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Hizb ut-Tahrir and the 1997 Redress

This is a guest post by Raziq (former member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir)

Many people are not aware that Hizb-ut-Tahrir is split into two groups.  Both groups oppose each other but go by the same name.  So how did this situation come about?

In 1997 some members of Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) claimed to have removed the then leader Abdul Qadeem Zalloom from the Imara (leadership) of the party.  In his place they had elected a new Amir (supreme leader) and were now going to correct the mistakes of the previous leadership.  This incident led to HT splitting into two groups, the first being those who continued following Zalloom as the leader and the second being those who broke off and formed their own party, also known as Hizb ut-Tahrir.  This incident is referred to as the 1997 ‘Redress’.

In this article I will be looking at the reasons why the split occurred and the key differences between the two groups.

Background

From 1986 to 1996, Omar Bakri Mohammad was the head of the British branch of Hizb ut-Tahrir.  In 1996 Bakri was expelled from the party for not strictly adhering to the party methodology. Another reason for his expulsion was that he had become too much of a liability: amongst other things he had called for the assassination of Tory PM John Major and expressed a desire to see the flag of Islam flying over Downing Street.  He also seemed to love courting the media; his attention seeking tactics were perceived to be giving HT a bad name and damaging its image.  HT wanted to project itself as a serious political party but Bakri was doing the opposite, his tactics eventually leading to HT being banned by the NUS.  After being expelled from HT, Bakri went on to found al-Muhajiroun and continued where he had left off from.  HT then started a process of recanting his books and removing some of the more hate-filled literature from its website. It also began to review its whole strategy in Britain.  During this period new editions of party books appeared and there was a change in the accountability structure.

Whilst this ‘reviewing’ process was going on, some members of HT thought that the party had been infiltrated by Mossad. They said concerns of the party activists (shabab) were being ignored and party literature was being moderated.  References to Jihad were removed from party books and the party now claimed to be at a stage of readiness to take power (Nusrah).  These same members accused Omar Bakri of being an MI5 agent.  They also said Zionists had finally infiltrated HT and were now trying to destroy the party from within.  They therefore felt that it was incumbent upon them to remove the corrupt leadership that had been infiltrated and work to save the party from destruction. These are the issues that led to the splinter group breaking off and forming HT2.

The split occurred at the leadership level in Jordan. The man to initiate the split was a senior Hizb ut-Tahrir member called Abu Raami.  The most prominent member of HT in Britain to follow Raami was Farid Kassim.  Kassim had been a founding member of the British branch of HT and was also the party’s national spokesman in the UK. At the time of the split it was believed that 30% of the party had joined the splinter group with 70% still being loyal to Zalloom.

HT1, or Hizb ut-Tahrir Britain (HTB) as it prefers to be known is the main party today and is presently loyal to the global leader Ata Abu Rishta, the successor of Abdul Qadeem Zalloom. The splinter group was initially led by Abu Raami (a senior HT member) who died shortly after the split.  It is not known who currently leads this group as they don’t disclose this information to the public.

HT1 have referred to the splinter group as renegades (nakitoun) in the past.  The splinter group refers to HT1 as the ‘Zalloomis/Rishtis’ or the ‘Zalloom Faction’.

I will now highlight some of the reasons for the split and the key differences between the two groups.

Some reasons for the split:

HT 2 believed that HT 1 changed several key party books hence diluting the party’s original message.  They also believe AQZ deviated from the party method and therefore they had no choice but to dismiss him.

HT2 also believed that some members of HT1 indulged in unseen matters like dealing with the jinn (supernatural beings) for a long time.  Despite knowing this, Zalloom never reprimanded them and even tried to justify what they did.

HT2 believe Zalloom ignored questions from party activists, changed admin rules and requested members not to attack Saddam Hussein, despite the fact he was clearly acting upon kufr (unbelief).

HT2 claim Zalloom had broken the oath in Hizb ut-Tahrir between the activists and the Amir by not abiding by the idea and method of the party

Key differences between the two groups:

HT believes in a three stage revolution to realise their goal of establishing an Islamist state. The three stages are: the private stage, the public stage (also known as the interaction stage) and the Nusrah stage (the stage of taking power). HT1 claim to be in the Nusrah stage whereas HT2 believe they are in the earlier “interaction stage” which they accuse HT1 of skipping.

HT2 believes HT1 is no longer following the party thought and method.  They believe HT1 has deviated in order to remain a legal group in the UK, in that they seek political recognition through kufr legal systems.

HT1 believes Muslims are allowed to follow the “Shariah” (meaning methodology in this context) of previous prophets.  HT2 believe this is not allowed.

Since the split occurred, both groups have continued their work in the UK.  They study the same books with slight amendments.  Both groups also have their own websites:

HT 1 website: http://www.hizb.org.uk/hizb/index.php

HT 2 website: http://english.hizbuttahrir.org/

Conclusion

For a party whose goal it is to unite Muslims all over the world, this type of split is a devastating blow.  Not only do we now have two parties in the UK but we also have another splinter group in the US and also one in Central Asia.

When will HT realise that political paradigms of the 7th century will not work in the 21st century?  Political systems, social structures and economic systems have changed over the centuries.  Today dreams of global Muslim unity are laughable especially when a small group like HT can’t even stay united. Furthermore, the founder of Hizb-ut-Tahrir had hoped to establish his Islamist state within 13 years but this didn’t happen.  The party then predicted it would happen within 30 years, this also didn’t happen.  After that many members left the party and HT lost many key members.

HT is a failed movement with a bankrupt ideology that is no longer relevant in the 21st century.


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