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Çağdaş İslam Düşüncesi’nde Hilafet Anlayışları: Muhammed Hamîdullah ve Yüksek Hilafet Konseyi
Cumhuriyet İlahiyat Dergisi

After the death of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h), one of the most significant debated topics of Muslims was the institution of caliphate. This institution caused crucial argumentations through the ages from Abu Bakr to Abd-al-Majid who was the hundreth khalifa. Some prominent issues in that regard as follows: How khalifa comes to power, who becomes khalifa, whether he is descended from Quraysh or not, which kind of traits khalifa should have, and how khalifa should behave in certain circumstances. While these arguments were going on, caliphate was maintained based on the reign under some certain dynasties’ responsibilities after the Rashidun (rightly guided) Caliphs. Umayyads, Abbasids and Ottoman Dynasties were the most well-known ones of these dynasties. Throughout history, even though caliphate passed in one another’s hands among aforementioned dynasties, none of them did attempt to abolish this position. However, Turkish Muslims who became defeated with European occupation of non-western territories decided to abolish caliphate for the sake of modernization activities within the period of transition from imperialism to nation state. This decision brought about a trauma, which was much more critical than former argumentation around the position in Muslim world. Many congresses were organized in Islamic world in order to recover from this trauma. While this kind of quests were continuing, Muhammad Hamīdullah proposed “High Caliphate Council” in relation to rearrangement of caliphate in accordance with the conditions of Islamic countries. This proposal offers an applicable model to today’s modern nation states by establishing unity among them and leaving aside their conflicts and differences. This proposal offers a resolution of much-discussed matters of the position within the limits of principals. It also draws attention by showing a possibility of Islamic union in contemporary Islamic thought.   Summary: The matters of who undertakes the management of societies, how rulers come to power and in what manners the rulers maintain the management have been discussed throughout history. It is seen that rulers adopted kingdom as regime before the period of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h). There was also two-person management. The discussions about this matter were also seen around khalifas who were the rulers of Muslims after the death of Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h). Some debated issues in that regards as follows: Who becomes khalifa, how he is elected, which traits he should possess, and so on. Caliphate continued its existence despite the discussions until the first quarter of the 14th Hijra era. Abolition of caliphate was a trauma for Muslims undoubtedly. From Anatolia to Egypt and from India to the Balkans, many attempts were carried out to recover from this trauma. However, this matter was oversimplified in the conditions of that period since it became a topic which was hushed over in just congresses and conventions.  One of the people who wrote on this topic, which maintains its vitality even today was Muhammad Hamīdullah.  He was an important Islamic scholar, a lawyer and a historian in Indian geography. Hamīdullah did deal caliphate by indicating its history broadly. The distinctive feature of Hamīdullah from others who wrote on this topic is that he also presented a considerable offer to solve the matter. In this sense, Hamīdullah experienced the trauma in his own life as all muslims did it with the abolition of caliphate. Hence he mentioned this matter in his writings in the mood of care and dignity of a scientist and also in feeling of a heartbroken muslim.  Hamīdullah made clear that the method of election of the ruler differed throughout history. Indeed, the verses of Holy Qur’ān, the applications of the Prophet Muhammad (p.b.u.h) and the differences of Four Great Chaliphs on coming to power testified this claim. According to Hamīdullah, it is quite normal that the method of regime can vary according to the conditions of societies. He recommended acting based on timeless rules rather than the changes that vary according to conditions and places. He also stated that the regime which Islam approves is a combination of kingdom and democracy in his lines dealing with methods of regime. To him, kingdom is the method of regime of empire. Empire is the regime in which various nationalities live together with all their differences and interact with one another intensely and in which the rulers rule over wide borders. On the other hand, Islamic world lost its edges of empire, changed its regime and divided to nation states after the decline of the Ottoman Empire and Mughal Empire which were established by Muslims. On the contrary, westerners attempted to establish a head empire several times after building nation states in Europe. Some of them are UN, NATO, EU, to name but a few.  In our opinion, in the transition process of Muslim rulers from empire to nation state, Hamīdullah made an offer to accomodate Islamic law in state law, Islamic politic and administrative principles in politics and administration practices, Islamic education system in education system, and principles of Islamic economics in economic decisions of government using the Prophet Muhammed’s life as a base. He also explained to Muslims that the method of regime can be changed and the essential matter is to apply Islamic management principles in such a new situation. He played a role in clearing the way for Muslims by indicating that the method of Islamic regime can be changed according to conditions but the principles of Islam are unalterable. To the writer of these lines, Hamīdullah intimates that it is not so true to stick to the form of the process in Muslim territories in which a compulsory transition from the empires or multinational social structures to the nation state structures have been experienced for the last two ages. However, the first matter to dwell on  should be whether the ruler of the government behaves in accoradance with the principles of Islam or not. To Hamīdullah, the second matter is that even though Muslim countries had to enter in the process of becoming nation states, Muslims should make an effort to establish supra-state associations as required by Islam. In this respect, Hamīdullah’s proposal is “High Caliphate Council”.  This council is a considerable offer presented to Muslim countries in the age when a universal caliphate is not possible and Muslims head towards a unified state form all over the world. Today, this offer recommends countries of which great majority is Muslims and in which Muslims are minority to meet on a common ground rather than conflict because of differences among them. The High Caliphate Council is an institute consists of presidents or hereditary administrators as leading and regular members and so it avoids regional competition. It is established by Muslim presidents who shares the chair alternately. Based on this, all Muslim presidents play a role altogether in this council without need to be Sunni, Shia, or from Quraysh.  The High Caliphate Council is a reflection of a dream, which started a century and half a century ago but is required more today. It is also a reflection of the discourse of “Islamic Union” in Contemporary Islamic Thought. The Caliphate Council and International Islamic Legists’ Association, which is the first practical step of the council can be seen as the theory of a new world order based on the unity principle of Islam. Hamīdullah does not consider this order not only in the range of belief but also with the aim of institutionalizing ‘ijmā (consensus of Islamic legists) and qiyās(legal analogy). He stated that International Islamic Legists’ Association, which is a scientific institution could not be established beforetime by Muslims spread on three continents due to lacking of communication among them. However, thanks to today’s possibilities, the establishment of such association is easier today. Hamīdullah found dynamic solutions such these two institutions for the realization of caliphate, which is a religious necessity . He marked an era for Muslims in the period of time when they are on a quest.

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