Your View

Taqiuddin al-Nabhani and Hizb ut-Tahrir

This is a guest post by Raziq

Taqiuddin al-Nabhani is the founder of Hizb ut-Tahrir. In this article I look at the geo-political and religious dynamics that influenced him and his ideology.


Taqiuddin al-Nabhani was an independent thinker and a revivalist. Formerly a Ba’athist (a nationalist Arab Socialist Party), he maintained his Arab centric socialist agenda but presented it in Islamic language by enveloping his Arab super-nation state concept for a super “Islamic” State which must concentrate on the Arab speaking Muslims. In his time he challenged the status quo. He attacked mainstream Islamic beliefs, such as the spiritual dimension of life, as being nothing but a mystic concept influenced by Byzantine beliefs and nothing to do with authentic Islamic teaching. In 1952 he founded the extreme Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT).

Nabhani was not afraid to criticize all of the scholarly class, he was famous for damning them all as having abandoned God’s judgment and denied orthodox Sunni belief in infallibility of the Muslim nation and the collective weight as scholars (known as the doctrine of Ijma – or scholarly consensus). He considered this superfluous and all of the scholars of his age not only declined, but sinners who had abandoned the apparently obvious obligation to establish an expansionist Caliphate as they had all rejected this ‘religious duty’ and therefore there was no value to the scholarly class (Ulema). He was not afraid in this regard to issue bold Fatawa (legal edicts), whether it was regarding the Islamic validity of suicide bombing, hijacking Israeli planes, using military force to prevent the independence of countries such as Pakistan and Bangladesh.

HT’s political vision for a ‘Khilafah’, like Communism, did not recognize existing national, regional, tribal, or clan differences. It envisaged a state including all Muslims and ignored any nuances of geopolitical realities. For this reason HT supported the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait in 1991 and was against the creation of countries such as Bangladesh.

As a Palestinian, a revolutionary ideologue of former Communist mindset, an Arabist and graduate from al-Azhar university – it is easier to understand the influences which made up his originally Arab centric, anti-Israeli, Islamo-communist conception of an Islamist Super-state. His modernist tendencies and criticism of traditional Islamic teaching, and extremist rhetoric and ideology have given rise to many militant extremism movements, not only Palestinian Jihad (Asad Tamimi former leadership member of Hizb ut-Tahrir), Saleh Sirryah of Egyptian Jihad, the assassins of Anwar Sadat the Egyptian president and others.

Nabhani’s was also influenced by the anti-Semitic Sheikh Hajj Al-Housseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who was a major Nazi war collaborator. Nabhani, who was serving at the time on the Islamic appellate court in Jerusalem, was an associate and contemporary of Hajj Amin’s. For his group Nabhani drew on the organizational principles of Marxism-Leninism, which were quite well known among the middle and upper-class Arabs in British Mandate Palestine. Khaled Hassan, one of the founders of Hizb ut-Tahrir was also a founder of the Fatah faction of the PLO, as was Sheikh Assad Tahmimi who became Islamic Jihad’s spiritual leader.

HT’s utopian ideals and fanciful version of historical events has led to it being much ridiculed and criticized by many Western and Eastern academics. Despite some initial success in the early 90s HT has gone on to fail as a movement. Not only has it splintered into four groups (two in Britain, one in America and one in Central Asia) it has also bled members to splinter groups like al-Muhajiroun. It has been banned in most Muslim majority countries and even the NUS won’t allow it to operate in British Universities. It is also not allowed to hold activities in any mosques in the UK.

A sad end to Nabhani’s revolutionary vision.