The Political System of Islam:
Islamic concept of life is a co-ordination between body and soul, and the Political system prescribed by Islam establishes a relationship between religion and politics. In social conception, Islam is ‘communal’; it encourages social life and collective efforts to maintain the essence of society. Social concept of Islam aims at the development of an individual and hence the development of whole Muslim community. It emphasizes on mutual co-operation, co-ordination among all responsible authorities, collective efforts of the community to develop the society and sharing of knowledge and materialistic objects for the benefit of all. The same law regulates the affairs of the country or state. For a better understanding of the political system of Islam, let’s have a look at its major determinants.
Determinants of Political System of Islam:
# Concept of Nationality
# Form of Government
# Duties of the State
# Foreign Policy
Concept of Nationality:
The term ‘nationality’ represents a race of people sharing, common place of birth, language, and culture. In this context nationality of people of one particular region / territory differs from that of the nationality of another, with reference to variance in language, birth place and culture. In this scenario people of different regions / territories are strangers or aliens for each other. This definition of the term ‘nationality’ is a narrow one, un-acceptable for the inhabitants of entire world. The above mentioned definition of ‘nationality’ keeps the people of various regions away form each other, creates a stage for one race to be alien for others, so here comes the maximum probability of conflicts.
Islam places a broader definition of ‘nationality’. According to this broad definition, A common ideology is the basis of ‘nationality’ among the Muslims, and Islam is this ideology. The Quran (30/22, 49/13) has rejected all the superiority on account of language, colour of skin and other ineluctable incidences of nature, and recognizes the only superiority of individuals as that based on piety.
Form of Government:
A Republic, a monarchy, a joint-rule, among other forms all are valid in the Islamic community.
If at a given time, in a given surrounding, all the requisite qualities of a ‘commander of the faithful’ or Caliph are not found united in the same person, one admits voluntarily the division of power also for the purpose of the better functioning of the government. We may refer to the famous case cited by the Quran (2/ 246-7): A former prophet was solicited by his people to select for them a king besides his own prophetic self, so that they may war under his leadership, against the enemy which has expelled them from their homes and families. The designation of a king in the presence of and in addition to a prophet, and even by the intermediation of latter, shows the length to which one can go in this direction. A division is thus made between the spiritual and temporal functions, yet no arbitrary power is tolerated for either of them: the politics and the king remain as much subject to the divine law as the cults and the prophets. The source of authority and the codes of law remain the same; only the application of the law and the execution of the dispositions relate to different persons. It is more a question of specialization then a divorce between the two aspects of life.
** A glimpse of Caliphate**
As valid forms of government are mentioned earlier, it is, however, a great deal of controversy in opinions regarding a specific form of government prescribed by Islam. This series of controversies date from the death of Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H) where by no positive or precise instruction was left regarding his succession. At that time one group was of the opinion that statal power should rest in heirloom, and as Prophet (P.B.U.H) had left no male to succeed so the power should go to his uncle Abbas (RA) or his cousin Ali (R.A). The second group held the demand of an ad hoc individual election. And majority was in favour of election so the form of government incorporated was intermediary between hereditary monarchy and republic:
The caliph was elected for life. Incorporation of election brought it into the category of republic, while the duration of power resembled as monarchy. Initially the dissidents and latterly rival claimants, and after that the dynasty brought Umaiyads, replaced by Abbasids. Well, the successes and the failures of all these will be discussed later in some other thread.
**Some facts Referring Form of Government**
1- This is narration of Ibn-e-Hisham, As for Ibn-e Saad (III/i.p.151) “Abu Said Al Khudri reports: When the prophet breathed his last, the orators of the Ansarites stood up and one of the said Oh muhajirites, whenever the Prophet (P.B.U.H) nominated a person as aamil (Governor), he attached to him some one from amongst usso that we are of the opinion that, this power (Caliphate) should also be exercised by two persons, one from among you and one from among us. ( So at the time of Hazrat Abu Bakr’s nomination for Caliph there was a proposal for joint rule as well. But for the practical reasons the proposal was rejected)
2- A Hadith in Tirimdhi reports that, Prophet (P.B.U.H) predicted that after him the caliphate would continue only for thirty years and that afterwards a biting kingship would follow.
Duties of the State:
According to the political system of Islam, the duties of the state are broadly categorized as:
1- Executive: These duties cover the range of civil, military and administrative responsibilities. By keeping the sovereign powers to almighty Allah, it is the responsibility of the state to maintain
2- Legislative: The legislature in Islam is subjected to the word of God (Quran), which is the source of law in all walks of life, spiritual as well as temporal.
3- Judiciary: Judiciary demands for equality of law for all, in which the head of the state is not exempted even. In case of conflicts between individuals or parties from different communities, a private international law will regulate the cases.
4- Cultural: The cultural duty of the state is not limited only to maintain cultural values with in the territory but also to organize foreign mission to make others know what Islam stands for.
The relations of a country with other countries of the world are based on international law. In the historical context of international politics Muslims were the first to develop the international law under the head of SIYAR (Conduct, i.e. of a ruler).
According to the Islamic International law, the Muslims and the non-Muslims are equal with reference to their sufferings. The foreign policy of Islamic Political System aims to attain positive and pleasant relations with other countries and to promote mutual co-operation to lessen the sufferings.
One of the salient features of Foreign policy of Islamic Political system is that, it insists on the importance of the given word. For instance, a foreigner attains permission to visit an Islamic territory for a particular time period. And a war breaks out before the expiry of his visa, it’s the responsibility of the state to ensure his security during his stay and his secure return to his native land. Moreover, if he wants to take his goods and gains with him, he’ll not be restricted to do so.
It is hard for me to conclude the political system of Islam, but what I came up with after going through the determinants of the political system of Islam is as follows.
Islam aims to maintain peace of mind and soul not only for a particular individual but for everyone. In order to maintain the peace of mind and soul, it is required to have a co-ordination among all world community. This coordination should exclude the distinction of race and country. Islam doesn’t also demand for any compulsion of religious beliefs, as every one is personally responsible to God.
As far as government is concerned, for Islam Government is supposed to serve the people in such a way that a relationship of trust should be maintained. Being the servant of people it’s the duty of the government to make all possible efforts for the welfare of the people.
The writer is a leading essayist of CSS Forum based at Underground.
1- Introduction to Islam by Dr.Hamidullah
2- Understanding Islam by Maulana Abul Ala Maudoodi