Islamic legislation has introduced basic principles and general rules in political matters which act as the basis upon which the Islamic State is built. The ruler of the Muslim State executes and implements the commands of Allah (SWT).
Allah (SWT) says:
Do they then seek the judgment of (the days of) Ignorance? And who is better in judgment than Allah for a people who have firm Faith.[5:50]
The ruler of the Islamic country is in fact a deputy over the Ummah, which obliges him to implement the following: To do everything in his ability to implement the legislations and laws of Allah, and to provide honest, honourable ways of living for the nation, to safeguard the Religion, security, lives, and wealth. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“No slave of Allah is made to look after some affairs of the Muslims and fails to be true and sincere in it, except that he will not smell the scent of the Paradise.” [al-Bukhari]
The ruler of the Islamic State must have the necessary characteristics, as described by Umar ibn-al-Khattab (RA) when he said to his Companions: “Show me a man whom I can assign to take care of certain affairs of the Muslims which are of concern to me.” They replied: “Abdur-Rahman ibn ‘Auf. ” He said: “He is weak.” They mentioned another man and he said, “I have no need of him.” They then asked, “What type of person do you want?” He said: “I want a man who, if he is their leader, he behaves as if lie was one of them, and if he is not their leader, he appears as if he were.” They said: “No one else is more suitable than
Ar-Rabee `ah ibn ul-Haarith.” `Umar said: “You have spoken the truth,” and he appointed him.
- The ruler must not appoint anyone over the Muslims who is not fit for the post or trust. He should not favor a friend or a relative over a worthy candidate for a certain post. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“No slave is given responsibility over some people and dies in a state in which he is treacherous to them, except that Allah forbids him from Paradise.” [Muslim]
The aforementioned rules and principles are characterised by the following:
* They are divine, ordained by Allah and in their light all are considered equal… the ruler and the ruled, the rich and the poor, the noble and ignoble, the black and white – no one, no matter how high-ranking he is, is allowed to violate them or pass laws that contradict with them. Allah (SWT) says:
It is not for a believer, man or woman, when Allah and His Messenger have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys Allah and His Messenger, he has indeed strayed in a plain error. [33:36]
* All are required to abide, respect, and implement these rules and principles; both the ruler and the ruled. Allah (SWT) says:
The only saying of the faithful believers, when they are called to Allah and His Messenger, to judge between them, is that they say: ‘We hear and we obey.’ And such are the successful ones (who will live forever in Paradise). [24:51]
In Islam, no man has absolute power; including the ruler for his powers are restricted by the limits set by the Islamic legislation; if he opposes them, people must disobey him and follow the truth. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“It is obligatory upon a Muslim to listen and obey (the authority) in those things which he likes or does not, except if he is commanded to do something sinful. If he is commanded to do a sinful act, then do not hear or obey,” [al-Bukhari]
* Mutual consultation…the political system in Islam is built upon this. Allah (SWT) says:
And those who answer the Call of their Lord, and establish the Prayer, and who (conduct) their affairs by mutual consultation, and who spend of what We have bestowed on them.[42:38]
Allah (SWT) also says:
And by the Mercy of Allah, you dealt with them gently. And had you been severe and harsh hearted, they would have broken away from about you; so pass over (their faults), and ask (Allah’s) Forgiveness for them; and consult them in the affairs. [3:159]
In the first verse, Allah associates mutual consultation with prayers, which is the backbone of Islam. This indicates the importance of mutual consultation in Islam in all matters that concern the Ummah (nation). The people of knowledge should be consulted in these matters.
At the end of the first ayah, Allah (SWT) praises the Believers in general because they mutually consult one another in all their matters. In the second ayah, Allah (SWT) orders His Messenger, who was the Head of State, to mutually consult his Companions in matters that are of common interest to the Ummah (nation) if no apparent ruling was revealed concerning it. There is no mutual consultation in matters which have a ruling in Shari’ah. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“No people mutually consult, except they would be guided to the best matter. The Messenger of Allah (SWT) then recited:and who conduct their affairs by mutual consultation.”
Scholars have stated the obligation for the ruler to consult the people in matters relating to their interests. If he neglects their consultation, the people are required to demand it in order to say their word and give their opinion. This is based on the above mentioned verses, and because the Religion of Islam considers the ruler a deputy who is responsible to perform what was delegated to him. Thus the people are required to monitor the ruler’s implementation of the Law. Islam gives all people the freedom to voice their opinion and criticize in the manner they deem appropriate, in accordance to the principles set by the Religion. They should not do so in a manner which causes disruption. The Prophet (ﷺ) said:
“Indeed the best Jihad is to utter a word of justice before a tyrannical ruler” [Abu Dawood & ibn Majaah]
Abu Bakr, the first Caliph of Islam, addressed the people saying
“O people! I have been appointed as your ruler though I am not the best among you. So if you find me upon the truth, help me. But if you find me in the wrong, correct me. Obey me so long as I obey Allah in conducting your affairs. However, if I disobey Him I have no claim to your obedience.”
Umar ibn ul-Khattab, the second Caliph, stood on the pulpit one day and addressed people saying: “O people! If you find that I have fallen into corruption… then straighten me.” A Bedouin rose from amongst the people and said: “By Allah! If we find you crooked, we will straighten it with our swords,” yet Umar did not get angry or harbour malice towards him. He only raised his hands towards the heaven and said: “Praise be to Allah Who has made among our nation a person who is able to correct the crookedness of Umar.”
The ruler is even called to account and questioned. Once, `Umar addressed people while having a two-piece dress on. When he said: “O people! Listen and obey,” a man stood up and said: “We will not listen nor obey! `Umar (RA) asked: “And why is that?” The man answered: “Because you have a two-pie, dress while we only have a single piece one (he had allocated one dress for each Muslim).” `Umar at once called out in hi loudest voice: “Abdullah ibn `Umar (his son)! Tell them!’ Abdullah said: “It is my dress which I gave to him.” The man then said: “Now we will listen and obey.”
Thus Islam preserves the rights and freedoms of both the society and the individual. It safeguards the sources of legislation from the whims and desires of legislators, since they shape their legislations with personal or regional needs and circumstances. The Islamic legislation does not discuss other minute details of government. This aims to leave the door open for Muslims to lay down proper rules and regulations that suit their specific conditions and serve their best interest in any specific place and time, provided such rules and regulations do not contradict the principles and fundamentals of Islam.