Hizb-ut-Tahrir (Arabic for "The Party of Liberation") has its roots in the political party al-Hay'at al-Tahrir al-Islami ("The Islamic Society of Liberation"), which in 1951 was established in Jordanian-controlled East Jerusalem by Sheikh Taqi-ud-deen Al-Nabahani (an associate and contemporary of the pro-Nazi Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Sheikh Haji Amin Al-Housseini).
Hizb-ut-Tahrir defines itself as "a political group and not a priestly one," a "political party whose ideology is Islam, so politics is its work and Islam is its ideology." It "works within the Ummah [community of believers] ... so that she adopts Islam as her cause and is led to restore the Khilafah [Caliphate, or Islamic kingdom] and the ruling by what Allah revealed."
Rejecting Western notions of both democracy and capitalism as tools that allegedly have led to the colonization and subjugation of Islamic nations, Hizb-ut-Tahrir's long-term objective is to replace existing governments with theocratic Muslim rule and to bring about a worldwide Islamic government under a single ruler (caliph). In such an ideal Islamic state, says Hizb-ut-Tahrir, "all of life's affairs in society are administered according to the Shari'ah rules," or strict Islamic law.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir states that it accepts "Muslim men and women as its members regardless of whether they are Arab or non-Arab, white or coloured, since it is a party for all Muslims."
In its self-description, Hizb-ut-Tahrir declares: "Its work is not educational, as it is not a school, nor is its work concerned with giving sermons and preaching. Rather its work is political, in which the thoughts and laws of Islam are presented in order to act upon them and to carry them so as to establish them in life's affairs and in the State." Moreover, the organization professes a devotion to "the struggle against the disbelieving imperialists, to deliver the Ummah from their domination and to liberate her from their influence by uprooting their intellectual, cultural, political, economic and military roots from all of the Muslim countries."
Hizb-ut-Tahrir asserts that while it "does not use material power to defend itself or as a weapon against the rulers," nevertheless "jihad has to continue till the Day of Judgement." "So whenever the disbelieving enemies attack an Islamic country," says Hizb, "it becomes compulsory on its Muslim citizens to repel the enemy. The members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir in that country are a part of the Muslims and it is obligatory upon them … to fight the enemy and repel them."
Former Hizb-ut-Tahrir member Ed Husain, who left the organization and denounced it in his 2007 book The Islamist, says: "The only difference between Islamists from Hizb ut-Tahrir and jihadists, is that the former are waiting for their state and caliph before they commence jihad, while the latter believes the time for jihad is now."
According to Heritage Foundation researcher Ariel Cohen, Hizb-ut-Tahrir is a "totalitarian organization, akin to a disciplined Marxist-Leninist party, in which internal dissent is neither encouraged nor tolerated." Candidates for membership undergo two years of indoctrination, becoming full members only after they "mel[t] with the Party." Members belong to compartmentalized cells and know the identities of only the others in that cell. "When a critical mass of cells is achieved," writes Cohen, "according to its doctrine, Hizb may move to take over a country in preparation for the establishment of the Caliphate." Hizb-ut-Tahrir reportedly has cells in 40 or more nations.
Today Hizb-ut-Tahrir, although splintered into four factions (most notably Hizb Waed), reportedly has tens of thousands of secret members across the Muslim world, attracted by its triumphalist Islamic future.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir is outlawed in Russia, Germany, France, the Netherlands, and numerous Muslim countries (including Egypt, Pakisan, and Saudi Arabia) that regard it as a radical, subversive, terrorist organization that spreads "hate and violence" and seeks to overthrow their governments.
Hizb-ut-Tahrir is a legal political party, however, in the United Arab Emirates, Lebanon, Yemen, and most Western nations. The organization gained a foothold in the United Kingdom under the leadership of Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, the Al Muhajiroun founder who joined Hizb-ut-Tahrir as a teenager in Lebanon during the early 1970s. For awhile Britain considered outlawing Hizb-ut-Tahrir, but then-Prime Minister Tony Blair decided against doing so after he was advised that forcing the group underground would be an even less desirable alternative that permitting it to function legally.
Fadi Abdelatif, Hizb ut-Tahrir's spokesman in Denmark, in 2002 distributed a pamphlet titled And Kill Them Wherever You Find Them, an anti-Jewish reference from the Qur'an (Baqarah:191).
In August 2007, approximately 80,000 members of Hizb-ut-Tahrir gathered in the Bung Karno sports stadium in Jakarta, Indonesia to call for the creation of a unified Muslim Caliphate spanning the entire Islamic world. The delegates in attendance, who hailed not only from Indonesia but also from Europe, Africa and the Middle East, punctuated their demands with cries of “Allah is great.”