Charlie Cooper with the Quilliam Foundation writing a viewpoint article for BBC.com concludes that the declaration by the “Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (Syria) of a caliphate” should be more than a casual concern to civilization. Cooper asserts this is a new era of international jihadism.
Beginning his background Cooper writes:
In Islamic history, the caliphate was viewed as a just leadership that facilitated the practice of the faith. The caliph was also a political leader that led an empire and was viewed as the successor to the Prophet Muhammad.
Historically, the caliph was viewed as the leader of Muslims the world over, whose allegiance and loyalty he expected. This political model was eventually disbanded in the early 20th Century and replaced by the modern nation state.
The caliphate with Isis leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at its head, however, is very different from its forebears. Its announcement will be rejected by nearly all Muslims, who do not want, at any cost, the jihadist group to represent them.
The declaration will be cast aside by Muslims in all walks of life, even if they believe in the concept of “khilafa” (caliphate), as perfidious, premature and blasphemous. However, that does not change the situation for those living under Baghdadi’s rule.
In the new seat of the caliphate, the Syrian city of Raqqa, as in the rest of Isis-controlled territory, the land is to be administered by a medieval and literalist interpretation of Sharia, under which smoking is punished by flogging, thieves face amputations and opponents are summarily executed.