The Untold History of the Liberation Party

May 2023 9781787389694 360pp
EU Customers


Although Hizb-ut-Tahrir, an international pan-Islamic political party, regularly holds conferences from Jakarta to Ramallah attended by tens of thousands of people, little is known about the organisation, which was founded in 1953, beyond generalities and conjecture. Its members are repeatedly arrested in Russia, Central Asia, Turkey and across the Middle East, and since the Arab uprisings it has emerged as an influential political actor in Tunisia, has a growing profile in Egypt, and is making a visible impact in the Syrian revolution. It is also paradoxically often dismissed as inconsequential despite its call for the implementation of Islam and the establishment of a universal caliphate across the Muslim world. Hizb-ut-Tahrir: The Untold History of the Liberation Party uncovers the history of the global Islamic political party, based upon a diverse array of archival research, internal documents, multiple interviews and other sources to build an authoritative account of the party as told from inside and out. From coup attempts in Jordan, sending delegations to meet Sadat, al-Gaddafi and Khomeini, and the execution of hundreds of its members in Libya and Iraq, Pankhurst’s book blends political, intellectual and personal history, moving from global, regional and local perspectives.


‘Nowhere have I read a more lucid, accessible and well-researched history of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Reza Pankhurst’s book is not only timely but is also informed by excellent scholarship and meticulous attention to detail. Pankhurst successfully blurs the boundaries between the insider and the academic to narrate how a group of Muslims imagined the caliphate, struggled to establish it and faced many challenges. This is a complex but accessible study of one of the most controversial projects of the Muslim movement in the twentieth century. The book truly demystifies the caliphate and its many advocates. Whether you are a sympathizer or a critic, this book will challenge your stereotypes about Islamic activism.’ — Madawi Al-Rasheed, Visiting Professor at the Middle East Centre, LSE, and author of Muted Modernists: The Struggle over Divine Politics in Saudi Arabia

‘In this elegantly written and meticulously researched new book, Reza Pankhurst tells the previously untold story of Hizb-ut-Tahrir’s founding and early development in the West Bank, Jordan, and elsewhere in the Middle East. The book is unprecedented and unparalleled in the new light it sheds on the early years of the party’s emergence and evolution, and on a period in the history of ‘Islamist’ mobilization which is otherwise largely passed over in silence. Pankhurst raises important new questions about the trajectory of Islam as a force in world politics in the latter half of the twentieth century and the first decades of the twenty-first.’ — John Sidel, Sir Patrick Gillam Professor of International and Comparative Politics, LSE

‘Combining scholarly rigour with engaged Muslim intellectualism, this book offers a comprehensive historical survey of an Islamic movement that continues to confound observers of politics in the Muslim world. As an academic and former member of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, Reza Pankhurst is uniquely positioned to write the history of this intriguing Islamist organisation. Written in the same vein as his earlier exploration of the place of the Caliphate in the Muslim world today, this Untold History of the Liberation Party offers a provocative rereading of an important strand of political Islam.’ — Carool Kersten, Senior Lecturer in the Study of Islam and the Muslim World at King’s College London, editor of Demystifying the Caliphate and The Caliphate and Islamic Statehood, and author of Islam in Indonesia

‘Reza Pankhurst has written a judicious and engaging account of a much maligned political party. His contribution goes beyond sensationalist headlines and presents us with a serious history of Hizb-ut-Tahrir, helping us to understand how the party has developed and grown in response to the challenges faced by the Muslim Ummah.’ — S. Sayyid, author of Recalling the Caliphate and A Fundamental Fear

‘This well-documented, detailed, and readable study fills a gap in knowledge about an important organization. … As the author shows, the Liberation Party has recently experienced remarkable growth that has transformed it into a worldwide movement, repressed by authoritarian regimes in most Muslim countries but generally tolerated in the West. Pankhurst had access to important documents and conducted extensive interviews with leaders of the group, notably during brief intervals of relative freedom initiated by the Arab Spring of 2011. Clearly favorable to the organization (of which he was a member) but also demonstrating objective scholarship, he convincingly refutes accusations that it is tied to groups such as Al Qaeda. This will prove valuable to those in various disciplines who deal with Islamist movements and global civil society generally.’ — G. E. Perry, Professor Emeritus at Indiana State University


Reza Pankhurst is a political scientist and historian, specialising in the Middle East and Islamic movements. He has a doctorate from the London School of Economics, where he previously completed his masters degree in the history of international relations.

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