Islamism,  Your View

Hizb ut Tahrir implodes

This is a guest post by Shiraz Maher


Like the fruit of the medlar, Hizb ut Tahrir turned rotten long before it was ripe.

For years the group has boasted of inspiring a popular revolution on the Arab street and said it was in a position to ‘mould public opinion’ in favour of a Caliphate if only people would rise up against the regimes. Now that it’s finally happening, the party is nowhere to be seen in the Middle East.

Hizb ut Tahrir is failed and failing. But don’t just take my word for it.

For some time now I’ve been hearing of senior members defecting from the party in the UK. I wasn’t sure what to make of it but now I’ve had confirmation about some of the most significant departures over the last two years from a source still inside the party who is also preparing to leave. Recent significant departures include:

Farooq Khan* – Formerly on the national executive

Hasan Mujtaba – Formerly on the national executive

Asif Khan – Formerly on the national executive, formerly editor of Khilafah magazine (HT’s monthly), author of HT book on jurisprudence. You can read his book here (note that the editor listed on page 2 has also left the Hizb!)

Abid Husain – Formerly on the national executive,

Nadeem Ajayb – Regional director for Birmingham/West Midlands

Yusuf Patel – brother of Hizb ut Tahrir’s former British leader, Jalaluddin Patel

These are not the only serious defections, but they are the most significant ones in recent times. Since 2007, much of the Hizb’s middle management has also been decimated around the country. I’ve heard of – and met up with – countless erstwhile comrades around the country who once looked like they’d never leave the party. Now, they’re all realising life beyond.

The hizb’s problems extend way beyond defections. Internally, they’ve been suffering serious turbulence too. While he was still on the national executive, Farooq Khan, wrote to the party’s global leadership complaining about Jalaluddin Patel’s stewardship. He was rebuked as ‘arrogant’ and told to obey the amir – but the party investigated nonetheless. They dispatched Nasim Ghani from Bangladesh to investigate problems in the British chapter. In the event, Ghani failed to back Patel and he was then dismissed. Ghani stepped in as interim leader.

Then Asif Khan allegedly told other members he was resigning because of the cowardice of HT’s global leader Ata abu Rishta who is in hiding (and has been for many years). By contrast, Khan argued, Benazir Bhutto (for all her faults) had at least stood by her ideas and tried to affect public change in Pakistan. If she could demonstrate such commitment to her ideas – and die for them – then why should HT’s leader remain in hiding?

It reminds me of a trip I made to Pakistan in 2002 when I was with the Hizb. I wasn’t there on party business but I started hanging out with some of the members in Karachi – all of whom were from Britain. They complained that loads of guys from the UK had originally committed to moving to Pakistan telling them, “You go and we’re right behind you” but, when push came to shove, hardly any followed!

Farooq Khan and Asif Khan, along with Hasan Mujtaba and Abid Husain were all on the national executive when I became the first senior member to resign in 2005. At the time they organised the party’s machinery to discredit and crush me. Those were trying days, but I suspect they suffered no comparable indignity given just how many people are leaving the Hizb these days.

On a personal level, I’m sure those who played a hand in attacking me in 2005 will forgive me for being more than just a little smug about all this.

For leaving, I say ‘Ahlan wa Sahlan’ and dedicate this song to them:

My source in the party assures me he will leave soon. I can understand his hesitation, it can be difficult to take the final plunge. He’s speaking to others too. Another wave of defections could soon be on the cards. Watch this space.

*It should be stressed that I’ve not been able to confirm Farouq’s departure with my source. I heard from someone else that he’s left, but I’m not entirely certain about him, though I know for certain that he remains seriously disgruntled even if he has not yet departed.