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Our Political System
Political Issues
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

Let us next analyze our political system1. The intellectuals of our society generally regard democracy as the ideal political system. A vast majority of our religious and political leaders, scholars, writers and journalists have been, as a mission, striving for the establishment of a democratic order since the very birth of our country. Irrespective of the conventional connotation of democracy, if we analyze it as a system in which the affairs of state are run by the elected representatives of the people, who conduct these affairs through the consultation and approval of the people, remain in power as long as they enjoy the general support, then it can be safely said that by adding another specification to the above criteria, the resulting political system---aristocracy---is the one envisaged by Islam. The added qualification is that the characters of the ool-ul-amr must conform to certain standards, moral as well as mental. They should not only be pious and practising Muslims, but should also possess an acute sense of administrative affairs and a natural inclination towards politics.

Keeping in view linguistic considerations, it is evident from the Qur’ānic injunction: ‘The affairs of state of the believers are run by their mutual consultation’ (42:38) that a concensus or majority opinion of the Muslims can in no way be overruled. The Qur’ān has not said: ‘The believers are consulted in their affairs’, it has, on the contrary declared: ‘Their affairs of state are run by their mutual consultation’.

The style and pattern of the verse demands that an Islamic government should be established through the consultation of the believers, continue to exist on this basis and should cease to exist without it. It should conduct all its affairs, in all cases, on the basis of a concensus or majority opinion of the believers.

In compliance with the above Qur’ānic injunction, the  Sunnah decreed by the Prophet (pbuh) is based on two principles: Firstly, Muslims shall be consulted in the affairs of state through their leaders in whom they profess confidence. Secondly, among the various parties or groups present in an Islamic state, only that party shall assume its political authority which enjoys the confidence of the majority.

It is evident from the above two principles that the real essence of democracy definitely exists in an Islamic Political System, however, there are certain evils present in the prevailing system of democracy, which are contrary to the teachings of Islam.

The first evil in this system is that in the state affairs, it bestows the final authority on the masses. On the contrary, the basic principle on which Islam has based its political law is that in the affairs of state God and his Prophet (pbuh) are the final authority. The head of an Islamic state and even the members of the parliament have no right whatsoever to have a ruling in matters decreed by the Qur’ān and Sunnah. The believers have a right to disagree with those in authority and indeed also have the right to ascertain the real purports of Shariah and discuss how to carry out the directives of the Qur’ān and Sunnah, but they can have no disagreement with God and His Prophet. In fact, if such a situation arises even with those in authority the decision must be made in the light of the Qur’ān and Sunnah: ‘If you disagree among yourselves in any matter, refer it to God and the Prophet’ (4: 59).

The second evil is that greed for an office in the government has become so desirable a trait that even the pious feel no aversion to this. It has now become a tradition for people to come forward and present their names for various posts, go about proclaiming their qualities and services in streets and employ other means, which are now considered an essential part of this show, to allure the public. In Islamic ethics, this shameless attitude is not permissible at all. The Prophet is said to have said:

“Do not seek a post. If it is granted to you because of your desire you shall [find yourself being] handed over to it and if it is granted to you without your desire, the Almighty shall help you.” (Muslim, Kitaab-ul-Imaarah)

The third evil is that a general acknowledgement is given to the fact the people should vote for whatever is in the party’s interest, even if their conscience considers it against all norms of truth. Quite evidently, this attitude cannot be tolerated in a religion which says that the whole Muslim Ummah was instituted to bear witness to the truth and whose followers pledged a covenant at the hands of the Prophet (pbuh) that they would always say what is right disregarding ‘the reproaches of a reproacher’ in this regard.

The fourth evil is that money has become the decisive factor in the election campaigns that take place in this system. Therefore, only the people who are able to spend lavishly in these campaigns, however little they might know about Islam, however much they lack in wisdom and intellect and however low they may be in character, reach the parliament. Islam on the contrary, as every one knows, stresses that only the people who are pious and noble, worthy and competent should assume political authority. It totally disapproves that money should rule the realm of politics instead of intellect and morality.

These are the evils which plague a democratic order. In their presence everything but Islam can be enforced in the country. The whole set-up must be reformed and rehablitated to achieve the supremacy of Islam. The following steps, in our consideration, must be taken:

1. It should be very clearly written down in the constitution of our country, that the Qur’ān and Sunnah shall be the Supreme law of the state to which our parliament and constitution itself must submit.

2. For the interpretation of the Qur’ān and Sunnah a committee of competant religious scholars should be instituted by an electoral mandate of the parliament. This committee would be entrusted with the task of ascertaining the implications and purport of the Qur’ān and Sunnah in the collective affairs of life. It would also be assigned to formulate the rules for legislation, and to determine the limits beyond which we as Muslims can never exceed. After this the actual task of legislation should be done by the parliament itself keeping in view these ascertained implications, rules and limits. The following two principles should be clearly spelled out in the basic code of this committee:

Firstly, all differences of opinion shall be resolved by a majority vote. Anyone, within or outside the committee, who disagrees with its final verdict will have all the freedom to rationally express his views, wherever he likes and in whatever form he chooses. However, any protest, evasion or refusal to obey it would be considered a criminal offense.

Secondly, the content of Islam is only that which is endorsed by the Qur’ān and Sunnah, which also incidentally, are the only two sources of it. Whoever considers this to be so, shall only be considered eligible for this committee.

3. The affairs of the state should be run by the consultation of only those, who establish regular prayers, and if eligible, pay zakat to the Bait-ul-Maal, and the only basis of their appointment in the Shurah (parliament) should be their wisdom and piety, intellect and sagacity which distinguish them from others.

4. Those in authority (the ool-ul-amr) should be obligated to maintain their standard of living equal to that of a common man, and to always keep their doors open to the general masses.

5. In the general elections the mode of proportionate representation should be adopted, so that instead of an individual, a party presents itself to take charge over the affairs of the state, and as a result of which the parties, on the basis of the trust and support bestowed upon them by the public, are able to nominate their pious and competent members for the parliament.

6. In the parliament the tradition should be established, that instead of the party members voting only for their own party, they should vote for what they consider as right, abide by it and, infact, take pride in it. Also, no one should be allowed to forcibly convince them against something which they consider as correct.

7. After the general elections the process of transfer of power to the newly elected representatives should be delayed by at least six months. During this interim period, all the members of the parliament should undergo training in political affairs in an academy specifically instituted for this purpose, just as in the present set up those selected for the civil services are given a training in administrative affairs for nine to ten months before they actually take charge of their duties.

(Adapted from Ghamidi’s “Burhaan”)





1. This article is part of a major article which presents our recommendations to the government for the enforcement of the Shariah in Pakistan. (Editors)

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