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Standard of Living of those in Authority
Political Issues
Moiz Amjad
(Tr. by:Sadia Saleem)


In order to inculate good qualities in a individual, help is usually sought from the law. It is possible that some change in the inclinations and behaviour of the people might be brought about if the law enforcing agencies are steadfast in their work and do their job sincerely. However, everyone knows that no complete and permanent change can take place by the sole implementation of the law. In the recent history of our country, many instances can be pointed out in which the law was used to alter the conduct of the people but it became evident in a short time that the only result was the addition of a few clauses in the books of law.

In our opinion, the most affective way to bring a moral change in a people is to persuade and influence them in favour of a particular ideology. Although this procedure can tax one's patience because the process is very slow, the fact is that the change produced is a lasting one This is the reason why Islam starts by persuasion and counseling and then implements the law. This most successful strategy which can be adopted in this regard is that the ruling class of our country should become exemplary figures as far as their moral character and conduct are concerned. In other words, leading by example has the most potent influence on the lives of the people. Societies which have adopted this procedure have shown remarkable progress, while those which ignored this strategy have achieved very little success. It is precisely this reason that Islam has stressed on the rulers of an Islamic State of become an epitome of all the qualities and attitudes it wants to develop in the people. At the social level, simplicity, fertility, and contentment are very essential. It is obvious that if a high standard of living and luxury become rampant in society, values are ruined and money becomes the only merit left. Everyone becomes so involved in making money that faith and morality become insignificant. Therefore, when the Islamic State was founded in Medina the Prophet (sws) declared that the standard of living of those charged with authority be close to that of a common man so that such noble as simplicity and contentment become popular in this society. The Rightly Guided Caliphs continued to follow this Prophetic Sunnah and the society became as exemplary as its ruler if not more.

When Hazrat Umar (rta) was elected the Caliph, Hazrat Ali (rta) gave him the following advice: `If you wish to be worthy of your predecessor's position, wear a shirt with patches, keep your dhoti above your ankles (as the poor do), mend your shoes yourself, sew patches on your socks, have few desires and eat less than your appetite.’

It was the same Umar bin Khattab in whose rule the vast empires of Rome and Persia were conquered and the Islamic state expanded to far-off territories. However, inspite of this unprecedented expansion, when he set out from Medina to sign a treaty with the inhabitants of one of his conquered area (Palestine), all the had with him was a bag of barley grains, a wooden cup, a servant and a camel for travelling. When the Palestinians came to greet him, he had to ask one of the priests to rent him an extra suit so that he could wash the only one he had.

In following this Sunnah of the Holy Prophet Umar bin Abdul Aziz (rta), who had been brought up surrounded by silks and brocade, began wearing a woven mat when he became the head of State and gave all his wife's jewelry to the public exchequer.

In one of Abu Daud's Ahadeeth the Prophet (sws) gave the representatives of the government the following advice: `If a person who is our (government's servant is unmarried, he can marry; if he does not have a helper, he can keep one; if he does not have a house, he can have one [from the state treasury]. A person who crosses these limits is a thief and a cheat.' (Abu Daud: Kitab-ul-Kharaaj)

This is the standard of living which Muslim rulers must adopt if they are seriously interested in reforming their society. Without this attitude, sentimental speeches and lofty claims can be made before the public but no sound change can be brought about in society.

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