The following text is an excerpt from the book al-Iqtisad fil-I’tiqad written by the classical scholar Muhyiddeen Abu Hamid al-Ghazali (may Allah have mercy on him).
This section is part of his refutation of those (among the Mu’talizah sect) who claimed that there was no rational obligation for the Khilafah or Imamah, as they claimed that people can perfect themselves morally without the need for a State.
Imam al-Ghazali explained the consequences of the absence of a ruler applying Islam thus:
“The security of the world, its inhabitants and properties cannot be achieved except with an obeyed ruler (Sultan Muta`). The times of extreme sedition and chaos [following] the deaths of the rulers and the leaders bear witness to this. If this [situation] continues without another just ruler being appointed, then chaos will continue, bloodshed and oppression will become widespread, and livestock will be destroyed and industry stopped. Whoever gains power over others will loot, and none will find time for worship (‘ibadah) or gaining knowledge (‘ilm), if they manage to remain alive.
This is why it is said that,
الدِّيْنُ وَ السُّلْطَانُ تَوْأَمَان
and it is said that,
‘the deen is the foundation and the Sultan is the guardian. That which has no foundation is doomed, and that which has no guardian will perish’
الدِّيْنُ اُسُّ وَ السُلْطَانُ حَارِسٌ، وَ مَا لا اُسَّ لَهُ فَمَهْدُوْمٌ وَ مَا لا حَارِسَ لَهُ فضَائعٌ
This is a sickness for which there is no remedy, except through a powerful and just ruler who will unify the disparate and differing views.
Hence, it is clear that the ruler is necessary for organisation of the world, and the organisation of the world is necessary for the organisation of the Deen. And the organisation of the Deen is necessary for the success and joy of the Hereafter, and this undoubtedly was the objective of the Prophets.
Therefore, the obligatory character of [appointing] the ruler (imam) is one of the essential matters from the Law (al-shar`) which may not in any way be abandoned.”
1. Separation of religion and state is not recognised in Islam. In order to ensure societal affairs are addressed correctly, Islam has laid down the systems of governance for the rulers to establish, and thereby bring tranquillity to the citizens, both Muslim and non-Muslim.
2. Our situation today is far worse than that envisaged by Imam al-Ghazali. Not only do we see Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine and other Islamic lands suffering under merciless occupation; not only have the traitorous rulers abandoned the application of the Shari’ah; in addition to that, they actively work to cement the occupation of our lands, and to suppress the call for the resumption of the Islamic way of life.
3. In the absence of the Khaleefah who protects the rights of the citizens, securing the basic needs becomes a daily struggle and the weak are left at the mercy of the powerful and corrupt. In such a situation, it is not surprising that ignorance of the basics of Islam, and corrupt practices become the norm for millions. If Muslims want to reform the situation of their societies, establishing Islam in authority is of the highest priority.