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The Islamic Political Law (3)
Political Issues
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Majlis-i-Shūrā (The Rarliament)

According to the Qur’ānic injunction amruhum shūrā  bainahum (their affairs of state are run by their mutual consolation), the manner in which the Muslim public shall participate in the state’s affair has been prescribed by the Prophet (sws). It is based on the following two principles:

(1) Muslims shall be consulted in the affairs of state through their leaders in whom they profess confidence. To quote the “Saheeh” of Bukhari:

“When the Muslims at the Prophet’s behest consented to free the prisoners of Hawaazin, the Prophet said: I could not know which of you has shown his consent and which of you has not. Therefore, go back, and send your leaders that they may inform us.” (Kitaab-ul-Ahkaam)

During the time of the Prophet (sws), the tribal chiefs held this position of trust. The people of the tribe of Aus, Khazraj and Quraysh professed confidence in every sense of the world in their respective leaders. Indeed, these leaders were not elected to this position nor was an election needed in the social conditions which existed at that time. It was in fact because of their social status, intellect and experience that their people turned to them in all the political and collective affairs. Before the advent of Islam, it was their tribes’ complete faith in them which conferred this position on them and the state continued even after they accepted Islam. However, before accepting Islam, someone could say that they had seized power by force and not be in a position to show his mistrust in them but after accepting faith everyone from among the Muslim public could express infront of the Prophet (sws) his lack of confidence in them. If they did so, no one from among the leaders could remain on their positions.

During the Khilaafat-i-Raashidah also the position of trust commanded by the leaders continued.

While narrating the proceedings of a shooraa during the time of Hadhrat Umar’s rule, Qazi Abu Yusaf says:

“The people said: you should now seek formal consultation. At this he consulted the early Mahaajireens and three existed a difference in their opinions. Abdur Rehman Bin Auf maintained that their rights should be distributed among them, while Hadhrat Usman, Ali, Talha and Hadhrat Ibni Umar, were in agreement with Hadhrat Umar’s view. Then he called ten people from the Ansaar: five from the Aus and five from the Khazraj.” (“Kitaab-ul-Khiraaj”, Fasal fil Fai wal Kharaaj)

(2) Among the various groups present in an Islamic state only that group shall assume its political authority which enjoys the confidence of the majority of the Muslims. This principle has been derived from the Prophet’s decision in which he expressed how the transfer of political power should take place after him. Mua’wiyyah reports in Bukhari:

“I heard the Prophet (sws) saying: Our political authority shall remain with the Quraysh. In this matter, whoever opposes them, Allah shall cast him face down in hell until he remains on what he believes.” (Kitaab-ul-Ahkaam)

To quote “Tabraani”:

“In this matter bring forward the Quraysh and do not try to supersede them.”

The Prophet (sws) stated thus the reason for the decision he had declared:

“People in this matter follow the Quraysh. The believers of Arabia are the followers of their believers and the disbelievers of Arabia are the followers of their disbelievers.” (Muslim, Kitaab-ul-Imaarah)

Thus, the Prophet (sws) made it very clear that since the majority of the Arabian Muslims profess confidence in the Quraysh, therefore, in the light of the Qur’ānic Directive: amruhum shooraa bainahum they are solely entitled to take charge as the rulers of Arabia, and that the Quraysh shall be passed on the political authority not because of any racial superiority but only by virtue of this position.

Those who have studied the history of the Arabs know that before the advent of the Prophet (sws) the Quraysh were at the helm of the state’s affairs and their leaders were considered as the leaders of the Arabs. After the battles of Badr and Uhud, though several of their leaders had been killed, yet in the capacity of a party they enjoyed the confidence of all the Arabs. All their prominent people who had accepted faith were present in Medina and many of them had distinguished themselves in the service of Islam. It were these people who were there called the Muhaajireen and after the general acceptance of faith by the Arabs had assumed the place of Utbah Bin Rabee’ah, Shaibah Bin Rabee’ah, Abul Bukhtaree Bin Hishaam, Naufal Bin Khuwailud, Haarith Bin Amir Bin Naufal, Tu’aimah Bin Adee Bin Naufal, Nazar Bin Al-Haarith, Zam’ah Bin Al-Aswad, Abu Jahal Bin Hishaam, Umayyah Bin Khalf, Munabbih Bin Hajjaaj, Suhail Bin Amr and Amr Bin Abdiwud. Now Abdur Rehman Bin Auf, Sa’ad Bin Abi Waqqaas, Abu Ubaidah Bin Al-Jarrah, Zubair Bin Al-Awaam, Talha Bin Ubaidullah, Ali, Uthman, Umar and Abu Bakr held the same position of general trust and confidence as the leaders of the Quraysh did before the advent of Islam.

Due to these reasons, the fact, that the Quraysh enjoyed the confidence of the general Muslims of Arabia and no other group which could challenge their position existed in Arabia, was an undisputable reality, which did not require the confirmation of a general election.

There is no doubt that as far as Medina was concerned, the Ansaar under Sa’ad Bin Abaadh and Saad Bin Muaaz the respective leaders of Aus and Khazraj, had more influence among the local population. They were no less than the Muhaajireen as regards the services they had done in the cause of Islam. They had offered their unconditional support and help to the Muhaajireen when the latter and migrated to Medina. Together with them they fought gallantly in the battles of badr, Uhad, Ahzaab and Hunain. The relationship of brotherhood and fraternity they had established with them was an exceptional one. Particularly, the way they had offered them monetary assistance---just to please the Almighty of course---bears no parallel in history. If the Islamic State had been confined only to Medina, it can be said with certainty that after the Prophet (sws) they would have assumed the political authority. But after the conquest of Mecca, when a large number of Arabs of other territories accepted Islam, the political scene change drastically. The extent of confidence commanded by the Muhahireen of Quraysh our-proportioned that of the Ansaar.

However, there was still a chance that under the perfectly natural emotions of tribal affiliation and the spirit of outdoing each other in serving Islam, they might have come out and challenged the Quraysh. Particularly, the fact that they commanded more influence locally in Medina might have caused them to put an undue trust in their strength. If such a situation, God forbid, arose the Munaafiqeen (hypocrites) would have certainly tried to benefit from it, and keeping in view the social conditions which prevailed at that time only a war could have settled their dissension.

Therefore, the Prophet (sws) sensing that this untoward situation might develop, decided once and for all the fate of this matter in his own life in the presence of Saad Bin Ubaadah, the leader of the Ansaar. He is said to have said: ‘After me the leadership (imaamat) shall be transferred to the Quraysh.’

In the Saqeefah of Bani Saaida when the leaders of Ansaar were delivering stirring speeches to prove their entitlement to the leadership (khilaafat) of the Arabs, Hadhrat Abu Bakr reminded them of the Prophet’s above mentioned decision in the following words:

“O Saad! You know very well that the Prophet (sws) had said in your presence that the Quraysh shall be given the khilaafat because the noble among the Arabs follow their nobles and the their unrighteous follow their unrighteous. Saad replied: What you say is correct, we are your advisers and you are our leaders.” (“Musnad Ahmad Bin Hambal”)

After this verification by Saad Bin Ubaadah it became clear to those present that they had strayed from the right course in the heat of the discussion and that the right course was only to elect their leader from the group which had the majority in the public, that whoever would be elected would be the khaleefah of the Muslims and it would be obligatory to obey him, that this course had been outlined by the Prophet (sws) himself and they should not in any case adopt a different one.

The khilaafat-i-Raashidah was also founded on the basis of this decision declared by the Prophet (sws). When the leaders of the Ansaar submitted to it, Hadhrat Umar proclaimed the khilaafat of Hadhrat Abu Bakr being sure of the fact that the leaders of the Quraysh shall not differ with him and in fact endorse his step, considering of the delicacy of the situation which had arisen in the Saqeefah. Later, he himself stated this reason for his step and warned the people that no one should dare present it as a violation of the Qur’ānic principle: amrahum shooraa bainahum:

“No one among you should have the misconception that the oath of allegiance to Abu Bakr took place suddenly. No doubt, this oath was pledged in the this way, but the Almighty protected the Muslims from its evil consequences [which may have arisen] and remember! There is none among you like Abu Bakr whose greatness cannot be surpassed. Now if a person pledges an oath of allegiance to someone, without the opinion of the believers, no one should pledge allegiance to him as well as to whom he [himself] pledged allegiance because by this both of them shall present themselves for execution.” (Bukhari, Kitaab-ul-Hudood)

At the time of the death of Abu Bakr also, the general confidence enjoyed by the Muhajireen of the Quraysh persisted. Since no other tribe of the Arabs including the Ansaar had challenged this position, they continued to hold their position of authority, and there was no need to turn to the general public in this regard. Therefore, the leaders of the Muhajireen of the Quraysh nominated Hadhrat Umar as the new Ameer-ul-Momineen, and both the Ansaar and Muhajireen---the two big tribes of the Muslims---accepted the appointment. Consequently, without any difference of opinion, Hadhrat Umar, in direct accordance with the Islamic constitution, assumed the position of khilaafat. Ibni Saad reports:

“When ill-health overtook Abu Bakr and the time of his death approached, he summoned Hadhrat Abdur Rehman Bin Auf and said: ‘Tell me about Umar Bin Khattaab’. Abdur Rehman replied: ‘You are asking me about something of which you know better’. Abu Bakr said: ‘Although [this is corrcet yet I want your opinion]’. Abdur Rehman answered: ‘By God! he is even better than the opinion you hold about him’. Then he [Abu Bakr] called Uthman Bin Affaan and asked him: ‘Tell me about Umar Bin Khattaab’. Hadhrat Uthman replied: ‘You know him better than us’. Abu Bakr said: ‘Still! O Abu Abdullah! [I want your opinion]’. [At this] Hadhrat Uthman answered: ‘Indeed, in my opinion his innerself is better than his outer and no one among us can parallel him.” (At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa, Vol 3, Pg 199)

Ibni Sa’ad mentions that Abu Bakr besides these two consulted all the big leaders of the Ansaar and Muhajireen:

“And he, besides these two, consulted Abul Awar Saeed Bin Zaid and Aseed Bin Al-Hudhair as well as other big leaders of the Ansaar and the Muhajireen, so Aseed said: ‘Indeed after you O Abu Bakr! I consider him the best. His inside is better than his outside. No one is more suited to bear the burden of this khilaafat’.” (“At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 199)

After this Ibni Saad reports that some people differed from Abu Bakr’s opinion but he satisfied them. He then called Hadhrat Uthman and said:

“Write: In the name of Allah the Most Gracious, the Ever Merciful. This is the will of Abu Bakr Bin Abee Qahaafa which he made at the end of his worldly life, when he is about to leave it and at the beginning of his next life when he is about to enter it, at a time when disbelievers accept faith, the wicked express belief and liars speak the truth. I make Umar Bin Khattaab your khaleefah. Therefore, listen and obey him.” (“At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 200)

This letter was sealed. According to Hadhrat Abu Bakr’s directive, Umar Bin Khattaab and Aseed Bin Saeed accompanied Hadhrat Uthman while he took the letter out to the people and said:

“Will you pledge allegiance to the person in whose favour a will has been made in this letter. The people said: Yes.” (“At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 200)

Ibni Saad reports:

“All accepted and agreed to pledge allegiance to Hadhrat Umar. Then Abu Bakr called Umar in solitude and gave him whatever advice he wanted to.” (“At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 200)

When Hadhrat Umar was severely wounded and his death looked imminent the political situation was still unchanged. The Muhajireen of Quraysh still enjoyed the majority mandate of the Muslims. Therefore, according to the Islamic constitution only an election of a leader by the majority group was required. The people who held responsible positions asked Hadhrat Umar, as reported by Ibni Saad:

“Will you not leave a will for us? Will you not appoint khaleefah for us? (“At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 343)

Hadhrat Umar, however, adopted another way: Instead of appointing a khaleefah by consulting the shooraa members as done by Hadhrat Abu Bakr, he entrusted the matter to six big leaders:

“I have deliberated on the matter of Imaamat-i-Aamah (khilaafat) and have reached the conclusion, that there is no difference among the people in this affair as far as it is one of you. If there is any difference, it is within you.1 Therefore, this matter is entrusted to the six of you---Abdur Rehman, Uthman, Ali, Zubair, Talha and Saad.” (“At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 344)

He further said:

“Rise, and make anyone amongst yourselves as the Ameer.” (“At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 344)

However, since there was a chance that some miscreants might create disorder or that these six might prolong matters, Hadhrat Umar appointed Ansaar as the custodians over the six because, being a majority group, they were not a party to the whole affair2. Ibni Saad narrates through Ans Bin Malik:

“Umer Bin Khattaab just before his death summoned Abu Talha Ansaari. When he arrived Hadhrat Umar said: Abu Talha take fifty men from your tribe Ansaar and go ye to these people of the shooraa. I reckon they will be gathered at the house of someone amongst themselves. Stand at their dooe with your comrades and let no one go inside and do not give them more than three days for electing a leader.” (“At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 364)

Ibni Saad reports that when all of them had assembled, Abdul Rehman Bin Auf opined that three of them should withdraw themselves in favour of three others. Consequently, Zubair withdrew in favour of Uthman and Abdur Rehman Bin Auf respectively. Then he asked Uthman and Ali to give him the right to decide: When both agreed, he said to Ali:

“You have the honour of being among the earliest who accepted Islam as well as being a relation of the Prophet of Allah. By God! If you are entrusted with khilaafat promise that you will rule with justice and if Uthman is made the khaleefah you shall listen and obey him.” (“At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 339)

After Hadhrat Ali agreed he turned to Hadhrat Uthman and repeated what he had said; When both showed their assent he said:

“O Uthman! extend your hand!” when he did Hadhrat Ali and others pledged their oath of allegiance.” (At-Tabaqaat-ul-Kubraa”, Vol 3, Pg 339)

There can be two opinions about the khilaafat of Hadhrat Ali. This difference however, is not about any basic principle, but in the fact that whether the Muhaajireen of Quraysh elected their leader with freedom or were they forced to do so. This discussion is irrelevant to our topic. Therefore, even if it is left out the fact remains that throughout the period of the Rightly Guided Caliphate power remained with those who commanded the majority support of the Muslims ie the Muhaajireen of Quraysh and that their prominent leaders elected the Ameer. This also is a reality that all the four Caliphs were elected basically by the same principle. They were elected from the leaders of the majority group and all the leaders of the other groups were also consulted in this election. The only difference is that when they agreed on Hadhrat Umar, Hadhrat Abu Bakr himself enforced this decision and Hadhrat Umar, when he found that their difference was about six big leaders, entrusted the responsibility of electing one from among the six on the six person themselves. From this discussion it is evident that:

(1) In an Islamic state the existence of political parties is perfectly legal and in fact they are an important constituent of its political system.

(2) I today elections are held to ascertain which party enjoys general support, then it will be totally in accordance with Islam.

(3) The president of an Islamic State should not be elected directly by the general masses, instead his election should take place in the parliament through their representatives (the dignatories of the society).

Translated from Ghamidi’s “Meezaan”)


1. ie since the people only look upon you for khilaafat, therefore, if you agree to accept anyone among you as khaleefah, they shall not differ with your decision.

2.s Hadhrat Umar had said: Call the leaders of Ansaar to you, but they have no share in your imaarat.” (“Al-Imaamah Wassiyaasah”, Ibni Qutaiba, Pg 28)


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