The term ‘Amir al-Mou'mineen’ (Commander of the Faithful) and ‘caliph’ were first bestowed on Omar Bin al-Khattab who became the successor of the Prophet (Peace be upon him) two-and-a-half years after he passed away. By virtue of the political and religious connotations of the term, the title conveyed overarching political authority – a kind of absolute power. The notion of Commander of the Faithful facilitated oppression of those who held different views, directly or indirectly, through employing fatawa, that is religious interpretations and edicts, in addition to mobilizing religious followers and devotees. This excess of political power is based on the definition of Imarat al-Mu'mineen (Commandment of the Faithful) or the Caliphate common in religious jurisprudence. This definition was coined by Ibn Khaldoun, and may be translated as: ‘making people abide by the view of Shar (the Law of God in Islam) regarding their temporal and afterlife interests’. Morocco has been no different from the rest of the Islamic world over the centuries, and now two distinct phenomena are apparent. First, the emergence of different groups, each with its own ideology and claims to be defending religion and pursuing its implementation. Such groups consider all other ways of thinking as apostasy that must be eliminated; while juxtaposed to them, there exist intellectual currents calling for the continued separation of religion and the state and its laws. During the past two decades this phenomenon has led to tragic situations in a considerable number of Islamic states, whose prospects now seem very gloomy. Second, a tight regulation of state institutions, together with constitutional guarantees of individual rights and freedoms, can prevent the manipulation of the state in the name of religion, and its use for tyranny and the oppression of individuals and minorities, be it in the name of Commandment of the Faithful or any other term. It seems that Morocco is aware of the power of these two phenomena, especially after it faced social unrest in 1992 and 2001, which almost destroyed its stability.
The relationship between religion and the state: the institution of ‘Commandment of the Faithful’ in Morocco†
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Ahmed Al Khamlichi; The relationship between religion and the state: the institution of ‘Commandment of the Faithful’ in Morocco. Contemporary Arab Affairs 1 January 2014; 7 (1): 54–81. doi: https://doi.org/10.1080/17550912.2013.869991
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