The idea of the Islamic State.
These are the words of Pakistan's Federal Court in 1954 assessing demands by certain Islamic groups that the government acts as an Islamic State. Although given more than fifty years ago, this judgment captures the trends and intent of many of those who propagate the idea of the Islamic State today.
In the post-Colonial era in the Muslim World, no political theme has been more frequently discussed than the idea of the Islamic State. Initially, the concept emerged as a Muslim response to the different political systems introduced by the Colonial powers. Gradually, however, due to the failures of the post-Colonial governments to effectively address issues that affected the common people, corruption, authoritarianism, and the politics of the Cold war, the idea of the Islamic State gained currency and popularity. The Islamic Revolution in Iran in 1979 then demonstrated that the Islamic State was not just a utopia but could be a reality. More recently, the September 11, 2001 events and the subsequent invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq and related developments in Pakistan and Central Asia have given the concept even more prominence. The elections in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Iraq, seen by many Muslims as American efforts to support or install corrupt, non-Islamic governments, further strengthened the attraction of an Islamic alternative not only in these countries but also in the other parts of the Muslim World.
This study explores the origins and development of the idea of the Islamic State from the theological, historical, and philosophical dimensions. It also looks at some of the contemporary models of "Islamic states." In so doing, it attempts to address such questions as: "Are religion and politics separate domains in Islamic tradition, or is there no separation between religion and politics in Islam?" "Is Islam compatible with democracy or not?" And "Why is the idea of an Islamic State becoming popular in some Muslim societies today?"
This essay is organized in eleven sections. The first looks at why and under what circumstances the idea of the Islamic State emerged. The second part considers the various verses of the Quran and the sayings and the deeds of the Prophet relevant to the concept, including the governance of the City State of Madinah. The third section examines the governments put in place by the Companions of the Prophet, which became both models as well as sources of subsequent disputes among Muslim thinkers and theologians, while the fourth recounts the experience of the Umayyad and Abbasid periods which provided a totally different model of the state absorbing pre-Islamic institutions of the Byzantines and the Persians. The fifth part presents a summary of the different reactions to the question of the relationship between religion and politics over this time--a formative period when Muslim intellectuals, theologians, and dissenting groups articulated their ideas on the subject. This leads to a discussion of the development of the Sunni model of the state, still a major influence in the contemporary thinking, followed by a section devoted to the speculations of the philosophers and statesmen on the institution of the state in the light of history. The eighth part presents the ideas of Ibn Taimiyyah who revolted against history and authored a political philosophy that gave birth to the Wahhabi school of thought. In the ninth section, we analyze the developments of the idea of government by jurists that led to the present model of the Islamic Republic of Iran. The tenth discusses the various reactions to the end of the institution of the Caliphate in Turkey in 1923, and the final section presents the contemporary situation wherein three models of the Islamic state influence the relationship between religion and politics.
In the first contemporary model, devised by the House of Saud, an absolute monarchy employs religion to suit its political interests. The second model, represented by the Islamic republic of Iran, demonstrates how religious authorities can subject politics to their view of religion, and the third, followed by a majority of Muslim countries, accommodates religion either in an advisory capacity or as a separate domain. This brief analysis makes no claim to be a comprehensive study; rather it presents only those theologians, philosophers, and statesmen who have had the most dominant influence in shaping the contours of these different Islamic concepts of the state.
Why an Islamic State?
While the Munir Report, quoted at the outset, found the answer in a confused and desperate search for a glorious past, Muhammad Asad, a leading scholar of the same period, saw it as a "moment of free choice" after Muslim societies had won independence from colonial rule. He observed: "It is for the Muslims to decide whether their newly independent states shall be subordinated to modern Western concepts which deny to religion the right to shape the nation's practical life, or shall, at last, become Islamic polities in the true sense of the word." He asserted that a state would not necessarily become an Islamic State just because it's predominant or even entire population consisted of Muslims: "It can become truly Islamic only by virtue of a conscious application of the sociopolitical tenets of Islam to the life of the nation, and by incorporation of those tenets in the basic constitution of the country." (2) In both of these versions, however, the defining element was the impact of Colonialism.
Indeed, the impact of Colonialism on Muslim societies was enormous. In addition to changing administrative institutions, colonial powers introduced their own languages in almost every field, and traditional schools, the madrassas, lost patronage as well as financial resources. Moreover, their curriculum became essentially irrelevant for jobs other than those that required the performance of religious rituals and ceremonies. Muslim philanthropic institutions (auqaf) were either closed or the properties attached to them were appropriated by the new authorities. The new judicial system required different skills and qualifications; therefore, they no longer accommodated those who were educated only in Islamic law. Colonial governments strengthened only those institutions that they could control. They trained new bureaucrats, soldiers, and petty officials who, in their tastes and dress, looked like the colonialists and spoke their language.
As if these encroachments were not enough, apologists for Western values and culture presented intellectual challenges to Muslim scholars. The new textbooks for schools and colleges not only ridiculed Muslim institutions but even disparaged the very fundamentals of Islam. This marked the birth of "Orientalism," which- sometimes subconsciously but sometimes intentionally, presented an inferior picture of Islam and had the overall effect of controlling, manipulating, and generally suppressing developments within the Islamic community that might have challenged the Colonial administrations. These conditions had far reaching implications for Muslim elites, scholars, and aristocrats.
The grand European narratives of this time compressed diverse historical events under the rubric of "white man's burden" to "civilize" the "savage" societies of the colonized world. The colonizers explained to themselves the Western triumph over the Muslim countries not in terms of the practical realities of deceptions, broken pledges, and ruthless wars but rather as the logical result of a superior culture with better economic and political institutions that had subjugated "inferior cultures."
The reaction of Muslims to these challenges was not homogenous. Some accepted the European achievements in science, technology, political institutions, and administrative skills but rejected their notions of cultural superiority. Others responded with physical and religious resistance and invoked the idea of holy struggle (jihad) against "the children of crusaders." Still others argued that Muslim institutions were far superior to what Europe had to offer to the world. These scholars and leaders searched for glorious episodes in their history which not only reflected the real strength of Islam but had made key contributions to the development of contemporary Western institutions. They pointed to Muslim contributions to science, medicine, philosophy, law, governance, commerce, and trade. But at the same time, they also advocated the idea of the Islamic state that had more to offer to its citizens than any counterpart from the West. It is this aspect of Muslim politics--the concept of the ideal Islamic State--that most concerns us here.
The Quran and Sunnah
There are a variety of possible sources for the idea of the ideal Islamic State. The Quran is considered by Muslims as the most comprehensive revealed message of God to humanity. It is believed that this Holy Book provides a complete code of life for the believers. For many scholars (ulama) and believers, it is simply not possible that a vital social institution such as politics would be missing from the Quran's tenets. But it is worth exploring whether it really stipulates a distinct political system for Muslims to follow or as Muhammad Asad asks, "does it perhaps leave, as other religions do, all political action to be decided by the people themselves in the light of the exigencies of the time?" (3)
The Quran does give minute details on regulating the social, moral, and economic conduct of Muslims. However, the issues of governance and politics are dealt with only in generalized principles. The Quran asks believers to "Obey God, and obey the Messenger of God and those in-charge amongst you." (4) Consultations are recommended in important matters, (5) David's kingdom is specifically cited as having displayed "wisdom and clear judgment," (6) and Joseph is quoted as saying "I am a good keeper, knowing well." (7) Regarding the dispensing of justice, the Quran says: "Those who do not judge by what God has revealed--those indeed are the evildoers," (8) and "Whenever God and His Messenger have decided a matter, it is not for a believer man or woman to follow another course of his or her own choice." (9) There are also numerous references to right and wrong, equity and justice and brotherhood. But the Quran does not stipulate any distinct political framework for working out these matters. In fact, it explicitly says: "For every one of you We have ordained a Divine Law and an open road." (10) Muhammad Asad comments on this verse that "While the Divine Law (the Shari'ah) outlines the area within which Muslim life may develop, the Law-Giver has conceded to us, within this area, an open road (minhaj) for temporal legislation which could cover the contingencies deliberately left untouched by the nusus (clear pronouncements) of Quran and Sunnah." (11)
The second principal textual source on these subjects is the Sunnah--the actions of the Prophet. This source provides both a description of the model of an Islamic State as well as its guiding principles. After the Flight to Madina (hijra) in 622, the Prophet established a city-state with a written constitution. (12) The Constitution included Muslims and non-Muslims, particularly Jews as part of the overall community, the Ummah: "This is a document from Muhammad the Prophet, governing relations between the Believers (Muslims) and those who followed them and worked hard with them. They form one nation--Ummah." (13) This document emphasized that "No Jew will be wronged for being a Jew," and that "the enemies of the Jews who follow us will not be helped." In a separate treaty with the Christians of Najran, the Prophet assured them that "they would have full liberty to practice their faith, that no bishop, monk or priest would be removed from his office, that no image or cross would be destroyed, that no tithe would be levied from them, and that they would not be required to furnish any troops." (14)
This historical model lasted for ten years. The idea behind it clearly was to establish a community of believers--Muslims, Jews, and Christians--respecting and helping one another. As Lumbard puts it, many Christians fought on the side of the Muslims against the enemies of Islam because the point "was not to establish a world populated only by Muslims; it was to create a social order in which the freedom to practice the worship of God was guaranteed for all Muslims as well as for (other)... People of the Book." He concludes, "Traditional Muslims saw all of life in terms of balance...." (15) This balance transcended tribal distinctions, ethnic identities, and even religious affiliations. They were blended into a new nation, the Ummah, provided the concerned parties honored the covenant that they had agreed upon.
A third source of guidance consists of many volumes containing Prophet's sayings that were compiled much later and are known collectively as the Hadith. Some of these offers clear guidance on social, legal, and political issues. According to one Hadith passage, in his last sermon, the Prophet stated: "O men, beware, your God is one. An Arab has no preference over a non-Arab or a non-Arab over an Arab or a white over a black or a black over a white, except on grounds of piety." Emphasizing equality before law, he warned: "Nations before you were destroyed because they punished those among them of low status according to law, and spared the high-ranking."
According to another Hadith, Ali once asked the Prophet: "What shall we do if we are faced with a problem after you die about which there is no mention in the Quran nor have we heard anything concerning it from your lips?" He answered, "Collect those of my people (ummah) that serve God truthfully and place the matter before them for mutual consultation. Let it not be decided by an individual's opinion." He told his followers to listen and obey their rulers whether they liked it or not, unless they were asked to do wrong; when they were asked to do wrong, they should neither listen nor obey. He declared, "There is no obedience in sin against God. Obedience is only in the right." Those who sought or coveted political leadership were told "we do not entrust a post in this government of ours to anyone who seeks or covets it." (16)
Clearly anticipating the problems of authoritarianism and tyranny, the Prophet stressed: "Whoever of you sees an evil thing, let him undo it with his hand. If he cannot, let him check it with his tongue. If he cannot do even this, let him despise it with his heart and wish it otherwise, and this is the lowest degree of faith." Regarding Jihad, he stated, "The best of Jihad is to say the right thing in the face of a tyrant," and warned his followers that "when people see a tyrant and do not seize his hand, it is not far that God should afflict them with a general ruin." Another prominent compiler (Imam Nasai) records a further, even more pointed warning by the Prophet: "Some people are going to be rulers not long after me. He who supports them in their wrong and assists in their tyranny has nothing to do with me, nor I have anything to do with him." (17) However, many proponents of the Islamic State were not inspired by this model, but rather by the experience of the period following the Prophet's death.
The First Successors: The Rightly Guided Caliphate (Khilafat-i--Rashidah)
The Prophet died in 632. While his family members were busy with his funeral, some of his companions gathered at a place called Saqifah to discuss the question of his succession. The local residents of Madinah (Ansar [helpers]) thought that since they had welcomed the Prophet and his companions, the successor should be one of them but the Muhajirun (immigrants) argued that because of the kinship with the Prophet, a member of his tribe, the Quresh, should be appointed as his deputy (Khalifah). After a brief scuffle, Umar raised the hand of Abu Bakr and asked the assembly to accept him as the new leader of the Ummah. "Who among you is there to match with Abu Bakr in stature and popularity?" Umar asked them, and then declared: "Now, therefore, whoever will swear allegiance to another without consultation with other Muslims, he and the one whose allegiance is sworn, shall both stand to die." (18) Absent any such challenge, Abu Bakr was duly appointed.
Abu Bakr's reign was brief (632-634), however, before his death, he nominated Umar and asked the people of Madinah to pledge their loyalty (bai'ah) to him. During Umar's decade-long rule (634-644), the Muslims conquered vast areas of the Byzantine and Sassanid empires. Unlike the agricultural and pastoral communities of the Arabian Peninsula, the new territories presented more complex patterns of economy and administration. Accordingly, Umar introduced some of the institutions of these two civilizations. The position of Caliph became more centralized and assumed the status of a divine appointment. Before his death, Umar appointed an Elective Council of six members to choose one amongst them as his successor. This Council chose Usman.
Umar knew that Usman preferred his own clan, the Umayyads, over other Muslims in government positions and had warned the members of the Elective Council against a rising tide of tribalism and Usman in particular: "If I propose him my successor I fear he would suffer the sons of Abu Mu'ait (the Umayyads) to ride on the necks of people, and they will practice sin among them. God knows, if I do so, 'Uthman will do this; and if 'Uthman does this, they will surely commit sins, and people will rise against 'Uthman and make short work of him." (19)
Umar's prophecy came true as Usman, despite personal piety and public trust, quickly earned the reputation of favoring his relatives for appointment as governors and advisors. When people complained against the high-handedness and corruption of these individuals, Usman ignored them. A delegation from Egypt approached him and brought to his attention the wrongs done by his governor there. He placated them by ordering the removal of the governor. But the delegation subsequently found out that they had been cheated, whereupon they returned to Medina and asked the Caliph either to resign or to hand over the culprit. When Usman refused, he was killed and his twelve-year rule ended in 656.
After Usman's death, the people of Medina chose Ali, Muhammad's son-in-law as the next caliph in the Prophet's mosque. Soon after Ali's election, the Umayyad clan raised the issue of punishing the murderers of Usman. They persuaded the Prophet's widow, 'Aisha, to press this demand. This resulted in the first civil war between the forces of Ali and 'Aisha in the battle of the Camel in 656. 'Aisha soon relented and retired from public life. However, the Umayyad governor of Syria, M'uawiya, insisted on avenging Usman (his cousin), and challenged Ali in the battle of Siffin (657). A shrewd and cunning man, M'uawiya used all available means including money and threats, to muster support for his cause but sensing that he would be defeated, nevertheless, he raised the slogan of "let the Quran decide the issue!" Ali warned his soldiers that this was a trick, but they agreed to arbitration, which proved inconclusive. This led to the establishment of two rival states, one headed by Ali in Kufah and the other led by M'uawiya in Damascus (659). Two years later, Ali was assassinated in the mosque of Kufah.
The overwhelming majority of Muslims considers this twentynine year period as constituting the best model of an Islamic state. The embarrassing moments are considered only mistakes in ijtihad (judgment after striving hard), but the most important reason for the veneration of this period is that Abu Bakr, Umar, and Usman were companions of the Prophet, 'Aisha was his widow (mother of the believers), and Ali was not only his cousin but also his son-in-law. For many believers, it is beyond comprehension that people so close to the Prophet could have made mistakes. Moreover, with the possible exception of Usman, all of these figures enjoyed almost universal respect for piety, honesty, and good governance. They led very simple lives, considered themselves not the rulers but the servants of the people, (20) and were often held accountable for their actions and acquisitions by the public. However, when their legacy is viewed in terms of a political system, it is clear that they did not leave any settled practice especially regarding the method of choosing a head of the state. The first was chosen from a small group, the second was nominated, the third was chosen from a selected council, and the fourth was literally forced by the shocked and enraged people of Medina to accept the office.
After Ali's assassination, M'uawiya, again through bribery, intimidation, and murder, became the sole ruler of the Muslim World. He nominated his son as his successor and asked the notables to accept this nomination and pledge their loyalty. His son then eliminated those who refused to accept this idea of dynastical monarchy. Ali's son, Hussain (grandson of the Prophet) was killed at Karbala in 680 along with his children and many other companions of the Prophet. This massacre became a signal event in Muslim history, spawning a whole series of subsequent intellectual, theological, and political movements.
The Umayyad and Abbasid Dynasties
The Umayyad dynasty ruled from 661 to 750, based in Damascus. The Umayyads retained the administrative structure of the Byzantines and Persians but issued new coinage withislamic inscriptions, introduced Arabic as the official language, and added diacritical marks to the Quranic text. They built palaces and mansions and adopted the crown and throne as distinctive marks of royalty. They discriminated against the non-Arab Muslims and instituted the public condemnation of Ali and his supporters. Except for the brief reign of Umar bin Abd al-Aziz (717-720) who stopped the public condemnation of the House of Ali and placed all Muslims, Arabs and non-Arabs on equal footing, Muslim history remembers the Umayyad rulers as oppressive, cruel, and corrupt. Their rule sparked many insurrections, which they ruthlessly put down. When pursuing one opponent, Abdallah bin Zubayr (killed in 692), they attacked and damaged the holy sanctuary of Makkah. Public hangings, displaying dead bodies on the roads, and marching with chopped heads stuck on spears became a common sight in "rebellious regions." Altogether, this profile could hardly inspire any Muslim to portray this period as an ideal "Islamic state."
The Abbasids gained power in the 8th century, under the banner of rehabilitating the supremacy of the House of the Prophet. They started their movement in Iraq in 718 as partisans of Ali vowing to punish all Umayyads responsible for the tragedy of Karbala and subsequent killings of members of ahl al-Bait (descendants of Ali and Fatimah, the Prophet's daughter). After killing the last Umayyad ruler in 750, they chose Abu al-Abbas al-Saffah, a descendant of Abbas (the Prophet's uncle), as the new caliph. The capital was shift ed from Damascus to the newly built city of Baghdad and the administration was placed in the hands of a loyal and competent family, the Barmakids of Persia. Gradually, Sasanid patterns of administration and court decorum were introduced. (21)
Soon after coming to power, however, the Abbasids renounced the Shi'a origin of their movement. (22) Abu Muslim Khurasani, who had been instrumental in propagating their cause and creating a broad support system for this dynasty, was put to death by al-Mansur (754-775). The caliph based his claim to legitimacy on his own descent from Abbas, the Prophet's uncle. With the passage of time, the new dynasty came to be the champions of Sunni orthodoxy. Ali's descendants and sympathizers once again fell victim to torture, imprisonment, and death. However, this situation changed with the death of Harun al-Rashid in 809 when civil war broke out between his two sons, al-Amin, based in Iraq, and al-Mamun, based in Persia. The later patronized the Shi'a community, endorsed the Mu'tazili philosophy as the official theology, and even nominated the eighth Shi'a Imam, Ali al-Riza (d. 818), as his successor--a clever political move that won over the Persians.
Another political trend during this era was the establishment of a series of splinter dynastical monarchies by a variety of powerful families and groups. The leaders of these new entities did not call themselves caliphs but took the title of sultans, formally recognizing the caliphate of the Abbasids. In Egypt and Spain, however, the Fatimids and the Umayyads (established by a survivor of the Umayyad dynasty) subsequently established rival caliphates. These developments challenged not only the idea of the Ummah but also introduced new concepts of the relationship between Islam and politics.
The Search for an Ideal Model
This extended period of civil wars and insurrections combined with the frequent use of Islamic terms and references to the Quran by the rival parties created great confusion among the pious and the learned circles of Muslim society. "Who was right and who was wrong?" became a frequently asked question. The issue was particularly complex when the belligerent groups had been very close to the Prophet--as in the case of the battle of Camel where, one group was led by the Prophet's widow and the other by his son-in-law and cousin. These questions were raised in almost every gathering, every school, and in some towns, every house. Ensuing debates touched almost every dimension of faith and politics: the qualifications of the rulers, how to elect him, how to depose him, the role of God in human affairs, who qualifies to be a believer and who forfeits his right. A number of aspects of this great debate were related directly to the issue of the ideal state.
Over time, some groups of pious believers developed a general theme that beyond this world of political strife, accumulation of wealth, exploitation of religion for personal gains, hatred, and sectarianism, there was a world of peace, tranquility, and love. Without condemning anyone, they glorified the intellectual and spiritual powers of Ali and his descendants. In their view, the Prophet was the only source of true knowledge and had passed this knowledge to Ali; therefore, whereas the others sought worldly power, Ali possessed the real power of faith. Love and respect for the House of the Prophet became an important doctrinal principle. A Sufimaster was given more respect than the ruler; he deserved a bai'ah, pledge of loyalty like the ruler, and was expected to nominate his caliph (deputy). With the passage of time, the titles of temporal rulers such as sultan and shah were given to some of these leaders by their followers. They even drew imaginary boundaries of the areas under their domain and their places of residence were described as courts. People visited them and offered gift s or presented requests mostly concerning worldly affairs. Their popularity among the masses could even bring the rulers to their doorsteps or in some cases executioners. Religion and politics became separate domains. In the 15th century, however, some Sufi masters became more actively involved in political matters, particularly in Central Asia, Iran, and then South Asia.
During the time of the Prophet, many Muslims regarded Ali as the most suitable successor of the Prophet because of his knowledge and training by the Prophet. When Abu Bakr was chosen as the first caliph, many notables including M'uawiya's father approached Ali with pledges of help if he would challenge the choice of the Prophet's successor. Ali refused these offers and rebuked those who brought them for creating dissensions among Muslims. When Ali eventually was proclaimed caliph, M'uawiya rebelled at his selection. During this period the term Shi'a was applied to both parties: M'uawiya's supporters were called Shi'an-i-M'uawiya and Ali's followers were called Shi'an-i-Ali. During the ascendancy of the Umayyads, however, M'uawiya's group took the title of "Ahl-al-Sunnah wal-Jam'ah" (people who followed the Sunnah and the opinion of the majority) while Ali's supporters were simply referred to as Shi'ahs. For many Muslims, it was nothing more than a political tussle between the two parties but nonetheless, those who were close to Ali felt that indeed he was the ideal ruler and the Imam of the believers. In terms of a distinct political theory of Imamat, however, the tragedy of Karbala played a significant role. The cold-blooded slaughter of Hussain and his family at Karbala created general indignation among the general Muslim populace against the Umayyads and led to a distinct theory of Islamic state headed by an Imam.
The Shi'ah came to believe that the Prophet had, indeed, appointed Ali as his successor. They pointed to many Hadiths of the Prophet recorded by the Sunni compilers that substantiated their claim. (23) In their view, irrespective of the chronological order, Ali remained the Imam of the believers and the Prophet's plenipotentiary (wasi). His appointment was divinely ordained and those who did not acknowledge his status and presented themselves as the leaders of the Muslim community were usurpers, and thus not worthy of being obeyed. This was the genesis of the theory of Imamat in Shi'a theology. In simple terms, it meant that since Muhammad was the last Prophet, knowing that the Muslim community would need a guide after him, he had appointed Ali as the Imam. The Prophet's proclamation of Ali as his wasi was an important part of his prophetic mission, therefore, Ali and other Imams from his lineage were ordained by God. Thus neither it was the community of believers nor any individual nor any assembly of the notables authorized to appoint the Imam. This authority was vested only in the living Imam to appoint his successor. Ali was appointed to this position by the Prophet and he had appointed his two sons from Fatimah, Hasan and Husain. Then the institution of Imamat passed to Husain's son, Ali, who had survived the carnage of Karbala. Ali thus became the fourth Imam. When he died (712), some of his followers believed that his son, Zaid (d.740) had inherited the leadership, while others accepted his other son, Muhammad Baqir as the fifth Imam. The followers of Zaid propagated a slightly different theory of political succession.
The Zaidiyyah (the followers of Zaid) believed that Ali, indeed, was superior to all the companions of the Prophet but that this did not mean that an inferior person could not be elected as caliph. They held that any able person from among the descendants of the Prophet's daughter, Fatimah, could be appointed, provided he sought the position. (24) The writings of the great Sunni jurist, Imam Abu Hanifah were inspired by the Zaidiyyah views of the Islamic state.
On the other side of this split, Muhammad Baqir (d.731) appointed his son, Ja'far al-Sadiq as the next (sixth) Imam. During the time of Jafar, Sh'iah jurisprudence came to be known as Fiqh-i--Jafariyah. Jafar was universally honored for his knowledge and piety amongst the Shi'ah and Sunni jurists as well as the Sufis. However, realizing the dangers to his followers, he advised them to conceal their views (taqiyyah) and accept the de facto rulers. After the sudden death of his eldest son Ismail, Jafar nominated his second son, Musa Kazim as his successor. This led to still another schism in the Sh'iah community; as some of Jafar's followers believed that Ismail was not dead but had simply disappeared. This group came to be called the Ismailis. Others accepted Jafar's decision and continued to follow five more imams after Kazim.
The twelfth Imam, Muhammad Mahdi, was born in 869 at Samarra where his father, Hasan Askari, the 11th Imam, had been under detention. A few days before his death, Askari nominated his son as his successor. Soon after his father's death, Mahdi went into hiding, in two phases: ghibat-i-sughra (the short concealment) and ghibat-i-kubra (the long concealment). During the "short concealment," which lasted as much as seventy years, the Imam was visited only by four successive wakils (representatives): Usman ibn Said, Abu Jafar, Abu al-Qasim, and Abu al-Hasan. In 940, the last wakil announced that the Imam was going into the long concealment and there was no need to appoint any other representative on his behalf. Hasan died saying: "Now the matter is with God." Since that time the followers of the line of Baqir and Jafar have believed that the last Imam (the Mahdi) is hidden and they expect him to return near the end of time. (25) These believers in the twelve imams are called the "Twelvers" (Ithna 'Ashriyyah) and constitute the predominant community in Shi'ah Islam today.
The classical Shi'ah theory of the state is based on the concept of the hidden Imam. This theory holds that an ideal Islamic state is possible only under the Imam, who has to be a descendant of Ali from Fatimah and is protected by God against committing sins (m'asum). Until the hidden Imam's re-appearance, believers will pass through dangerous and chaotic periods, but they will ultimately be rewarded for being steadfast with the coming of the Mahdi. The Mahdi will put an end to all tyranny, despotism, misery, suffering, and sinfulness, and a new era of prosperity, justice, equality, and happiness will begin. In the meantime, the religious issues and temporal problems faced by the people will be dealt with by a group of learned, righteous, erudite, and competent scholars (mujtahids) in the light of the teachings of Quran, Sunnah, and the Imams. The domain of the mujtahids, however, was to be confined to non-political affairs.
Like the Twelvers, the Isma'ilis also believed in the hidden Imam. But in the Isma'ili belief, when Abd Allah al-Mahdi, in direct line of descent from Ismail, succeeded in establishing his empire in Tunis and later in Egypt, the concept of hidden Imam was changed into a present (hazir) Imam. Every caliph thereafter was called al-qa'im, a title reserved for the Mahdi. Even though the Fatimid Caliphate (909-1171) was, in broad terms, a theocratic state, it emerged as a state run by just rulers and efficient administrators. They patronized institutions of learning, built libraries, and observatories. These institutions were accessible to all irrespective of class or creed. (26) The caliph would often attend the lectures of prominent scholars. Professors wore robes as the sign of scholarship and distinction. The al-Azhar University of Cairo remains a living monument to this dynasty's love of knowledge. However, a dispute over political succession created a further split between two powerful factions that was once again interpreted in theological terms. The caliph al-Mustansir, who died in 1036, had appointed his son, Nizar, as the next imam. But Nizar was not in Cairo at the time of his father's death and before he could claim his right, his brother, al-Musta'li seized power. Those who supported Nizar were persecuted, but remained active in Persia; the Agha Khan represents that branch today. The followers of Must'ali are known as Bohras.
This group of zealots also emerged during the battle of Siffin in 657. In many ways, this event acted as a watershed in the debate on Islamic state. The absence of an ordained clergy in Islam gave free rein to all sorts of statements on the relationship between religion and politics. The next two centuries witnessed many factions who articulated their views on this subject. The Khwarij (before earning this title which means those who were thrown out of the Ummah) were supporters of Ali but when he agreed, under pressure from majority of his soldiers, to arbitration with M'uawiya, they turned against him. They then launched a violent campaign against the contemporary governments. Ali defeated them but they re-emerged after his assassination in 661 and engaged in bloodshed, arson, and plunder. The Abbasids finally crushed them in the 9th century. Their views on the state were:
1. Abu Bakr and Umar were rightful caliphs but Usman had deviated from the right path and hence deserved to be deposed or killed. Ali started as the just and rightful caliph but committed a major sin when he accepted the arbitration. Those companions of the Prophet who participated in the battles of Camel and A'ishah (the Prophet's widow) had also committed a grave sin.
2. All these sinners had become infidels including those Muslims who accepted and supported them, therefore, they all deserved to be killed.
3. The caliph should be elected by the free choice of Muslims and it was not necessary that he should be from the tribe of Quraish.
4. The caliph is to be obeyed only if he acts justly; if he deviates from the right path and justice, it is the duty of the community to depose or assassinate him.
As regards the need for the state and their relationship with other Muslims, the Khawarij were divided into three main sects. The Najdiyyah did not believe that the Muslims needed a state; they could regulate their own affairs if they so desired. However, if they needed someone to help them in these matters, there was no harm in having a state. A second group, the Azariqah declared all other Muslims mushriks (polytheists). For them, it was a religious duty to kill such Muslims, their women and children and if any of their own group hesitated to do this, he was also considered infidel. They justified all means to achieve their goals including treachery, poisoning wells, burning crops, and plundering villages. It is reported that non-Muslims felt safer in their areas than Muslims. The third sect, the Ibadiyyah, was more tolerant of other Muslims even those Muslims they believed had turned away from Islam. The Ibadiyyah regarded such Muslims as inhabiting neither the zone of war nor the zone of infidels but the zone of tauhid (people who believed in one God).
However, the Ibadiyyah did not consider the seats of government of such groups as being worthy of any tolerance and advocated open wars against them. (27)
Since political differences in this period were regularly explained in religious terms, the advocates of any particular form of government essentially needed a religious sanction to justify fighting their opponents. Thus, the question as to who is a Muslim and who has forfeited his right to be regarded as a Muslim generated another controversy. An overwhelming majority of Muslims had become fed up with constant warfare and the accompanying decrees of polytheism and infidelity. One specific group articulated these thoughts. They were called the murji'ah, meaning those who postponed judgments. They hated the wars and the bloodshed but were not prepared to declare any of the contenders as infidels. They left it to God to judge these matters. The Murji'ah believed that so long as a believer had faith in God and the Prophet, his sins would not stand in the way of his salvation. Therefore, if one's "duty to uphold the right and stem the wrong (amr bi al-ma'ruf and nahi 'an al-munkar) required one to bear arms, it was a 'trial' to be avoided. It was right to challenge others on wrong conduct, but to speak out against the tyranny of government was not allowed." (28) However, these ideas violated not only the clear injunctions of the Quran but also the dictates of the Sunnah, and one commentator stated that they strengthened "the hands of tyrants and greatly demoralized the Muslims' power of resistance against the forces of evil and wickedness." (29)
This school emerged during the Umayyad period and is commonly known as the Rationalists. The main emphasis of their thought was on the nature of the Quranic revelations, human responsibility in historical events, and other issues related to theology. However, the political crises of their age and the nature of the Islamic state that was being propagated dragged them into this debate. Each member of this school actually expressed different opinions; some were moderates while others were radical rationalists who did not see a role for God or for that matter for religion in political matters. Nonetheless, the following points broadly represent the views of the Mu'tazilah:
1. There would be no need for the State if the community followed the true path but since the people generally tend to deviate from the right path, the institution of state becomes a religious obligation.
2. Only the community has the power to choose the Imam.
3. It is not necessary that the Imam should be chosen from the Quraish or Arab or non-Arab tribes; any person with moral integrity and honest profile could be chosen. (Some Mu'tazila preferred a freed slave without any solid support system so that if he turned out to be a tyrant, he could be deposed.) It is better to have a weak but good government than to have a strong but wicked one.
4. It is religious duty of Muslims to rise in arms against an unjust government provided they have the necessary means to change the ruler. (30)
The Mu'tazilah rendered bold verdicts on the period of the "rightly guided Caliphs." They criticized both Umar and Usman for some of their policies. Wasil bin Ata (699-748) declared that one of the two contenders in the battles of Camel and Siffin was surely a "transgressor," but he could not say which! They rejected the Hadith literature as a reliable source of law. Because of their "radical rationalism," the Mu'tazilah were persecuted. However, the Abbasid Caliph Mamun was impressed with their views and not only patronized them but tried to impose their theology on other schools. After his death, the Mu'tazilah were publicly condemned. Though this movement itself ended, later philosophers and modernists, especially in the 19th century, revived some of their ideas in South Asia and Egypt. (31)
The Development and Evolution of the Sunni Theory of the State
The ideologue-philosophers of an ideal Islamic state were confronted with the political realities prevailing in the Muslim world. Kufah and Basrah (in today's Iraq) had emerged as the centers of learning where the learned and laymen were engaged in the search for answers to the vexing questions about the nature of the relationship between Islam and political institutions. Meanwhile, the Umayyads, in their seat of power in Damascus, were seeking justification or even sanctification for their ways of governing. Umar bin Abd al-Aziz, the Umayyad ruler (717-720) officially patronized the collection of the Prophet's sayings even though the latter was believed to have discouraged this practice. Anyone who remembered something that he had heard about the Prophet was encouraged to tell his version to the compilers and in return was given a fee from the state treasury (bait al-maal). These narratives eventually formed the basis for the second major source of Islamic law, the Hadith. Over a period of time, a huge collection was compiled containing real as well as imaginary sayings and practices of the Prophet. The rulers selected those entries that suited them and circulated them widely. It was only much later that the scholars of this literature (muhaddithin) would sift these materials to separate out what they thought were true (sahih) and reject the others that were considered wrong or weak (dha'if). However, during the formative phase of the collection, the study of Hadith became an important part of the curriculum in the institutions of learning. The great Sunni jurist, Abu Hanifah (699-767) emerged as an authority on this literature including questions related to the state.
As noted earlier, almost every school of thought had something to say about the four caliphs including the way they were selected, their relative strength and importance, the civil wars between A'ishah and Ali and Mu'awiya and Ali, and the question of who was right and who was wrong, and whether the transgressors had gone astray and had lost faith. During the Umayyad period, another issue that agitated many minds was whether a sinner and a wrongdoer could be allowed to rule the Muslim community? Abu Hanifah's answers to these questions were:
1. The chronological order of the appointments of the four caliphs determined their piety: "The best of the men after the Prophet of God (on whom be peace) was Abu Bakr. After him was Umar, after him Uthman, and after him Ali. They were all just men and abided by the right." (32) However, in the battles of the Camel and Siffin, "Ali stood by right more than they" (A'ishah and Mu'awiyah), but we should refrain from inflicting reproach on them.
2. "We treat all the Companions of the Prophet respectfully. We do not love anyone of them beyond measure, nor censure any of them. We do not like one who bears them malice or mentions them with disrespect. We mention them in nothing but a good way." (33)
3. If someone believes in God and the Prophet Muhammad, he is a believer. "We do not excommunicate a Muslim for any sin, however grave it may be, unless he affirms that it is 'allowed'. We do not divest him of belief. We call him a believer. A believer may be a transgressor, without being an infidel." (34)
4. The caliph should belong to the tribe of Quresh. It is preferable if he is just and good but if he is bad and cruel, he could be considered as "caliph de facto," and the functions of society would continue to be exercised lawfully even when his right to the caliphate may be disputable.
5. "If the Caliph is guilty of encroachment upon the rights of the people, the judge next to him in rank (i.e., the Chief Justice) should make him submit to the rule of Law." (35)
Abu Hanifah did not accept any office but he wanted Islamic Law to be codified under the supervision of the Caliph. As stated earlier, the Umayyads and the Abbasids had adopted either the existing systems of the Byzantines and Persians or their own judgments. Abu Hanifah wanted those systems to be replaced with Shari'a. In other words, he wanted the political institutions to be brought in conformity with the Islamic jurisprudence. But since no legal code in a compiled form existed at that time, the idea to reform Islamic state coincided with a process of compiling the Islamic law.
One of his contemporaries, Ibn al-Muqaffa', approached the Caliph Mansur (754-775) and proposed that he should convene a council of religious scholars, ask their opinions on various social, economic, legal, and political issues, and then give his own opinion on these matters and that should be adopted as law. Conscious of his limitations in this field, Mansur responded that he could "make a secular law all right, but he could not make a law which would become incorporated in the Islamic judicial code." This led Abu Hanifah and his students and associates to form a private body to record the agreed opinions of the participants. He explained his method as follows: "When I find an order in the Book of God, I take it from there. When I do not find it there, I take it from the accredited practice, word, or tradition of the Prophet, coming down to us through reliable sources. When I do not find it either in the Book of God or in the Prophet's Sunnah, I follow the (agreed) opinion of the Prophet's Companions. In case of difference of opinion among them, I adopt the opinion I like and reject the one I do not like." (36) This was the beginning of the codification of Islamic law.
The council recorded decisions of some 83,000 legal issues organized under different subject headings by his outstanding students, Yaqub Abu Yusuf and Muhammad ibn Hasan al-Shaibani. These judgments came to be known as the Hanafilaw. Harun al-Rashid (r.781-809) appointed Abu Yusuf (731-798) as the Chief Justice (Qadhi al-qudhat) of his empire and implemented this code as the law of the land. This was a significant development because this office did not exist before, not even under the "rightly guided caliphs." While it gave the state a uniform law, it also implied that religious law and the political system could not be merged but could co-exist. As the Chief Justice, Abu Yusuf exercised his authority in removing and appointing judges. Most of the judges that he appointed belonged to the Hanafi School. His greatest achievement was Kitab al-Kharaj (the Book of Revenue), a compendium of legal decisions on almost every aspect of human life.
The Kitab addresses the Caliph in laudatory terms and at times gives the impression that the political leaders are chosen by God. While most of the views represent Abu Hanifah's thought--especially regarding the duties of the caliph such as to enforce the law of God, revive the conventions of virtuous rulers, check injustice, and "to illuminate for the subjects those of their affairs which are obscure to them and to clarify those duties about which they are in doubt" (37)--the chapter on the duties of citizens reflects political expediency. It tells citizens that "They have to obey [the rulers], not commit acts of disobedience, nor lift arms against them, nor reproach them, nor deceive them. They have to put up with their excesses, to be sincerely helpful to them, to try to check them from wrong things and to cooperate with them in all that is good." (38) At times, the book reminds the ruler of his accountability towards God and the Prophet: "Subjects are entrusted to the rulers as sheep to shepherd. Reports show that the fate of the ruler after death depends on his political conduct, for the Prophet will most love the just Leader, most hate the tyrant." (39) The opinions on taxation, price regulation, and the welfare of citizens would easily match the policies followed by a welfare state in modern times.
However, Abu Yusuf 's detailed account of state administration leaves many questions unanswered. For example, there is no mention of the method of choosing a ruler, there is no room for any consultative assembly, and in many ways he asks the Muslims to tolerate even the tyrants. Since he and his teacher, Abu Hanifah, had declared the "rightly-guided caliphs" beyond reproach and criticism, those Muslims who did not accord them this status, particularly Shi'ahs and Mu'tazillah, were persecuted. Moreover, as we shall see, the idea of an Islamic caliph had been replaced with a divinely appointed king. For the advocates of an Islamic state, historical experience hardly provided any inspiration except perhaps, the fact that finally, Shari'ah was not only codified but also had been implemented. We now turn to still another possible source of the concepts of the Islamic state, political philosophers and statesmen.
Political Philosophers and Statesmen
By the dawn of the 9th century, many Greek works had been translated into Arabic. During the reign of al-Mamun (813-833), the Mu'tazillah achieved prominence. As stated earlier, this movement had originated during the early period of the Umayyads. The new ideas further strengthened their cause. One of them, al-Jahiz (776-869), "rejoiced in bringing together Persian, Arabic and Greek culture." He argued that religious knowledge was not possible without understanding the worldly affairs. Since men were disposed to avoiding penalties and punishments for wrongdoings, it was essential to have a strong leader. The general public is incapable of making this choice, as the public does not possess any knowledge about the leaders. Therefore, it was the duty of the elite (khassa) to choose a leader either after long consultations or through recognition by family or hometown or even by testamentary will or noble lineage. He did not approve the use of force in this matter but force could be used to depose a tyrant only if "war is their only hope." However, if the possibility of success did not exist, then it was not an obligation. "In short," he opined, "once it becomes possible for them to withstand and master their opponent, and a man worthy of caliphate has appeared and is known to them, their duty is to put him in power and defend him." (40) The idea that societies are composed of common men, who have neither knowledge of nor interest in the political leadership, and the elite, who wield influence in decision making and know how to choose and who to choose to lead the community, became popular.
For the next three centuries, Bukhara, Kufah, Baghdad, and Basra would continue to remain the centers of philosophical writings. This period produced a number of highly learned and creative scholars. However, we have chosen three thinkers who represent the philosophical, theological, and pragmatic dimensions of this debate. Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi was a philosopher, Abu al-Hasan al-Mawardi was a theologian, and Abu Ali Hasan Nizam al-Mulk Tusi was a statesman of exceptional qualities. This choice has been determined because of the popularity and prominence of their ideas in the debates on the nature of Islamic state.
Abu Nasr Muhammad al-Farabi
Al-Farabi (870-950) believed that an ideal society sought happiness in this as well as the next world. In his view, the inhabitants of such a society manifested four virtues: speculative (al-fada'il al-nazariyyah), theoretical (fada'il al-fikriyyah), moral (Fada'il al-khuluqiyyah), and practical (al-san'at al-amaliyyah). In practical terms, he divided them into five categories: the excellent, the linguists, the secluded, the struggling, and the steady. The philosophers and intellectuals constitute the first category; these are the "People of Opinion." The linguists consist of a broad category of orators, writers, poets, and musicians. The scientists such as mathematicians, astronomers, statisticians, physicians, and experts in the study of nature are the secluded people. The fighters and defenders of the state in internal as well as external affairs are the struggling ones, and traders, cultivators, artisans, and those engaged in other professions represent the steady group. (41) Since all human beings are not equal in terms of their physical strength, education, and training, they need a chief to guide them and help them regulate their affairs.
Al-Farabi perceived the Prophet Muhammad as Plato's latter day philosopher-king, a divinely inspired legislator who successfully established an ideal state. The Prophet's successors, the caliphs or imams, are required to possess the following qualities:
1. He should be wise enough to have speculative and theoretical virtues;
2. He should be learned and well-versed in the laws, customs, rites, and rituals adopted by his predecessor in order to discharge the state functions in a perfect manner;
3. He should be an expert in deriving inspiration and principles from the philosophy of his predecessor in case he does not find any specific law;
4. He should be farsighted, possessing an insight to frame rules and regulations in accordance with the conditions and circumstances he finds himself in, and capable of keeping up the reforms that he introduces;
5. He should be well experienced and eloquent in giving directions to urge the people to follow him in accordance with the Shari'ah;
6. He should be skilful in those physical activities that are essential in warfare like the use of arms and ammunition, and other equipments.(42)
If the above-mentioned requirements are not found in one man, but are possessed by two men--one wise and the other skilful in practical matters--then the state needs the two chiefs. "If, however, these conditions are scattered in a group of people agreeable to work together, then these members will be the ideal chiefs. But if wisdom does not form a part of the state while other conditions are fulfilled entirely, the city will be best without a sovereign, but it will be exposed to destruction." Emphasizing the last point, he warns: "The State without a philosopher to whom it may be entrusted will perish in no time." (43)
Thus al-Farabi's Imam is a lover of knowledge, has a sharp intellect, and is trained in all the fields that are relevant to the happiness and prosperity of society. Realizing the perils of directly referring to historical situations, however, he did not point a finger at anyone, yet he still said what needed to be said. However, this idealism would soon be drowned in the practical torrents of Mawardi's political thought.
Abu al-Hasan al-Mawardi
Al-Mawardi (974-1058) was born in Basrah and received his education under renowned scholars of his time. He specialized in legal profession and served as a judge at various places before moving to Baghdad. In 1037, the Abbasid Caliph, al-Qadir B' Allah convened a meeting of the representatives of four Sunni jurist schools (Hanafi, Shafi'i, Maliki, and Hanbali) and asked them to write their respective legal opinions on the state institutions. Al-Mawardi represented the Shafi'i school and wrote Kitab al-Iqna'. The caliph recognized his work as the best and appointed him as the Chief Justice (Aqda al-Qudat). Al-Mawardi wrote other books also on the issue of the real or contrived relationship between Muslim politics and Islam. Because of his position as the Chief Justice, he had to justify the political agenda of the caliph. It is reported that he was reluctant to publish his political philosophy because he had "grave doubts as to whether he was really honest and correct in his speculations." (44) The political philosophy found in these works represents "partly a heritage of the past and partly a clever manipulation of the opinions current in his time." (45)
Unlike the philosophers who had argued that the institution of imam is necessary because of reason, Mawardi insisted that it is a requirement of the Shari'ah. Reproducing almost every word of the Hanafitheory, (46) he accepts the election of the caliph either by consent of the people of the capital, or nomination, or choice by an electoral college. He even allows the selection of a less qualified leader and, if necessary due to the prevailing situation, allows even a father nominating his son provided he obtains consent of the people. These injunctions were included to refute the Shi'ah thought. His purpose was to rehabilitate the status of the Abbasid caliph as the only lawful ruler of the Muslims. Under his interpretation, the caliphates of Spain and the Fatimids were illegal. He also supports a centralized system of government and stresses that "the Imam should personally look into and apprise himself of the affairs of his dominions so that he may himself direct the national policy and protect the interest of the people. He should not entrust his responsibility to others and engross himself in luxury or religious devotion." (47) Like most of his predecessors, Mawardi assigns the implementation of Shari'ah as the foremost duty of the imam.
Mawardi's views on deposing an imam had particularly far-reaching implications for future rulers. His reading of the Shari'ah led him to believe that once a person is elected imam, he cannot be removed from that office except if he loses the sense of justice or 'openly flouts' the prohibitions of the Shari'ah (48) or holds "opinions contrary to the established principles of religion" or suffers the loss of mental faculties or eyesight. Subsequent rulers and successful usurpers used most of these rulings in eliminating their opponents. Blinding the opponent or potential contender became quite common. The practice of putting out the eyes with hot iron to prevent a person from wearing the imperial purple was undoubtedly borrowed from the Byzantine
Empire; Muslim jurists, however, gave it an added importance. The toll wreaked by this practice can be gauged from the fact that some two-dozen Abbasid caliphs were blinded to be dethroned from the royal seat. (49)
The Quranic themes and the Prophet's model, thus, were modified over time to suit the political realities and historical developments. The most pressing reason behind these attempts were to save the Abbasid empire from many non-Arab contenders who had literally besieged Baghdad and often changed the caliph and placed a weak ruler who acted on their advice. Mawardi often acted as representative of the caliph in negotiations with such contending parties. However, his attempt to sanctify the dynastical system of the Abbasids and to give the caliph a free hand barely controlled by the dictates of Shari'ah could not save the dwindling power of Baghdad. The Sassanids' Persian model of monarchy and administration had challenged the monopoly of the Quresh over leadership of the Muslim community. Many Persianized Turkish tribes like the Samanids, the Ghaznavids, and the Saljuqs had emerged with their own theories of kingship. The most persuasive and influential of these theories, that was destined to become an important part of Muslim political thought, was advanced by Nizam al-Mulk Tusi (1018-1092).
Abu Ali Hasan Nizam al-Mulk Tusi
Tusi served as the Prime Minister of the Saljuq ruler, Sultan Malik Shah (1074-1092). He was not only a brilliant administrator but also an accomplished writer. He presented his political thought in two of his celebrated works, Siyasat Nameh (The Book on Statecraft ) and Dastur al-Wuzara' (The Conduct of Ministers). He was aware of the contradictions between the teachings of Islam and the institution of monarchy. Because of this, while he bestowed the divine blessings on the king, he kept religion and politics apart. Instead of using the Arabic terms of Imam and Caliph, he revived the old Persian institution of Padshah (the King). In the opening part of his Siyast Nameh, he says:
God the Almighty selects someone from among men and gives over to him the charge of the well-being of the world and the comfort and tranquility of the human race after duly furnishing him with the arts of government. He also makes him responsible for the peace and security of the land and endows him with all the prestige in order that God's creatures may live in peace and plenty and that justice and security may be the order of the day. (50)
Tusi does not explain this idea but simply takes it as given. His knowledge of history led him to believe that no event "ever happens to take place in the world which might not have occurred already several times. As one might have read, or known, or heard about the circumstances a particular event has brought in, one can surmise the consequences that would follow it in case it happens to occur again." Reliance on history, however, tends to endorse previous solutions even in the face of changes in the underlying circumstances. The Muslim jurists continued to tell people that the caliph was the source of real power whereas in fact, the "legitimate" power had long since passed to the hands of the independent sultans. The source of power for these rulers was not the Caliph but God the Almighty. This replaces human choice with direct authorization from God. Secondly, God helps him to gain political power. Since the kingship is essentially of divine origin, it should be hereditary, "and should pass, like the kingship in ancient Persia, from father to son." In support of this point, Tusi quotes from a speech delivered by the Persian King, Nushirwan, to his feudal subordinates: "First, this kingship has been bestowed upon me by God the Almighty; secondly, I have inherited it from my father; thirdly, I have recaptured the kingdom by the sword." (51)
Thus Tusi's King was not accountable to anyone except perhaps God. If he had the right lineage such as being the son of the head of a tribe and enough means to conquer an area, he had the divine sanction to rule. In a different work, Tusi calls him the king 'shadow of God on earth' (zill Allah fial-ard). (52) Regarding the relationship between religion and politics, Tusi considers them as two brothers, each helping the other. He asks the king to get to know the teachings of religion through discussions between different scholars in his presence so that "one day he will become conversant with most of the laws of the Shari'ah, the commentary of the Quran, and the traditions of the Prophet; and thus, the methods of dealing with temporal and religious affairs would become easy for him." (53) His preoccupation, nonetheless, remains with justice, peace, and the welfare of his subjects. It is the king's duty to ensure that people observe the law. "If the people show any sign of disobedience or contempt towards the Shari'ah, or if they fail to obey God and to comply with His commands, then he intends to inflict punishment for their conduct." If the people face hardships during this process of punishment, he does not blame the king but the people because "due to their sin they bring this wrath upon themselves. Benevolent kings disappear from amongst them. Swords are drawn and bloodshed follows; and whosoever is powerful does as he pleases, till the sinners perish in calamities and bloodshed.... Ultimately, power goes to one of the people whom God by His grace blesses with success according to his worth, and endows with wisdom and knowledge." (54)
This was an important development. The caliph who combined or was believed to combine the religious and the temporal powers in his office was replaced with an absolute ruler inspired by the preIslamic model of the Persian rulers without any obligation to listen to the ulama. But since they were Muslims, they accommodated the religious elite in a separate domain of religious law provided it did not clash with their political interests. Commenting on this development, Wilfred Cantwell Smith has observed that "politically, the Khalifah gave place to the Sultan, that is, a religious executive was replaced by an explicitly independent mundane power." (55)
Tusi established colleges and universities, which in addition to religious subjects, imparted instruction in history and political theories of the state. He appointed noted scholars in these institutions who were paid by the state. Al-Ghazalli (1058-1111) taught at the Nizamiyah College of Baghdad, founded by Tusi. He emerged as one of the most influential writers of all times. He interpreted the institution of the sultan in the light of the Prophet's will and legacy to protect Muslim lives and livelihood, to establish Shari'ah, and to ensure "the performance of formal religious observances" so that "the bliss of the hereafter be achieved." Like his master, he attempts to establish a relationship between religion and politics: "They are like twin sisters, religion being the foundation of human society and the ruler of the State its preserver, so that if the foundation weakens the whole structure would fall down, and if the ruler were to retire there would be no one to preserve the foundation." (56)
After the fall of Baghdad in 1258, three great dynastical empires emerged in the Muslim world: the Safavids in Iran, the Ottomans in Turkey, and the Sultans and the Mughals in India. These empires were headed by non-Arabs (Turks) and only the Safavids were Shi'ah, while the Ottomans, Sultans, and the Mughals were Sunnis. They introduced Persian or Persianized Turkish as the official languages in their respective domains. What is even more revealing is that none of them adopted the title of Caliph. They preferred the titles of Sultan in Turkey and India or Shah and Padshah in Iran and India (the Mughal period 1526-1857) respectively. However, during the twilight of the Ottoman rule prior the First World War, the Turkish Sultan tried to revive the title of caliph for his office in order to gain the support of the Muslim communities against the British and the French. With some variations, these rulers followed Tusi's philosophy of the benevolent monarch that was to remain in vogue until 1923 when Mustafa Kamal Ataturk replaced the institution of the "caliphate" with a republic.
This review of the historical development of the concept of the Islamic State reveals the following broad principles of Islamic political philosophy:
1. The ultimate source of authority is God. He has not given any specific political system but guidelines on regulation of human affairs based on justice and equity;
2. The Prophet Muhammad showed a way (Shari'ah) through his actions and sayings for the believers to follow;
3. The Shari'ah, though believed to be fixed, has been subjected to change and different interpretations giving enough room for debate, reasoning, and consensus to its followers;
4. Whereas the ultimate sovereignty belongs to God, the immediate sovereignty can be determined through election, nomination, lineage or even power;
5. The relationship between the ruler and the Shari'ah has changed over time. During the Umayyad and early Abbasid caliphates, rulers were subjected to the Shari'ah as it existed in its formative phase, but after it was codified, rulers were required to implement it through a separate office of the Chief Justice under the supervision of the ruler;
6. Though Islam had not endorsed the idea of a priesthood, "an undefined and unwieldy body" (57) of ulama emerged in the Muslim community who took it upon themselves to issue religious decrees (fatawa);
7. The office of the ruler was transformed from being circumstantial (what he does) to absolute (what he is, "shadow of God on earth"); and
8. The sanctified right of the Quresh to occupy the seat of the caliphate had been changed.
During the early period many theories of state were advanced which then converged into two, the Sunni and the Shi'ah. However, by the 15th century when the Safavids came to power, even these differences were dissolved in the institution of kingship. Commenting on these developments, Fazlur Rahman has observed: "It is one of the remarkable phenomenon in Islam that all rational groups, like the Mu'tazila and the philosophical Shia, who have exercised their intellectualism with astonishing freedom, have fallen in line with tradition on practical matters ... changes are embraced with 'pragmatic' and instinctive adjustments." (58)
Revolt against History: The "Salafi" Movement:
One of the most striking features of the historical model of the Islamic state was that it accommodated the prevailing systems of governance in different parts of the Muslim world. The rulers separated the religious domain from the political. The ulama were given proper recognition but only to the extent that their activities and sermons would not disturb the hegemony of the political authority. With the exception of a few, theologians and clerics were not held in high esteem. Imam Shafi'i (767-820) was so fed up with their divisive methods that he had suggested, "Theologians should be beaten with shoes and palm-branches, and paraded through the city so that people may know the consequences of (their) study of theology." (59) Around the middle of the 18th century, a theologian named Muhammad bin 'Abd al-Wahhab (1703- 1793) succeeded in persuading Muhammad ibn Saud, a tribal chief of the town of Dar'iyyah of Nejd in the Arabian peninsula, to challenge the Ottomans and carve out a state where al-Wahhab and the ulama would exercise religious authority while the rulers would wield the political authority. Before we look at the al-Wahhab/Saud agenda and activities, however, it is important to examine the ideas of their intellectual mentor, Ibn Taymiyyah.
Ibn Taymiyyah (1263-1328)
Ibn Taymiyyah was born in a family of Hanbali (60) jurists at Harran near Damascus. He witnessed the disastrous effects of the Mongol invasions and internal strife in Syria. The Mamlukes had just come to power and were consolidating their hold over Syria. It was in this setting of turmoil and conflict that Ibn Taymiyya formulated his views on religion and politics.
Although he was educated in the Hanbali School of thought, during his studies, Ibn Taymiyyah came to the conclusion that the arguments of the theologians had become stagnant. He decided that the only course for the Muslims was to return to the original teachings of the Quran and the Sunnah of the Prophet and to follow the early pious Muslims (salaf al-salihun)---the origin of the term "salafi" by his present followers to describe their movement. Ibn Taymiyyah condemned all subsequent developments in law, philosophy, political institutions, and theology. The Sufis and various branches of the Shi'ah community were particularly targets. He condemned even the idea of visiting the Prophet's shrine. (61) He believed that all those who had adopted foreign or pre-Islamic models for their political philosophy had gone astray:
As to imitating the Persians and Byzantines, so much of the theoretical and practical influence is felt in Islam that it is no secret to a Muslim learned in his faith and its fate (referring to the immense loss of life and property during the Mongol invasions).... Muslims took after the God-displeasing and (those who have) gone-astray. (62)
He considered the twenty-nine years of the four "rightly guided caliphs" as having been the only true form of Islamic State. He interpreted the Quranic verse, "O, you who believe, obey Allah and obey His Prophet and those in charge among you," (63) to mean that "those in charge" were both the ulama and the rulers. He believed that all ideas, statements, actions, and even "intentions" not explicitly endorsed by the Sunnah are unholy innovations (bid'a). Those Muslims who believe in them or follow rituals--not mentioned or practiced by the early Muslims--have become mushriks (those who associate/confuse "others" with God). (64)
Ibn Taimiyyah's ideas were condemned by almost every major scholar of his time who considered there was nothing wrong in expressing a different opinion about religious and political matters. Ibn Taymiyyah for his part frequently used foul language and even resorted to violence against those who rejected his thought. Once, while delivering a Friday sermon in Damascus, he uttered the following words: "verily, Allah comes down from the sky over our heads in the same fashion as I make this descent." He then stepped down one step of the pulpit to illustrate his point. When a jurist protested, Ibn Taymiyyah had his supporters attack him and beat him with fists and shoes. (65) They then took this jurist before a Hanbali judge who imprisoned the jurist for wearing a silken cap under his turban, which was judged an innovation and hence, punishable. When the matter was reported to the Sultan, he had Ibn Taymiyyah arrested and thrown in a dungeon. It was this twin legacy of revolt against history and hatred for cultural pluralism that was embraced by the founder of the Wahhabi or as preferred by his followers, the Salafimovement.
Muhammad bin Abd al-Wahhab (1700-1787) and Muhammad ibn Saud (1710-1765)
Born in the heart of the Arabian desert of Nejd and educated mostly by local scholars, (66) Ibn Abd al-Wahhab emerged as a free thinker. Although the ideas of Ibn Taymiyyah and some of his followers fascinated him, in many instances, he followed his own instincts. He wrote: "Imam ibn Qayyim and his illustrious teacher ibn Taimiyyah (67) were both righteous leaders according to the Sunni school of thought and their writings are dear to my heart, but I do not follow them rigidly in all matters." (68) With his "Back to Islam" slogan, he wandered around the desert people as well as some cities in Arabia to win over the people to his cause. Frustrated and disappointed at the response of his audience, "it dawned upon him that mere persuasion unaided by political power might prove effective in the case of an individual, but it was difficult to bring about any radical change in a people's outlook without the backing of a political force." (69) After a few unsuccessful ventures to win over some tribal leaders, he succeeded in enlisting the support of the chief of Dariyyah, Muhammad ibn Saud in 1744. This was the beginning of a new idea of the Islamic state wherein the Saudi clan would exercise absolute power and the ideological support and legitimacy to their political system would be provided by the Wahhabi ulama. This alliance led to many raids on towns to terrorize Muslims into submission. By 1765, Ibn Saud's forces had consolidated most of Nejd under the banner of Wahhabism. In 1801, they attacked and sacked Karbala. They plundered the shrine of the grandson of the Prophet, killed thousands, looted homes, destroyed historical and sacred monuments, and did not spare even those mosques that were attached to shrines. After two years, they attacked the province of Hejaz that housed the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah. These events sent shock waves to the Muslims all over the world and many writers called it "the Wahhabi fitnah," equating this movement with the insurrection of the Khawarij. (70)
The Ottomans deputed their semi-independent governor of Egypt, Muhammad Ali, to recapture Hejaz and crush the growing power of the Wahhabis. He routed their forces in 1818. The Saudi clan and its twin ideologues, however, continued their movement. Finally, they were exiled to Kuwait where the Sabah family and the British welcomed them. In 1902, a young descendant of Saudi clan (Abd al-Aziz ibn Saud: 1880-1953), with the help of his hosts, recaptured the capital of Nejd, Riyadh. Within a decade, he had organized a well-trained army. During the First World War, the British cultivated friendship with Ibn Saud as well as his rival, Husain ibn Ali, the Sharif of Makkah. After the end of the war, the British helped Ibn Saud defeat Husain. In 1925, Ibn Saud declared himself king of Hejaz and Nejd. Gradually, he consolidated his power over most of the Arabian Peninsula and gave his domain a new name, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (1932). Between 1936 and 1939, he granted generous oil concessions to American companies and after the Second World War, Saudi Arabia emerged as a most reliable ally of the Americans in the Middle East.
With 68 sons from 20 wives, the Saudi king did not need the help or alliance of any other tribe. He appointed his children and family members to important positions and imposed his clannish identity on the holy land with additional help from the Wahhabi religious proselytizers and Great Britain. (71) A new model of the Islamic state had now emerged that sanctioned" hereditary monarchy to "receive allegiance in accordance with the principles of the Holy Koran and the Traditions of the Venerable Prophet," (72) exempted the royal clan from the laws of Sahri'ah (devised by the Wahhabi jurists) but subjected its citizens, visitors, foreign workers, and even pilgrims to their application. Instead of seeking guidance from Islam in formulating their political system, the Saudi dynasty employed it to bolster their political hegemony. This model indeed inspired many dictators to seek legitimacy from those religious clerics whose main objective was to gain power and prestige but it was even more distanced from the spirit of Islam than various historical models discussed previously.
Vilayat-i-Faqih (Rule of the Jurists)
The Islamic Revolution in Iran (1979) presents still another model of an Islamic State. Before we discuss Imam Khomeini's concept, it is relevant to review the historical background. As discussed earlier, the Shi'ahs recognize as legitimate rulers only the twelve Imams beginning with Ali, Mohammed's son-in-law and the fourth caliph of the Muslim world, and ending with the twelfth Imam, Muhammad al-Mahdi, who is believed to have gone into hiding in 874. After the disappearance of the twelfth Imam, Shi'ah jurists accepted the various rulers so long as they maintained justice and equity. During the Safavid period, the Shi'ah ulama behaved just like their Sunnis counterparts during the Abbasid period--they accepted the writ of the rulers so long as they did not openly violate established principles of Islam. However, the community considered the ulama as the guardians of the faith in the absence of the Imam. This guardianship was confined to non-political areas: looking after the interests of orphans, widows, and persons with disabilities, administering endowments for mosques, shrines, and schools, supervising religious education, serving as judges in Shai'ah courts, and acting as a social force urging Muslims to do good and forbidding them from doing the reprehensible. (73) In times of famine or oppression, the guardianship could be extended to pressuring speculators to release scarce goods and petitioning the secular rulers on behalf of victims of injustice and oppression. (74)
During the first decade of the 20th century, a movement surfaced in Iran resisting the increasing encroachments of the British in the internal affairs of the society. Intellectuals and ulama demanded reforms in the political system, the eradication of foreign influence, and the implementation of Islamic values. In response, the Shah at that time agreed to give the country a constitution. This constitution, promulgated on December 30, 1906, declared Shi'ism to be the state religion, provided for the creation of an ecclesiastical committee to ensure that all legislation conformed to Islam, banned all publications and associations deemed detrimental to Islam, and established a two-tiered judicial system consisting of a clergy-administered court to deal with religious issues and a government-administered civil court to deal with secular issues. (75) In 1925, an army officer, Reza Khan staged a coup-de-tat and declared himself the new Shah. This was the beginning of the Pahlavi dynasty, which was more inspired by the Turkish model of a secular state than the idea of an Islamic state. This led to the suppression of ulama because of their growing dissatisfaction with the ruling dynasty.
With the passage of time, many intellectuals and politicians joined hands with the religious elite in voicing grievances against the policies of the Shah. Instead of taking steps to accommodate the grievances, the monarch's response was to become more autocratic. By the 1970's, the ulama had been totally marginalized. To further consolidate his authority, the Shah abolished all political parties and created his own political movement, Rastakhiz. Moreover, in 1975, he asserted legitimacy for his throne dating to the pre-Islamic rulers of Iran. (76) These events triggered one of the most popular and widespread resistance movements in recent history. Early in 1978, pro-Shah forces launched a propaganda offensive against the ulama in general and Ayatullah Khomeini (a leader of the ulama who had been exiled from Iran in 1963) in particular. Protest demonstrations increased, and clashes between the secret police and the public resulted in brutal killings and injuries. This culminated in Shah's departure from the country in January 1979 and Ayatullah Khomeini's triumphal return to Iran as its new leader.
The question before Khomeini in reestablishing governing institutions was whether to confine the religious guardianship to the traditional fields or to extend it to the political system also. During his exile in Iraq, he had already addressed this issue in a series of discussions at Najaf. (77) Khomeini's answer was that modern Muslim government should closely resemble the Muslim community of the early years of Islam in which the only legitimate guardians are the ulama. As discussed earlier, the last Imam had appointed some wakils during the "short concealment." In Khomeini's view this meant that the ulama had assumed the mantle of leadership directly from the Prophet through the last Imam.
During the Najaf discussions, Khomeini explained that the difference between the jurists' guardianship and that of the imams is that the jurists' guardianship did not extend to other jurists who could give different opinions. Moreover, the jurists' guardianship was not based on nass (appointment by the Prophet or imam) but on rational grounds and trust (I'tebari). He criticized those jurists who were confined to matters of personal piety and rituals and did not address important issues like politics in which "oppressors and tyrants" play havoc with society. It was therefore, incumbent upon jurists to struggle to establish an Islamic government so that the laws of Shari'ah could be implemented. He described Islam as the religion of active individuals "who are committed to truth and justice. It is the religion of those who desire freedom and independence. It is the school of those who struggle against imperialism. But the servants of imperialism have presented Islam in a totally different light. They have created in men's minds a false notion of Islam. The defective version of Islam, which they have presented in the religious teaching institutions, is intended to deprive Islam of its vital, revolutionary aspect." (78)
Further, in Khomeini's view many of the activities of Muslim life had become meaningless rituals devoid of revolutionary spirit. Regarding the Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Makkah), he says: "They (Muslims) do not make Islamic use of this gathering. They have changed this political center to a center which represents a complete turning away from all the problems of the Muslims." (79)
Khomeini based his theory of vilayet-i-faqih on the same verse of the Quran used by the Sunnis: "O you believers, obey God, obey the Prophet and obey those in charge among you." The only difference is that whereas the Sunnis in general interpret its last part as "those who are in authority," according to Khomeini, those in charge after the Prophet were the imams, and in the absence of the imams, the jurists have been required to carry out these tasks within the prescribed limits. Emphasizing the last point, he said:
Islamic government is neither tyrannical nor absolute, but constitutional. It is not constitutional in the current sense of the word, i.e., based on the approval of laws in accordance with the opinion of the majority. It is constitutional in the sense that rulers are subject to a certain set of conditions in governing and administering the country, conditions that are set forth in the Noble Quran and the Sunnah of the Most Noble Messenger. (80)
While delivering his Najaf lectures, Khomeini indeed offered an alternative form of government, but he had no idea that one day he would be faced with the question of implementing this concept. The provisional government that came into existence following the revolution in Iran did not represent his model but was a dual system in which a government dominated by secular and liberal elements and a Revolutionary Council dominated by ulama and Khomeini himself would share power. It was a system of government wherein the Revolutionary Council provided guidelines and the Provisional Government enacted them. In March 1979, a referendum approved this arrangement. The provisional government prepared a draft constitution, which was secular in nature and was based upon the Iranian Constitution of 1906 and the constitution of France's Fifth Republic. This constitution established a strong presidency and omitted any reference to the authority of the jurists. It did, however, establish a Council of Guardians, but its authority was confined only to review laws in the light of Islam. But when the draft was presented for approval, the ulama protested. Khomeini then agreed to the establishment of an elected Assembly of Experts to amend the draft.
The elections resulted in the victory of Islamic Republican Party. When the Assembly of Experts met, it was faced with the classic debate regarding the jurisdiction of the faqih. The majority, however, favored the idea of a constitutional role for the jurists. It also created a twelve member Guardianship Council to supervise the process of reviewing laws in the light of Islam. This constitution was adopted after a plebiscite in December 1979.
The people had approved the idea of government by a single jurist, but some jurists considered this an encroachment on their right to issue decrees because their colleague could overrule them. A leading critic of the notion of absolute leadership by a single religious leader was Ayatullah Shari'atmadari, who felt that the Faqih should merely be an adviser, and should enter politics only under emergency conditions. He wrote that the people should be the ones to lead, for the "foundation of the dissolution of the former regime was a popular referendum; [thus] the will of the people should also be the foundation of the new government." Defending the new constitutional formula, Ayatullah Beheshti responded that Vilayat-i--Faqih does not repudiate popular voting, but on the contrary, the popular approval added more legitimacy to the idea. Thus, as Ahmad Moussavi has suggested, "this new approach to the legitimization of the concept of Faqih provided a dual layer of legitimacy bestowed both by God and the people." (81)
On the question of a successor to Khomeini and his qualifications, another debate led to further amendments to the Constitution in April 1989. The new amendments gave more powers to the jurist and stipulated that he did not have to be a marja (a source of imitation with a considerable following who renders independent judgment over a variety of issues) or enjoy the support of the majority" of the people. Now, "he need only be well-informed about feqh, or about socio-political problems, or have popular legitimacy, and must be "just and pious." (82) Long before the revolution, Ali Shari'ati (83) had asked the people and the jurists to come out of their utopia and come down to earth "to consolidate with the larger Sunni community and its leadership, claiming that the Safavids distorted the Shi'a perspectives for their own interests and that the Shi'i "awaiting" the return of the hidden imam had been turned into something passive and negative vis-a-vis the positive and action-oriented principles of Islam." (84) After years of debate and discussions, the utopia had indeed given way to the demands of ground realities and the Shi'ah model of the State had come closer to the Sunni idea both in terms of the qualifications of the ruler as well as his willingness to work with the verdicts of the people.
The Post-Caliphate Debate
The current debate on the need and the nature of Islamic state can be traced back to the abolition of Caliphate in Turkey. For many, this institution, at least theoretically, had represented some continuity with the earliest state founded by the Prophet and his Companions and had provided symbolic unity to the aspirations of the ummah. For others, it had lost its utility and had become decadent; therefore it was no loss but an opportunity to reshape Muslim political institutions in the light of true Islam keeping in view the requirements of modern times. The Bolshevik Revolution of 1917 and the rise of fascist states in Europe also influenced the various scholars in their attempts to look for a model of the Islamic state. In view of the enormous literature on this subject, this discussion is confined to those who approached the question of state from an Islamic perspective, or to be more precise their perceptions of the political dimensions of Islam.
Rashid Rida was one of the prominent disciples of Muhammad Abduh (1849-1905). (85) His ideas on the Caliphate appeared in 1923. He started with the issue of opening the doors of ijtehad and going back to the original sources. He distinguished between the eternal principles of Islam and those that needed revision in order to keep pace with the changing times. This was an important point that most of the ulama had missed and instead of accepting parliamentary constitutionalism, they continued to support tyrannical autocracies. For him, this did not mean imitating the West but that the principles of democracy had always existed in Islam and that the Umayyad dynasty had abandoned them for their own political interests. He insisted that all that was good and just in the European legal system "has long since been laid down by our shari'a." (86) He visualized the role of caliph in non-religious terms but without any political powers. The caliph does not make laws because he is not a religious leader. "He is a worldwide leader, but in the modern world he would not supplant existing states. He is to preside over Muslim states and Muslims living 'under foreign rule' in a kind of confederation or commonwealth." (87) In other words, Rida accepted the political realities of his age but imagined the caliph as a symbol of Muslim unity.
In 1925, another scholar from Egypt, Ali Abd al-Raziq (1888-1966) published a rejoinder to Rida in "al-Islam wa usul al-hukm" (Islam and the Principles of Government). He dismissed the idea of an Islamic state arguing that Islam did not lay down any specific political system. The Prophet's city-state was a unique model and only he could have established it. What followed him was neither inspired by Islam nor the Prophet's model. While Islam is clear on the issues of religious commandments concerning prayers, fasting and other duties, it has left the issues of politics to human reason and experience. He wrote: "All political functions are left to us, our reason, its judgments and political principles. Religion ... neither commands nor forbids (such matters); it simply leaves them to us so that in respect of them we have recourse to the laws of reason and the rules of politics." (88) These ideas were not new, but since the author was a member of the religious establishment at al Azhar University (Cairo), he was subject to institutional discipline and his colleagues condemned his findings and he was thrown out of the University.
Hasan al-Banna and the Society of Muslim Brethren
While the debate on the nature of the Islamic state continued, Hasan al-Banna, another student of Muhammad Abduh, realized that unless there is general consciousness amongst the community about Islam, no effort at establishing an Islamic order would succeed. In 1928, he founded Jam'iyyat al-Ikhwan al-Muslimin to educate Muslims in an all-embracing vision of Islam. His ultimate goal was to achieve a universal state for Muslims under a caliph, but until that time he was contented with the existence of nation states and constitutional democracies. As a patriot, he wanted to co-operate with anyone who would restore the political sovereignty of Egypt. He supported the Free Officers' movement to overthrow the British puppet, King Farooq. The Society soon emerged as a mass-supported and well-organized urban movement. The Ikhwan movement was non-violent but demanded the unconditional loyalty of members to their leader. One of the leaders of this movement, Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966) visited the United States (1948-1950). He wrote that, while he admired the Americans for their hard work, organization, and industrialization, he was "shocked by the racism and sexual permissiveness," the social and human relationships, manners, and emotions. (89)
Qutb believed that Islam presented an ideal political system, "the like of which has never been found in any of the other systems known to the world either before or after the 7th century.... Islam is a comprehensive philosophy and a homogenous unity, and to introduce into it any foreign element would mean ruining it. It is like a delicate piece of machinery that may be completely ruined by the presence of a foreign body. (90) He criticized the Nasser regime, declared it un-Islamic, and asserted that such a regime could be overthrown legitimately. He was arrested on the charges of armed revolt and after a brief release, was rearrested and executed in 1966.
Maududi and Jama'at-i-Islami
Hasan al-Banna's Society of Muslim Brethren inspired an Indian Muslim, Abu'l-Ala-Maududi (1903-1979), to found the Jama'at-i-Islami in 1941. Unlike his counterpart in Egypt, he did not attend any religious school or for that matter any school beyond a few years of basic education. (91) He was self-taught and a prolific writer. As a young man, he was fascinated by the rise of fascism in Europe. In one of his earlier essays, he wrote:
You have before you today the examples of Germany and Italy. The entire world is impressed by the glorious power achieved by Hitler and Mussolini. But do you know the cause of this success? There are two causes: faith and obedience to the ruler.... If you (Muslims) desire progress and wish to become a strong and respected entity, then first create among the Musalmans the qualities of faith and obedience to the dictator. (92)
Although Maududi lived long enough to see the fate of these two dictators, he never came out of this delusion. He strongly opposed the movement for the creation of Pakistan but after the establishment of this nation became an ardent supporter of the idea of an Islamic state. His views were not very different from those of the leaders of the Ikhwan movement but unlike them, he showed significant contradictions between his writings and his practical politics. He did not endorse the idea of a republic, opposed the participation of women in politics, and condemned nationalism. Modern civilization, he declared, is based on three fundamental principles: secularism, nationalism, and democracy. All of them are evil. He stressed that they are "Not merely wrong; rather we believe, with full confidence and certainty, that they are indeed the root cause of all those calamities and troubles in which humanity is involved today. As a matter of fact we are opposed to these principles and wish to fight against them with all our strength." (93) However, during the national elections of 1964, he supported a woman Fatimah Jinnah against General Ayub Khan. He also endorsed the brutal and suppressive regime of General Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988) notorious for his anti women laws.
He had written that the Islamic state is not sovereign but a "vice-regency" where sovereignty belongs to God, the ruler could be considered Islamic only if he enjoys the consent of the people, "politics and administration are no concern of women," and if, for some reason, female participation is deemed necessary, then "A separate assembly of women, elected by female vote, may be constituted to look after the social affairs of the female population." Continuing his critique of the modern political system, he declared: "It is prohibited in Islam to be a member of assemblies and parliaments which are based on the democratic principles of modern age. It is also prohibited to vote in elections to such bodies." He dismissed the idea of political parties because "it pollutes the Government with a false sense of loyalties." (94) In another work, "Political Theory of Islam," Maududi confessed that his model of Islamic state bears "a kind of resemblance to the Fascist and Communist regimes" where "no one can regard his affairs as personal and private." He concluded: "No doubt the Islamic State is a totalitarian State and comprises within its sphere all departments of life." (95)
Maududi knew the power of the printed word. His pamphlets and books were translated into Arabic and in some cases English, and were widely circulated. General Zia-ul-Haq patronized the followers of Maududi not only in making them a part of establishment but also putting the various institutions of higher learning under their supervision. Although Maududi claimed to follow the Hanafi jurisprudence, his ideas showed remarkable identity with Wahhabism. Soon, this group came out of their little enclave in Lahore and with generous help from like-minded governments and rulers, established branches and offices in different parts of the Muslim world that continue to propagate these ideas.
Summary and Conclusion
In the beginning of this paper, we raised three questions: (1) Are religion and politics separate domains in the Islamic tradition, or is there no separation between religion and politics in Islam? (2) Is Islam compatible with democracy or not? (3) Why is the idea of the Islamic State becoming popular in some Muslim societies today?
The preceding summary of different models of Islamic state and their sources from scripture, history, theology, and philosophy demonstrates that the enormous literature on this subject provides many choices. There is sufficient evidence in these sources to substantiate the claim that Islam does not provide any specific political system. On the other hand, many verses of the Quran and many traditions of the Prophet provide extensive regulations regarding the social and economic infrastructure. A cursory reading of the history of Muslim societies also demonstrates that it is possible to show either the democratic nature of an Islamic polity or a theory of controlled and autocratic or even a totalitarian political system. However, notwithstanding these various possibilities, one point that can be made without any ambiguity is that the term "Islamic State" did not exist before the advent of Colonialism but to suggest that this great debate on the nature of a Muslim State was triggered by the impact of Colonialism or (as many apologists for Western civilization claim) by the sense of loss of past glory in the wake of the progress of the
West, would be utterly wrong. (96) This debate in fact began immediately after the death of the Prophet and continues in the present. The salient features of this debate have been dealt with in the light of different sources in the foregoing analysis. However, it would be appropriate to provide a summary of these issues.
1. Religion and Politics in Islam:
The Muslims believe that the Quran is a complete code of life and that its revelation at a particular time in history and place does not suggest that its teachings are time bound. Its message transcends time and space. Therefore, many scholars assume that it does provide guidelines for a political framework. On the other hand, a reading of Muslim history negates this presumption because almost all conceivable political systems like some sort of republic, oligarchy, monarchy, dictatorship, and democracy have existed in Muslim societies and are still in place. Should we assume that Islam endorses all kinds of political systems or its primary object was to create an ideal society but leave the question of politics as an "open road" as suggested by Muhammad Asad so that the believers could shape their political institutions in the light of the prevailing conditions? The answer to this question is embedded in history where the social conditions and group affiliations shaped the contours of power rather than the teachings of Islam.
The belief that Islam is a complete code of life leads to another theoretical construct that there is no separation between religion and politics in Islam. This theory is sound but its manifestation in historical experience proves the opposite. With the exception of the City State of Madinah under the Prophet and to some extent the period under his companions, more than a thousand years of subsequent history substantiate that there was a total separation between religion and politics. The Umayyad period can be termed as a clash between religion and politics. The Abbasids came to power with a religious slogan but soon after consolidating their power, their relation with religion varied from exploitation, accommodation, separation, and ultimately subjugation. The same is true of the different dynasties that followed them. The Ottomans, the Safavids, the Mughals, and other minor dynasties in the different parts of the Muslim world kept the domains of religion and politics separate more often using religion for their political purposes than surrendering to its commands. Therefore, while it is true that many Muslim scholars and American writers believe that there is no separation between religion and politics in Islam, it is merely a theoretical construct than a reality in the light of the historical experience of Muslim societies. This theoretical framework had its origins in the Christian theory of separation between religion and politics. The Biblical doctrine of the separate domains of God and Caesar has been interpreted not in the light of the circumstances during the times of Jesus but has been accepted as transcendental without giving any thought to the changed circumstances when Caesar became Christian and the separation between the church and the state ended. Similarly, many Muslims who advocate the theory that there is no separation between religion and politics are as oblivious to the historical developments as their counterparts in the Christian world. One may argue that perhaps both are attempting to idealize and relive a time in the distant past that has been lost in the debris of history. During the recent years, it has become more of a political argument in the so-called "clash of civilizations" to insist on the delusion of separate identities than a true assessment of historical developments. In reality, religion and politics play the same role in all societies because their driving forces feed on human emotions of piety and power; any reference to scriptures is purely incidental and hyperbolic.
2. Islam and Democracy
The question whether Islam and democracy are compatible or not has been a favourite past time for many academics in the Western world. The political landscape of the Muslim world indeed strengthens this idea that since there are a few democratic governments in Islamic lands, the obvious reason for the absence of democracy could be Islam. Commenting on this misperception, Graham Fuller
writes: "Most western observers tend to look at the phenomenon of political Islam as if it were butterfly in a collection box, captured and skewered for eternity, or as a set of texts unbendingly prescribing a single path. This is why some scholars who examine its core writings proclaim Islam to be incompatible with democracy--as if any religion in its origins was about democracy at all." (97) While it is true that misperceptions do exist, it is also true that some Muslim scholars, as pointed out earlier, entertained disliking for western style democracy not because of its spirit but because of its manipulation by the rich and the corrupt. Today, almost all Islamic political parties accept general elections, parliaments, free press, and accountability as the essence of the Quranic concept of shura (consultation).
There are two concepts that need to be clarified: one is the idea of sovereignty and the other legislation. God's sovereignty cannot be substituted by humans. He is the sovereign but (as the Constitutional Assembly of Pakistan resolved) He delegates this sovereignty to the chosen representatives of the people. In the matters of legislation, these representatives are not supposed to pass any law that is contrary to Islamic teachings. Hasan Turabi goes a step further in arguing that Islam already exists in Muslim societies "as a matter of norms and laws. It is an integrated and total way of life," therefore, the functions of the state should be limited only to secular affairs: "government has no business interfering in one's religion or religious practices." (98)
Rachid al-Ghannouchi, the founder of the Tunisian Islamic movement, al-Nahda, believes that Islam has more potential to nurse, develop, and cherish modern values like democracy and human rights than the way such values have been nourished in "a much less fertile soil" (the West), provided "the Islamists are given a chance to comprehend" the true meanings of these values. (99) In his estimation,
Islamic values do indeed embrace the ideals of democracy. Similarly, the Iranian scholar, Abdul Karim Soroush, believes that there is no contradiction between Islam and the freedoms inherent in democracy. "Islam and democracy are not only compatible, their association is inevitable. In a Muslim society, one without the other is not perfect." (100)
In view of the above statements, the logical question would be that if it is true that there is absolutely no contradiction between Islam and Democracy, then why are there fewer democratic institutions in Muslim countries? Many scholars both in the Muslim world as well as the West identify Colonialism, Cold War, and Imperialism as the "foreign" factors in stifling the movements for democracy. The democratic governments are accountable to their own people and give more priority to their needs whereas authoritarian rulers, monarchs, and military dictators are easily manipulated by the foreign powers to support their vested interests. Secondly, authoritarianism stifles the growth of civil society and that social and cultural infrastructure that is vital for the development of democratic institutions. And finally, it is the stage of economic growth that determines the nature of political institutions.
3. Situating the Present Debate
Islam does not entertain the idea of an ordained clergy. Therefore, scripture can be interpreted by anyone who possesses relevant knowledge and skill. Secondly, the Prophet's model of the State of Madinah provides a scale to judge the performance of those rulers who followed him. Thirdly, the twenty-nine years of "the rightly guided caliphate" provided four different methods for choosing a head of the state. From consultations amongst a few notables to nomination to selection by a committee or the decision of the population of the capital, each was sanctified as the legitimate method. Moreover, judgment over conflicts in this period was withheld and each contestant in the civil wars was considered beyond reproach. Fourthly, the ensuing political differences led to religious differences leading to conflicting theories of the state. Fifthly, the emergence of different schools of jurisprudence added still another dimension to this debate as each was patronized by different rulers demanding and often-receiving writs of approval for their policies. Sixthly, many prominent ulama even endorsed the idea of the divine rights of kings; hence accepting the fait accompli as the divine writ. And finally, during the colonial period, new economic, social, and political developments displaced the old elite, including the ulama, leading to the movements of revival and reassertion.
All these factors, and perhaps others as well, contributed to the search for a model that could address the real social and economic issues. Politicians, generals, and monarchs in many Muslim countries pay a lip service to Islam by declaring their governments Islamic or propagating the idea that there is no separation between religion and politics in Islam. Commenting on the attitude of those politicians who combine religion with politics, Fazlur Rahman observes: "The slogan 'in Islam religion and politics are inseparable' is employed to dupe the common man into accepting that, instead of politics or the state serving the long-range objectives of Islam, Islam should come to serve the immediate and myopic objectives of party politics." (101)
It is indeed true that almost all Muslim countries with the exception of the Central Asian Republics, Turkey, and Indonesia, have accommodated Islam and Shari'ah in their constitutions. It is also a fact that these countries are governed by different political systems whether monarchies, dictatorships, parliamentary governments, or controlled democracies. The compromises involved, however, in many cases have failed to provide the citizens basic human rights which are guaranteed by the Islamic principles of equality and social justice. Dictatorial regimes often indulge in corruption and in order to protect their petty interests deny wider participation to their people in important national and international policies. Many governments are perceived as proxy states serving the interests of foreign powers. All these factors, in addition to the above-mentioned, have contributed to the idea of an Islamic state.
When Zia-ul-Haq (1977-1988) tried to justify his repressive policies in the name of Islam, ordinary citizens both in urban and rural areas in some parts of Punjab were asked as to what they understood by the idea of an Islamic state. The almost unanimous answers were: easy and affordable access to the institutions of justice, health, and education; reduction of the yawning gap between the rich and the poor; freedom from un-necessary harassment by government officials; equitable application of laws; elimination of bribery and corruption; and accountability of the head of the state to the public. (102) This is how a common Muslim perceives the idea of an Islamic State. There is hardly any ideological content in this perception. Voters have frequently empowered leaders who promised the citizens the above-mentioned goals even when they were wrapped in the hyperbole of socialism. Therefore, it is not that suddenly Muslims have realized that they have missed the race and that the only way to join it and win it is through reliving some chapters of their past glory. However, it is also the case that Islam may deny a role of the clergy in guiding believers particularly in the affairs of governance, the religious scholars nonetheless have emerged as an important leadership group throughout the Muslim world. Furthermore, the concepts of territorial nationalism and the nation-state have been merged with regional alliances and trans-national entities in many parts of the world. Many Muslims feel that Islam still goes further in this direction and supports the idea of a universal Muslim ummah which eliminates ethnic, linguistic and national boundaries. This factor has also contributed to the emergence of movements in Southeast Asia, South Asia, Central Asia, and the Arab world that argue the cause of Muslim brotherhood. These movements tend to regard the present "war against terrorism" as a pretext to divide Muslims and to occupy their natural resources such as oil and gas, not only in the major oil producing countries but also in countries like Bangladesh. All these factors play on the minds of millions of Muslims who do not see their respective governments addressing any of these problems. The result is a general discontent with the working of current state institutions.
The absence of strong political parties and intellectuals wellversed in Islam as well as the complexities of the contemporary world leave much in the hands of religious scholars who are trained in traditional schools. They seek inspiration not from the successful contemporary models but from glorious phases of medieval history, often without sufficient consideration of the fact that they live in a very different world. However, in an age in which religious hyperbole is used even in some of the most advanced societies and where publics support such demagogues, the popularity of religious scholars in some Muslim countries should not be surprising. Religion and politics are strange bedfellows each endowed with irresistible seductive postures. At the end of the day, however, it is politics that usually emerges triumphant, even if in the robe of its partner.
Muslim Rulers and Dynasties (Mentioned in this study)
The City State of Madinah under the Prophet Muhammad: 622-632
The First Successors ("The Rightly-Guided Caliphs"): Ruled from Madinah.
Abu Bakr, 632--634 'Umar, 634--644 'Usman, 644--656 'Ali, 656 - 661 (changed the capital to Kufah)
The Umayyads: 661-750 Ruled from Damascus
The Umayyads (Spanish branch): 756-1031 Amirs (756-929) Ruled Spain from Cordova
Caliphs (929-1031) Ruled Spain and a few coastal areas of North Africa (present--day Morocco and Ceuta) from Cordova
The Abbasids: 750-1258 Ruled the Muslim world from Baghdad and Samarra (836-892) Lost Spain to Umayyads in 756, Lost North Africa, Egypt and Syria to the Fatimids in 909.
The Fatimids: 909-1171 Ruled Egypt, North Africa, Syria, and Sicily from Cairo
The Saljukes: 1037-1187 Ruled Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan and parts of Central Asia from Nishapur, Rayy (near Tehran), and Marw in the name of the Abbasid Caliph as sultans.
The Delhi Sultanate: 1206-1526 A general name given to various Turko-Afghan dynasties that ruled India from Delhi: The Slaves (1206-1290), The Khiljis (1290-1320), The Tughlaqs (1320-1413), The Sayyids (1414-1451), and the Lodhis (1451-1526).
The Ottomans: 1299-1924 Ruled the Muslim world (except Iran and India), Greece, Albania, Serbia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Hungary, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Wallachia, Transylvania, Moldavia, the areas around the Black Sea including Dobruja, Bujak, Jedisan, Crimea, Caucasus, Dagestan, Georgia, Armenia, and Azerbaijan, and the islands of Cyprus and Crete. Their seats of government were: Bithynia (in northwestern Anatolia) 1299-1326, Bursa (1326-1402), Edirne (1402-1453) and Istanbul (1453-1923)
The Mamluks: 1250-1517 Ruled Egypt and Syria from Cairo
The Safavids: 1501-1736 Ruled greater Iran, Iraq, and Azerbaijan from Tabriz, Kazwin (1548), and Isfahan (1598)
The Mughals: 1526-1857 Ruled Afghanistan and South Asia from Delhi
The Qajars: 1779-1924 Ruled the present-day Iran from Tehran
The Pahlavis: 1924-1979 Ruled the present-day Iran from Tehran
Schools of Fiqh (Jurisprudence) and their geographical distribution:
Developed by Imam J'afar al-Sadiq (702-765) in Madinah. Two of his most prominent students were the Sunni jurists, Imam Abu Hanifah and Imam Malik ibn Anas. This school is followed by Sh'iah communities today. The Jafari school of thought accepts and encourages the concept of taqleed or "imitation" e.g. that in the absence of the Imam, unlearned Muslims should choose a scholar of known-virtue and knowledge and follow his rulings and verdicts in their daily life. However, his verdicts are not to be taken as the only source of religious information and can be always corrected by others who come after him, which can be years or even decades later, as the idea in talqeed is that verdicts are to be based on the latest research and thinking as to how to implement this research in current life.
Formed in Kufa (in present-day Iraq) by Imam Abu Hanifah (698-765), it preserves many of the older Mesopotamian traditions. It bases its rulings largely on ra'y--the results of logical deduction by its scholars. The Mughal and Ottoman empires followed the Hanafi School. Today Muslims in Turkey, Central Asia, the Balkans, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Bangladesh follow this school. The Ottoman Sultan Salim (1512-1520) tried to impose the Hanafi judicial system on all his subjects, and many Muslims in Syria, Jordan, and Palestine today also follow this school. However, since Salim did not insist on changes in matters of worship, many of his subjects in these areas retained Shafi'i rites.
Developed in Madinah by Imam Anas ibn Malik (715-796), this school reflects the ideas and practices of the Madinah community of that time as enumerated in the "Sunnah" (practices of the Prophet). This school is followed today in Algeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Mauritania, Libya, Kuwait, Bahrain, Dubai and Abu Dhabi.
Founded by Imam Shafi'i (767-820), this school pioneered in systematising Islamic law. Imam Shafi'i studied in Madinah as well as Baghdad but disagreed with the methodology of both these schools. He preferred the Traditionists, but did not fully accept their ideas either.
In his book, "Risala," balancing the two trends, he prescribed the sources of Islamic law in the following order:
1. The Quran;
2. The Sunnah (practices) of the Prophet, based on the Hadith compilations as narrated by his Companions;
3. Ijma (the consensus of Muslim community) on any issue;
4. Ra'y (reasoning): This consists primarily of qiyas (reasoning by analogy), but also istihsan (an Arabic term for juristic "preference"). Muslim scholars may express a preference for particular judgments in Islamic law over other possibilities. This is one of the principles of legal thought underlying personal interpretation or itjihad. Proponents of liberal movements within Islam have used istihsan and the similar idea of istislah (Arabic for "to deem proper") as ethical principles to support feminist and reformist interpretations of the Qur'an and Islamic law. His system became the basis of Islamic jurisprudence, and it was subsequently used by all the schools.
The Shafi'i school is followed in Egypt, Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia and North Yemen, but its main centers are in Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Muslim minorities of mainland Southeast Asia and the Philippines.
Founded by Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855). As a student of Imam Shafi'i, he followed the ideas of his teacher but placed more emphasis on the Traditions of the Prophet and literal interpretation of the Quran. His followers are concentrated in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the Northeast of Oman and the rest of the Arab Emirates.
Egypt is unique in traditionally representing, maintaining and accommodating all four schools. Each Madrassa in Egypt had four sections to accommodate students of each school. Until Muhammad Ali Pasha (1769-1849) there were four law courts as well, but he limited the courts to applying Hanafi legislation.
(1) Government of the Punjab, Report of the Court of Inquiry constituted under Punjab Act II of 1954 to inquire into the Punjab Disturbances of 1953 (Lahore: Government of the Punjab Printing Press, 1954), pp. 231-232, (The Munir Report)
(2) Muhammad Asad, The Principles of State and Government in Islam (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961), p.1
(3) Muhammad Asad, cited above, p.2.
(4) Quran 4:59.
(5) Ibid. 3:158.
(6) Ibid. 38:20.
(7) Ibid. 12:55.
(8) Ibid. 5:47.
(9) Ibid. 33:36.
(10) Ibid. 5:48.
(11) Muhammad Asad, op. cit., p.15
(13) Ibn Hisham, Sirah, Vol. I quoted in Haroon Khan Sherwani, Studies in Muslim Political Thought and Administration (Lahore: Sh. Muhammad Ashraf, 1959), p.22.
(14) Al-Baladhuri, Futuhu'l-Buldan, quoted in Sherwani, p. 23.
(15) Joseph Lumbard (ed.) Islam, Fundamentalism, and the Betrayal of Tradition: Essays by Western Muslim Scholars (World Wisdom Books, 2004) quoted in Robert Crane, "New Frontiers in Conflict Management: A Grand Strategy to wage Jihad against Terrorist Muslims who would Hijack Islam," a paper presented at the 33rd Annual Conference of the Association of Muslim Social Scientists, George Mason University, Arlington, Virginia, September 26, 2004.
(16) Alusi, Bukhari, Muslim, quoted in M.M. Sharif, A History of Muslim Philosophy (Wiesbaden: Harrowitz, 1963), Vol. I, pp. 657-658, f.n.
(17) Nasai, Kitab al-Bai'ah, quoted in M. M. Sharif, pp.658-659.
(18) Bukhari, Kitab al-Muharibin, quoted in M. M. Sharif (ed.) A History of Muslim Philosophy (Wiesbaden: Harrowitz, 1963), Vol I, p. 660.
(19) Ibn Qutaibah quoted in M. M. Sharif, p. 664.
(20) Umar is reported to have said, "Sayyid-al-qaum-i-khadim-o-hum" (leaders of the nation are in fact the servants of the people), Ali believed that the social and economic status of the ruler should not be above the poorest of his subjects. Once Ali and a non-Muslim citizen appeared as parties in a case before the judge, the judge rose to greet Ali who was the Caliph at that time. Seeing this, Ali said to the judge, "This is your first injustice." Ibn Khallikan quoted in M. M. Sharif, p. 663.
(21) The Sasanid Empire (224-651) of Persia (Iran) was relatively more stable than the preceding Parthian state. It was essentially based on agriculture but had many urban trading centers closely monitored by the rulers and nobility.
(22) See below.
(23) While returning from his last pilgrimage, the Prophet collected all his companions at a place called Ghadir al-Khumm, raised Ali's hand and declared: "Whomsoever I am lord of, his lord is Ali also." Quoted in Philip K. Hitti, History of the Arabs, p. 471f.n.
(24) Ibn Khaldun, The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, translated by Franz Rosenthal (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), Vol. II, p. 136
(25) Syed Abid Ali Abid, "Political Theory of the Shi'ites," in M. M. Sharif, p.735
(26) Ibid. p.744.
(27) Abu Mansur Abd al-Qahir ibn Tahir al-Baghdadi, al-Farq bain al-Firaq, translated into English by Kate Chamber Seelye (New York: Columbia University Press, 1920), pp.61-68, 313-315.
(28) Al-Jassas, Ahkam al-Quran, quoted in M.M. Sharif, p.670.
(30) al-Suyuti, Tarikh al- Khulafa (Lahore: Government Printing Press, 1870), p.255.
(31) For details, see Ann K. S. Lambton, State and Government in Medieval Islam: An Introduction to the Study of Islamic Political Theory: The Jurists (Oxford University Press, 1981), Albert Hourani, Arabic Thought in the Liberal Age, 1798-1939 (Oxford University Press, 1970), Waheed-uz-Zaman (ed.) Islam in South Asia (Islamabad: National Institute of Historical and Cultural Research, 1993) For a general overview of the impact of these rationalists, see M.M. Sharif, op. cit. Volume II, Book Eight "Modern Renaissance."
(32) It is interesting to note that personally Abu Hanifah had more respect for Ali than Usman but in order to justify the selection of the third caliph, he compromised on his personal choice. See Ibn al-Bazzaz al-Kardari, Manaqib al-Imam al-Azam (Hyderabad: Dairatul M'aarif, 1903) Vol.II, p.72
(33) Mulla Ali Qari, Sharh al-Fiqh al-Akbar, quoted in M. M. Sharif, Vol.I, p. 678.
(34) Ibid. P.679.
(35) Al-Muwaffaq bin Ahmad al-Makki, quoted in Ibid. p.685.
(36) Quoted in M. M. Sharif, Vol. I, p.681
(37) Qouted in Antony Black, The History of Muslim Political Thought: From the Prophet to the Present (New York: Routledge, 2001), p. 25
(38) Kitab al-Kharaj, quoted in M. M. Sharif, Vol. I, p. 698.
(39) Quoted in Antony Black, op. cit.
(40) Quoted in Charles Pellat, Life and Works of Jahiz: Translations of Selected Texts (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1969), pp. 80-81
(41) al-Farabi, Fusul al-Madini, in M. M. Sharif, Vol.I, p.715
(42) al-Farabi, Kitab al-Siyasah, quoted in M. M. Sharif, Vol.I, p. 713.
(44) Ibn Khallikan, quoted in Muhammad Qamaruddin Khan, "Al-Mawardi" in M.M. Sharif, op.cit. Volume II, p.718.
(45) Ibid. p. 730.
(46) al-Mawardi followed the Shafi' school.
(47) al-Mawardi, al-Ahkam al- Sultaniyyah reproduced in Sherwani, op. Cit.
(48) One theologian even discarded this reason as valid, see Abu Ya'la, Ibid.
(49) The juridical opinion is that a blind person is unqualified to appear as a witness or to sit as a judge in a court of law; he is, therefore, much more unqualified to serve as the Head of the State. See Al-Mawardi, op. cit., p.33
(50) Siyast Nameh quoted in Sherwani, p. 141.
(51) Siyasat Nameh, p.29.
(52) Wasaya, p.43, quoted in Sherwani, op. cit.
(53) Siyasat Nameh, pp.54-55.
(54) Ibid. pp.5-6.
(55) Wilfred Cantwell Smith, Islam in Modern History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957), p.36.
(56) Al-Ghazalli, Fatihatu'l-Ulum, quoted in Sherwani, op. cit., p. 172.
(57) Fazlur Rahman, Islam and Modernity (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1982), p. 107
(59) Quoted in M. M. Sharif, op. cit. p. 799.
(60) Imam Ahmad ibn Hanbal (780-855) known for his literal interpretation of the Quran.
(61) He issued a decree against this practice in his "Travel to the Graves of the Prophet and Saints."
(62) Ibn Taimiyya, Kitab iqtida as-sirat al-mustaqim mukhalafat ashab al-jahim in Muhammad Umar Mamon, Ibn Taimiya's Struggle against Popular Religion (The Hague: Mouton, 1976) p.97.
(63) Quran 4-59.
(64) Serajul Haque, "Ibn Taimiyyah" in M. M. Sharif, vol. I, pp. 796-819.
(65) Ibid. P.798.
(66) One of his teachers, Muhammad Hayat Sindhi was from India.
(67) Some writers translate his name with "i" instead of "y." We have retained the spellings in original quotations as the referred author spelled it but in the main text we have followed the general trend.
(68) Hadyat al--San'iyyah, quoted in Abdul Hamid Siddiqi, "Renaissance in Arabia, Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon" in M. M. Sharif, p. 1449.
(69) Ibid. P.1447.
(70) See above.
(71) Madawi al-Rashid, A History of Saudi Arabia (New York: Cambridge University Press, 2002), p. 3
(72) Article 5 of the Constitution of Saudi Arabia, adopted by the 'Royal decree of King Fahd' in March 1992.
(73) This refers to the Quranic verse: "Command the good and forbid the evil" (9:112)
(74) Nikki Keddie, Religion and Rebellion in Iran: The Tobacco Protests of 18911892 (London, 1966) provides details about the activities of the ulama in redressing social grievances while Hamid Algar, Religion and State in Iran, 1785-1906 (Berkeley, 1969) provides numerous examples of petitions during the Qajar period.
(75) Mohsen Milani, "Shi'ism and the State in the Constitution of the Islamic Republic of Iran" in Smith Farsoun & Mehrdad Mashayekhi Eds. Iran: Political Culture in the Islamic Republic (London: Routledge, 1992) pp. 133-135.
(76) The Shah spent millions of dollars in celebrating the two thousand years of "Pahlavi dynasty" dating back to the time of Cyrus the Great.
(77) The occasion for these lectures was an academic debate between the students of Ayatullah Abu al-Qasim Kho'I, a leading maraji'-i-taqlid (one who has a large following) of Iraq and those of Khomeini over whether the jurists' guardianship could be extended to political affairs or not. Khomeini's lectures, compiled from students' notes, were published in Persian and Arabic under the titles of Hukumat-i-Islami (1971) and al-Hukumat al-Islamiyyah (1979) respectively. Commenting on the English translations of these works, Gregory Rose writes that Hamid Algar's translation is an excellent rendering but "the English translation published by the United States government's Joint Publication and Research Service is a crude endeavor that is virtually useless for any serious study." See his "Velayat-e Faqih and the Recovery of Islamic Identity in the Thought of Ayatollah Khomeini" in Nikki Keddie (ed.) Religion and Politics in Iran: Shi'ism from Quietism to Revolution (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983) pp.166-188.
(78) Quoted in Hamid Algar, Islam and Revolution: Writings and Declarations of Imam Khomeini (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1981), pp. 28-29.
(79) Quoted in Gregory Rose, op. cit., and p. 182.
(80) Ibid. pp. 182-183.
(81) Ahmad Kazemi Moussavi, "A New Interpretation of the Theory of Vilayet-i-Faqih, Middle Eastern Studies, January 1992.
(82) Relevant articles quoted in Neil Shevlin, "Velayat-e Faqih in the Constitution of Iran: The Implementation of Theocracy", unpublished paper, University of Pennsylvania, 1999.
(83) Ali Shariati (1933-1977) was one of the most prolific writers on the sociology of religion. Because of his ideas and popularity, the Shah had him arrested many times. Shortly before his death, he left Iran and settled in England.
(84) Quoted in Fazlur Rahman, op. cit., and p. 109.
(85) Egyptian reformer and pioneer of Islamic modernism and nationalism. Of peasant stock from Lower Egypt, Abduh studied at the village Qur'an school in Tanta, and the University of al-Azhar in Cairo. Because he supported a revolt against Egypt's domination by Europeans and the Turkish-speaking elite in the army and palace, the British (after occupying Egypt in 1882) exiled Abduh to Beirut. In 1888 he returned to Egypt and became a judge. Eleven years later he became grand mufti, Egypt's highest official interpreter of the shari'a. From his seat on al-Azhar's administrative council, he tried unsuccessfully to reform the institution. Conservatives blocked his efforts, and shortly before his death in 1905 he resigned.
(86) Quoted in Antony Black, op. cit., and p.315.
(88) Quoted in Erwin Rosenthal, Islam in the Modern Nation State (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965), p. 98.
(89) "The America That I Saw", quoted in Antony Black, op. cit., p. 321.
(90) Sayed Kotb (Sayyid Qutb), Social Justice in Islam, quoted in Ibid. p. 322.
(91) See Leonard Binder, Religion and Politics in Pakistan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1961), p.80.
(92) Tarjaman-ul-Quran, December 1934, translated and quoted by K. K. Aziz, Party Politics in Pakistan (Islamabad: National Commission on Historical and Cultural Research, 1976), p. 140, f.n.
Maududi knew the power of the printed word. His pamphlets
(93) Quoted in Ibid. p. 141.
(94) Maududi, Islamic Law and Constitution (Lahore, 1955) quoted in Ibid. pp. 148-149.
(95) Maududi, Political Theory of Islam, quoted in Ibid. p. 151.
(96) See James Piscatori, Islam in a World of Nation-States (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1986). He discusses different theories advanced by Western scholars as well some Muslim Intellectuals.
(97) Graham E. Fuller, "The Future of Political Islam," Foreign Affairs, March-April, 2002, p.60.
(98) Quoted in Ali R. Abootalebi, "Islam, Islamists, and Democracy," Middle East Review of International Affairs, Volume 3, No. 1 (March 1999)
(99) Quoted in Robin Wright, "Two Visions of Reformism," Journal of Democracy 7, No. 2, April, 1996.
(101) Fazlur Rahman, op. cit., p. 140.
(102) Muhammad Aslam Syed, "Modernism, Traditionalism, and Islamization in Pakistan" in Ralph Braibanti (ed) A Special Issue on Contemporary Issues in Islam, Journal of South Asian and Middle Eastern Studies, Vol. VIII, 1985.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||Syed, Muhammad Aslam|
|Date:||Jan 1, 2007|
|Previous Article:||Images for iconoclasts: images of Confucius in the Cultural Revolution.|
|Next Article:||Feeling as form in Indian aesthetics.|