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- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:29 PM
The Nature of the Islamic Political System*

By Jamal Badawi **


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In Islam, each and every human is, in a sense, considered a representative of God on earth.

Theocracy vis-à-vis Islam
The political system of Islam is not theocratic because the term “theocracy” implies two basic elements: The first element is the assumption or acceptance of the principle that God alone is the Sovereign of ultimate power. The second part of the definition of “theocracy” is the assumption that there’s a certain priestly class or clergy who claim to be representatives of God on earth, who alone have the right to interpret the will of God, and who in some certain cases are the ones who are supposed to enforce the divine law.

According to the first part of its definition, theocracy is not contradictory with Islam, whose structure is based on the acceptance of the supremacy of God in that His laws are ultimate and His wisdom is infinite. However, the second part of the definition has nothing to do with Islam. In Islam there’s no church as an institution as such, there’s no clergy. Islam doesn’t accept the notion that a particular group of people can claim for themselves to be representatives of God on earth. The entire human race is regarded, in a sense, as representatives of God on earth.

In Islam, legitimacy of any power or institution is derived mainly from people’s acceptance of this legitimacy. In other words, one can’t gain legitimacy as a ruler unless people agree to this, not to have it imposed on them; the people are entirely free to choose their rulers. Islam does not accept a system which involves any kind of dictatorship, nor does it accept a system of monarchy where the power is inherited within the same family. Indeed, one wouldn’t only point out to systems that call themselves monarchies because there are many countries that call themselves republics, but indeed power seems to be circulated only within the elite.

Is the Political System of Islam Democratic?

For more on Islam and democracy, read Forming an Islamic Democracy.

Whenever a comparison is made between Islam and anything else, we need to remember that Islam is not a man-made idea. Islam is a God-ordained way of life, and as such it reflects the infinite divine wisdom, which is absolutely infallible. With this kind of understanding, Islam, as reflected in the word of God and the sayings of the Prophet—which he also received by way of revelation—present the ultimate truth. It’s not something that anyone can update or change or supersede in any way; it is free from error or else, of course, there wouldn’t be any belief in God. On the other hand, other systems, whether they are democracy, socialism, or otherwise, are man-made ideas or ideologies.

The human being is fallible, his wisdom and knowledge are imperfect. Of course, in any of these man-made ideas there may be certain good ideas. When saying that Islam is similar to democracy, this seems to carry an implication that democracy is “the way,” “the ideal,” and then we go back to Islam to find out whether it meets these ideals or measures up to these standards or not. And that is almost like saying: Let’s take God’s ordained way of life and judge it in accordance with the criteria established by humans. Therefore, democracy and the political system in Islam, although they may have some similarities, are not really synonymous.

Similarities and Differences

In a true Islamic system, even if the majority wants to deprive the minority, they can’t do it because of the automatic restriction on their action.

Some of the fundamental principles in democracy are similar to Islam: first, the idea or notion of freedom of the people to choose the rulers they want. Another idea that is similar is that of participation in the decision-making process in some form or the other. The third similarity between democracy and Islam is the notion of the removal of some governments which fail to meet the expectations of the people.

The first basic difference between the political system endorsed by Islam and democracy is that in democracy, the ultimate authority lies with the people. In Islam, however, the ultimate authority doesn’t belong to people; it belongs to God alone. That means that both the ruler and the ruled in Islam are subject to a higher criterion for decision-making, that is, divine guidance. If the people—the rulers and the ruled—are truly believers, the final say in the interpretation or understanding of these divine laws would have to be within those laws.

Some might feel or think that this distinction between Islam and democracy is academic or theoretical, but it is not. It has some serious implications. For example: When the majority, in a Western democracy, decide that the drinking age should be lowered to 13 or 14, no matter how harmful this may be, it becomes a law, because that’s what the majority of people want. Under Islamic law, the Qur’an itself prohibits drinking, so it shall be prohibited regardless of what the people want.

Another example regards the rights of minorities. Suppose in a given society the majority of people, who belong to a particular race or class or group, decided to deprive minorities of their rights. Even if the constitution prohibited this, the constitution itself can be changed. So, if a decision is taken to oppress a certain minority or minorities, it could be done under democracy, theoretically at least. Yet, under an Islamic system it cannot happen because the rights of the minorities are rights which are enshrined in the Qur’an and the Prophetic tradition, and as such no human being can supersede that.

The Qur’an and Prophetic tradition are the ultimate constitution, which is different from the secular constitution because it cannot be changed. In the secular system the constitution can be changed whenever needed because it’s human-made and there may be better words than the ones that were put in the first place. Whereas, in the case of divine constitution, one cannot say “I know more than God.” In addition, it’s quite clear that democracy seems to go with systems which are basically secular, where the legislation of churches or temples or any religious body has nothing to do with the actual political system. However, the system of government in Islam doesn’t make any distinction between the moral and temporal and the whole notion of secularism is alien to Muslim thinking.

What Is the Political System of Islam?

Some have tried to give the title of “theo-democracy” to the political system in Islam. “Theo-democracy,” in this sense, would reflect an element of theocracy concerning the supremacy of God and His laws. At the same time, it would also reflect the democratic notion that there is no exclusive class and people who can monopolize the interpretation of that system.
A better term, however, has been suggested by Abul-A`la Al-Mawdudi: “popular trusteeship.” This suggests that the entire human race is appointed on this earth to be like trustees or vicegerents of God on earth, and it [trusteeship] is not to be claimed by one individual, group, or class. Rather, it is a collective type or responsibility to fulfill this duty, which means that the rules apply to rulers and ruled alike.

Does the Islamic Model Exist Today?

In order to have what can be called an Islamic political system, it is not enough to simply implement some aspects of Islam, such as the criminal law, while neglecting some more fundamental issues, such as the freedom of the people to choose the rulers. In addition, if penalties are to be applied, they have to be applied impartially.

Similarly, it would not be necessarily representative of the true approach of Islam, to restart immediately implementing aspects of criminal law without allowing transitory periods of sufficient time to reform society and move it to the ideals of Islam. The philosophy of criminal law in Islam is not just punishment; it is the idea of creating reform in a society by removing the causes of crime before punishment can be applied. Therefore, before applying the laws, rulers should look into the wisdom of the legislation and the prerequisites to implementing those penalties.

Unfortunately, the complete and perfect model of an Islamic political system does not exist today. But this does not mean that it is a utopian system that exists only in theory. It existed in a complete and perfect form during the lifetime of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), and during the reign of the first four Rightly Guided Caliphs. There were ups and downs, but there were some periods when one could actually say that the model was either perfect or as close to perfection as could be expected. In later centuries, however, there have been lots of ups and downs and many deviations. It is very difficult to point out any single model and claim that it represents the true picture of an Islamic political system. Indeed, there are many systems that are quite apart from Islamic teachings and violate the very basic principles on which a truly Islamic political system can be based, although they may claim that they are Islamic.

* Adapted from a lecture in Dr. Jamal Badawi’s Islamic Teachings series.
** Dr. Jamal Badawi is a professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada where he currently teaches in the areas of Management and Religious Studies. He is the author of several works on various aspects of Islam.

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- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:31 PM
Forming an Islamic Democracy
By Sohaib N. Sultan*


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Before we explore the relationship between Islam and democracy, it is important to understand what exactly the idea of democracy entails because too often the notion of democracy is confused with Western culture and society. As such, analysts often dismiss the compatibility of Islam with democracy, arguing that Islam and secularism are opposite forces, that rule of God is not compatible with rule of man, and that Muslim culture lacks the liberal social attitudes necessary for free, democratic societies to exist.

Arguments that dismiss the notion of an Islamic democracy presuppose that democracy is a non-fluid system that only embraces a particular type of social and cultural vision. However, democracy, like Islam, is a fluid system that has the ability to adapt to various societies and cultures because it is built on certain universally acceptable ideas.

So, what is democracy? In its dictionary definition, democracy is “government by the people, exercised either directly or through elected representatives.” As such, elections that express popular consent, freedom of political and social mobilization, and equality of all citizens under the rule of law become essential components of a healthy, functioning democracy.

Implementing the laws of God necessitates the role of man who is given the position of God’s vicegerent or representative on earth.

Those who argue against the compatibility of Islam and democracy usually begin by saying that a democracy gives sovereignty or power of rule to the people, while Islam gives sovereignty or power of rule to God, which would not allow for a “government by the people.” In other words, these skeptics believe that the opposite of democracy in relation to a religious political system must be theocracy, meaning the rule of God on earth by a religious authority or class. However, this argument presupposes that there is a single religious authority or class within the Islamic tradition that has special access to God’s will and therefore has the right and power to impose divine will on the land. This is where the argument fails in relation to Islam, because the Islamic tradition, at least in the majority Sunni teaching, does not recognize a pope-like figure, nor does it preach the establishment of a religious class that has special access to divine will.

In fact, to the contrary, it can be argued that the Qur’an warns against the establishment of a religious class. The Qur’an says that past religious communities took their religious leaders [for their lords beside God] (At-Tawbah 9:31) and accuses many in the religious class of Jews and Christians of stealing people’s wealth and turning people [away from the path of God] (At-Tawbah 9:34).

Furthermore, Muslims believe that after Prophet Muhammad there is no one who has direct access to God’s will, and therefore no one person or group has the legitimacy or authority to claim a pope- or priesthood-like status in the Muslim community. As such, Islam’s political system is not a theocracy.

There is no doubt that an Islamic political system would be bound by the laws, principles, and spirit of the Qur’an and Sunnah, which would serve as the overarching sources of a constitution in an Islamic state. Furthermore, violating or going directly against any sacred teaching of Islam could not be tolerated in an Islamic political system, for doing so would be going against the sources of the constitution. So, in this sense God is recognized as the sole giver of law.

The Qur’an insists on mutual consultation in deciding communal affairs which includes choosing leaders to represent and govern on the community’s behalf.

However, implementing the laws of God, as articulated in the Qur’an and Sunnah, necessitates the role of man who is given the position of God’s vicegerent or representative on earth (Al-Baqarah 2:30) because of his superior intellect, ability to acquire knowledge, and ability to exercise free will. All of these God-given qualities enable man not only to implement sacred law, but also to interpret sacred law and derive from sacred sources the wise principles that form the basis of new laws needed for an ever-changing world with new ethical and moral complexities.

As such, the Islamic political system does not entail a struggle or competition for power between God and man. Rather, God and man function with a unified purpose to bring social benefit and civilization-enhancing laws to the world. Simply put, God is the giver of law in Whom sole authority rests, while man, as a collective body, interprets and implements these laws as God’s representatives on earth. As such, the democratic ideal of a “government by the people” is compatible with the Qur’anic understanding of man’s role on earth, and therefore compatible with the notion of an Islamic democracy. It is important to remember, however, that just as man’s ability to govern is shaped and limited by the founding constitution in a secular democracy, the sacred sources of Islam shape and limit man’s ability to govern within an Islamic democracy.

Electing Leaders

Now, if a government is by the people, then it only makes sense that the people choose or elect those who will govern on their behalf. Is the notion of elections compatible with Islamic teachings? The answer to this question can be found in the Qur’an’s insistence on using shura, or mutual consultation, in deciding communal affairs (Aal `Imran 3:159, Ash-Shura 42:38), which would include choosing, or if you will, electing leaders to represent and govern on the community’s behalf.

Interestingly, a model exists in Islamic history for Muslims in using mutual consultation as a process of selecting a new leader. When Prophet Muhammad was on his deathbed, many of his Companions urged him to name a successor who would lead the community, but the Prophet refused to do so—a clear indication that he wanted the next leader to be chosen through mutual consultation rather than be imposed upon the community. As such, when the Prophet passed away, the most pressing issue for the community was to choose its next leader. Three Companions were nominated to take the post of khalifah (caliph) and in the end, the Prophet’s closest Companion, Abu Bakr, was chosen to be the community’s new leader. Abu Bakr and his three successors, known collectively as the Four Rightly Guided Caliphs, were also chosen in a similar fashion that reflected popular consent. So the idea of choosing a leader in accordance with popular will is certainly not a new idea in the Islamic tradition. As such, the notion of elections is compatible with the idea of an Islamic democracy.

Accountability of Government

Human equality in society and before God is an essential teaching of the Qur’an and a core characteristic of an Islamic ethos.

However, electing leaders to govern is not enough. Holding those who govern accountable is also an essential principle of democracy if government by the people is to work. First, the Qur’anic teaching of mutual consultation does not end in selecting leaders but forms an essential part of governance in which leaders must conduct their affairs in a non-dictatorial manner. Second, leaders are not left to govern based on their own whims and desires; rather their governance must be in accordance with the teachings of the Qur’an and Sunnah (An-Nisaa’ 4:59), which form the Islamic State’s constitution. Third, the Qur’an mandates that leaders pay back their trusts to those entitled to it (An-Nisaa’ 4:58), meaning that leaders are responsible to the citizens of the land.

Both Abu Bakr and `Umar ibn Al-Khattab, second caliph of Islam, reflected this notion of accountability in their inaugural addresses when they said to their community, “If I follow the right path, follow me. If I deviate from the right path, correct me so that we are not led astray.” So certainly the role and responsibility of the people within a society extends far beyond choosing a leader within the Islamic political system.

Equality and Freedom

The final two pieces to the puzzle of forming a functioning democracy are the essential notions of equality and freedom in society, without which a people cannot truly govern themselves.

The Qur’an says what means [O humankind, we created you from a male and a female, and We made you races and tribes for you to get to know each other] (Al-Hujurat 49:13). In another verse, the Qur’an says what means [And among the signs of God is the … diversity of your languages and colors] (Ar-Rum 30:22). These verses and many more make human equality in society and before God an essential teaching of the Qur’an and a core characteristic of an Islamic ethos. As such, any Islamic political system would necessitate the respect for equality and diversity of all men and women.

We are all born free, which makes freedom our destiny. This is reflected strongly in the Qur’an’s understanding of human free will, which distinguishes man from the rest of God’s creation. The notion of free will necessitates freedom of choice, and this is why the Qur’an so emphatically states [There is no compulsion in religion] (Al-Baqarah 2:256). The Qur’an also encourages the free formation and mobilization of social and political groups when it says [And let there be a people among you who invite to good and enjoin what is fair, and forbid what is wrong] (Aal `Imran 3:104).

Of course freedom, just as in any other functioning society, is not absolute. There are moral, ethical, and spiritual guidelines for what a society can and cannot tolerate as part of freedom. Islam does teach a rather conservative morality on most issues ranging from modesty laws to business transaction laws, especially in comparison to Western cultural trends. But if the universality of democracy and its fluidity are true, then it must be able embrace Islam’s value system, which itself is based on universal truths and social benefit for humanity.

** Sohaib Sultan is the author of The Koran for Dummies.

- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:35 PM
Religion and Politics*
(To listen to the audio version of this article, click here s on 1 - )
By Jamal Badawi**

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Now the Church plays only a spiritual role in the life of Christians.

Separation Between Church and State: A Historical Background (listen to this section here s on 1 - )

The separation between religion and state, or what is religious or sacred in the West and what is secular, is something that has its own historical roots. For a considerable period of time, people used to consider the Church as an institution which at times aligned itself with the ruling elite and did not necessarily serve the interest of the masses. It was perceived by some people, especially in the 17th century, as an institution which had a strong desire for power, struggling with the ruling elite or the so-called temporal authorities. Many people also considered the name of the Church synonymous with the Inquisition and with the persecution of scientists and thinkers. For a considerable period of time, it was seen as standing against freedom of thought.

When the European Age of Enlightenment came, people reacted to this image of the Church in a very strong way by rejecting anything that pertained to the Church or to the concept of the power of the Church. This reaction was evident in even those who took a moderate position and were less critical of the Church. This reaction led to the idea of keeping the Church responsible only for the spiritual and moral aspects of life, and leaving secular authority in the hands of other people.

Although this separation can be understood in terms of the circumstances surrounding the rise of the Church and its history in Europe, this doesn’t mean that this principle of separation is either universal or that it has to be imposed on Islam, as Islam has its own system.

Irrelevance of the Separation to Islam (listen to this section heres on 1 - )

In Islam, the word “religion” means way of life, a way of living that includes all aspects of life.

In Islam there is no Church as it is understood in the Christian world as an institution which has the exclusive power or authority to interpret matters of faith. Consequently, Islam also does not have any system of priesthood or clergy or even ordination to ordain people in a certain ritualistic way so that they can be priests. In Islam the notion of saying that this is a man of the word or this is a man of religion doesn’t exist. Ideally, in Islam, every man or woman, every person, is a “person of religion.” Religion is not something that can only be entrusted to a certain class or group of people who become the exclusive body who can speak about matters of faith. In Islamic history, there was no incident or period of time that comes close to the Inquisition courts or to the persecution of scientists. In fact, scientists persecuted elsewhere found security, encouragement, and an encouraging atmosphere for scientific productivity in the Muslim world. However, there was some degree of persecution during certain times in Islamic history, but it was the persecution of those free thinkers among religious scholars by the ruling elite who fought to get justification for their actions.

The Notion of Religion

If you asked someone “what is religion?” in the West, people may say that it is the set of beliefs and values which deal with the spiritual and moral aspects of life. In Islam, the word “religion” means way of life, a way of living that includes all aspects of life, be they spiritual, moral, social, economic, or even political. Islam takes the human being as he or she is. It takes the human being as a spiritual being and tries to satisfy his spiritual needs; it takes the human being as an intellectual being and respects human intelligence and human reasoning and uses them as tools for faith rather than seeing them as the opposite or antithesis of faith. It takes the human being as a physical being and looks after his or her physical needs, and so on. Islam upholds the notion of the integration of all aspects of life into one harmonious whole.

“Render Unto Caesar What Is Caesar’s” (listen to this section hers on 1 - )

Separating what is religious and what is secular is alien to the essence of all revelation.

Some people have quoted the Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) as saying “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and render unto God that which is God’s.” Even if we assume that Jesus did actually say that, I believe that he didn’t really mean by that what is commonly understood. Reading the context of this statement, we can notice that some people came with an evil intention of trying to prove to the Roman authorities that Jesus was a man they should get rid of. One way they tried to reach their objectives is by attempting to extract a statement that could be interpreted as a defiance of the Roman authority. They asked him, “Should we pay the taxes to the authorities?” The Prophet Jesus (peace be upon him) was smart enough and guided by God to understand the evil intention behind this apparently innocent question, so he said “Render unto Caesar what is Caesar and render unto God what is God’s.” But he never really meant that there are two authorities in this universe, one which is under the domain of God, limited and restricted to the Church, and the other one which belongs to temporal authorities, in this case, Roman rulers, because that contradicts the very basic notion of the supremacy of God.

In addition, Jesus was not sent by God with a new set of laws and regulations, but rather to add spirituality to the formalistic practice of religion that existed among the Israelites in his time. Given his circumstances and the nature and scope of his mission, it was not necessary for him to talk in detail about temporal authority. Instead, he wanted the people to be uplifted in the spiritual sense. Therefore, the notion of the separation of what is religious and what is secular or what is temporal, is something which is alien not only to Islam but even to the essence of all revelation given to all of the prophets because of its contradiction to the notion of servitude to God alone.

Servitude to Allah Includes Government (listen to this section hers on 1 - )

The problem of humanity is not in admitting the supremacy of God but in refusing to accept His guidance as to how we conduct our lives.

The Qur’an indicates that one of the biggest problems of humanity has not really been whether or not to believe in God as the creator, but rather, it is the failure to carry this belief to its logical conclusion and to be true servants of God and submit to the will of God. For example, the Qur’an says what means: [Say: Whose is the earth, and whoever is therein, if you know? They will say: Allah’s. Say: Will you not then mind? Say: Who is the Lord of the seven heavens and the Lord of the mighty dominion? They will say: (This is) Allah’s. Say: Will you not then guard (against evil)? Say: Who is it in Whose hand is the kingdom of all things and Who gives succor, but against Him succor is not given, if you do but know? They will say: (This is) Allah’s. Say: From whence are you then deceived?] (Al-Mu’minun 23:84-89).

They—which refers here to the unbelievers—admit that everything belongs to God but they rebel and refuse to comply with what the one and only Creator of the universe commands them to do. The Qur’an also says what means: [And if you should ask them who created them, they would certainly say: Allah. Whence are they then turned back?] (Az-Zukhruf 43:87). Logically speaking, if you admit that Allah is your Creator, then it follows that you should obey what that Creator tells you to do. He knows best what’s good for you so you should follow him, but they stop just at admitting that God created them. So the problem of humanity is not in admitting the supremacy of God in terms of being the Creator, but in human pride and vanity in refusing to accept His guidance, commands, and directions as to how we conduct our lives.

There are many verses in the Qur’an which talk about God and government. For example, in one verse it says what means: [Is it not His to create and to govern?] (Al-A`raf 7:54). This concise verse puts God’s authority in direct relation to His creation, so if you admit that God is the Creator then you have to admit that He is also the One Who should govern. Governing here doesn’t mean governing the universe in terms of physical phenomenon but also [setting] moral, social, political, economic laws—these are all ultimately the domain of God.

In a similar way, in the Qur’an Allah is decribed as follows: [And He it is Who is Allah in the heavens and Allah in the earth] (Az-Zukhruf 43:84). In other words, the domain of God is not only the spiritual aspect of life; human life is not just prayers and supplication; it includes economics as much as it includes social as well as political aspects.

The Qur’an also describes those who refuse to rule or judge in accordance to what God has revealed as “unbelievers,” “wrong doers,” and “transgressors.” [And whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the unbelievers] (Al-Ma’idah 5:44); [And whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the unjust] (Al-Ma’idah 5:45); [And whoever did not judge by what Allah revealed, those are they that are the transgressors] (Al-Ma’idah 5:47). This means that if the person ruling does not comply with the rules that God has set down, then all of these three descriptions apply to him. Also in the same surah, God directs His message to the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) [And that you should judge between them by what Allah has revealed] (Al-Ma’idah 5:49). This means that even the Prophet himself was directed to implement the laws of God, and not to take his role as merely preaching them.

For more on the process of secularization in Europe, see “Secular Values and the Process of Secularization

The Qur’an is full of direct and indirect, implicit and many times explicit indications that show that the establishment of the Islamic order is a requirement on Muslims whenever possible. In addition to the Qur’an, there are several sayings of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) talking about government: “Even if just three people are traveling together, they should choose one of them as their leader.” The Prophet Muhammad, within the wider scope of his role as a prophet, was also a head of the state. He conducted the affairs of the Muslims and established the mechanism that looked after the implementation of those rules. Many times the Qur’an speaks about certain rules or aspects of criminal law. How could this be implemented? Can any person take the law in his or her hand and implement those rules? The very fact that these rules are mentioned in the Qur’an shows the necessity of having organized states and a leadership that will make sure that the laws are implemented in a fair and just way.

*This is an adaptation of a part of Dr. Jamal Badawi’s series on Islamic Teachings.

** Dr. Jamal Badawi is a professor at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, where he teaches in the Departments of Religious Studies and Management.

- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:36 PM
Democracy in Islam
By IOL Team

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Every individual in an Islamic society enjoys the rights and powers as the caliph of Allah, and in this respect all individuals are equal. “Caliphate” as a term has frequently been used to describe an Islamic political system based on monarchy, while the authentic notion truly refers to the authority of every single Muslim in his human capacity and his right to enjoy dignity and respect.

The notion of khilafah expresses how Islam empowers human beings and also how the government does not enjoy any special rights apart from those delegated to it by the political community.

The Hobbesian conception of the necessity of the State and its priority and seeing it as a condition for civility does not conform to the Islamic perspective. Yes, the formation of a State is a historical process, but the community comes first. No authority may deprive any citizen of his rights and powers.

The agency for running the affairs of the state will be formed by agreement with these individuals, and the authority of the state will only be an extension of the powers of the individuals delegated to it. Their opinion should be decisive in the formation of the government, which will be run with their advice and in accordance with their wishes.

Whoever gains their confidence will undertake the duties and obligations of the caliphate on their behalf (in the form of political representation); and when he/she loses this confidence he/she will have to step down from his/her specific position and be accountable for his/her actions and decisions. In this respect the political system of Islam is a form of democracy, even if it is not a secular one as democracies are usually defined in contemporary political literature.

What distinguishes Islamic democracy from Western democracy, therefore, is that the latter is based on the concept of popular sovereignty, while the former rests on the principle of popular khilafah, mixing religious devotion with a notion of democracy and citizenship.

In Western democracy, the people are sovereign; in Islam sovereignty is vested in Allah and the people are His caliphs or representatives. The laws given by Allah through His Prophet ( Shari ‘ah) are to be regarded as constitutional principles that should not be violated.

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- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:37 PM
The Purpose of the Islamic State

By IOL Team

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The Qur’an clearly states that the aim and purpose of the Islamic state is the establishment, maintenance and development of those virtues which the Creator wishes human life to be enriched by and the prevention and eradication of those evils in human life which He finds abhorrent. The Islamic state is intended neither solely as an instrument of political administration nor for the fulfillment of the collective will of any particular set of people. Rather, Islam places a high ideal before the state, which it must use all the means at its disposal to achieve.

This ideal is that the qualities of purity, beauty, goodness, virtue, success and prosperity which Allah wants to flourish in the life of humankind should be engendered and developed and that all kinds of exploitation, injustice and disorder which, in the sight of Allah, are ruinous for the world and detrimental to the life of His creatures, should be suppressed and prevented. Islam gives us a clear outline of its moral system by stating positively the desired virtues and the undesired evils. Keeping this outline in view, the Islamic state can plan its welfare policies in every era and in any context.

The constant demand made by Islam is that the principles of morality must be observed at all costs and in all walks of life. Hence, it lays down as an unalterable policy that the state should base its policies on justice, truth and honesty. It is not prepared, under any circumstances, to tolerate fraud, falsehood and injustice for the sake of political, administrative or so-called national interest. Whether it is domestic relations within the state, or international relations with other nations, precedence must always be given to truth, honesty and justice.

Islam has laid down universal fundamental rights for humanity

Islam imposes similar obligations on the state and the individual: to fulfill all contracts and obligations; to have uniform standards in all interactions and transactions; to remember obligations along with rights and not to forget the rights of others when expecting them to fulfill their obligations; to use power and authority for the establishment of justice and not for the perpetration of injustice; to look upon duty as a sacred obligation and to fulfill it scrupulously; and to regard power as a trust from Allah to be used in the belief that one has to render an account of one’s actions in this world but also, most importantly, to Him in the life hereafter.

Fundamental Rights

Although an Islamic state may be set up anywhere on earth, Islam does not seek to restrict human rights or privileges to the boundaries of such a state. Islam has laid down universal fundamental rights for humanity which are to be observed and respected in all circumstances. For example, human blood is sacred and may not be spilled without strong justification such as criminal punishment after a fair trial or in a just war; it is not permissible to oppress women, children, old people, the sick or the wounded; women’s honor and chastity must be respected. These rights are for all people, irrespective of whether they belong to the Islamic community — Muslims and non-Muslims alike — or are from amongst its enemies. These and other provisions have been laid down by Islam as fundamental rights for every human being by virtue of his status as a creation of Allah.

The Islamic state may not interfere with the personal rights of non-Muslims

Nor, in Islam, are the rights of citizenship confined to people born in a particular state. A Muslim ipso facto becomes the citizen of an Islamic state as soon as he sets foot on its territory with the intention of living there and thus enjoys equal rights along with those who acquire its citizenship by birth. And every Muslim is to be regarded as eligible for positions of the highest responsibility in an Islamic state without distinction of race, sex, color or class. These rights have been challenged, of course, by the division of the Muslim nation into nation states in the modern era after independence from colonialism. Many attempts have been made to unite these states but in vain, due to numerous reasons that can be discussed at length separately.

Islam has also laid down rights for non-Muslims who may be living within the boundaries of an Islamic state, and these rights necessarily form part of the Islamic constitution. The life, property and honor of non-Muslim citizens is to be respected and protected in exactly the same way as that of Muslim citizens. Nor is there difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim citizen in respect of civil or criminal law, though there are differences in family law in respect of the diversity of religious practices and family codes.
The Islamic state may not interfere with the personal rights of non-Muslims, who have full freedom of conscience and belief and are at liberty to perform their religious rites and ceremonies in their own way.

Even if a non-Muslim state oppresses its Muslim citizens, it is not permissible for an Islamic state to retaliate against its own non-Muslim citizens. It may not unjustly shed the blood of a single non-Muslim citizen living within its boundaries.


- Qatada -
04-12-2007, 04:38 PM
Please also refer to this thread:



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