Hizb ut-Tahrir (HT) is an international pan-Islamic organisation whose primary aim is to unite all Muslim countries into a single Islamic state, or Caliphate, under strict Islamic Law.
HT UK is currently led by Dr Abdul Wahid and has been operating since 1986. HT has rejected ISIS’s caliphate and while it may oppose ISIS’ methodology it also shares many ideological beliefs including the binary view that the world is divided into two abodes, the land or abode of Islam (Dar al Islam) and the land of disbelief (Kufr) or war (Harb).
HT believes that because the “Islamic State” has not been established, the whole world is Dar al Kufr which means Muslims have a religious duty to strive for its establishment. ISIS also believes in the narrow and outdated binary understanding of Dar al Islam and Dar al Kufr but claims the “Islamic State” now exists and that Muslims are obligated to live there.
While HT claims to support non-violent methods, it has been subject to continual criticism over its extremism and, while it does not engage in terrorist acts itself, it has been accused of being a “conveyor belt for terrorists.” In the past it has supported violent groups such as Islamic Jihad, Hamas and Jama’ah Islamiyyah.
Many believe HT to be a college of ideological indoctrination that, while abstaining from terrorism, develops recruits for more extreme organisations. For example, in 2003, while searching the houses of Omar Khan Sharif and Asif Mohammed Hanif, following their failed attempt to blow up a bar in Tel Aviv, police found HT literature. Bilal Abdullah, the doctor who attacked Glasgow airport in 2007, also had links to HT.
Hizb ut-Tahrir’s particularistic interpretation of Islamic Law results in numerous extreme and illiberal positions laid out in their draft constitution.
Their views are highly misogynist, and they argue that “the primary role of a woman is that of a mother and wife,” and they are not allowed to “take control of ruling” which bars women from becoming the Khaleefah or a judge. They also demand the segregation and the covering up of women.
They call for homosexuality to be made illegal and strongly oppose same sex marriage and are also outspoken opponents of Western style democracy and instead favor a single elected Khaleefah with suffrage being restricted to Muslims only.
In addition, much of their rhetoric crosses the line from anti-Zionism and enters the realm of open antisemitism. As well as calling for the destruction of Israel they have openly stated,
“In origin, no one likes the Jews except the Jews. […] The American people do not like the Jews nor do the Europeans, because the Jews by their very nature do not like anyone else.”
The National Union of Students (NUS) passed motions in 2004 and 2005 explicitly censuring HT. In 2004, NUS Conference passed a motion applying its No Platform Policy to HT, Al-Muhajiroun and others. In 2006, NUS Conference held a debate over a proposed motion to remove HT from the “No Platform Policy,” but it did not pass.
More recently Taji Mustafa, Chief Media Representative of HT UK, has controversially claimed that the chief cause of on street grooming is “the liberal values of the society that we live in,” and that “People need to question the liberal values which have led us to where we are.”
HT tread the line very finely, and despite the government feeling unable to proscribe the group, it is clear that their often controversial rhetoric makes them an extremist organisation.
Omar Bakri Muhammad: (Born- Syria 1958) Founded the UK branch of Hizb ut Tahrir in 1986 and remained leader until 1996. He was formally a member of the Muslim Brotherhood and left HT to form Al-Muhajiroun with Anjem Choudary. He has been the mentor of many of Britain’s most extreme Islamists. He has become more openly extreme since leaving HT praising 9/11 as ‘magnificent’ and is now banned from entering the UK following a decision by Charles Clarke.
Ata Abu Rashta: (Born- 1943 in Mandate Palestine) Current global leader of HT taking control in April 2003. He joined HT in the mid-1950s and worked closely with the founding members. He worked primarily in Jordan and has been detained numerous times by the Jordanian government.
Taqiuddin al-Nabhani: (Born 1909 Haifa- Died 1977 Beirut) Originally founded Hizb ut Tahrir in Jerusalem in 1953 and remained its global leader until his death in 1977.
Dr Abdul Wahid: Chairman of UK Executive of Hizb ut Tahrir Britain.
Taji Mustafa: Chief media representative and member of the UK Executive Committee. He is an IT professional with a degree from the University of North London. He recently stirred up controversy while addressing a HT conference in Australia after being called a “hate preacher” amid calls for him to be denied a visa.
Dr Imran Waheed: Chief media advisor for HT UK. He also works as a psychiatrist at Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Birmingham.
Sajjad Khan: Chief political advisor of HT UK and editor of the New Civilisation Magazine.