Dr Kalim Siddiqui was a leading intellectual of the Islamic movement during the final decades of the 20th century. He is best known as the Director of the Muslim Institute, London, which he founded in the early 1970s, and founder and Leader of the Muslim Parliament of Great Britain in the early 1990s, in the wake of the Rushdie controversy.
However, his greatest contribution was as a political activist, commentator, analyst and thinker. It was through the force of his personality, his drive and energy, his speeches and his writings, that he enlightened and inspired several generations of young Muslims and Islamic activists all over the world between the early 1970s and his death in 1996.
This was a period of huge significance in the Muslim world and the position of Islam in the world. The 1970s were a time when Islam as a social, political and civilisational force appeared to have been defeated, and the USA and its western allies were confident in their power and permanent hegemony over the world. All this changed with the Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1978-79, which established the first Islamic state of the modern world, and launched the global Islamic resistance to western hegemony that continues to this day, and indeed has become the driving force – along with the western campaign to eliminate it – of contemporary history.
Dr Kalim Siddiqui’s years of activism bridged this crucial period. In the early 1970s, having already spent two decades involved in Islamic activism, and in the wake of the loss of Jerusalem to the zionists in 1967 and the break-up of Pakistan, he felt that the fortunes of the Ummah had reached rock bottom. But he did not let this feeling paralyze him. Recognising the reality of western hegemony, he set about the work he thought would be necessary to prepare the ground for a future Islamic movement to challenge the west at every level. It was for this task that he oversaw the establishment of the Muslim Institute, London, although he did not expect to see an Islamic challenge emerging during his lifetime.
When the Islamic Revolution in Iran erupted in the end of the decade, Dr Kalim realised that this represented the Islamic resurgence that he had long anticipated. He immediately dedicated himself to supporting the nascent Islamic State, aware that its survival was by no means guaranteed; to studying and understanding it in broader historical terms, for the benefit of both Iranians themselves and Muslims inspired by it elsewhere; and to creating bridges between it and Islamic activists and movements elsewhere. One of his major concerns, he said at the time, was to ensure that the new Islamic state could not be isolated, and that the entire Ummah could benefit from its experience, energy and power, even if it was doomed to fail as so many previous attempts at re-establishing Islamic political power had been.
This was a vision and focus that he maintained through to the end of his life, despite the many obstacles thrown up by enemies of the Islamic Revolution, and the resistance of many in both Iran itself and in the global Islamic movement. All his work through this period – from the media work through Crescent International, Muslimedia and numerous other projects; the conferences and seminars of the Muslim Institute; the endless speaking tours and media appearances; and of course his many writings – can be understood in this framework.
At the same time Dr Kalim addressed and responded to the impact of the Islamic Revolution on the rest of the world, from the flowering of political Islamic movements in other countries, to the west’s attempts to counter the new Islamic state, first through the war spearheaded by Saddam Hussein, and later through the military occupation of the heartlands of Islam with the ‘First Gulf War’ of 1989. His rare ability to both engage with current political developments, and at the same time see the bigger historical picture and work proactively in light of it, was one of his greatest assets.
More than 20 years after his death, and despite developments that might appear to have overtaken his vision of the world, such as the west’s brutally aggressive global response to the attacks on New York and the Pentagon in September 2001, Dr Kalim’s work remains as relevant as ever to the situation Muslim now face.
This site aims to highlight his work for the benefit of contemporary Muslims and Islamic movements, insha’Allah ta’ala.