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The Islamic Form of Government
Political Issues
Dr. Shehzad Saleem

No doubt, the form of government envisaged by the Islamic Political Law is an aristocracy based on the piety and wisdom, political acumen and statesmanship of the individuals who constitute it. It is neither a dictatorship in which a despotic ruler and his few henchmen exercise absolute powers, nor is it a monarchy in which only the members of a royal family are entitled to rule. Moreover, it is not even a democracy. No doubt, as directed by the Qur’ān, it comes into existence on the basis of a public mandate and continues to exist as long as it commands the support of the majority, but besides other differences with democracy, it also does not recognize the right of the people to elect whoever they like to such a position of authority; on the contrary, it has directed them to elect only those people who possess certain qualities of head and heart. They must come up to certain standards which have been fixed by Allah and His Prophet (sws).

The Qur’ān and the Hadith explicitly spell out the qualities which those charged with authority of an Islamic State must possess. The Qur’ān has used the term ool-ul-amr for all those who are part of an Islamic Political System, whether they are the representatives of the Muslims in the parliament or their administrators. They are eligible for this position if they have the following qualities in them:

Firstly, they must be well versed in the skills of statecraft; they must be able to delve into matters pertaining to religion and state and be able to form an opinion by analyzing them.

Secondly, they should also be distinguished in the society as regards their character and integrity. People who are corrupt and immoral, dishonest and unscrupulous, and who are indifferent to their religion do not have the right to rule merely because they have elected by the masses.

Thirdly, they must not have greed for an office in the government. It cannot be tolerated in an Islamic State that people should come forward and present their names, go about proclaiming their qualities and services in streets and employ other means, which are now considered an essential part of present day democratic ethics to allure the public. In Islamic ethics, this shameless attitude is not permissible at all.

These are the qualities which those charged with authority must necessarily possess. However, the Qur’ān specifies certain other qualities as well for a person who is elected from these ool-ul-amr as the head of an Islamic State: He should have a commanding and an awe-inspiring personality and should be the most distinguished among them as regards integrity, wisdom and intellect. These qualities have, therefore, been cited by the Qur’ān as the real reason behind the nomination of Taaloot (Saul) for the supreme leadership of the Banee Israel:

"Indeed, Allah has chosen him to rule over you and has gifted him abundantly with wisdom and physique." (2:247)

It is evident from this that such elements are not suitable to head an Islamic State who lack intellect, wisdom and masculine attributes; who instead of being venturesome and enterprising are passive and receptive by nature, and who instead of influencing others are more liable to be influenced. The reason for this is that the ruler of an Islamic State is not one who only heads them, he also leads the believers in Prayers, Haj and Jihaad. Moreover, he is like a father to his nation, and a model and a guide for them. He is the voice of their conscience, a representative of their ideology, a symbol of their cognizance---someone in whom their sense of honour is personified. It is vital, therefore, that he be someone who instead of delicacy has the ability to take the initiative and who instead of resignation and tenderness possess resolution and tenacity. Whether he be addressing the parliament, the Juma congregation or his soldiers in a battle, it is his authoritative yet majestic, dominating yet gracious and awe-inspiring yet benevolent personality which commands the love and respect of all. It is this towering stature of a Muslim ruler because of which the feeble feel secure, the old feel revitalized and the young are inspired to daring deeds.

After assuming an office in the government the Prophet (pbuh) has decreed that all the officials of the government including the head of state must necessarily follow three principles:

Firstly, they must have the same standard of living as that of a common citizen.

Secondly, their doors should always remain open to hear the grievances and problems of the general public.

Thirdly, the Friday prayers must be led by the head of state in the federal capital and by his administrators in other cities.

These principles can be termed as Sunnat-i-Thaabitah. During the Prophet's time and the period of the Rightly Guided Caliphs, they were strictly adhered to. Today also, they must necessarily be followed by our rulers and administrators. It is because of these norms of leadership that, in the words of the Prophet Christ, an Islamic State is called the `Kingdom of God' and whenever it is established on earth, people receive the blessings of the Almighty from the heavens above and the earth below.

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