Imran Khan Prime Minister of Pakistan
THE rise and fall of nations are different from the rise and fall of civilizations. Nations can be raided, redrawn or re-imagined exogenously but civilizations cannot be killed from the outside, they only commit suicide.
The core of every civilization is its spiritual principles; when they die, the civilization dies. In Islamic civilization, the manifestation of our spiritual principles happened in the Prophet’s (saw) Madina.
Besides many other important principles, there were five very important guiding principles upon which the state of Madina was built. These principles are unity, justice & rule of law leading to meritocracy, strong moral and ethical foundation, inclusion of all humans in progress and prosperity, and finally, the quest for knowledge. To help revive the spirit of the covenant of Madina, National Rahmatul Lil ‘Alamin Authority (NRA) has been formed.
The first principle which laid the foundation for Riyasat-i-Madina was of unity. The idea of unity (Tawhid) comes from the Quran and in a sense, the entire religion is based on that. From unity of God to unity of mankind, it is the most fundamental principle of Islam.
Remember that our Prophet, who was mercy for all mankind, unified people of diverse ethnic and religious backgrounds into a single community. Besides Muslims, there were Christians, Jews, Sabeans and other groups who were all woven into a unitary communal whole under the state of Madina.
The second founding principle was Rule of Law which resulted in justice and meritocracy. The Prophet (saw) made it clear that no one was above the law. He said that nations perish when two sets of laws exist, one for the rich and another for the poor:
“O people, those who came before you were destroyed because if a person of high status committed theft among them, they would spare him, but if a person of lower status committed theft, they would apply the punishment upon him. By Allah, if Fatima the daughter of Muhammad were to steal, I would have cut off her hand.” [Sahih Muslim 1688]
If one looks at the world today, one can easily witness that most successful states also have the most robust application of the rule of law.
Be-sides several Western nations, one witnesses those East Asian economies that have recently prospered, strictly practiced this principle. Japan, China, South Korea are good examples.
Whereas in those nations where rule of law was sub-verted, seem to be sinking into poverty and chaos. In many countries of the Muslim world, despite the prevalence of tremendous resources, there is less progress, which is attributable to lack of rule of law. Another good example is South Asia. In today’s India, the apartheid rule of law has immediately brought about poverty and countless insurgencies that threaten the union of their country. In Pakistan, not adhering to the rule of law has led to siphoning off of billions of US dollars which has imposed collective poverty on our public.
The pattern of politics and devel-opment in many countries of Africa and Latin American suggest the same. The so-called ba-nana republics are the way they are because of lack of rule of law. This cause and effect relation-ship between rule of law and socio-political harmony cannot be emphasized enough.
The third founding principle of Riyasat-i-Madina was of an ethical and moral transforma-tion of the people – the concept of Amr-bil-maroof-wa-nahi-an-al-munkar (doing good, for-bidding evil). The Holy Quran declares it as the defining mission for the Ummah:
You are the best community that has been raised for mankind. You enjoin good and forbid evil and you believe in Allah. [Aal-e-Imran, 3:110].
Enjoining what is good and forbidding what is evil is a collective duty that leads to moral trans-formation of a society.
Nobody would dispute this principle, but there are elements in our soci-ety that are of the opinion that ethical develop-ment of people should be left to the people, the state should remain neutral about good and evil as conceived by religion.
This approach is quite outmoded and problematic because it handcuffs the state from performing its ethical and moral duties and allows adversaries of the country to come in with handfuls of money and subvert our values using our own educational systems and channels of information. NRA will endeavor to engage in amrbilmaaroof by teaching seerat-al-nabi (saw) to our youth in schools and universi-ties in the hope to raise the level the ethics and morals in our society.
The fourth founding principle was of inclusive development through creation of a welfare state where society takes care of its poor and vulner-able and everyone is a stakeholder in the devel-opment of society and state.
State of medina was first recorded welfare state of mankind where the state took responsibility of its weak. Since we must emulate the example of our blessed Prophet (saw), our citizens should learn to be strict with themselves and generous with others.
Keep in mind, however, that in recent times the idea of welfare state has been colored by the Western European experience. Indeed, the West created impressive welfare systems from 1950s to 2010s, of which the most impressive were the Scandinavian ones.
However, most of the West-ern welfare states were not sustainable envi-ronmentally because these were very high con-sumption societies that produced enormous waste. If the whole of non-West were to copy these welfare states, then our pattern of produc-tion, consumption and waste would resemble theirs, and by some estimates it would require us six more planet earths to act as sinks that would absorb our waste.
Such a welfare state is neither possible nor desirable. Since Islam is the middle path, only moderate prosperity and consump-tion would be ideal, just enough to fulfill our ba-sic needs with dignity and honor, with universal health care and education.
And finally, a knowledge-based society that doesn’t confound literacy with knowledge. Liter-acy may lead to illuminative knowledge that may guide us to good behavior, but some of the high-est crime zones of the world also have very high literacy rates. One must not lose sight of an im-portant historical fact that nearly all scholars of early and medieval Islam had deep roots in spiri-tuality.
Hence literacy alone may not be sufficient for a happy society. Knowledge with spiritual trans-formation from cradle to grave is important. All sources that impact human behavior should dis-seminate knowledge which produces self-control, self-discipline, patience, forbearance, tolerance and a spirit of service and volunteer-ism.
Lastly, in the light of our ideals, we have em-barked on the road to the welfare state with some great initiatives.
Despite tight financial means, we allocated unprecedented amount of money to our initiatives such as the Ehsaas Pro-gram which was launched back in 2019. Ehsaas Program isa social safety and poverty alleviation program necessary for the vulnerable groups in society.
This was one of our key initiatives to-wards building a state that cares about the wel-fare of our citizens. By far, one of the greatest programs in history of Pakistan is the Sehat Sa-hulat Program which offers our citizens univer-sal health coverage. This is not just to protect vulnerable households from sinking into poverty who often borrow money for medical treatment, but it also leads to a network of private sector hospitals all over the country, thus benefiting both the public as well as the private sectors in the field of health.
Just Punjab government alone has allocated Rs. 400 billion rupees for this. The Sehat Sahulat Programis an important milestone towards our social welfare reforms. It makes sure that certain low-income groups in Pakistan may have access to their entitled medical health care quickly and honorably without accruing many financial obligations. In the wake of global economic hardship brought about in the post-COVID era, we have not neglected the fast trans-forming educational arena.
Our Ehsaas scholar-ship program would ensure that talented stu-dents within the underprivileged and poor strata of society would get a chance to pursue decent education that would augment their chances of getting better livelihoods. This program com-bined with all our other scholarships amounts to six million scholarships worth Rs. 47 billion. This too is unprecedented in the educational history of Pakistan.
In conclusion, I will reiterate that the most ur-gent of all challenges facing our country right now is the struggle to establish the rule of law. Over the last 75 years of Pakistan’s history, our country has suffered from elite capture, where powerful and crooked politicians, cartels and mafias have become accustomed to being above the law in order to protect their privileges gained through a corrupt system.
While protecting their privileges they have corrupted state institutions, especially those institutions of the state that are responsible for upholding the rule of law. Such individuals, cartels and mafias are parasites who are not loyal to our country and defeating them is absolutely necessary in order to unleash the real potential of Pakistan.