framework through which efforts will be coordinated and recommendations issued—hence came the announcement of a new pan-Islamic alliance for exactly dealing with the unique opportunities and development in the Middle East and how to make the most of President Trump’s lethal geopolitical moves. Five Islamic countries form the nucleus of the summit: Turkey, Qatar, Pakistan (a nuclear state), Iran and Malaysia, and it will take place in the capital city of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, between 18-24th December. The quintuple summit is being publicized under the disguise slogan of “reviving the economical and social renaissance of the Islamic civilization,” but the true motive remains, however, the revival of the caliphate.