Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is not my Khalifa. How can I barter my freedoms for a life of perpetual servitude? The self-styled caliph claims authority on the basis of lineage. Al-Baghdadi claims to be the sovereign on behalf of the Muslims of the world because he is a Qureshi - sharing tribal bonds with the holy prophet . This in itself is an anathema, an insult, to the 1.6-billion-strong Muslim community. How could one pledge allegiance to a person who has no other moral standing besides being a tribal progeny of the prophet? Being a South Asian Muslim, I feel like forever condemned to be a second-class citizen if I were to pledge allegiance.
The Indonesians who carried out the recent attacks in Jakarta (allegedly at the behest of ISIS) are a pawn in the hands of the Qureshi elite. The hundreds of European Muslims, who came flocking to Da'esh's call of establishing an Islamic state, are practically a tool to enforce the superiority of a minority. Those leaving behind their homelands largely comprise of South Asians and Africans - two of the least plausible groups to have Qureshi ancestry. They are left with doing the nasty work, executing innocent people and expanding the reign of terror. Per al-Baghdadi's logic, the bourgeoisie of Da'esh should comprise of the Quresh while the rest should tag along as measly underlings.
That notion could have been accepted fourteen hundred years ago; when Islam was still a religion of the Arabian Peninsula. It can no longer be taken as a given. Arabs now comprise only one-fifth of the global community of Muslims; the Quresh even less. The caliph - if there has to be one - thus logically has to be a non-Arab.
The claim for superiority and leadership based on race is not new to Islam. It started with the death of the prophet Mohammad when Ali, his cousin and son-in-law, was thought by some to be the most viable successor . The caliph, however, was elected by a council of elders comprising of close companions of the prophet. The notion that Ali had some divine right to caliphate was rejected by the overwhelming majority of Muslims. Shiites despise the first three caliphs based on this very rejection of (in their view) divine ordination of Ali and his off-springs. Ali ultimately assumed the caliphate after the assassination of his predecessor, Uthman.
The assassination and the subsequent lack of accountability for the killers led Ayesha, the favorite wife of the prophet, to demand an answer from Ali. The caliphate forces met with the army led by Ayesha (yes a woman at helm) in what is now modern-day Iraq. Confusion and internal rifts led to the complete annihilation of Ayesha's army. She conceded defeat, retiring to a life in Medina. While Ayesha distanced herself completely from politics, many still flocked to her to benefit from her knowledge on as varied matters as jurisprudence and social welfare.
That a woman actually led an army and was considered a highly learned person of her times should have been a cause célèbre for the Muslims. Far from it. Shiites revile Ayesha for standing up to Ali. Sunnis, despite having an esteemed view of her, tend to overlook her ground-breaking achievements. Noted Muslim feminist Fatima Mernissi, in her book The Veil and the Male Elite, failed to find any divine ordinations to suggest a forbiddance of women leadership , as the latter theologians postulated. The precedent, apparently, didn't suit the chauvinistic, male-dominated kingdoms that emerged after the end of caliphate.
Da'esh enforces the same constricted, deeply-entrenched misogynistic worldview. The organization is just an extension of the extremist groups that tend to overlook the role of women while formulating their repressive policies. The caliphate of Al-Baghdadi is thus not a true reincarnation of the "Golden Age" as it relegates women to a secondary status. And it is deeply racist.
Da'esh's ambition of winning the obligation of the entire Muslim World will only remain a pipedream. It rose because the Iran-backed Shiite militias and the Iraqi army left no stone unturned in persecuting the hapless Sunnis, who had earlier worked with the U.S. forces to eliminate Al-Qaeda. Da'esh gained ground because the Bashar al-Assad regime was and still is hell-bent on exterminating Syrian citizens. To think of erasing Daesh while retaining the dictatorial regime - and propping up its backers - is a recipe for disaster.
In the meanwhile, the global Muslim community should rise against Da'esh's hateful ideology. An outfit or quasi-caliphate that discriminates against its own people can never be a viable alternative. All it offers is segregation, violence, persecution of women and minorities; and a deeply cataclysmic way of life. Not even the Quresh - a minority in the peninsula - will accept this narrative. No wonder the Arab states are gearing up to tackle the challenge.