Hi guys, there are a few things that i'm struggling to understand regarding Islam and sharia. I have a few questions, if anyone can help me i would appreciate it.
What is the traditional role of the caliph?
Head of state
I read that the caliph is normally elected by some kind of election, if so, why did the ulama of the past tolerate despot rulers and monarchies like the ummayads, ottomans etc?
Election were not by popular vote of the masses. The masses didn't have a right to vote. Tribal leaders and leaders within the growing state picked the caliph. It was never a democracy. The caliph become nothing more than a monarchy within 30 years of Muhammad's death as the social structure of society didn't actually change only the people and religion of the upper class did.
Or are these rulers somehow accepted forms of rule in Islam?
Accepted now but completely man made when developed.
How is it meant to work exactly and how did it work through history?
It was meant to keep one tribe in power, Muhammad's tribe. The selection process failed within 30 years. The ties to the special tribe within 3 centuries.
Saudi arabia follow an extreme conservative form of islam that looks back to the time of the prophet as is well known so then why do they have a monarch?
As the majority of the caliphs were nothing more than monarchs themselves there is little basis for objection to a kingship. If one takes the position against kingship as illegitimate renders a lot of Islamic history based on an illegitimate position. The Abbasids, Cordoba Caliphate, the Ottomans, the Mughal become illegitimate
The history of Islam during Muhammads time is actually unknown. Most of the sources for this era are 2 centuries removed from the events. This is really slight of hand. What is actually being said is that people accept the history 2 centuries removed from the events as the true representation of these events. This is why KSA is Sunni, they accept Sunni traditions as facts on the ground.
What is different about sayyid Qutb's (and similar writers) ideas compared to traditional Islam?
Who are Hizb ut-Tahrir? Do they follow traditional sharia and Islam, Sayyid Qutb's ideas or something completely different?
I do not know enough about these people nor their writing to provide an answer. Sorry.