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Basic Obligations of an Islamic State
Political Issues
Moiz Amjad
(Tr. by:Sadia Saleem)


Whenever a state comes into existence in this world it is among its obligations to maintain peace within its territory, to negotiate all foreign threats, to defend its frontiers and to work for the welfare and benefit of its people. The question is that when an Islamic State is established does it have any additional obligations to fulfill in the light of the Quran and Sunnah? In this article, we shall attempt to answer this question.

There is no doubt that all the above mentioned obligations of an ordinary state play an important role in an Islamic state also. As the name itself suggests an Islamic state has its specific standpoint on the philosophy of a community living on Islamic principles. The religion of Islam is a way of life in which man learns to form a relationship between his God and his fellow human beings in the right perspectives.  Therefore, the basic obligation of an Islamic State should be to set up a system within it which enables its citizens to establish a true relationship with their Creator and with their fellow human beings.

According to the dictates of sense and reason, all divine scriptures as well as the Quran and Sunnah, the greatest obligation we have towards God is that we should never associate anyone else in His Being, Attributes and Rights. If we do so, then this what is called Shirk (polytheism). The Quran calls it zulmun `azeem. On the other hand, if the relationship between a person and other fellow human beings is to be established on correct lines, then it is necessary that all their rights be fulfilled and all affairs between them be carried out with justice and fairness.

The Quran, therefore, while mentioning the obligations of an Islamic State says:

"[These believers are those who], if We grant them authority in this land, will establish regular prayers and pay zakat and enjoin what is virtuous and forbid what is evil." (22:41)

Four obligations have been mentioned in this verse. We shall elaborate on each one of them.

I.   Establishment of Regular Prayers

On studying the Quran, it is quite clear that just as Tauheed is the basic belief in Islam, in the same way Salaat (prayers) is the basic deed which a person must do. A student of the Quran knows very well that Prayers encompasses the whole edifice of religion.

In the verse under consideration, establishing regular prayer has been ordered at the state level. In other words, here `establishing prayers' refers to that system which the Holy Prophet (sws) set up in Medina as the head of state and after him the four pious Caliphs, in particular, followed. The main points of this system are:

1. The people must stand committed to the fact that if they are Muslims then they should appear in the mosques at prayer times as a proof of their faith.

2. Mosques must be managed and supervised by the government and the government only must appoint Imams for them.

3. The address of the Friday prayers must be delivered only by the head of state and only he must lead these prayers in the central Jami-i-Masjid of the capital. The provincial governors must be entrusted with this job in the central Jami`-i-Masjids of the provinces, while the representatives of the government must perform this duty in the Jami`-i-Masjids of the various administrative units.

It should be kept in mind here that salaat (prayers) occupies primary importance in a person's relationship with the Almighty. Consequently, if the system of a state is conscious of this fact, hopefully all other requirements of Islam shall be carried out by the people. If on the other hand, a state is indifferent to this primary obligation, there is all the probability that it shall be indifferent to other directives of Islam as well.

II.   Payment of Zakat

Just as salaat occupies the primary position in establishing a relationship between man and his Creator, zakat occupies the fundamental poistion in establishing a sound relationship between man and other human beings of his society. Therefore, in the afore mentioned verse the second obligation which must be fulfilled by an Islamic State is that it should implement that system of zakat at the State level which was preached by the Prophet (sws) and which was enforced at Medina to help the poor and needy and to fulfill the financial requirements of the state.

III.. To Enjoin what is Good

The third obligation of an Islamic state as laid out by the verse quoted above is that it should do all that it can to propagate, patronize and implement all that is good. By `good' (ma`roof) is meant all that which is considered pious in the light of the Shariah and our intellect. It should remain quite clear that where the state has the right to propagate what is good, it also has all the authority to implement it keeping in view the dictates of the Shariah and the welfare of the Muslims in general.

IV.  To Forbid what is Evil

In the verse under discussion, the fourth obligation set for an Islamic state by the Quran is that it should take sterps to curb and root out the evil from the society. `Evil' means all that which is disapproved by the Shariah and which is abhorrent to human nature. The state has all the authority to forcibly stop people from committing evil if need be.


Just as a state has a police department to maintain internal peace and an army to ward off external threats, in the same way the Quran has orderd Muslims to set up an institution which should invite people to enjoin what is good and forbid what is evil. This institution  should have legal authority bestowed on it by the Parliament. The Quran says:

"You are the best Ummah that has been raised up for mankind [to bear witness to the religion of truth upon them]. You enjoin what is virtuous and forbid what is evil and really believe in God." (3:110)

Therefore, it should be declared in an Islamic State that the establishment of Tauheed, eradication of shirk, enforcement of salaat and zakat, popularization of good deeds and elimination of bad ones are the basic obligations of an Islamic State and they should be given due consideration by the rulers of the state.

(Adapted Moiz Amjad's Commentary on Ghamidi's "Manshoor")

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