7th October 2005
The Right Honourable Charles Clarke, MP
The Home Office
50 Queen Anne's Gate
Re: Hizb ut-Tahrir
Dear Mr Clarke,
Following the announcement by Prime Minister Tony Blair on August 5th that Hizb ut-Tahrir would be proscribed, we immediately wrote to the Home Office to ask for further clarification. Although more than 8 weeks have elapsed we have not received a reply from the Home Office about this matter. We are an open organisation that is not afraid of debate and discussion, and many would find it surprising that the Home Office has not responded to our correspondence.
Given the unprecedented nature of banning of a non-violent political organisation we feel it only right that we volunteer information that many might think the Home Office ought to have requested from us.
Hizb ut-Tahrir is a non-violent political organisation that was established in 1953 by the Palestinian Judge Sheikh Taqiuddin an-Nabhani. From its inception it has stated that its objective is to establish an Islamic Caliphate State in the Muslim world through peaceful political means as exemplified by the Prophet Muhammad. Hizb ut-Tahrir has been working for over 50 years throughout the Muslim world criticising the actions of corrupt dictators who have been oppressing and exploiting the people. It has done this through organising political actions such as protests, demonstrations, petitions, vigils, leaflets and magazines. Hizb ut-Tahrir aims to generate awareness of the actions of such rulers within the masses, convince the masses of the need for Islamic governance and establish the Caliphate with the mandate of the people.
The Islamic Caliphate State as envisioned by Hizb ut-Tahrir and outlined in the Qur'an and Sunnah (example) of the Prophet Muhammad is not, as depicted by Tony Blair, a state that will take society back to the Middle Ages. Tony Blair, rather erroneously described the Caliphate State in his speech on the 16th July 2005 at the Labour Party National Conference in terms quite offensive to the Muslim world – "They demand?the establishment of?Shariah Law in the Arab world en route to one Caliphate of all Muslim nations. We don't have to wonder what type of country those states would be?Girls put out of school. Women denied even rudimentary rights. People living in abject poverty and oppression. All of it justified by reference to religious faith. "
The Caliphate State is established by the wishes of the people and is a state where the authority lies in origin with the people. The people elect a ruler, the Khalifah, who remains their ruler as long as he fulfils his contract to rule according to the laws in the Qur'an and Sunnah. The Khalifah has no divine right to rule; rather he can be removed from office if he is found guilty of breaching this contract of ruling. The Caliphate State has an independent judiciary, headed by a Chief Justice and includes a department solely responsible to deal with injustices committed by the politicians of the state. The issue of accountability features very prominently in the Shariah; ruling is regarded as a form of guardianship (riayah) and a trust (amanah), and the causing of oppression (dhulm) by the head of state a grave crime – the corpus of Islamic texts refers to each of these in an unequivocally serious manner. Accountability lays firstly in the general right – and sometimes obligation when the excess is flagrant – of every citizen to take the state to task, secondly in institutions that guarantee the process of accountability continuously takes place and thirdly in a general requirement for political parties. The Khalifah and his cabinet cannot suddenly create new taxes, privatise vital natural resources, detain people with no charge, curtail the right to account government or initiate wars on false pretexts for material gains.
As for the accusation that the Caliphate System will oppress women, nothing could be further from the truth. Islam has clearly defined roles and responsibilities for men and women in society. The Islamic system is such that it allows no room for men to exploit women. Unlike popular culture in the West where society, unfortunately is obsessed with how a women looks and what she wears (usually dictated by men), the Islamic system ensures the woman is valued, not by how much flesh she can show, but by her character and personality. Contrary to Tony Blair's claims, women in the Caliphate State will have full access to education, vote in elections, account politicians and be encouraged to perform an active role in society.
It is ironic for Tony Blair to talk about poverty in the Caliphate State as he is one of the leaders of the current globalised world where the disparity between rich and poor, developed and developing world has never been so stark. Half the world's population living in a world ruled by global capitalism – nearly three billion people – live on less than two dollars a day and barely have any access to clean water or sanitation. Policies of Western governments and financial institutions such as structural adjustment policies and wholesale privatisation have resulted in Western companies controlling large sections of third world economies while northern trade protectionism costs the developing world almost $500 billion in lost income. This unrestricted freedom to own resources by the strong and powerful, is something that Islam prohibits. The Islamic economic system through clearly defined laws of ownership, resources, taxation, currency and trade ensures that wealth is not concentrated in the hands of the few but is available for the entire society. It is a paramount duty of the Islamic government to ensure that every citizen, Muslim or non-Muslim, has adequate food, clothing and shelter.
Hizb ut-Tahrir's view of people of different races and religions is that of the Islamic texts. Islam does not differentiate between people on the basis of colour or race. While the Western world even in the twenty-first century grapples with the problem of institutional racism, Islam fourteen hundred years ago condemned the discrimination of people based upon colour. The Caliphate State will be a state that accommodates people from many different races and religions. Furthermore, Islam obliges the State to look after their rights and protect the faith of Jews, Christians, Hindus, adherents of other religions and people of no religious faith living within the State. This is in sharp contrast to the current secular states in the world today where religion and the belief in God are increasingly marginalised in society.
This is a brief outline of the Caliphate State Hizb ut-Tahrir aims to establish. Hizb ut-Tahrir has held these views ever since its inception and has elaborated these in hundreds of leaflets, pamphlets and books. The Party from its inception issued a Draft Constitution for the future Caliphate State elaborating the relationship between the rulers and citizens, the economic, social and judicial systems and the relationship of the Caliphate with the rest of the world. The vision for the Caliphate is not that of some fanatical and extreme individuals – rather it is the vision of some of the greatest scholars, intellectuals and politicians of the Islamic world in contemporary times.
In its pursuit to achieve the establishment of the Caliphate, Hizb ut-Tahrir has never resorted to armed struggle or violence of any sort even in the face of extreme persecution by the brutal dictators in the Muslim world. Several non-Muslim observers have verified this including your very own office. Hizb ut-Tahrir has clearly denounced all acts of violence against innocent civilians and has made its position public on many occasions regarding the September 11 attacks, the Madrid bombings and the 7th July London bombings.
Hizb ut-Tahrir does not seek to establish a Caliphate in the UK and nor does it seek positions of power. We work with the Muslim community to ensure that the values of Islam are upheld, urging them to live and interact with the wider non-Muslim community. Many of the Islamic values of family, parenthood, community obligations and morality have a significant role to play in addressing many of the social problems facing Britain today. In addition, Hizb ut-Tahrir encourages the Muslim community to engage in non-violent political activities to highlight the corruption and oppression of rulers in the Muslim world and the imperialistic nature of Western foreign policy. We also feel it is important, especially in the current climate to remove misconceptions of Islam and the Caliphate to the wider non-Muslim population through intellectual dialogue and debate. In recent times members of Hizb ut-Tahrir have had several lively debates with leading intellectuals, politicians and journalists in the UK such as Tim Sebastian, Adam Boulton, David Goodhart, AC Grayling, Michael Gove, Roger Mosey, Clive Crook, Edwina Currie, Peter Hitchens, Norman Lamont and many others.
Proscribing a political organisation that has a fifty year record of non-violence and widespread support in the Muslim community, as well as amongst many non-Muslims in Britain, would be nothing more than injustice. Whilst Hizb ut-Tahrir is calling for dialogue and debate, proscription would be tantamount to the British government having lost the intellectual debate. It will inevitably confirm in the minds of many people in Britain and across the world the structural weakness of such ideas as freedom of speech, democracy, pluralism and tolerance, so often repeated by British politicians in justifying their policies abroad. You may ban organisations and detain people indefinitely but one wonders how you can hope to ban legitimate political ideas that are carried by hundreds of thousands of people in the UK and millions overseas. Indeed it is the irony of our globalised world, that at the same time communications, transport and the media are breaking down physical barriers, Western countries have commenced building new walls of ignorance and segregation.
The prospect of the Caliphate emerging in the near future as recently predicted by the National Intelligence Centre of the CIA would mark an end to the repressive political architectures that plague the Muslim world. This would represent a departure from the ailing dynasties, dictators and monarchs who, despite their external support from western governments, are now coming under increasing pressure from their own populations.
We have always welcomed open debate on the premise that the strongest idea would win through. We welcome a close scrutiny of our ideas and opinions, so as to break the walls of intellectual entrenchment and barriers of segregation. It is sad that the government prefers censorship and myopia rather than debate and scrutiny but a telling sign, the implications of which will not be lost on observers, both Muslim and non-Muslim alike.
Dr Imran Waheed
Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain