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Islam and Politics
09/16/2015
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Islam acknowledges no ‘distinction between the realm of religion and that of politics. Both are interdependent and reflect a genuine interest on the part of Islam in politics. To substantiate such a political interest, a threefold argument can be developed: rational/logical, theoretical/textual, and concrete/ practical. Each dimension is explained as follows.
From a rational or logical perspective, it can be argued that Islam’s interest in politics and the state is substantial. In a broad sense, Islam understands politics as «general take care and administrative as well as a managerial process which seeks to serve and protect the interests and affairs of Muslim society as a whole with a fundamental emphasis on justice as the first and utmost priority. In other words, the purpose of this administrative process is to maintain, and expand the framework of justice and to sharply reduce, if not eliminate injustice and unfairness. Thus, with such an understanding of politics, the rational claim of the Islamic interest in politics can be supported in that the implementation of Islamic laws, rules, and principles is not complete without an existence of a political authority. Therefore, the majority of the Muslim Ulama'(the body of learned religious scholars), and leaders possessing the knowledge of Islamic law, make it an obligation for Muslims to select, or choose to power a Khalifah or an Imam as leader. In other words, it becomes an Islamic obligation for the Muslims to establish a political leadership for a Muslim state.
At a theoretical or textual level, the preoccupation of Islam with politics is undeniable. This is implicitly, if not explicitly, substantiated by many Qur’anic verses and the Sunnah concerning politics as a process of safeguarding the faith. In this respect, the Qur’an sets forth its own world view, way of life, system of values, goals to be achieved, and rules according to which a Muslim society ought to be ruled. In this regard, justice is set forth by the Qur’an as the everlasting goal which ought to be pursued by the individual and/or the public authority, or whoever happens to be in charge of the Muslims’ affairs. Consistent with that spirit, the Qur’an constantly advises the Prophet, and consequently every Muslim, whether as an individual or as a leader, to follow the guidance and the way of God, to consult with his people, and to mutually share each other’s opinions. Thus, when a leader makes a decision or takes an action, the decision is more likely to lead to success and be supported by Muslims as theirs. Following the same line, Prophet Muhammad usually tried to strengthen the Muslims’ sense of responsibility. Always, he kept educating and reminding them that each one is held responsible for the community or anything, whom he or she is in a charge of. In this respect, it should be noticed that, the domain of such responsibility is left intentionally broad and comprehensive. While the focus of responsibility starts with the individual and the immediate family, it is expanded to encompass the whole Muslim society particularly in the case of the ruler. The purpose is to create, maintain, and deepen the Muslims’ sense of solidarity and communal responsibility. Thus, though broad in nature, these Qur’anic and Sunnah notions provide the Muslims with a sense of political unity and solidarity, and with an ability to adapt to changing environments and conditions rather than restricting their potential to a static and inadaptable political formula.
Furthermore, from a practical perspective, the basis for Islam’s political concerns are strongly reinforced by the Sunnah instructions and practices. These provide the Muslims with many new insights into the political process, covering political values, issues of rulership, the state, and the Khilafah.
Yet, despite its abiding interest in the political sphere, the question arises as to whether the Islamic views or perspectives should be of a general or a specific -nature, in this regard, one can only speculate as follows:
1- The Qur’an’s fundamental concern is directed toward urging Muslims to establish an ideal Islamic society rather than a state. Consequently, the political form which that society may take does not become the issue. For, once the Qur’anic society is realized, it automatically becomes an Islamic state.
2- The Qur’anic tendency to refrain from prescribing the details of a polity in a fixed manner or formula, also can be understood by the ever changing nature of society and its milieu. Such an omission of details provides the Muslims with a considerable capability to adapt and adjust. Within such a framework, it will be possible for them to achieve the most appropriate organizational form to suit the requirements of the changing times and environments. In this sense, this in built flexibility would enable the Muslims to march with human progress.
3- The preoccupation of Islam with macro level issues has provided Muslim jurists, scholars, and thinkers with both the motivation and challenges in order to perform ijtihad , to adapt different socio-political, and other conditions to the Islamic standards and principles. Throughout history, ijtihad, as an intellectual avenue has been a means to expand theoretical horizons and practical applications by Muslim scholars even on fundamental issues.
Finally, as to the Islamic preference for any particular type of political systems, the Qur’an does not directly recommended or reject any specific form (i.e., a dynasty, a kingdom, a republic) because of its structural or organizational form or merits. Instead, the Qur’an places its emphasis on the performance and quality of rulership in a clear premise, that is to judge among people with justice. Toward that end, the Qur’an assures that the possession of power, domination, and authority are promised to the true believers. In other words, God has promised the inheritance of the earth, its possession and governance to those who follow in the Prophet’s footsteps, practice piety and do justice. That promise, however, does not hold good if Muslims break the covenant and abandon the Shari`a in everyday life.

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