The struggle to unify the Islamic peoples under religiously sanctified governance by various competing actors has existed since the death of the Prophet Muhammad. No other individual could contain in the same corpus both religious and temporal authority. These religious political challenges to establish a state that exemplified Islamic principles and could be governed by an ordained official had largely been contained within the Islamic world until the contemporary era. The rise and fall of the major caliphates, competing minor dynasties and self-proclaimed individuals was part of the ebb and flow of the Islamic political experience. The twentieth century, however, resulted in the end of the last caliphate, that is, the last political order that spoke to the Islamic legitimacy and unity project, as well as the rise of a different kind of world order. Disparate peoples were colonised and decolonised and sovereign states were formed on the ruins of former empires. A new world order was formed after World War Two and, following the last great empire, the Soviet Union, nation-state sovereignty defined international relations. This order was underwritten by the last remaining superpower, the US, an order that the great powers such as China, Russia, India, Japan and the EU largely observe. In this, the Islamic drive for unity and legitimacy was nearly extinguished. The obstacles provided by the international order and its powerful adherents were unsurpassable. This has had the result of projecting the order and legitimacy project out of the Islamic sphere into the world at large.
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- Historical and Ideological Challenges
John A. Turner
- Palgrave Macmillan UK