The Pope of Islam’ and his message of peace

The Caliphate you don’t know about

“When evil men plot, good men must plan. When evil men burn and bomb, good men must build and bind. When evil men shout ugly words of hatred, good men must commit themselves to the glories of love,”  Martin Luther King Jr. Today, evil people are plotting, burning and bombing. What are good people doing?

Look at ISIS — wreaking havoc in the Middle East, radicalizing youth in the West by perpetrating a perverted version of Islam, destroying buildings, murdering innocent Muslims, Christians and Jews.

Despite its twisted representation of our faith, there’s something about this particular terror group that seems to attract disenfranchised youth more than any other group before it.

Perhaps it’s the unity they show with their dress code. Perhaps it’s the skill they display with social media. Personally, I think the reason for ISIS’s success in recruitment is linked to something that is mentioned little in media discourse on Islam, something with great historical and religious significance for Muslims everywhere: the idea of the Caliphate.

t’s vital to understand that the concept of a caliphate has a great allure for radicalized youth yearning for a glorified Islamic golden age. For these young people, and for many Muslims who long for a return to prestige and success for the Islamic world, the caliphate is a powerful symbol.

Today, when we think of the word ‘caliphate’, many pictures an Islamic leader bent on imposing some form of Islamic law on the West — someone using the concept of the caliphate to rally military, political and economic strength. But is this truly what the word means?

As the early Islamic caliphate came to an end, the West saw the Muslim world spiral towards darkness, longing for a spiritual leader who could bring about peace and reform.

When millions pledge to work for peace, it doesn’t make the news. But when one radicalized youth causes havoc, he hijacks the narrative of Islam.

Today, the Muslim world is struggling with terrorist recruiters radicalizing our young people, drawing them away from a vision of true Islam. So we ought to be asking ourselves the question: Are Muslim leaders doing enough?

If Islam really is a religion of peace and spirituality, where are the good Muslim leaders? Is there a Muslim leader constructing schools today, as terrorists demolish them? Is there a Muslim leader putting Muslim youth on a constructive path to serve society, as ISIS tries to turn them into cannon fodder?

There is. It’s the Islamic Caliphate you don’t know about.

Last month, the Caliph, His Holiness Mirza Masroor Ahmad, came to Canada for a six-week tour. He is the worldwide leader of tens of millions of Muslims, making him the leader of the largest single group of Muslims in the world — the true representation of an Islamic Caliph in the modern world. Like the Pope, the Caliph is elected by an electoral college (minus the smoke) filled with revered spiritual leaders from across the globe.

The Caliph continues to guide world leaders through dialogue and pragmatic efforts towards serving humanity. He has overseen countless projects focused on the protection of human life, the education of underprivileged youth and the delivery of aid to disaster-struck nations.

He also provides guidance at internationally recognized political venues such as Capitol Hill and the European Parliament. The Wall Street Journal referred to him as the “Pope of Islam”. Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper praised him as a “champion of peace”.

So why haven’t you heard of him? In the words of His Holiness, “it remains that our peaceful and inclusive message of Islam is not covered extensively in the media, whilst on the other hand those relatively few people involved in brutality and carnage are given non-stop, worldwide media coverage.”

That’s why you haven’t heard of him. When millions pledge to work for peace, it doesn’t make the news. But when one radicalized youth causes havoc in a stable society, he hijacks the narrative of Islam.

The Caliph is playing a vital role in that narrative today, but his voice is not carrying as far and wide as it should be. It’s important for us as Canadians to break free of the false notion that Islam is a religion of violence, and work within our communities to highlight the peaceful initiatives carried out by Muslims.

Albert Einstein put it best: “The world will not be destroyed by those who do evil, but by those who watch them without doing anything.”

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