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The Essence Of The State In Islam
11/11/2015
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Wide argumentation and multiple discussions are circulating these days about the essence of the state in Islam, especially, after the recent events which some Arab and Islamic countries witnessed of revolutions that toppled oppressive and unjust regimes in the sight of their people. Dialogues and discussions were held in the media about the Islamic solution —as an alternative for these oppressive regimes— between supporters and opponents who are afraid, skeptical, and rejecters. Several questions arise, of which are:

• Was there a state in the time of the Prophet (peace be upon him)? What was the form of that state?
• Was the state in Islam religious in the Western concept of the state which was based on the divine right in ruling for certain people and makes a king authorized by God to rule the state? That concept was dominant in Europe in the Middle Ages, therefore, the state was clerical and of religious authority, imposing guardianship on human minds, freeze Ijtihad(juristic effort to infer expert legal rulings), and obstruct the development.
• Or a civil state in the modern concept of civil state which is based on the complete separation between religion and ruling, and makes the ruling and legislation a private possession for those who are chosen by the people and those who are authorized to rule?
• Or was it a civil state with an Islamic identity that was built on consultation, the protection of freedom, and raising the values of human rights?
• Was the Prophet (peace be upon him) a Prophet and a Messenger or a ruler of the state?
In addition to other questions and discussions that are circulating about this subject. We do not claim, in this article, that we shall answer these questions, but the article will put forward some notes which may contain implicit and short answers about these questions and the issue is still under search and discussion in order to reach a clear image to the essence of the state in Islam. In order that the concept of state in Islam becomes clear, we have to put the example of the Prophet’s time before our eyes because he was the practical application for the concept of the state in Islam. Of these notes that we would like to refer to the following:
First, the period of the Prophet’s call (peace be upon him) was thirty three years; the Prophet (peace be upon him) spent thirteen of them in Makkah and the rest in Madinah(Medina).
Second, during the Makkan Period, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not practice any kind of ruling in the proper concept even though he had the power of prophethood in all aspects of his life after his mission. Moreover, ruling was offered to him in Makkah, but he refused as was reported in the books of biography. Quraysh sent `Utbah ibn Rabi`ah to offer to the Prophet (peace be upon him) some matters, of which: If you want money so that you become the wealthiest of us, we will give it to you and if you want honor, we will make you our master, hence no decision shall be taken without your permission, and if your want kingdom, we will make you our king.
So, the Prophet (peace be upon him) refused these offers, moreover, he did not comment on them then recited to `Utbah the beginning Ayahs of Surat Fussilat. `Utbah stood up immediately after he failed to persuade the Prophet (peace be upon him).
Third, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not emigrate to Al Madinah (Medina) except after its people gave him the pledge of allegiance in the Second `Aqabah Pledge after seventy three men and two women took part in the pledge. After the pledge was concluded, the Messenger (peace be upon him) asked them to go out to select twelve leaders to guarantee the execution of the pledge. When they were elected, the Prophet (peace be upon him) took from them another covenant as being responsible leaders. He said to them: You are guardian over your people and I am a guardian over my people i.e., Muslims. They said: Yes.Hence, it was the first parliament or constituent assembly in Islam which is a similar to the modern Parliaments. That pledge was a changing point in the history of the Islamic call where Islam became a base that is used to spread the call
Fourth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not satisfy the pledge of Muslims, but he extended his ruling power in Medina from its own people, especially the Jews who used to live in Medina because they gave him the pledge as a governor and not as a prophet because they did not believe in his prophethood. The Messenger (peace be upon him) did not force them to leave their religion according to the famous covenant which he signed with them that guaranteed all their rights.
Fifth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) used to have two authorities: the authority of prophethood and the human authority. The most worthy is: No one had to discuss it or say his opinion about, in this regard, God (may He be Exalted) says: It is not for a believer, man or woman, when God and His Messenger (peace be upon him) have decreed a matter that they should have any option in their decision. And whoever disobeys God and His Messenger (peace be upon him), he has indeed strayed into a plain error. [Surat Al Ahzab: 36]. That authority remained after the Prophet (peace be upon him) represented in the reported texts and legislation.
The second authority was: The human authority and that authority accepted consultations and discussion. That was done by Al Hubab ibn Al Mundhir in the Battle of Badr when he said to the Messenger of Allah (peace be upon him) after they had reached the battlefield: Is this a place that was ordained by Allah or it is opinion, war tactics, and plots? The Prophet (peace be upon him) said to him: It is opinion, war tactics, and plots. He knew that the matter was reliable to consultation and discussion, so, he advised the Prophet (peace be upon him) to change position then the Messenger of God (peace be upon him) approved the opinion of Al Hubab because it had a great benefit for Muslims because the situation was not related to revelation or legislation. About this the Prophet (peace be upon him) said in the Hadith that was reported by Imam Muslim in his Sahih: I am just a human being, so if I command you to do anything in regard to your religion, do it and if I command you with something from my opinion, I am just a human being..
However, this authority remains in regard to the worldly matters, such as: policy, economy, administration of society, war, professions, among other things about which there is no decisive text. So, the authority manages the human mind which search for the benefit in the light of general guidelines and regulations that were established by Islam in order not to establish a clerical authority that controls the matters of religion and the world under the pretext of imposing commandment of the human mind or freezing Ijtihad and the disability of development. Furthermore, in order not to establish a worldly authority that controls the religious matters and challenge or slander decisive matters, creeds, or devotional acts.
Sixth, the Prophet (peace be upon him) passed away without bequeathing someone to rule after him, but there were indications from several texts referred to the wish of the Prophet (peace be upon him) in nominating Abu Bakr (may God be pleased with him). It was as if the Prophet (peace be upon him) did not want to impose someone on the people whom they may or may not accept. He wanted that the nation would take its decisions and to choose the one who can lead it and give him pledge of allegiance on compliance and obedience, and to be a followed Sunnah after him.
The Prophet (peace be upon him) gained his authority as a ruler from the pledge of allegiance which the people gave him and before his death, he did not impose anyone on Muslims, but left for them the freedom of choice; and so have done the Rightly-Guided Caliphs after him. These are some notes that may answer some of these questions and enrich the discussions circulating these days about the identity of the state in Islam, as they show the greatness of Islam, marvelousness of its principles, the justice of its legislations, and its inclusiveness and functionalism for every time and place, and it blocks the way before those who want to doubt or slander this beautiful Shari`ah.

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