Islam and State: A counter narrative

The Spirit Of Islam

Javed Ahmad Ghamidi

THE situation which today has been created in the whole world for Islam and Muslims by certain extremist organizations is the evil consequence of the ideology taught in our religious seminaries, and also propagated day and night by Islamic movements and religious political parties. The true understanding of Islam in contrast to this has been presented by this writer in his treatise Mizan. This understanding actually constitutes a counter narrative. It has been repeatedly pointed out by this writer that when in a Muslim society anarchy is created on the basis of religion, then the remedy to this situation is not advocacy of secularism. On the contrary, the solution lies in presenting a counter narrative to the existing narrative on religion. Its details can be looked up in the aforementioned treatise. However, the part of it which relates to Islam and the state is summarized below.
1. The message of Islam is primarily addressed to an individual. It wants to reign on the hearts and minds of people. The directives it has given to the society are also addressed to individuals who are fulfilling their responsibilities as the rulers of Muslims. Hence, it is baseless to think that a state also has a religion and there is a need to Islamize it through an Objectives Resolution and that it must be constitutionally bound to not make any law repugnant to the Qur’an and Sunnah. People who presented this view and were successful in having it implemented actually laid the foundations of a permanent division in the nation states of these times: it gave the message to the non-Muslims that they are in fact second rate citizens who at best occupy the status of a protected minority and that if they want to demand anything from the real owners of the state they must do this in this capacity of theirs.
2. It can be the dream of every person that countries in which Muslims are in majority should unite under a single rule and we can also strive to achieve this goal but this is no directive of the Islamic shari‘ah which today Muslims are guilty of disregarding. Certainly not! Neither is khilafah a religious term nor its establishment at the global level a directive of Islam. After the first century hijrah, when celebrated jurists of the Muslims were among them, two separate Muslim kingdoms, the Abbasid kingdom in Baghdad and the Umayyad kingdom in Spain had been established and remained established for many centuries. However, none of these jurists regarded this state of affairs to be against the Islamic shari‘ah. The reason is that there is not a single directive found on this issue in the Qur’an and the Hadith. On the contrary, what everyone including this writer do say is that if at any place a state is established, rebelling against it is a heinous crime. Such is the horrific nature of this crime that the Holy Prophet (SWS) is reported to have said that a person who does so dies the death of jahiliyyah.
3. The basis of nationhood in Islam is not Islam itself, as is generally understood. At no place in the Qur’an and Hadith has it been said that Muslims must become one nation. On the contrary, what the Qur’an has said is (All Muslims are brothers to one another, (49:10)). Thus the relationship between Muslims is not based on nationhood; it is rather based on brotherhood. While being divided into several nations, countries and states they are brothers in faith. Hence, what can be demanded from them is that they should keep themselves aware of the circumstances of their brothers, help them in their troubles and tribulations, support those who are oppressed among them, give them preference in economic and social ties and in no circumstances close their doors on them. However, what cannot be demanded from them is that they give up their nation states and national identities and become one nation and one state. Just as they can create separate nation states, in the same way if they have the freedom to follow their religion, they can live in the capacity of citizens of non-Muslim states and adopt their nationality. None of this is forbidden by the Qur’an and Sunnah.
4. If some Muslims of the world acknowledge themselves as Muslims, in fact, insist on this and adopt a belief or deed which is not approved by one or more scholars or the rest of the Muslims, then this deed or belief of theirs can be regarded as incorrect and even a deviation and departure from Islam, yet these people cannot be regarded as non-Muslims or disbelievers (kuffar) because these people adduce their views from the Qur’an and Hadith. For the ruling of God on such beliefs and deeds, we must wait for the Day of Judgement. Their proponents in this world in accordance with their own acknowledgement are Muslims, must be regarded as Muslims and must be dealt with in the same way as a Muslim is dealt with. It is the right of the scholars to point out their mistake, to invite them to accept what is correct, to regard what they find as constituting polytheism and disbelief in their ideology and also inform people about all this. However, no one has the right to declare them as non-Muslims or to ostracize them from the Muslim community because only God can give this right to someone, and everyone who has knowledge of the Qur’an and Hadith knows that God has not given this right to anyone.

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