ISLAM: Caliph's Beauteous Daughter

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If there were an ex-Pope, if he had a beauteous daughter, if she became secretly engaged to the eldest son of "The Richest Man in the World," then Catholics would be as excited as Moslems were last week.

In a sun-drenched Riviera villa, high above champagne-soused Nice, lives the ex-Caliph of Islam who has no successor. Deposed and physically ousted from Turkey in 1924 by agnostic President Mustafa Kemal, Caliph Abdul Medjid Effendi is still to millions of Moslems "Commander of the Faithful" and "Viceregent of Allah."

Expenses of the Caliph's huge villa (a palace in size and ornate furnishings) are paid voluntarily by Islam's rich & pious, notably by His Exalted Highness the Nizam of Hyderabad, richest Indian potentate, reputedly "Richest Man in the World." In Nice last week the "secret engagement" of the Exalted Nizam's eldest son, Sahib Zada Nawah Azam Jah, to the Holy Caliph's beauteous daughter, Durri Chehvar, was ostentatiously bruited. If the secret proves popular with 200,000,000 Moslems it will become no secret but a thumping fact.

Observers suspected the Exalted Nizam of guile. According to the Koran, the Caliph of Islam must be a temporal ruler. Palestine Moslems have been trying for years, were still trying last week, to establish the present deposed Caliph in Jerusalem as "ruler" of a plot of ground about the size of the Papal State. In London this scheme is being urged by Shankat Ali, Moslem Delegate to the Indian Round Table Conference. But Christian Britain, who rules Jerusalem, hesitates to make the "Holy City" of Jews and Christians the seat of Islam's Caliphate. What to do?

Years ago Hyderabad's ruling Nizam tried to get himself proclaimed Caliph. To pious Moslems his ambition was shocking. They squelched it. But the "secret engagement" of Caliph's daughter and Nizam's heir last week struck many Moslems as a happy thought. Should these young people wed and have a man child, temporal and spiritual strains would richly blend in him. He could be proclaimed "The True Caliph."

In Nice ex-Caliph Abdul Medjid, though he sent up the engagement trial balloon, took care not to kill off his Jerusalem candidacy last week. His monocle-wearing Secretary Hussein Nakib Bey declared, "My august master. His Majesty the Caliph Abdul Medjid Effendi, constantly corresponds with the Grand Mufti of Palestine."

In Jerusalem correspondents badgered the Grand Mufti into a cryptic statement.

"The question of restoration of the Caliphate will not be decided at our All-Moslem Congress in Jerusalem next December," hedged the Mufti, "but, while no Caliph will be elected by the Congress, we will deal with the question abstractly."

In London the Turkish Embassy revealed that the Turkish Government asked the British Government fortnight ago not to permit restoration of the Caliphate anywhere in the Empire, particularly not in Jerusalem. Turks, who are doing very well with their pragmatic Republic, fear a revival of Moslem piety, a reaction against President Kemal should the Caliphate be restored.