For Prophet, if not for pleasure, I often dip into the website Khilafah.com, whence came the hadith of the shoelace of fire. Today I stumbled across their Islamic Khilafah, A Manifesto for Change. Aimed at fellow Muslims rather than gullible infidels, this shamelessly advocates a worldwide Islamic Caliphate as the “only solution”. But while refreshingly free from taqiyya, it nevertheless borrows the clichés of politics and management-speak, not least in the title of one of its chapters: An Effective Visionary Executive. Lest the silliness of this title give false reassurance – aren't the Muslims as absurd, and as harmless, as our own corporate drones? – it pays to remember that words we think we know do not mean the same in Islam. Here are a few examples:
“Innocent” as in “Muslims are forbidden from killing innocent people” = “Muslim”. Non-Muslims are never innocent.
“Peace” = “submission”, that of the whole world to Islam
“Knowledge” as in the much-quoted “Seek knowledge even as far as China” = religious knowledge. In practice, since only one religion is allowed, this means Koranic knowledge
“Freedom” as in the Arab Spring to which the Manifesto for Change pays tribute = freedom from secular rule and all opposition to Islam. Effectively, free rein – and free reign – to Islam.
Armed with my inner English to Muslim-English dictionary, I read the first paragraph of the Effective Visionary Executive chapter:
The Shari'ah puts extensive executive powers in the hands of the Khaleefah thus empowering him to make radical and far-reaching decisions in the long term interests of the people. There is a contract (bayah) between the people and the Khaleefah, where the people pledge obedience and the Khaleefah pledges to rule by Islam.
A contract? Something has been lost in translation. Bayah means something like “oath of allegiance”. To translate it as contract, with all the latter word’s connotations of common law, fair dealing and Englishness, is incompetent at best, or plain disingenuous.
A contract, as any schoolboy ought to know, requires offer, acceptance, intention to create legal relations and consideration. Does the empowered Khaleefah pass these tests?
Well, there is an offer, to be sure, one that the offeree cannot refuse, on pain of death or crippling poll-tax and humiliation. An invitation to threat, perhaps?