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Political System of Islam

Reference : Dr Javed Jamil

A Systematic Study of the Holy Qur’an-21

Political System of Islam


System of

As will be seen in the verses included in this chapter, the Qur’an sets basic but distinct and categorical guidelines for the development of political system; for Islam encompasses the life of individual as well as society; and society is not conceivable— at least in the modern world, without an elaborate administrative and political setup. It could not be possible therefore that God would not have given explicit instructions in this regard. Islam means peace, and is defined as submission to God, because the real peace cannot be achieved without wholly submitting to the injunctions of God. The grand objective of Islamic political system therefore is to ensure peace at all levels. And peace cannot be achieved without taking three basic steps: first, enjoin the righteousness and forbid evil; second, ensure justice; and third, foster unity and brotherhood. It is this trio that forms the foundation of the Islamic political setup.


Before understanding Islamic political system, however, let us have a brief look into the development of modern political ideology.


The modern political revolution was masterminded by the economic fundamentalists. The political experts of the West, under the impact of the ongoing industrialisation, felt the need to initiate a movement for the establishment of democracy which they described as a system of “the government of the people, for the people and by the people”. The slogan of people’s rule was indeed fascinating. It cannot be said with certainty whether the onset of the movement of democracy had direct involvement, or not, of the economic fundamentalists. But sooner or later, they were able to fathom the extraordinary potential in the on-rushing political developments for the growth of their ideolo­gy. A system other than the “people’s government” was now incompre­hensible; for a government that would be periodically changed would be easily manoeuvrable. The political hierarchy would not only be far more accessible than the monarchs; it would also be in no position to ignore the interests of the business-world; for the politicians required free flow of money for electioneering and other political functions. The manufacturers and traders would not mind parting with a small loaf in hope of greater returns. The movement for democracy could not have been successful if the dons of the world of business had not been kind on it.


The history soon witnessed the birth of different forms of demo­cratic systems. Little wonder that the democracies prospered primarily in those lands where industrialisation was in full swing. Multiple-party democracy was the obvious choice; for, in party-less democracy, the individual leaders might have ignored the interests of the market as soon as they seized the reins of power. On the other hand, the parties had long-term interests, and it was more improbable for the parties to forget the pre-election promises.


Though the avowed goal of democracy has been to fulfil the long cherished aspirations of the people, and to work for their all-round betterment, it has miserably failed to guard itself against the damaging intrigues of the vested interests, particu­larly the industrialists. The power can be seized only through elections; the big business either fields its own candidates, or more often, it supports a political party that is expected to best serve its interests. Any meaningful electioneering requires not only huge funds but also other extreme methods including the use of muscle-power, facilitating the entry of criminals. Thus a permanent nexus has developed between politics, organised crime and industry. This is true of almost all the big democracies of the present world. The bracket has extended itself to include the bureaucracy, administration and media. Elections are regularly held and the people can exercise their right to franchise. But the issues on which the elections are contested are usually such as suit the game-plan of the economic fundamentalists. The media creates and un-creates   issues, and the masses are beguilingly reconditioned into thinking the way the media thinks. Politics has become highly expensive and hazardous. The word “moral” has ceased to exist in the political lexicon. Anyone with semblance of con­science does not dare to venture into the political arena that has become a playground for the rich and the criminals. The upright and educated have in fact developed repugnance for it. Not only the    politicians have harmonious relations with the criminals, the criminals have themselves developed fascination for politics; in the absence of any strict legal criteria for candidates, the undesirable elements gain a sort of    legitimacy once they enter the election fray after joining one of the par­ties that are expected to fare well in elections. It is more tedious for an intellectual or social activist to convince the party stalwarts of his claim for party ticket; the criminals’ wish to become people’s representatives is expressly granted. Once they enter the Parliament or the assemblies, they acquire a distinct halo of respectability and esteem; big functions are organised to shower encomia on them for their “services” to the nation. After a few years of politicking, they become veterans, and ministerial chairs are, often, occupied by them. The ongoing politicisation of criminals breeds criminalisation of politics, and the crimi­nalisation of politics enhances the prospects of the economic fundamentalists.


Had democracy been properly put into practice, it might have been a sacred blessing for the common people. It might have guaranteed them a lion’s share in power; and their rightful needs and aspir­ations might have been truly realised. It still holds true that they can successfully overthrow any government out of power. It is therefore mandatory for a party in power to keep the masses in good humour. But, in reality, the remote controls of almost all governments remain in the hands of the big business. Through media that blossom under its auspices it succeeds in enchaining the imagination of the people. The disinformation campaign in the media is too effective to permit them independent thinking and judgement. Consequently, the real issues hardly surface into prominence, and the minor, insignificant and frivolous    matters are made to appear as big issues that do not haunt but hunt the mind of the common-man. The political bigwigs, when they ascend a public rostrum to deliver speeches that usually have plenty of rhetoric; cry their hearts out for the poor and the downtrodden. But in the comforts of their ministerial offices, they minister only to their industrialist benefactors, and their beneficences are gifted back multifold through convenient adjustments in policies and rules and regulations, grants of licences and ministerial orders for their products or services. All through their terms, the problems of the masses never bother them; but as the   expiry of their term and the new elections approach, they again revert back to their favourite theme: concern for the poor. A few schemes favouring them, though marginally, and often only on the   paper, are announced with great media hype. If they return to power, they are back in paradise; if not, still, they have great many privileges to enjoy themselves throughout their lives. And, of course, as opposition, they have now more opportunities to stand on the rostrum, and harangue about the necessity to raise the standards of life of the poor; for that to happen, the best course for the public is to bring them back in the next election.


As has been emphasised in previous chapters, Islam does not pinpoint its injunctions; it rather, sets boundaries, and within the area inside these boundaries, which is quite big, man is free to choose his way. Islam does not provide an elaborate arrangement of various institutions needed for political setup; it only defines premises that can be developed in an elaborate system, flexible enough to adjust to the requirement of a particular time.


The fundamental principles of Islam’s political ideology may be summed up as follows:


First, in an Islamic system, the ultimate sovereignty belongs to none but God Almighty, and therefore, no laws and regulations can be framed which violate God’s injunctions. The Qur’an, being the word of God, is to be consulted and kept supreme in all policy matters.


Second, the best interpreter of God’s injunctions can be none other than the Prophet himself; therefore, to understand God’s commands better, the authenticated sayings of the Prophet have to be taken into account.


Third, there shall be a leader of Islamic Government, who has to be followed in all matters unless he violates the commands of God. The leader should be chosen from among the best followers of Islam; and he should command the approval of Islamic nation.


Fourth, the leader, while administering the affairs of the state, shall consult the people (or their representatives); and their wish should be given due importance in decision making.


Fifth, an Islamic Government shall continuously endeavour to propagate the message of God.


Sixth, an Islamic Government shall continuously endeavour for global peace, and for attaining this purpose, it can, whenever required, develop friendship with the unbelievers (i.e. non-Muslim groups, organisations or countries) who have not been taking active participation in anti-Islamic activities.


Seventh, it is the duty of Islamic state to make best efforts possible to redress grievances of the oppressed people, irrespective of the religion or race of the oppressor or the oppressed.


Eighth, Islamic State will ensure peace at all levels.


Ninth, Islamic State will make every possible effort to improve the lives of the people within the bounds of God.


It follows from the above that the political setup, as advocated by the Islam, is closer to Democracy than any other form of Government, namely Monarchy, Oligarchy or Dictatorship. But it has certain basic differences with the western democracy. First, while in Western Democracy, the people are the real sovereign and they can make any law, whatever its implications, if the numerical majority supports it, the people in an Islamic Democracy are free to legislate only within the bounds set by God. For example, several Western governments, amidst the mounting of pressure by the public and the politicians, have legalised homosexuality. Such legislations are impossible in an Islamic system. Second, while in a Westernised democracy, the personal character of the candidates for the leadership of the nation has very little to do with the eligibility for the post, in an Islamic system, the ruler and his associates are expected to possess exemplary characters. The natural corollary of this, if applied to the modern society, is that, in an Islamic political system, while all people are free to vote (except those involved in serious crimes), only those are free to contest the elections, who have not been found involved in any of the prohibited activities, have sufficiently good knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and carry out the obligatory duties as enjoined by God. The biat system prevalent since the early days of Islam is very close to the voting system of the present time.


Governance by the Best


Democracy literally means ‘a government by the people, of the people and for the people’. In truth it is a government of the corporate, by the corporate and for the corporate. The result is that in most of the cases it is not the best among the people that ascend the ladder of politics but the ones chosen by the corporate, who often prove to be the worst for the people. The irony is that it is the people who appear to be voting them to power; they have no option but to elect from among those chosen by their rich masters. Islam, on the other hand, promotes the real democracy, which means Government of God, by the best servants of God and for the people; (theo-merito-democracy) for in Islam the state belongs to God, andwhat belongs to God does in truth belong to the people. God alone can be the selfless Master whose only interest is mercy onall its creatures. In Islamic countries, Islamic organisations must campaign for an Islamic republic. In other countries, they must campaign for suitable changes in the constitution that allow the most dedicated, selfless and competent persons, at the same time clean enough to be role models for the people, to form the political hierarchy. There must be a screening procedure for the candidates in all elections, and the criteria for the head of state and government must be very strictly selected and applied.  They should not just be the administrative heads but also true leaders of the masses. Suitable steps must be taken to ensure that the corporate world and other powerful lobbies are not in a position to unduly influence the decisions of the government.  


This should also be made clear that Islam basically advocates universal love, not nationalism; the ‘One Nation’ of Islam cannot be achieved by force but by continuous propagation of the faith and pro-welfare social principles of Islam. Every land and country is part of the Earth which is the creation of God; every nation or land has the right to work for its development; but to aggressively pursue the interests of one’s country at the coast of others or to project it as a superior nation or land is contrary to the spirit of universalism preached by Islam


Another point that deserves mention is the rights of Muslim citizens and the non-Muslim subjects. It is the duty of Islamic government to protect all the people irrespective of their religion. The only difference is that non-Muslim subjects cannot hold such posts in the government as have direct bearing on the direction of the state policy. There is nothing wrong about it. In every country, whatever form of government it has, its constitution cannot allow such persons to hold highest posts in the government as have open differences with the fundamentals of the country’s constitution. For example, the President and Prime Minister of India have to take an oath to preserve the secular, democratic and social fabric of the country. The President of USA cannot be a person who has no belief in democracy. If he does not do that, on account of having difference of opinion, he cannot occupy the post. Another difference is that while the non-Muslims are free to follow their religion, they cannot be permitted to actively propagate it. There is again nothing wrong about it. A secular country too, cannot allow the propagation of blatantly communal ideas; a communist country cannot permit open campaign in favour of capitalism; and a democratic country cannot tolerate attempts to destroy its democratic structure.


Even non-Islamic nations can adopt the Islamic political ideology (removing faith in Islam as the necessary condition) with more success than the westernised forms of uncontrolled and unlimited democracies that have led to the rule of corrupt everywhere in society.  Muslim nations must present true examples of selfless governments which they have not so far given.


In the name of God, the Kind, the Merciful




Political Ideology in Quran


God ultimate sovereign


It is He Who is God in heaven and God on earth; and He is full of Wisdom and Knowledge (43: 84/A)


And blessed is He to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all between them... (43: 85/A)


Prophet the ultimate Guide


But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. (4: 65/A)




Verily those who plight their fealty to thee do no less than plight their fealty to God. The Hand of God is over their hands: then any one who violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own soul, and any one who fulfils what he has covenanted with God,- God will soon grant him a great Reward. (48: 10/A)


O ye who believe! Obey God, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and His Messenger, if ye do believe in God and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination. ( 4: 59 /A)




One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams: those who are given their record in their right hand will read it (with pleasure), and they will not be dealt with unjustly in the least.  (17: 71/A)


Quran the Final Constitution


These are the verses of the Book which clearly indicate (right and wrong). (12: 1/Z)


Blessed is He who sent down the criterion to His servant, that it may be an admonition to all creatures... (25: 1/Z)


Thus have We revealed it to be a judgement of authority in Arabic. Wert thou to follow their (vain) desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither protector nor defender against God. ( 13: 37 /A)


Participatory governance


It is part of the Mercy of God that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (God’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast taken a decision put thy trust in God. For God loves those who put their trust (in Him).  (3: 159/A)


Importance of unity


And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God’s favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided. (3: 103/A)


Aims of administration


Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity. (3: 104/A)


Universal brotherhood


Mankind was but one nation, but differed (later). ( 10: 19 /A)


Importance of treaties with non-Muslims


A (declaration) of immunity from God and His Messenger, to those of the Pagans with whom ye have contracted mutual alliances... (9: 1/A)


(But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for God loveth the righteous. (9: 4/A)


But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,- fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained. ( 9: 12 /A)


If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of God. And then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge. (9: 6/A)



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