Word Smith: Caliphate

According to Google, caliphate is an Arabic word that refers to an area containing an Islamic steward, known as a Caliph. The word has been bantered about by various generals at the Pentagon, as if it were a curse word. But where is the caliphate exactly?

In another definition, the word caliphate refers to a person, and not an area. This person is someone who is beyond a steward; he is considered to be the religious successor to the Islamic profit, Mohammad, the leader of the Muslim faith and principal figure of the Quran.

  • (Arabic: خِلافة‎ khilāfa the area for the Islamic steward)
  • (Arabic: خَليفة‎ khalīfah the person who is considered a religious successor to Muhammad)

When President Obama says that there is a caliphate what does he mean? The person or the place? We do not know, because he doesn’t either.

During the Obama administration, the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, seems to be resolute: he knows the distinction between these two definitions. So it must be the Muslims who are confused. Maybe not.

A caliphate, according to various sources, is an Islamic state. It’s led by a caliph, who is a political and religious leader and a successor to the Islamic prophet, Muhammad. His power and authority are absolute.

How do you correctly use caliphate in a sentence? (via CNN):

In a newly released audio message and written statement, purportedly from the official spokesman of ISIS, the group called on Muslims to swear allegiance to the caliphate…”

Why did ISIS declare a caliphate?

  1. It was always their plan to do so.
  2. They’ve had enough success in capturing territory across Iraq and Syria to do so.
  3. No one, especially the Iraqi government, seems to be stopping them.

ISIS has upset everyone in the Middle East, especially al-Qaeda and its other affiliates, who had planned to establish their own caliphate to restore the Islamic caliphate from the 7th century.

The caliphate doesn’t sound great so far. According to their own reports, ISIS has been crucifying people, cutting off limbs, and terrorizing the people they claim to protect.

Also, caliphates operate under Sharia law. There is no distinction between church and state in these areas. Under the strict regime, women are discouraged from leaving the home unless absolutely necessary. And if they do leave, they must be accompanied, and covered in full Islamic dress. On political matters, women have only half a vote, while men have two votes per person. Women are allowed to marry once, while men are permitted many wives. If a woman marries a second time, she can be stoned to death.

Sharia law allows no dissent, no drugs, no alcohol, and no cigarettes. Police and military officers can repent, but anyone who insists upon apostasy faces death. Amputations are common punishment for stealing.

Sharia law anyone?