The House of Commons is an interesting place. Never does a week go by without a fresh cocktail of scandal, drama and sleaze. A snapshot of the last 18 months have brought to the common man news of illegally claimed expenses by MPs, Patrick Mercher’s ‘cash for questions’, the Conservative Parties’ dark and tragic relationship with Andy Coulson, Chris Hume perverting the course of justice and the latest rather bizarre scandal of the former Deputy Speaker Nigel Evans. It’s seems Whitehall is a glorified version of the television series Shameless. The only difference being that in Shameless the characters are open about their behaviours, in the House of Commons it is wrapped under prestige , elitism and policies and procedure.
Indeed there are no better examples and institutions in the western world that epitomise the western political idea and vision than Westminster and the House of Commons. It accommodates via election by the common man 650 Members of Parliament (MPs). Apparently it is there to represent the interests and concerns of it constituents, where considerations take place and new laws are proposed. Also it provides space to be able to scrutinise government policies by asking ministers questions about current issues either in the Commons Chamber or in Committees.
The significance of Westminster for western thoughts was romantically articulated on the 25th May 2011, when President Barack Obama addressed MPs at Westminster Hall:
“Centuries ago, when kings, emperors, and warlords reigned over much of the world, it was the English who first spelled out the rights and liberties of man in the Magna Carta. It was here, in this very hall, where the rule of law first developed, courts were established, disputes were settled, and citizens came to petition their leaders”.
However MPs have been accused of investing their time indulging in vices and personal ‘liberties’, rather than working for the communities that voted them into Parliament. Many MPs in Parliament would bring the kings, emperors and warlords of medieval Europe to shame by their lifestyles.
The recent scandal of Nigel Evans has brought to the limelight the sleazy world of Westminster. Evans was found not guilty of one count of rape, five sexual assaults, one attempted sexual assault and two indecent assaults. Even though he was found not guilty the whole case was an interesting insight into Whitehall there have been serious questions raised about this world where ‘it was spelled out the rights and liberties of man’.
The Evans scandal exposed a heavy drinking culture within Parliament, fuelled by testosterone and affairs. In an interview with The Independent, John Bercow Commons Speaker said about Westminster “There are people who think culturally the atmosphere is very male, very testosterone-fuelled and, in the worst cases, of yobbery and public school twittishness”.
He said he regretted that “some very good female members of Parliament on both sides” are leaving the Commons at the next election, and added that women are generally “less inclined to screech and shout”.
Indeed the screening of Parliament shows a shocking display of childish and raucous behaviour from MPs. Heckling and yelling the opposing side is an accepted norm in Chambers. Frequently the world watches these MPs shouting like children in a bus and the Speaker attempting to put them in ‘order’. Often this is a wasted effort.
The behaviour of the place ‘where the rule of law developed’ is so bad, that in The Independent (18th Feb 2014) it was reported that the Speaker Bercow wrote to David Cameron, Ed Miliband and Nick Clegg, seeking talks on how Prime Ministers’ Questions could be improved, due to growing concern that its boisterous and partisan exchanges are alienating the public.
This boozy atmosphere which is flaunted to the world as a beacon of light, hope and equality is in reality a beacon of promiscuity, pleasure and yobbishness. It is a subculture that is sleazy and uncomfortable for the common person in British society. There have been revelations since the Evans trial, that a third of parliamentary workers have experienced sexual harassment.
This is not an environment where the affairs of the people are looked after, rather it is about MPs living the playboy lifestyle. There is little wonder that there is apathy among the electorate when such behaviour are practised and then exposed.
The Islamic model and its history illustrates a very different and heightened stance in governance, legislation and representation. Islam adopts a different approach towards politics and it concerns itself with looking after the affairs of people. The politician is the one who is a servant to it’s citizens and not for working for themselves. It is not for personal pleasures or gain, rather it is about executing the responsibilities at hand.
In Islam there are two institutions that are tasked with addressing government malpractices. Al Mahkamat al-Mazaalim (Court of Unjust Acts) is an independent and powerful body. The second is an elected house of peoples’ representatives called the Majlis ul-Ummah (Council of the Ummah), whose decisions on certain affairs of state (not legislation) the Khaleefah is constitutionally obliged to accept.
The Mahkamat al-Mazaalim has judges who have the primary responsibility and expertise in government oppression (Mazlema), constitutional law and legislation. This court has the power to oblige government officials including the Khaleefah to pay back any money they took from public funds. All officials must abide by this court.
The Majlis ul-Ummah is comprised of elected representatives of the people who are voted in every five years. These representatives can be men, women, Muslim or non-Muslim. Accountability of government officials is one of the Majlis’s central tasks. It has the power to hold any government official accountable on all matters related to the state, and some of the Majlis’s decisions will be binding on the Khaleefah to enact.
Unlike political parties in the west, the Quran has detailed in a consistent manner the role of all political parties and its qualities, which are clear and require no ‘party whip’ to clarify:
Allah سبحانه وتعالى says in the Qur’an,
وَلْتَكُن مِّنكُمْ أُمَّةٌ يَدْعُونَ إِلَى الْخَيْرِ وَيَأْمُرُونَ بِالْمَعْرُوفِ وَيَنْهَوْنَ عَنِ الْمُنكَرِ وَأُوْلَـئِكَ هُمُ الْمُفْلِحُونَ
“And let there be from among you a group(s) who invite to goodness, and command right conduct and forbid what is evil. Such are they who are successful.” [Surah Al-Imran 104]
These institutions in Islam are of a high moral standing and spaces where true governance and accountability can take place. It provides a solid foundation for enacting legislation and engaging in political discourse. Thee are not places of idle talk, rather a place where excellent manners are employed that are dictated by the Islamic etiquettes.
Mu’az ibn Jabal narrated: I was in company with the Prophet in a travel, and one day I was close to him while we were travelling. So I said: “O Messenger of Allah, tell me of an act which will take me into Paradise and will keep me away from Hell fire…shall I not tell you of the foundation of all of that?” I said: “Yes, O Messenger of Allah,” and he took hold of his tongue and said: “Restrain this.” I said: “O Prophet of Allah, will what we say be held against us?” He said: “May your mother be bereaved of you, Mu’az ! Is there anything that topples people on their faces – or he said on their noses into Hell-fire other than the jests of their tongues?”
(Reported by Ahmad and at-Tirmidhi and declared hasan by the latter. Also reported by an-Nasaa`i and Ibn Maajah)
Government corruption in Britain or anywhere in the world can never be resolved whilst the politicians hold on to the Capitalist values of freedom and benefit. Indeed the corruption of society is a reflection of the Government. A society can never be able to solve its problems, when the people who are supposed to look after their affairs are the worse in their conduct and lifestyle.
Nigel Evans might have been not guilty by western standards, however it has exposed even further and deeper how the House of Commons and its parliament is no example for the world and especially not the Muslim world. Indeed societies around the world have been bamboozled by lies and deceits of the western political ideals. In a time of ever increasing government scandals, economic woes and societal decay, it is Islam that provides an example and an explanation for all matters.
Allah سبحانه وتعالى states:
فَمَنِ اتَّبَعَ هُدَايَ فَلَا يَضِلُّ وَلَا يَشْقَىٰ
وَمَنْ أَعْرَضَ عَنْ ذِكْرِي فَإِنَّ لَهُ مَعِيشَةً ضَنْكًا وَنَحْشُرُهُ يَوْمَ الْقِيَامَةِ أَعْمَىٰ
“All those who follow My guidance will not go astray and will not be miserable. But if anyone turns away from My reminder, his life will be a dark and narrow one and on the Day of Rising We will gather him blind.” (Taha, 20:123-124)