Concept of an Islamic State Speech

Outline:

  • The cause for the movement of Pakistan
  • Two types of states
  • Islam embracing individual, communal and national activities
  • Holy Prophet (PBUH) the greatest reformer
  • The sources of Islamic law
  • Eternal Message of Islam
  • The election of chief executive in Islamic law
  • Tackling the new emerging complex economic and social conditions in Khilafat-e-Rashidah
  • The idea of Brotherhood
  • The meaning of Shria
  • Two important conclusions
  • Basic and fundamental concepts of an Islamic state
  • Nass injunction constituting the bed rock of all Islamic thoughts
  • The responsibility of Amir in Muslim state
  • Islamic state must be a free and democratic state
  • The equality of all human being
  • Conclusion

The raison d’eter for the creation of Pakistan was the desire of the Indian Muslims of pre-partition India to preserve and protect their Islamic traditions and heritage and to conduct their affairs in accordance with the Islamic values. The movement for an independent Islamic State Pakistan would never have acquired such impetus had it not been for this deep-rooted and fervent desire of Muslims of India.

The question, no doubt, arises the Muslims of India could not have maintained their Islamic values in a United India and was it indeed necessary to have a separate Islamic State of their own for this purpose? The answer is that they could not. The fact was that this objective could be achieved only by having a separate State of their own. If Islam had been a religion of the individual, they may not have felt the need of a separate State, because an individual can commune with his Creator in private but Islam is not such a religion, it is a religion of society. It is not a creed, as Allama Muhammad Iqbal says; but a social order and in order to bring the full effect of the principles of Islam to a human society it is imperative not only to have an Islamic community but a community which also possesses the sanctions of a state to implement Islamic laws.

There are two types of States in the world. One in which the State and religion are completely separated following the principle “Render unto Ceaser (King) what belongs to him and Render unto God what belongs to Him.” Here God and King (State) are regarded as two separate and distinct entities. The commands of one are not applicable to the other. The States in Europe are all founded on this principle and here spiritual and temporal matters are placed in separate compartments.

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In the other type of State no such separation exists and the Sovereign and God are one and the same. Here the supreme authority vests in God Almighty who are the unchallenged ruler and the Supreme dispenser and whose commands do all obey. In this State human rulers are his vice-regents and their orders are obeyed only when they conform with and are derived from His divine commands or at least are not repugnant to them. This is an Islamic State.

Professor Wilfred C. Smith, the well-known Western Scholar of Islam commenting on the great debate going in the early 1950’s about the role of Islam in Constitution Making in Pakistan, said:

Islam is a religion, and like other religions, is transcendently ineffable; no form can continue or exhaust it. Like other religions it has been expressed in many forms artistic, intellectual, mystic but more than some others, social. In fact, Islam is characterized among the religions by the particular emphasis which it has from the beginning given to the social order”

Here he was echoing the thought of Iqbal that

“Islam is not creed. It is a social code.”

In fact, Islam embraces within its legitimate sphere not only those acts and performances which the followers of many other religions regard as included in the word ‘worship’, but it also embraces aspects of individual, communal national and international activity. Indeed in Islam the regulation of all aspects of one’s life in accordance with the values of Islam constitutes continuous worship of God. As a distinguished Muslim Scholar, Dr. I.H. Qureshi put it; “To us religion is not like a Sunday suit which can be put on when we enter a place of worship and put off when we are dealing with day to day life”. In fact, in Islam we can discover the underlying principles of social relationships, the laws of peace and war, of statecraft and human intercourse. Indeed, a complete course of conduct.

An Islamic State is accordingly, necessary not only because in such a State the Islamic way of life can be enforced in its totality, but it is necessary also because it visualizes a State where Muslims are enabled to strive for moral perfection and happiness. All believers living therein are enjoined to strive for moral perfection in accordance with the ideals of Islam and must make collective efforts to establish what is right and eradicate what is wrong; “Do what is right and forbid what is wrong” (XXII: 41) is the command of Holy Qur’an. This is the basic norm to be observed in an Islamic State.

Undoubtedly, the fulfillment of Islam as a way of life was not possible without the establishment of an Islamic State – Pakistan.

But Islam is not a backward-looking or a stagnant religion. In fact, the Holy Prophet (PBUH) was the greatest reformer that World has ever seen. As Sir Amir Ali writes in his famous book “The Spirit of Islam” on page 182 that:

“The Muslims of the present day have ignored the spirit… Instead of living up to the ideal preached by the master, instead of “striving the excel in good work”, “of being righteous”; instead of loving God, and for the sake of His love, loving His creatures, they have made themselves the slaves of opportunism and outward observance. It was natural that in their reverence and admiration for the Teacher his early disciples should stereotype his ordinary mode of life, crystallize the passing incidents of a chequered career, imprint on the heart orders, rules, and regulations enunciated for the common exigencies of the day in an infant society. But to suppose that the greatest Reformer the world has ever produced, the greatest upholder of the sovereignty of Reason, the man who proclaimed that the universe was governed and guided by law and order and that the law of nature meant progressive development, ever contemplated that even those injunctions which were called forth by the passing necessities of a semi-civilized people should become immutable to the end of the world, is doing an injustice to the Prophet of Islam”.

Accordingly, when we come to discuss the concept of an Islamic State one may safely say that there is not merely, one form of an Islamic State, but there are many, and it is for the Muslims of every period to discover the form most suitable to their needs on the condition, of course, that the form and the institutions they choose are in full agreement with the explicit, unequivocal Sharia laws relating to communal life.

These political Sharia laws found their full expression in the administrative institutions and methods that prevailed at the time of the Rightly Guided Caliphs and therefore their State was Islamic in every sense of the word. However, we must not forget that in the unwritten Constitution to which the Islamic Commonwealth confirmed in those days, there was, side by side with the explicit Sharia laws relating to statecraft, certain other laws enacted by the rulers of the time in accordance with their own interpretation of the spirit of the Qur’an and the Sunnah that is to say, derived through ijtihad. Apart from these, we encounter in the period of the Rightly Guided Caliphs many other administrative and legislative enactments which were neither directly nor indirectly derived from Qur’an or Sunnah but from purely commonsense, consideration of governmental efficiency and public interest (as, for example, “Umar’s establishment of the Diwan, or treasury office after the Persian model, or his prohibiting warriors from Arabia to acquire landed property in the newly conquered territories of Iraq). Inasmuch as such enactments were promulgated by the legitimate Government of the day and were, moreover, not contrary to the spirit or the letter of any Shari law they had full legal validity for that time. But this does not mean that they must remain valid for all times.

However, our moral obligation to try to emulate the great Companions relates precisely to their character and behavior – to their spiritual and social integrity, their selflessness, their idealism, and their unquestioning surrender to the will of God. It cannot and does not relate to an imitation, by people of later times. Of the Companion’s procedure in matters of State administration for the simple reason that this procedure was in many respects an outcome of the with his requirements of those times and individual ijtihad, and did not depend in each and every instance on Shari ordinance alone. The Prophet’s sanction of a ruler’s right to resort to such free, ijtihad decisions is illustrated in many Traditions, but perhaps nowhere as lucidly as in the classical report of his conversation with his Companion Mu’adh Ibn Jabal:

“When he (Mu’adh Ibn Jabal) was being sent (as governor) to Yemen, the Prophet asked him: “How will you decide the cases that will be brought before you?” Mu’adh replied: “I shall decide them according to the Book of God”. “And if you find nothing concerning (a particular matter) in the Book of God”? “Then I shall decide it according to the Sunnah of God’s Apostle”. “And if you find nothing about it in the Sunnah of God’s Apostle”. “Then”, replied Mu’adh, “I shall exercise my own judgment (ajtahidu bi-ra’yi) without the least hesitation”. Thereupon, the Prophet slapped him upon the chest and said: “Praise be God, who has caused the messenger of God’s Messenger to please the latter”.

We should never forget that the message of Islam is eternal and must, therefore, always remain open to the searching intellect of man. The very greatness of the Prophet’s life example lies in the fact that the more our knowledge of the world progresses, the better we can understand the wisdom of the law of Islam. Thus, our right to independent ijtihad on the basis of the Qur’an and the Sunnah is not merely permissive, but mandatory, and particularly so in matters on which the Shariya is either entirely silent or has given us no more than general principles.

Thus, even the Rightly Guided Caliphs themselves varied their system of administration or as we would say today, the Constitution of the State in many a point. As an illustration, the problem of choosing the Head of the State may be taken.

Although there was no difference of opinion among the Companions concerning the principle of elective Government as such and it was unanimously agreed that the Chief Executive of an Islamic state must be elected. The Law did not specify any particular method of election and so the Companions regarded the method of the election as something that lay outside the scope of the Sharia and could, therefore, legitimately be varied in accordance with the best interests of the community. Thus, the chiefs of the muhajirs and ansars present at Medina elected the first Caliph, Abu Bakr, at the time of the Prophet’s demise. On his deathbed, Abu Bakr designated Umar as his successor and this choice was subsequently ratified by the community (ratification being, in this instance, equivalent to the election). When ‘Umar, in his turn, was dying, he nominated an elected body composed of six of the most prominent Companions of the Prophet and entrusted them with choosing his successor from among themselves. Their choice fell on ‘Uthman, who was thereupon recognized by the community as Umar’s rightful successor. After Uthman’s death, a congregation in the Prophet’s Mosque proclaimed Ali Caliph, and the majority of the community thereupon pledged their loyalty to him.

Hence, under each of these four caliphates, which we describe as “rightly”, the Constitution of the State differed on a most important point; for it cannot be denied that the method by which the Head of the State is elected is a constitutional matter of great importance. The different treatment accorded by the Companions to this question with regard to both the composition of the electorate and the electoral procedure shows that, in their opinion, the Constitution of the State could be altered from time to time without making it any the less “Islamic” on this account.

It may be recalled that a State, which in the lifetime of the Prophet embraced only agricultural and pastoral communities with simple needs and comparatively static problems suddenly became the heir to the most, complicated Byzantine and Sassanian civilizations. At a time when almost all the energies of the Government had to be directed towards military consolidation and ensuring some administrative efficiency, new, staggering problems were arising every day in the sphere of politics and economics. Governmental decisions had often to be ‘made on the spur of the moment and thus, of necessity, many of them were purely experimental.

To stop at that first, splendid experiment and to assert that thirteen centuries after the Rightly Guided Caliphs, the organization of an Islamic State would be in exactly the same form with exactly the same institutions in which their state was manifested, would not be an act of true piety; it would, on the other hand, be a betrayal of the Companions creative endeavor. They were pioneers and pathfinders, and if we truly wish to emulate them, we must take up their unfinished work and continue it with the same creative spirit.

Before we talk on the basic principles underlying an Islamic State, it may be observed that establishing an Islamic State is not a goal or an end in itself but is only a means thereto: the goal being the growth of a community of people who stand up for equity and justice, for right and against wrong or, to put it more precisely a community of people who work for the creation and maintenance of such social conditions as would enable the greatest possible number of human beings to live, morally as well as physically, in accordance with the natural law of God, namely, Islam. An indispensable prerequisite for such an achievement is the development of a strong sense of brotherhood among the community. The Qur’an says

“The Faithful are but brethren”

According to the Qur’an and the Sunnah, this brotherhood must be of an ideological nature, transcending all considerations, of race and origin, a brotherhood of people bound together by nothing but the graciousness of a common faith and a common moral outlook. In the teaching of Islam, it is such a community of ideas alone that can provide a justifiable basis for all human groupings. It is only if these ideals are to be furthered that the concept of an Islamic State functioning within the framework of the Sharia finds its meaning and justification.

What do I mean by the Sharia? In my opinion, Sharia comprises those clear-cut commands and prohibitions, which are contained in the Qur’an and the Sunnah and no more. These Divine Ordinances delineate the outer limits i.e. the boundaries within which the community must act. All the rest, the multitude of “possible” legal situations falling within these limits can be decided from case to case in accordance with the requirements of the time and the changing social conditions. These Ordinances are described technically as nusus (singular, nass). It is the nusus of the Quran and the Sunnah, and these alone that collectively constitute the real, eternal Sharia of Islam. In His Sharia, the Law Giver has ordained in unmistakable terms as to what are the obligations of the Muslims and what matters are not lawful and, therefore, forbidden.

The study of the commands that have been expressed in nass terms reveals that by far the much larger area of human activity has been left unspecified wherein the Law Giver has not forbidden the doing of a thing. Accordingly, the doing of a thing in this field is permissible for Muslims to do whatever is conserved necessary in the circumstances. Consequently, the Muslims are free in this field to provide for whatever may be necessary, through additional legislation by the exercise of our ijtihad (independent reasoning) in consonance with the spirit of Islam. In other words, the legitimate field of the community’s law-making activity comprises :

  • details in cases and situations where the Sharia provides a general principle but no detailed commands and
  • principles as well as the details with regard to matters which are mubah.

It is in this connection that it is said in the Qur’an

“For every one of you we have ordained a Divine Law and an open road”

(Quran V:48)

If we approach our task in this spirit of free inquiry. We arrive at two important conclusions. First, the concept of Islamic Law, especially with regard to public law, acquires once again that simplicity which has been envisaged for it by Almighty Allah but subsequently buried under many layers of conventional and frequently arbitrary interpretation. Second and this is most pertinent to the problem before us the outward forms and functions of an Islamic state need not necessarily correspond to any “historical precedent”. All that is required of a State in order that is might deservedly be described as “Islamic” is the embodiment in its Constitution and practice of those clear-cut, unambiguous Ordinances of Islam which have a direct bearing on the community’s social, political, and economic life. As it happens, those Ordinances are very few and very precisely formulated; and they are invariable of such a nature as to allow the widest possible latitude to the needs of any particular time and social conditions.

In the light of this background I may now refer to some of the basic and fundamental concepts of an Islamic State. The first and foremost herein is that Sovereignty vests in Almighty Allah. “It is only for Allah to command” (Surah Yusuf, Verse 40) and “to Allah belonged the dominion of Heavens and the Earth (Surah Baqarah, Verse 107). Human beings are the viceregents of God; hence the authority exercised by them is only as the delegates of the Almighty and as a trust for him.

The Head of an Islamic State (Amir-ul-Mominin) must be a Muslim. Since the purpose of an Islamic State is the establishment of Islamic Law as a practical solution to man’s problems, it is only a person who is a Muslim who can be entrusted with the office of Head of State.

However, apart from the condition that the Head of State must be a Muslim and the “most righteous of, you” which obviously implies that he must be mature, wise and superior in character. The Sharia does not specify any conditions for eligibility to this office, nor does it lay down any particular mode of election, or prescribe the qualifications of the elections. Consequently, these details are to be devised by the community in accordance with its best interest and the exigencies of the time.

“Their (the Believers) communal business (amr) is to be (transacted in) consultation among themselves.”

(Qur’an, XLI:38)

This nass injunction is of the utmost importance and constitutes the bedrock of all Islamic thought in relation to statecraft. It is so comprehensive that it reaches out into almost every department of political life and indicates that the authority to rule does not belong to any one man. All affairs of a communal nature must be decided through consultation with the believers to whom the rulers are accountable. It indeed provides the manner in which the Government of an Islamic State itself is to be established i.e. by consulting the believers which in modern times means through elections. The phrase “amruhum shura baynahum” makes the transaction of all political business not only dependent upon, but synonymous with, constitution, from which we can concede that the legislative powers of the state should be vested in an Assembly chosen by the community.

In an Islamic State, the believers, no doubt, are enjoined to “Obey God and Obey the Apostle and those in authority among you”.

But a Muslim’s duty of allegiance to the Government, represented by the person of the Amir, is not unconditional. As has been laid down by the highest authority the Prophet himself it is due as long as he acts in accordance with the commands of Allah. The Prophet has said:

“No obedience is due in sinful matters; behold obedience is due only in the way of righteousness (fi’l-ma ruf)”

(Al-Bukhari and Muslim on the authority of Ibn Umar)

Abu Bakr on election as the Caliph said:

“O, people, I have been made the Ruler amongst you, and I am not the best of you. So if I am right, help me, and if I am in error, correct me. Truth is a (sacred) trust, and falsehood is breach of trust. The weak amongst you is strong in my eyes till I bring, with the help of God, to him what is his right. And the strongest amongst you is weak in my eyes) till I take from him, with the help of God, what is due”.

(Aal-Muttaqi, Kanz al Ummal Hydrabad 1954, Vol. V)

In an Islamic State the rulers are enjoined to deal with people with kindness. For Allah says:

“If you were unjust and harsh they would break away from you; so sympathize with them and be kind to them, and consult them in respect of affairs; then decide and have confidence in God; Verily God loves those who have faith in Him.”

Indeed establishing a just society and doing justice to all citizens is emphasized in the Holy Qur’an more than once.

“Allah doth command you to render back your trusts to those to whom they are due; and when ye judge between man and man (whether Muslims or Non-Muslims), that ye judge with justice: lo; comely is the teaching which he giveth you! Lo! Allah is He Who heareth and seeth all things”.

(IV:58)

“Oh ye who believe! Stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: For Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts of your hearts, lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do”.

(IV135)


Indeed the believers are enjoined to employ all means for establishing all that is right” (al-maruf) and eliminating “all that is wrong” (al-munkar).

An Islamic State furthermore must be a free and democratic State wherein its inhabitants are free from every kind of subjection, oppression and tyranny. No human being can be the master of another human being in an Islamic State. Here the government must be the Government of laws wherein its inhabitants are subject to the Laws of God and God alone. It is ordained:

“The authority and control belong to Allah only. He hath commanded that ye serve none save Him. That is the right religion but most human beings understand not”.

(XII:40)

When we say that an Islamic society must be a just society it also means that it must be free form all exploitations. The ideal of an Islamic Society is indeed that of a balanced community “wherein both the evils of poverty as well as the evils of riches are done away with”.

The Holy Qur’an clearly states that all human beings have equal right to the means of sustenance found on earth, and that, consequently, the citizens of an Islamic State have equal right to the means of sustenance found in the State:

“He (Allah) it is who created for you (i.e. for the benefit of all of you). O mankind! All that is on the earth”

(II:29)

According to this verse, no human being has any exclusive and absolute right to anything found on the earth:

“And we have provided therein (i.e. in the earth) means of subsistence for you and for those for whom ye provide not”

(XV:20)

and again:

“… and (Allah) ordained in due proportion therein (i.e. in the earth) the sustenance therefore (for the purpose of fulfilling the requirements of its inhabitants) in four days; equal for those who seek (to fulfill their needs)”

(XLI:10)

However, the Qur’an calls upon believers to work hard and lays down that no man can have anything except by his labour:

“That man can have nothing but what he strives for (through labour)”.

(LIII:39)

But at the same time holds out the assurance that God will reward man’s labour, in full. Hence, it is the duty of an Islamic State to establish such an economic order wherein every citizen is fully rewarded for his labour:

“And that his (man’s effort) will be seen; then he will be repaid for it with the fullest payment”

(LII: 40,41)

For man is the honored creature of God:

“Verily we have honored the children of Adam”

(XVII:70)

Hence, it is the duty of an Islamic State to organize, ensure and promote honorable living and livelihood for all of its citizens.

The concept of an Islamic State, in short, is of a State in which the Government is formed with the consultation of the people, the head of the State as well as other authorities are accountable to the community and the State strives to do right and to combat wrong and is also constantly striving to create a dynamic social order based on the principles of justice, cooperation, brotherhood and self sacrifice in the interests of the welfare of the entire community.

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