Must the global khalifah be an Arab?

Azly Rahman

Azly Rahman

Reading about the terrorising adventures of the ISIS/ISIL and its proclamation of a global jihad for the establishment of an Islamic state, the self-appointment of ‘Khalifah Ibrahim’ by al-Baghdadi, the emergence of Malay-Muslim jihadists, and of the first Malaysian suicide bomber, I had these notes and questions running in my head since yesterday:

1. I have always asked this question since I was a child: why must all the prophets of Islam be coming from the Middle East? Is it because the land has been plagued with war and struggles for power and created violence through the wars of the warring tribes that these prophets/messengers were sent there to mediate?

Now we have the chief executive officer (or perhaps chief execution officer?), one Mr Al-Baghdadi proclaiming, like Napoleon or Caesar, or Saddam Hussein, himself as a supreme leader; this time for the Ummah or Muslims worldwide in the fashion of a ‘Khalifah’; self-appointed nonetheless demanding one to obey him in the name of his religious doctrine.

Another case of an Arab forcing the 80 percent non-Arab speaking Muslims into buying into his delusion of ‘khalifah-hood’.

Essentially thus, whose war will the Muslims be asked to fight for to be rewarded by whatever number of virgins to be promised, and whose passion are they feeding on and fuelling in a Middle Eastern struggle for historical-geographical-ideological confusion these never-ending-fighters-and usurpers-of the-mantle-of the prophet are trying to sustain globally?

Is this not another tribal war trying to claim as a global religious injunction, intoxicating the mind of even the Malay-Muslims in Malaysia to go for it or “Just Do It”, as the shoe brand Nike would also say, even though their understanding of the interplay between global politics, geo-politics, cult worship, and the problematique of Ummah-ism and Khalifah-ism is still limited?

For this matter, why isn’t there a Malay or Javanese or Bugis man or woman appointed as khalifah? Or even a Boko Haram Nigerian or Costa Rican? Or why not a Chinese? Why must it always be the monopoly of the Arab? Because he speaks better Arabic than the rest of the non-Arab speaking Muslims?