Non-Muslim Ruling Islamic State

Question

Today I was having a debate with a very loving uncle of mine regarding the issue whether a non Muslim could become the ruler of an Islamic state. Wedidn't end up with any conclusion so I need your help. I am of the view that anon Muslim can become a ruler provided he has all the abilities required ina genuine leader and can make the state prosperous. So what does Islam ordainus about this matter. If the answer is "YES", then it's ok for me but if not then kindly answer my following queries:

1). If he can't become a leaderthen in my view its injustice for him just because he was born in such conditions which he has no control of?

2). He lives in the state and lovesit and can sacrifice his life for his motherland like any other Muslim can sowhat's the difference?

3). In such debates, just to make an argument, weassume any such supposed leader to implement all the things which have beenprohibited by Islam on us even though our constitution doesn't allow any suchrule to be passed. So even then why is Islam not allowing it?


Answer

Assalamu Alaykum,

The only criteria that we have in the Qur'an for someone to become leader is that his leadership should be the result of Shora (consultation and voting of the representatives of people).

On the other hand there are some religious obligations that are supposed to be handled by the leader of Muslims. Examples are leading the Friday prayers (or appointment of Imams for Friday prayers), judging based on the Shari'ah or appointment of judges, carrying out the Hudud or appointment of people who would do that, etc. Also on a more general note it will be the duty of the Muslim leader to make sure that the country is being managed within the limits of Islamic Shari'ah and in line with the spirit of Islam.

This implies that it is much easier and suitable to appoint a Muslim leader for a Muslim state. A non-Muslim leader will not be able to handle all the above independently and will need Muslim deputies to help him out, which then prompts the question, why not using one of those deputies as the leader.

The problem therefore as you see is a practical problem rather than a problem in principle. In principle as I wrote above the view of the Shora should be expected. If such Shora, without any unfair pressure or unjust motivations come to conclusion to appoint a non-Muslim as a leader then this cannot be seen as un-Islamic. However, this can result in complications and difficulties in practice as I explained above.

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