The dominance of secularism over the world for the last 150 years has resulted in all discussions over society to be coloured by its views. We are told, women, their rights, integration, dealing with minorities and creating societal cohesion can only be solved by secularism, democracy and human rights. Decades of migration to the west has seen many western governments struggle with integrating minorities and as well as large scale migration the superiority of western notions of social cohesion is being questioned.
The Khilafah is based upon Islam which is built upon a different set of beliefs and standards and has a completely different approach to creating a cohesive society. When compared with Western notions of social cohesion, the Khilafah possesses a host of different and dynamic positions that will change how societies should be regulated. Western ideas on cohesion have a number of problems, these include:
- ‘Equality’ is limited in regulating relations between men and women – Equality presupposes perceived differences between men and women to be a social construct, not a biological fact. Historically in Europe, there have been some absurd assumptions, not facts, about perceived differences between men and women (whether or not women possessed deficient intelligence, reduced capability for sound verdicts, and a lower capacity to learn and think). A research paper by Prof. Jacqueline Adhiambo-Oduol concluded that: “A built-in tension exists between this concept of equality, which presupposes sameness, and this concept of sex which presupposes difference. Sex equality becomes a contradiction in terms, something of an oxymoron” A simple assertion of human equality provides no guidance on the issue of difference and this fact gives rise to a need for additional, more elaborate, ideas and principles. In reality the call for equality is nothing more than making man the benchmark to aspire to – the call for equality is oppression itself.
- Not defining the role of men and women in society causes conflict – The historical problem was the inequality women fared in relation to men, ever since, their struggle has always been one of being equal to men in terms of work, pay, opportunities and politics. Women today fare little better even when it comes to pay. Even though Equal Pay Legislation has been in place for thirty years in the developed countries, women still continue to earn less for doing the same work as men. It also explains why, after over a century of calling for equality and women’s rights, the twentieth century in the UK ended with only 4% of judges being women, 11% of managers, and 2% of FTSE 100 directors being women. By not defining male-female relations and by leaving such relations to be dominated by freedom i.e. men and women should define their relationships, men and women have begun to compete against each other and many women view themselves through the lens of men i.e. women can do the work men do.
- Liberalism breeds sectarianism – After invading both Iraq and Afghanistan the West argued that only secularism can encapsulate and deal with perceived differences between and within religions, ethnicities and factions. It was argued that adopting Islam in Iraq would make it specific to the Sunnis and this would prejudice the other denomination of Muslims. In this way a constitution was constructed which recognised the differences between the Kurds, Sunnis and the Shi’ah and have institutionalised them into the Iraqi political system. Today in Iraq the government is composed of Sunnis and Shi’ahs who fight to protect their own sects and gain advantages for their own people at the expense of the nation. Secularism has divided the country by recognising and institutionalising their differences. Rather than solve tribalism, patriotism and sectarianism, secularism does nothing and actually recognises them giving them legitimacy.
- Western models of dealing with minorities cause fissures in society – There are fundamentally two models of integration developed by the secular nations of the West. Multiculturalism dominated relations until the events of 9/11, whilst today variations of assimilation dominate the Western landscape.
Multiculturalism recognised all beliefs through diversity, but the this was flawed as recognising all views under the principle of freedom of belief in practice this leads to perpetual conflicts amongst people, as religious beliefs and practices professed by some can be interpreted as offensive and insulting to others. Hence, secular governments are constantly intervening in disputes and resort to legislation to protect the religious rights of some people, whilst at the same time depriving others. Often, the real benefactors are those individuals, or groups, whose beliefs coincide with the interests of the government, or those who possess the ability to exert influence over the government.
Today multiculturalism has been replaced by assimilation strategies of effectively forced conversion. This model leads to racial tensions, suspicion, bigotry and even death. It leads to the host nation to consider itself superior, something that does not lead to a harmonious society, but one that will be fractured. It was a variation of such a model that led to concentration the camps in the heart of Europe in the past. It also allows national governments from changing at will, on how it deals with the varying beliefs of immigrants in society. As no laws are fixed, a people, such as the Muslims can be welcomed into Europe and given many benefits when labour is needed, but then anti-terror laws can be passed at another time restricting how Muslims believe in Islam and limit what they can practice. Secularism and any model built upon it will always cause tension rather than create a unified society.
Islam and Society
Islam has laid down many rules for society for the Khilafah to implement and create societal cohesion. These are explained in a clear and unambiguous manner, which cannot be changed at the whim of any ruler. These fixed rules are:
- In Islam, where men and the woman share similar qualities in their nature, the obligation prescribed to both is the same such as salah (prayer), sawm (fasting), and Hajj (pilgrimage). However, where their natures differ then different duties have been prescribed. So, the husband or father has been obligated with the responsibility of protecting the family and providing for them financially. The woman has been obligated with the role, but not limited to, of ensuring the welfare of the family by nurturing the children and conveying the culture to them.
- Islam has clearly ordained rights and responsibilities for women and men. Islam promotes the role of the woman as a mother, responsible for her household. Hence, those areas of society where women contribute – whether it is politics, medicine, education etc – will have to accommodate and protect the role of mother. A solid family structure is the bedrock of a stable society. In Western societies the pressures on women to be economically productive has undermined this, to the cost of the whole of society, as well as creating huge pressures and conflicts of interests.
- The Qur’an and hadith have clearly outlined the rights of women, which have been fixed and cannot be changed, amended or reformed, these include:
- the right to inherit;
- the right to keep her family name,
- the right to maintenance and accommodation;
- the right to choose her spouse;
- receive dowry;
- the right to engage in politics;
- stand for a number of positions in government;
- receive an education;
- work and gain employment;
- run a businesses, and
- invest her wealth.
All these rights are the duty of the Khilafah to protect.
- From a societal perspective Islam views all the inhabitants as humans rather than looking at their ethnicities or race. As a result all those who reside in the Islamic territories are viewed as citizens, irrespective of creed, colour or ethnicity. Citizenship is based on residency rather than birth or marriage. All those who hold citizenship are subjects of the Khilafah, their guardianship and the management of their affairs is the duty of the Khilafah, without any discrimination. Every person holding citizenship of the Islamic Khilafah enjoys the full rights decreed for them by the Shari’ah, whether Muslim or not. Anyone not holding citizenship is deprived of these rights, even if he/she were Muslim.
- With regards to non-Muslims citizens, they are not interfered with regarding their beliefs and worship. They are treated according to their beliefs in matters related to diet and adornment within the general framework of the law. Disputes related to marriage and divorce for non-Muslims are dealt with by appointing judges from themselves in courts set up by the Khilafah. In the public sphere, Islam enforces its rules on every citizen Muslim and non-Muslim alike without prejudice. In this way all citizens are subject to the same rules in the public sphere.
- The Jizyah is levied on male, mature non-Muslim citizens of the Islamic territories who have the means to pay, it is a graduated payment that can be set at different levels based on the person’s prosperity. It is a pledge by which the Khilafah is responsible for the security, lives, property, beliefs and honour of non-Muslims. Ahl al-Dhimmah within the Islamic territories will be elected to the Council of the Ummah and have the right to vocalise their issues and concerns with regard to the implementation of Islamic laws upon them.
- Sectarian and ethnic conflicts in the Muslim world are usually fuelled by divisive political parties for their own benefit, as they seek to exploit the utter failure of the political system to deliver adequate services and rights to certain parts of the Muslim lands. These very same political parties use their time in power to encourage these differences for their own survival by conducting politics in a sectarian manner. This leads to paralysis in government over major decisions and to conflict on the streets. The Khilafah, being built upon Islam and not nationalism, tribalism or any other form of divisive asabiyah (loyalty to a group), shall see all the people as the Muslim Ummah or protected non-Muslims. It shall strive to deliver unbiased services and development to all based upon this understanding. As the people begin to see sincere efforts being made to address their problems, this shall reduce tensions and also remove the momentum behind any militia organisations being externally funded.
 Adhiambo-Oduol. J. ‘The socio-cultural aspects of the gender question, US International University-Africa, Dec 2001
 Equal Opportunities Commission July 2003