27 September 2008
By Dr Syed Bashir Ahmad
IN his famous book, Gateway to Knowledge about Islam, Shaikh Yusuf Al-Qaradhawi says, as Islam has pegged economy with ethics, it has done this concerning politics too. Islamic politics is not Machiavellian politics wherein ends justify means, whatsoever their characteristics may be.
Islamic politics is the politics of principles and values, which must be adhered to and not relinquished even in the gloomiest situations or in perplexing times, whether it be in relations of the Islamic state with its citizens or in the external relations with countries and groups.
Islam vehemently rejects dirty means even if those are intended to reach to noble ends: “Allah is noble and accepts nothing but fair.” (Narrated by Muslim in Sahih) Unscrupulous means are unacceptable just like vicious ends; inevitably, there must be clean means to achieve noble ends.
Concerning relation of the state with its citizens, Allah calls upon those entrusted with authority to govern the affairs of Muslims with honesty and justice, saying: “Allah doth command you to render back your Trusts to those to whom they are due; And when ye judge between man and man, that ye judge with justice: Verily how excellent is the teaching which He giveth you! For Allah is He Who heareth and seeth all things”.
(Al-Quran: An-Nisa’: 58) Hence, returning back of trusts of different material and moral types to whom they are due and judging between all people with justice, is the obligation of the Muslim state towards its citizens. It is not lawful for the Muslim ruler to favour anyone of his relatives or cortege and commission him with something unduly while depriving the deserving. The Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) reckoned to such a state of affairs as being the sign of approaching of the hour of doom for the Muslim nation.
Once someone asked him about the timing of the day of judgement and he replied saying, “When the trust is squandered, anticipate the hour. He was asked: how will the squandering of trust take place. He replied: when authority will be entrusted to the non-deserving, anticipate the hour”. (Al-Quran: An-Nisa’: 58)
It is also illegitimate to drop a prescribed punishment against anyone deserving the punishment for his lineage or status or for being near to the ruler. Regarding this, Hadeeth testifies: “Verily those before you were made to perish, because when the highborn amongst them stole, they spared him and when a powerless stole, they imposed the penalty upon him; By Allah, if Fatimah — the daughter of Muhammad — were to commit theft, I myself would chop off her hand.” (Al-Quran: An-Nisa’: 58)
The internal Islamic politics must be grounded on the foundation of justice, fairness and equality between all with regards to in rights, responsibilities and penalties. It must be based on truth with the people and frankness to them about the reality, without any deception, imposture or delusion. The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) has said that one of the three to whom Allah shall not look on the day of resurrection, nor exonerate them and for whom there shall be awful punishment shall be the untruthful ruler. (Narrated by Muslim — The Book of Faith — from Abu Hurairah )
With regard to international relations, the Islamic state must fulfil the treaties and all the commitments and respect its own word. Allah says: “Fulfil the Covenant of Allah when ye have entered into it, and break not your oaths after ye have confirmed them; indeed ye have made Allah your surety; for Allah knoweth all that ye do. And be not like a woman who breaks into untwisted strands the yarn which she has spun, after it has become strong. Nor take your oaths to practise deception between yourselves, lest one party should be more numerous than another: for Allah will test you by this; and on the Day of Judgment He will certainly make clear to you (the truth of) that wherein ye disagree. If Allah so willed, He could make you all one people: But He leaves straying whom He pleases, and He guides whom He pleases: but ye shall certainly be called to account for all your actions”. (Al-Quran: An-Nahl: 91-93)
In these two Quranic verses, Allah emphatically enjoins upon the faithful to respect treaties and pacts by relating covenants to Himself (i.e. the Covenant of Allah). He warns against breaking of oaths after the ratification of agreements, which amounts to the act of that foolish woman who puts in a great deal of effort into spinning of her yarn, but once the yarn gains strength upon processing, she imprudently breaks her own produce it into untwisted strands. He urges for basing treaties and agreements between nations upon insincerity and genuineness of intentions, without mendaciousness and swindling intended to take undue advantage and to gain more than the other party does; benefiting inappropriately at the cost of the other party. That is exactly what we notice in treaties and agreements of our times.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) was the paramount ideal in respecting of agreements and honouring of treaties, even when at times his companions believed that therein was unfairness towards Muslims — for example in the treaty of Hudaibiyyah. During one of the military expeditions against Quraish, when a man wanted to join the Muslim army, the Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) did not accept his request, as he had pledged to them that he would not fight them from the ranks of their enemy.
The Prophet (peace and blessings be upon him) rather ordered him to honour his word, saying to him, “We are sufficient for them; we seek Allah’s help over them”. (Narrated by Muslim, Ahmad and others) If some people thought that politics knows no morals, such a notion is farthest from the Islamic politics, which is essentially based on justice, faithfulness, truthfulness, integrity and noblest of the morals.