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The Islamic Political Law (5)
Political Issues
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Rights of A Citizen

While explaining the implications of the verse ‘the affairs of state of the believers are run by their mutual consultation’ (42:35), we have already stated that only those who accept Islam as their religion, establish regular prayers and pay zakat have the right to constitute and run the affairs of an Islamic State.

Quite obviously, in an Islamic State, this right should only be granted to those who acknowledge Islam as their religion, but as far as every other civic right is concerned, all the citizens of a state, whether Muslim or non-Muslim, are equal. The Qur’ān says:

“God commands you to hand back trusts to their rightful owners and to always pass judgement with fairness. Verily, this is from God an excellent admonition. For God is He who hears and sees all things.”(4:58)

In the above verse, the word amaanaat (trusts) has been used in a very broad sense. Included in its connotations are all the responsibilities which relate to the Almighty and his own fellow-beings, whether they are individual or collective in nature, whether they pertain to monetary affairs or political agreements and whether they are about war or peace. The verse directs all the believers to soundly fulfil the reponsibilities entrusted to them and justly decide all matters.

According to all norms of reason and common sense, the rights of citizenship also come under these responsibilities. Therefore, they also, like all other responsibilities, should be properly carried out and all judgements concerning them should be passed with justice.

These rights of citizenship are as follows:.

(1) The state should protect the life, wealth and honour of every citizen such that no one whatsoever is able to lay hands over them. Ibni Abbaas has reported the following words of the Prophet (sws):

“Your life, wealth and honour have the same sanctity for one another as the sanctity of this day of Haj.” (Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal)

2. The private property of every person which he legally owns should be safeguarded except if the government decides to take over it to fulfil some collective need or because it is causing a disorder in an economic venture. In both these cases it will pay a reasonable compensation to its owner. The Prophet (sws) is said to have said:

“I have been ordained to fight with these people until they testify to laa ilaaha illalaah, establish regular prayers and pay zakat. If they accept these conditions, their lives and wealth shall be given protection except if they are deprived of this protection on the grounds of some offense they may commit. As far as their account is concerned, it rests with Allah.” (Muslim, Kitaab-ul-Imaan)

3. Even in extraordinary circumstances the personal freedom of a citizen must not be curtailed totally or partially, until after an open hearing a court pronounces a verdict against him after he is given a chance to plead. The Prophet (sws) is said to have said:

“When the rich start finding excuses to blame people, then this [attitude creates an atmosphere of mistrust in them and ultimately] spoils them.” (Abu Daud, Kitaab-ul-Adab)

4. The state must not interfere in the faith, beliefs and thoughts of a citizen who obeys its laws. It can only reform him through education and preaching. The Qur’ān says:

“There is no compulsion in religion. [Because the right path] is now distinct from the wrong.” (2:256)

5. Every citizen rich or poor, high or low, strong or weak must be considered equal in the eyes of the law and no discrimination in this regard must be tolerated. The following words of the Prophet (sws) have been reported in the “Saheeh” of Imam Bukhari:

“People before you were destroyed because they punished the weak and acquitted the strong. By the Lord! in whose hands is my life even if Faatimah [my daughter] had committed this crime, I would have cut her hand off.” (Kitaab-ul-Hudood)

6. The state must grant each citizen the same social status irrespective of his colour, creed and rank which are given importance only in ‘uncivilized’ societies. The Qur’ān says:

“O mankind! We created you from a male and a female and divided you into nations and tribes that you may know one another. Verily, the most noblest of you in the sight of Allah is the one who fears Him the most.” (49:13)

The Prophet (sws) has explained this Qur’ānic directive in the following words:

“People! Listen! An Arab has no superiority over a non-Arab, nor does a non-Arab over an Arab. And a white is not superior to a black and a black to a white. Only piety should be the basis of superiority for a person.” (Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal)

7. Every citizen must be provided with free and unbiased justice and the whole machinery of the state should strive to redress the grievances of a victim to an extent that he himself acknowledges that his calls have been heard. The Prophet (sws) is said to have said:

“A person who was entrusted with the responsibility of a nation by the Almighty and he did not become its well- wisher, then he shall be kept away from paradise.” (Bukhari, Kitaab-ul-Ahkaam)

8. The state must not burden a citizen beyond his capacity. It must only burden him with a responsibility which he can bear and fulfil. In this regard, human emotions and weaknesses should be fully taken into consideration. Abdullah Bin Umar reports:

“We used to pledge a covenant of sam’u taa’at [to listen and to obey]; the Prophet (sws) would remark: you should say like this: as far as I am able to.” (Muslim, Kitab-ul-Imaarah)

9. Every citizen must be given the surety that, in any circumstances, he shall not be given an order which is against the directives of the Qur’ān and Sunnah. The Prophet (sws) has clearly said:

“It is the duty of every Muslim to listen and obey the administrators [of the state] whether he likes it or not, except if he is commanded to do [something] against the Qur’ān and Sunnah. If commanded to do so, he should neither listen nor obey.” (Bukhari, Kitaab-ul-Ahkaam)

10. The doors of the ool-ul-amr must always remain open without any restriction for the general public, so that at any time and place they are able to reach them to present their grievances and petitions, and are able to criticize them and freely call them to account. The Prophet (sws) is said to have said:

“A ruler who closes his doors on the poor and the needy, (then he should know that) the Almighty shall close the doors of the heavens on his needs, indigence and poverty.” (Tirmazee, Kitaab-ul-Ahkaam)

11. The state must secure for every needy citizen his right about which the Qur’ān says:

“In the wealth of the believers there is a fixed share for the suppliant and the deprived.” (70:24-5)

The state must provide food, clothing, shelter, education, health facilities and all such basic necessaties to every needy citizen in a manner that these things should  never become a source of worry for him. The Prophet (sws) has said:

“If a person, whom God entrusted with the state affairs of the Muslims [became indifferent] to their needs, requirements and poverty hiding [behind walls], then he should know that] the Almighty shall hide from his eyes, remaining indifferent to his needs, requirements and poverty.” (Abu Daud, Kitaab-ul-Imaarah)

The Prophet (sws) has also said:

“Anyone who left behind responsibilities [not yet fulfilled], I shall fulfil them and the heirs of a person  shall receive the wealth he has left behind. The person who has no heirs, I am his heir. I shall pay Deeyat on his behalf and receive his inheritance.” (Abu Daud, Kitaab-ul-Faraaidh)

Duties of a Citizen

Like these rights, there are certain duties of a citizen also which are stated in the Qur’ān and Hadith:

His first duty is obediance to the state. In the Islamic Political Law it is termed as sam’u taa’t. The Prophet (sws) has explained unequivocally that if the ool-ul-amr direct him to do something which is not contrary to the Qur’ān and Sunnah then it is his duty to obey whether he likes it or not and whether it is difficult or easy for him. It is, therefore, precisely for this purpose that people are required to pledge an oath of allegiance to the Ameer ( head of the state) after he has been elected:

“It is your duty to listen and obey your rulers whether you are in a difficulty or at ease, whether willingly or unwillingly and even when you do not receive what is your right.” (Muslim, Kitaab-ul-Imaarah).

The above directive of the Prophet (sws) is obviously based on the Qur’ānic verse: ‘Obey Allah and the Prophet and those in authority among you’ (4:54).

His second duty is that he must, in all circumstances, remain loyal and faithful to the state. The Prophet (sws) has used the word nush for this, as reported by Abu Hurairah:

“The Almighty has approved three things for you and disapproved three. The three things he approves are: you should worship Him without associating others with Him and hold fast to the cable of Allah and show nus-h to your ool-ul-amr.” (Musnad Ahmad Bin Hanbal)

This is actually based on the Qur’ānic verse: ‘...When they are faithful to Allah and His Prophet’ (9:91). Nus-h means that a person is a sincere well-wisher of his state. This sincerity demands, firstly, that he should not intentionally do something which is harmful in any way for the state, he should honestly serve the state and if it at anytime he is consulted, he should say only what he considers correct. Secondly, he should always keep a watchful eye on the state and its machinery that they should not deviate from the path prescribed by Allah and His Prophet (sws). Whenever he sees the ool-ul-amr doing something ungainly or deviating from the right path, he should do all he can to stop them. One of the qualities of the believers which has been mentioned in the Qur’ān is that they enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong. We quote Sūrah Taubah:

“They [are the ones who] enjoin what is right and forbid what is wrong and observe the limits set by Allah.” (9:112)

In this regard the Prophet (sws) has said:

“Not many days will pass when those people will rule over you in whose hands will be your livelihood. Whenever they will say anything to you, it will be a lie and whatever they will do, it will be wrong. They will not be happy with you until you praise their evil deeds and affirm their lies. At that time you should say what is right until they tolerate it, and if they exceed from this, then whoever is executed on this basis, he is a martyr.” (“Kanz-ul-Ummaal”, Vol 6, Pg 297)

Similarly, the Prophet (sws) has also said:

“The greatest Jihaad is to say what is just infront of a cruel ruler.” (Abu Daud, Kitaab-ul-Malaahim)

The third duty of a citizen of an Islamic state is that he should co-operate with the state. The ultimate form of this co-operation is that he should put his life and wealth at stake when it appeals for their help in certain situations like an enemy invasion or efforts to achieve the supremacy of Islam. We quote from the Qur’ān:

“They inquire from you that how much should they spend [for this purpose]. Say: whatever is left over [after your needs have been fulfilled].” (2:19)

According to Sūrah Taubah:

“Say: if your fathers and your sons and your brothers and your wives and your kindred and the wealth that you have acquired and your trade in which you fear a slump and the dwellings you like, are dearer to you than Allah, His Prophet and Jihad in His cause, then wait until the Almighty brings about His decree and Allah never guides the evil-doers.” (9:24)


This is the political law stated in the Qur’ān and Hadith for an Islamic state. If our learned scholars study what others have written on the subject they shall certainly come to now the difference we have with them in some of its clauses.

(Translated from Ghamidi’s “Meezaan”)


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