Today more than ever the discussion about Islam’s role in politics has increased dramatically. We have witnessed a Muslim Brotherhood president in Egypt, who was overthrown by the military regime. We have seen Erdogan’s party in Turkey win the general election. The media is filled with discussion about the future of politics in the Middle East and especially on whether Syria will be a khilafah or a democratic secular system.
The advocates of secularism claim that neither Islam nor any religion has a place in politics, which must be according to the people’s wishes; while the advocates of the Khilafah contend that Allah has ordered the Muslims to rule according to what He has revealed. Then there is a confused group in the middle who argue that now is not the time for Islamic politics, or sometimes that Islam actually advocates a democratic political system.
President Morsi’s failure to deliver stable government in Egypt is held up as an example of the failure of political Islam. At the same time, Erdogan’s presidency is held up as an example of successful political Islam. To make sense of this chaotic discussion, Muslims must refer back to Allah and His Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم.
فَإِنْ تَنَازَعْتُمْ فِي شَيْءٍ فَرُدُّوهُ إِلَى اللَّهِ وَالرَّسُولِ إِنْ كُنْتُمْ تُؤْمِنُونَ بِاللَّهِ وَالْيَوْمِ الْآخِرِ
“If you have a dispute about something, refer it back to Allah and the Messenger, if you have iman in Allah and the Last Day.” [An-Nisaa: 59]
Islam did not stop at commanding the abiding by the shariah in the daily life of the individuals and the relationships between them. Rather, the texts are explicit in commanding the ruling by the shariah.
وَأَنِ احْكُم بَيْنَهُم بِمَآ أَنزَلَ اللّهُ وَلاَ تَتَّبِعْ أَهْوَاءهُمْ وَاحْذَرْهُمْ أَن يَفْتِنُوكَ عَن بَعْضِ مَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ إِلَيْكَ
“And judge between them by that which Allah has revealed, and follow not their desires, but beware of them lest they seduce you from some part of that which Allah has revealed to you.” [Al-Ma’idah: 49]
وَمَن لَّمْ يَحْكُم بِمَا أَنزَلَ اللّهُ فَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْكَافِرُونَ
“And whoever does not rule with what Allah has brought down, then these are the disbelievers.” [Al-Ma’idah: 44]
Allah commanded ruling by the shariah and forbade ruling with other than it, both in a decisive way.
Allah’s Messenger صلى الله عليه وسلم said:
من كره من أميره شيئاً فليصبر عليه فإنه ليس أحد خرج من السلطان شبراً فمات عليه إلاّ مات ميتة جاهلية
“Whoever sees something he dislikes from his Amir, he should be patient with him, for no one rebels against the authority a hand-span the dies, except that he will die the death jahiliyah.”
This hadith makes rebelling against him as a rebellion against the authority and therefore, authority belongs to the Amir, no one else. The Messenger also said:
كانت بنو إسرائيل تسوسهم الأنبياء كلما هلك نبي خلفه نبي ، وأنه لا نبي بعدي وسيكون خلفاء
“Bani Israel’s affairs used to be taken care of by their Prophets. Whenever a Prophet died, another succeeded him. There will be no prophet after me and there will be khulafaa“.
This means that your affairs, Oh Muslims, will be taken care of by the khulafaa. So, the one who takes care of the Muslims’ affairs is specified. The understanding (mafhoom) of these two hadith is that other than the Amir has no authority and no one takes care of the people’s affairs other than the khulafaa. This proves that taking care of peoples affairs is for the ruler exclusively and not for the majority or their representatives.
Furthermore, the authority of the ruler is for taking care of the affairs (ri’aayah) and not a power of suppression, as the final reference of the people is not the ruler, but rather the shariah rule; it is the reference point for the citizens and for the ruler. This is the reason that the Legislator called the ruler a caretaker (raa’in) in the hadith
“the ruler is a caretaker”
Abiding by the shariah rules achieves the sovereignty of the Legislator’s (Allah’s) authority, and defines the criterion of actions in life. Achieving the sovereignty of the Legislator’s authority secures stability in the society, and the people’s peace of mind about their life, rights and interests.
This is the reality of politics according to the Quran and the sunnah and anything less than complete sovereignty for the shariah is secularism. It is in reality keeping Allah’s rules out of political and societal life, and replacing them with man-made rules, selected by the most votes, according to the representative’s whims.
أَلَمْ تَرَ إِلَى الَّذِينَ يَزْعُمُونَ أَنَّهُمْ آمَنُوا بِمَا أُنْزِلَ إِلَيْكَ وَمَا أُنْزِلَ مِنْ قَبْلِكَ يُرِيدُونَ أَنْ يَتَحَاكَمُوا إِلَى الطَّاغُوتِ وَقَدْ أُمِرُوا أَنْ يَكْفُرُوا بِهِ وَيُرِيدُ الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ يُضِلَّهُمْ ضَلَالًا بَعِيدًا
“Do you not see those who claim that they have iman in what has been sent down to you and what was sent down before you, still desiring to turn to a satanic source for judgement in spite of being ordered to reject it? Shaytan wants to misguide them far away.” [An-Nisaa: 60]
It is surprising that some Muslims today advocate something less than the complete sovereignty for the shariah. We must all question the advocates of such secularisation of Islam:
أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ الْكِتَابِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ فَمَا جَزَاءُ مَنْ يَفْعَلُ ذَلِكَ مِنْكُمْ إِلَّا خِزْيٌ فِي الْحَيَاةِ الدُّنْيَا وَيَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ يُرَدُّونَ إِلَى أَشَدِّ الْعَذَابِ
“Do you, then, believe in one part of the Book and reject the other? What repayment will there be for any of you who do that except disgrace in this world? And on the Day of Rising, they will be returned to the harshest of punishments.” [Al-Baqara: 85]
It is bad enough that some Muslims want to leave the shariah on the side; but what will they replace it with?
Islamic politics is built upon the authority of the ruler, who rules according to the shariah, looking after the people’s affairs. Secular politics is built upon people legislating laws to fulfil their own interests, regardless of the needs of the people. For this reason, many idealistic people have entered politics trying to ‘do some good’, or ‘prevent some harm’ but have almost always failed. The secular system has no fixed principles, so is easily hijacked by powerful interest groups, such as media corporations, big business, the old guard and the like. This was the reality of Morsi’s Egypt, with the army remaining the real power in the country; so much so, that they even conspired to ruin his plans, then overthrew him due to this manifest failure. In Turkey it is the so-called ‘White Turks’ who are the real power, while Erdogan can only make deals and try to limit their influence a little. In neither case was the shariah of Allah implemented; not generally, nor in its details.
Any Muslim who enters this secular political game will be used and abused, then discarded like all of the other ones before him. Even if he told himself he was compromising the shariah in order to prevent a worse evil, then we must ask: exactly what evil has he or his predecessors ever actually prevented? But, moreover, what evil is worse than abandoning Allah’s deen?
The saddest reality is that these attempts to work within the secular system only increase the suffering and harm to Muslims. They delay the day when the Islamic Shariah will be implemented again, bringing dignity and justice for mankind, in the shape of the Khilafah on the way of the Prophethood. For as long as Muslims are fooled again and again by other Muslims promising an end to their troubles, but only offering compromise after compromise, the Muslims will continue to drift away from having Iman as their guiding light. They will be delayed only a little while before seeing once again the utter failure of the secular political system.
Therein lies the real reason why Islam is so attacked these days; and why it is so important for the secularists to fool us into thinking that political Islam has failed. It is a real challenge to the secular way of life. Islam is the light that will take mankind out of the oppressive darkness once again; once it is given a chance to stand up again as a state.
The Prophet of Islam and his companions did not shed their blood so that generations later Muslims should discard the shariah of Allah for a lowly price.
وَآمِنُوا بِمَا أَنْزَلْتُ مُصَدِّقًا لِمَا مَعَكُمْ وَلَا تَكُونُوا أَوَّلَ كَافِرٍ بِهِ وَلَا تَشْتَرُوا بِآيَاتِي ثَمَنًا قَلِيلًا وَإِيَّايَ فَاتَّقُونِ
“Have iman in what I have sent down, confirming what is with you. Do not be the first to reject it and do not sell My Signs for a paltry price. Have taqwa of Me alone.” [Al-Baqara: 41]
Muslims are required to submit to the shariah of Allah as the best legislation for mankind. It is neither incomplete, nor unsuitable for the modern world. Allah says:
إِنَّ الدِّينَ عِنْدَ اللَّهِ الْإِسْلَامُ
“The deen with Allah is Islam.” [Aal-i-Imraan: 19]
Imam at-Tabari explained this verse with “the obedience that is obedience with Him, is obedience to Him, and confirmation with the tongue and the heart that for Him is worship, submission and surrendering to Him through obedience to what He ordered and forbade.”
It is time for Muslims to judge all matters, whether personal, societal or political, according to the commands and prohibitions of Allah.
فَلْيَحْذَرِ الَّذِينَ يُخَالِفُونَ عَنْ أَمْرِهِ أَن تُصِيبَهُمْ فِتْنَةٌ أَوْ يُصِيبَهُمْ عَذَابٌ أَلِيمٌ
“And let those who evade from his orders beware lest grief or painful punishment befall them.” [An-Noor: 63]
Hizb ut -Tahrir
15th April 2014