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Methodology for an Islamic Revolution
Political Issues
Javed Ahmad Ghamidi
(Tr. by:Dr. Shehzad Saleem)

In the history of human civilization, there have remained only four ways for a particular ideology or movement to attain the position of political supremacy in a country:

Firstly, the exponents of the ideology seize power through an armed struggle.

Secondly, the supporters of the ideology are made to turn against the existing government in the form of a popular uprising and the government, as a result, is forced to withdraw.

Thirdly, the process of elected representation is used by them to attain this goal.

Fourthly, those in authority in a country after being influenced by the ideology and impressed by its philosophy accept and adopt it.

The first two methodologies, in Islamic terminology, are called khuruj (revolt against the government). Since Islam stress es that the life of a person can only be taken when he is guilty of either murdering another person or of spreading disorder in the society and since it lays emphasis on the fact that no amount of disruption can be allowed in the political set-up of a country even if it is plagued by numerous flaws and since it asserts that a person even if he is of the calibre of Hadhrat Abu Bakr or Umar cannot assume political authority if he does not enjoy the support of the masses, therefore, it only allows the first two methods ---allows and not considers them obligatory or desirable in any condition--- when the following three conditions are necessarily fulfilled:

Firstly, the government should be guilty of openly denying the shari’ah in any way.

Secondly, the government should be a despotic one, which neither came into existence through the opinion of the people nor is it possible to change it through their opinion.

Thirdly, the person who leads this uprising should have a clear cut majority of the nation at his back and they are willing to accept him as their future ruler in favour of the existing one.

The reason for the first condition is that as long as the rulers of the Muslims are from among them and in settling any difference of opinion are not rejecting the verdict of Allah and His Prophet (sws), it is imperative for the believers to obey them. No one among the believers should adopt a different attitude. The Qur’an says:

"Obey Allah and the Prophet and those among you who are in authority, and if you disagree among yourselves in any matter, refer it to Allah and the Prophet." (4:59)

While explaining this Qur’anic directive, the Prophet (sws) said:

"You can only refuse their submission if you witness outright kufr in any matter from them, in which you have a clear evidence from God." (Muslim, Kitab-ul-Imarah)

Similarly, on another occasion, he remarked:

"It is imperative on the believers to obey their rulers whether they like them or not except when they are ordered to do something against the shari’ah. If they are commanded so, they should neither hear nor obey this command." (Muslim, Kitab-ul-Imarah)

The reason for the second condition is that if the principle of amruhum shura bainahum1, which governs the formation and removal of a government, is fully implemented in a system and the government has come into being on its basis and can be changed according to it, then changing it by a revolt amounts to a violation of this principle; consequently, it is tantamount to revolt against the masses and not the government. This, according to the shariah, is spreading disorder in the land and is punishable by death in the most exemplary manner. The Prophet (sws) is said to have said:

"If your majority consent to the authority of your ruler and someone tries to disrupt or dismantle this system, execute him." (Muslim, Kitab-ul-Imarah)

The reason for the third condition is that since according to the Qur’anic principle of amruhum shuraa bainahum a government comes into being due to a majority mandate and remains in existence on this basis, therefore, only that person has the right to revolt about whom it can be safely said that the majority of the nation is with him and is willing to accept his leadership instead of the existing ruler. Hadhrat ‘Umar Farooq, while he was once delivering a speech, remarked:

"If a person pledges an oath of allegiance to someone without the opinion of the believers, both of them shall have to face execution." (Bukhari, Kitab-ul-Hudud)

It is clear from the foregoing discussion that in the existing democratic set-up of Pakistan both these methodologies cannot be adopted according to the Shari’ah. Consequently, those who are trying to topple the government through an armed struggle or by adopting the method of "nahi `anil munkar bil yad" (forcibly eliminating evil) are doing something which is against the Shari’ah.

The greatest exponent of an Islamic revolution in present times, Maulana Abul Alaa Maududi, while he was addressing his workers in a historic session at Machi Goth, said:

"While living in a constitutionally democratic state, the shari’ah does not allow you to adopt any unconstitutional means to change a government. Precisely, because of this reason the constitution of your party binds you to adopt constitutional and democratic means for the envisaged change." ("Tehrik-i-Islami Ka Aaainadah Laaiha-i-Amal", Pg 205)

As far as the third method, ie assuming the reins of power through the process of elected representation, is concerned, the shari’ah does not object to it. However, a little deliberation shows that keeping in view its nature, there are three pre-requisites to it:

Firstly, such a struggle should be led by a person who is actually a politician and possess the qualities of leadership. People like Allama Iqbal, Maulana Abul Kalam Azad and Maulana Abul Alaa Maudoodi who are basically scholars and thinkers should not lead such an endeavour. People like Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Maulana Muhammad Ali Jauhar and Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who have a natural inclination towards statesmanship are the suitable leaders of such enterprises. No doubt, if such people lead the struggle for an Islamic revolution in the field of politics, extraordinary results can be achieved, but if researchers and scholars tread this path, all their efforts would inevitably end up in vain.

Secondly, if, for this purpose, a set-up is formed, it should be a political party like the Muslim League or the People's Party. The party should regard the bringing about of an Islamic revolution as its object and should try to win over people in its ranks who possess a political position and as such can become natural supporters of this movement. Religious parties are neither appropriate for this struggle nor will they ever be. The are destined to suffer successive set backs and to eventually lose their identity.

Thirdly, whatever strategy is adopted during the elections, it should be based on capitalizing on the existing position of political affiliation of the masses. Elections are not contested for the propagation of one's ideological views or as an introduction for the party; they are only contested to benefit from the realities which exist and they are contested for victory. In such matters, remaining indifferent to victory or defeat is against human nature, and nothing against nature can persist in this world for long.

These are the pre-requisites of this methodology. If a movement or a party does not fulfil them, its fate will be no different from that of "The Jammat-i-Islami" whose struggle spans more than five decades. Consequently, it is apparent to every keen eye that the Jama`at's quest for success in this struggle has:

--- almost totally deprived it of its ideological identity, its goal of reforming the Muslims and its zeal of disseminating the truth.

--- transferred the leadership within the various levels of the party from scholars and intellectuals to people who are not only devoid of these abilities but are also politically ineffective. Consequently, an atmosphere of gloom prevails at its various frontiers.

--- gone a long way in eliminating the integrity and nobility its ranks once possessed and whatever little remains of them seems to perish soon.

It is, therefore, certain that this methodology is appropriate for a scholar or an intellectual only if his message has influenced the masses so much and they agree to his leadership to such an extent that elections merely become for him merely a constitutional need for a political change, and whenever he intends he can obtain the public mandate in his favour through them.

The fourth method, ie to preach, educate and influence people in favour of an ideology has though become an alien concept, yet for this object it is the most congenial to the shari’ah and can produce the most desired results. All the Prophets of Allah adopted it. In every period of time, whenever they were sent to their people, they vigilantly stuck to this methodology. True that many a time was their message rejected, they were exiled from their territories and many a time they were even killed, but they never changed this modus operandi. The Almighty always bade them to remain steadfast on this cause for this is their real duty. They have to reform and educate the society. They are not to force ideas and concepts on their people.

Consequently, it is a historical fact that whenever the Prophets have been able to bring about a revolution, it has been through this methodology. It is through this way that the mission of the Prophet Moses (sws) was accomplished and it is by adopting this course that the rulers of the Prophet Jonah's nation accepted faith. Above all, the first Islamic state was founded in Medinah by the Prophet Muhammad (sws) by working on these lines.

It is known that the chiefs of Mecca did not respond to the Prophet (sws) in almost eleven years of his preaching. The Prophet (sws), on the Almighty's bidding, then presented his message to other tribes. Consequently, a few people of Medinah accepted faith and through their efforts of propagation and preaching, within a short period of two years, the whole leadership of Medinah was subdued by the call of this faith. The last pledge at Aqbah decided that the Prophet (sws) could migrate to Medinah as its leader whenever he wanted. On this occasion, one of the Companions of the Prophet (sws) composed the following couplets:

Thawaa fee Quraishin bidh`a `asharata hijjatan
Yuzakkiru, lau yalqaa sadeeqan muvaatiyan

("For more than ten years you delivered the truth to the Quraish expecting that they you would win over some companions and supporters [from their rulers.")

Wa yu`ridhu fee ahlil mavaasimi nafsahu
Fa lam yara man yu'vee wa lam yara daa`iyan

("And you presented yourself on the occasions of Haj to people but you did not find anyone who was willing to give you refuge nor could you find anyone who could help you in your mission of delivering the truth.")

Falamma ataanaa azharallaahu deenahu
Fa asbaha masrooran bitaibata raadhian

("But, after this, when you came to us, the Almighty gave supremacy to His religion. Consequently, you became pleased and happy with this city of Taibah.")

If someone from among the political scene of our country intends to launch a struggle in order to bring about an Islamic revolution, he would indeed, be advised to adopt the methodology of elected representation, but this fourth methodology is the only proper way for scholars and intellectuals. It is about them that the Prophet (sws) is reported to have said: `They are the heirs' of ambiah' (Abu Daud, Kitab-ul-Ilm). Consequently, whenever they shall deviate from this path, they shall deviate from their legacy. The only result of this would be that by becoming the political rivals of various other parties, they will lose their original and real identity. In fact, the ulema and scholars have no option in this regard; the Qur’an explicitly tells them that it is only through dawah education and exhortation should they convince the rulers about the changes which, according to Islam, should be brought about in the individual and collective spheres of our lives. The Qur’an says:

"It was not possible for all the believers to undertake [this job]. So why did not a few from every group among them come forward to gain sound knowledge in religion and warn the people of their [respective] nations, when they returned to them that they may also take heed." (9:122)

The Qur’an clearly determines the bases of the strategy which should be adopted for this undertaking. However, its details can be different in different conditions and set-ups. In our opinion, the following strategy should be adopted as far as Pakistan is concerned:

Institutions which can carry out research and Ijtihad in the various domains of religious thought and educate and train people on these lines, should be established . The Qur’an should occupy the position of final authority in all its undertakings and the basis of Islamic thought should once again be linked to its two original sources--- the Qur’an and Sunnah.

Centres, which aim at purifying the souls and reforming the thoughts of the Mulims in general and their intelligentsia in particular, should be established countrywide .

The basis of propagation in these centres should be Tazkir-bil-Qur’an ie, reminding people of the truth through the Qur’an. Instead of calling people towards some sect or personality, they should be called towards a manifesto in which is clearly stated the changes which must be brought about in the affairs of this country at the political, economic, social, educational and penal levels.

A network of general educational institutions upto F.A. F.Sc. should be set up throughout the country in which the message of the Qur’an is inculcated within the minds of the students so that in subsequent years they are able to truly follow their religion in letter and spirit.

Scholars who take up the mission of propagation and da`wah, should once and for all adopt the strategy that unless the majority of the country supports them, they shall not adopt any measure beyond da‘wah.


If such a da‘wah movement is initiated in this country, there are four possible outcomes which may result:

One outcome of this movement could be that during the course of this endeavour, its exponents are overtaken by death and like most of the Prophets of the Children of Israel, they will leave their unaccomplished task to their successors.

A second outcome of this movement could be that the rulers of this country get influenced by its message and subsequently adopt it.

A third outcome of this movement could be that the majority of the nation consents to the leadership of this movement and as result they are able to assume the reins of power whenever they like through whichever means possible.

A fourth outcome of this movement could be that some political personality of this country adopts the ideology of this movement and in the democratic set up of Pakistan is able to assume power through the process of elections.

(Adapted from Ghamidi's "Meezaan")


1. "Their affairs of state are run by their mutual consultation." (41:38)

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