America’s intervention in the Muslim world, since the last three decades has been on a consistent increase. This year alone, America has intensified its military assault, through drones in both Pakistan and Yemen; it has managed to further divide the Muslim world, by dividing Sudan, and has launched another war front in Libya. The rulers of the Muslim world sheepishly give in to America’s dictates, by presenting America’s supremacy as a formidable force that cannot be challenged. This pretext however is only an artificial construct only to ensure their hold on the power.
Not so long ago, the reality was quite different from what we see today. A chapter from History speaks volumes of the strength that the Muslims had, when channeled under a Caliphate state.
In 1783 the first US navy boat started to sail in international waters and within two years was captured by the Ottoman Caliphate’s navy near Algeria. A few years later, in 1793, 12 more US navy boats were captured. In March 1794 the US Congress authorized President Washington to spend up to 700,000 gold coins to build strong steel boats that would resist the Ottoman Caliphate’s navy. However America’s military ventures in international waters were of no match in face of the Caliphate’s navy. Unable to deal with the situation, just a year later the US signed the Barbary Treaty to resolve the threat from the then superpower, i.e. the Caliphate.
The treaty was called ‘Barbary’, as this was the term for the North African wilaya’s of Algiers, Tunis, and Tripoli, under the rule of the Ottoman Caliphate.
The terms of the treaty were:
1) The treaty will cost the US a one off payment of $992,463
2) The American ships captured would be returned and the American Navy was to be given permission to sail in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea.
3) In return, the American government would pay $642 000 in equivalent gold.
4) The US would also pay an annual tax (tribute) of $12 000 in gold. The annual tribute would be calculated according to the Islamic calendar and not the Christian calendar
5) $585,000 would be paid for the ransom of the captured American sailors
Moreover, America agreed that a state of the art steel ship would be constructed in U.S and delivered to the Caliphate, with all costs borne by the US in return for privileges. The costs of masts, Yards, and heavy planks, were very costly and so difficult to procure, and then so exceedingly expensive to transport. Once delivered the US had actually paid thirty times their estimated price in the stipulations.
Interestingly, the treaty was written in Turkish and signed by President Washington himself. The treaty with the Caliphate is the only American legal document to ever have been concluded in a foreign language and the only treaty the Americans have ever signed that agrees to pay annual tax to another nation. This treaty continued until the Khilafah was abolished. The Barbary treaty speaks volumes of the military and diplomatic superiority that the Muslims had under the Caliphate.
Although this chapter of history may have been forgotten by many, it still haunts America today. As is evident from various speeches of prominent American politicians. US ex-president Bush spoke of this fear when he expressed his concerns that “This caliphate would be a totalitarian Islamic empire encompassing all current and former Muslim lands, stretching from Europe to North Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia.”
Today when the armies of the Muslim world find themselves entangled in a strained, costly, and counter productive relationship with the U.S, this fact from history might strike a positive chord with many Generals. As history tells, time and again, that when an army finds itself entrapped in subservience of another state, with mistrust at its peak, its Generals are ever-looking forward to standing up on their own feet against the hostile state; and in such a situation the idea of a Caliphate is quite enchanting.
Engr. Sharique Naeem