Wednesday 1st Oct 2014
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Islam, Muslims and Democracy-II

Governance

, by DR JAVED JAMIL

Had democracy been properly put into practice, it might have been a sacred blessing for the common people. It might have guaranteed them a lion’s share in power, and their rightful needs and aspir­ations might have been truly realised. It still holds true that they can successfully overthrow any government out of power. It is therefore mandatory for a party in power to keep the masses in good humour. But in reality, the remote controls of almost all the governments remain in the hands of the big business. Through media that blossom under its auspices it succeeds in shackling the imagination of the people. The disinformation campaign in the media is too effective to permit them independent thinking and judgement. Consequently, the real issues hardly surface into prominence, and the minor, insignificant and frivolous matters are made to appear as big issues that do not haunt but hunt the minds of the common-man.
The political bigwigs, when they ascend a public rostrum to deliver speeches that usually have plenty of rhetoric, cry their hearts out for the poor and the downtrodden. But in the comforts of their ministerial offices, they minister only to their industrialist benefactors, and their beneficence is gifted back multi-fold through convenient adjustments in policies and rules and regulations, grants of licences and ministerial orders for their products or services. All through their terms, the problems of the masses never bother them; but as the expiry of their term and the new elections approach they again revert back to their favourite theme: concern for the poor. A few schemes favouring them, though marginally, and often only on the paper, are announced with great media hype. If they return to power, they are back in paradise. If not, still they have great many privileges to enjoy themselves throughout their lives. And of course as opposition, they have now more opportunities to stand on the rostrum and harangue about the necessity to raise the standards of the life of the poor; for that to happen, the best course for the public is to bring them back in the next election.
 
POLITICAL IDEOLOGY IN QUR’AN
God ultimate sovereign: It is He Who is God in heaven and God on earth; and He is full of Wisdom and Knowledge (43: 84/A)
And blessed is He to Whom belongs the dominion of the heavens and the earth, and all between them... (43: 85/A)
Prophet the ultimate Guide: But no, by the Lord, they can have no (real) Faith, until they make thee judge in all disputes between them, and find in their souls no resistance against thy decisions, but accept them with the fullest conviction. (4: 65/A)
Leaders:
Verily those who plight their fealty to thee do no less than plight their fealty to God. The Hand of God is over their hands: then any one who violates his oath, does so to the harm of his own soul, and any one who fulfils what he has covenanted with God,- God will soon grant him a great Reward. (48: 10/A)
O ye who believe! Obey God, and obey the Messenger, and those charged with authority among you. If ye differ in anything among yourselves, refer it to God and His Messenger, if ye do believe in God and the Last Day: That is best, and most suitable for final determination. (4: 59/A)
Justice:
One day We shall call together all human beings with their (respective) Imams: those who are given their record in their right hand will read it (with pleasure), and they will not be dealt with unjustly in the least. (17: 71/A)
Qur’an the Final Constitution: These are the verses of the Book which clearly indicate (right and wrong). (12: 1/Z)
Blessed is He who sent down the criterion to His servant, that it may be an admonition to all creatures... (25: 1/Z)
Thus have We revealed it to be a judgement of authority in Arabic. Wert thou to follow their (vain) desires after the knowledge which hath reached thee, then wouldst thou find neither protector nor defender against God. (13: 37/A)
Participatory governance: It is part of the Mercy of God that thou dost deal gently with them Wert thou severe or harsh-hearted, they would have broken away from about thee: so pass over (Their faults), and ask for (God’s) forgiveness for them; and consult them in affairs (of moment). Then, when thou hast taken a decision put thy trust in God. For God loves those who put their trust (in Him). (3: 159/A)
 
Importance of unity
And hold fast, all together, by the rope which God (stretches out for you), and be not divided among yourselves; and remember with gratitude God’s favour on you; for ye were enemies and He joined your hearts in love, so that by His Grace, ye became brethren; and ye were on the brink of the pit of Fire, and He saved you from it. Thus doth God make His Signs clear to you: That ye may be guided. (3: 103/A)
 
AIMS OF ADMINISTRATION
Let there arise out of you a band of people inviting to all that is good, enjoining what is right, and forbidding what is wrong: They are the ones to attain felicity. (3: 104/A)
Universal brotherhood
Mankind was but one nation, but differed (later). (10: 19/A)
Importance of treaties with non-Muslims
A (declaration) of immunity from God and His Messenger, to those of the Pagans with whom ye have contracted mutual alliances... (9: 1/A)
(But the treaties are) not dissolved with those Pagans with whom ye have entered into alliance and who have not subsequently failed you in aught, nor aided any one against you. So fulfil your engagements with them to the end of their term: for God loveth the righteous. (9: 4/A)
But if they violate their oaths after their covenant, and taunt you for your Faith,- fight ye the chiefs of Unfaith: for their oaths are nothing to them: that thus they may be restrained. (9: 12/A)
If one amongst the Pagans ask thee for asylum, grant it to him, so that he may hear the word of God. And then escort him to where he can be secure. That is because they are men without knowledge. (9: 6/A)
Islam does not pinpoint its injunctions; it rather sets boundaries, and within the area inside these boundaries, which is quite big, man is free to choose his way. Islam does not provide an elaborate arrangement of various institutions needed for political set-up; it only defines premises that can be developed in an elaborate system, flexible enough to adjust to the requirements of a particular time.
The fundamental principles of Islam’s political ideology may be summed up as follows:
First, in an Islamic system, the ultimate sovereignty belongs to none but God Almighty, and therefore no laws and regulations can be framed which violate God’s injunctions. The Qur’an, being the word of God, is to be consulted and kept supreme in all policy matters.
Second, the best interpreter of God’s injunctions can be none other than the Prophet himself; therefore, to understand God’s commands better the sayings and doings of the Prophet have to be taken into account.
Third, there shall be a leader of Islamic Government, who has to be followed in all matters unless he clearly violates the commands of God. The leader should be chosen from among the best followers of Islam; and he should command the approval of Islamic nation.
Fourth, the leader, while administering the affairs of the state, shall consult the people (or their representatives), and their wish should be given due importance in decision making.
Fifth, an Islamic Government shall continuously endeavour to propagate the message of God.
Sixth, an Islamic Government shall continuously endeavour for global peace and for attaining this purpose it can, whenever required, develop working relations with unbelievers (i.e. non-Muslim groups, organisations or countries) who have not been taking active participation in anti-Islamic activities.
Seventh, it is the duty of Islamic State to make the best efforts possible to redress grievances of the oppressed people, irrespective of the religion or race of the oppressor or the oppressed.
Eighth, Islamic State will ensure peace at all levels.
Ninth, Islamic State will make every possible effort to improve the lives of the people within the bounds of God.
It follows from the above that the political set-up, as advocated by Islam, is closer to Democracy than any other form of Government, namely Monarchy, Oligarchy or Dictatorship. But it has certain basic differences with the Western model of democracy. First, while in the Western Democracy, the people are the real sovereign and they can make any law, whatever its implications, if the numerical majority supports it, the people in an Islamic Democracy are free to legislate only within the bounds set by God. For example, the British Parliament, amidst the mounting of pressure by the public and the politicians, legalised homosexuality. Such legislation is impossible in an Islamic system. Second, while in the Western democracy, the personal character of the candidates for the leadership of the nation has very little to do with the eligibility for the post, in an Islamic system the ruler and his associates are expected to possess exemplary characters. The natural corollary of this if applied to the modern society is that in an Islamic political system, while all people are free to vote (except those involved in serious crimes), only those are free to contest the elections, who have not been found involved in any of the prohibited activities, have sufficiently good knowledge of Islamic jurisprudence and carry out the obligatory duties as enjoined by God. The biat system prevalent since the early days of Islam is very close to the voting system of the present time. In short, Islam promotes the real democracy, which means Government of God, by the best servants of God and for the people; (theomeritodemocracy) for in Islam the state belongs to God, and what belongs to God does in truth belong to the people. God alone can be selfless Master whose only interest is mercy on all its creatures.
Based on the above premises, Muslims are free to develop a model of political system that suits the requirements of a particular period of time. One of the models, which in my opinion is nearest to Islamic injunctions, is described briefly here. The state shall have the following important components:
(1) The Supreme Council of Scholars
This shall compromise religious scholars with faultless characters and who have in the past worked for the social uplift, in accordance with the principles of Islam.
 (2) The Leader
He should have profound knowledge of Islam and essential qualities required for an administrator. He should be well versed in the issues facing the nation and the world and should have the charisma and character to take his people along with him. Out of various candidates longing for the post of the leader, the Supreme Council of Scholars shall screen only those who befit the criteria. The candidates, approved thus shall be allowed to contest elections.
(3) Parliament
It shall comprise representatives of people from various constituencies. The eligibility criteria for election in this case shall be less strict than that for the Leader but personal integrity and religious leanings shall still be taken into an account. The leader, before taking any important policy decision, shall direct the parliament to debate over it; and after a careful study of the suggestions of the members of parliament, he shall take a decision. His decision can be challenged by the council of scholars, which shall interfere only when it sees violation of Islamic bounds by the Leader or Parliament. The council can give advice whenever it thinks necessary to the Leader on national or international issues.
This should also be made clear that Islam basically advocates universal love, not nationalism; ‘One Nation’ of Islam cannot be achieved by force but by continuous propagation of the faith and pro-welfare social principles of Islam. Every land and country is part of the Earth, which is the creation of God. People of every nation or land have the right to work for its development; but to aggressively pursue the interests of one’s country at the coast of others, or to project it as a superior nation or land is contrary to the spirit of universalism preached by Islam
Even non-Islamic nations can adopt Islamic political ideology (removing faith in Islam as the necessary condition) with more success than the westernised forms of uncontrolled and unlimited democracies that have led to the rule of the vested interests everywhere in society. (Concluded)


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