Islam and the State

Islam and the State


It is generally understood that the founders of Pakistan wanted to make it an Islamic democratic welfare state. In later times as well, this concept about Pakistan continued. In these times, advocates of revolution and change also say the same. If the common masses are asked, a vast majority will also attest to this concept. There are excellent examples of democratic and western states in the western world; so it is not at all difficult to understand what such states are or should be. However, the question arises: What exactly is implied by an "Islamic State"? One of its models can be seen in the monarchy of Saudi Arabia and another in the theocracy of Iran. However, if Islam is understood directly from its sources, it does not regard either of these models as correct. Therefore it is essential that the requirements of Islam regarding the state system of the Muslims be stated here so that in the light of this people can evaluate the promises and measures of their leaders.

Following are these requirements:

1. Those who call themselves Muslims and regard Muhammad (sws) to be the last prophet of God, who are diligent in their prayer and are ready to pay zakah to the state, shall be regarded as Muslims and the rights which they specifically enjoy by virtue of the Islamic shari'ah shall be given to them in all circumstances.

This means that they will not be subjects of a king but equal citizens. No discrimination shall be made between them in the state system and the laws of the state. Their life, wealth and honour shall hold sanctity – so much so that without their consent the state shall not impose any tax on them other than zakah. If a dispute arises in their personal affairs like marriage, divorce, distribution of inheritance and other similar matters, then it shall be decided in accordance with the Islamic shari'ah. They shall be provided with all the essential facilities for their daily prayers, the fasts of Ramadan and hajj and 'umrah. They will not be forced by the law to submit to any directive which reflects a positive injunction of Islam except the prayer and the zakah. They will be governed with justice and fairness on the principle of amruhum shura baynahum (their system is based on their consultation). Their public wealth and assets shall be reserved for the collective needs of the society and shall not be given in private ownership; in fact, they shall be developed and looked after in such a way that the needs of people who are not able to financially support themselves are fulfilled from their income. If they pass away, they shall be enshrouded and prepared for burial according to Muslim rites; their funeral prayer shall be offered and they shall be buried in the graveyard of the Muslims the way Muslims are buried.

2. It shall be the responsibility of the government to organize the Friday and the 'id prayers. These prayers shall be held only at places which are specified by the state. Their pulpits shall be reserved for the rulers. They themselves will lead and deliver the sermon of these prayers or some representative of theirs will fulfil this responsibility on their behalf. Within the confines of the state, no one will have the authority to organize these prayers independently.

3. Law enforcing departments shall be primarily reserved for amar bi al-ma'ruf and nahi 'an al-munkar (enjoining good and forbidding evil). Thus the most pious of people will be selected as workers of these departments. They will urge people to do good and forbid them all what mankind has always regarded as evil.

4. The state shall always adhere to justice (qa'im bi al-qist) with regard to its enemies as well. It will speak the truth, bear witness to it and will not take any step contrary to justice and fairness.

5. If the state enters into agreement with someone within its jurisdiction or with some foreign entity, then as long as the agreement exists it shall be honoured both in letter and in spirit with full honesty and sincerity.

6. If a Muslim is guilty of murder, theft, fornication, falsely accusing someone of fornication (qadhf) or spreading anarchy and disorder in the land and a court is fully satisfied that he does not deserve any leniency arising from his personal, familial and social circumstances, then those punishments shall be meted out to him which the Almighty has prescribed in His Book for those who have whole-heartedly accepted the call of Islam.

7. Dissemination of Islam to all parts of this world shall be organized at the state level. If any power of the world tries to hinder this effort or persecutes Muslims, then the state, according to its capacity, will try to remove this hindrance and stop this persecution even if it has to lift arms for it.[1]

(Translated by Dr Shehzad Saleem)

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[1]. In order to see the details of these seven requirements in the sources of Islam, my book Mizan can be consulted.




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