Establishment of an Islamic State
Political Issues
Question asked by .
Answered by Dr. Shehzad Saleem

My questions concern the establishment of an Islamic state in this modern era? What is the basic methodology? Please give a detailed answer.


Islam does not give any guidance on the strategy of establishing an Islamic state. It has left this matter to common sense and experience. The reason for this is that Muslims have a natural urge in them to live as a collectivity and adopt the collective directives of Islam. So, Islam has left this matter to this urge. Also, circumstances are different in different communities. So no pattern has been set. You have asked for a detailed answer, but I am afraid that there are no details. However, I would like to clarify one thing: Some religious scholars present the example of the Prophet Muhammad (sws); they say that he had adopted a particular method of setting up an Islamic state, and we Muslims should follow this example. I am afraid that neither did the Prophet (sws) ever undertake the task of establishing an Islamic state nor was he ever directed by the Almighty to do so.

The scholars who uphold this idea say that it is the religious obligation of every Muslim to strive for the supremacy of Islam in his country by all the means he can. They term it as an ‘Islamic Revolution’ and present the following verse in support of this view:

هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ (٩:٦١)

It is He Who has sent His Messenger with Guidance and the Religion of Truth that he may proclaim it over all religions, even though the Idolaters may detest [this]. (61:9)

On the basis of the phrase ‘all religions’, it is understood that the followers of Islam must struggle for its dominance in their respective countries and territories. An analysis of the context of this verse shows that it belongs to the class of directives that relate to the established practice of the Almighty regarding His Rusul (Messengers) according to which a Rasūl always triumphs over his nation.

إِنَّ الَّذِينَ يُحَادُّونَ اللَّهَ وَرَسُولَهُ أُوْلَئِكَ فِي الأَذَلِّينَ كَتَبَ اللَّهُ لَأَغْلِبَنَّ أَنَا وَرُسُلِي إِنَّ اللَّهَ قَوِيٌّ عَزِيزٌ (٥٨ :٢٠-١)

Indeed, those who show hostility to Allah and His Rasūl are bound to be humiliated. The Almighty has ordained: ‘I and my Rusul shall prevail’. (58:20)

Muhammad (sws) was also informed that he would triumph over his nation. He and his Companions (rta) were told that they would have to fight the Idolaters of Arabia until the supremacy of Islam was achieved there and that these Idolaters should be informed that if they did not desist from their evil ways they too would meet a fate no different from those of the other nations of Rusul:

قُلْ لِلَّذِينَ كَفَرُوا إِنْ يَنتَهُوا يُغْفَرْ لَهُمْ مَا قَدْ سَلَفَ وَإِنْ يَعُودُوا فَقَدْ مَضَتْ سُنَّةُ الْأَوَّلِينَ  وَقَاتِلُوهُمْ حَتَّى لَا تَكُونَ فِتْنَةٌ وَيَكُونَ الدِّينُ كُلُّهُ لِلَّهِ (٨: ٣٨-٤٠)

Say to the disbelievers that if now they desist [from disbelief], their past would be forgiven them; but if they persist, the punishment of those before them is already [a warning for them]. And fight them on until there is no more persecution and there prevails the religion of God everywhere. (8:38-40)

Consequently, it is to be noted that the word ‘al-Mushrikūn’ (the Idolaters) is used in 61:9 quoted earlier. The Qur’ān uses this word specifically for the Idolaters of Arabia of the Prophet’s times. As a result, ‘all the religions’ in the conjugate clause can only mean all the religions of Arabia at that time. Therefore, the verse has no bearing on Muslims after the times of the Prophet (sws).

If the above analysis is correct, then striving to achieve the political supremacy of Islam is no religious obligation upon a Muslim. The verses from which this obligation has been construed specifically relate to the Rusul of the Almighty. Obviously, this inference does not mean that Muslims should not strive for this cause. It only indicates that this is not their religious responsibility.

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