Now here’s an interesting story: The Christian Science Monitor reports that some Muslims are pushing and planning for a re-establishment of the caliphate — the rule of all Muslims under one transnational government.

From the ariticle:

Hizb ut-Tahrir says that Muslims should abolish national boundaries within the Islamic world and return to a single Islamic state, known as “the Caliphate,” that would stretch from Indonesia to Morocco and contain more than 1.5 billion people.

It’s a simple and seductive idea that analysts believe may someday allow the group to rival existing Islamic movements, topple the rulers of Middle Eastern nations, and undermine those seeking to reconcile democracy and Islam and build bridges between East and West.

“A few years ago people laughed at them,” says Zeyno Baran, a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and the leading expert on Hizb ut-Tahrir. “But now that [Osama] bin Laden, [Abu Musab al-] Zarqawi, and other Islamic groups are saying they want to recreate the Caliphate, people are taking them seriously.”

Even more moderate Muslim groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt pay lip-service to the ideal of reestablishing the Caliphate, leaving less ideological space for Muslims who want to move toward Western models of democracy.

“The Caliphate is a rallying point between the radicals and the more moderate Islamists,” says Stephen Ulph, a senior fellow at the Jamestown Foundation. “The idea of a government based on the Caliphate has a historical pedigree and Islamic legitimacy that Western systems of government by their very nature do not have.”

For those unaware of the historical background, reporter James Brandon provides a good summary:

The Caliphate was created after the death of Islam’s founder Muhammad in 632 AD. During the following centuries the Caliphate expanded Islam’s territories by conquest and treaty to cover most of the Middle East, Central Asia, and North Africa. As the Ottoman Turks lost ground to the West, they increasingly donned the cloak of the Caliphate. In the 1920s, Muslims throughout the British empire, particularly in India, used the restoration of the Caliphate as an anti-colonial rallying point. “People look back on the Caliphate and see its success as a poor reflection on the condition of the Muslim world today,” says Mr. Ulph.

Hizb ut-Tahrir promises that a revived Caliphate will end corruption and bring prosperity – though the group doesn’t say how. It will let Muslims challenge, and ultimately conquer, the West, its followers say.

“The Muslim world has resources like oil but it lacks the leadership that will rule us by Islamic law and make this jihad that the whole world is afraid of,” says [Abdullah] Shakr, a Jordanian member of the group, who says the success of the Caliphate will also encourage more converts to Islam – eventually making the whole world Islamic.

MORE BACKGROUND: The Columbia Encyclopedia, Caliphate.co.uk, Daniel Pipes, The Guardian [London].