A recent news report by AFP is important. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-appointed caliph of the self-declared Islamic State (formerly the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham), made a very bold statement when he recently appeared at the leading Mosque in Mosul and delivered a 30-minute sermon. AFP summarizes below:
Baghdadi, whose Islamic State (formerly Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham – “ISIS”) group holds territory in both Iraq and Syria, called for Muslims to “obey” him during the prayer sermon at the Al-Nur mosque in Mosul on Friday, according to the video distributed online the following day.
Experts say the importance of “Caliph Ibrahim’s” (Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi) appearance is that it reveals the sense of security of the [tippy title=”Sunni Salafi-jihadist Muslims”]Sunni Salafi-jihadists are Sunni “Islamists.” An Islamist emphasizes the implementation of Sharia (Islamic law based on the Qur’an and Haddith) and the replacement of all non-Muslim, particularly Western, political, social, or cultural influences with Sharia law. A Sunni Salafi-jihadist is identified by two additional criteria: First, the group emphasizes the importance of returning to a “pure” Islam, referred to in Islam as “Salaf,” and practiced by the “pious ancestors.” Second, the group believes that violent jihad (as opposed to “civilization jihad” which is a non-violent jihad) is the only way that Sharia law will be successfully implemented in society. See “A Persistent Threat, The Evolution of al Qa’ida and Other Salafi Jihadists” by Seth G. Jones, RAND Corp report. [/tippy] as well as the very intentional and bold statement being made to the entire Muslim world, and particularly, to al-Qaeda’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri. When one considers how far ISIS has come in the last year, it is astounding. Last year this time, the group was a branch of al-Qaeda core central in Pakistan loyal to the command of Ayman al-Zawahiri. Read more. Now, ISIS is not only independent of al-Qaeda and its leader, Zawahiri, but Baghdadi has declared himself the “caliph,” and ISIS, his organization, the “[tippy title=”Islamic state”] “Islamic state” is a term that refers to the uniting of all Muslims under the leadership of a “caliph” or “sultan” (literally, a “successor” to Muhammad) who is not only a spiritual leader but also a political and military leader. The Islamic state is also referred to as a “caliphate.” Its governance is based upon the Qur’an and Haddith, Islam’s sacred texts, and the type of governance is referred to as Sharia law. [/tippy].” Here is a report by Aaron Zelin, a Research Fellow at the Washington Institute, that quotes Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani al-Shami, the spokesman for ISIS, who declared ISIS the Islamic State:
On the first night of Ramadan, the spokesman for the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) announced a step that he described as “a dream that lives in the depths of every Muslim believer”: the re-establishment of the Caliphate. “It is a hope that flutters in the heart of every mujahid [one who does jihad] muwahhid [monotheist],” spokesman Shaykh Abu Muhammad al-Adnani al-Shami went on. “It is the caliphate. It is the caliphate — the abandoned obligation of the era…We clarify to the Muslims that with this declaration of the caliphate, it is incumbent upon all Muslims to pledge allegiance to the caliph [Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi].”
In a very informative post, Dr. Timothy Furnish outlines seven prerequisites for a caliphate to be established and led by a caliph considered to be legitimate.1 According to Furnish’s article, the one factor missing for Baghdadi to become the legitimate “Caliph Ibrahim” (his new name) is the necessary bloodline through the “Quraysh” family. The Quraysh family was a tribe located in Mecca in the 7th century AD that claimed its descent through Ishmael, Abraham’s first-born son by his bond-woman, Hagar (Genesis 16:1-2). Muhammad claimed his descent from Ishmael through the Quraysh family. The significance of Ishmael is that Islam considers Ishmael to be the promised son of Abraham rather than Isaac, the father of Jacob and the twelve sons of Jacob. According to the ISIS spokesman, Al-Baghdadi has met the required claim of bloodline through the Quraysh family which is the reason why he changed his name to “Ibrahim.” Aaron Zelin states the following in the Washington Institute:
In terms of legitimacy, the caliph is historically supposed to be a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad’s Quraysh tribe in Arabia. Since Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi became the leader of the Islamic State in 2010, he has claimed that he is a descendant of Muhammad and from the Quraysh tribe. Many have questioned whether the claim was legitimate but, for the first time, Adnani describes Baghdadi’s lineage and his plan to now use his real name, Ibrahim, in reference to him being caliph, to illustrate his legitimate claim.
At this point, the issue for Caliph Ibrahim is whether Muslims around the world will consider him not only to be legitimate, but chosen by Allah to establish and lead the caliphate. How do you suppose they will decide that? Gabriel time?
When Muhammad died in 632AD, Islam almost died with him. Muhammad’s followers were Bedouin tribesmen from the Arabian Peninsula. To them, being Muslim was not so much about religion as it was about Muhammad, their leader. So when Muhammad died, so did their committment to Islam. The Bedouin tribesmen left the Islamic fold and became apostates. They returned to their Arabian roots, their clans, and their homes; and Islam’s faithful was reduced to a small band of faithful followers. The first caliph (successor) chosen by the remaining was Abu Bakr Al-Siddiq (“Abu Bakr”). His first assignment was the return of the apostates to Islam. Abu Bakr instituted the “Riddah Wars” (literally, “apostate wars”); but to little avail. What did occur was almost an accident. Yet, it was nothing short of miraculous. Abu Bakr’s faithful required food, subsistence. Raiding parties were sent out for booty. They were successful. Their success fueled more success. Jihad spawned into areas outside the Arabian Peninsula, all of which were successful. The success of the raiding parties returned the apostates to Islam. They returned not because they wanted to reclaim their Muslim faith but because of the potential for prosperity accruing from the successful jihads. Literally, Islam was revived through booty. The conquered were required to convert to Islam or submit to Islam along with the payment of an annual “humiliation tax,” as “dhimmis.” The first caliph of Islam, Abu Bakr, lived only three years. He was replaced by Umar ibn al-Khattab (“Umar”) who continued jihads into the Middle East. In 638 AD, Jerusalem was under the dominion of the mighty Byzantine Empire (Christian) as was Syria, and all of its remaining neighbors. Each fell in succession to the Muslim hordes. In fact, Jerusalem fell without a battle. It surrendered to Caliph Umar without a blow being laid. How did Muslims (and the world) understand what had happened? They were awestruck. They fell in subjection to Allah and Islam. Clearly, to Muslims (and likely the Middle East world), Allah had willed it. It was their destiny.
Historian Ira Lapidus describes the first Arabian conquest of the Middle East and surrounding regions as follows:
The Arab conquests are popularly understood to have been motivated by a lust for booty or a religious passion to subdue and convert the world to Islam. Whatever the motives involved, they were in part the outcome of deliberate state policy and in part accidental. … At first the small tribal groups were mainly searching for booty … What began as inter-tribal skirmishing to consolidate a political confederation in Arabia ended as a full-scale war against the two empires [Arabia and Byzantium]. In the wake of the battle of Ajnadayn, the Arabs moved against the Byzantine province of Syria. They took Damascus in 636. Baalbek, Homs, and Hama soon surrendered. The rest of the province, however, continued to resist. Only in 638 was Jerusalem taken. Caesarea fell in 640. Finally, in 641, the Arabs took the northern Syrian and Mesopotamian towns of Harran, Edessa, and Nasibin. … The next Byzantine province to fall to the Arabs was Egypt [in 641].2
Where is this event in Scripture? Revelation 13:1 describes a beast with 7 heads and 10 horns (and crowns). Let us suppose that the heads represent caliphs of Islam (or seven hostile empires to Israel, one of which is Islam). Revelation 13:3 NASB states, “I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed. And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast.” The head that has the fatal wound symbolizes Muhammad who died in 532 AD; and the beast symbolizes Islam. Islam was only eleven years old at Muhammad’s death. The death of Muhammad was unexpected and plans for a successor had not been set in place. The result was that Muhammad’s death almost ended Islam as a religion. The Ridda Wars, Islam’s Apostate Wars, brought apostate Arab tribesmen back to Islam. Muhammad’s death nearly “killed” the beast, Islam. Verse 13:12 states, “… to worship the first beast, whose … wound was healed.” And verse 13:14, “telling those who dwell on earth to make an image to the beast who had the wound.” The text is describing what happened to Islam when Muhammad died. His death was near fatal to the faith; but Islam recovered, as symbolized by the first beast recovering from his near-fatal wound.
What does this have to do with the Islamic State and its Caliph Ibrahim? It will not be Caliph Ibrahim’s bloodline through the Quraysh tribe that will render him legitimate to Muslims around the world. It will be his success in jihad. If he is successful, it will be interpreted that Allah has willed it. Dr Furnish states:
Bernard Lewis points out (The Political Language of Islam, University of Chicago, 1988, p. 99 and passim), as Islamic history wore on “legitimacy…of qualifications…was progressively reduced to the point where, in effect, only two conditions remained—power and Islam. As long as the ruler possessed the necessary armed strength to seize and hold power, and as long as he was a Muslim, however minimal and however nominal, that sufficed.”
In some respects, it is as if the beast has recovered, again. In 1924, when the Ottoman Muslim Empire was dissolved by President Ataturk of Turkey, the beast all but died again. Caliph Ibrahim and his caliphate, if successful, will be seen by Muslims as another act that Allah has willed. If Muslims, particularly Salafi-jihadists, conclude that Allah has willed Caliph Ibrahim’s success, the caliphate will have an immediate gain in momentum. And, group by group, even moderate Muslims all over the world, will be forced to decide whether they will join the jihad because Allah has willed it. No doubt if this occurs, students of Bible prophecy will be directed to Revelation 17:8 which states:
Revelation 17:8 NASB “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and is about to come up out of the abyss and go to destruction. And those who dwell on the earth, whose name has not been written in the book of life from the foundation of the world, will wonder when they see the beast, that he was and is not and will come.
The beast was: Islam’s caliphate “was” until 1924 under Ataturk of Turkey. The beast “is not”: the caliphate was abolished by Ataturk has ceased to exist since that date. The beast “will come”: The caliphate will rise up again.((Actually, I interpret this passage quite differently in my book. I see it applying to the Mahdi, not to an empire of the past that arises at a future date. See Islam the Cloak of Antichrist, www.whenthepiecesifit.org))
Only time will tell.
Jesus come quickly.
Footnotes to post:
- “According to Ibn Khaldun, the great medieval Muslim sociologist and historian, the caliph’s prerequisites are: 1) knowledge of Islamic law; 2) honesty and virtue; 3) ability to lead and wage jihad (yes, holy war); 4) physical health and lack of bodily defects; 5) Qurayshi origin (descent from Muhammad); and of course 7) maleness (see The Muqaddimah, Princeton University, 1981, pp. 158-60). As quoted from Timothy Furnish, http://www.mahdiwatch.org/2014.07.01_arch.html#1404350025739. Al-Baghdadi earned a master’s degree and a PhD in Islamic studies from the University of Islamic Sciences in the Baghdad suburb of Adhamiya. [↩]
- Ira M. Lapidus, A History of Islamic Societies, 2nd Edition, 31-33 [↩]