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Islamic Law And Islamic State Religion Essay

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Since the dawn of civilization, religion and politics has been traced out as interrelated. They not only complement each other; rather they provide the two most important factors that are highly responsible in the establishment of a state: religion that directs the private lives of the citizens and the politics (Law) which monitors their public behaviors. They work together to lay down codes of behavior; codify them lawfully, and implement them as edicts to promote cooperative peaceful activity and to generate homogenous group recognition. Therefore, it is mandatory that these two must have a mutual coordination to ensure peace and prosperity of a nation.

An Islamic Republic caters to this very philosophy and believes that if the religion itself provides these two directions to its followers together, it will create a flawless and strongest state in the world.

Islam -- The Religion

Islam is a complete code of conduct that provides guidance in every aspect of a man's life. It was introduced in the form of the great Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH). Starting from the tribes of Makkah, this religion spread to the far stretches of the world in a very short time due to its clear-cut and pious notions and logical instructions. It did not ask Man to bow before his own creation, but in front of the Greatest Omnipresent Allah who listens to them even if they do not utter the words from their mouths. Moreover, Islam offered erudition in the affairs of every aspect of life that helped the Muslims in their domestic as well as public and business lives. The Holy Book Quran is a collection of wise instructions as well as logical answers to many of human queries to rest his mind at peace.

Islam was preached through two means:

  1. The Holy Book: Quran
  2. The actions of the Holy Prophet: Sunnat

Khan, M. A. Muqtedardebates thatThe Holy Qur'an was revealed as a heavenly assistance for the domestic, social, spiritual and political lives of the believers as well as the entire humanity. It is not a manual of directions for ‘what-to-do' and ‘how-to-do'; rather it is an essence of celestial principles, a compilation of revealed ideology, and a collection of logical philosophies the comprehensive follow of which will escort Man all along the right direction. He further says that Muslims are always in quest of political sovereignty and moral legitimacy that led them to the proposition of the logical and reasonable idea of an Islamic state. Quran help them in the stately affairs by providing hem not laws, but the basic rules which, once understood, can provide guidance in the most complex situations.

Sunnat: Unlike other religions, the religion of Islam was not preached through mere gospels and holy books. It was practically presented in front of the entire civilization through the personality of Holy Prophet Mohammed (PBUH). He (PBUH) was the exclusive model of the preaching of Islam that directed the people to behave rationally in judging the “supremely successful”dealings of Mohammed (PBUH); and they did so quite appreciatively. Khan, M. A. Muqtedar. Says that, “everything the Prophet (PBUH) said and did is essentially an exegesis of the Qur'an. The Prophet's actions should be understood as an interpretation, a prophetic and divine interpretation, of the Holy Qur'an”. Even non-Muslims agree to the forceful and persuasive personality of the greatest of Prophets of God, and they did not dare to lay a finger against His (PBUH) honor. The Historian Lamartine has written that: “If greatness of purpose, smallness of means and astounding results are the three criteria of human genius, who could claim to compare any great man in modern history with Muhammad?"

Mohammed (PBUH) has taught His (PBUH) people how to live a domestic as well as public life. Ruqaiyyah Maqsood believes that, “Islam looks at the life of Muhammad, beliefs, worship, festivals and special days, Shari'ah, the mosque, Islamic history and how Islam affects moral behaviour, attitudes, social practices and lifestyles.”

Purpose of Islam

Islam is a religion that is not a mere way of spiritual thinking; rather it is a complete guideline of how to spend one's life. The purpose of this religion was to guide the humanity towards a right direction that may lead not only to good endings after this world but also to provide it success in this very world. Thus, this religion has not guided man only in the theological matters, but in every possible worldly affair: domestic relations, inheritance, social behaviour, business and trade rules, political ideology, foreign affairs and dealings, etc. To guide man, islam has provided a complete code of conduct or law.

Islamic Law - Shari'ah

The literal meaning of the word Shari'ah is ‘the way'. It is basically a prescribed mode of action in every aspect of life. Being the most powerful and eminent theme of Islam, it is one of the basic requirement from the Muslims so that to establish the concept of Toheed or acceptance Allah as the Supreme Lord in full force.

Islamic Law or Shari'ah is mistakenly interpreted as a law against crimes and a code of punishment and retribution. This widely propagated misinterpretation encompasses only a fraction of what Islamic law constitutes. Islam gives superiority to Law as it is said to represent the will of Allah, the supreme Lord. It demands an unquestioning submission and acceptance of this law from the followers and to judge their actions according to it. This charges legal consequences to every act of Man whether it be private or public, political or business: there is always a marked separation between what is allowed and what is forbidden. In surat Al-Hajj it is said that: “They are those who if we establish them in the land, establish the way of life consistent with the Divine Laws and provide nourishment to individuals, enjoin the right and forbid the wrong” (22:41).

Islamic Law or Shari'ah basically lays the rules to define “the way in which the submission to Allah is to be done in every conceivable human situation”. Following the divine values, it is a demand from the Muslims to enact Allah's Will “through an action-based system”

Islamic Politics - the Framework

In his translation of ‘The Political Framework of Islam', Professor Khurshid Ahmad states that there are three main principles upon which the political framework of Islamic Law is based: Shari'ah. These include:

  1. Toheed
  2. Risalat
  3. Khilafat

Toheed means the oneness of Allah: “Allah alone is the Creator, Sustainer and Master of the universe and of all that exists in it - organic or inorganic. He alone has the right to command or forbid. Worship and obedience are due to Him alone. No aspect of life in all its multifarious forms ¾ our own organs and faculties, the apparent control which we have over physical objects or the objects themselves ¾ has been created or a acquired by us in our own right. They are the bountiful provisions of Allah and have been bestowed on us by Him alone”. In Surat Yusaf it is said that, "Remember! The command is for none but Allah" (12:40) and "Nor does He share His Command with any one whosoever" (18:26)

Thus, in Islam, man cannot decide what should be the aim, purpose and the limits of our existence. There is no other human being in this world who can decide it for us. This authority goes to Allah only who is the Supreme Lord of all and His “commandments constitute the law of Islam”. This belief in Toheed nullifies the possibility of the political or legal dominion of any other human being, and hence it ends the notion of dictatorship in an Islamic State.

Maqsood has defined Risalat as “the medium through which we receive the law of Allah”. He argues that this medium has provided the followers of Islam two important things: The Holy Quran through which Allah has given further details about His commandments and decrees, and the Persona of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) who has interpreted and exemplified this book through His actions and words. Islamic Law or Shari'ah is a combination of these two forms of guidance: the broad rules and principles for an ideal human life that were laid down in the Holy Quran; and the model organization of Islamic life that was interpreted by the life of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in keeping these laws.

The third building principle of Islamic state is Khilafat that means "representation". Maqsood explains this principle in his book ‘Islam: Examining Religions' as: “Man, according to Islam, is the representative of Allah on earth, His vice-gerent; that is to say, by virtue of the powers delegated to him by Allah, and within the limits prescribed, he is required to exercise Divine authority”

For elaboration, Maqsood relates an example of a state for which one hires someone else for administration. He debates that four conditions apply to this situation:

  1. The ownership does not change with the hire of the administrator; it remains to adherent to the original owner
  2. The administrator does not act independently and follows tha directions of the owner
  3. The administrator is also given independence to some extent and he works within this limited governance
  4. The administrator fulfills the demands of the owner, not his own

The failure of any administrator or representative in the fulfillment of these four terms and conditions will meant as an abuse to his authority which results in the breakdown of the agreement of "representation". As it is said in Surat Aal-e-Imran: "It is not for any human being unto whom Allah has given the Book and wisdom and the Divine Message, that he should afterwards have said unto mankind, 'Obey me instead of Allah'. He should rather say, 'You should be amongst those who are subservient to Allah by following His Book which you study and teach others'." (3:78)

He states that Islam means the same when it says that Man is an administrator and representative of Allah, the Supreme Lord; and he is bound to follow His commandments and demands through the agreement of Islam. This representative is named as ‘Khalifa' and the Islamic state under this political ideology will be, in fact, under the sovereign rule of Allah, the only Ruler.

Muhammad (PBUH) - the Greatest Political Leader

As discussed earlier, the concept of State and political dealings in Islam are presented though the model of the Holy Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) deeds and words; he is regarded as the greatest political leader of all and sundry. No rational student of history and politics can deny the fact that it was the logical and wise representation of Holy Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) political and public ideology that helped in the instant spread and acceptance of Islam. As Michael Hart has declared Him (PBUH) as the best and the most influential ambassador in his book ‘The 100: A ranking of the most influential persons in history'. He says that: “My choice of Muhammad to lead the best of the world's most influential persons may surprise some readers and may be questioned by others, but he was the only man in history who was supremely successful on both the religious and secular levels. Of humble origins, Muhammad founded and promulgated one of the world's great religions, and became an immensely effective political leader. Today thirteen centuries after his death, his influence is still powerful and pervasive”

It was the eminent rationality of the Holy Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) political intelligence that he was able to establish a true Islamic state in Medina. This Islamic state was established even before the migration of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from Makkah as His (PBUH) followers had extended to this far valley. However, the implementation of Islamic Shari'ah was brought about the Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself near His (PBUH) death and it continued to be as such till the death of Hazrat Usman (R.A); the third Caliph of Islam. These Caliphs were selected through the mutual consent of the nobles of the state whose nobility was due to their leaning and piety, and not due to their caste, colour or creed. These three things bring dictatorship in a state for which there is no space in Islam. The success of Islamic theory of state is evident from the fact that, “When Muhammad died, in 632, he was the effective ruler of all of Southern Arabia”

Political Law- Form of Governance in Islam

Islam has provided clear-cut guidance and principles in the stately matters. The leader or Imam of the state does not enjoy exceptions of any sort in the matter of law; however, he has an additional responsibility to look after his public as well as if the Islamic law is abode by or not. In the selection of Imam, Allah has given clear democratic principles. Along with the acceptance of the public, there are certain standards which should be followed in this regard. No one can gain the leadership of the state for being the successor of previous Ameer. Even after the selection, he has to follow a particular set of considerations, which are as follows:

* An Ameer should be watchful of his duties to Allah as well as the welfare of his subjects

* An Ameer must try to win the appreciation and favour of his people and subjects so that he must not be mistaken in the matter of Shari'ah and people may obey him without violence

* An Ameer must not bring difference in the treatment of Muslims and Non-Muslims, though in certain matters this distinction is compulsory. It is clearly instructed in the Holy Quran that religion is one's personal matter and no one has any right to interfere into one. Though an Ameer can persuade a subject to embrace Islam, he cannot force him to do so. As it is said in the Holy Book: "There is no compulsion in the matters of Deen” (2:256)

* The Ameer must take care of the welfare of his subjects and the poor, orphans and needy people should be taken care of with the help of ‘state revenue'.

* An Ameer must take great care to ensure independent judiciary system. He must take care that “the judiciary is well paid, well looked after and given prestige to prevent corruption”. In this way Islam ensures that Man may gain control over his cardinal desires and he may not be left for any excuse for injustice and corruption.

* It is the duty of the Ameer to maintain and ensure equity and justice among the subjects in every way.

* The Ameer must try to extend friendly relations with the neighbouring states and countries so that to avoid possible conflicts and disputes. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) himself had sent delegations in the neighbouring states inviting them to embrace Islam and to develop friendly relations. It is said in the Holy Quran that: "Co-operate with one another in matters which broaden scopes of betterment and well-being to humanity and produce consistency with the Divine Laws, and do not co-operate in matters that become obstructive in the progress of the society or a means of transgressing the Divine Limits." (5:2)

An Islamic State

In the light of the above discussion, we can define an Islamic state as a state where all the verdicts of Shari'ah are followed with utmost care. In the words of Mohammad H. Kamali, “a shari'a state which is committed to the enforcement of shari'a”. The state occupies an important place in the implementation of Islamic Law.

Origin

As discussed above, the concept of an Islamic state is not new or modern. It is as old as the civilization of Medina. Thus the origin of the concept of an Islamic state is the Islamic state of Medina that was established by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). Carly Florida praises the ideals and ethics of that early symbol of civilized nations in these words: “It was leadership based on meritocracy, not inheritance. It was leadership that harnessed the full capabilities of a very diverse population-that included Christianity, Islamic, and Jewish traditions. This kind of enlightened leadership — leadership that nurtured culture, sustainability, diversity and courage — led to 800 years of invention and prosperity”.

Salient Features

In his book Islam in Southeast Asia, Mohammad H. Kamali has explained the three basic features that laid the foundation of an Islamic state:

  1. Islamic State proposes a limited government to Man as the sovereignty lies to Allah, the Supreme Lord.
  2. It is a civilian state as its main purpose is to take care of the needs of the subjects and to ensure their right direction in the way to Allah.
  3. It is a qualified democracy as it does not allow inheritance of the leadership as well as forbids dictatorship of any kind. The supreme authority lies to Allah and Man (Ameer) is a mere representative o caliph in the world

Significance of State in Islamic Politics

An Islamic state is an area in which the government and the public follow the Islamic laws and Shari'ah in every field of their lives: domestic, social, public, business, political, etc. Thus it is the main purpose of an Islamic state to ensure the organization, preservation and growth of those divine virtues in human life which Allah, the Creator has wished it to be enriched with; it also means to prevent and eradicate the evils which are abhorrent and repugnant to Him. This state is projected neither exclusively as a tool of political supervision nor for the execution of the democratic decisions of the people; it is rather to place elevated standards at the disposal of the state to be used in the stately affairs.

Islam takes great care of human rights and it asks the state to concern itself with the welfare of all people of the area. The fundamental rights propagated by Islam are universal and can equally e applied to anywhere in the world in whatever state one wants to. Thus, killing and murder without reasonable validation is a crime for which the criminal should be executed, the oppression to children, women, old, poor, orphans, weak, wounded and sick is not allowed at any way, the chastity of a woman is precious, to feed a hungry, to provide clothes to a naked and to help a wounded is a noble deed. There is no distinction in being Muslim or not, it all lies on the basis of humanity.

Similarly, the rights of the citizens projected by Islam are of universal value and worth. There is no difference and distinction between men on the basis of caste, color and creed; and thus every man has the equal right to be selected as the leader of the state. Also, any man who sets foot on a state with the intention of living there and makes it his home is liable to enjoy equal rights as other.

Islam also takes care of the rights of non-Muslims in the state. Except than enjoying the equal fundamental rights, yet there are a few boundaries that they have to follow. They are termed in Islam as Zimmis or “the covenanted”, that states that they have entered into the Islamic state and has had a mutual agreement according to which they will be patriotic to it and will receive state's protection and favors. It is said that, “The life, property and honour of a dhimmis is to be respected and protected in exactly the same way as that of a Muslim citizen. Nor is there difference between a Muslim and a non-Muslim citizen in respect of civil or criminal law”.

Another important aspect of Islamic state is freedom in the selection of religion as well as its propagation. The non-Muslims have all the rights to follow and propagate their religion within certain boundaries; they can also criticize certain Islamic issues within the limits permitted by law and level of decency. This places a shame to modern criticism against Islam in by burning the Holy Book and by sketching the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in inappropriate ways. Islam does not allow Muslims to make fun of other religions; any such step against it will be regarded as great offence.

All of the fundamental and humanitarian rights are unalterable and the Zimmis would be deprived of them unless they commit serious offence against the State, Islam, Allah, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) and the Holy book. However, if this offence is happening outside the state, in any other region, the Islam does not allow the revenge and punishment on the followers of the same religion in the state.

As well as the administration and government is concerned, Ameer or leader is the most responsible for the welfare of the people of his state. He can be compared to the president or the prime minister of today's democratic states; he is not a king, but a representative who has to convey what Islam and Islamic laws say and to make sure people follow them in every walk of their lives. He is not to be selected on the basis of caste, color, creed, but by the mutual consent of the public. He may also need to follow the obligations which are stated earlier.

As consultation is an important factor of Islamic state, therefore the establishment of shoora or advisory council is highly favored in Shari'ah. This council comprises of the learned noble men who have not only to select and guide the Ameer, but also to assist him in the administration of the state. Ameer has to be respected and he must earn this respect with the help of his virtues and noble deeds. Everyone in the state has the right to criticize him and question him: that is the most illustrious example of democracy in Islam.

As far as the government is concerned, it is to be carried out under the guidelines of Shari'ah that is the Will of Allah conveyed by the Holy Quran and the Holy Pprophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is compulsory that no one has the right to object in the ways of Allah and the sovereignty of His Prophet (PBUH). Therefore, no government has the right to alter or change the Islamic laws according to the situation or circumstance. Rule is same for rich, poor, Ameer and subjects. There is no consideration for nobility on the basis of caste.

As far as the judiciary is concerned, in an Islamic state it is not under the supervision of the government. Thus, the leader is as answerable to the judge as a common man. The judge is selected and appointed by the government, but he has to follow the commandments of Islam and has to take care of the implementation of Islamic Laws.

Place of Democracy

Islam is undoubtedly a propagation and democracy and equal rights. There is no sovereign power in Islam other than Allah. Man is not a subject to man. No man is superior to another. The ranks are decided due to mutual consent as well as the criterion of Islamic law.

Consultation is an important factor in the formation of stately decisions and settlements of matter. Islam does not allow a man to decide for the future of a state by himself, there is no concept of authoritative king or royalty other than Allah. Rather the leader is the representative of Allah who has to take into consideration the rules laid down in the Holy Quran as well as the consultation of the learned and wise men of the clan. In the Holy Quran, Allah the Supreme Lord says: " all affairs shall be settled by consultation." (42:38)

However there is no place for modern democracy as it is instructed vividly that anything against the principles of Islam and Quranic Laws should not be accepted in spite of the consent of the majority. It is said that in The Holy Quran: "If you were to follow the majority of the people in the land, they would lead you astray from the path of Allah. They follow nothing but conjecture; they do nothing but indulge in their own surmises." (6:117)

Establishment of First Islamic State

The first Islamic state was established in Medina after the migration of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) from Makkah in 622 CE. He (PBUH) had remain the political leader of Muslims, especially of Medina, for almost ten years in during which He (PBUH) ensures the implementation of every aspect of Islam, including Shari'ah. In the words of Muqtedar Khan: “As the leader of Medina, Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) exercised jurisdiction over Muslims as well as non-Muslims within the city. The legitimacy of his rule over Medina was based on his status as the Prophet (PBUH) of Islam as well as on the basis of the compact of Medina.”

The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH), had sovereignty and superiority over all followers by Allah's verdict that so strongly obvious in the declaration of Shahadat:

“There is no God but Allah and Muhammad is his messenger”.

However, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) had not won the favour of people of Medina due to this very declaration; he was equally loved by non-Muslims who adored His (PBUH) piety. Gandhi says that, "I become more than ever convinced that it was not the sword that won a place for Islam in those days. It was the rigid simplicity, the utter self-effacement of the Prophet, the scrupulous regard for pledges, his intense devotion to his friends and followers and his intrepidity, his fearlessness, his absolute trust in God and in his own mission. These and not the sword carried everything before them and surmounted every obstacle”

“The peace was brought into the region by “the tri-partite compact that was signed by the Muhajirun (Muslim immigrants from Mecca), the Ansar (indigenous Muslims of Medina and the Yahud (Jews)”

This compact had provided an outstanding chronological instance of two hypothetical building that has fashioned the modern political hypothesis and therefore it should be taken as of great worth in the conception of Islamic state. Muqtader Khan argues that, “Muslims are fortunate to have the compact of Medina as a tradition upon which the foundations of a modern state can be built”.

Another important aspect of a political theory is the idea of constitution. The idea of constitution is as old as Aristotle himself who had managed to collect 300 constitutions himself. Muslims got their first constitution in the form of the above mentioned compact that laid the foundation of first Islamic state. Though this compact cannot be used in the modern era as a constitution, yet Muslims can get guidelines from it.

This compact had also served as a practical illustration of what Allah demands of the state, leaders and the subjects. The Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) did not forced the revelation of Allah, the supreme Lord. He had presented “a democratic spirit quite unlike the authoritarian tendencies of many of those who claim to imitate him today. He chose to draw up a historically specific constitution based on the eternal and transcendent principles revealed to him and sought the consent of all who would be affected by its implementation.”

Thus, we can say that the first Islamic state of Medina was a social constitution that had taken the consent of all the subjects in the state matters under the sovereignty of Allah. This was an excellent example of democracy and other ideals of “consent and cooperation for governance”. The Muslims and non-Muslims were treated equally, and they were free to follow the religion of their choice. However, in the matter of state they were demanded of their patriotism to insure the security of all who live within the state.

Modern Islamic State

Islam is a universal religion. It was not meant to change with the time, it has enough flexibility to adapt newer technologies and inventions and trends according to its rules. Neither does it refuse the experimentations of science nor does it inhibit man to progress and prosper. Therefore, there is no chance that if ever an Islamic state is founded again it would be different from the Islamic state of Medina due to temporal gap. Modernity has nothing to do with the stately affairs, so a true Islamic state will be the same as that of established by the Holy Prophet of Allah, Muhammad (PBUH) in Medina.

Difference between a Muslim State and an Islamic State

It is obvious from the above discussion that an ideal Islamic state is one that follows each and every aspect of Shari'ah. It is different from a Muslim state that declares Islam as the official religion of the state and allows equal rights to the people of other religions. Also, in a Muslim state, all the laws are not derived from Shari'ah. For example, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan has been declared as a Muslim state whose laws were mostly British driven till 1973 when some basic Islamic Rules were included in the State's constitution. On the other hand, Iran can be regarded as an Islamic state to some extent as it is following the Shari'ah of Shiya sect eminently. However, the scholars agree to the fact that there is no true Islamic state in the world at the moment though it is one of the basic demands from the Muslims to gain enough power to implement Islamic Law and Shari'ah in every possible way.

Relationship Between Islamic Law and State

From the above discussion it is quite clear that there is a deep relationship between Islamic state and the Shai'ah. According to the preaching of Islam, it is the first and the foremost duty of a Muslim to establish Islamic state and implement Islamic law within their close vicinity. However, one cannot do so unless he gains enough power and influence.

Moreover, Islamic state is a means of the implementation of Islamic law in its full force. It is not to be gained to for material benefits, but to make evident implementation of Divine laws possible.

Conclusion

Islam provides the basic code of conduct that guides the Muslims in every field of their lives. The rules that provide regulation in public and private lives of Muslims is called Islamic Law or Shari'ah. This law can be observed even if one lives in a Non-Muslim country. However, one cannot extend it to other people of the society unless the state demands that. Thus, for a wide implementation of Islamic law, Islamic state is needed that will ensure the use of power in the favour of Law. It is basically due to the fact that any lawful implementation requires a regulatory force that bound the citizens to a particular code of law, and if the leader of the state observes the same theological ideas, the implementation becomes even more easier.

However, whether it is a modern concept or not is a matter of controversy. Historians relate that Islamic law was successfully implemented in the first Islamic state that was established in Medina. However, it is obvious through clear historical evidences that did not become an Islamic state at once where people were forced to follow theological rules in their lives. They were introduced to the rules gradually and with the passage of time Medina turned into a true Islamic state that continued to be so till the end of Khilafat in the form of Hazrat Usman (R.A).

Today there isn't any Islamic state in the world at all. Though there are Muslim countries which follow some or more rules and laws of Islam, there isn't any state that has implemented Islamic Shari'ah as the sole directive. Though there is Iran that is declared to be the state of Islamic Law, yet it observes a sect of Islam, that is, Shiya.

Hence, we can say that the concept of Islamic State is not new, it is as old as Islam itself. The effective rules of this particular form of state as well as the leadership of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) is admitted even the non-Muslims. The great scholar, critic and writer George Bernard Shaw comments: "I believe that if a man like him were to assume the dictatorship of the modern world, he would succeed in solving the problems in a way that would bring the much needed peace and happiness. Europe is beginning to be enamoured of the creed of Muhammad. In the next century it may go further in recognizing the utility of that creed in solving its problems."


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