Since the past two centuries, a lot has been said and
written about the political philosophy of Islam. Particularly, after the
dismemberment of the institution of Khilāfat in the first quarter of this
century, which signalled the end of the great Ottoman Empire in Turkey, Muslim
scholarship had set about to frame and formulate the political set-up envisaged
by Islam. Since our view about some of its issues is different from the general,
we shall briefly present here our observations and inferences.
The first major issue which has remained a hot subject of
debate is the Islamic form of government. In our consideration, the form of
government envisaged by the Qur’ān and Sunnah is an aristocracy based on the
piety and intellect, political acumen and administrative skill of the people who
constitute it. It is neither a monarchy nor a democracy, and nor is it a
dictatorship. 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 the final authority in the affairs of state are the
Qur’ān and Sunnah and not the masses; similarly, the people who are elected
should possess certain qualities of head and heart; they must come up to certain
standards which have been set by Allah and His Prophet (sws).
The second issue concerns the conditions of citizenship
after fulfilling which a Muslim can participate in the affairs of state by
giving his opinion whenever it is required. The Qur’ān explicitly states that
once a person has repented from all un-Islamic beliefs, established regular
prayers and paid zakat, he shall be granted citizenship of an Islamic State. As
far as non-Muslims are concerned, the Qur’ān does not give them a right to
participate in the affairs of an ideological state which comes into existence on
the basis of Islam. However, if at some point the state requires their services
they can be called upon to do so.
The third issue pertains to the interpretation of the
Prophet's hadīth `al āimmatu min Quraysh' (ie, the Quraysh shall [succeed me as
the] rulers). In the light of this hadith, there is a consensus among our
scholars that the ruler of an Islamic State must belong to the Quraysh. In our
opinion, this hadīth must be understood in the light of the Qur’ānic directive
amruhum shūrā bainahum (ie, their affairs of state are run by their mutual
consultation). An obvious corollory of this verse is that in case of a
difference in opinion in any matter, the opinion of the majority shall prevail.
Therefore, in the election of a Muslim ruler also, the person who commands the
support of the majority shall stand elected. Consequently, in our opinion, the
Prophet (sws) has only applied this principle on the circumstances which
prevailed in Arabia in his times and has stated the result in the above
mentioned hadith. It is evident that after the conquest of Mecca, the Quraysh
held the support of the majority; consequently, they were considered eligible
for this position of authority. In the election of the four Rightly Guided
Caliphs too, this principle was adhered to. Today also only that person shall be
elected as ruler who enjoys the support of the majority. It is evident that the
hadīth stated above is only an application of the Qur’ānic principle amruhum
shūrā bainahum in the period of the Prophet (sws) and as such is no eternal
The fourth issue relates to the field and extent of
legislation which can be done by the parliament of an Islamic State. According
to the Qur’ān, besides two positive demands---prayers and zakat---there is only
one basis of legislation: only those laws can be enacted that enforce what has
been prohibited in Islam. For example, laws can be enacted against theft,
adultery, murder and things which endanger the life, wealth and property of the
people, but except for prayers and zakat, an Islamic State cannot positively
demand anything from the believers. It cannot force a Muslim to keep fasts nor
can it compel him to perform Hajj if he has the financial position to do so; nor
can it pass a law for compulsory military recruitment for the purpose of Jihād.
The fifth issue concerns the `Doctrine of Vicegerency of
Man'. Since the past century, this doctrine has come to occupy a special
significance in Muslim political thought. According to this doctrine, every man
has been delegated some powers by the Almighty and as such he is His deputy on
earth. We are afraid that the doctrine has no basis at all in the Qur’ān. The
most often quoted in its support is the one which goes against it the most.
Linguistically, it is not possible to adopt the meaning which is attributed to
it. Grammatical principles dictate that the word Khalīfah which actually occurs
as a common noun in the verse, should have either been defined by the article
alif lām or by a determining noun (mudhāf 'ilaih) if this meaning were to be
attributed to it.
Finally, we would like to point out the three forgotten
features of the rulers of an Islamic State which actually endow it with the
dazzle and brilliance of the midday sun, and which in the words of the Prophet
Jesus (sws) make it `The Kingdom of God' on earth:
Firstly, the standard of living of the head of an Islamic
State and his administrators shall not exceed that of a common citizen.
Secondly, their doors shall 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.
The above inferences are actually based on a research
article written in Urdu by my mentor, Mr Javed Ahmad Ghamidi. In the following
pages, I have rendered his article in English so that our readers can fully
analyze and judge the arguments which have led to these inferences.